Governor Newsom's Water Resilience Portfolio Initiative Executive Order & Bob Wilkinson's Presentation from the June 19 Community Water Center Listening Session
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.
Global Warming of 1.5 °C: an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C
From the IPCC Press Release:
Limiting global warming to 1.5ºC would require rapid, farreaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, the IPCC said in a new assessment. With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5ºC compared to 2ºC could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said on Monday.
The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC was approved by the IPCC on Saturday in Incheon, Republic of Korea. It will be a key scientific input into the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in December, when governments review the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change.
“With more than 6,000 scientific references cited and the dedicated contribution of thousands of expert and government reviewers worldwide, this important report testifies to the breadth and policy relevance of the IPCC,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.
Ninety-one authors and review editors from 40 countries prepared the IPCC report in response to an invitation from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) when it adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015.
The report’s full name is Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.
“One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I.
The report highlights a number of climate change impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5ºC compared to 2ºC, or more. For instance, by 2100, global sea level rise would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5°C compared with 2°C. The likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5°C, compared with at least once per decade with 2°C. Coral reefs would decline by 70-90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all (> 99 percent) would be lost with 2ºC.
“Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5ºC or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.
Please continue to read the IPCC Report Press Release 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.
The Department of Water Resources in partnership with The Nature Conservancy have recently launched the Groundwater Resource Hub, the go-to place for information on groundwater dependent ecosystems. There are a number of tools on the site, including the database of indicators of groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs) and a guidance document to guide groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) to address GDEs in their plans.
Access to the iGDE database can be found HERE.
In 2016 alone, more than 5,700 wildfires burned across the state of California according to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. And despite record rain this winter, climate change is expected to increase the number of large wildfires as well as the length of the wildfire season in California. To help Californian communities meet this challenge, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) launched its Better Together Resilient Communities grant program today.
Through the program, PG&E will invest $1 million over five years – or $200,000 per year – in shareholder-funded grants to help communities better prepare for, withstand, and recover from extreme events and other risks related to climate change. This year, the company is calling for proposals that will build healthy and resilient forests and watersheds to help communities prevent and prepare for increasing wildfire risk.
“At PG&E, we believe adapting to the reality of climate change must include helping our communities to become more resilient to its many potential effects, such as the risk of wildfires. One way to do that is to work closely with our local partners, as well as those at the state and federal level, to support the best and most innovative ideas -- with a particular focus on those who live in highly vulnerable areas,” said Geisha Williams, CEO and President of PG&E Corporation.
PG&E will award two grants of $100,000 through a competitive process. A panel of community and sustainability leaders, including the League of California Cities and members of PG&E's Sustainability Advisory Council will play an advisory role with the program.
Strategies and solutions resulting from the grants will be made publicly available to help all communities, and encourage local and regional partnerships.
“Climate change is having extreme effects on our planet, and the state of California is facing increasing weather-related risks, including more frequent and more intense wildfires. I applaud PG&E for partnering with vulnerable communities on this science-based climate change resilience initiative. This new grant program will help Californians prepare for a future with more wildfires and other impacts from a changing climate,” said Dr. Jonathan Foley, Executive Director of the California Academy of Sciences and member of PG&E’s Sustainability Advisory Council.
“We’re delighted to see PG&E taking this leadership role in helping protect California’s communities from wildfire. As we work to ensure a safe, sustainable environment for our firefighters, their families, and our communities, it is essential to gain a better understanding of how to reduce the risks climate change and wildfires pose to lives and property,” said Lou Paulson, President, California Professional Firefighters.
“Extreme weather and climate change are threatening the safety of communities across central and northern California. With wildfire and other risks increasing to historic levels, we must generate innovative, collaborative solutions to succeed. We applaud PG&E for offering a program that focuses on these risks and encourages the collaboration needed to keep our communities safe now and in the years to come,” said Tom Trott, general manager of Twain Harte Community Services District.
Grant Criteria and Eligibility
Grant proposals will be assessed according to the following criteria:
To be eligible, applicants must be a governmental organization, educational institution or 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. All applicants must include a local government within PG&E's service area as a partner.
Learn more about the grants and how to apply at pge.com/resiliencegrants.
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Grant Program timeline
The grant application process and project timeline is as follows: