Governor Newsom's Water Resilience Portfolio Initiative Executive Order & Bob Wilkinson's Presentation from the June 19 Community Water Center Listening Session
On-Farm Recharge of Annual Crops Brochure
GROUNDWATER RECHARGE TO BENEFIT PEOPLE AND WILDLIFE
With the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requiring basins to balance water budgets and manage groundwater sustainably, there is an opportunity to demonstrate groundwater recharge with benefits to birds and people.
A multiple-benefit approach brings together water managers, farmers, agencies and conservation groups to stabilize groundwater in a manner that provides greater water reliability for farms and communities while protecting ecosystems, including migratory bird habitat.
WHAT ARE WE DOING?
The Migratory Bird Conservation Partnership is developing resources to help landowners incorporate multiple benefits into groundwater recharge projects. This includes working with farmers, water management agencies, and other partners to identify how recharge on annual crop fields can also provide bird habitat. Our goal is to develop the resources that will help landowners implement multiple-benefit recharge projects where it matters most.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Talk to your community, other farmers and local agency staff about a multiple-benefit approach to replenishing groundwater. Collaborate with us to evaluate the benefits and tradeoffs of managing annual cropland for birds and groundwater recharge. If you are interested in collaborating, please reach out by calling or emailing Samantha Arthur, email@example.com, (916) 737- 5707.
From the CA Water Board's Media Release:
SACRAMENTO – The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) today
adopted rules to protect wetlands and other environmentally sensitive waterways throughout
More than 90 percent of California’s historic wetlands have been lost to development and other
human activity. Wetlands are a critical natural resource that protect and improve water quality,
provide habitat for fish and wildlife, and buffer developed areas from flooding and sea-level
The newly adopted rules provide a common, statewide definition of what constitutes a wetland.
They also provide consistency in the way the State Water Board and nine regional water
boards regulate activities to protect wetlands and other waterways, such as rivers and
streams, and bays and estuaries.
“Californians take pride in balancing both the ecologic and economic needs of our state,” said
State Water Board Chair E. Joaquin Esquivel. “It’s critical we established this consistent
statewide framework that protects and enhances our most sensitive water resources, while
creating regulatory certainty for housing, agriculture, water managers, conservationists, and
The rules have two components that support each other. First, the rules define what is
considered a wetland and include a framework for determining if a feature defined as a
wetland is a “water of the state” subject to regulation. Second, the rules clarify requirements for
permit applications to discharge dredged or fill material to any water of the state.
Please continue to read in full HERE.
USDA Offers Conservation Assistance to Landowners to Protect Wetlands, Agricultural Lands and Grasslands
WASHINGTON, March 27, 2019 –USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to invest $450 million this year through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) to help private landowners, tribes, land trusts and other groups wanting to restore and protect critical wetlands and protect agricultural lands and grasslands.
“For over 25 years, NRCS has worked with landowners to protect their wetlands and agricultural lands,” NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr said. “Conservation easements are important tools for people who are trying to improve soil health, water and air quality and wildlife habitat on their land.”
ACEP provides assistance to landowners and eligible entities helping conserve, restore and protect wetlands and productive agricultural lands and grasslands. NRCS accepts ACEP applications year-round, but applications are ranked and funded by enrollment period, which have application deadlines set by the states. Many states have upcoming deadlines this spring.
Wetland Reserve Easements
Through ACEP Wetland Reserve Easements, NRCS helps landowners and tribes restore, enhance and protect wetland ecosystems. NRCS and the landowner work together to develop a plan for the restoration and maintenance of the easement.
“Seventy-five percent of the nation's wetlands are situated on private and tribal lands,” Lohr said. “Wetlands provide many benefits, including critical habitat for a wide array of wildlife species. They also store floodwaters, clean and recharge groundwater, sequester carbon, trap sediment and filter pollutants for clean water.”
Wetland conservation easements are either permanent, for 30 years or the maximum extent allowed by state law. Tribal landowners have the added option of enrolling in 30-year non-easement restoration contracts. Eligible lands include:
Through ACEP Agricultural Land Easements (ALE), NRCS provides funds to eligible entities to purchase easements on private working lands. This program helps keep working lands working, especially in areas experiencing development pressure.
Eligible cooperating entities include state or local agencies, non-profits and tribes. Landowners continue to own their property but voluntarily enter into a legal agreement with a cooperating entity to purchase an easement. The cooperating entity applies for matching funds from NRCS for the purchase of an easement from the landowner, permanently protecting its agricultural use and conservation values. Landowners do not apply directly to NRCS for funding under ALE.
Easements are permanent. Eligible lands include privately owned cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and forestlands.
ACEP remains a major part of the recently passed 2018 Farm Bill and program implementation will continue during fiscal year 2019 with some minor changes.
Landowners and tribes interested in wetland reserve easements and partners interested in agricultural land easements should contact their local USDA service center.
State Issues Nearly $2 Million in Grants to Build Local Capacity to Protect and Restore State Forests
From the California Department of Conservation:
SACRAMENTO March 21, 2019 – Eight organizations have received $1.85 million in grants to hire watershed coordinators who will build local capacity to improve forest health, the Department of Conservation (DOC) announced today.
“Healthy forests are essential to reduce catastrophic wildfires, supply clean water, and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” DOC Director David Bunn said. “Watershed coordinators can play a major role in ensuring the health of our forests by promoting collaboration, integrating watershed management efforts, and supporting local activities that restore resilience to forest lands.”
Local projects will support the state’s Forest Carbon Plan and Executive Order B-52-18 and help achieve the California Global Warming Solutions Act’s goal of reducing California’s greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
Just as the state is divided into counties, it is also divided into watersheds: the geographic areas that channel rain and snow into creeks, streams, lakes, and rivers. Watershed coordinator positions will be funded for two years in project areas that encompass about 31,000 square miles within 26 counties – from Modoc County in the northeast, to coastal areas from southern Humboldt County to San Luis Obispo County, and to Madera, Tulare, and Fresno counties in the inland central part of the state.
The Forest Health Watershed Coordinator Grant Program is funded by the California Environmental License Plate Fund and administered by DOC. Areas identified by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection as being most at risk of catastrophic wildfires were given priority for the grants. The recipients, headquarters location, and amount of funding each received:
♦ Resource Conservation District of Butte County, Oroville, $217,564.
♦ Sierra Resource Conservation District, Auberry (Fresno County), $235,000
♦ South Yuba River Citizens League, Nevada City (Nevada County), $234, 995
♦ Humboldt County Resource Conservation District, Eureka, $231,900
♦ Tuolumne River Trust, San Francisco, $235,000
♦ Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County, Capitola, $234,959
♦ Pit Resource Conservation District, Bieber (Lassen County), $235,000
♦ Sierra Institute for Community and Environment, Taylorsville (Plumas County), $228,2645
“Each grant application received highlighted good local projects and collaboration,” said Keali’i Bright, director of DOC’s Division of Land Resource Protection. “Our ability to protect forested lands depends on strong local leadership, and this fantastic response underscores the need for continued support.”
The strategy of funding watershed coordinators to organize efforts at the local level has an outstanding track record. DOC provided grants from 2000-2015. A study of that program by the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment indicated that every dollar spent to hire a coordinator leveraged more than seven times that investment in the development of watershed management plans and restoration projects. The study also found that that forest health and watershed health are inextricably linked.
“The return on investment in watershed and forest health has been impressive, and California’s commitment to these issues is strong,” DOC Director Bunn said, noting that the Natural Resources Agency and DOC recently announced $20 million in block grants for local and regional projects to improve forest health and increase fire resiliency.
DOC’s Division of Land Resource Protection also manages programs that map land-use changes in California, permanently conserve important farmland, help reduce development pressure on agricultural and open-space land, and provide assistance to California’s Resource Conservation Districts. It also works with the Strategic Growth Council on the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program and the Transformative Climate Communities Program, and with the High Speed Rail Authority on the Agricultural Land Mitigation Program.
Natural Resources Agency and Department of Conservation Announce Awards for the Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program
From the March 12, 2019 Press Release:
SACRAMENTO – The California Natural Resources Agency and Department of Conservation
today announced awarding $20 million in block grants for local and regional projects to improve
forest health and increase fire resiliency.
Funded by Cap-and-Trade revenues through California Climate Investments, the Regional Forest
and Fire Capacity Program aims to help communities prioritize, develop, and implement
projects to strengthen fire resiliency, increase carbon sequestration, and facilitate greenhouse
The program is one element of the state’s efforts to improve forest health, protect
communities from wildfire risk and implement the California Forest Carbon Plan and Executive
Order B-52-18. Projects funded through the program will build on priority projects identified by
the Forest Management Task Force and the California Department of Forestry and Fire
Protection through Executive Order N-05-19.
“Getting this funding out the door will help local communities develop watershed-level projects
that can make a big difference in forest health and fire resiliency,” California Secretary for
Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot said. “With California facing unprecedented wildfire risk, we
need every tool available to put the state on a path toward long-term wildfire prevention and
Six regional block grants are being awarded on a noncompetitive basis to support project
implementation in the North Coast, Central Coast, Sierra Nevada, Klamath-Cascade, and
Southern California Regions. In addition, two grants are being awarded to assist in
implementing statewide efforts.
Regional block grant recipients will oversee distribution of funding and collaborative planning
with local entities including municipal and Tribal governments, nonprofits and community
organizations, fire safe councils, land trusts, resource conservation districts, residents, private
and public forest landowners and managers, businesses, and others to accomplish the
Block grant recipients were selected based on their history of implementing related projects,
demonstrated capacity to work across regional partners, and ability to serve as fiscal
administrators for the program.
Learn more about recipients HERE.
California leans heavily on its groundwater, but will a court decision tip the scales against pumping?
Gary Pitzer for Western Water on 10.19.18
In 1983, a landmark California Supreme Court ruling extended the public trust doctrine to tributary creeks that feed Mono Lake, which is a navigable water body even though the creeks themselves were not. The ruling marked a dramatic shift in water law and forced Los Angeles to cut back its take of water from those creeks in the Eastern Sierra to preserve the lake.
Now, a state appellate court has for the first time extended that same public trust doctrine to groundwater that feeds a navigable river, in this case the Scott River flowing through a picturesque valley of farms and alfalfa in Siskiyou County in the northern reaches of California.
Yet in an era when local agencies around the state already are drafting plans to protect groundwater basins from being over pumped, the impact of this appellate ruling depends on who you ask.
In the Scott River case, Environmental Law Foundation v. State Water Resources Control Board, California’s Third District Court of Appeal concluded that counties are obligated to consider the public trust before authorizing new groundwater wells whose extractions might have an adverse impact on trust resources, such as water in a navigable river. Siskiyou County, which was a defendant in the case, has filed a petition for review with the California Supreme Court.
Still, Environmental Law Foundation President James Wheaton sees the ruling as a harbinger, even if its reach is limited to groundwater connected to surface waters and not deep aquifers.
“This opinion, to paraphrase the court, is the public trust case for the 21st century — a monumental decision bringing public trust principles to today’s water issues,” he said. “California’s water future is underground. That is where the real fight is and will continue to be. And this decision brings one of the most powerful legal rules — the public trust doctrine — to that fight.”
Please continue to read the piece in full HERE.
via the California Water Plan eNews | Sept 12, 2018
Just days before the world comes to San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit to collaborate on ways to protect the environment, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed an executive order to safeguard California’s unique plants, animals, and ecosystems which are threatened by climate change. The steps outlined in the executive order and complimentary California Biodiversity Initiative will improve understanding of the state’s biological richness and identify actions to preserve, manage, and restore ecosystems to protect the state’s biodiversity from climate change.
The Nature Conservancy has recently created a map overlaying GDEs and GSA boundaries. The map allows users to view where GDEs are located in their sub-basin, as well as the dominant species in each GDE. This map is a complement to the iGDE mapping mentioned below, which includes a document explaining the source of the data in the database.
If stakeholders, GSAs or consultants are interested in learning more about how to comply with requirements to consider GDEs, we are offering an interactive workshop at the Groundwater Resources Association Western Groundwater Conference. The workshop is on Sept. 26 from 2:30-5pm and registration is required.
If there are any questions related to any of this information, please feel free to contact me or Susan Tatayon, firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the workshop registration page:
"SGMA empowers local agencies to sustainably manage groundwater to benefit California’s communities, economy, and diverse natural resources. To do this, SGMA requires local agencies to develop groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) that consider the impacts of groundwater use on a variety of beneficial uses and users including people, business, and the environment. SGMA also includes specific requirements to identify and consider impacts to groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs) in groundwater management. Recognizing data and resource limitations, The Nature Conservancy has developed a GDE indicators mapping database in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and Department of Fish and Wildlife, as well as a guidance document designed to help agencies identify where GDEs exist, determine whether potential effects on GDEs are occurring or may occur due to groundwater conditions, and consider GDEs when setting sustainable management criteria. These tools provide a systematic and defensible approach that takes advantage of local, statewide, and best available scientific information to inform local decision making. This hands-on workshop will walk attendees through the GDE indicators mapping database (hosted by DWR as the “Natural Communities Commonly Associated with Groundwater dataset”) and GDE guidance document. This is your opportunity to do a preliminary assessment of the GDEs in your basin with support from TNC and other practitioners. Whether you are a board member on a GSA, a consultant developing a GSP, or an interested stakeholder trying to understand how GDEs fit into GSPs – this is the workshop for you!
MUST BE A REGISTERED CONGRESS ATTENDEE TO ATTEND
There is no additional charge for this workshop but space is limited so please RSVP in order to save yourself a seat."
As general manager of a water district that serves about 27,000 agricultural acres in the southern San Joaquin Valley, Eric Averett knows the solutions to the region’s water shortages are fairly straight-forward.
He speaks of two knobs that valley water users can turn. One controls supply, and the other demand.
In past years, Averett says he figuratively had his hand slapped by his Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District board whenever he tried to adjust the knob that affected the supply of water to growers. But as droughts, surface water cutbacks and groundwater overdrafts confront districts throughout the Central Valley, all solutions are now on the table.
“Throughout the valley, we’re going to end up turning both knobs in the future,” Averett said during a recent panel discussion on the valley’s water future.
In short, experts believe the only way to bring the valley’s overburdened water supplies into balance will be to increase supply, mainly by making the most of available water, and reduce demand. And part of reducing demand may well be the voluntary fallowing of agricultural land.
“For some of our hardest-hit areas, the idling of agricultural land is going to be a reality,” says Abbey Hart, the agriculture project director for The Nature Conservancy. She adds that growers may see an economic benefit for converting land into wildlife habitat, but the process will have to be well planned. A checkerboard approach to creating habitat won’t work, she says.
“A lot of these species won’t be able to use tiny patches of land,” Hart told about 200 growers and others at the water forum in early May, sponsored by the Almond Board of California.
Please continue to read in full HERE.