MCWRA holds water purveyor member workshop

May 21, 2015

 

2015 - Workshop - Water Rights-Water Conservation May 18 (1)

On Monday, May 18,  managers, Board members and attorneys from the Mounties Counties water purveyor membership convened at the Calaveras County Water District  or via conference call for an action oriented workshop to discuss the recent water conservation regulations, and concern of the prospect of pre-1914 and riparian water right curtailments.

2015 - Workshop - Water Rights-Water Conservation May 18 (15)In the morning part of the workshop, members shared their current conservation activities, and discussed challenges and opportunities to help members achieve their conservation mandates of between 24% -36%.  Some districts may look to recalculate the population numbers, reduce distribution losses, share resources to improve education and outreach, improve operational and financial efficiency, and for unique cases work directly with the State Water Board.  Further discussion and assistance to take place within the membership.

2015 - Workshop - Water Rights-Water Conservation May 18 (5)In the afternoon part of the workshop, members discussed the prospect that the State Water Board may issue curtailment notices to most or all pre-1914 and riparian water rights in the coming weeks or months.  Following the workshop, MCWRA developed a letter submitting comments for the Water Board’s workshop scheduled for the afternoon of May 20. The letter outlined expectations for an improved curtailment process.2015 - Workshop - Water Rights-Water Conservation May 18 (14)

In correspondence attached to the electronic transmittal letter, John Kingsbury, Executive Director, MCWRA, said that “MCWRA supports your public involvement and transparency and appreciates the opportunity to provide comments as this curtailment process moves forward.  There is still work to be done and expectations to be met prior to support of actions on pre-1914 or riparian water rights in the Delta watershed.  We appreciate your efforts to 2015 - Workshop - Water Rights-Water Conservation May 18 (8)implement a fair and equitable process and encourage and request discussions with your staff as soon as possible with MCWRA and its members.  We do stand ready to assist in this process.”

Letter to State Water Board:  051915 – SWRCB Letter – Felicia Marcus – Curtailments

More Pictures from the gallery

MCWRA sends SWRCB letter on water right curtailment process / Member News

May 19, 2015

The limited water resource in California has Mountain Counties concerned about the prospect and process by which the State Water Board may look to curtail most or all Pre-1914 and Riparian water rights in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Watershed.

MCWRA supports the State Water Board’s public involvement and appreciates the opportunity to provide comments as this curtailment process moves forward.  However, there is still work to be done and expectations to be met prior to support of actions on pre-1914 or riparian water rights in the Delta watershed, said John Kingsbury, Executive Director, MCWRA.  ”We appreciate the State Water Board’s efforts to implement a fair and equitable process and have encouraged and requested discussions with their staff as soon as possible.  We do stand ready to assist in this process”, said Kingsbury.

Letter to State Water Board:   051915 – SWRCB Letter – Felicia Marcus – Curtailments

  Member News

TUDNID_logo only_blue_trnsp (2)

Tuolumne Utility District:

Community Water Forums Scheduled in June to Focus on Water Solutions

See more:   TUD – WaterForums_05192015

Nevada Irrigation District:

Drought Briefing 

see more:  NID Drought Briefing

Customers Urged to Cut Water Usage by 36%

see more:  NID Board_Drought 5-13-15

 

California Water Rights Law: 100 Years and Counting – and Concerned

May 14, 2015

The long history of California is embattled with disputes over water diversions for export to other regions. The US Army ran out the Paiutes from the Owens Valley in the Eastern Sierra Nevada region that destroyed the Paiutes quality of life and largely destroyed the environment. The battle over the O’Shaughnessy Dam that flooded the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park, which facilitated water conveyance transportation from Yosemite to San Francisco and its suburbs. This came after a failed attempt at the targeted Lake Tahoe. Disputes, broken agreements prevail to this day.

The Mountain Counties Water Resources Association (Mountain Counties) is concerned with the State’s notices of the intent to take the unprecedented actions of curtailing vested pre-1914 appropriative rights and requiring reductions of riparian water rights.

Mountain Counties consists of 54 member entities located in all or a portion of 15 counties within the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. These foothill and mountain areas contain the headwaters for 40% of the state’s developed water supply and our members are vigilant stewards of these precious environmental resources. A primary Mountain Counties objective and goal is to assist the region in protecting water rights to ensure a reliable, sustainable water supply for our economic and environmental well-being for many future generations.

The water system in California is very complex and the severity of the drought requires appropriate regulatory action. Mountain Counties supports the State’s adherence to the water right priority system in curtailing post-1914 water rights for the protection of senior water rights, including previously stored water. However, our position is that no regulatory action should be imposed with respect to the long-standing legal rights of pre-1914 senior diverters.

In the long and contentious history of water rights in California, one date brought order to the water right landscape: Dec. 19, 1914. The Water Commission Act of 1913 took effect on December 19, 1914. The Act divided the hierarchy of appropriative water rights – “Pre-1914” or “Post-1914.”

The appropriative water right system has been recognized in California since 1851. The water rights claims that existed before the passage of the Water Commission Act were grandfathered in, and have senior water rights initiated under the Water Commission Act of 1913. Water rights granted after 1914 were subject to a more orderly permitting and licensing procedure administered by the Water Commission, a predecessor of today’s State Water Resources Control Board.

In the 1930s a set of laws enacted during the formative years of the California’s major water projects were put on the books to alleviate northern Californians fears that local water supplies would be depleted. Projects were being planned to export major amounts of water from areas of water abundance to areas of water need. The areas of abundance included northern California, and the Sierra Nevada mountains. Collectively, these laws are designed to protect water rights throughout a watershed, giving priority to water right holders with the earliest documented water right claims. Their intent seems clear; to provide some measure of protection for area of origin water such that water will be available for future needs notwithstanding the development of export projects.

The effect is to reserve water that originates in a county until such time as it may be utilized for development within that county. The word “originates” means falls in the form of precipitation; therefore, the term “county of origin” applies to the county in which the water originates, or the county where the precipitation falls.

To underscore the importance of this set of laws, in 1955 then Attorney General Edmund G. (Pat) Brown wrote an analysis that said, “these two statutes were enacted at different times and appear in different parts of the Water Code. However, they have a common purpose, i.e., to reserve for the areas where water originates some sort of right to such water for future needs which is preferential or paramount to the right of outside areas, even though the outside areas may be the areas of greatest need or the areas where the water is first put to use as the result of operations of the Central Valley Project.”

This foundational system is still in place today, incorporated in the state Water Code, yet is constantly challenged. Coupled with the long-standing statutes, and the hierarchy of water rights, the State should respect the long-standing legal rights of pre-1914 senior diverters and uphold pre-1914 water rights, particularly where they serve areas of origin.

Written by John Kingsbury, Executive Director of the Mountain Counties Water Resources Association

POSTED: 

Maven’s Notebook

Auburn Journal

Amador Ledger Dispatch

Wine Industry Insight

 

Watershed focus of Rubicon Tour

May 12, 2015

Mountain Counties Water Resources Association

Watershed Tour

*** King Fire Media Tour ***

Sponsored by: the California Forestry Association

Tour Partners:  Georgetown Divide Public Utility District, Placer County Water Agency, Sierra Pacific Industries, USDA Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy

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MCWRA Member News Releases

May 12, 2015

 Nevada Irrigation District Drought Briefing

 

On Thursday, May, 2015 at 5:30 p.m.  at the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Building, 255 South Auburn Street, Grass Valley

Nevada Irrigation District officials will present the latest information on:

  •  water storage
  • precipitation
  • drought contingency planning
  • state’s water right curtailments
  • conservation targets
  • long-range water storage
  • options for the future

MORE INFORMATION: Drought Briefing_NID

 

logo_PCWA_home

Placer County Water Agency Mulch Madness

On Saturday, May 16, 2015 from 9 a.m. to noon (or until supplies are gone), The Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) is partnering with NorCal Wholesale Bark to provide FREE MULCH to residents to help them conserve water.

MORE INFORMATION: 05-12-2015_PCWA_Mulch_Madness

 

Regional efforts draw attention to mountain watersheds

May 8, 2015

PCWA Logo

AUBURN, Calif – On April 23, Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) Director of Resource Development, Andy Fecko, testified before the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on Federal Lands in a hearing titled, “The Devastating Impacts of Wildland Fires and the Need to Better Manage our Overgrown, Fire Prone National Forests.”

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Restoring health to forest and ranglelands requires a balanced approach, and Fecko urged the Committee to consider legislative and regulatory reforms that adequately reflect the urgency of the situation. “Land management in the West is at an important crossroad, and requires bold action by Congress and compromise on the part of many stakeholders,” Fecko said.

Andy Fecko – Congressional Testimony

Experts discuss the lasting aftermath of wildfires – The King Fire

Climate change and the ongoing drought are wreaking havoc on our environment as seen by the continuing lack of snow in the Sierras, and recent uptick in wildfires. Many landscapes and residents throughout California continue to experience significant impacts as our landscape is drying up. As our story unfolds, what is the next chapter for our forested watersheds?
A variety of tours coordinated by the Mountain Counties Water Resources Association (MCWRA), has drawn the media, elected officials, state representatives, and water managers from around California to hear experts discuss the devastation and restoration efforts of the 97,000 acre fire that ravaged El Dorado and Placer Counties last year.
Since the aftermath of the King Fire, members from MCWRA, Georgetown Divide Public Utilities District, Placer County Water Agency, Nevada Irrigation District, El Dorado Irrigation District, Sierra Pacific Industries, USDA Forest Service, California Forestry Association, The Nature Conservancy, UC Merced, The Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Madrona Vineyard, Smith Flat House, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Tully & Young have jointly participated or sponsored these educational programs.
2015 Media Tour King Fire April 24 (3)
Guests have included:
  • Regional members from the Department of Water Resources
  • County Supervisors from Alpine and Placer
  • Correspondents from the Central Valley Business Times, Reuters, Auburn Journal, Mountain Democrat, Capital
    Weekly
  • Members from water agencies: Amador Water Agency, East Orange County Water District, Irvine Ranch Water District, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, State Water Contractors, Westlands Water District, and MCWRA Board members and Ex Officio members
  • Board of Directors from the Urban Water Institute from southern California
  • Members from Buckman and Associates, Dudek, Hunt Thornton Resources Strategies, RMC Water Environment, and URS / AECOM

2015 UWI King Fire Watershed Tour April 8-10 (25)2015 UWI King Fire Watershed Tour April 8-10 (32)

“These tours take our guests into the watershed to witness first-hand the impacts the King Fire devastation and the drought”, said John Kingsbury, executive director of  MCWRA.  ”Standing in sediment, seeing nothing but brown water and burnt trees has a lasting impact that you cannot comprehend until you have been there.” Kingsbury said.

2015 Media Tour King Fire April 24 (42)

Tour highlights:
  • Water supplier efforts to mitigate fire consequences
  • Restoration funding challenges
  • Ecological function of the watershed
  • Sierra Pacific Industries timber salvage and watershed restoration treatments – what is being done and what can be done
  • USDA Forest Service restoration activities and challenges – Where do we go from here
  • Fire and drought effects on water, agriculture, tourism, recreation – economy
  • What this fire means to California’s statewide integrated supply and conveyance system, and the Delta watershed, and why it should be important to all in California.

Printed Articles:

2015 UWI King Fire Watershed Tour April 8-10 (81)

Central Valley Business Times

Auburn Journal Article

 

2015 King Fire Tour Jan 30 (12)

Capital Weekly Covering California Government and Politics

Capital Weekly – First things First – Protect the Mountain Watersheds

“The source of high-quality reliable water for the majority of California comes from the Sierra Nevada watersheds and is at risk. It is paramount that our generation streamline federal regulations and establish federal disaster funding relief to offset federal funds budgeted to reduce the fuel load in overstocked forests, but spent on fire suppression.   The quality of life for the future generations of California demand we implement a creative and balanced approach to protect the watershed for water supply, water quality and our environment.”……..John Kingsbury

MCWRA Letters to the State Water Board – Curtailments Conservation Framework

April 29, 2015

MCWRA Response to Revised Water Conservation Framework

In an April 29, 2015, letter to the State Board, MCWRA continues to be concerned, because the draft framework is still of a singular focus on per capita water use, even though the State’s own Drinking Water Information Clearinghouse website (“DRINC Portal”)  states:

It is not appropriate to use R-GPCD water use data for comparisons across water suppliers unless all relevant factors are accounted for. Factors that can affect per capita water usage include:

  •  Rainfall, temperature and evaporation rates – Precipitation and temperature varies widely across the state. Areas with high temperature and low rainfall need to use more water to maintain outdoor landscaping. Even within the same hydrological region or the same water supply district, these factors can vary considerably having a significant effect on the amount of water needed to maintain landscapes.
  • Population growth – As communities grow, new residential dwellings are constructed with more efficient plumbing fixtures, which cause interior water use to decline per person as compared to water use in older communities. Population growth also increases overall demand.
  • Population density – highly urbanized areas with high population densities use less water per person than do more rural or suburban areas since high density dwellings tend to have shared outdoor spaces and there is less landscaped area per person that needs to be irrigated.
  • Socio-economic measures such as lot size and income – Areas with higher incomes generally use more water than areas with lower incomes. Larger landscaped residential lots that require more water are often associated with more affluent communities. Additionally, higher income households may be less sensitive to the cost of water, since it represents a smaller portion of household income.
  • Water prices – Water prices can influence demand by providing a monetary incentive for customers to conserve water. Rate structures have been established in many districts for water conservation, but the effectiveness of these rate structures to deter excessive use and customer sensitivity to water prices vary.

https://drinc.ca.gov/dnn/Applications/UrbanWaterR-GPCD.aspx.

Read more:  042915 – SWRCB Emergency Conservation Regulation Letter

MCWRA Letter to the State Water Board – Pre-1914 Water Rights

In response to a April 23, 2015,State Water Board notice to water right holders within the San Joaquin River watershed that pre-1914 are likely to be curtailed this summer, MCWRA sent a second letter to the State Board again emphasizing that regulatory action should not be imposed on the long-standing legal rights of pre-1914 senior diverters.

“As previously expressed, Mountain Counties is concerned with the SWRCB’s notices of potential future curtailments, which suggest an intention to take the unprecedented actions of curtailing vested pre-1914 appropriative rights and requiring reductions of riparian water rights.  We are fully aware that the severity of the drought requires appropriate regulatory action and we support the SWRCB’s adherence to the water right priority system in curtailing post-1914 water rights for the protection of senior water rights, including previously stored water.  However, no regulatory action should be imposed with respect to the long-standing legal rights of pre-1914 senior diverters”, said John Kingsbury, Executive Director, MCWRA  

Read more: 042915 – SWRCB Letter – Tom Howard – Curtailments

 

NSWA Letter to State Board / MT Democrat posts Op-ED / Curtailment – San Joaquin River Watershed / Water Commission SAC / New MCWRA Member – County of Alpine

April 23, 2015

(NSWA) North State Water Alliance – Letter to State Water Board

In a letter to the State Water Board, the North State Water Alliance (Alliance), of which MCWRA is a founding member, expressed significant concerns with the draft conservation regulations and particularly the authority relied upon by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to impose mandatory conservation targets for various water agencies.

Read more: Marcus.urbanregsapr2015

Mountain Democrat Newspaper – Conservation Framework Flawed

My turn- Water conservation target framework flawed (1)

Curtailment San Joaquin River Watershed / POST -1914 Water Rights

On April 23, the State Water Board notified all holders of post-1914 appropriative water rights within the  San Joaquin River watershed of the need to immediately stop diverting under their post-1914 water rights.

The Water Board notification goes on to assert that future curtailment of pre-1914 water rights in the San Joaquin River are likely.

“Please be advised that, if you continue to divert under a claim of pre-1914 right, most or all pre-1914 rights in the San Joaquin River watershed are likely to be curtailed later this year due to the extreme dry conditions.”

Water Board Notification:  http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/drought/docs/sjrg_2015_curtail.pdf

This follows a April 13, 2015 letter MCWRA sent to Tom Howard, Executive Director, State Water Board specifically concerned with the SWRCB’s notices of potential future curtailments, which suggest an intention to take the unprecedented actions of curtailing vested pre-1914 appropriative rights and requiring reductions of riparian water rights.

“The SWRCB has not yet revealed how it proposes to implement curtailments to pre-1914 users, or require reductions of riparian users.  If the SWRCB determines to take action to prohibit or reduce diversions by riparian and pre-1914 appropriative water right holders, any such action should clearly be preceded by adherence to all applicable procedural requirements, including factual findings, including a clear showing of necessity, demonstrating that the action is lawful.”

Letter to State Water Board Executive Director Tom Howard:  041315 – SWRCB Letter – Tom Howard – Curtailments

Water Commission Stakeholders Advisory Committee  - MCWRA Participant

Proposition 1 requires the Commission to develop regulations and guidelines through a public process and had convened the Stakeholders Advisory Committee (SAC) to seek technical and policy input from stakeholder representatives.  The SAC is a balanced advisory body, chartered by invitation to provide comments, data, and supporting information to the Commission.  The committee includes members from statewide interests including water supply, environmental, agriculture, flood control, tribal interests, conservation, and others. The committee meets monthly.

On April 1, MCWRA Executive Director John Kingsbury participated in the first meeting. Kingsbury said, ” the Water Commission is taking this process very seriously and I am honored to have been invited to participate as a support entity to the Commission”.

The Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP) will fund the public benefits associated with storage projects.  Public benefits are defined in the Water Bond under the following categories:

  • Ecosystem improvements
  • Water quality improvements
  • Flood control benefits
  • Emergency response
  • Recreational purpose

Newest MCWRA Member : County of Alpine

At its April 21 meeting, the County of Alpine Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to join MCWRA as an Associate Member.

I am delighted that the County finds value to join MCWRA and excited about the opportunity to advocate for their water interests, said John Kingsbury, MCWRA executive director.   

As of the 2010 census, the population in Alpine County was 1,175. making it the least populous county in California. The county seat is Markleeville.

Link to the County of Alpine website

 

 

Water conservation target framework flawed

April 15, 2015

April 15, 2015

By John Kingsbury, Executive Director

Mountain Counties Water Resources Association

On Tuesday, April 7, 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board released a proposed framework for meeting the statewide 25 percent water conservation target announced by Gov. Jerry Brown on April 1.  The state board identified specific reduction standards for water agencies across California.

Under the proposal, water purveyor members in the 15 counties represented by Mountain Counties Water Resources Association (MCWRA) were given water-use reduction targets of 25 percent or 35 percent without consideration for past conservation efforts or the significant financial and economic consequences of this action. This homogeneous treatment throughout the state will undermine, not foster, state-wide unity as disparate regions of the state work to achieve the 25 percent conservation goal.

Read more:  By John Kingsbury April 15 2015

Letter to the State Water Resources Control Board :  041315 – SWRCB Letter – Jessica Bean – Water Conservation Framework

MCWRA responds to Water Right Curtailment Advanced Letters, Conservation Framework, and Legislative Bills

April 13, 2015

Water Right Curtailment Advanced Letters:

In  a letter to the State Water Resources Control Board executive director Tom Howard, MCWRA expressed concerns over an intention to take the unprecedented actions of curtailing vested pre-1914 appropriative rights and requiring reductions of riparian water rights. “We are fully aware that the severity of the drought requires appropriate regulatory action and we support the SWRCB’s adherence to the water right priority system in curtailing post-1914 water rights for the protection of senior water rights, including previously stored water.  However, no regulatory action should be imposed with respect to the long-standing legal rights of pre-1914 senior diverters” said John Kingsbury, Executive Director, MCWRA.

Read more:  041315 – SWRCB Letter – Tom Howard – Curtailments

Proposed Regulatory Framework for Mandatory Conservation Measures

Under the current proposal, the framework will undermine, not foster, the state-wide unity of purpose necessary to reach the 25% conservation mandate. …Unfortunately, in our view the framework is seriously flawed and not well-suited to achieve success.

Read more:  041315 – SWRCB Letter – Jessica Bean – Water Conservation Framework

Proposed Legislation

The MCWRA Board of Directors took recent positions on the following bills :

AB647 – Eggman – Support if amended

ACR 22 – Dahle – Support

 

 

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