The recent wave of climate change legislation in California also included a new and not particularly well-known law aimed at curbing greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions associated with water use. SB 1425 will create a voluntary registry to track the water sector’s energy use and GHG emissions.

According to Senator Pavley, the author of SB 1425, “While some of the water-energy related climate pollution is already covered in the state’s cap-and-trade program (via the electricity generation sector), the state does not currently have a clear accounting of the total greenhouse gas emissions associated with the water system.”

SB 1425 requires CalEPA to oversee the development of a registry for GHG emissions that result from the “water-energy nexus” using the best-available data. Participation in the registry is voluntary and open to water agencies, large water consumers, businesses and others conducting business in the state.  SB 1425 provides that entities participating in the registry may qualify for GHG emission reduction incentives.
Continue Reading New Law Takes Aim at GHG Associated with California’s Water Sector

California has moved one step closer to implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (“SGMA”), California’s landmark groundwater legislation. On Wednesday, May 18, the California Water Commission adopted a set of regulations that will govern the creation of groundwater sustainability plans (“GSPs”) by local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (“GSAs”). The emergency regulations, developed by the Department of Water Resources (“DWR”), take effect in June.

The new regulations will have some real impacts on GSAs and their implementation of SGMA. The most significant requirements include:
Continue Reading New Regulations for California Groundwater Management

Last summer, the Third District Court of Appeal issued a sweeping ruling in Siskiyou County Farm Bureau v. Department of Fish and Wildlife, which made any substantial diversions of water subject to the streambed alteration agreement provisions of the California Fish and Game Code (“CDFW”).  The court ruled that California Fish and Game Code

On Wednesday, February 10, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (Dem.-California) introduced a draft bill with the explicit purpose to “provide short-term water supplies to drought-stricken California and provide for long-term investments in drought resiliency throughout the Western United States.”  Entitled, “California Long-Term Provisions for Water Supply and Short-Term Provisions for Emergency Drought Relief Act” (hereinafter “bill”), the 184-page bill lays out mandates for the use of funds for water projects, water infrastructure improvements and storage, emergency drought relief, and protection of listed and endangered species.

Technology and financing for water supply and re-use are also focuses of the bill. Notably, the bill supports the use of desalination and water recycling.  With regard to desalination, the bill identifies 26 desalination projects throughout California that are capable of producing more than 330,000 acre-feet of water per year.  The bill proposes adding long-term funding to support desalination projects.  In addition, the bill recognizes the need for conservation and water re-use by authorizing the expenditure of $200 million in funds for the Bureau of Reclamation’s water recycling and reuse program.  This money would be used to fund projects to reclaim and reuse wastewaters and naturally impaired ground and surface water.Continue Reading Fish versus Farms: Proposed Federal Legislation Seeks a Balance for California Water Supplies

California’s unique geography and climate have allowed the State to become one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in California. In an average year California’s agricultural industry irrigates 9.6 million acres using roughly 34 million acre-feet of water.

California’s growing demand for water has increased the pressure on California’s agriculture industry to use water more efficiently. To encourage the efficient use of agricultural water, the Department of Water Resources (“DWR”) operates the Agricultural Water Use Efficiency Grants Program (“Grant Program”). The Grant Program is funded with $30 million for agricultural water use efficiency projects.

Grants are available for two types of projects: “Implementation Projects” and “Other Projects.” “Implementation Projects” are projects that create measurable water conservation benefits.  “Other Projects” create potential water conservation benefits, such as research, training, education, and public outreach.
Continue Reading DWR Put’s Money Where Its Mouth Is In Ag Water Efficiency Grant Program

On June 12, the State Water Board issued a notice of “unavailability of water” and the “need for immediate curtailment” from various water users holding pre-1914 water rights.  Less than two weeks later on June 23, lawyers for the State Water Board reportedly stated in court this curtailment notice is advisory only, which would seem