NEW: Statement on 100% CVP South of Delta Allocation

Today’s announcement by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) that allocations have been increased to 100 percent for South of Delta farms is welcome news and recognizes the abundance of this year’s near-record rainfall and snowpack.

The increased allocation is appreciated however the timing of the announcement comes after many planting decisions have been made. Many factors tie Reclamation’s hands including a web of over 15 federal, state and local agencies that have led to a broken system that fails to work well for anyone. Check out this infograph outlining the complex network of agencies involved.

We appreciate Reclamation’s willingness to allow farmers to use water they purchased and saved last year and is still sitting in storage. The threat of losing this water meant that farmers who conserved could have been punished for actual conservation.




NEW: JOINT STATEMENT: Four Water Agencies Sign Agreement Stating Temperance Flat Reservoir Cooperation

 Four Water Agencies Sign Agreement Stating Temperance Flat Reservoir Cooperation

 

Today four agencies representing water users in the San Joaquin Valley signed a joint letter pledging collaboration to develop the Temperance Flat Reservoir project on the San Joaquin River northeast of Fresno. The joint letter was signed this morning (March 31) during a news conference at Fresno City Hall. Signatories included representatives from the Friant Water Authority, San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority, San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority, and San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority. The event was hosted by Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, who pledged his support of the group’s ongoing efforts to jumpstart the reservoir project.

In the joint letter, addressed to California Water Commission Acting Executive Officer Taryn Ravazzini, the agencies pledge to work with the United States Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and contribute equally on staff, funding, support, and other resources to support the Temperance Flat project. Currently, the four agencies are collaborating on technical analyses and an operations plan that would build upon previous Temperance Flat studies, and also provide clarity to how partners in this project — including the State of California — could benefit from new investments in storage on the San Joaquin River. The stated goal of this effort is to develop and submit an application for Proposition 1 storage funding to the California Water Commission by August 14.

A new reservoir in the upper San Joaquin River watershed has been considered for decades to improve operational flexibility, water supply and reliability for the San Joaquin Valley’s water users. Temperance Flat Reservoir, which would have a capacity of 1.3 million acre-feet (2.5 times that of existing Millerton Lake), is proposed on a site several miles upstream from Friant Dam that was the originally proposed location for a Millerton-area reservoir in 1930. The present Friant Dam location was selected to reduce construction costs.

With the 2014 passage of Proposition 1, formally known as the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act, California voters authorized $7.545 billion in general obligation bonds, which includes $2.7 billion for surface water storage development. The California Water Commission is administering the program to award grant funds to eligible projects through a competitive process.

“The limitations of California’s aging water infrastructure to meet present and future challenges have never been more apparent than today. Recent extremes we’ve experienced – back-to-back drought and flood years – demonstrate the challenges that new storage could help address,” said Jason Phillips, Chief Executive Officer of the Friant Water Authority. “Temperance Flat would be connected to both the Delta and the extensive regional plumbing south of the Delta. The project could provide a secure place to store supplies for dry years, improve the capture of high flows for groundwater infiltration in wet years, and provide additional controllable supply that could improve water supply reliability or support ecosystems. Today’s letter provides an important step towards crystalizing the benefits of Temperance Flat and understanding how investors could share in them.”

“If the supply of food and fiber that is produced in the Central Valley and enjoyed by millions around the world is to continue, then a dependable water supply must be developed. California’s forefathers provided a foundation in water that has benefited us through the years and construction of Temperance Flat Reservoir enables us to build on that valuable history and provide an essential portion of the needed water supply that will benefit cities, disadvantaged communities, farms, groundwater recharge and responsible environmental benefits,” said Steve Chedester, Executive Director of the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority.

“Greatly reduced Central Valley Project water deliveries because of Delta environmental restrictions have been the rule for nearly a decade, with severe economic and social impacts caused by diminished water supplies for agriculture, cities and disadvantages rural communities, business and industry,” said Steve Worthley, San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority President and Chairman of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors. “Over the past year, the Authority and a growing number of other water agencies have worked tirelessly to support Temperance Flat and to encourage planning and development of other new valley water infrastructure.”

“A quarter century of failed regulatory fish policies has crippled the ability of the Central Valley Project to adequately serve its agricultural, municipal, and environmental responsibilities,” said Water Policy Administrator Ara Azhderian of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority. “These failed policies have hurt many working families, disadvantaged communities, wildlife refuges and the groundwater basins we all have had to rely upon to compensate for the loss of our promised surface water. Working together, regional water agencies, local government, communities and other stakeholders have come together to partner with the United States Bureau of Reclamation and the State of California to develop Temperance Flat Dam. Temperance Flat has great potential to help restore lost water supply and recover our depleted groundwater basins, enhance fish and wildlife, and help rejuvenate the communities that provide so much for our state, nation and the world.”

“It completely defies logic to release water, which could be used for human, agricultural, or environmental use, out to the ocean, especially after five years of devastating drought conditions. The entire state of California needs its water infrastructure updated, and that includes building water storage projects, like Temperance Flat Dam. The future viability of the San Joaquin Valley is dependent upon a reliable water supply. Efforts to store water must be improved, both below and above ground, during wet years so water is available during the dry years.” – Congressman Jim Costa

 

Click here for a PDF version of the statement.

 




NEW: Joint Letter to Water Commission on Temperance Flat Reservoir

Four organizations, including the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, Friant Water Authority, San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority, and San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority, signed a letter today pledging to work collaboratively with the US Bureau of Reclamation as well as committing resources and funding to support the Temperance Flat Reservoir project. Read the letter here.

The reservoir site, long considered ideal for it’s ability to improve operational flexibility as well as improving water supply and reliability for water users sits several miles upstream of Friant Dam. When the Friant Dam site was chosen to cut costs, the Temperance Flats location provides 1.3 million acre-feet- approximately 2.5 times more storage capacity than Millerton Reservoir.

Read the full press release below, or click here for a PDF version.

 

Four Water Agencies Sign Agreement Stating Temperance Flat Reservoir Cooperation

Today four agencies representing water users in the San Joaquin Valley signed a joint letter pledging collaboration to develop the Temperance Flat Reservoir project on the San Joaquin River northeast of Fresno. The joint letter was signed this morning (March 31) during a news conference at Fresno City Hall. Signatories included representatives from the Friant Water Authority, San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority, San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority, and San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority. The event was hosted by Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, who pledged his support of the group’s ongoing efforts to jumpstart the reservoir project.

In the joint letter, addressed to California Water Commission Acting Executive Officer Taryn Ravazzini, the agencies pledge to work with the United States Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and contribute equally on staff, funding, support, and other resources to support the Temperance Flat project. Currently, the four agencies are collaborating on technical analyses and an operations plan that would build upon previous Temperance Flat studies, and also provide clarity to how partners in this project — including the State of California — could benefit from new investments in storage on the San Joaquin River. The stated goal of this effort is to develop and submit an application for Proposition 1 storage funding to the California Water Commission by August 14.

A new reservoir in the upper San Joaquin River watershed has been considered for decades to improve operational flexibility, water supply and reliability for the San Joaquin Valley’s water users. Temperance Flat Reservoir, which would have a capacity of 1.3 million acre-feet (2.5 times that of existing Millerton Lake), is proposed on a site several miles upstream from Friant Dam that was the originally proposed location for a Millerton-area reservoir in 1930. The present Friant Dam location was selected to reduce construction costs.

With the 2014 passage of Proposition 1, formally known as the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act, California voters authorized $7.545 billion in general obligation bonds, which includes $2.7 billion for surface water storage development. The California Water Commission is administering the program to award grant funds to eligible projects through a competitive process.

“The limitations of California’s aging water infrastructure to meet present and future challenges have never been more apparent than today. Recent extremes we’ve experienced – back-to-back drought and flood years – demonstrate the challenges that new storage could help address,” said Jason Phillips, Chief Executive Officer of the Friant Water Authority. “Temperance Flat would be connected to both the Delta and the extensive regional plumbing south of the Delta. The project could provide a secure place to store supplies for dry years, improve the capture of high flows for groundwater infiltration in wet years, and provide additional controllable supply that could improve water supply reliability or support ecosystems. Today’s letter provides an important step towards crystalizing the benefits of Temperance Flat and understanding how investors could share in them.”

“If the supply of food and fiber that is produced in the Central Valley and enjoyed by millions around the world is to continue, then a dependable water supply must be developed. California’s forefathers provided a foundation in water that has benefited us through the years and construction of Temperance Flat Reservoir enables us to build on that valuable history and provide an essential portion of the needed water supply that will benefit cities, disadvantaged communities, farms, groundwater recharge and responsible environmental benefits,” said Steve Chedester, Executive Director of the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority.

“Greatly reduced Central Valley Project water deliveries because of Delta environmental restrictions have been the rule for nearly a decade, with severe economic and social impacts caused by diminished water supplies for agriculture, cities and disadvantages rural communities, business and industry,” said Steve Worthley, San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority President and Chairman of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors. “Over the past year, the Authority and a growing number of other water agencies have worked tirelessly to support Temperance Flat and to encourage planning and development of other new valley water infrastructure.”

“A quarter century of failed regulatory fish policies has crippled the ability of the Central Valley Project to adequately serve its agricultural, municipal, and environmental responsibilities,” said Water Policy Administrator Ara Azhderian of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority. “These failed policies have hurt many working families, disadvantaged communities, wildlife refuges and the groundwater basins we all have had to rely upon to compensate for the loss of our promised surface water. Working together, regional water agencies, local government, communities and other stakeholders have come together to partner with the United States Bureau of Reclamation and the State of California to develop Temperance Flat Dam. Temperance Flat has great potential to help restore lost water supply and recover our depleted groundwater basins, enhance fish and wildlife, and help rejuvenate the communities that provide so much for our state, nation and the world.”

“It completely defies logic to release water, which could be used for human, agricultural, or environmental use, out to the ocean, especially after five years of devastating drought conditions. The entire state of California needs its water infrastructure updated, and that includes building water storage projects, like Temperance Flat Dam. The future viability of the San Joaquin Valley is dependent upon a reliable water supply. Efforts to store water must be improved, both below and above ground, during wet years so water is available during the dry years.” – Congressman Jim Costa




Joint letter to SWRCB on Bay-Delta Plan amendments and SED

Joint letter recommends the adoption of “Functional Flows” and comprehensive management over continued single-practice management

SLDMWA and Westlands Water District recently sent a comment letter to the State Water Resources Control Board on proposed amendments to the Bay-Delta Plan. The letter, available here, notes that flow regimes, often called “Functional Flow” approaches, are superior to the one being advanced by the SWRCB in current documents.

The letter notes that “under the existing flow-centric approach, which relies upon flow as the master variable and master solution, few beneficial uses of the water involved have been adequately protected. The diagnostic inertia of the current flow-centric regulatory regime has had real, adverse social and economic impacts.”

Fish populations haven’t recovered under existing flow-centric management approaches, but impacts and costs continue to rise

The letter notes the failure of Fish populations and water supplies for urban and agricultural communities and waterfowl have all declined. The painful lessons of the past twenty years have demonstrated that adding flow will not redress most of the physical, chemical and biological changes that have occurred within the watersheds for the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers.

After many decades of managing the ecosystem primarily by regulating the storage, release and diversion of water – the flow of water – a new approach is necessary.

 




Statement: CVP cities and farms finally learn allocation

Many farmers and cities learned just yesterday how much water they could expect from the Federal Government’s Central Valley Project, (one of the state’s big infrastructure projects that delivers water to communities, farms, and wetlands in the Central Valley; and San Benito and Santa Clara Counties). The number they finally heard is most disappointing.

This year is the wettest on record for California- with a 200% of normal precipitation and reservoirs that are so full they are dumping water. And it’s been this way for months. While the drought remains fresh in everyone’s minds, one would think a record breaking 2017 should result in abundant supplies for Californians to grow food, recharge groundwater, and take regular showers again.

That’s why yesterday’s delayed announcement by the Federal government of a mere 65% supply has so many people stunned and concerned about the ability of California’s water system to provide for the future.

For farmers, the news is even more disappointing. The first few months of the year are critical. February and March are the ultimate crunch time for people that produce our food. The decisions being made today to plant crops and hire workers translate to the price and types of locally grown produce available in your grocery store. But none of that can happen when farmers, and the people that rely upon them, don’t know how much water is available.

“Without a timely water allocation, crucial decisions can’t be made on the farm – our water supply drives our ability to grow crops, provide employment, and satisfy the food supply chain that stretches from our farms to the kitchen table,” says Cannon Michael, of Bowles Farms.

“That water flowing into the ocean could be used to meet so many greater needs: recharge and improve groundwater, grow fresh vegetables and fruit, put people back to work, and get communities back on their feet,” Michael continued.

Nonetheless, we must stay focused on addressing the many challenges ahead. California has an abundance of water this year, so what’s keeping us from finally solving the water management challenges we all faced throughout the drought?

“The reality is a quarter century of decisions intended to protect certain endangered species has broken California’s water supply system. The cumulative effect of the policy choices made to implement the ESA has stranded thousands of acre-feet of water carefully conserved by San Joaquin Valley farmers. The federal government used this water to help protect temperature for salmon and to meet other obligations. To turn around and claim that the farmers who made this water available are now at fault for creating their own water supply shortage is just so sad. All Californians should be concerned with the costs our society is bearing for a failed regulatory system that has done nothing tangible to protect endangered fish,” notes Jason Peltier, Executive Director of the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority.

The policies in place aren’t just hurting people, they’re bad for all water uses, including managing native species.

“The policies they’ve implemented are not good for farms, they’re not good for cities, and they’re not good for the environment. If government cannot ensure a 100% supply in the wettest year on record, what does it mean for an average year? What does it mean for those disadvantaged communities throughout the Central Valley dependent upon agriculture for their livelihood and future? What does it mean for those that value food safety, worker safety, and local access to food grown by some of the most technologically advanced and conscientious farmers in the world?” Peltier asks.

Government can do more to improve our broken policies and modernize the infrastructure that makes California what it is. Improving storage in smart ways is one step we can take now to restore reliability and stability for future generations managing California’s wet and dry cycles. Fixing our broken system is the only thing that will provide true drought relief and long-term water security for all Californians.

“The Authority and our member agencies are fully engaged in the multiple regulatory and planning efforts aimed at meeting the statutory goals of a more reliable water system and improved ecosystems in our state. We do our best to be constructively engaged and continue to commit significant resources to achieve the goals of our customers and the people of California,” concluded Peltier.




SLDMWA Elects New Board Chairman

Cannon Michael, a 6th generation California farmer is Cannonthe newly elected chairman of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority (Authority). Michael is president of Bowles Farming Company, a family owned and operated farming company headquartered in Los Banos. 

Bowles Farming Company is an 11,000 acre organic and conventional farm growing fresh market and processing tomatoes, field crops including corn, melons, carrots and onions, alfalfa for local dairies and other commodities such as durum wheat for bread, pima cotton, pistachios and almonds. Other activities include managing wetlands and habitat restoration on the family farm.

In accepting the new position, Michael said, “It is an enormous responsibility to lead the Authority. I look forward to working with the board and the 100 dedicated employees who make up the Authority family, working to make sure it’s members have access to reliable water supplies that serve communities, wetlands and are used to grow the food and fiber crops for much of the nation.”

Cannon Michael replaces Mike Stearns who has served as the Authority chairman for the past two decades. 

Stearns said, “It has been a great honor to serve our diverse member agencies that are bound together by the facilities that the Authority operates. We have faced many challenges and changing dynamics over the past two decades to deliver water to 1.2 million acres of farmland, 300,000 acres of wildlife refuges and wetlands and 2 million people.

“Cannon is an outstanding farmer and leader. He is the right person to take the Authority into the next generation. Future water management challenges will require a balanced approach to meet the needs of California’s farms, its people and the environment,” he said.




SLDMWA votes to Support AB 313- Modernizing CA Water Governance

On March 9, 2017 the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority Board of Directors voted to express their support for Assemblymember Adam Gray’s efforts to modernize California’s water governance system.  The Authority looks forward to working with the Assemblymember, his colleagues, and other stakeholders and interests as AB313 evolves. To read the language proposed in AB 313, please click here

Read the Authority letter of support for AB313 here.




Statement: San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority Praises Bipartisan Passage of WRDA


San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority Praises Bipartisan Passage of WRDA

The recent passage of the Water Resources Development Act by a broad, bi-partisan coalition of elected representatives is an encouraging sign for California’s 40 million residents who count on reliable water supplies. We encourage President Obama to sign it as soon as possible.

This bill creates new opportunities for all water users to work together on new and innovative programs that will enhance California’s water supply and is a first step in a long process of restoring reliable water deliveries to the state.

The Water Resources Development Act provides broad water supply benefits including sensible storage projects, new conservation initiatives and innovative recycling programs that will benefit farms, urban areas and wildlife refuges. It also maintains existing regulation intended to protect some of the state’s most vulnerable fish and wildlife resources by preserving provisions under biological opinions prepared pursuant to the Endangered Species Act.

We look forward to working with the various federal agencies to put this plan into action by increasing water deliveries to the maximum extent possible under existing environmental protections.

We appreciate all of the hard work by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Kevin McCarthy for their leadership in this critical moment in the state’s history. They, along with many of their colleagues, recognized the need for a new path forward on California water issues and we look forward to working with them to make their vision for the state a reality.

We also appreciate the tremendous vision and support of our water supplier partners Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and others for their efforts to help pass this legislation. The unity among diverse regions of the state is a demonstration of how important this piece of legislation is for California’s future.




Statement by Jim Costa: Costa Urges Senate and President to Support House Passed California Water Bill

Costa Urges Senate and President to Support House Passed California Water Bill

Today, Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act with language to assist in reducing the impacts of California’s drought crisis and to build additional long-term drought resiliency:

“Today’s House passage of California water legislation is a win for the San Joaquin Valley. The bipartisan Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act earned broad support from Democrats and Republicans in the California delegation, and I hope my Senate colleagues will join Senator Feinstein in voting for this important legislation. I strongly urge the Senate and the President to act quickly, so the short-term provisions, like authorizing increased pumping during storms in the winter months, can be implemented immediately. More water will be captured and delivered to Valley communities and farms as a result of the enactment of this legislation.

“Additionally, this legislation authorizes a feasibility study for the Merced Streams Group, and will provide flood protection for the residents of Merced. There is also modifying language in the bill that would provide for Merced Irrigation District to advance funds so it could complete a study to evaluate raising the spillway gates at New Exchequer Dam.

“The status quo in California is a result of flawed policies and five years in a row of record breaking drought, and current conditions will get exponentially worse if we do nothing. This bill will change the status quo and is good for all Californians, farmers, farm workers as well as the environment.”

Rep. Costa spoke on the House floor during debate in support of the water infrastructure legislation. His remarks can be viewed here.

Yesterday, Rep. Costa spoke on the House floor to bring attention to the human impacts of drought conditions in California’s San Joaquin Valley. His remarks can be viewed here.

The California drought language includes short- and long-term provisions:

Short-term provisions:

  • Delta Cross Channel Gates - Federal agencies must open the Delta Cross Channel Gates for as long as possible consistent with the State Water Board’s orders. This may allow the agencies to open the Gates during the daytime when salmon are often not migrating in significant numbers, which could allow additional water to be pumped without harming fish or water quality.
  • Turbidity measures - By taking measures to manage turbidity and protect Delta smelt during the first storm-induced flush of sediment out of the Delta each winter, the agencies can both protect the fish and allow for more steady pumping the remainder of the year.
  • 1:1 inflow-to-export ratio, solely for water transfers - Solely for voluntary transfers, sales and exchanges, allows agencies to use a 1:1 “inflow-to-export ratio” for San Joaquin River flows in April and May for the duration of the drought. By stretching water supplies through water transfers, agricultural districts that are short on water can use transfers to make up for reduced deliveries, while that same “block” of water moving through the Delta can help fish and potentially assist in the restoration of the Delta. The agencies can only use the 1:1 ratio for transfers if environmental protections, including the following, are satisfied:
    • There are no adverse effects on endangered species beyond those anticipated by the biological opinions.
    • The transfer water getting the benefit of the 1:1 ratio must be additional flow on top of the regular flow of the river.
    • The environmental effects of the proposed transfer, sale, or exchange are consistent with environmental effects permissible under applicable law.
  • Expediting reviews of transfers and temporary barriers - Expedites review of transfers and temporary barriers in the Delta, which could help move limited water to where it is needed, manage salinity and improve water quality.
  • Extended window for water transfers - Extends the window for transfers by five months, from April 1 to November 30 (currently July 1 to September 30), if the extended transfers can be done consistent with the biological opinions.
  • Scientifically Supported Implementation of OMR (Old and Middle River) Flow Requirements - Science based on real-time monitoring governs the level of pumping within the ranges allowed by the biological opinions. The bill requires the agencies to explain why pumping at the high end of the smelt biological opinion would cause adverse effects to fish that violate the environmental protection mandate (described below), if they decide to pump at a lower levels.
  • Temporary Operational Flexibility for Storm Events - authorizes the agencies to increase pumping during winter storms, so that excess flows from storms may be captured.
  • Consultation on Coordinated Operations – Provides for increased transparency during consultation on the biological opinions by soliciting input from water districts and those environmental groups that already participate in implementation of the biological opinions.
  • Environmental Protection Mandate – The bill prohibits agencies from taking any action that would cause adverse effects to fish beyond those effects allowable under the biological opinion.

Long-term provisions:

  • $558 million for storage, water recycling and desalination projects.
    • $335 million for water storage projects. – Funding can go to either state-led groundwater or surface storage projects, or to federally owned surface storage projects.
    • $30 million for desalination projects over 5 years.
    • $50 million for competitive grant funding for water recycling, wastewater reuse and reclamation of naturally impaired ground and surface water.
    • Increases WaterSMART funding authorization by $100 million.

The legislation authorizes the following California water projects:

Merced County Impacts

  • The bill authorizes a feasibility study for the Merced Streams Group project that was originally authorized in 1944 and has not yet been completed. Since 1997, 8 floods in the region have caused significant damage to communities in Merced County. This study, when complete, will evaluate and provide recommendations to move beyond the substandard 50-year flood planning to a much higher standard of flood protection.
  • Expedited completion of the Lower San Joaquin River flood risk management report.

California funding, reports and projects

  • $1.5 billion in Flood Risk Management funds for the American River and West Sacramento projects
  • $20 million in Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk reduction funds to San Diego County
  • $70.5 million in Flood Risk Management, Ecosystem Restoration and Recreation funds for the South San Francisco Bay shoreline
  • $375 million in Ecosystem Restoration and Recreation funds for the LA River Expedited completion of the report for the Sacramento River Flood Control System
  • Authorization of the feasibility studies for the Cache Creek Settling Basin, the Coyote Valley Dam, the Del Rosa Channel, the Mission-Zanja Channel, and the Soboba Indian Reservation



California Legislators write White House supporting WINN Act

“Many California legislators expressing support for drought relief and the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WINN).”

Download (PDF, 1.33MB)