Archive for the 'water planning' Category

May 23 2013

Supplies in five key basins to be studied

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor announced $2.1 million will be made available under the WaterSMART Basin Study program to enable Reclamation to partner with local entities to conduct comprehensive studies of river basins in Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Nevada and Oregon.

“Western communities are extremely dependent upon the river basins in which they reside,” Commissioner Connor said. “These basin studies are critical to assess the long-term supply and demand for water and to develop collaborative solutions that will sustain communities and support healthy rivers long into the future.”

The San Diego Basin in California and West Salt River Valley Basin in Arizona were selected for Basin Studies. Basin Studies are comprehensive water studies that define options for meeting future water demands in river basins in the western United States where imbalances in water supply and demand exist or are projected to exist.

The Carson River Basin in California and Nevada, Willamette River Basin in Oregon and Arkansas River Basin in Colorado and Kansas were chosen for plans of study. A plan of study helps a cost-share partner—such as a local water district–define the outcomes and set the scope and focus for a potential future Basin Study. Reclamation and the cost-share partners in each case will develop the plans of study jointly.

The projects are:

Carson River Basin Plan of Study, Carson River Subsconservancy District
Non-Federal Funding: $75,000; Federal Funding: $75,000
The Carson River Basin encompasses approximately 3,965 square miles, spanning west-central Nevada and eastern California. The Carson River originates in the Sierra Nevada range and terminates at the Carson Sink in Nevada. The basin provides water for 57,000 acres of irrigated agriculture, 160,000 people and a strategic buffer zone for the Fallon Naval Air Station. It includes the Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, habitat for two species of fish listed under the Endangered Species Act. The Carson River is over-appropriated and also has a highly variable hydrologic cycle that leads to frequent floods and droughts. The Carson River Subconservancy District, a bi-state consortium of city and county governments, will work with Reclamation to develop a comprehensive plan of study. The proposed Basin Study will assess water supply and demand imbalances and evaluate water management actions under a range of potential future uncertainties.

San Diego Watershed Basin Study, San Diego Public Utilities Department
Non-Federal Funding: $1,082,244 Federal Funding: $1,025,000
San Diego is the eighth largest city in the United States and the second largest city in California. San Diego currently imports up to 90 percent of its water supplies from the Colorado River and northern California. The proposed study area is the San Diego Integrated Regional Water Management region, which includes the San Diego watershed. The San Diego watershed covers an area of 217 square miles and is home to 1.8 million people. The proposed Basin Study will provide a quantitative analysis of the uncertainties associated with the impacts of climate change on water supplies and demands and focus on adaptation strategies that optimize reservoir systems within the study area to advance indirect potable reuse.

Arkansas River Basin Plan of Study, Southwest Kansas Groundwater Management District 3
Non-Federal Funding: $150,000 Federal Funding: $100,000
The Arkansas River provides irrigation for more than 270,000 acres in eastern Colorado and western Kansas. Poor water quality in the river near the border of Colorado and Kansas poses challenges for municipal and agricultural water users including reduced crop yields, high saline soil, surface water shortages and increased groundwater pumping from the Ogallala Aquifer. The proposed Arkansas River Basin Study Plan of Study will identify potential study partners and stakeholders to participate in a future Basin Study. It also will identify the basin study team and climate team and allow them to work with local entities to develop an interstate water plan that addresses current and future water quality and quantity issues to ensure that the local health and economy remain viable.

Willamette River Basin Plan of Study, Oregon Water Resources Department
Non-Federal Funding: $50,000 Federal Funding: $50,000
The Willamette River Basin supports approximately 75 percent of Oregon’s population and is the fastest growing area in the state. More than 170 varieties of agricultural crops are grown and sold in the basin, which produces more than 40 percent of the state’s gross farm sales. The basin is rich in native fish and provides critical habitat for several endangered species. Recreation opportunities are abundant, and the basin is one of the most visited destinations for recreational boaters in the state. The proposed Willamette River Basin Study will update a previous assessment of basin water demands completed in 2008 and expand it to include an assessment of future demands as a result of climate change. It will compile in-stream demands quantified through previous studies, aid the implementation of Oregon’s Integrated Water Resources Strategy adopted in 2013 and help evaluate adaptation strategies for securing water in the future.

West Salt River Valley Basin Study, West Valley Central Arizona Project Subcontractors
Non-Federal Funding: $860,000 Federal Funding: $840,000
The West Salt River Valley Basin is located in Maricopa County, Ariz., and includes the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. It is one of the fastest growing counties in the United States. The proposed study will include the development of a clear understanding of regional water supply and demand taking into account climate change and population growth projections. Additionally the study will include the development of strategies to address current and future imbalances in water supply and demand. The basin study will be a collaboration between Reclamation, the West Valley Central Arizona Project subcontractors, the Central Arizona Project (operated by the Central Arizona Water Conservancy District) and the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

The Department of the Interior established WaterSMART (Sustain and Manage America’s Resources for Tomorrow) in February 2010 to facilitate the work of Interior’s bureaus in pursuing a sustainable water supply for the nation. The program focuses on improving water conservation and sustainability and helping water resource managers make sound decisions about water use. It identifies strategies to ensure that this and future generations will have sufficient supplies of clean water for drinking, economic activities, recreation and ecosystem health. The program also identifies adaptive measures to address climate change and its impact on future water demands.

Since its establishment in 2010, WaterSMART has provided more than $161 million in competitively-awarded funding to non-federal partners, including tribes, water districts, municipalities, and universities through WaterSMART Grants and the Title XVI Program. Through WaterSMART and other conservation programs funded over the last three years, a total of more than 616,000 acre-feet of water per year is estimated to have been saved.

The non-federal partners in a basin study must contribute at least 50 percent of the total study cost in non-federal funding or in-kind services. Basin studies are not financial assistance and Reclamation’s share of the study costs may be used only to support work done by Reclamation or its contractors. Non-federal partners include state and city agencies, municipal water districts and flood control districts.

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Nov 19 2012

WA: State sets Dungeness standards

Washington Department of Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant has signed a new water management rule for the Dungeness watershed that secures water supplies for current and future uses in the Sequim area for the benefit of people, community development, agriculture and fish.

The rule won’t go into effect until January 2.

The rule is needed to address the water supply challenges of the Dungeness. Most of the water is already legally “spoken for” and the amount of water available for use varies greatly across the watershed and throughout the year. The demand for water for farm irrigation and lawn watering is highest in the summer and early fall when spawning fish need water in streams. Insufficient stream flows from water diversions have contributed to the listing of four fish species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act: Chum salmon, Puget Sound Chinook Salmon, Puget Sound Steelhead and Coastal-Puget Sound Bull Trout.

A logjam in the debate on how to address these water supply challenges was finally broken this year thanks to unprecedented cooperation and collaboration among local water users and local and tribal governments. Ecology now has a water management rule that adheres to the principles and goals outlined in an agreement (pdf) signed and supported by key local leaders in early 2011. Ecology is a member of the Local Leaders Water Management Group (LLWG) that includes Clallam County, City of Sequim, the Dungeness Agricultural Water Users Association, Clallam Conservation District and Clallam Public Utility District. A letter for support for the work of the LLWG and rule making in the Dungeness from Bell Creek on Sequim Bay to the Bagley Creek sub-basin was written by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.

“I’m excited to announce a new era in water management for the Dungeness thanks to local community leaders who were willing to reject the water wars of the past and work together on water supply solutions that let everyone who needs water come away from the table a winner,” Sturdevant said.

The Ecology director said those solutions include:

Preventing permanent reductions in Dungeness River flows or small streams due to new appropriations.
Local agreements that make water available to meet new water use mitigation requirements associated with new water use.
Financial assistance for essential water uses for property owners to help them adjust and adapt to the new mitigation requirements.
Support of a budget request to the state Legislature to fund water supply and flow enhancement projects.
“From the beginning, I have been working with Ecology to ensure that they adopt rules which both protect the resource and recognize that landowners, water users and developers are critical stakeholders with legitimate needs that state water law recognizes must be addressed,” said state Sen. James Hargrove of the 24th Legislative District. “I believe the final rule with the state’s contribution to mitigate in-house domestic use strikes this balance.”

“This new rule for managing water tries to balance the needs of Clallam County citizens as well as our natural resources. I wouldn’t settle for anything less,” said Clallam County Commissioner Jim McEntire.

“Our tribe is delighted with this important Department of Ecology decision that protects essential and culturally important natural resources in our community – our salmon and wildlife,” said Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Chairman W. Ron Allen. “Our tribe has been an active participant in watershed planning for many years and we feel firm water use controls are essential to protecting and restoring our natural resources. I am particularly grateful that the Dungeness Water Users Association made decisions that employed a balanced approach, allowing a water exchange to be created and providing mitigation for new water uses in the valley.”

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Mar 28 2012

Key conferences just ahead

Published by under water planning

The U.S. conference season is in full swing. There are numerous conference events highlighting a variety of issues that are critical to the US water/wastewater sector including the water-energy nexus, water efficiency, water conservation, deteriorating aging infrastructure and the growing investment needs, improved water resource management, water foot printing, water pricing, etc.

There is one particular new collection of conference programs worth noting. Organized by WestWater Research in partnership with American Water Intelligence, three Summits are scheduled this year and will focus on the important topics of water rights, water trading, and water-related investment options. The mission of these three Summits – to champion the business and investment opportunities being generated by the evolving water crisis that continues to impact parts of the southern central and western regions of the United States.

The three Summit events will specifically bring together industry leaders within the water resource development and investment arena to effectively identify and review creative realistic solutions for addressing water resource challenges in some of the most water-stressed states in the country.

The first event took place in Scottsdale, Arizona and addressed topics such as regional water demands, opportunities for re-use, water usage when it comes to the mining sector and real estate development, etc. Featured speakers included the CEO of Aqua Capital Management, the president of PERC Water, the founder of Stillwater Resources, the managing director/principal of WestWater Research, and a partner/shareholder of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.

The next installment of the conference series is scheduled to take place in Santa Barbara, California on April 12-13th. Entitled “The Water Resources Investor Event,” the two day Summit program will bring together leading market analysts, investment managers, technology leaders, major water project developers/operators, leading engineering firms, etc. The Summit will focus on upstream water assets, including water trading and water banking. It will also review the challenges of water-intensive industries that are located in California.

Particular topics to be addressed at the upcoming Summit include: future of California’s agricultural water supplies; achieving a sustainable water supply through efficiency and technology; understanding the Water Infrastructure Market; groundwater banking; water supply risks; and water pricing in California.

Speakers for the upcoming California Summit include senior representatives from Veolia Water, AECOM, Southwest Water Company, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Grundfos Water, M3 Capital Partners, and XPV Capital.

Additionally, Ambassador John Bohn who is the former commissioner for the California PUC has been invited to join a panel that will review new and evolving financing options for California water project initiatives. He will be joined by Steve Peace, a former member of the California legislature for twenty years and where he served as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy.

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Mar 21 2012

WaterSMART studies supplies in five major basins

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced on March 21 that Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation is providing $2.4 million in funding for comprehensive water studies in California, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico and Oklahoma.

The funding comes through the Department of the Interior’s WaterSMART Basin Study Program. This program provides leadership and tools to states and local communities to address current or projected imbalances between water supply and demand and to work toward sustainable solutions. In addition to the federal funding, $3.9 million will be provided by non-federal partners for a total of more than $6.3 million.

“WaterSMART is a perfect example of the value of strong partnerships that bring Interior together with local water and conservation managers to create sustainable water supplies in the West,” Secretary Salazar said. “Rivers are the lifeblood of our communities. As we work together to study these complex river basins, we can explore options to help guide water management and administration for the future and ensure the health of our vital ecosystems for coming generations.”

The selected projects are the Los Angeles Basin in California; the Pecos River Basin in New Mexico; the Republican River Basin in Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska; the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Basins in California and the Upper Washita River Basin in Oklahoma.

“The collaboration that takes place during the development of a basin study is a fundamental goal of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative,” Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor added. “Through America’s Great Outdoors, we are developing lasting conservation solutions that are supported by the American people. In the case of two of the basin studies, the findings will be woven into the Department of the Interior’s River initiative as part of the 50-state America’s Great Outdoors conservation and recreation agenda.”

Specifically, the Los Angeles Basin and Sacramento-San Joaquin Basin have projects within their boundaries that were identified in the America’s Great Outdoors 50-State Report released in November 2011.

Basin studies are comprehensive water studies that define options for meeting future water demands in river basins in the western United States where imbalances in water supply and demand exist or are projected to exist. Each study consists of four key segments:

State-of-the-art projections of future supply and demand in the river basin; An analysis of how the basin’s existing water and power operations and infrastructure will perform in the face of changing water realities;
Development of options to improve operations and infrastructure to supply adequate water in the future; and Analysis of the options identified to arrive at findings and recommendations about how to optimize operations and infrastructure in a basin to supply adequate water in the future.

The non-federal partners in a basin study must contribute at least 50 percent of the total study cost in non-federal funding or in-kind services. Basin studies are not financial assistance and Reclamation’s share of the study costs may be used only to support work done by Reclamation or its contractors. Non-federal partners include state and city agencies, municipal water districts, flood control districts, foundations, conservation groups, and civic organizations.

The WaterSMART Program addresses increasing water supply challenges, including chronic water shortages due to population growth, climate variability and change and growing competition for finite water supplies. Through the basin studies program, Reclamation will work cooperatively with state and local partners in the 17 western states to evaluate future water supply and demand imbalances, assess the risks and impacts of climate change on water resources and develop potential mitigation and adaptation strategies to meet future demands.

For specific information on the WaterSMART Basin Studies, please visit www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART/bsp. For information on the WaterSMART Program, please visit www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART/.

Los Angeles Basin Study (California)
Federal Funding: $620,036; Non-Federal Funding: $1,422,626
The Los Angeles Basin covers approximately 1,900 square miles and includes close to 10 million people. Los Angeles County accounts for the largest water demand of any urbanized county in California. It is estimated that by the year 2025, the area will experience a water supply shortage of 800,000 acre-feet per year. The study will identify alternatives, conduct trade-off analyses and develop recommendations to help bridge the gap between current and future water supply and water demand projections, taking into account climate change and population growth projections. This basin study includes the area in which trail improvements to the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers were identified in the America’s Great Outdoors 2011 50-state report as one of two top priorities in California. Trail and river improvements will be made as an integral part of the steps for creating sustainable water supplies and maximizing yields from these rivers. Also part of this basin study is the recently announced Los Angeles River restoration project, a pilot project of the multi-agency Federal Urban Waters Initiative, which focuses on the interrelationships of the quality of life and economies of urban communities with the rivers that connect them.

Pecos River Basin Study (New Mexico)
Federal Funding: $110,000; Non-Federal Funding: $130,000
The Pecos River Basin covers approximately 4,924 square miles in east-central New Mexico. The basin experiences chronic water shortages and also historically has experienced highly variable water supplies and frequent droughts. The study will focus on the Fort Sumner Basin within the Pecos River Basin. The study will develop improved tools for federal and state water managers to better administer the limited water supplies in the basin, evaluate new mitigation and adaptation strategies and build on previous water planning efforts to incorporate predicted impacts of climate change into estimates and demand projections related to Fort Sumner Basin water availability.

Republican River Basin Study (Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska)
Federal Funding: $413,000; Non-Federal Funding: $435,000
The Republican River flows from its headwaters in Colorado into northwest Kansas, through southern Nebraska and back into north-central Kansas. It drains approximately 23,300 square miles of these three states and supplies water for municipalities, industries, surface and ground water irrigation, recreation and wildlife. The basin is subject to an interstate compact that was ratified in 1943. The three states have proposed a collaborative basin study that will cover the entire basin down to the Clay Center stream-gauging station in northeast Kansas. The study will identify mitigation and adaptation strategies that address the impacts of climate change on water resources in the basin.

Sacramento-San Joaquin River Basins Study (California)
Federal Funding: $1,050,000; Non-Federal Funding: $1,480,000
The Sacramento and San Joaquin River Basins, located in California’s Central Valley, are the main sources of water supplies for urban, agricultural and environmental water uses throughout the area. The study area will include the Sacramento River Basin, San Joaquin River Basin, Tulare Lake Basin and a small portion of the upper Trinity River Basin. Combined they include approximately 49 million acres—including extensive areas of national forests, parks and wildlife refuges, more than 7 million acres of irrigated agricultural lands and many rapidly growing urban areas. The study will assess the potential impacts of changing climatic conditions on water supplies and demands and investigate imbalances and potential changes to agricultural productivity, water quality, hydropower potential, as well as economic and environmental conditions. The America’s Great Outdoors 2011 50-state report identified the San Joaquin River Restoration Program as one of two top priorities in California. This basin study will provide a unique opportunity to comprehensively assess potential climate change impacts to the structural and non-structural features of both the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. Where impacts are identified, this basin study will develop portfolios of adaptive strategies in concert with California’s Department of Water Resources and other local agency partners and stakeholders.

Upper Washita River Basin Study (Oklahoma)
Federal Funding: $250,000; Non-Federal Funding: $450,000
The Washita River is located in Oklahoma and Texas, with more than 7,000 square miles of drainage within Oklahoma. The study will focus on the Upper Washita Basin in west-central Oklahoma, which is currently experiencing impacts from the drought that affected Oklahoma in 2011. In addition, the Fort Cobb Master Conservancy District delivers water from Fort Cobb Reservoir in this basin and has been unable to meet peak water demands for up to four months every year for the past 12 years due to an undersized and inefficient aqueduct system. The Rush Springs Aquifer — which underlies a large portion of the study area — is an important municipal and agricultural water source. The study will include incorporation of climate change projections into ground and surface water models, a systems reliability analysis, an assessment of operational and infrastructure constraints associated with Reclamation’s Washita Basin Project and the evaluation and recommendation of alternatives to address the severe water quality and quantity issues currently facing the area.

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Feb 22 2012

CA: Reclamation releases Central Valley allocations

The Bureau of Reclamation announces the initial Water Year 2012 water supply allocation for Central Valley Project agricultural contractors, municipal and industrial contractors and federal refuges. This allocation reflects precipitation and snowpack in the Sierra Nevadas as of February 1, which the California Department of Water Resources reported to be far below normal for the date with the snow water content statewide at only 37 percent. This allocation is also based on DWR’s February WY 2012 Runoff Forecast, which indicates a critical water year type for the Sacramento Valley and CVP carryover reservoir storage from WY 2011 into WY 2012.

Precipitation in Northern California as of February 16 was 51 percent of the seasonal average to date compared to 120 percent of the seasonal average to date last year. Precipitation in the Upper San Joaquin River Basin as of February 20 was 43 percent of the seasonal average to date compared to 146 percent of the seasonal average to date last year.

Reclamation balances the allocation of CVP water for agricultural, environmental and municipal and industrial purposes based upon many factors. This initial allocation, based on the conservative runoff forecast, is driven by dry hydrologic conditions and water quality requirements and flow objectives required to meet water rights terms and conditions.

- Agricultural water service contractor’s North- and South-of-Delta are allocated 30 percent of their contract supply of 443,000 acre-feet and 1.965 million acre-feet respectively.

- Municipal and Industrial (M&I) water service contractors North- and South-of-Delta are both allocated 75 percent of their historic use. This allocation may be adjusted to meet public health and safety needs.

- Sacramento River Settlement Contractors and San Joaquin River Exchange and Settlement Contractors, who receive their CVP water supply based upon pre-CVP held water rights and is tied to pre-established Shasta inflow criteria, are allocated 75 percent of their contract supply of 2.2 million acre-feet and 875,000 acre-feet respectively.

- Wildlife refuges (Level 2) North- and South-of-Delta, whose allocations are also based upon pre-established Shasta inflow criteria, are allocated 75 percent of their contract supply of 422,000 acre-feet.

- Friant Division contractors’ water supply is delivered from Millerton Reservoir on the upper San Joaquin River. The first 800,000 acre-feet of water supply is considered Class 1; any remaining water is considered Class 2. Based upon DWR’s February WY 2012 Runoff Forecast, the Friant Division water supply allocation is 35 percent of Class 1 and zero percent of the contracted supply of 1.4 million acre-feet of Class 2.

- Eastside water service contractors (Central San Joaquin Water Conservancy District and Stockton East Water District) whose water supplies are delivered from New Melones Reservoir on the Stanislaus River, are allocated their full contract supply of 155,000 acre-feet.

Mid-Pacific Regional Director Don Glaser stated, “Hydrologically, 2012 is shaping up to be a challenging year. December, traditionally one of our wettest months ? ended up being one of the driest on record and this pattern continues today. The good news is that we started the water year with exceptional carryover storage ? 9.3 million acre-feet ? and storage in our reservoirs now stands at 103 percent of the 15-year average. This storage is the foundation for this initial allocation, and with almost two months remaining in California’s rain season, we continue to hope for improved precipitation.”

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Oct 05 2011

OR: Umatilla area supply reviewed

The Bureau of Reclamation released the draft Umatilla Basin Water Supply Appraisal Report for a 30-day public review period from October 7 through November 10. The report identifies alternatives aimed at satisfying treaty and reserved water-rights water claims of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR), while keeping existing Umatilla basin water users whole.

A number of potential alternatives were identified. Of those, five alternatives were selected for a more detailed evaluation; four describe water supply, and one focuses on a water delivery. The Umatilla Project is located in north-central Oregon and supplies water to the Hermiston, West Extension, Westland, and Stanfield irrigation districts.

The complete report is available for download at Umatilla Basin Water Supply Study Appraisal Report . In addition, a limited number of printed copies are available on request by sending an email to UBWSS@usbr.gov or calling (208)378-5087.

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Sep 19 2011

WA: Major Thurston water realignment proposed

A decision that would provide over 20 years of water supply for the Thurston County communities of Lacey, Olympia and Yelm is one step closer to final approval by the Washington Department of Ecology. The proposed decision includes a substantial mitigation package to offset potential harm to fish-bearing streams and other area water bodies.

A public comment period for the package of new water right transfers, water rights and mitigation plans for the three municipalities is under way now. Two of Lacey’s water right applications are posted for comment through Sept. 23, 2011. (Four more applications for Lacey are yet to come.) The comment period for Yelm and Olympia’s proposals ends Sept. 28, 2011.

Visit Ecology’s Olympia-Yelm-Lacey Water Supply Project website to review the proposals known as “reports of examination” and learn how to submit comments to Ecology.

The water supply package is the culmination of a multi-year effort by the three cities and the Nisqually Tribe to provide water to meet future growth.

“Even here on the west side of the state, it can be very difficult to allocate finite water resources to support growing communities and thriving fish runs,” said Ted Sturdevant, Ecology’s director. “This package shows that with creativity, hard work and a commitment to meet needs both in and out of streams, we can find solutions that support our quality of life.”

If approved as proposed:

Olympia will transfer its water rights at McAllister and Abbott springs to a nearby well field. The McAllister well field will be significantly more protected, more productive and can meet water supply needs for generations to come for both Olympia and the Nisqually Indian Tribe.

Lacey will gain nearly 6.6 million gallons per day of new water to meet the anticipated demand from build-out of its service area at currently planned densities. The first two of the six rights up for comment now would total 1.48 million gallons per day.

Yelm will receive rights to an additional 840,000 gallons per day of new water, meeting the community’s anticipated growth over the next 20 years.

Water rights decisions today are complicated by the fact that many applicants asking for new supplies are located in areas without significant amounts of water that can be allocated to meet those demands.

When new water is sought in “closed” basins such as is the case here, the applicant must present a plan for how it will “mitigate” — or balance out — the impacts of taking water from the ground or creek, streams, lakes and rivers on the overall system.

The cities’ package includes actions to offset the impacts of new groundwater withdrawals in the Deschutes and Nisqually river basins, on Woodland and McAllister creeks and nearby lakes.

Ecology will evaluate all comments and issue final decisions afterwards. Appeals of Ecology’s final reports of examination must be filed with the state Pollution Control Hearings Board.

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Feb 16 2011

WA: Dungeness water plan agreed

The Washington Department of Ecology, local irrigators and Clallam County said on February 15 that they have reached an innovative agreement on steps forward for water supply and stream flow restoration in the Dungeness River Watershed. See the Dungeness Watershed Guiding Principles for Managing Water Cooperators’ Agreement.

In conjunction with the agreement, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe has sent a letter of support to Ecology, pledging participation in efforts to improve water supply and restore stream flows in the watershed. Here’s the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe letter

Competing demands for a water supply that varies greatly through the year require a collaborative effort to manage water to benefit present and future users in the Dungeness watershed.

While snowmelt on the north Olympic Peninsula is the main source of water in the Dungeness River in spring and early summer, flows drop rapidly, and by late summer streams and rivers are almost entirely fed by groundwater. Farm irrigation and lawn watering are at their peaks in the summer and early fall, the same time spawning fish need water in the streams. Four fish species in the Dungeness River are threatened, and insufficient stream flow is a critical factor. Demands on the water supply are only expected to increase due to one of the highest population growth rates in Washington state.

With commitment from local partners to broadly address water management issues in the next 12 months, Ecology is suspending rulemaking in the watershed through 2011. This new agreement emerged during the drafting of a Dungeness water management rule and is built on five goals:

Preventing permanent reductions in Dungeness River flows or small streams due to new uses.
Supplying adequate and reliable water for new uses.
Ensuring sustainable agriculture in the Dungeness Valley.
Restoring stream flows in the main-stem Dungeness and where feasible, in small streams.
Putting in place an instream flow rule that protects instream resources and existing water rights within 18 months after the agreement is signed.

“Local collaboration is the key to developing smart water management in the Dungeness,” said Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant. “This agreement is critically important to the future of the watershed, not only because it protects stream flows but also because of its emphasis on restoring stream flows in the Dungeness River and some streams. We recognize the benefits of hitting the pause button on rulemaking and creating time and space for local leaders to seek out and negotiate new water supply projects that could benefit all partners.”

Clallam County Commissioners and state Rep. Steve Tharinger said, “I think we all know the challenges we face in restoring flows in late summer, but we have the right people at the table who are committed to finding a solution.”

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Oct 03 2010

On the prospects for water investing

Writer Patrick Goldin on October 2 wrote in Gurufocus.com about whether the time is right to invest in water supplies in relatively dry metropolitan areas.

He suggested that “If one believes that the value of water rights will rise in the near future, the best way to gain exposure to this upcoming trend would be to buy water rights located near a major metropolitan area with a limited supply of water at a cheap price. However, for a small investor, the only way to gain exposure to water is to purchase shares in a company that would benefit from a water bull market.”

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Feb 18 2010

CO: Conservation and rights alternatives

A Colorado firm reported in February that it is developing a cooperative arrangement with Colorado State University in the area of water conservative research. From its statement:

Regenesis Management Group, LLC, a company that focuses on the efficient use of finite natural resources through the development of innovative techniques, software and instrumentation, announced today that it has entered into a long-term research and development arrangement with Colorado State University to facilitate water conservation research.

The arrangement involves the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University along with faculty from the Colleges of Agricultural Sciences and Engineering. It is designed to provide for interdisciplinary research in the areas of agricultural crop optimization and will result in tools designed to assist in management of the water budget for farms and protect the rights of downstream water users. This is the first arrangement of its type designed to bring “above-the-surface” and “sub-surface” technical competencies together to track overall water usage, while managing proper accounting of irrigation return flows. The goal is to allow water users to better utilize their water resources for agriculture, while optimizing their consumptive use for alternative applications. The agreement also allows Regenesis Management Group to assume certain intellectual property rights as a result of the research for applications in the private sector. Continue Reading »

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