Water Policy Principles

Water Policy Principles

Adopted:  January 27, 2010


The Mountain Counties Water Resources Association (MCWRA) was formed in the early 1950s for the purposes of providing education and legislative advocacy to and on behalf of its Sierra Nevada Water Districts and other agencies located in the Sierra foothills upstream of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys. These foothills contain a complex network of streams and rivers fed from Sierra precipitation that provide local, regional, and statewide social, economic, and environmental benefits.

One of the primary goals of MCWRA is to assist the region’s water agencies in protecting their Area, County and Watershed of Origin water rights.  The rapid pace of current legislation to address statewide water issues and the Bay-Delta crisis are putting these water rights in jeopardy.  Legislation often moves forward at a pace in which adequate review, analysis, comment and testimony are difficult to coordinate.

The threat to water rights, as well as the potential for fees, regulatory and environmental costs as a result of recently enacted state legislation, prompts MCWRA to adopt a framework of water policy principles. Within this framework, MCWRA will expediently develop comprehensive responses to support, oppose and/or amend legislation / regulations with acceptable language that is consistent with the MCWRA Water Policy Principles.

1. MCWRA supports legislation that protects its members’ existing water rights, area-of-origin rights and local agencies’ ability to use water resources for present and future economic and environmental well-being. MCWRA opposes any actions that would violate or diminish the principles of the area of origin and watershed protection laws (Water Code Sections 1011, 10505 and 11460).

2. MCWRA supports water-conservation legislation that respects, acknowledges, and gives credit for existing local and regional conservation efforts, and accounts for unique local circumstances.  Imposition of state-wide mandates is inconsistent with area-of-origin protections and the wide variety of local conditions within the state.  In addition, any such mandates that are inconsistent with locally developed plans and uses will surely result in the contraction of regional cooperation.  Regional and statewide cooperation can only exist when participants are certain that such cooperation will not expose them to increased risks to their own water supply security.

3. MCWRA opposes State and/or federal agencies using regulatory authority to reallocate area-of-origin and watershed of origin water supplies. State law must continue to assure areas of origin of sufficient water supplies reasonably necessary to meet present and future beneficial uses.

4. MCWRA opposes any fees levied on diverters of water upstream of the Statutory Delta. MCWRA opposes any legislation that attempts to define the Mountain Counties overlay region as a beneficiary of the Delta. Identifying who benefits from each element of the Bay-Delta Program and allocating the costs accordingly is an essential prerequisite for a Bay-Delta finance plan.  The beneficiary-pays concept should apply to only those users who receive water from the statutory Delta.

5. MCWRA supports legislation that is consistent with and coordinated with the State Water Plan and the Public Water Coalition of California report. In addition, any proposed legislation should be consistent and coordinated with the Integrated Regional Water Management Plans (IRWMP) developed statewide and particularly within the MCWRA area.  The State Water Plan encourages local regions and watersheds, through IRWMPs, to work together to develop and use their local water resources, including surface resources, groundwater and recycled water, in locally sustainable and environmentally acceptable ways.

6. MCWRA believes that a “one size fits all” approach is not reasonable or practical for regulating urban water use throughout California. Requiring a uniform reduction of 20 percent by all water suppliers will have the unfair result of penalizing suppliers (and their customers) who are already meeting or exceeding conservation goals under existing programs.  MCWRA will support legislation that credits existing water conservation programs, as well as recycled water use and conservation achieved on raw water conveyance systems as long as all water conserved remains in the area-of-origin pursuant to Water Code section 1011.

7. MCWRA supports new surface water storage in appropriate locations and as locally determined necessary for the reliability of area-of-origin water supplies. Surface storage is an essential element of a comprehensive program.


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