Resolution Opposing the State Water Resources Control Board Substitute Environmental Document Regarding Potential Changes to the Water Control Board Plan for the San Francisco – Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta.

Meeting Date: March 19, 2013

Agenda Item #7. Resolution Opposing the State Water Resources Control Board Substitute Environmental Document Regarding Potential Changes to the Water Control Board Plan for the San Francisco – Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta.

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Note from TheGardeningSnail. The text below was obtained by taking the original PDF File that had been posted online and running it through a program that converts image to text. So, there are a few textual goofs, gaffs, and Gremlins. Sorry about that. If you want “perfection” check the pages above.

STAFF REPORT

AGENDA ITEM: Resolution Opposing the State Water Resources Control Board

Substitute Environmental Document Regarding Potential Changes to the Water Quality Control Plan for the San Francisco Bay­ Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta.

MEETING DATE: March 19, 2013

PREPARED BY: Jose Antonio Ramirez, City Manager REVIEWED BY: Jose Antonio Ramirez, City Manager

RECOMMENDATION:

Adopt Resolution No. 2013-_, opposing the State Water Resources Control Board Substitute Environmental Document regarding potential changes to the Water Quality Control Plan for the San Francisco Bay- Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta.

BACKGROUND:

The California State Water Resources Control Board is updating its water quality control plan for the Bay Delta. As pru1 of that plan, the State Water Board is proposing increased flows of water down the Merced, Stanislaus and Tuolumne Rivers to benefit downstream wildlife and habitat in the San Joaquin River and San Francisco Bay Delta.

Under the State’s proposal, up to 35 percent ofthe flows coming into Lake McClure between February and June would be released to the San Francisco Bay Delta, rather than being stored for hydroelectric generation, in·igation delivery and groundwater recharge. The proposed requirement will create "significant and unavoidable" impacts to the economy, agriculture, and groundwater basins in Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Merced Counties, and in pruticulru· to landowners within the Merced Irrigation District. The State Water Board has identified the following unavoidable local impacts: approximately $23.5 million in annual economic losses, the fallowing of approximately 128,295 acres of prime farm land and the loss of 160, impacting approximately 800 family farms in the region.

DISCUSSION:

Due to the significant impacts, the Merced Irrigation District strongly opposes the proposed requirements contained in the State Water Resources Control Board’s Draft Substitute Environmental Document and also urges the City Council to oppose the Draft SED.

FISCAL IMPACT:

Unknown at this time.

ATTACHMENTS:

1. City Resolution No. 2013-

2. MID Resolution No. 2013-4

3. Locallmpacts of State Water Board’s 35% Flow Proposal

4. State Water Board San Joaquin River Flow Proposal

5. Modesto Bee Atticle by Adam C. Gray

6. Modesto Bee Article- Reduction in Tuolumne, Merced

River Diversions Proposed

RESOLUTION NO. 2013-

RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF LIVINGSTON OPPOSING THE STATE WATER RESOURCES CONTROL BOARD SUBSTITUTE

ENVIRONMENTAL DOCUMENT REGARDING POTENTIAL CHANGES TO THE WATER

QUALITY CONTROL PLAN FOR THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY- SACRAMENTO/SAN JOAQUIN DELTA

WHEREAS, the State Water Resources Control Board’s Draft Substitute Environmental Document (SED) proposes to require the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced Rivers release 35 percent of unimpaired flow from February to June each year; and

WHEREAS, the proposed requirement will create "significant and unavoidable" impacts to the economy, agriculture, and the groundwater basin used by the residents and business owners of the City of Livingston; and

WHEREAS, the proposed requirement will result in an over-draft of the groundwater basin used by the City of Livingston and its residents, which rely exclusively on groundwater for their drinking supplies; and

WHEREAS, the City of Livingston and the County of Merced face significant challenges with poverty, unemployment and foreclosures, and the City of Livingston’s economic development efforts benefit significantly from competition between investor-owned utilities and the Merced Irrigation District; and

WHEREAS, the adverse impacts of the proposed SED include approximately $69 million in annual losses to this economically distressed region of our state, including approximately $23.5 million in annual losses to the people that live and work in and around the City of Livingston; and

WHEREAS, the proposed requirement would fallow approximately 128,295 acres of prime farm land and result in the loss of over 800 family farms in the region; and

WHEREAS, approximately 460 jobs will be permanently lost including 160 in and around the City of Livingston; and

WHEREAS, the proposed requirement ignores non-flow alternatives that are less costly and more effective; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Livingston opposes the proposed requirements contained in the State Water Resources Control Board’s draft SED.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the State Water Resources Control Board should pursue a comprehensive solution that prioritizes non-flow measures to protect native fish species, such as predation reduction programs, before demanding flow increases that would threaten the economic vitality of already distressed people, businesses, and small family farms located in and around the City of Livingston.

Passed and adopted this 19th day of March, 2013, by the following vote: AYES:

NOES: ABSTAIN: ABSENT:

clip_image002Rodrigo Espinoza, Mayor Of the City of Livingston

ATTEST:

I, hereby certify that the foregoing resolution was regularly introduced, passed and adopted at a regular meeting of the City Council of the City of Livingston this 19th day of March, 2013.

clip_image002[1]Antonio Silva, City Clerk of the City of Livingston

2

MERCED IRRIGATION DISTRICT RESOLUTION 1\10. 2013..011

PROCLAMATION OF THE MERCED IRRIGATIOI\I DISTRICT OPPOSING THE STATE WATER RESOURCES CONTROL BOARD SUBSTITUTE EIIIIIIRONMENTAL DOCUMENT REGARDING POTENTIAL CHANGES TO THE WATER QUALITY CONTROL PI.AI\I FOR THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY- SACAAMEIIITO/SAI\I JOAQUIN DELTA ESTUARY

WHEREAS, the State Water Resources Control Board’s Draft Substitute Environmental Document (SED) proposes to require the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced Rivers release 35 percent of unimpaired flow from February to June each year; and

WHEREAS, the proposed requirement will create "significant and unavoidable" impacts to the economy, agriculture, and groundwater basins in Stanislaus, San Joaquin, and Merced Counties, and in particular to landowners within the Merced Irrigation District; and

WHEREAS, those impacts include approximately $69 million in economic impacts in an economically distressed region of our state, including approximately $23.5 million to Merced Irrigation District, $30 million to Turlock Irrigation District, and $15.5 million to Modesto Irrigation District each year; and

WHEREAS, the impacts result in a loss of approximately $4.5 million in energy revenue every year including $1.5 million to each of the Merced, Turlock, and Modesto Irrigation Districts; and

WHEREAS, the proposed requirement would fallow approximately 128,295 acres of prime farm land and result in the loss of over 800 family farms in the region; and

WHEREAS, the proposed requirement will result in over-drafted groundwater basins, placing into jeopardy the water supplies of not only family farms in the region, but also supplies of both urban and rural families and communities that rely on groundwater basins for their water supply, such as the cities of Merced, Atwater and Livingston which rely almost exclusively on groundwater for their drinking water supplies; and

WHEREAS, approximately 460 jobs will be permanently lost including 160 in Merced Irrigation District, 200 in Turlock Irrigation District, and 100 in Modesto Irrigation District; and

WHEREAS, Merced County faces significant challenges with poverty, unemployment and foreclosures.

WHEREAS, the proposed requirement will not benefit native fish populations or promote ecosystem restoration; and

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WHEREAS, the proposed requirement ignores non–flow alternatives that are less more and

WHEREAS, the proposed requirement compromises attaining the dual goals of ecosystem restoration and water supply reliability under SB7x-7.

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the Board of Directors of Merced Irrigation District strongly oppose the proposed requirements contained in the State Water Resources Control Board’s draft SED.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the State Water Resources Control Board should pursue a comprehensive solution that is consistent with the Delta’s co-equal goals. This solution must prioritize non-flow measures to protect native fish species, such as predation reduction programs, before demanding flow increases that would threaten the economic vitality of already distressed counties, cities, and small family farms located in and around Merced, and within the Merced Irrigation District.

PASSED AND ADOPTED by the Board of Directors of the Merced Irrigation District this 19’" day of February, 2013 by the following vote:

Ayes: Noes: Abstain:

Absent:

Directors: Pellissier, long, Gonzalves, Koehn, Pimentel Directors:

Directors: Directors:

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Tim Pe\lissier

clip_image008Dave Long

lick;!

President

Merced Irrigation District

Vice President/Secretary Merced Irrigation District

clip_image010MERCED

1 IRRIGATION

DISTRICT

& POWER

LOCAL IMPACTS OF

STATE WATER BOARD 35% FLOW PROPOSAL

OVERVIEW

• On New Year’s Eve, the California State Water Resources Control Board issued a proposal that called for MID to release up to 35 percent of its "unimpaired flow" from Lake McClure between February and June. This means that 35 percent of the water flowing into Lake McClure would not be stored for use by our community.

• Instead, it would flow downstream through the Merced River, the San Joaquin River and into the Bay Delta.

• The State’s intent is to improve the health of the Bay Delta. However, there is no proof the increased flows will improve the Delta ecology. Further, the state is continuing to turn a blind eye to other ecological challenges in the Delta, including wastewater discharges, pollution and predation of small salmon by non-native sport fish.

• In fact, MID has been performing this practice of releasing water since the 1870s and the decline of the Bay Delta began after the federal and state water projects in the 1970s, yet we are paying the price in Merced County for the mistakes and practices of others .

• As proposed by the state water board, the loss of water from Lake McClure will have a devastating impact on our local economy, and it will harm the groundwater consumed by residents in Merced, Atwater and Livingston .

ECONOMIC IMPACTS

• Agriculture production and processing account for one third of the economic activity in Merced County:

• Keep in mind that farmers and farm workers go shopping, they rent movies, they buy clothing, they buy insurance and they eat at restaurants.

• Merced Irrigation District spans approximately 160,000 acres in eastern Merced County. Within that boundary, approximately 116,000 acres are being irrigated.

clip_image011clip_image012Under the state’s proposal, MID would lose the surface water needed from Lake McClure to irrigate more than 43,000 acres.

clip_image013clip_image014In our region we could see a direct loss of 160 jobs as a result.

clip_image015clip_image016If the 43,000 acres are to remain in production, growers will have to pay,

the high costs of electric pumping to use groundwater on their crops.

clip_image017In addition to the high costs of pumping water, there will be a direct impact to our region’s groundwater supply.

GROUNDWATER

" The aquifer in eastern Merced County spans roughly 500,000 acres between the Merced River to the north, the San Joaquin River to the west, the foothills to the east and the Chowchilla River to the south.

" Of the total acreage, MID’s acreage spans a mere 160,000 acres of that.

" The District is the only entity to provide active and passive recharge to the basin.

., Each year MID returns approximately 80,000 to 100,000 acre feet of water to the aquifer through its unlined canals. Additionally, MID has direct recharge basins located in El Nido and in the Winton area.

" MID is the ONLY entity currently recharging this groundwater supply.

" In addition to growers and rural homeowners, the cities of Atwater, Merced and Livingston all depend on this water supply.

" If MID is forced to release more water, it will be forced to line more of its canals in order to meet agriculture delivery requirements. This will result in less recharge.

" Additionally, the District would have less water available for its recharge basins.

wiII affectclip_image019 dig deeper

\Neils aclip_image021 even moreclip_image023 to clip_image025

ENVIRONMENT

"’ Ironically, the increased flow requirements proposed by the state provide no clear objective or benefit of increased flow.

"’ Further, the new flows would be released between February and June at a time when there is low energy demand.

" Further it will leave reservoir’s like Lake McClure with less water to produce hydroelectricity when its most needed in the hot summer months.

" This would greatly undermine California’s mandated goal of obtaining 33 percent renewable energy from such sources as wind and solar.

"’ Cutting available hydroelectricity- which is emission free- will mean California must rely on more less clean energy sources during summer months to fill in the gaps when solar and wind energy are not available.

" Again, the State’s intent is to improve the health of the Bay Delta. However, there is no proof the increased flows will improve the Delta ecology. Further, the state is continuing to turn a blind eye to other ecological challenges in the Delta, including wastewater discharges, pollution and predation of small salmon by non-native sport fish.

State Water Board San Joaquin River Flow Proposal

Key Facts and Impacts

Divisive and Disruptive to Other Processes

State Water Board STAFF is proposing that the Merced, Tuolumne and Stanislaus Rivers’ dedicate 35 percent of unimpaired flow from Feb. 1 to June 30 for fish and wildlife beneficial uses.

Cont1icts with the Legislature’s mandate for a comprehensive Delta Plan under

SB X7-7.

Undermines support for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, a holistic solution championed by many state leaders from both parties.

Conflicts with the Delta Stewardship Council’s co-equal goals of Delta restoration by destroying regional self-sufficiency.

The State Water Board admits the water cuts will result in "significant and unavoidable" impacts.

Localized Impact

:» Reductions in water deliveries could require 210,000 acres of farmland to be fallowed in dry years.

Agricultural sector income loss could total $187 million a year during dry years, a major hit in a region stuck in a lingering recession.

);> With less water and power available, rates for both would rise, further straining households.

Job losses would exceed 1,200 in dry years, exacerbating unemployment, which stands at 15.7% in Merced County, 14.5% in Stanislaus County and 14.1% in San Joaquin County.

);> Two districts (Modesto and Turlock Irrigation Districts) will sacrifice 300,000 acre-feet of water annually.

Impacts to Hydropower, California’s Green Energy Push, Groundwater Supply

:» Increasing flow from February to June generates more energy at a time of low energy demand.

:» Leaving less water in reservoirs in summer means less hydropower at time of peak demand.

:» Cuts in hydro production create need to buy costly supplemental power from carbon-producing conventional sources, undermining California’s goal of 33% of energy from renewable resources.

);> To account for lost surface water, users will increase pumping of groundwater by approximately

25 percent, overdrafting the water table and increasing energy use and costs.

:» Hydropower is a valuable contributor to obtaining California’s goal of 33% because it is highly flexible; unlike hydro, wind and solar cannot be generated on demand.

No Estimate of Benefit

Despite the high stakes and tremendous costs, the State Water Board does not estimate the benefit to fish and wildlife. Why an increase of 35%, instead of 34% or 60%? No facts explain the choice.

);> Assumption that increased flow will benefit the system is NOT supported; State Water Board does not provide any scientific support or analysis in support.

)> Bottom Line: The Board makes unilateral demands without quantifying the benefit or goal to be achieved.

Flow-Centric Approach Misses the Real Issues

);> Predator suppression is vital. A new study on the Tuolumne River found that only 7% of juvenile Chinook salmon survive predation by striped bass and other non-native fish and reach the San Joaquin River.

);> Ocean harvest practices must be revised.

);> Changes in hatchery operations.

);> Habitat restoration is critical. Work on the Stanislaus River supported by the Oakdale Irrigation District, in the Honolulu Bar Recreation District, is but one example.

Our Approach

);> Our members have been leaders in developing and maintaining water supply systems that are reliable and regionally self-sufficient.

);> We are stewards of the system; our goal is to maintain a healthy ecosystem and fishery- this proposal does NOT achieve either goal.

);> We urge legislators, regulators and fish and wildlife agencies to seriously consider the multiple non-flow alternatives that exist and have scarcely been explored.

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It is one of the oldest tricks in the book If there’s bad news to be released, do it on the eve of a major holiday. That is exactly what the State Water Resources Control Board did when it proposed increased water flows for the San Joaquin River on New Year’s Eve.

No doubt, the state board knew the proposal- with devastating impacts to the valley­ would not be well received. No matter where in the valley you live, and no matter if you are a single person living in an apartment, part of a family in a house, or a farmer -you know that when the state’s water bureaucracy comes up with a proposal, the valley is often left drawing the short straw.

Specifically, the state water board made a recommendation to increase the water flows in the Merced, Tuolumne, and Stanislaus rivers by up to 35 percent between Feb. 1and June 30 each year. Doing so would divert critically needed water from our valley growers toward the San Joaquin River and the bay-delta. The proposal, disturbingly, exempts San Francisco, which operates Hetch Hetchy reservoir on the Tuolumne River.

I do not believe the water bureaucrats in Sacramento truly understand that the valley is a region that is among the most economically distressed in the nation. Yes, California might have experienced the Great Recession, but we in the valley experienced something more akin to the Great Depression. There are towns and cities throughout the valley that are still experiencing 20, 30 and even 40 percent unemployment.

For if the bureaucrats in Sacramento understood the economic realities of the valley, basic humanity and decency would prevent the release of a proposal with a potential negative regional economic effect of more than $200 million, a decrease in crop revenue of more than $100 million and more than a thousand jobs lost.

To add insult to injury, the increased flows in winter would result in less water being available in summer for hydroelectric power generation. The sun does not stop shining and the summer heat does not relent simply because there is less water for hydropower. This lost power must be replaced -probably at a significantly higher cost. Therefore, it is quite possible that valley residents will be paying higher electrical bills under this proposal

We all have a stake in the health of the delta, and there’s no question that ifs a critical resource for our state. However, taking more water from three rivers important to the economic well·being of the valley at this moment is like asking somebody on unemployment for a loan,

We only have to look to the water supply crisis on the West Side from a few years back, when the drought combined with regulatory water cuts resulted in hundreds of thousands of acres of fallowed farmland, astronomically high unemployment rates, and food lines in farming communities. We do not need to replicate this crisis on the east side of the valley.

Yes, water is an incredibly important issue. However, what is of equal concern to me is the clear lack of understanding on the part of the water bureaucrats of the severe fiscal and economic hardships people in the valley face on an everyday basis.

The State Water Resources Control Board did not propose just a water grab- the board proposed a crop grab, an economic activity grab, a hydropower grab and a job grab. It is time to tell the board the valley’s story and it is time for the board to work with and listen to the residents and farmers of the valley.

Gray, D-Merced, represents the new 21st Assembly District, which includes aU of Merced County and part of Stanislaus County.

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modbee.com

Reduction in Tuolumne, Merced river diversions proposed

By John Holland

A state board proposes to help fish by reducing average annual diversions on the Tuolumne River by 15 percent and on the Merced River by 13 percent

The idea drew protest Thursday from water suppliers, including the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts, which argue that the reductions would be especially tough in dry years.

A fishing industry leader, on the other hand, said even more water is needed in the rivers.

The proposal came from the State Water Resources Control Board, which aims to improve conditions for salmon and other life in the lower rivers as well as the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Most of the increased flows would happen from February through June each year, when young salmon are heading out to the Pacific Ocean, but the districts are trying to store water for summer.

"Restoring our fisheries is not a problem that can be solved by simply throwing more water down the river," said Allen Short, executive director of the San Joaquin Tributaries Authority, in a news release.

Short, who retired as the MID’s general manager last month, now heads a group made up of several water suppliers on the Tuolumne, Merced and Stanislaus rivers.

They include the Modesto, Turlock, Merced, Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts, as well as the San Francisco-owned system that supplies many Bay Area residents.

The proposal would reduce average annual flows in the Stanislaus by 3 percent because it already contributes a greater share to fisheries than the other rivers. This did not ease the concerns of the critics, who said the overall plan still relies too much on increasing flows.

Under the proposal, which the state board could approve in August, the February-June flows on all three rivers would increase to 35 percent of the natural conditions before they were diverted.

The rivers need to run at twice that volume if the depleted fisheries are to recover, said Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Associations.

Commercial flshem1en in the San Francisco-based group endured shutdowns of salmon fishing in 2008 and 2009.

clip_image034The Modesto Bee

modbee.com

"I don’t think anyone wants to do away with agriculture, but at the same time, we need to take a look at what kind of crops we are growing," Grader said.

The state board said the increased flows would cut farm income in the region by just 1 percent. Reduced water supplies would likely mean that farmers turn from lower-value crops such as corn to higher-value crops such as almonds, the board said.

The irrigation district group said fish would benefit more from non flow measures such as restoring streambeds, reducing predation by non-native striped bass, changing ocean fishing rules and improving hatchery practices .

"If you’re going to ask people to make this serious sacrifice," Short said, "you’d better be darn sure you know what the benefits are, and the fact is, they have not even estimated what , if anything, will be achieved by increasing flows."

The proposal would shift much of the districts’ hydroelectric generation to earlier in the year, when it is of less value, but the loss would not be substantial, the board said.

The proposal comes as the MID and the TID are seeking a new federal license for the Don Pedro hydropower plant. This process could result in increased flows downstream , but managers have said they should not be on top of what the state board requires.

Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached atJholland@modbec .com or (209) 578-2385.

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