NEWS WORTH NOTING: San Diego County Water Authority takes actions to advance rate case settlement with MWD; Wildlife Conservation Board funds environmental improvement and acquisition projects; DWR files final application with FERC for relicensing of Devil Canyon Project

San Diego County Water Authority takes actions to advance rate case settlement with MWD

Commitment to settlement remains strong; ratepayer protections critical to any deal

Press release from the San Diego County Water Authority:

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board officers today thanked the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for making a public offer to settle litigation over MWD’s rates, and directed staff to take the following actions:

  • Schedule special Board meetings in December and January to expedite the process in hopes of reaching a conclusion in early 2020; and
  • Draft a durable, public and mutually beneficial settlement offer for review by the Water Authority Board; and
  • Invite MWD General Manager Jeff Kightlinger to discuss settlement with the Water Authority Board and schedule a reciprocal visit by Water Authority General Manager Sandy Kerl to MWD’s Board.

“Given MWD’s current willingness to discuss settlement in a fully transparent and public process, the Water Authority is more optimistic than ever that an enduring settlement can be reached,” Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer said after today’s Board meeting.

“We must carefully consider all aspects of an agreement that will affect our economy, children and grandchildren,” Madaffer said. “That’s why welcome the opportunity to engage fully with MWD in a public process. Discussions directly with the general managers will increase the likelihood of finding common ground early in the new year.”

MWD’s settlement proposal on Nov. 15 marked the start of public negotiations following more than a year of confidential discussions that didn’t yield an agreement. It followed on letters from the Water Authority to MWD on Nov. 8 and Nov. 12 stating the Water Authority’s belief that the agencies were nearing a point where they could soon resolve most or all of the litigation.

“We appreciate MWD’s desire to resolve our differences, and we are fully engaged with the same goal,” said Water Authority Board Secretary Christy Guerin, who is leading the agency’s settlement efforts on behalf of the Board of Directors.

Wildlife Conservation Board funds environmental improvement and acquisition projects

From the Wildlife Conservation Board:

At its Nov. 21 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $28.7 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 27 approved projects will benefit fish and wildlife — including some endangered species — while others will provide public access to important natural resources. Several projects will also demonstrate the importance of protecting working landscapes that integrate economic, social and environmental stewardship practices beneficial to the environment, landowners and the local community.

Funding for these projects comes from a combination of sources including the Habitat Conservation Fund and bond measures approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources.

Funded projects include:

  • A $675,000 grant to the Lake County Land Trust to acquire approximately 200 acres of land for the protection of shoreline freshwater wetland, riparian woodland and wet meadow habitats that support the state threatened Clear Lake hitch along with the western pond turtle, a state species of special concern, and also provide future wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities. The land is located on the southwestern shore of Clear Lake in an area known as Big Valley in Lake County.
  • A $329,400 grant to Pollinator Partnership for a cooperative project with Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bowles Farming, Inc., Monarch Joint Venture, Gabel Farm Land Co., Inc. and Namakan West Fisheries to enhance and monitor pollinator habitat located on three privately owned project sites within 10 miles of Los Banos in Merced County.
  • A $562,210 grant to San Bernardino County Transportation Authority for a cooperative project with San Bernardino Council of Governments to develop and complete a final draft of the San Bernardino County Regional Conservation Investment Strategy covering two subareas, the Valley subarea and West Desert subarea, and the Mountain region located in San Bernardino County.
  • Approval of $775,000 for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to acquire approximately 87 acres of land for the protection of threatened and endangered species, to preserve biological communities supporting sensitive species, to enhance wildlife linkages and provide future wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities as an expansion of CDFW’s McGinty Mountain Ecological Reserve located near the community of Jamul in San Diego County.
  • A $2.57 million grant to Trout Unlimited for a cooperative project with the Mendocino Railway, the Mendocino Land Trust and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to restore access to 1.15 miles of steelhead and salmon habitat and reduce in-stream sediment upstream of where the California Western Railway crosses the upper Noyo River in Mendocino County.
  • A $1.4 million grant to Truckee Donner Land Trust to acquire, in fee, approximately 633 acres located near Truckee in Nevada County to help preserve alpine forests, wildlife corridors and habitat linkages, and to provide wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities.
  • A $2.98 million grant to the California Tahoe Conservancy for a cooperative project with CDFW, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Forest Service to restore 261 acres of wetland habitat owned by the California Tahoe Conservancy in South Lake Tahoe in El Dorado County.
  • An $885,500 grant to Save the Redwoods League for a cooperative project with Peninsula Open Space Trust and Sempervirens Fund to restore 552 acres of redwood and upland hardwood forests in the Deadman Gulch Restoration Reserve portion of the San Vicente Redwoods property situated in Santa Cruz County.
  • A $719,000 grant to Ducks Unlimited, Inc. for a cooperative project with the landowners and Audubon California to enhance wetlands that provide Tricolored Blackbird nesting habitat and waterfowl breeding habitat, located on privately owned land in Kern County.
  • A $3 million grant to Ventura Land Trust to acquire, in fee, approximately 2,118 acres of land for the protection of threatened and endangered species, and provide future wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities, located five miles east of the city of Ventura in Ventura County.
  • A $4.9 million grant to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority to acquire, in fee, approximately 257 acres of land for the preservation of oak woodland and grassland habitat, wildlife corridors and habitat linkages, and to provide future wildlife-oriented, public use opportunities, located in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County.
  • A $1.4 million grant to the Council for Watershed Health for a cooperative project with the city of Los Angeles, the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, the Friends of the Los Angeles River and the Arroyo Seco Foundation for a planning project to provide designs, permits and environmental review for addressing impaired mobility for southern steelhead trout and other native fish along 4.4 miles of the Los Angeles River in downtown Los Angeles.

For more information about the WCB, please visit www.wcb.ca.gov.

Announcement of DWR’s filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of a final application for new license for Devil Canyon Project Relicensing, FERC Project No. 14797

On November 20, 2019, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) a Final Application for a New License Major Project – Existing Dam (FLA) for the Devil Canyon Project Relicensing, FERC Project No. 14797 (Project). The initial FERC license for the Project expires on January 31, 2022.

The Devil Canyon Project FLA describes existing Project facilities, Project operation, estimated costs related to continued operations, general information, and the changes DWR proposes to the existing Project under the new license. In addition, the FLA describes environmental and recreational resources in the vicinity of the Project; an assessment of potential environmental effects associated with continued operation and maintenance of the Project as proposed by DWR in the FLA; and DWR’s proposed resource management measures to protect and enhance environmental and recreation resources, and mitigate any Project impacts.

The FLA is available in electronic format on FERC’s eLibrary, and on DWR’s Devil Canyon Project relicensing website at http://devil-canyon-project-relicensing.com/license/ and a copy of the FLA is available for inspection and reproduction during regular business hours at two locations: the Howard M. Rowe Branch Library located at 108 E. Marshall Boulevard, San Bernardino, CA 92404; and DWR’s office located at 2033 Howe Avenue, Suite 220, Sacramento, CA 95825.

Copies of the FLA also may be obtained upon request, after reasonable reimbursement for postage and reproduction, by calling DWR at (916) 557-4556.

If any resource agency, Indian tribe, or person believes that an additional scientific study should be conducted in order to form an adequate factual basis for a complete analysis of the application on its merits, the resource agency, Indian tribe, or person must file a request for the study with FERC not later than 60 days after the application is filed and serve a copy of the request on DWR.The due date for additional study requests is Monday, January 20, 2020.

Upon acceptance of the FLA for filing, FERC will publish notices soliciting additional public comment.

Questions regarding this notice should be addressed to Gwen Knittweis, DWR’s Chief, Hydropower License Planning and Compliance Office, Executive Division, at (916) 557-4554.

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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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