Aug 29, 2014
By JEFF BARNARD
The Associated Press
Posted Aug. 28, 2014 @ 5:42 pm
A federal judge Wednesday denied a request by irrigation suppliers in California’s Central Valley to stop emergency water releases intended to help salmon hundreds of miles away in the Klamath Basin survive the drought.
U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill in Fresno, California, denied the temporary injunction sought by Westlands Water District and the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority. Westlands is the nation’s largest supplier of water for agricultural use.
The judge ruled that the potential harm to salmon from drought conditions right now outweighs the potential harm to farmers next year.
Dan O’Hanlon, attorney for the irrigation suppliers, did not immediately respond to a telephone call and email seeking comment. The bureau routinely refuses to comment on pending litigation.
At issue is water in a reservoir on the Trinity River in Northern California, which has long been shared with farmers in the Central Valley. The river is the main tributary of the Klamath River, where sharing scarce water between fish and farms has long been a tough balancing act marked by lawsuits and political battles.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation ordered the emergency releases to prevent a repeat of a massive fish kill in 2002. The agency has said the salmon releases were not expected to reduce the amount of water exported to the Sacramento River this year, but would likely mean less water stored for next year.
Indian tribes that depend on the salmon for subsistence, ceremonial and commercial fisheries had pressed the bureau to reverse an earlier decision to only release more water once significant numbers of fish began to die.
“The court again recognized the scientific basis for the supplemental releases, and the best decision was made for the resource and the fishery,” said Susan Masten, vice chairwoman of the Yurok Tribe. “Klamath (Basin) water is meant to support Klamath River fish, not industrial agriculture in the Central Valley.”
In his ruling, O’Neill cited a statement from tribal fisheries consultant Joshua Strange that the extra water was needed to prevent an outbreak of disease from a parasite known as Ich, short for Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, that attacks fish crowded together in drought conditions. The parasite was the prime killer of salmon in the 2002 drought.
O’Neill noted that the fish expert for the irrigation suppliers, Charles Hanson, asserted that higher, colder flows in the Trinity would harm other protected species, such as the Western pond turtle, yellow-legged frog, and lamprey.
O’Neill has indicated that he is likely to find in favor of the irrigation suppliers on at least one of their claims in a lawsuit over last year’s releases to the Trinity, but that would not affect his findings in the current case, he wrote.
Aug 24, 2014
Dam distraction delays real water solutions; Klamath County has rescinded its 2010 approval
Herald and News 8/17/14
By THE SISKIYOU COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, guest writers
Siskiyou County Supervisors Michael Kobseff and Brandon Criss recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with Members of Congress and their staffs to reinforce Siskiyou County’s opposition to the proposals to remove the lower four dams on the Klamath River. We are optimistic in reporting that there is strong Congressional opposition to these proposals for a wide range of reasons.
In late 2011, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley introduced legislation to authorize the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement and the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement. These are intertwined agreements that would have state and federal taxpayers and PacifiCorp’s California and Oregon ratepayers foot the bill to let PacifiCorp walk away from the Klamath River.
The bill met its deserved fate when it died at the end of the 112th Congress in December 2012, with no action being taken.
Earlier this year, Oregon’s other senator, Ron Wyden, reintroduced a version of the Merkley bill with the addition of a new agreement on water and land management in the Upper Basin. California Senators Feinstein and Boxer agreed to support this new bill as cosponsors.
One large problem with moving this legislation any further is that it is not scientifically justified. The Secretary of Interior’s own expert panels have concluded that the benefits for salmon would be “minimal” and “unlikely.”
Elected representatives from other states are now seeing the Klamath agreements for what they are: Supposed “stakeholders” wanting to spend vast amounts of other peoples’ money. These selfselected “stakeholders” also would form their own regional government under the Klamath Basin Restoration Act composed of unelected leaders.
These stakeholders are authorized under Sen. Wyden’s legislation to amend the Klamath agreements without Congressional approval.
Also, although a handful of senators are trying to advance the Klamath agreements, the proposed legislation would be dead on arrival if it reaches the House of Representatives.
California Congressman Tom McClintock is the chair of the Water and Power Subcommittee. His district includes the long-stalled Auburn Dam and he is an ardent supporter of that project. He also is adamantly opposed to the Klamath agreements, as is Washington’s Doc Hastings, the chairman of the committee with jurisdiction over any bill.
We are witnessing the agonizingly slow death of the Klamath agreements. Klamath County has rescinded its 2010 approval. A number of parties to the new Upper Basin Agreement are already questioning it. The recent referendum in the Klamath Tribes demonstrated a surprising internal divide.
The questions are getting louder about how long the Public Utilities Commission will continue a surcharge to fund a proposed project with one unmet milestone after another, a timetable that is now years behind, and no forward progress on its central element of dam removal.
At some point, we believe a critical mass of real stakeholders will acknowledge they need another approach.
Siskiyou County has offered repeatedly to return to the negotiating table to work toward all of the things that could be done to benefit water supplies and enhance fish populations without getting sidetracked by the controversy of dam removal and the enormous costs associated with it.
In light of the ongoing wildfire disasters in southern Oregon and California’s Copco region, water storage has proven to be a major asset to the residents of our drought-stricken region. Building additional offstream water storage could provide increased firefighting resources and water irrigation resources for both on-project and off-project water users.
Klamath County has joined us in a joint letter opposing the Wyden legislation. Both counties have invited Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to visit our region. Our open invitation to Secretary Jewell stands. We await a reply to our correspondence and a visit by her to become informed of the concerns of Siskiyou County and our constituents.
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Aug 19, 2014
August 14, 2014
Contact: Nicole Winger
Secretary of State Debra Bowen Assigns Number to
New November Ballot Measure; Invites Ballot Arguments
SACRAMENTO – Following action by the Legislature and the Governor last night creating a new water bond measure for the November 4 General Election ballot, Secretary of State Debra Bowen today invited interested Californians to submit arguments to be considered for inclusion in a second voter information guide. The new water bond measure is Proposition 1.
Voter guides, also known as ballot pamphlets, are mailed to every voting household in California and posted on the Secretary of State’s website. The full text and nonpartisan analysis of propositions are also in the voter guides.
The statutory deadline for placing legislative and initiative measures on the ballot was June 26. However, the Legislature and the Governor chose to waive laws and place Proposition 1 on the ballot after the deadline had passed, triggering the need for a second voter guide. When creating Proposition 1 the Legislature and the Governor removed another water bond measure, Proposition 43, from the November 4 ballot.
The new proposition is listed below, along with the Legislative Counsel’s digest.
Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014. (Chapter 188, 2014). (1) Existing law, the Safe, Clean, and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2012, if approved by the voters, would authorize the issuance of bonds in the amount of $11,140,000,000 pursuant to the State General Obligation Bond Law to finance a safe drinking water and water supply reliability program. Existing law provides for the submission of the bond act to the voters at the November 4, 2014, statewide general election. This bill would repeal these provisions. (2) Under existing law, various measures have been approved by the voters to provide funds for water supply and protection facilities and programs. Existing law, the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006, an initiative measure approved by the voters as Proposition 84 at the November 7, 2006, statewide general election, authorizes the issuance of bonds in the amount of $5,388,000,000 for the purposes of financing safe drinking water, water quality and supply, flood control, natural resource protection, and park improvements. Existing law, the Disaster Preparedness and Flood Prevention Bond Act of 2006, approved by the voters as Proposition 1E at the November 7, 2006, general statewide election, authorizes the issuance of bonds in the amount of $4,090,000,000 for the purposes of financing disaster preparedness and flood prevention projects. Existing law, the Water Security, Clean Drinking Water, Coastal and Beach Protection Act of 2002, an initiative measure approved by the voters as Proposition 50 at the November 5, 2002, statewide general election, authorizes, for the purposes of financing a safe drinking water, water quality, and water reliability program, the issuance of bonds in the amount of $3,440,000,000. Existing law, the Costa-Machado Water Act of 2000, approved by the voters as Proposition 13 at the March 7, 2000, statewide primary election, authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds in the amount of $1,970,000,000 for the purposes of financing a safe drinking water, clean water, watershed protection, and flood protection program. Existing law, the Safe, Clean, Reliable Water Supply Act, approved by the voters as Proposition 204 at the November 5, 1996, statewide general election, authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds in the amount of $995,000,000 for the purposes of financing a safe, clean, reliable water supply program. Existing law, the Water Conservation and Water Quality Bond Law of 1986, approved by the voters as Proposition 44 at the June 3, 1986, statewide primary election, authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds in the amount of $150,000,000 for the purposes of financing a water conservation and water quality program. This bill would enact the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014, which, if approved by the voters, would authorize the issuance of bonds in the amount of $7,120,000,000 pursuant to the State General Obligation Bond Law to finance a water quality, supply, and infrastructure improvement program. This bill, upon voter approval, would reallocate $425,000,000 of the unissued bonds authorized for the purposes of Propositions 1E, 13, 44, 50, 84, and 204 to finance the purposes of a water quality, supply, and infrastructure improvement program. This bill would provide for the submission of these provisions to the voters at the November 4, 2014, statewide general election. (3) This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute.
People may submit arguments for or against the measure. Arguments selected for the supplemental voter guide will be on public display between August 23 and September 12. If multiple arguments are submitted for one proposition, state law gives first priority to arguments written by legislators in the case of legislative measures, and first priority to arguments written by proponents of an initiative or referendum in such cases. Subsequent priority for all measures goes to bona fide citizen associations and then to individuals. No more than three signers are allowed to appear on an argument or rebuttal to an argument.
Ballot arguments cannot exceed 500 words and rebuttals to ballot arguments cannot exceed 250 words. All submissions should be typed and double-spaced. Arguments may be hand-delivered to the Secretary of State’s Elections Division at 1500 11th Street, 5th Floor, Sacramento, California 95814; faxed to (916) 653-3214; or emailed to VIGarguments@sos.ca.gov. If faxed or emailed, the original documents must be received within 72 hours.
The deadline to submit ballot arguments is August 19 by 2:00 p.m. The deadline to submit rebuttals to the ballot arguments is August 22 by 5:00 p.m.
For more election deadlines and information on ballot measures, go to www.sos.ca.gov/elections/statewide-elections/2014-general.
To view past state voter guides, go to www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-measures/voter-information-guides.htm.
Keep up with the latest California election news and trivia by following @CASOSvote on Twitter.
Aug 13, 2014
Published: Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 – 8:27 pm
Last Modified: Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 – 8:38 pm
California voters will be asked to authorize $7.5 billion to bolster the state’s water supply, infrastructure and ecosystems in November, as lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday struck a long-sought deal to move a new water bond to the ballot.
An extraordinary drought that has strained California’s water supply spurred a concerted push for a new water bond. Lawmakers moved to replace an $11.1 billion previously slated for the ballot, convinced that voters would reject it.
Instead, voters will see a $7.5 billion measure that contains significantly less money for Delta restoration. The final sum represents a compromise both from Republicans, who called for $3 billion for surface storage projects, and from Brown, who sought an overall total closer to $6 billion.
In a pivotal concession, Democrats and the governor agreed to boost the amount of money for surface storage projects to $2.7 billion. Republicans had opposed a pact between Brown and Democrats containing $2.5 billion for new dams and reservoirs.
While money for storage and the Delta occupied a central place in negotiations, the bond would also allocate billions to provide clean drinking water to thirsty communities, guard against floods and treat or reuse water.
Without GOP support, lawmakers could not have mustered the two-thirds margin needed for passage. Republicans consistently demanded more money for surface storage, ideally enough to build two large-scale reservoirs capable of better sustaining California through another drought.
“It was real critical to get a bond that actually helped fund two reservoirs,” Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, told reporters. “We’ve had a lot of bonds in the last 15 years that haven’t had any storage, so we finally have a water bond that has water in it.”
The deal marked the culmination of feverish negotiations. Legislators returned from a July recess calling the new bond an overriding priority. Lawmakers and their staff met through the weekend and continued to talk with Brown until late Tuesday evening and through much of Wednesday.
Driving the sense of urgency was the need to prepare for the November election. On Monday, legislators voted to extend by two days the deadline for printing voter guides.
Another point of dispute involved Brown’s highly contentious plan to drill two massive water tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, allowing water to flow to farms and cities in southern California without passing through the Delta’s precarious ecosystem.
Democratic leadership and environmentalists insisted that any bond be “tunnel neutral,” carefully crafted so it did not pay for environmental mitigation required for Brown’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan.
Watersheds across California would receive $1.495 billion under the bond deal approved Wednesday, with $137.5 million of it flowing to the Delta. That falls significantly below the $2.25 billion for the ecologically sensitive region in the previous, $11.1 billion bond.
Under the agreement, $810 million would help fortify local water systems and $520 million would increase increase access to potable drinking water. Water recycling projects would be eligible for $700 million, and $395 million would become available for flood protection – $295 million of it for projects in the Delta region, including work on levees.
The state of California’s groundwater has attracted attention as the drought has taxed surface sources like rivers and reservoirs, pushing farmers and others to lean more heavily on wells. The bond would allocate $900 million for groundwater, much of it set aside for preventing contamination.
But $100 million would pay for groundwater management plans. California does not regulate groundwater withdrawals at the state level, though lawmakers are advancing bills to do so this year amid warnings that over-pumping is rapidly draining aquifers.
Aug 7, 2014
Farm Team Action Alert
Stop AB 1739 & SB 1168 Take Action!
Protect Groundwater Rights
AB 1739 (Dickinson, D-Sacramento) and SB 1168 (Pavley, D-Agoura Hills), two groundwater management bills, began as a rush to solve groundwater management issues for basins in overdraft during the crisis of our current drought, but have now morphed into a significant water grab.
The two recently amended and identical bills have significant, negative impacts on:
• Groundwater rights
• Adjudicated areas already in existence
• Adjudications in the future
• Allocation of groundwater for environmental and habitat purposes
• New authorities for local districts, including a new fee authority
Farm Bureau agrees groundwater management is best accomplished at the local or regional level; however, there are very real concerns about this attempt to pass groundwater management policy with all the related complexities in the last few weeks of this legislative session. Poorly thought through policy will only devalue land and result in litigation, but will also impact jobs, county tax rolls and local economies.
It is imperative that decision-makers consider all the impacts any groundwater policy will have on those who live, work and rely on our agricultural landscape.
Act today to stop AB 1739 & SB 1168!
The Time has come for 51 — the State of Jefferson, splitting from California!