LEGAL ALERT: Supreme Court of California Weighs In on Blanket Categorization of Well Construction Permit Approvals as Ministerial

From JD SUPRA:

Key points in this legal brief:

      • A permitting agency’s blanket designation of an entire category of permit decisions as ministerial for purposes of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) may be held to be improper if the agency has the ability to modify or deny the permit based on any concern that may be examined under CEQA review.
      • Courts will afford a larger degree of deference to an agency’s designation of a single permit decision as ministerial on a case-by-case basis.”

Click here to read the full legal brief.

SGMA in the news

Why conserving water today means more groundwater for tomorrow

Groundwater is California’s water savings bank account that can be tapped during dry years when water in lakes and rivers are low. Conserving water helps preserve groundwater, which is important for plants, animals and people.  Groundwater comes from rain and melting snow that seeps down into the ground and is stored in aquifers. An aquifer is a body of porous rock or sediment saturated with groundwater. Groundwater can move through the aquifer and resurface through springs or be pumped to the surface using manmade wells. … ”  Read more from DWR News here:  Why conserving water today means more groundwater for tomorrow

Paso Robles subbasin stands to lose up to $458 million annually if water use is reduced, says economic impact study

A new study released by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is projecting the potential economic impact of water reductions in the Paso Robles region resulting from the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.  The study, The Economic Impact on the Local Economy of Irrigated Agriculture in the Paso Robles Area and Potential Impacts of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, performed by Lynn Hamilton, Ph.D. and Michael McCollough, Ph.D. of CalPoly, estimates that reductions to irrigated agriculture could potentially cost the local economy hundreds of millions of dollars and the loss of more than 1,000 jobs. … ”  Read more from Wine Business here: Paso Robles subbasin stands to lose up to $458 million annually if water use is reduced, says economic impact study

Tainted valley groundwater could stymie banking deals

The big kahuna of California water — Metropolitan Water District of Southern California — has stopped taking supplies from one Kern County groundwater bank because the water is heavily tainted with a cancer-causing agent that is pervasive in Central Valley’s aquifers.  While only one banking program has been affected so far, the emergence of this issue could have huge implications for water storage and movement in the Central Valley.  Increased underground storage has been key for agricultural water districts scrambling to comply with the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which mandates balanced aquifers by 2040. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here:  Tainted valley groundwater could stymie banking deals

Ridgecrest Groundwater Replenishment Fee

Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority wrestles 7,000-percent cost increase or state takeover

The long-awaited conflict between California’s ambitious laws to limit groundwater use and the people of California has arrived.  The front: the Mojave Desert.  Friday, the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority is set to hold a protest vote of its water users to determine if it will adopt a “basin replenishment fee.”  The fee is an element of the Authority’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan, a key guiding document required under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here:  Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority wrestles 7,000-percent cost increase or state takeover

Ridgecrest: What if the state takes over the water basin?

What would state intervention with local water management look like?  Well, for a start, local groundwater extractors can likely look forward to forced reduction of water use and forced monitoring courtesy of the state water board. And state control would be exerted directly, rather than through the groundwater authority. New fees would also be assessed, since local users would be expected to foot the bill to pay for the temporary government oversight. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  What if the state takes over the water basin?

Ridgecrest: Groundwater basin replenishment fee passed

The basin replenishment fee was passed by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority with a vote of four to one Friday afternoon. IWV Water District Director Ron Kicinski was the sole no vote.  The IWVGA voted after the basin replenishment fee protest hearing Friday failed. The IWVGA did not announce the number of protest votes received, although County counsel Phil Hall said it would take roughly 9,900 protest votes for the protest hearing to be successful. IWV Water District Director/IWVGA Vice Chair Ron Kincinski mentioned 4,000 votes, but it was not clear if this was the number received or just a figure of speech. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Basin replenishment fee passed

Desert water basin hopes to dive into California water market

If you’ve got water for sale, the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority has $50 million to spend.  Or, it will once it starts collecting a controversial, five-year, $2,000-per-acre-foot pumping fee that was approved by the authority last week.  Specifically, the desert groundwater basin about 100 miles northeast of Bakersfield in the Mojave Desert, is looking to buy rights to 5,000 acre feet a year from an as-yet-to-be-determined Central Valley source.  How it will get the water from the valley over the Sierra Nevadas is another question without any answers so far. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Desert water basin hopes to dive into California water market

Ridgecrest: Replenishment fee passed. Now what?

The four-to-one approval Friday of the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority basin replenishment fee has left many wondering what comes next. The fee was approved by a majority vote of the IWVGA after a protest hearing against the controversial fee failed. IWV Water District Director Ron Kincinski was the lone no vote on the groundwater authority.  In a delay from the original timetable, the new fee will be assessed starting January 2021. The estimated fee would be $24 a month for the average residential user presuming a five-year repayment period, according to Gleason.  The fee would reportedly collect some $50 million which would be used to purchase water rights for imported water, presuming the same users continue using the water at roughly the same rate. … ” Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Replenishment fee passed. Now what?

Ridgecrest: Groundwater Authority approves transient pool, fallowing program

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority last week voted unanimously to adopt a transient pool and fallowing program and also approve findings that the programs are exempt from California Environmental Quality Act (or CEQA) review — meaning the programs are not considered to have a significant impact on the environment.  The decision came down after an intense two-day meeting Aug. 20 and 21 culminating with an unsuccessful protest hearing against the IWVGA’s basin replenishment fee and the authority’s subsequent four to one approval of the fee. IWV Water District Director Ron Kicinski was the lone no vote on the replenishment fee. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Groundwater Authority approves transient pool, fallowing program

 

SGMA in the news

Groundwater sustainability moves from planning to implementation

The recent completion of groundwater sustainability plans for California’s most over-pumped basins was a major step toward bringing basins into long-term balance, as mandated by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). As these plans move through the state approval process, the next stage is implementation. We talked to Trevor Joseph—the first SGMA employee at the Department of Water Resources (DWR), and now a member of a groundwater sustainability agency in the Sacramento Valley—about next steps and possible pitfalls.  PPIC: You’ve been involved with SGMA since its inception. What has surprised you the most about how it has unfolded?  TREVOR JOSEPH: I’m pleasantly surprised that SGMA has gone relatively well to date. … ”  Read more from the PPIC here: Groundwater sustainability moves from planning to implementation

Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency proposes groundwater extraction fee

The Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency has proposed a groundwater extraction fee to be charged to property owners within its district.  The ETGSA board approved providing its water rate study for public review at its meeting on August 6. The proposed fee is included in that water rate study. A public hearing videoconference on the proposed fee will be held at 2 p.m. October 1. … ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here: Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency proposes groundwater extraction fee

This Madera County community is running out of water — and the only well might fail

Residents of Fairmead, California worry they are on the brink of losing water service, as the town’s only community well shows signs it may fail before a new one can be built.  After years of planning, the Madera County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved an engineering contract to design and manage upgrades to the system, including a new well to serve more than 500 people connected to the community water system.  Construction won’t likely begin until 2021. Norma Bustillos, a longtime Fairmead resident, worries that will be too late. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  This Madera County community is running out of water — and the only well might fail

Paso Robles: SLO County and USGS ask landowners for help to study Adelaida groundwater

San Luis Obispo County and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are set to study the groundwater conditions in the Adelaida region of North County for the first time—and they’re asking local landowners for help.  The two agencies inked a partnership last year to undergo the study, which will collect and analyze data on the water supply, land uses, and groundwater flow over the mostly rural region west of Highway 101—north to Lake Nacimiento and south to Atascadero. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here: SLO County and USGS ask landowners for help to study Adelaida groundwater

Ridgecrest: Replenishment fee, ag buyouts on the agenda for Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s basin replenishment fee public hearing at 10 a.m. Friday, August 21 at City Hall will be a virtual meeting, with the public unable to attend in person. The meeting will be live streamed on the city of Ridgecrest Youtube channel.  The public hearing will technically be part two of the regular IWVGA open session virtual meeting scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday, August 20. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Replenishment fee, ag buyouts on the agenda for Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority

Ridgecrest: Groundwater in the Indian Wells Valley: Replenishment fee — here are the FAQ

In our continuing series on groundwater in the Indian Wells Valley, here are some frequently asked questions about the upcoming Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority basin replenishment fee public hearing. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Ridgecrest: Groundwater in the Indian Wells Valley: Replenishment fee — here are the FAQ

SEE ALSOLetter to the Editor August 15 2020: Voting no on fee causes more problems than it solves

Ridgecrest: ‘Save Searles’ aims to save mineral plant from 7000 percent water fee hike

‘The “Save Searles” campaign was launched Tuesday, just three days before the IWV Groundwater Authority’s virtual public hearing intended to either approve or shoot down the controversial new replenishment fee.  The replenishment fee would increase water costs for Searles Valley Minerals by nearly $6 million a year, “pushing the company and the local community towards extinction,” according to the campaign’s announcement. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Ridgecrest: ‘Save Searles’ aims to save mineral plant from 7000 percent water fee hike

Carpenteria Valley Water District seeks drought proof supply

Although 2020 has presented many challenges, Carpinteria Valley Water District (CVWD) staff are working hard to keep making progress on many important matters while social distancing. The development of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) has begun and will help to ensure that we can manage the Carpinteria Groundwater Basin (CGB) sustainably, which is an important shared resource for the Carpinteria Valley.  … ”  Read more from the Coast News here:  Carpenteria Valley Water District seeks drought proof supply

SGMA in the news

Feinstein bill would fix San Joaquin Valley canals

Western Growers has announced its support for legislation by California Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein that seeks to address severe subsidence impacts that have substantially reduced the carrying capacity of the state’s water delivery system.  Feinstein’s Restoration of Essential Conveyance Act would authorize $800 million in federal funding to repair critical canals in the San Joaquin Valley damaged by land sinking from overpumping of groundwater, known as subsidence, and for environmental restoration. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Feinstein bill would fix San Joaquin Valley canals

Groundwater in the Indian Wells Valley: What is IWVGA? An overview

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s notice of an upcoming public hearing on a basin replenishment fee has attracted a lot of attention from water users in the valley, but not everyone understands what the IWVGA is.  In a nutshell, the IWVGA is a body charged with balancing the Indian Wells Valley groundwater basin (IWVGB). The key is achieving sustainability. This is similar to balancing a checkbook; the IWVGA has to come up with a way to balance the basin’s recharge with its annual outflow.  Here is where the problem begins: if the basin were a checkbook it would be severely overdrawn. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Groundwater in the Indian Wells Valley: What is IWVGA? An overview

Valley farmers look to Kern River tributary to replenish groundwater

A Kern County water agency is facing a wall of opposition against its plan to harvest up to 12,000 acre feet of water from the South Fork of the Kern River above Lake Isabella and bring it to valley farms and homeowners in northwest Bakersfield.  Mountain residents fear the proposal by Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District will dry up their groundwater and turn the area into another Owens Valley. ... ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Valley farmers look to Kern River tributary to replenish groundwater

Groundwater sustainability is a necessity more than ever, says Jose Pablo Ortiz Partida with the Union of Concerned Scientists

He writes, “The immediate emergency of COVID-19 has been a powerful reminder that the most valuable things in our lives are our families, friends, and the welfare of our communities. The current pandemic is a threat to those closest to us today in a way that presages what we will experience on an accelerating basis due to the climate emergency. In a place like California’s San Joaquin Valley (SJV), Latinos account for 70 percent of COVID-19 cases, even though they represent 42 percent of the population. Improving access to clean and affordable water even as the pandemic grows more urgent, is critical to reducing the types of burdens worsened by the COVID-19 crisis. Continuing the hard work on groundwater sustainability required by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) could lessen the impact of future crises in the valley. The low level of preparation communities have experienced around the pandemic, echos what these same communities face for water management on a daily basis and will face with future climate change threats unless fundamental changes are made locally. … ”  Read more from the Union of Concerned Scientists here: Groundwater sustainability is a necessity more than ever

UPDATED TOOL: New features added to Water Tracker, a tool that displays the distribution of surface water across the Central Valley

From Point Blue Conservation Service:

With summer in full swing, it may be time to begin evaluating plans for the coming fall and winter seasons. If you are interested in learning more about the distribution of surface water across the Central Valley both in the past and in near real-time, we invite you to explore some exciting new features at Water Tracker – www.pointblue.org/watertracker

Explore wetland vegetation. Recent work by USGS provides annual maps of wetland vegetation across the Central Valley.

Two layers are available:

Wetland vegetation type, aka moist soil seed plants (swamp timothy, watergrass, cocklebur, etc.)
Habitat structure (tall emergent, open water, bare ground, etc.)

These data (2007-2017) are now available for viewing and downloading from the Map Viewer in Water Tracker. Learn more about from a recent publication led by Kristin Byrd at USGS.

Summaries of water from custom areas. You can now upload a shapefile or draw a custom spatial area and then, both download the data, AND get a summary of water in that area over time with interactive time-series plots. See an example here.

Coming soon. In the next several months we plan to make more data layers available including fallow fields (2000-2017), bird distribution/suitability (4 shorebirds, 4 waterfowl), giant garter snake distribution/suitability, groundwater recharge (based on Basin Characterization Model) and more!

What do managers need?

At the Central Valley Wetland Managers meeting in March, we shared spatial data we are currently developing, including fallow fields, wetland vegetation and types, groundwater recharge potential, bird and snake distribution/suitability maps, as well as some of the forecasting tools (within-year and long-term) in development.

A survey of participants in the meeting resulted in helpful feedback:

(1) most wetland managers’ first priority is their wetland complex
(2) for data to be most helpful for decision-making it should be made available in February/March and July/August, and
(3) visualizations and semi-custom summaries and/or reports appear to be the most appealing at this point.

We want these data and technologies to be useful and help wetland managers do their jobs, so we will be working to make sure that Water Tracker can deliver on these needs for wetland managers. Any feedback from the community is welcome. Email us at watertracker@pointblue.org to let us know what you need.

How is 2020 looking so far?

Overall, based on data from Water Tracker, the first 5 months of 2020 had, on average, 10% lower open water than the 2013-2019 average for these months. Only April had more open on the landscape water than the previous 7-year average and February had the lowest with a 17% reduction from average conditions. This is not surprising given the dry spell this winter. The estimated extent of open water in seasonal wetlands was also lower (-5%) across the first 5 months of 2020 compared to the recent 7-year average.

What is Water Tracker?

As a reminder, Water Tracker uses Landsat satellite imagery to update the distribution of open surface water in the Central Valley. It’s refreshed every 16 days. Water Tracker displays where open surface water is in the Central Valley in map form and also provides data summaries.

Anyone can quickly and easily get a picture of where the water is and isn’t, now and in the recent past. Data are available starting in 2013 (as far back as 2000 can be requested). Data can also be downloaded directly from Water Tracker.

There are a multitude of ways these data can inform decisions. Recent examples include 1) using the tool to decide on the best places to add water for the millions of waterbirds that rely on the Central Valley, and 2) to better understand the impacts of extreme drought on waterbird habitat availability.

Tell us how you are using Water Tracker

Please share your stories with us about how you are using Water Tracker at watertracker@pointblue.org. The best way for us to support this free, open-source resource is through understanding and highlighting how it is most useful.

Thank you for using and sharing Water Tracker in an effort to work towards meeting the water needs of both wildlife and people.

Click here for the Water Tracker Tool.

SGMA in the News

Farmland values hinge on future water availability:  “Availability of water and the impact of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act continue to be a main focus when California agricultural appraisers determine land values, particularly in water-short regions.  During a business conference held virtually last week, the California Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers also touched on other issues affecting land values, including supply-and-demand dynamics for various crops and market conditions, especially under COVID-19. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Farmland values hinge on future water availability

Dairy’s shrinking water footprint: a key piece of the SGMA puzzle:  “The implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and other anticipated water restrictions pose major challenges for California agriculture. Without effective solutions, economists have estimated that up to one million acres of farmland will be fallowed, resulting in a revenue loss of $7.2 billion per year. As the state’s top agricultural commodity, dairy farming is an important part of the SGMA challenge. Fortunately, dairy farmers have an excellent track record for water savings and are continuing to adopt innovative strategies to advance environmental sustainability and help meet the water conservation challenges ahead. … ”  Read more from Water Wrights here: Dairy’s shrinking water footprint: a key piece of the SGMA puzzle

Sacramento region plans to store water underground as a climate change adaptation strategy:  “The Sacramento region is preparing for the long term impacts of the climate crisis when it comes to water supply. Central to the plan is a groundwater storage program with two to three times the space of Folsom Lake.  As the climate warms it’ll likely become harder to fill up reservoirs, because the snowpack could be small for multiple years. Think of the nearly empty reservoirs across California during the most recent drought.  “We’re expecting in the future to have more severe droughts and potential for Folsom Reservoir to not fill up with the frequency that it does,” said James Peifer, executive director of the Regional Water Authority.  ... ” Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Sacramento region plans to store water underground as a climate change adaptation strategy

Proposed changes to Paso Robles Groundwater Basin boundaries draw anger and skepticism from landowners:  “After seven years of water restrictions over the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin, San Luis Obispo County is redrawing the basin’s boundaries, which will subject hundreds of new property owners to a moratorium on irrigating and other rules.   The revised map is part of a package of changes to the county ordinance that regulates the 684-square-mile aquifer in North County. Passed in 2013 amid an ongoing drought, the ordinance was recently extended to 2022 to buy time for the Paso Groundwater Sustainability Plan—which is currently being reviewed by the state—to get implemented. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here:  Proposed changes to Paso Robles Groundwater Basin boundaries draw anger and skepticism from landowners

Fillmore: Groundwater recharge capturing project completed:  “According to the state, this year is the 11th driest snowpack on record since 1950 and with the State Water Project announcing it will deliver only 20% of requested water supplies in 2020, projects like the Piru Stormwater Capture for Groundwater Recharge Project are critical to Ventura County’s important water supplies. This project will provide a sustainable source for recharge of the Piru Groundwater Basin and improve water quality in Piru Creek. … ”  Read more from the Fillmore Gazette here: Groundwater recharge capturing project completed

SGMA in the news

Groundwater plans could cause up to 12,000 drinking water wells to run dry:  “If all goes according to plan — actually 26 groundwater sustainability plans — between 46,000 and nearly 130,000 Central Valley residents could be out of water by 2040, according to a new report released by the Water Foundation.  Those sustainability plans are supposed to bring the valley’s depleted aquifers into balance, per the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.  But, the Water Foundation report asserts, groundwater sustainability agencies, governed mostly by members of agricultural water districts, are planning for water tables to decline to the point they could dry up between 4,000 and 12,000 domestic wells over the next 20 years. ... ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Groundwater plans could cause up to 12,000 drinking water wells to run dry

New USGS geonarrative pinpoints domestic well locations in United States:  “A new U.S. Geological Survey geonarrative illustrates where domestic (private) water wells are located and how many people are using them, based on the results of a 2019 USGS study. Nearly 40 million people in the United States rely on a domestic well for their drinking-water supply.  The geonarrative displays interactive maps that allow the user to view the number of people who rely on domestic wells per square kilometer, and the number and percentage of people by state using domestic wells. Users can zoom in on any area, although the maps are not intended to be used at the scale of a single house. … ”  Read more from the USGS here: New USGS geonarrative pinpoints domestic well locations in United States

Groundwater accountability sparks clash of Central Valley ag titans:  “Two giant Central Valley farming companies are slinging serious mud at one another over groundwater.  And, in a rare break with tradition, they’re doing it in public.  The fight has spilled out in public comments on the Tulare Lake Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan, which covers most of Kings County.  The titans behind the comments are J.G. Boswell Company and Sandridge Partners, owned by John Vidovich. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Groundwater accountability sparks clash of Central Valley ag titans

Napa County taps citizens to plan groundwater sustainability plan:  “Napa County’s annual groundwater “snapshot” for 2019 depicts a subbasin under the floor of world-famous wine country that isn’t being sucked dry by wells.  Water users pumped 18,005 acre-feet of water from the Napa Valley subbasin last year. That is within the annual sustainable yield of 17,000 to 20,000 acre-feet, according to the Luhdorff & Scalmanini consulting firm. ... ”  Read more from the Napa Register here: Napa County taps citizens to plan groundwater sustainability plan

SGMA in the news

Mendocino City Community Services District creates special groundwater committee:  “At the monthly Mendocino City Community Services District meeting, the board discussed rain levels and a newly formed groundwater management committee.  As of May 19, rainfall totals for the current rain year are 50 percent of normal. Mendocino has received 20.32 inches during the current water year. The forty-year average for this time of year is twice that at 40.04 inches. … ”  Read more from the Mendocino Beacon here: Mendocino City Community Services District creates special groundwater committee

Central Valley water districts take aim at each other’s groundwater plans:  “There is no tougher playground than California’s water world.  Just take a look at the zingers flying back and forth between water districts on one another’s groundwater sustainability plans posted on the Department of Water Resources’ website.  “It’s like a giant game of dodgeball,” said Dana Munn, General Manager of Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District. ... ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Central Valley water districts take aim at each other’s groundwater plans

 

MONITORING WELLS: DWR Helps Locals by Installing ‘Eyes Underground’

From the Department of Water Resources:

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, passed in 2014, requires locally formed groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) to create 20-year plans, called groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs). These plans map out how GSAs will manage their groundwater for long-term sustainability, which can be challenging when there isn’t a clear understanding of the movement, depth, quantity, quality, and interaction of groundwater with surface water in a basin.

To help fill in this missing information, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) works with local water agencies to install groundwater monitoring wells. Unlike water production wells, monitoring wells do not remove groundwater, but instead use one or more small diameter pipes placed anywhere from 50 feet to 2,000 feet deep. The pipes house electronic equipment that continuously measures groundwater level information. Groundwater samples can also be manually collected from these wells to check for water quality.

Read more from DWR News here:  Monitoring Wells: DWR Helps Locals by Installing ‘Eyes Underground’

WANT TO KNOW MORE?  Check out DWR’s Technical Services, which includes monitoring well installation, geophysical logging, geologic logging, groundwater level monitoring training, borehole video logging, and other field activities – and can even be at no cost to qualifying GSAs.  Go to this page and click on the Technical Services tab.

SGMA in the news

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Mendocino City Community Services District Board adopts groundwater ordinance, contingency plan:  “The Mendocino City Community Services District Board held a special meeting May 18 to vote on their groundwater extraction permit and water shortage contingency plan ordinances.  The vote followed familiar lines, with Board President Harold Hauck, Vice President Jim Sullivan and board member Jean Arnold voting yes, and board member Otto Rice voting no.  Rice said that he agreed with the concept of managing groundwater and sharing resources but remained unhappy about the process the board has taken. The process is dictated by California Water Law. The reason the ordinances were voided last year is that the law was not followed when the ordinances were passed over a decade ago. … ”  Read more from the Mendocino Beacon here: Mendocino City Community Services District Board adopts groundwater ordinance, contingency plan

SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY

Feds say Tule groundwater could continue to sink:  “Without the construction of the 152-mile Friant-Kern Canal in 1951 at the cost of $61 million, many of the best producing ag areas along the east side of the San Joaquin Valley would be out of business. That’s because farmers had pumped themselves dry by the late 1940s. Productive citrus growing areas like Orange Cove, Lindsay and Terra Bella have little groundwater available to this day.  The canal serves farms and communities from Chowchilla in the north to Arvin Edison near the Grapevine in the south. Its waters boost the area’s economy to the tune of millions of dollars.  As the Valley moves forward on sustainable groundwater monitoring plans and proposed pumping restrictions by district, the gravity-fed canal that is key to survival for 15,000 east side farms continues to be impacted by subsidence. ... ” Read more from the Foothills News-Gazette here: Feds say Tule groundwater could continue to sink

ENVIRO DOCS: A look at the Friant Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project:  “On May 8, the Bureau of Reclamation and Friant Water Authority released a draft environmental impact statement/environmental impact report for the project to repair a 33-mile stretch of the Friant-Kern Canal in the eastern San Joaquin Valley which has been damaged by subsidence. This has reduced capacity of the canal, resulting in a reduction of water deliveries of up to 300,000 acre-feet in certain water years. The Friant Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project would restore capacity from the current estimated 1,600 cfs to the original design capacity of 4,000 cfs.  The release of the documents starts a public comment period that will end at 5 p.m. on June 22. The Bureau of Reclamation and the Friant Water Authority will host an online public meeting on June 8 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to collect public comments. ... ”  Continue reading at Maven’s Notebook here:  ENVIRO DOCS: A look at the Friant Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project

Feinstein introduces bill to restore San Joaquin Valley canals, improve water supply:  “Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced the Restoration of Essential Conveyance Act, a bill to authorize $800 million in federal funding to repair critical canals in the San Joaquin Valley damaged by land sinking from overpumping of groundwater, known as subsidence, and for environmental restoration.   If the canals are not restored to their original capacity, 20 percent of the farmland – approximately 1 million acres – might have to be retired in a region that produces $36 billion in crops annually, including a third of the nation’s produce.  Representatives Jim Costa and TJ Cox (both D-Calif.) have introduced similar legislation in the House. ... ”  Read more from Maven’s Notebook here: Feinstein introduces bill to restore San Joaquin Valley canals, improve water supply

NRCS partnership to enhance San Joaquin Valley water efficiency:  “The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is working with American Farmland Trust (AFT) to help enhance San Joaquin Valley water efficiency.   The San Joaquin Valley Land and Water Conservation Collaboration is being made possible through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program from NRCS, in coordination with state and local partners.  “We’re going to over the next five years, have some pretty sizable achievements,” said AFT California Regional Director Kara Heckert. “To protect our agricultural land in the valley to ensure resilience to climate change through healthy soils, high-quality surface and groundwater supplies, and environmentally sound habitats for fish and wildlife.” ... :  Read more from Ag Net West here: NRCS partnership to enhance San Joaquin Valley water efficiency

Ripon OKs groundwater JPA with SSJID, Escalon:  “The City of Ripon is now part of the South San Joaquin Groundwater Sustainable Agency.  The Ripon City Council recently approved the Joint Exercise of Powers Agreement, partnering with the South San Joaquin Irrigation District and City of Escalon.  “The State requires we provide groundwater sustainability,” said City Administrator Kevin Werner on the Groundwater Sustainability Agency as a Joint Powers Authority at the May 12 meeting. ... ”  Read more from the Ripon Advance here: Ripon OKs groundwater JPA with SSJID, Escalon

Nut of the Future? With droughts inevitable, more farmers are switching from almonds to pistachios, but not everyone is happy about it:  “Rain scarcely fell in the San Joaquin Valley in 2013, the second year of California’s five-year drought and one of the driest years in the state’s recorded history. For Sarah Woolf and her family, growers of tomatoes, vegetables, grapes and almonds, these unprecedented conditions, coupled with new restrictions on groundwater pumping, prompted a shift of gears: They would plant drought-hardy pistachios. … ”  Read more from Comstock’s Magazine here:  Nut of the Future?