In July, we blogged about the State Water Resources Control Board’s (“State Water Board’) release of proposed General Waste Discharge Requirements for Winery Process Water Treatment Systems (see: July 15, 2020 blog post on proposed General Order and July 20, 2020 blog post on noticed stakeholder meetings). The State Water Board recently issued a revised
State Water Agencies Expect Water Use Reporting to Continue as Normal as California Shelters in Place
On March 19, 2020, California issued Executive Order N-25-20, a statewide shelter in place order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, significantly altering operations of both state agencies and private businesses. However, California’s water regulators, including the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), the Regional Water Quality Control Boards, and the Department of Water Resources (DWR), have committed to maintaining critical deadlines, compliance requirements, and agency operations in the interest of public health and safety.
Importantly, the SWRCB’s Division of Water Rights continues to require all surface water users to submit annual reports to meet the April 1, 2020 deadline for reporting 2019 water use. As of the publication of this alert, although the Division of Water Rights has postponed non-essential file review, the Division of Water Rights is maintaining limited hours to view essential records, by appointment only.
Additionally, the SWRCB and the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards (collectively “Water Boards”) issued a guidance statement providing that in the interest of protecting public health, safety, and the environment, timely compliance with all Water Board orders and requirements is required. This includes compliance with regulations, permits, contractual obligations, primacy delegations, and funding conditions that are in effect.…
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Good for You, Great for Me: DOGGR Issues Notice to Operators with Guidance for Collection of Oilfield Water Quality Data
On March 7, 2018, the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (“DOGGR,” or “Division”) published a notice to operators (“NTO”) regarding updated guidelines for oilfield water quality data. The NTO outlines procedures for submission of oilfield water quality data by operators, including required notices, injectate samples, formation water samples, documentation and final report and certification processes.
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New California Groundwater Fees – Another Step Forward for SGMA
California’s newer groundwater regulatory structure, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 (“SGMA”), was signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. on September 16, 2014. The State Water Resources Control Board (“SWRCB”) is the enforcement agency for SGMA. SGMA requires the SWRCB to establish a schedule of fees sufficient to recover the costs incurred by…
New Forecast in California: An End to the Drought (For Now!) in Most Counties
On April 7th, Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order that lifts the drought emergency in fifty-four of the fifty-eight California counties. After six years of a prolonged drought in California, Executive Order B-40-17 lifts the drought emergency in all California counties except Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne.
While the drought is declared over for…
Up the Creek Without a Paddle: District Court Holds that Biological Opinion Must Consider Climate Change Impacts
In a narrow win for plaintiff Wild Fish Conservancy (“Plaintiff”), the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington held that the biological opinion (“BiOp”) for the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery (“Hatchery”) was arbitrary and capricious because the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) failed to adequately consider the effects of climate change.
This case concerns a Hatchery located on Icicle Creek about three miles south of Leavenworth, Washington. The purpose of the Hatchery is to replace spawning habitat impacted by construction of the Grand Coulee Dam, and it is operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) and the Bureau of Reclamation (“BOR”). Icicle Creek is home to two Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) listed species: the Upper Columbia River Chinook salmon and the Upper Columbia River steelhead.…
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New Law Takes Aim at GHG Associated with California’s Water Sector
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.
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With SB 1262, SGMA Becomes Further Entrenched in California’s Water Supply Planning Laws
With Senate Bill 1262 (“SB 1262”), California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (“SGMA”) has become firmly rooted into the State’s water supply planning laws. Specifically, SB 1262 amends the Water Supply Assessment statute (commonly referred to as “SB 610”) and the Written Verification statute (commonly referred to as “SB 221”).
Background – SB 610 & SB 221
As way of background, SB 610 and SB 221 operate to help cities and counties make informed land use decisions by providing the local governments with information on water supply availability. SB 610 and SB 221 are companion laws that promote more collaborative planning between local water suppliers and cities and counties. Both statutes require detailed information regarding water availability to be provided to the city and county decision-makers prior to approval of specified large development projects.
Under SB 610, Water Supply Assessments must be provided to local governments for certain projects subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”). The Water Supply Assessment must analyze whether projected water supplies are sufficient to meet the projected water demand of the proposed development project. Similarly, under SB 221, approval by a city or county of certain subdivisions requires an affirmative Written Verification of sufficient water supply.
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Three Things You Need to Know About California’s New Surface Water Diversion Reporting Requirements
On August 22, the State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board”) held an informational meeting to answer questions and get the public up to speed on California’s new surface water diversion reporting requirements. As we previously reported, all surface water diverters will be required to report their diversions annually instead of every three years, as previously required.
Below are three things you need to know about the new requirements:
- The requirements will be phased in depending on how much you divert.
The measurement requirements of the regulation apply to all water right holders who divert more than 10 acre-feet of water per year and will be phased in between January 2017 and January 2018. Large diverters with a right to take 1,000 acre-feet of water or more per year must have a measuring device in place by January 1, 2017, while those with rights for 100 to 1,000 acre-feet have until July 1, 2017 and those with rights to take 10 to 100 acre-feet must comply by January 1, 2018.
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Does California Bear A Water “Windfall” From Deep-Aquifer Sources?
Stanford University released a study this week stating that California has three times more useable groundwater located in deep aquifers than previously estimated. This might come as welcome news to a state that continues to suffer through a historic drought. The researchers found that fresh groundwater was available at depths previously thought to be too deep to contain fresh water.
At the outset, readers should note that “freshwater” and “drinking water” are terms of art having regulatory and legal distinctions, and ultimately making a difference for the public welfare. The definition of freshwater varies depending on the state or federal agency; however, freshwater is generally defined as having less than 3,000 mg/L of total dissolved solids (“TDS”). Underground Sources of Drinking Water (“USDW” or “drinking water”) as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency include groundwater aquifers with less than 10,000 mg/L TDS. For reference, seawater contains approximately 35,000 mg/L TDS.
Historically, California’s fresh groundwater supply was thought to be limited to water found above 1,000 feet. However, the researchers determined that the mean base of fresh water (“BFW”) in five Central Valley counties (Kern, Fresno, Solano, Colusa, and Yolo) ranged from 1,345 feet (Colusa) to 2,204 feet (Kern). The base of drinking water is considerably deeper than the freshwater. Specifically, USDW can be found in Kern and Los Angeles Counties at depths deeper than 8,200 feet.
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New Regulations for California Groundwater Management
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:…
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