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2/2/07 by Marcia Armstrong, Siskiyou Supervisor District 5

North Coast Integrated Regional Water Management Planning partnership (NCIRWMP.)

marcia8.jpg.jpg (10768 bytes) Ridin' Point

- a weekly column published in the Pioneer Press


Regional Water: Recently, I attended a meeting of the North Coast Integrated Regional Water Management Planning partnership (NCIRWMP.) I am serving as a delegate to replace retired Supervisor Bill Hoy. Former Etna Mayor, Marilyn Seward, represents Siskiyou County on the technical advisory and project ranking committee. Seven counties, (Humboldt, Del Norte, Trinity, Sonoma, Siskiyou, Mendocino and Modoc,) participate in the policy committee where County Supervisors from each county sit as delegates. A flexible framework has been established and formalized in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to allow counties to work together cooperatively on a basin-wide scale to improve water quality and salmonid habitat within the North Coast region.
Although the counties have agreed to partner in reviewing, prioritizing and ranking projects for funding consideration on a regional level, projects originate and are implemented at the local community level. The NCIRWMP is seen as the framework for integration of state priorities with local planning efforts. Although NCIRWMP serves as a regional hub for information about statewide planning goals and objectives, local elected officials retain local control and jurisdiction over their General Plans and planning functions. 
NCIRWMP was formed in response to the passage of Proposition 50 by the voters. Prop. 50 authorized $500 million to be used for water management projects to improve water quality and improve local community water infrastructure and security. Under statewide frameworks, required regional coordination reduced the number of disjointed and competing requests for funding. The North Coast counties worked together to develop a regional application for funding of ranked projects.

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) ranked the North Coast application as highest among all 50 competitors. Out of $125 million available in this application round, $25 million was awarded to the North Coast region. Projects in Siskiyou County selected for funding include $1.9 million for restoration of the Shasta Water Association Dam; $878,274 for Aruaja Dam restoration; $318,105 for the City of Etna Water Supply. It also appears that $327,461 may have been awarded for the Scott River Water Trust Phase III implementation, but this award may be rescinded due to legal issues. (The initial application process has also been an absolute nightmare of bureaucracy, causing great frustration to our local applicants.)

It is apparent that future Prop 50 funding cycles and other bond money, such as Proposition 84 and Proposition 1E, will be allotted according to a similar process. Discussion also began on the possibility of looking at other issues such as transportation and flood control on a regional basis. In the sense of respecting local control and jurisdiction, NCIRWMP has been a workable regional coordinating partnership which could serve as a model for other efforts such as the Bureau of Reclamation's CIP (Conservation Implementation Program.) However, state-level bureaucracies and requirements render the process unwieldy and a disappointment to local disadvantaged communities that lack other resources upon which to draw to solve water infrastructure and water quality problems.
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