Thursday, May 31, 2012

Public Policy Institute of California Releases Report—“Water and the California Economy”

A report released yesterday by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), entitled “Water and the California Economy,” examines the key economic issues related to water management in California and identifies seven priorities that policymakers and water managers must address to support the state's economic vitality. The report, authored by a wide-ranging group of experts, recommends the following actions:

1. Modernize water measurement and pricing with better estimates of water use and prices that reflect water’s economic value.

2. Reduce vulnerability to water supply interruptions, particularly for the large parts of the state that rely on water exported through the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, where supplies are susceptible to levee failures and measures to protect endangered species.

3. Strengthen water markets by clarifying and streamlining the approval process for the sale and lease of water rights and addressing infrastructure gaps.

4. Improve local groundwater management to facilitate groundwater banking and reduce overdraft.

5. Reduce exposure to catastrophic flood risk by targeting flood protection dollars and making better land use decisions.

6. Improve environmental management through more integrated, coordinated, and accountable approaches.

7. Develop more reliable funding, especially for environmental management, flood pro­tection, and statewide data collection and analysis.
The Report states that “[c]ontrary to conventional wisdom, the primary [economic] concern at the statewide level is not periodic drought or even longer-term declines in water availability from climate change.” Instead, catastrophic supply interruptions that could result from earthquakes and levee failures, along with long-term unreliability in water supplies, particularly in water coming from the Delta, pose the greatest economic risks for the state. In addition, the Report concludes that declining groundwater basins and an increasing risk of catastrophic floods create economic vulnerability.

In general, the Report recommends that California make its water supply more efficient, diverse and flexible and that California take action to protect its water supply from catastrophic disruptions. It also identifies the need for more reliable funding for both flood management and environmental management, and the need for an ecosystem approach to environmental management. In addition, the Report recommends reducing permitting delays for water transfers by preparing programmatic environmental impact reviews (EIRs) for the river and stream systems most likely to sell water.

For more information regarding the PPIC report, please contact Elizabeth Leeper or the KMTG attorney with whom you normally consult.

Related Stories:
Central Valley Flood Protection Board Receives Public Draft 2012 Central Valley Flood Protection Plan
Center for Irrigation Technology Releases Report on California Agricultural Water Use

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

KMTG Will Host MCLE Presentation On Sackett v. EPA Decision

On Friday, June 8, from 12 p.m. - 1p.m. (pacific time), Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard (KMTG) will be hosting a brown-bag lunch MCLE event, entitled "Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency: Judicial Review of Clean Water Act Compliance Orders." On March 21, the Supreme Court issued its unanimous decision in Sackett v. EPA, holding that Clean Water Act compliance orders are final agency action subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act. In so ruling, the high court reversed twenty years of lower court precedent holding that landowners who receive such orders have no right to challenge those orders in federal court. Damien Schiff of the Pacific Legal Foundation, lead counsel for the Sacketts, will lead a webinar presentation on the decision. KMTG will be hosting the in-person presentation. Mr. Schiff's presentation will include a short history of the case and how it ended up in the Supreme Court, a review of Justice Scalia’s opinion for the Court, and expectations for how the decision will affect EPA’s enforcement of the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws. The webinar will be moderated by Hanspeter Walter of KMTG.

This event is presented by the Natural Resources subsection of the California Bar’s Real Property Law section.  Attendees of the webinar or the in-person presentation are eligible for 1.0 MCLE credit.

To register for the webinar, click here or go to and select Tele-Seminars and Webinars.

To attend in-person, at Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard (400 Capitol Mall, 27th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814), please email Lindsey Ono at

For additional information regarding this event, please contact Lindsey Ono or Hanspeter Walter.

Related Stories:
Property Owners Entitled to Judicial Review of EPA Compliance Orders

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Delta Stewardship Council To Discuss Final Staff Draft Of Delta Plan

At today’s meeting, the Delta Stewardship Council (Council) will discuss the final staff draft of the Delta Plan, which was released on May 14, 2012. The Delta Plan is a comprehensive, long-term management plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta (Delta), consisting of a mix of legally-enforceable “policies” and guiding “recommendations.” A comparison of the policies and recommendations contained in the final staff draft of the Delta Plan and the prior version is available here. State and local agencies undertaking actions covered by the Delta Plan will be required to file a certification of consistency with the Council, to ensure that the “covered action” is consistent with the applicable Delta Plan policies.

For more information concerning the Delta Plan, please contact Elizabeth Leeper or the KMTG attorney with whom you normally consult.

Related Stories:
Delta Stewardship Council to Conduct Field Hearings on Draft Environmental Impact Report for Delta Plan
Delta Stewardship Council Releases Draft Environmental Impact Report for Delta Plan
Delta Stewardship Council to Release Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Delta Plan on November 4
Delta Stewardship Council to Discuss Delta Plan on August 26
Delta Stewardship Council Releases Draft Version of Delta Plan

Friday, May 11, 2012

Governor Announces New Appointments to the State Water Resources Control Board

On May 11, 2012, Governor Jerry Brown announced the appointments of Felicia Marcus and Steven Moore to the State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board”).

The State Water Board is responsible for water allocation and water quality protection in California.  While the State Water Board is permitted to contain five full-time salaried members, prior to the Governor’s announcement yesterday the board consisted of just three members: Chairman Charles R. Hoppin, Vice Chair Frances Spivy-Weber, and Tam M. Doduc.

Both new appointees are familiar with California water issues.  Ms. Marcus gained her experience with the Natural Resources Defense Council, Trust for Public Land, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  In addition, Ms. Marcus has been a member of the Delta Stewardship Council since 2010.

Mr. Moore, a civil and sanitary engineer, has served in multiple positions with the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, and also has experience working as an senior engineer, environmental analyst, and biologist.

Both positions require Senate confirmation.  If confirmed, Ms. Marcus and Mr. Moore would each serve a four-year term.

In addition to the appointments of Ms. Marcus and Mr. Moore, Governor Brown announced that Charles Hoppin will remain chair of the State Water Board.  Mr. Hoppin has served as chair since 2009.

For more information regarding this matter, please contact Rebecca R. Akroyd or the KMTG attorney with whom you normally consult.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Final Snow Survey Shows Dry Winter

Today’s news release by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) for the final 2012 snow survey confirmed that the State suffered a dry winter. Snowpack water content is only 40 percent of normal for this time of year, which in turn will result in below-normal snowpack runoff. Mark Cowin, Director of DWR, acknowledged that reservoir storage from the preceding wet year “will mitigate the impact of dry conditions on water supply this summer” but warned that the State must “plan for the possibility of a consecutive dry year in 2013 . . .”

DWR expects to deliver 60 percent of the approximately 4 million acre-feet of State Water Project (SWP) water requested by SWP contractors this year. According to today’s news release, this is “not an unusually low delivery projection, or allocation” and is largely attributable to last year’s unusually wet winter and resulting reservoir storage.

For more information regarding this matter, please contact Elizabeth Leeper or the KMTG attorney with whom you normally consult.

Related Stories:
California Department of Water Resources Increases State Water Project Allocation to 60 Percent
Bureau of Reclamation Announces Updated CVP Water Allocations
DWR Survey Shows State Snowpack Levels at 37%