Mokelumne Wilderness Wildfire Being Managed for Resource Benefits

August 22, 2016

U.S. Forest Service
Pacific Southwest Region
Stanislaus National Forest
19777 Greenley Road
Sonora, CA 95370
Voice: 209-532-3671

News Release

Contact: Clare Long
209-532-3671, ext 438
Date: August 22, 2016

SONORA, California,  August 22, 2016 – Firefighters from the Stanislaus National Forest are managing the Mokelumne Fire for multiple objectives including allowing fire to function in its natural role while also suppressing the fire where safe to do so.

The Mokelumne Fire was caused by a lighting strike and started on August 19, 2016, in a remote area of the Mokelumne Wilderness on the Stanislaus National Forest. This slow-moving 147-acre fire is burning brush and trees in steep, rugged country with granite cliffs and outcroppings. This makes firefighting on the ground difficult and a concern for the safety of the firefighters. There are 34 personnel including one 10-person crew and a helicopter with the capacity to drop water currently assigned to this incident. Firefighters are using control strategies to manage the impacts and promote the ecological benefits.

Wildland Fire Managers have the option to manage naturally-ignited fires to achieve resource benefits where fire is a major component of the ecosystem and where specific pre-stated objectives can be accomplished. This fire will reduce accumulated forest litter and fuels, maintain fire in a fire-adapted ecosystem, increase firefighter and public safety, and protect cultural resources and wildlife habitat. The goal of managing this fire is to allow fire to resume its natural role in the ecosystem.

Acting Forest Fire Management Officer, Rob Laeng says “Lightning fires are a natural occurrence and play a vital role in shaping this fire-dependent ecosystem.  By managing this fire for resource benefit we can ensure a healthier, more diverse and natural forest where future fires will burn with less intensity.”

Over the next few weeks there will be smoke and reduced visibility in this area and the public is advised to avoid the area of the Mokelumne Wilderness north of Frog Lake near the Mokelumne River. Forest managers are working with state air quality monitoring services to monitor air quality impacts in the area.

For more information about the Mokelumne Fire contact: Fire Information line at 209-272-5455 or visit, or facebook at

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, part U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.



Reclamation and El Dorado Irrigation District Sign Warren Act Contract for Project 184 Water

August 18, 2016

EID Logo (4)Media Contacts:
Reclamation: Shane Hunt, 916-978-5100,
El Dorado Irrigation District: Jesse Saich, Public Information Officer, (530) 642-4127,


Placerville, Calif. — On Aug. 2, 2016, the Bureau of Reclamation and the El Dorado Irrigation District (EID) entered into a Warren Act contract for 17,000 acre-feet per year of EID’s Project 184 supplies (Water Rights Permit 21112) from Folsom Reservoir. The contract will be in effect through February 2030 and is the result of EID’s 25-year effort to secure this new water supply for its customers.

“This long-sought contract is the culmination of years of dedicated work by both parties,” said Acting EID General Manager Tom Cumpston. “Access to this supply from Folsom bolsters EID’s robust water portfolio and enhances dry-year water reliability for EID’s customers and the wider community. At the same time, Reclamation has negotiated contract terms that protect both its Folsom Reservoir customers and the aquatic environment downstream of the dam.”

Drew Lessard, Area Manager for Reclamation’s Central California Area Office, which manages Folsom Reservoir, stated, “Reclamation is pleased to enter into this contract with EID, which will help ensure critical supplies for their water users through 2030.”

EID’s operation of its federally licensed Project 184 hydroelectric project makes the Permit 21112 supplies available; however, permit conditions required that the water be diverted at Folsom Reservoir and that EID enter into a Warren Act contract with Reclamation for the diversion.

Deliveries under the long-term Warren Act contract will be limited to 8,500 acre-feet per year until EID completes the installation of a Reclamation-approved fully operational temperature control device at EID’s raw water pump station, at which time the contract will allow diversion of the full 17,000 acre-feet per year of non-Central Valley Project (CVP) water. The long-term Warren Act contract would allow EID to utilize Project 184 water for consumptive use purposes within their CVP service area through February 2030.

Reclamation developed an Environmental Assessment (EA) to consider potential impacts of entering into the contract. The Final EA, dated July 2016, supports the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), signed on August 2. The Final EA/FONSI were prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act and are available at If you have problems accessing the documents, please call 916-978-5100 (TTY 800-877-8339) or email

The Warren Act authorizes the United States to execute contracts for the conveyance and storage of non-CVP water in federal facilities when excess capacity exists. Warren Act contracts are undertaken under the authority of the Act of June 17, 1902, (32 Stat. 388) and acts amendatory thereof or supplementary thereto, including the Act of February 21, 1911, (36 Stat. 925) and Section 305 of the Reclamation States Emergency Drought Relief Act of 1991, enacted March 5, 1992 (106 Stat. 59).

Georgetown Divide PUD names interim GM

August 17, 2016

GDPUD logo2Moving to quickly replace General Manager Wendell Wall, whose contract was terminated Aug. 2, the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District Board of Directors named Darrell Creeks as interim general manager at its Aug. 9 meeting.

Creeks has worked at the district for about 20 years and has been operations manager since 2014. His compensation for the job will be $60.10 per hour while he serves as interim general manager.

for more on the story:

WATER RIGHT Measurement and Reporting

August 15, 2016

If you divert and use water from a surface water source such as a lake, creek, stream, or river, OR you divert water from a subterranean stream that flows in a known and definite channel, California law requires you to report your diversion and use to the State Water Board, Division of Water Rights.

State Water Board

The State Water Resources Control Board is hosting an information fair on water measurement and reporting on August 22, 2016, to facilitate better understanding of (and compliance with) measurement and reporting regulations recently adopted by the Board.  The purpose of the information fair is to bring together water right holders, vendors, and other professionals employed in the water measurement industry to identify reasonable and practical ways to accurately measure water diversions in a variety of settings.  State Water Board staff will be present to answer questions about compliance with the new regulations.

Additional information may be found on the attached flyer and on the following webpage:

If you have any questions regarding this matter, please contact Paul Wells at or (916) 323-5195.


Rice University – A Glass Half-Full: A Look into the Current Water Crisis in California and Strategies to Preserve our World’s Greatest Resource

August 14, 2016

Earlier this year, MCWRA had the unique opportunity to host 12 Rice University (Houston) students for a half day in Sacramento at the Capitol and a daylong tour of the American River Watershed.  On the eight day Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip, the students examined the impacts of the drought, visited local farms and communities most affected in the areas of San Francisco, Sacramento, and Fresno. The students also explored some of the causes and exacerbating factors of the drought, looking at the issue through the lens of climate change and policy. The students also looked at the issue of working with local water boards, conservancies, and supporting organizations that are raising awareness in the local communities in an effort to promote water conservation and sustainability.

Rice University Site Leaders Laura and Kate Nicholson

We (Kate & Laura) were inspired to start this ASB journey by our concern for what we had heard about the drought in California and what the trend could mean for all of our futures. The process of developing, planning and executing this trip was challenging, but well beyond worth it for us. We felt so lucky to have such passionate, engaged and intelligent participants on our trip, their thoughts and contibutions to discussions made the trip what it was. We are also so very thankful for all the people we met with throughout the trip. Everyone we spoke to had an amazing story to tell and something real to teach us. Countless people went far out of their way to help us and we could not have done it without them. 

Througout the week, the students took copious notes on the presentations and discussions with and by the many different resource we met with. At the end of each day we then reflected as a group on the topics covered for that day and our reactions to them. In the end we formed a blog written in collaboration with the group.

On Day 3 of our eight day California trip, we moved on to the Capitol building, where, with the gracious help of Mr. John Kingsbury, MCWRA executive director, we met with State Senator Jim Nielsen, State Assemblymember Frank Bigelow, and Carolyn Angius from the Governor’s office,  Through these discussions with policy makers, “we received a broadened perspective on agriculture and its relation to policy, as well as what policies were being put in place to help different communities, from urban to rural.”

2016 Rice Tour Feb 29 (2)

Assembly Member Frank Bigelow

2016 Rice Tour Feb 29 (5)

Senator Jim Nielsen

Day 4: Tour of Nimbus Hatchery, Folsom Reservoir, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Placer County, Foresthill

 This was probably one of the most jam-packed and informational days of our trip. John Kingsbury was an amazing resource throughout this portion of the trip, and we are so thankful to him for organizing the awesome connections and meetings we had today and yesterday at the Capitol. We started the day by meeting on a bus that was chartered by Mr.

Kingsbury. Before departing, we met Debbie Davis Franco, a community affairs advisor and drought liaison from the Governor’s office, and Barbara Balen, a USDA Forest Service District Archaeologist who would both be accompanying us on our tour for the day. Our first stop was at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery, where we were given a fabulous tour of the facilities from Laura Drath, a public relations interpreter from the Fish & Wildlife service. Following this, Tom Gohring, the executive director of the Water Forum gave us a presentation about the Water Forum as a group and how they came about making important decisions that would impact huge numbers of people and their livelihoods. He specifically focused on the American River Water Stakeholder Agreement, which was a groundbreaking agreement made in 2000 between water purveyors to better understand the relative importance of all factors pulling at the water resources.

This then brought us to the Sierra Nevada Conservancy office, where we met with Bob Kingman, the assistant executive director of the conservancy, Josh Huntsinger, the Placer County Agricultural Commissioner, and the local foods advocate and author, Joanne Neft. Here we had a delicious, local lunch provided by Joanne and coordinated by Mr. Kingsbury. Joanne was even so kind to give each of the participants a copy of her cookbook! We learned much more about how the conservancy operates and the importance of forest management and the role water plays in the maintenance of the Sierra Nevada forests.

After lunch, we all made our way to the Placer County Water Agency where we spoke to Andy Fecko, the director of resource planning of the agency. He educated us about the challenges we face when addressing water in California.

After meeting with Mr. Fecko, our bus made a stop at the confluence of the middle and north fork of the american river. This was an amazing and beautiful area and a wonderful setting to learn about the management of watershed resources from Marie Davis, a registered professional geologist and consultant to the Placer County Water Agency.

Our final stop was at Foresthill, a small community north-east of Sacramento. There we learned more about the challenges more rural communities face in terms of water. For this, we spoke to Hank White, the general manager of the Foresthill Public Utility District. We learned much more about the difficulties of trying to manage a water resource, when monetary resources are low and the intricacies of water rights.


Overall, I think I got more out of this day than any other particular day. I hadn’t really known what the particular role of fisheries were, and had no idea how they functioned, I found it particularly interesting how they would maintain the populations of the fish species via manual breeding. Additionally, learning about the other methods, such as fish ladders, and challenges associated with this field and the reasons for it coming into being were also very interesting.

Furthermore, the discussion about the stakeholder agreement further opened my eyes to the many different industries that are all sharing in this precious resource and how difficult finding co-equal goals, or goals that balance a reliable water supply with the protection of the lower american river. The discussion with Mr. Yasutake was also very interesting as we learned more about water reservoirs and Folsom reservoir in particular. Overall it very much seemed like the factors that made the biggest difference in how much water a particular interest group would be able to obtain depended mainly on how much power and money they had, not unlike many other aspects of our society.

Lunchtime was a surprisingly educational moment for me. Hearing Joanne’s enthusiasm and passion for the importance of having local food was very inspiring and her concerns for imported food and the impact of antibiotics in meat products are very real. I also very much agree with her concerns for the growing areas called “food deserts” where people do not have access to local, healthy foods. While theoretically you could eat food only from Placer county all year long, coming from Minnesota, I wonder what kinds of solutions are possible for areas that have a much shorter growing seasons…? Additionally, I hope there are future progress in terms of the prices of organic and local foods as in almost all cases, the conventional foods are much cheaper. Additionally, it was very interesting learning more about the forest outside our windows, especially about its role in water absorption, the changing melting patterns of the snopak and the connection between forest mismanagement and the over-absorption of critical snopak water.

Following the California trip, the students created a website portal of the trip:

RICE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS to return to the Mountain Counties in 2017:  My name is Cindy Nguyen, and I am an undergraduate from Rice University in Houston, TX. I will be leading an Alternative Spring Break (ASB) Trip that will be focusing on water quality issues and water justice. You might remember me and my co-leader Nimi Oyelele, because we were on the ASB trip led by Kate and Laura Nicholson this past spring break! We can’t thank you enough for the workshops you organized for us, and because we were so inspired and motivated to learn more, we’ve signed up to make this trip happen again for spring break of 2017, except we will be leading a new group of students and introduce them to the wonderful organizations that we spoke with before.

Time for more water storage

August 11, 2016

By:  John Kingsbury, Executive Director

Mountain Counties Water Resources Association

Time for more water storage

As most of California recovers from this historical drought, one thing we can count on is that history will repeat itself.  Californians can take full credit for willingly sacrificing landscape and adjusting habits to save water supply for another year.  Toilets have been replaced, lawn has been converted to plastic, leaks have been fixed, prime agricultural land has been fallowed, and we have learned to be more efficient with our water supply.

So, fast-forward to the next drought.  What’s next?  There are powerful environmental activists that support dam removal, oppose new and expanded surface storage, and are demanding permanent and more strenuous conservation restrictions, both on indoor use and outdoor irrigation, as well as more water cutbacks on agriculture.  Unfortunately, this environmental movement is a myopic approach that ignores the statewide efforts to improve the California’s integrated water system.

California’s existing integrated and complex water system was built in the 1960s for a different time, hydrology, and population.  Climate is and has been warming.  By 2050, conservative estimates are that we’ll lose 25 to 40 percent of the Sierra snowpack, the state’s largest winter reservoir.  The population has more than doubled since the state and federal water projects were constructed.  In 1960, there were 15.87 million people in California.  Now there are estimates of around 36 million people and projections of over 60 million people by the year 2050.  California’s population is larger than many nations of the world.

Significant to California is the water stored in reservoirs behind dams.  These dams, built decades ago, have dedicated in-stream flow releases designed to meet many beneficial uses of the environment, agriculture, and urban and municipal needs.  Let’s not forget flood control.  As the planet warms, more precipitation will land in the Sierra Nevadas in the form of rain rather than snow.  Rain, not absorbed by the forest floor, moves unimpeded through the watershed, breaching dams, causing valley flooding and pressure on the Delta levee system before the water is wasted to the sea.  All because California does not have adequate storage facilities to capture excess winter flows.

It has not been since Governor Edmund G. Brown’s vision to build a statewide water system for California and President John F. Kennedy’s famous speech in 1962 at the site of San Luis Reservoir that the people of this state have been united to build a path for the future.  “Water is man’s oldest and most precious natural resource,” President Kennedy said.  “For many years, some believed that the water problems of this state were too controversial and too complicated to solve.  They believed there was no escaping the effects of drought and flood.”  And then it was built.  San Luis Reservoir, when full, holds up to 2 million acre feet or 652-billion gallons of water and is the largest off-stream reservoir in the United States.  Construction began in 1963 and was completed in 1967.

Now, half a century later, most Californians are again united.  In 2014, California voters overwhelmingly united to support a water bond as a start to pave the way for the future.  The water bond includes $2.7 billion dollars to support the construction of surface water storage and $810 million dollars to improve water security, provide for drought preparedness, and mitigate the effects of climate change.

There are several proposed well-known surface water storage projects being considered; raising Shasta Dam on the Sacramento River, constructing Sites Reservoir and Temperance Flat, and expanding Los Vaqueros and San Luis Reservoirs.  In the Mountain Counties Area, there are also several potential water storage projects with regional and statewide public benefits.  These regional projects include, Alder Reservoir, Blagen Mill Pond Restoration Project, Centennial Reservoir, Herring Creek Reservoir Expansion, Sierra Pines Reservoir, Sugar Pine Dam Raise, Tuolumne County Water Supply Reliability Project, Upper Strawberry Reservoir, and Wilson Lake Rehabilitation and Meadow Restoration Plan.

Additional surface water storage reduces ground water extraction and subsidence in the Delta by using surface water during wet years and the ground water basin during dry years.  Additional storage provides for new urban and municipal uses, drought preparedness, flood protection, and recreational opportunities.  Surface water stored behind dams provides cold water for endangered fish, such as steelhead trout and salmon.  Water released from reservoirs helps balance the wind and solar electricity grid by generating carbon-free renewable hydropower energy.  As the population grows, so must California water for food production, unless we are content with our children and grandchildren subsisting on two meals a day or food from third world countries.

It is time for more water storage to help pave the way to a prosperous future for California.  Unless we have the fortitude to increase surface water storage as the voters have called for, we will continue to ration the half-full glass of water.  We should reflect on the vision of Governor Brown and the words of President Kennedy:  “Progress represents the combined will of the American people, and only when they are joined together for action, instead of standing still and thinking that everything that had to be done has been done.  It’s only when they join together in a forward movement that this country moves ahead and that we prepare the way for those who come after us.”

This opinion was modified and presented in a letter to Water Commission Chair, Joseph Byrne, and the Commissioners, to remind the Commission of water storage projects in the mountain counties area that have regional and statewide benefit.

Letter to:Chair Joe Bryne August 2016

ACWA – Region 3 Program

August 10, 2016

Impacts of Long-Term Conservation

Friday, September 9, 2016
9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

El Dorado Irrigation District
2890 Mosquito Road
Placerville, CA 95667

ACWA Region 3 invites you to a one day event that will discuss the impact and issues of long term conservation. This program will feature ACWA Executive Director Tim Quinn, and two panel discussions. The first panel will highlight what it really takes to conserve long-term and the financing planning. The second panel will highlight what local agencies are doing to prepare for the new age of water conservations.


ACWA Member Pre-Registration Fee: $25
Non-Member Pre-Registration Fee: $38

A $5 fee will be added to onsite registrations. Onsite registrations will be accommodated as space permits.

Registration fee includes continental breakfast, lunch, refreshments and materials.

Online registration deadline is September 4, 2016 or until space is full.  Onsite registrations will be accommodated as space permits. Cancellations must be received in writing by 5 p.m. on September 4, in order to cancel a registration and receive reimbursement. Substitutions can be made by requesting it in writing by September 4, 2016. After that date, substitutions can be handled onsite at the event. Event details are subject to change and registrants will be notified by e-mail if changes occur.

County of El Dorado honors a founder of MCWRA – Eugene Chappie

June 21, 2016

Chappie-GeneThe California Department of Transportation officials have installed Memorial Highway signs to honor long-time El Dorado County resident Eugene “Gene” Chappie, in recognition of his four decades of service representing the residents of El Dorado County and the state of California.  Chappie died on May 31, 1992, at age 72 at his home in Georgetown, CA.

Gene was also a founder of the Mountain Counties Water Resources Association and Georgetown Divide Public Utilities District.

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Michael Ranalli, Supervisor, County of El Dorado and John Kingsbury, Executive Director, Mountain Counties Water Resources Association. Photo by: Wally Dubois


On Saturday, June 18, 2016, County of El Dorado Supervisor Michael Ranalli hosted the ceremony to recognize Eugene Chappie’s service to El Dorado County, the region, and to California.

Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 2 Eugene “Gene” Chappie Memorial Highway

Interview with EUGENE A. CHAPPlE: California state Archives state Government Oral History Program Oral History 

Story from the Mountain Democrat

MCWRA program remarks: Gene Chappie

TUD Phoenix Lake project – Next Phase

June 19, 2016


SONORA, CA: The Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) is moving forward with design and permitting for the Phoenix Lake Preservation and Restoration Project (Project), which will improve the water quality and storage capacity of the lake.

See More:PhoenixLake_Barge_06162016 (1)

Contact: Lisa Westbrook June 16, 2016 Public Relations (209) 532-5536, x501

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Climate change and the potential effects on water operations

June 16, 2016

From the Mountain Counties Water Resources Association Event:

PCWA’s Andy Fecko looks at what projections for sea level rise and warming temperatures could potentially mean for water operations at Folsom and in the Delta

2016 May 18 Program 069

Climate change models predict a wide range of impacts that a warming climate will bring; most often discussed are warming temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, reduced snowpack, and rising sea levels.  In this presentation from the recent Mountain Counties Water Resources Association event, Andy Fecko, Director of Resource Development for the Placer County Water Agency, built his case for how these climate change impacts could affect operations at Folsom Reservoir and in the Delta.

Link to Mavens Notebook.  Here’s what Andy had to say.

Click here to see all of Mavens Notebook’s coverage on MCWRA 

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