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Browsing the archives for the Water, Resources & Quality category.

Butte County says it will file lawsuit to oppose “twin tunnels” proposal

Lawsuits, State gov, Water, Resources & Quality

County to file suit to oppose ‘twin tunnels’ proposal

Chico Enterprise-Record

Butte County plans to file a lawsuit over the plan to bury a pair of tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to move Sacramento River water south.

County supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to file the suit against the Department of Water Resources over the so-called “California WaterFix,” the largest part of which is the “twin tunnels” proposal.

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L.A. took their water and land a century ago. Now the Owens Valley is fighting back

Agriculture - California, California Rivers, California water, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

L.A. took their water and land a century ago. Now the Owens Valley is fighting back

Los Angeles Times

A century ago, agents from Los Angeles converged on the Owens Valley on a secret mission.

They figured out who owned water rights in the lush valley and began quietly purchasing land, posing as ranchers and farmers.

Soon, residents of the Eastern Sierra realized much of the water rights were now owned by Los Angeles interests. L.A. proceeded to drain the valley, taking the water via a great aqueduct to fuel the metropolis’ explosive growth.

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California water bill passes House, but Dems vow to fight it in the Senate

California water, Water, Resources & Quality

California water bill passes House, but Democrats vow to fight it in the Senate

Los Angeles Times

Some of California’s decisions about how to use its water would be relegated to the federal government under a bill passed by the House on Wednesday.

Republicans say the bill will bring more water to the parched Central Valley. California’s Democratic senators have promised to fight the bill in the Senate because it weakens California’s ability to manage its own resources.

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EPA Poised to Undo Obama’s Federal Power Grab

Clean Water ACT - EPA, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

A highly controversial rule from the Obama administration may finally be on its way out.

On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it is going to put an end to the Obama administration’s federal power grab known as the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule.

Specifically, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers are proposing to rescind the rule and, for the interim until a new rule is developed, recodify the regulations prior to the WOTUS rule.

The Trump administration should be commended for taking this critical action. The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers, through the Clean Water Act, were seeking to regulate almost every water imaginable.

For example, under the rule, federal agencies could have regulated certain man-made ditches and even dry land that may hold some water only a few days of the year after major rains.

The rule was so broad and subjective, property owners would have had a very difficult time even knowing what was subject to regulation. For that matter, the level of subjectivity was so great that even government officials enforcing the rule wouldn’t have been able to agree on whether specific waters could be regulated.

By trying to regulate almost every water, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers would have been forcing property owners to secure far more permits, including for normal activities such as farming.

The EPA and Army Corps now appear to recognize that protecting the environment doesn’t have to come at the expense of property rights and the rule of law. Critics will inevitably use scare tactics to say that getting rid of the WOTUS rule will harm the environment. The opposite is the case.

Getting rid of the rule now allows both the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to develop a new rule that is both clear and objective.

This will help property owners and improve compliance—and it will help the EPA and the Army Corps by providing them clarity and direction in their enforcement of the law. It will also, if properly drafted, allow states to play the primary role that was envisioned under the Clean Water Act, which explicitly recognized “the primary responsibilities and rights of states to prevent, reduce, and eliminate pollution.”

This is likely to provide greater environmental protection, since states are in a far better position to identify and address the unique environmental needs of their waters than the federal government.

The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ new rule will hopefully properly define “waters of the United States.” For now, though, rescinding the WOTUS rule is the necessary start to that process.

http://dailysignal.com/2017/06/28/epa-poised-undo-obamas-federal-power-grab/?utm_source=TDS_Email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MorningBell&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiWmpjMFptVXlOemd5TjJGaSIsInQiOiJ0alV1cmY2MjJsd0YzT3M4VlQ2ejc2dlNIbm1WRTdLRFpXUDZsSndwTllQNUNJd28ya3VyeGd1UFVqSVpORmZRYXZpTVcxNUZHaERMQktuRmJ2WUxZaXNRY1NvNFRuWWFRNmZRUGl1NHQyTFpwcjRJMGhzTHpyVFhUTGxLaVNNaSJ9

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Salmon: rice fields and 2017 high water flows

California Rivers, California water, Salmon and fish, Water, Resources & Quality

Flooded rice fields offer good place to grow native salmon

Woodland Daily Democrat

A new study offers a beacon of hope for a cease-fire in the Golden State’s persistent water wars. “Floodplain Farm Fields Provide Novel Rearing Habitat for Chinook Salmon,” published in the journal PLOS-ONE, is based on the work by scientists from nonprofit group California Trout, UC Davis, and the California Department of Water Resources.

The study reaffirms what has been a growing body of evidence that Central Valley farm fields that remain in active agricultural production can have environmental benefits for the state’s salmon populations.

 

Fishing for answers on what high flows of 2017 do for salmon on Modesto-area rivers

Modesto Bee

This year has brought the mighty river flows that environmental and fishing groups say are vital to salmon. A farmer or city water user might disagree: Yes, the fish need high water at times, but not at the 2017 volume. And we should be adding reservoir space to carry over the excess for dry years ahead.

The Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers have near-record runoff from their mountain watersheds after five years of drought. It started in fall, when above-average storms provided more water for salmon returning to spawn after a few years in the Pacific Ocean. The skies truly let loose in January and February, forcing reservoir operators to ramp up releases to prepare for the spring snowmelt.

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Klamath Tribes terminate water compact, potentially devastating ranchers, farmers

Agriculture, cattle, Klamath Tribe, Tribes, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

Free Range Report.com

April 24, 2017

In April 2014, ranchers and the Tribes signed the Upper Basin Comprehensive Agreement. The ranchers agreed to retire 18,000 acres of land or 30,000 acre feet of water and do riparian repair work on the rivers in exchange for an allotment of water each year…

At the end of February, the Tribes indicated to the ranchers they wanted to terminate the agreement…

Gerry O’Brien

Herald and News

Tribes issue water claim, ranchers fear the worst

There are few options for the Upper Klamath Basin ranchers who are now under a call for water from the Klamath Tribes, just as irrigation season is fast approaching.

The ranchers believe their livelihood is at stake and so may be much of the economy for the county. The issue affects some 300,000 acres of land and 1,000 or more ranchers north and east of Klamath Falls.

Two weeks ago, the Tribes called on its water rights for “flood plain” water on the Sprague and Williamson Rivers, which are running high due to spring runoff. The Wood River is under the same call, which is expected to take effect Monday, experts predict. All three feed into Upper Klamath Lake.

The Tribes have primary water rights, which supersede any secondary rights of the ranchers and irrigators.

The Herald and News was unable to get a comment from the tribal chairman for this story, but Chairman Don Gentry has said in the past the call was necessary now to benefit fish habitat in high water zones, basically flushing out the river to allow for new growth. That will help endangered fish, such as Lost River and short-nosed suckers, downstream.

The ranchers say that by June or July, pastures will be turning brown and those without underground wells and adequate stock water for cattle will be forced to ship cattle elsewhere for forage, an expensive proposition.

Options are limited

Ranchers hope to get the Tribes to either remove the call, or return to the bargaining table and hammer out a deal that would benefit both sides. Also, the state could join the negotiations or Congress could step in to help by pushing legislation to resolve the issue.

Those who have their water shut off, may file an appeal with the watermaster, which would put a hold on the shutoff unless the state rules otherwise. That could buy some time for the ranchers and the upper Basin irrigators are exploring that avenue.

Any federal appeal, such as seeking an injunction to the call, would be a costly proposition, experts say.

“This would not have happened if the unprecedented agreement (KBRA) produced by tribes, irrigators and conservationists had not been blocked. I stand ready to put in the work again to resolve this longstanding issue with an agreement that addresses the long-term needs of all the parties,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in an email.

(One reason the bill failed was it was tied to removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. Congressmen in Northern California were opposed to the dam removal).

Andrew Malcolm, spokesman for Rep. Greg Walden, said, “This shows the continued need for a long-lasting solution in the Basin. Greg’s been working on these issues a long time, and continues to work with stakeholders to find a solution that has the needed support with the public and in Congress.”

What the call means

A few of the ranchers and irrigators met with the Herald and News editorial board last week to lay out their concerns.

In April 2014, ranchers and the Tribes signed the Upper Basin Comprehensive Agreement. The ranchers agreed to retire 18,000 acres of land or 30,000 acre feet of water and do riparian repair work on the rivers in exchange for an allotment of water each year. That pact was linked to the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) for the lower basin that eventually failed to gain congressional approval. Without it, the agreements had no money to be carried out.

At the end of February, the Tribes indicated to the ranchers they wanted to terminate the agreement, but have yet to file formal notice of termination with the Interior Department.

“Last year, we worked under the agreement and there was no call,” said Larry Nicholson, a fourth-generation Forth Klamath rancher. He’s also a member of the Klamath Tribes. “Now there is no communication with the Tribes, and everything just fell apart. We have nothing else to give.”

The way the call works is: Any amount of water flowing above 2,190 cfs can be called on by the tribes; When flows get down to 2,190 cfs, the call ends and irrigators will be able to irrigate again. When flows hit 1,440 cfs the water is shut off for the summer.

So, once ranchers are able to turn the water back on, nearly all of them will begin irrigating as fast and as much as possible. Some experts say that could be a short window of just a couple of days to a couple of weeks.

“On the Wood, this a straight up call to shut the whole Wood River down for the summer,” said Larry Nicholson. “Unless we can come up with an agreement, it will be like a domino effect and the Wood River will be the first one to fall.”

Economic fallout

Roger Nicholson, a cousin of Larry’s, also has a longtime family ranch in the valley.

“It is going to start hurting shortly. These are Draconian instream flow levels. What adjudication has meant for us is a taking of our water,” he said. “We’re the whipping boy now.”

The economic impacts could be “a $1 billion hit” Roger Nicholson predicts. Not only will Klamath County suffer, the region will suffer, he said.

“We send cattle to the San Joaquin Valley for feed; we send them to the state of Washington as feeders and for the packing industry. I send 7,000 head alone. All that could go away,” Nicholson said. Plus, the ripple effects will be felt across the county, he warned.

Klamath Tribes terminate water compact, potentially devastating ranchers, farmers

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Klamath Tribe wants all the water

Agriculture, Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, cattle, Klamath Tribe, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

Herald and News.com

Ranchers in the Upper Basin react

Tribal water call: ‘Devastating’

The call on water by the Klamath Tribes will be devastating economically for the cattlemen in the Upper Basin, affected ranchers said Tuesday.

The Tribes made the call last week. A water call puts the rest of the secondary water users on notice that the Tribes intend to use its water allocation in the Williamson, Sprague and possibly the Wood rivers for the benefit of fish habitat over irrigation for farming and cattle operations.

“This call is potentially devastating to both irrigators and the Tribes,” said Becky Hyde, a member of a long-time cattle ranching family in the Upper Basin above Upper Klamath Lake. “Our ag communities want what is best for the fish as well, but this puts a tremendous strain on our relationship with the Tribes.”

 While the call focuses on the current high water flows in the rivers — and if they fall to a certain level, irrigators can actually irrigate — there is still the concern that the irrigation window will be short-lived.

This is the first time the regulations have taken effect with spring runoff, which could run to June 1 or end sooner.

Water agreement

Hyde and several other ranchers spent years hammering out an Upper Basin agreement over water use with the Tribes. That agreement is still on the books, but has no funding behind it, hence is moot. The agreement would retire some 18,000 acres of land from use to put water back into the streams. In turn, there will be water security for ranchers.

Larry Nicholson, whose family also has historic cattle ranches on the Wood River, said the economic impact will be huge. A water call has not been made on the Wood, but Nicholson expects it.

“There are some 30,000 head of cattle that are moved into the area from ranches in California,” Nicholson said. “The grass in the Fort Klamath area is highly nutritious, but it is only good in the summer as it’s too cold to keep cattle there in the winter. Most ranches are not setup for stock water. If there is no water, the cattle will be kept in California, crowding out those ranch resources.”

After that …

“We have yearlings who need to grow all summer on grass,” Hyde said. “It’s a scramble to find alternative grazing. If you multiply that across the region, the water call a big deal,” she said. “We will be OK in the spring thanks to the early moisture and growing grasses. After that, it could be devastating.”

A couple of years back, Hyde shipped some cattle out after water supplies dwindled.

“This will be worse. There will be no water,” Hyde said.

Randall Kiser, who is a fifth-generation rancher on the Sprague and Wood, said, “When you have a snowpack at 138 of average and there is still a call for water, something is wrong.” Kiser, too, worked on the water pact with the tribes. Some 150 large and small ranches on the Sprague will be affected by the call.

“It’s a serious situation,” Kizer said.

“It would be nice if we could negotiate a settlement, finalize it and keep moving” he said. “This call affects everybody in the Upper Basin. When we last met in February, the Tribes told us they were ‘settlement-minded.’”

Fisheries status

Tribal Chairman Don Gentry said of the call Monday, “I understand the concerns for the agricultural community, but there needs to be concerns for the status of our fisheries.”

Both Hyde and Nicholson point out that the agreements work both ways. The idea was to have cattlemen build fences to keep cattle out of the rivers so fish habitat could grow.

“If you don’t have fences, it stands to reason the cattle will be drinking from the river,” Nicholson said, damaging habitat and eroding banks.

“Just having water doesn’t restore habitat,” Hyde said. “That’s where everyone loses. The Klamath Tribes have a powerful card that they are playing, but that doesn’t, mean they win in the end.”

READ it here

http://www.heraldandnews.com/news/local_news/ranchers-in-the-upper-basin-react-to-water-call/article_2e958a6e-14be-5def-bd13-7f69b6db4517.html

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

 

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CA. Fish and Wildlife (DFG) will be doing fly-overs in Siskiyou Co. today

Agriculture, California Rivers, Dept. Fish & Game, Property rights, Ranch life, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

I learned that CA F&G will be conducting low level flights over Scott Valley with a small plane in the coming days. The County has requested they stay above the required 500-foot level with respect to spooking cattle etc.

We also requested Elizabeth Nielsen, Siskiyou Co. Natural Resource Specialist, be able to fly with them to understand what they are looking for and with respect to the former elevation requirement. That request has been denied.

Ray A. Haupt

(530) 925-0444

PNP comment: Irrigation season began, in earnest, in Scott Valley on April 1, 2017, when most land owners were then able to open their headgates to legally obtain their water right. There are some water rights that do not begin until April 15.  Why DFG is flying this early in the season, when there is plenty of water for  irrigation, stock water and fish in the river is a BIG question mark? — Editor Liz Bowen

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Support Siskiyou Supervisors in application as groundwater agency

Ranch life, Siskiyou County, State gov, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

Please attend the Siskiyou Co. Board of Supervisors’ meeting

April 4, 2017

Siskiyou Co. Supervisors meeting room on 2nd story of courthouse in Yreka

Time is 1:30 p.m.

Please be willing to speak even if only to voice your support of the county’s application to the State.

 

Synopsis of this issue is below:

Elizabeth Nielsen, Siskiyou County Natural Resources Specialist, did a thorough job explaining the new state law regarding groundwater at the Scott Valley Protect Our Water meeting last week. This situation is a bit ominous.

If the county does not create its own Groundwater Sustainable Agency and submit its application for that agency by June 30, 2017, the State Water Board will intervene to manage groundwater extraction activities in Siskiyou County. The State Water Board will have the power to assess fees for its involvement and will levy fees of $100 per well and in unmanaged areas the cost will be $10 per acre foot per year if the well is metered and $25 per year if not the well is not metered. Yep, this is scary and costly. Oh, and will start on July 1, 2017!

Our county supervisors are proposing that the Siskiyou Flood Control and Conservation District serve as the agency that will oversee the Sustainable Groundwater Management Plan. The plan must be operable by 2022 using information developed by local landowner committees in the four subbasins that are affected. Those subbasins are: Scott Valley, Shasta Valley, Butte Valley and the Tulelake area.

Actually, a sub-type of agency will be developed in each of these subbasins. The important key is that the agency members will be local landowners and groundwater users, including water districts and municipalities.

Ray Haupt, Siskiyou Co. Dist. 5 Supervisor, said the county hopes the citizens will support its application to the state. He wants to “seize this process” and keep control local over groundwater instead of the state’s one-size-fits-all demands. Ray said the county supervisors voiced vigorous opposition to the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. But it passed the state legislature and Gov. Brown signed it into law.

Elizabeth is asking individuals with groundwater wells to attend and express support at the April 4th hearing. She has been tasked with completing the county’s application. The hearing will be held at 1:30 p.m. at the supervisors’ chambers at the courthouse in Yreka. This is next week folks. Please attend or write-in comments of support.

For more on the GSA law and process, go to Elizabeth’s website for a power point presentation. The easiest way to find the site is to Google “Siskiyou County Natural Resources Department” and when you reach the site, scroll down and in the middle is a list with “Natural Resources – Groundwater” in it. Or give Elizabeth a call at 530-842-8012.

 

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California U.S. Senators fight over new California water-bill plan

California water, Water, Resources & Quality

Boxer, Feinstein in angry split over new California water-bill plan

McClatchy DC

A controversial California water bill that’s sparked years of fighting has been added to a fast-moving measure, boosting the chance the water measures will pass Congress but sharply dividing the state’s U.S. senators.

In a remarkable break for the two longtime Democratic allies, Sen. Barbara Boxer pledged Monday to fight against the legislation written by Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Now in the final weeks of her congressional career, Boxer said she would seek to block the broader water-projects bill to which Feinstein and her Republican allies in the House of Representatives had attached the California measure.

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