NEW 12/12/18: Agreement Between U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and California Department of Water Resources Supported by Public Water Agencies

Today the United States Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources announced a series of agreements to resolve water conflicts that have vexed the State for decades and to reaffirm the collaborative partnership between the Federal and State governments to develop long-term solutions to California’s major water problems.

Since August 2018, Reclamation and DWR, with support from public water agencies from nearly every region of the State, have engaged in accentuated discussions to address contributions from the Central Valley Project, the State Water Project, and the public water agencies they serve to voluntary agreements to resolve conflicts over proposed amendments to the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan Update and to revise sharing formulas under the 1986 Coordinated Operations Agreement.

The product of those discussions includes a series of voluntary agreements to resolve conflicts over proposed amendments to the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan Update that, if accepted by the State Water Resources Control Board, will provide:

  • Improved water supply reliability to the Sacramento Valley, the Sacramento region, the San Joaquin Valley, the San Francisco Bay area, the central coast, and southern California.
  • Significant quantities of water, on a voluntary basis, for instream flow in nearly every major stream tributary to the Sacramento – San Joaquin Rivers Delta and Delta outflow, while balancing the impacts that may result from land fallowing and other actions to generate these flows.
  • Habitat improvements and other non-flow measures to enhance fish and wildlife resources in the Delta and streams tributary to the Delta.
  • A secure and ongoing source of funding to implement water purchase programs, habitat restoration, and robust science programs to ensure that both water and money dedicated to environmental enhancement and restoration are being used wisely.

These agreements will result in immediate improvements to the environment and at-risk aquatic species and commit local, regional, Federal and State agencies to a long-term course for collaboration to further ecosystem enhancement and water supply improvements.

Today’s announcement is a paradigm shift in how water will be managed for human and environmental needs and how decisions will be made about the use of the State’s most precious resource.  It is a good deal for the State and the Nation.




12/6/18 NEW: San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority Fills Key Management Positions

San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority Fills Key Management Positions

Los Banos, CA – The San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority (Water Authority) Board of Directors voted today to approve an employment contract for Federico Barajas to fill the position of its Executive Director, replacing Assistant Executive Director Frances Mizuno who has been serving on an interim basis since June 1. Barajas leaves his position as Deputy Regional Director, Mid-Pacific Region, at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, a position he has held since 2016 and will begin with the Water Authority effective on December 10.

During his more than 25 years at Reclamation, Barajas filled numerous roles managing the critical water infrastructure serving major parts of California, Nevada and Southern Oregon. Barajas brings with him a remarkable level of experience in federal water policy, engineering and administration, assets that will benefit over a million acres of farmland, 2 million urban water users in the Silicon Valley, and 200,000 acres of managed wetlands within the Water Authority service area.

While at Reclamation, Barajas oversaw CVP operations and had direct oversight of all Central Valley Project offices. He cultivated excellent working relationships with state and local governments, public water agencies, regulatory agencies, and environmental groups. He built relationships with the State Department of Water Resources, State Water Contractors, as well as tribal governments.

Barajas worked to oversee implementation of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, which added flexibility to water operations in the Delta in order to maximize water deliveries while complying with all aspects of the federal Endangered Species Act and other applicable law. He has worked on capital infrastructure projects and played various roles on large Reclamation projects, including installation of temperature control curtains at Whiskeytown Lake, construction oversight during levee repairs in partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers, providing oversight during the joint federal project at Folsom Dam, and management oversight during Safety of Dams corrective actions at several Reclamation facilities.

“I am excited about joining the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority team” said Barajas. “I am committed to building strong partnerships and working with the Water Authority team on key water-related issues and opportunities that lie ahead. I want to commend the board for initiating a strategic planning effort that will help set a strategic path forward for the Water Authority.”

“We are very excited to have Federico taking on the role of the executive director of the Water Authority,” said Water Authority Board Chairman Cannon Michael. “Federico brings to the job an exceptional combination of knowledge, experience and proven leadership. Both the board and staff are impressed with his extensive knowledge of western water and the Central Valley Project, his 25-years of work within Reclamation, and his well-honed management skills. His knowledge, background and relationships make him the ideal person to help address the numerous challenges and opportunities faced by the members of the Water Authority.”

In addition to Barajas, the Water Authority hired J. Scott Petersen, effective on January 2, 2019, as the organization’s Water Policy Director. Petersen formerly served as Legislative Director for then-Congressman Dennis Cardoza from 2011 to 2013 and has served for the past six years as Deputy Chief of Staff for Congressman Jim Costa.

During his tenure with Congressman Costa, Petersen worked on numerous issues affecting water resources and natural resources policy, including WIIN Act legislation, the Non-federal Reservoir Operations Improvement Act, keeping rescheduled water in San Luis Reservoir for SLDMWA member agencies in 2014, as well as regulatory and administrative relief totaling over 1 million acre-feet of additional water supplies for San Joaquin Valley water agencies. Petersen also worked on the 2018 and 2012 Farm Bills, with efforts resulting in increased funding for multipurpose conservation projects specifically benefiting groundwater recharge and increasing funds for specialty crop programs.

In addition to his experience on federal water policy, Petersen is a registered civil engineer and oversaw capital projects, including water pipeline projects, storm water drainage projects, sewer improvements, and retention basins while working for TKE Engineering in Riverside, CA.

“I’m looking forward to joining the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority as Water Policy Director,” said Petersen. “Family farms, cities, businesses, and the environment depend on a reliable water supply from the Authority to sustain them. Unfortunately, variable hydrology resulting from a changing climate, coupled with well intentioned, but ultimately ineffective water resources policies have led to less reliable water supplies for Authority member agencies and their customers, as well as harm to California’s ecosystems and native fisheries. The Authority has a long history of working constructively and collaboratively to improve California water policy and I look forward to continuing that proud tradition.”

“I have known Scott for many years and have a great deal of respect for his abilities, knowledge and character,” said Michael. “We are extremely excited for him to join the team here at the Water Authority. Scott is a critical thinker and is able to work with diverse groups of stakeholders to create lasting solutions. His skills will be essential in assisting the Water Authority in our role of effectively delivering water to our agricultural, urban and environmental water users,” he said.

In addition to filling the two vacancies, the board approved the promotion of Rebecca Akroyd to General Counsel. Akroyd joined the Water Authority as Deputy General Counsel in November 2017, and has been serving as Interim General Counsel since June 1, 2018.




SLDMWA Member Earns Award for Excellence by WateReuse Association

Del Puerto Water District received award for North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program

The WateReuse Association presented the Annual Awards for Excellence on Monday, September 10 during the 33rd Annual WateReuse Symposium in Austin, Texas. The program recognizes individuals and projects that have made significant contributions in support of greater adoption of water reuse. Recipients are successfully advancing the development of alternative water supplies or developing a novel approach to meet water needs through the use of water reuse systems or approaches.

The cities of Modesto and Turlock in collaboration with Del Puerto Water District established the North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program to deliver recycled water for agriculture in California’s Central Valley.

Learn more here.




8/19/18 Statement: Interior Secretary Calls for Central Valley Project Action Plan Within 15 Days

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Friday directed federal agencies to develop a plan of action that will improve operations and water deliveries by the federal Central Valley Project (CVP).

San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority Interim Executive Director Frances Mizuno said, “We are extremely pleased with the Secretary’s order and look forward to providing any assistance necessary to help carry out his objectives.”

Zinke ordered that a plan be delivered to the Office of the Deputy Secretary within 15 days by the Assistant Secretary-Water and Sciences, the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, and the Solicitor. The plan is to contain options that maximize water deliveries, incorporate the best science into decision-making processes, moving forward with the construction of new storage, and meeting any legal procedural requirements, among other requests.

Calling the CVP “a major water source for farms, families, industry, and fish and wildlife in California,” Zinke’s order is intended to reverse the long-term degradation of the project and the resulting harm that has been caused to productive farmland as well as threatened and endangered fish that federal protections were intended to help, but have not.

In addition to the 15 days given to develop an action plan, the Secretary has ordered that the Office of the Deputy Secretary make final recommendations for action to his office be within 10 days of receiving the report.

“This gives CVP water users hope that there will be a more balanced approach to water supply adequacy and reliability that is sorely needed on our farms and in our rural communities, in the Santa Clara Valley high tech industry, and on wildlife refuges,” said Mizuno.




5/25/18: Statement: Water allocation inches up despite abundant supplies in reservoirs

Water allocation inches up despite abundant supplies in reservoirs

Today, the United States Bureau of Reclamation inched up the allocation for south-of-Delta Central Valley Project (CVP) agricultural water service contractors by raising the expected amount of water to be delivered from 40% to 45%. The new allocation is still less than reasonably could be made by Reclamation. Last year’s record hydrologic year left a tremendous amount of water in the system, yet allocations remain low for many Central Valley Project water users.

“Water users today were dismayed by the relatively small allocation increase announced by Reclamation,” said Cannon Michael, chairman of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority. “It is unbelievable that the statewide average for CVP reservoirs is almost 108 percent of normal, yet South of Delta farmers are left with a 45 percent allocation,” he said.

The last hydrologic year, 2017, was the wettest year on record in the Sacramento River watershed, and presently, most CVP reservoirs remain above their historic average.

With the abundance of water, the 45% allocation reveals that regulations, not the availability of water, are creating supply shortages and impediments to the efficient operation of the CVP.

“If the system cannot provide an adequate amount of water when water levels are above average, then clearly changes need to be made to the regulations governing the CVP,” said Frances Mizuno, Interim Executive Director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority.

The allocations this year are particularly harmful to communities served by CVP water because they depend on higher allocations in years of water abundance to offset lower allocations in dry years. “The state’s groundwater aquifers need to be replenished when supplies are available but that cannot happen if water deliveries are limited when surface water is available to deliver to farmers,” said Mizuno.

“Reclamation, along with other federal agencies must reevaluate the decision-making process when these conservative and restrictive operations create enormous hardships for agricultural, urban and environmental water users,” said Michael. “The federal government continues to tell us about declining in fish populations and yet it resorts to the same ineffective policies of the past,” he said.

Communities served by the CVP have received progressively lower allocations which has impacted groundwater and water quality. And, farmers have been forced to fallow land and cut food production due to the uncertainly around water deliveries.




Statement: Del Puerto Water District Receives Prestigious Water Award for Excellence

Del Puerto Water District Receives Prestigious Water Award for Excellence

Del Puerto Water District, a member of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, has been awarded the prestigious Clair A. Hill Award for Excellence for its innovative North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program. The District received top honors among a statewide field of competitors for its project to deliver highly treated wastewater from the cities of Turlock and Modesto to farmland and wildlife refuges on the Westside.

The North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program addresses water supply shortages in the District’s service area, located on the west side of the San Joaquin River in San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties. This first-of its-kind recycled water program delivers tertiary-treated water through a cross-valley pipeline from Turlock and Modesto to the Delta-Mendota Canal. From there water is distributed to more than 45,000 acres of farmland and Central Valley Project-designated wildlife refuges.

Del Puerto Water District General Manager Anthea Hansen said the recycled water program was the result of a lot of hard work among many partners, including Turlock, Modesto, the Bureau of Reclamation and numerous wildlife organizations. The recycled water program is currently operating under a new 40-year contract with its partnering agencies. The program represents the first ever introduction of recycled water into a federal Reclamation facility, made possible by a landmark policy change within the federal agency.

“We are thrilled to have been selected from the list of many worthwhile projects and it demonstrates the value of collaboration among our stakeholders to create a successful program,” said Hansen.

The North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program is the single largest project on behalf of the refuges since the passage of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act over 25 years ago.

“This is a big milestone to help farms with more reliable water supplies and helps achieve a good portion of the supplemental needs of the refuges for a very long time,” Hansen said.

Del Puerto Water District is located near Patterson, California. It was one of four finalists for the Clair A. Hill Award, which was presented at the Association of California Water Agencies annual conference on May 10 in Sacramento. Del Puerto Water District has the honor of awarding a $5,000 scholarship to a deserving student in the name of Hill, founder of CH2M, now Jacobs, the award sponsor.

The San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority serves 28 member public agencies, 26 of which contract with Reclamation for water supply from the CVP. These agencies deliver water to approximately 1.2 million acres of farmland, 2 million California residents, and millions of waterfowl dependent upon the nearly 200,000 acres of managed wetlands within the Pacific Flyway.

Other finalists competing for the award included the Long Beach Water Department for a program that recognizes restaurant water efficiency programs, Mesa Water District for a program to test the integrity of its pipelines, and Reclamation District #2035 for a joint fish screen project serving both urban and agricultural water needs.

 

Learn more about the North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program, by clicking here.




Statement: Despite the abundance of water, shortages continue

STATEMENT: Despite the abundance of water, shortages continue

Today, the United States Bureau of Reclamation updated the allocations for south-of-Delta Central Valley Project (CVP) agricultural water service contractors and for south-of-Delta CVP municipal and industrial water service contractors. The new allocations, 40% and 75%, respectively, are significantly less than reasonably could be made by Reclamation, and given current hydrological conditions, are inexplicable. The last hydrologic year, 2017, was the wettest year on record in the Sacramento River watershed, and presently, all CVP reservoirs are above their historic average (Shasta 111%, Folsom 113%, Trinity 105%, New Melones 135%, and San Luis 121%) for this date.
With the abundance of water, the 40% and 75% allocations reveal that regulations, not the availability of water, are creating supply shortages and impediments to the efficient operation of the CVP. “If the system cannot provide an adequate amount of water when water levels are above average, then clearly changes need to be made to the regulations governing the CVP,” said Jon Rubin, Interim Executive Director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority.
The allocations this year are particularly harmful to communities served by CVP water because they depend on higher allocations in years of water abundance to offset lower allocations in dry years. “The state’s groundwater aquifers need to be replenished when supplies are available but that cannot happen if water deliveries are limited when surface water is available to deliver to farmers,” said Rubin.
Rubin called on Reclamation and other federal agencies to reevaluate their decision-making process given the fact that the restrictive operations of the CVP have been counterproductive for all uses of water, including for environmental purposes. The federal government continues to report a decline in fish populations. Communities served by the CVP have received progressively lower allocations which has impacted groundwater and water quality. And, farmers have been forced to fallow land and cut food production due to the uncertainty around water deliveries.



Statement: Federal Funding Supports California Water Projects

Statement: Federal Funding Supports California Water Projects

Statement by Cannon Michael, Chairman
San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority

In November 2014, California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 1, the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014.  Voters approved this initiative, in large part, because they understood that the future of California depends on building new or enlarged water supply infrastructure, including surface storage projects.  Last week, Congress passed, on a bipartisan basis, H.R. 1625, which included funding for the Shasta Reservoir Enlargement Project, Sites Reservoir, and Temperance Flat Dam.  Members of Congress who advocated for these projects based their support on the same fact; the future of California depends on investing in new or enlarged water supply infrastructure.

“We are delighted that Congress included in this spending bill money for surface water storage projects,” said Cannon Michael, chairman of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority. “This action presents the opportunity for a brighter future for California’s residents, its farms, and the environment,” he said.

Language in the bill included funding to complete feasibility studies for Sites and Temperance Flat reservoirs as well as $20 million for design and pre-construction work on raising Shasta Dam. “Each one of these projects is needed for the future of California, and each project will provide water for both the environment and people,” Michael said.  “Enlarging Shasta Dam will provide much needed flexibility to protect cold water for salmon that spawn below the Dam and water supplies for cities, refuges and farms throughout large areas of the State.”

“The flexibility created by increasing Shasta storage is essential for the Bureau of Reclamation to meet its obligations under federal law to operate the Central Valley Project for the benefit of the environment and people,” said Michael.  “This is a goal supported over the years by both Democrats and Republicans, and we appreciate the leadership of members on both sides of the aisle on the critical issue.”




Statement on Central Valley Salmon Habitat Partnership by SLDMWA Chairman

“The Central Valley Salmon Habitat Partnership is an innovative and new approach to restoring the ecosystem needs of salmon and steelhead in the Central Valley. Efforts over the past quarter century have not achieved the goals they set out to accomplish for either fish or the water user community and this approach represents a new path forward.
California needs reliable water supplies to sustain our farms, communities, and quality of life but that can’t happen when critical environmental resources are struggling. Guided by science, the Partnership of farmers, fishermen, scientists, state and federal agencies, and policy-makers can find and support projects that make a real difference for Central Valley salmon and steelhead.”
—Cannon Michael, SLDMWA Chair
For more information on the Central Valley Salmon Habitat Partnership, click here.



SLDMWA Members Partnering with State and Federal Agencies on Water Recycling Program

Collaborative program improving water management for communities, farms, and the environment

Federal, state and local partnerships can achieve a lot and that’s what happened recently with the announcement of more than $89 million in Proposition 1 funding for refuge water supply and conveyance improvement projects. San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority members Grassland, Del Puerto, and San Luis Water Districts have been working together and with the Cities of Modesto, Ceres, and Turlock to deliver more reliable water supplies to wildlife refuges and farms on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, while improving the quality of water being returned from our cities to the San Joaquin River. Together with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, these collaborative partnerships work towards meeting the 25-year old implementation of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act. The addition of California’s Proposition 1 grant funding brings an important partner to the table.

Improving reliability for farms and wildlife refuges

Many people aren’t aware that some of California’s most important wildlife areas exist alongside some of the state’s most productive farmland. Grassland Water District General Manager Ric Ortega said, “This is huge. These awards will help deliver a significant amount of water critical to the refuges and farms in the Valley. These collaborative approaches are instrumental in sustaining our wildlife and our local ag economies in the long term. The cost share financial commitments that helped leverage these dollars recognize the role agricultural water users play in protecting our environment today and preserving it for generations to come.”

“This is just the latest of many examples of how recognized the North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program is as a solution to the issues that South of the Delta water users face,” said Del Puerto General Manager Anthea Hansen. “We are pleased to celebrate the receipt of this grant with our partners at Grassland Water District, and look forward to working with them on this and other projects in the future,” she said.

Water bond funding improves wildlife areas across California

In addition to funding projects in Grassland Water District and other South of Delta refuges, Proposition 1 funds were also awarded to Biggs-West Gridley Water District for the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area Water Supply Project and to Ducks Unlimited for the Sutter National Wildlife Refuge Lift Station Project.

 

Learn more about the North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program.