Friday, March 22, 2013

State Water Project Allocation Reduced 5 Percent

The State Water Contractors issued a press release announcing that the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has reduced this year's expected water allocations from the State Water Project from 40% down to 35% as a result of a record dry January and February, coupled with a grim outlook for rain conditions in March, and pumping restrictions that were imposed in December and January to protect Delta smelt and salmon. The press release states that recent pumping restrictions resulted in more than 550,000 acre-feet of water lost from the State Water Project and more than 300,000 acre-feet of water lost from the Central Valley Project water that could have been stored and would have provided an important safety net during this record dry spell. DWR rarely lowers allocation projections. In fact, allocations have only been reduced 3 times since 1970.

"This reduction in allocations illustrates the need for water infrastructure that is flexible enough to capture supplies when they are available,” said Terry Erlewine, general manager of the State Water Contractors. There is no way to predict the amount of rain and snow we will get each year, which is why it is vital that we capture water when it is available so we can save it for these dry spells. The Bay Delta Conservation Plan will provide this flexibility so water can be captured and delivered reliably to the 25 million Californians who rely on water from the Delta.

For more information on this issue or other natural resource developments please contact Hanspeter Walter or the KMTG attorney with whom you normally consult.

Bureau of Reclamation Reduces 2013 CVP Allocations by 5 Percent

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation today decreased the Water Year 2013 water supply allocations for the Central Valley Project, citing the extremely dry conditions in California.  Reclamation's announcement is quoted below:

Following a wet start to the water year in November and December 2012, the January – March period is tracking to be the driest on record, resulting in a critical classification for both the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins based on the 90-percent exceedence forecast. Reclamation is announcing a decrease in the allocation for the following South-of-Delta water service contractors:

  • Agricultural water service contractors’ allocation is decreased from 25 to 20 percent of their contract supply.

  • Municipal & Industrial contractors’ allocation is decreased from 75 to 70 percent of their historic use.

The initial CVP allocation in February was low, based in part on pumping restrictions needed to protect threatened fish species under the Endangered Species Act; however, this decreased allocation for South-of-Delta contractors is based on the critical water year classification, the projection of reduced Delta inflows this spring, significant loss of reservoir storage to support pumping this summer and water quality permit requirements.

“We are facing a challenging water year, but we continue to look for opportunities to facilitate supplemental water supplies through water transfer and exchange programs and new arrangements that could lead to additional flows in the system,” stated Mid-Pacific Regional Director David Murillo. “We are exploring all options to assist in alleviating the serious impacts of these drought conditions.”

The decreased allocations have occurred despite recent actions being taken by Reclamation to help shore up water supplies.  Some of these actions include the completion of the Delta-Mendota Canal/California Aqueduct Intertie in May 2012 and the securing of water to supplement CVP supplies as a result of the Yuba Accord.

“Reclamation continues working with our partners to find a comprehensive, long-term solution to achieve the dual goals of a reliable water supply for California and a healthy Bay Delta ecosystem that supports the state’s economy,” Murillo said. “It should be noted that the successful completion of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan would include a new diversion and conveyance facility utilizing state-of-the-art protections for endangered fish species, which would improve water supply reliability even in years such as this, while improving environmental conditions in the Delta.”

For more information on this issue or other natural resource developments please contact Hanspeter Walter or the KMTG attorney with whom you normally consult.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Brown Administration Releases First Four Of Twelve Chapters of Bay Delta Conservation Plan

Today the administration of California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. released the first four of 12 chapters of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). The four chapters released today include:
  • Introduction: background, planning goals, regulatory context, a description of the scope of the plan, overview of the planning process, and details of how the plan is organized.
  • Existing Ecological Conditions: historic and current ecological conditions in the Delta.
  • Conservation Strategy: biological goals and objectives and details of the 22 conservation measures.
  • Covered Activities: activities for which permits will be sought from regulatory agencies as a result of project proponents agreeing to implement the components of the plan upon its approval.
The chapters released today can be viewed here. A public meeting to discuss these chapters is scheduled for March 20 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Ramada Inn, 1250 Halyard Drive in West Sacramento.

Chapters to be released in coming weeks include those that describe:
  • the effects of the plan on ecosystem processes
  • plan implementation
  • governance structure
  • costs and funding sources
  • analysis of alternative ways to minimize harm to protected species
  • the role of independent science in the creation and implementation of the plan. 
The schedule for the BDCP can be viewed here.

For additional information regarding the BDCP please visit or contact Elizabeth Leeper or the KMTG attorney with whom you normally consult.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Governor Announces Appointments To State Water Resources Control Board

Governor Brown today made the following anouncements with respect to the State Water Resources Control Board:

Tam Doduc, 46, of Sacramento, has been appointed to the State Water Resources Control Board, where she has served since 2005. Doduc has held multiple positions at the California Environmental Protection Agency since 2000, including deputy secretary for environmental quality, assistant secretary for air and chemical programs, assistant secretary for agriculture and chemical programs and assistant secretary for technology certification.

Frances Spivy-Weber, 68, of Redondo Beach, has been appointed to the State Water Resources Control Board, where she has served since 2007. Spivy-Weber was a consultant to Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Nancy Sutley in 2006 and executive director for policy at the Mono Lake Committee from 1997 to 2006. She served as director of international programs at the National Audubon Society from 1983 to 1992 and legislative assistant at the Animal Welfare Institute from 1978 to 1982.

Governor Brown also announced the following changes to the State Water Resources Control Board, which will become effective upon the retirement of Board Chair Charles R. Hoppin in April:

Dorene D’Adamo, 52, of Stanislaus, will be appointed to the Board. D’Adamo has been senior policy advisor for Congressman Jim Costa since 2013. She was senior policy advisor for Congressman Dennis Cardoza from 2003 to 2012 and was legal counsel for Congressman Gary Condit from 1994 to 2003. D’Adamo was a visiting instructor at California State University, Stanislaus from 1992 to 1998 and an associate attorney at the Law Offices of Perry and Wildman from 1992 to 1994.

Felicia Marcus, 57, of Emeryville, will assume the position of Board Chair for the State Water Resources Control Board. Marcus has served on the State Water Resources Control Board since 2012. She was the western director for the Natural Resources Defense Council from 2008 to 2012 and was executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Trust for Public Land from 2001 to 2008. Marcus served as the regional administrator at the U.S. EPA Region IX from 1993 to 2001.

For more information on this development, please contact Hanspeter Walter or the KMTG Natural Resource attorney with whom you normally consult.

Governor Appoints Retired Judge Frank C. Damrell To Delta Stewardship Council

Governor Jerry Brown has appointment retired federal district court judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. to the Delta Stewardship Council.  Damrell will fill the seat previously held by Felicia Marcus, who was appointed to the State Water Resources Control Board last fall.  The Delta Stewardship Council issued a statement quoting Council Chair Phil Isenberg as stating:  “Judge Damrell is a terrific appointment. He is smart, focused and knowledgeable. Having a member with federal judicial experience will add substantially to our base of knowledge. He has a distinguished judicial record with significant decisions on environmental, commercial, employment, anti-trust and civil rights matters. We look forward having someone of Judge Damrell’s stature on the Council."
For more information on this development, please contact Hanspeter Walter or the KMTG Natural Resource attorney with whom you normally consult. 


Friday, March 1, 2013

February Snow Survey Shows Snowpack At 66% Of Average

On February 28, 2013, the Department of Water Resources ("DWR") issued a news release regarding the third 2013 snow survey.  The results of the snow survey show that snowpack water content is only 66 percent of average for this time of year, and only 57 percent of the average April 1st levels, when snowpack is normally at its peak.  In comparison, the first 2013 survey performed on January 2nd, showed snowpack at 134 percent of normal for that date.  The current low snowpack levels are a result of the "driest January-February on record (since 1920)" for the Northern California region.

The low snow levels are a concern for water suppliers and water users throughout the State, because snowpack--"often called California's 'frozen reservoir'--normally provides about a third of the water for California's farms and communities."  The news release states that "[f]orecasters note there could be a weather turnaround in March, but it is unlikely late-season storms will make up the water supply deficit."

DWR Director Mark Cowin stated that "[n]ear-record dry weather combined with pumping restrictions to protect Delta smelt are making this a gloomy water supply year[.]"  DWR "currently estimates that it will be able to deliver 40 percent of the slightly more than 4 million acre-feet of State Water Project (SWP) water requested for this calendar year by the 29 public agencies that supply more than 25 million people and nearly a million acres of irrigated farmland."  The last 100 percent allocation--"difficult to achieve even in wet years because of pumping restrictions to protect Delta fish--was in 2006."

Although snowpack levels are low, "most key storage reservoirs are above or near historic levels for the date thanks to November and December storms."  However, the San Luis Reservoir, "a critical offstream reservoir south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is only at 69 percent of its historic level for the date . . . because of Delta smelt pumping restrictions."

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