Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Department of Water Resources Announces 5% Initial Allocation for 2014

California's Department of Water Resources announced yesterday an initial 5% allocation of requested deliveries of Table A water to State Water Project contractors for 2014. 

This initial allocation for the 2014 water year is a significant decrease over last year's initial allocation of 30%, made in November 2012.  With the low rainfall and snowpack that followed, 2013’s final allocation only reached 35% of requests.  In contrast, the final allocations for 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009 were 65%, 80%, 50%, and 40%, respectively.  The last 100 percent allocation was in 2006.

“We hope things improve with this winter’s storms, said DWR Director Mark Cowin in a Press Release, “but there is no guarantee that 2014 won’t be our third consecutive dry year.  Today’s allocation is a stark reminder that California’s fickle weather demands that we make year-round conservation a way of life.”

Low storage levels in the state’s major reservoirs are largely responsible for the low initial SWP allocation.  Lake Oroville in Butte County is at 41 percent of capacity (66 percent of its historical average for the date).  Lake Shasta north of Redding is at 37 percent of capacity (61 percent of average).  San Luis Reservoir in Merced County is at 25 percent of capacity (42 percent of average). 

A copy of DWR’s November 20 press release may be found here, and the notice to State Water Project contractors may be found here

Friday, November 15, 2013

California Department of Conservation Issues Notice of Proposed Regulations Regarding Hydraulic Fracturing

On November 15, 2013 the California Department of Conservation issued notice of proposed regulations regarding the use of well stimulation in oil and gas production. Well stimulation is a short term and non-continual process designed to enhance oil and gas production or recovery, and includes hydraulic fracturing, which is sometimes referred to as "fracking." Hydraulic fracturing is the high-pressure injection of a mix of fluids and proppants, used to fracture the rock of oil or gas reservoirs.   

The proposed regulations require the following:
  1. Application for Permit: prior to commencing any well stimulation treatment, a well operator must submit an application to the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) with information regarding the proposed treatment. The application must provide, among other information, a water management plan with an estimate of the amount and source of the water to be used in the treatment, as well as the anticipated disposal method for any recovered water in the flowback fluid. The application must also identify the names and estimated concentrations of the stimulation fluids that will be used in the treatment.
  2. Permit: a well operator must obtain a valid permit from DOGGR prior to commencing any well stimulation treatment.
  3. Notice to Nearby Landowners: a well operator must provide at least 30-day notice to adjacent landowners, with a copy of the well stimulation permit and notice of the availability of water sampling and testing of well water or surface water.
  4. Evaluation of Geologic & Hydrologic Isolation: a well operator must perform an evaluation of the cement outside of the production casing and an evaluation of the well stimulation treatment area of influence, to ensure the geologic and hydrologic isolation of the oil and gas formation. These evaluations must be submitted as part of the permit application.
  5. Pressure Testing: not more than 24 hours prior to commencing the well stimulation treatment, a well operator must perform pressure testing of the casing and tubing that will be utilized at a pressure equal to 125% of the pressure anticipated during the well stimulation treatment.
  6. Monitoring: a well operator must continuously monitor several parameters during and after the well stimulation treatment.
  7. Storage & Handling of Fluids: well stimulation treatment fluids must be stored in containers, in compliance with secondary containment requirements.
  8. Public Disclosures: within 60 days after the cessation of a well stimulation treatment, an operator must post specified information to the Chemical Disclosure Registry, including the source, volume, composition and disposition of all water used and recovered as part of the well stimulation treatment.
  9. Post-Treatment Report: within 60 days after the cessation of a well stimulation treatment, the well operator must submit a report to DOGGR describing the results of the treatment and how the treatment differs from what was anticipated in the well stimulation treatment design.
The deadline for submitting comments regarding the proposed regulations is 5:00 p.m. on January 14, 2014. For more information regarding the proposed regulations, please visit the DOGGR webpage.

Friday, November 1, 2013

State Agencies Release Draft “California Water Action Plan”

On October 31st the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Food and Agriculture released a detailed draft “California Water Action Plan.” A final form of the plan is expected to be released in early December. 

In May, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. directed the agencies to identify key actions for the next one to five years that address urgent needs and provide the foundation for sustainable management of California’s water resources.

The draft plan identifies the many challenges facing California’s water resources, including: uncertain water supplies; water scarcity/drought; declining groundwater basins; poor water quality; declining native fish species and loss of wildlife habitat; flood risks; and, supply disruptions.

The plan focuses on ten key actions to address these challenges:

1. Make Conservation a California Way of Life

2. Increase Local and Regional Self-Reliance

3. Achieve Co-Equal Goals for the Delta

4. Protect and Restore Important Ecosystems

5. Manage and Prepare for Dry Periods

6. Expand Water Storage Capacity

7. Provide Safe Drinking Water for All Communities

8. Improve Flood Protection

9. Increase Operational and Regulatory Efficiency

10. Identify Sustainable and Integrated Financing Opportunities

Comments and questions about the draft plan may be submitted to