Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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California Farm Bureau Federation Friday
February 20, 2015
The California Water Commission (CWC) had further discussions this week of their proposed activities and work plan for the next couple years to develop their Water Storage Investment Program Implementation Plan. The implementation plan is required by law to include developing an Office of Administrative Law (OAL) formal rulemaking package, or simply put, regulations and guidelines. The plan will also include specific timelines and the establishment of a Stakeholder Advisory Group. No water bond dollars can be released for a project prior to December 15, 2016. The CWC focused this week’s discussion on groundwater project examples. Next month they will discuss reservoir reoperation and conjunctive use, and large and regional surface water project examples at their April meeting. For greater detail go to the CWC Website at: email@example.com.
The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) held a public workshop this week to discuss the Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) filed on January 23rd. The SWRCB Executive Director issued an Order approving elements of a TUCP filed by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) regarding permits and license of the State Water Project (SWP) and the federal Central Valley Project (CVP). The Order can be found on the State Water Board’s website at: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/drought/docs/tucp/2015/tucp_order020315.pdf.
The order adjusts flow and water quality requirements in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for the next two months, allowing the SWP and the CVP to conserve water supplies in upstream reservoirs and more effectively operate their facilities in response to ongoing drought conditions.
The workshop this week was held to receive public input on the TUCP, the Executive Director’s Order approving the TUCP, and a Drought Contingency Plan that DWR and USBR have prepared. Additional information, regarding this matter including the TUCP, the Drought Contingency Plan, and a Notice of Public Workshop and Notice of the TUCP, is posted on the SWRCB’s web page at: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/drought/tucp.shtml.
Several bus loads of farm workers from the San Joaquin Valley, Delta farmers, environmental interests, Farm Bureau and others testified during the nearly thirteen hour workshop.
Improving the system for adjudicating groundwater rights was one of the matters not addressed in last year’s groundwater management legislative package although some legislators and the Governor indicated some interest in doing so. The Governor indicated last year that he would be bringing forth such a proposal this year. Last year, Farm Bureau indicated that such improvements should have been part of comprehensive groundwater legislation. Therefore, Farm Bureau has been
working with other agricultural organizations and the Association of California Water Agencies on language to streamline the adjudication process where feasible and intends to introduce this legislation in the near future.
In some areas, good groundwater management will include identifying and defining groundwater rights, which must be done through an action in court. Currently this process is longer and less efficient than it could be if certain procedural rules are established. Groundwater adjudication is a means of providing certainty of one’s groundwater rights and, as such, having a system for doing so in a more efficient manner than the current process is a worthy goal.
There is also discussion in the Capitol of moving groundwater adjudication from the courts to the State Water Resources Control Board, but Farm Bureau made it clear at a Senate informational hearing on the issue last month that we prefer to use the courts for groundwater rights determinations as is currently the case. Senator Fran Pavley, one of the authors of last year’s legislation, has introduced SB 226 that is to serve as another vehicle for adjudication legislation, but it is not clear what this legislation may ultimately include.
The Farm Bureau legislation is focused on procedure and does not address any substantive principles of water law or local groundwater planning. Key aspects of Farm Bureau’s current legislative draft are:
This bill would clarify the court procedures applicable to comprehensive groundwater adjudications in order to reduce the time and improve the efficiency of these actions. This does not mean groundwater adjudications will be fast and simple, but that the process will be significantly more efficient.
Specific provisions are intended to encourage early settlement and avoid unduly disrupting local groundwater planning efforts.
Three of the most significant improvements are: 1) a preliminary hearing to ensure that a comprehensive adjudication of groundwater rights is appropriate; 2) clear rules on proper service of process to all overlying landowners; and 3) early disclosures of groundwater use.
Other improvements address designation of adjudication actions as complex, phasing of the litigation, efficient identification of groundwater basin boundaries and assistance to the court of a special master, among other changes.
More details will be provided as drafting is completed and the legislation is introduced.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) is required to maintain official maps of State Responsibility Areas (SRA). These are the wildland areas of the state where CDF has financial responsibility for preventing and suppressing wildfires. These maps have become more important since the adoption in 2011 of the fire prevention tax at a rate of $150 per habitable dwelling in the SRA.
The SRA is based on the vegetative cover and natural resource values as defined in Public Resources Code (PRC) section 4126:
Lands covered wholly or in part by forests or by trees producing or capable of producing forest products. Lands covered wholly or in part by timber, brush, undergrowth, or grass, whether of commercial value or not, which protect the soil from excessive erosion, retard runoff of water or
accelerate water percolation, if such lands are sources of water which is available for irrigation or for domestic or industrial use.
Lands in areas which are principally used or useful for range or forage purposes, which are contiguous to the lands described in subdivisions (a) and (b).
PRC section 4127 specifically excludes the following from SRA status:
Lands owned or controlled by the federal government or any agency of the federal government.
Lands within the exterior boundaries of any city.
Any other lands within the state which do not come within any of the classes which are described in Section 4126.
CDF is required to conduct a 5 year review of SRA maps to capture changes in land use, such as the conversion in or out of agricultural use, areas of densification due to development, and other relevant changes. SRA data may also be updated on a more frequently to capture city annexations and changes in federal ownership that directly affect SRA status.
The changes submitted for current 5-year update are summarized below:
Proposed Changes by County: A table listing each proposed change to SRA status by county
Summary of Changes by County: A table that summarizes the net change in SRA acres by county for proposed changes to SRA status
The three public hearings next week to collect public input on the proposed changes are listed below:
Date: February 26, 2015 Location: Redding City Council Chambers 777 Cypress Avenue, Redding, CA Time: 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Date: February 27, 2015 Location: Department of General Services Building 1350 Front Street, Room B-107
San Diego, CA
Time: 1:00 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.
Date: March 4, 2015 Location: Resources Auditorium 1416 Ninth Street Sacramento, CA Time: 9:30 a.m.
Note: The Sacramento hearing will be part of the Regular Board Meeting at which the changes will be presented to the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection for final approval.
If you would like to submit written comments that can be done by one of the following methods (only one is necessary): E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; Fax to (916) 653-0989; or U.S. mail to Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, Attn: George Gentry, PO Box 944246, Sacramento, CA 94244-2460.
The Cal/OSHA Standards Board approved a twice-amended revision to the Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Standard this week. The revised standard is expected to be effective on May 1, 2015. The agency’s original proposed revision from August 2014 included requirements for placement of water within 400 feet, shade within 700 feet of work locations and lowering the temperature at which extra employer precautions against higher temperatures from 95⁰ Fahrenheit to 85⁰ Fahrenheit. Later versions of the proposed revision reverted to the present standard’s requirements that water and shade be as close as practicable and raised the temperature for high heat precautions to the current standard’s 95⁰ Fahrenheit. The final version of the standard retained a revision of the temperature at which shade will have to be provided at all times from 85⁰ Fahrenheit to 80⁰ Fahrenheit, and retained several new requirements for special high-temperature precautions including a new requirements that ag employees take a net-ten minute “preventative cool down rest period” every two hours when the temperature exceeds 95⁰ Fahrenheit.
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Page Updated: Monday March 09, 2015 11:35 PM Pacific
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