The Bureau of Reclamation is extending the deadline to submit comments on the Newlands Project Resource Management Plan to Friday, October 19, 2007. Reclamation is preparing the RMP for the lands managed in association with Nevada’s Newlands Project to foster proper stewardship of public lands. The goal is to create a balance of resource development, recreation, and protection of natural and cultural resources for the lands and waters being managed within the region. The plan will outline Reclamation management actions that will be implemented during a 10-year period.
Mid-Pacific Region Sacramento, Calif. Media Contact: Jeffrey McCracken 916-978-5100 Released On: September 14
The Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources on September 26 took the first step to address the future of water resource use of the Kaloko Ditch on Kaua‘i.
The Board voted unanimously to authorize termination of an existing revocable permit with the Kilauea Irrigation Company (KIC). The permit allowed KIC the right to divert surface water from the Pu‘u Ka Ele stream and to direct the water into the Kaloko Ditch system, part of which crosses over state lands. The termination is to become effective at a later date pending DLNR’s ability to obtain all of the necessary permits and approvals to build or remove structures to stop the Pu‘u Ka Ele stream diversion feeding the Kaloko ditch.
The permit grants the holder the right, privilege and authority to develop and access government waters from government land at Papa‘a within the Moloa’a Forest Reserve, together with the right to construct, operate, repair and maintain a water transportation system within the Ka Loko ditch right of way and Pu‘u Ka Ele stream.
Since December 2006, KIC has been in default due to its inability to secure a liability insurance policy that is required under the permit.
“The Department of Land and Natural Resources has made multiple attempts to work directly with Kilauea Irrigation Company to correct this default in the permit condition,” said Laura H. Thielen, DLNR chairperson.
The default continues and has not been cured by KIC, whose principal officer has left the country. Questions remain as to whether the ditch system has been properly maintained.
“We cannot enter into another rainy season with an absentee permittee, who has no insurance, and who is not responding to inquiries regarding the care and maintenance of the diversion and flow of water,” said Thielen.
Thielen noted that DLNR is working with the Chairperson of the Department of Agriculture to set up a meeting with Kilauea-area farmers on Kaua‘i.
The Department of Agriculture will be contacting the farmers; DLNR will bring its Water Commission and Land division staff, and will invite the Kaua‘i County Board of Water Supply to attend as well, Thielen said.
The Department of Agriculture previously recommended the farmers organize a cooperative organization so that they can jointly hold ownership of water rights, assume water management responsibilities, apply for liability insurance, and take advantage of other benefits as a group.
To date, no other entity with the ability to procure insurance has come forward to take over the irrigation system.
To stop diversion of water into the ditch, structures will need to be constructed and/or removed; it will probably take 3-6 months for permits, procurement and construction. For that reason, the current revocable permit, if eventually terminated, would not actually be terminated for quite some time, as that would not occur until immediately prior to commencement of construction.
Contact: ?Deborah Ward ?Phone: (808) 587-0320
Governor Schwarzenegger announced a $9 billion comprehensive water infrastructure proposal to be introduced in the legislative special session that he called in response to California’s water crisis. The plan invests $600 million from Propositions 50, 84 and 1E to immediately relieve pressure on the Delta from environmental challenges and to respond to a recent federal court ruling that will reduce water deliveries to Southern California. It also includes $5.6 billion in water storage, nearly $2 billion in Delta restoration (in addition to the above-mentioned $600 million), $1 billion in grants for conservation and regional water projects and $500 million for specific water restoration projects. Written in two bills authored by Assembly Republican Leader Michael Villines (R-Fresno) and Senator Dave Cogdill (R-Modesto), the proposal represents a combination of ideas previously detailed in proposals by the Governor and legislative leaders.
Details of the $9 billion comprehensive water infrastructure proposal include: $600 million from Propositions 50, 84 and 1E to immediately relieve pressure on the Delta from environmental concerns; $5.6 billion in above and below ground water storage; $5.1 billion in surface storage; $500 million in groundwater storage; Identifies three locations for surface storage (Sites, Temperance Flat Reservoir and Los Vaqueros Expansion Project.); Specific criteria to assure public benefits and environmental benefits; $1.9 billion for Delta Restoration and water supply reliability; $1.4 billion for habitat restoration; $500 million in early actions to address environmental concerns in the Delta; $1 billion in grants for conservation and regional water projects; $500 million in grants for specified watersheds throughout the state, including the San Joaquin River, Klamath River, Los Angeles River and others.
The plan also includes funding toward restoration of the ailing Delta and would lead to the development of a new conveyance system. Twenty-five million Californians rely on the Delta for clean, safe water. It also irrigates hundreds of thousands of acres of Central Valley farmland and it is the backbone of California’s $32 billion agricultural industry.
The state of Nevada, which has been fighting federal water rights claims at the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, won a key legal skirmish in a September decision on the matter by federal District Judge Roger Hunt.
Hunt, in a written decision spanning 24 pages, went so far as to describe federal efforts and arguments as unreasonable and even arrogant.
The water fight has been viewed as a key front in the state’s effort to oppose development of a nuclear repository in the state.
Hunt held that while federal claims are inconclusive, “The state, on the other hand, faced the unauthorized use of its water, a violation of state water law, a violation of an agreement it entered in good faith, a violation of this court’s order authorizing that agreement, and interference with its obligation to its citizens to enforce its laws and preserve its water . . . there has been no act by Congress which pre-empts Nevada’s state water laws. … The only public interest issue is whether state officials can be precluded from exercising their lawfully mandated duties, or whether a federal agency can run roughshod over a state’s rights or interests without specific authority and mandate to do the precise activities it wishes to do.”
The Department of Energy, which has been attempting to develop the Yucca site, has proposed congressional legislation to allow it to obtain water needed for the site.
See also reports in September in the Las Vegas Review Journal
Nevada Senator Harry Reid on the decision: “Judge Hunt’s ruling confirms what many of us have known for a long time: the federal government will do anything it can to try to turn Nevada into the nation’s nuclear dumping ground, even if that means ignoring the law and the will of the people who would be most affected by the dump. Stealing water, misleading Congress, and ignoring court orders are par for the course for the Energy Department. I am pleased that Judge Hunt upheld Nevada’s right to enforce its water laws. The Energy Department needs to come to grips with the fact that the dump will never be built and begin working on a way to store nuclear waste at the sites where it is produced, instead of an outdated plan to ship 77,000 tons of it across the country to Nevada.”
September 4, 2007 Senator Harry Reid
During his annual address to the Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful luncheon in September in Lawrenceville, Governor Sonny Perdue focused on Georgia’s severe drought and the urgent need for a statewide water plan and increased water conservation by all citizens.
“The time for a statewide comprehensive water plan is now,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “We need a thoughtful, unified plan that truly meets our long-term needs for a stable, secure and clean water supply.”
The creation of a statewide water plan for Georgia was mandated through the Comprehensive Statewide Water Management Planning Act that passed the legislature and signed by the Governor in 2004. The plan is currently in draft form for public comment through statewide hearings through the month of October 2007. The final plan will be presented to the Georgia General Assembly in January 2008.
Between the years 1985 and 2000, the number of individuals in Georgia served by public water providers increased by 44 percent. In the same time period, water use increased by 50 percent, indicating that water use in Georgia is increasing faster than the population is growing.
September 26 Office of Communications 404-651-7774
The Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board modified two water use permits (WUPs) for Marion County Utilities to meet projected increases in water use. Both permits are achieving a per capita rate of 150 gallons per person per day.
Marion Oaks?The Marion Oaks WUP combines and modifies two public supply permits and increases the permitted quantities. The 91-acre Marion Oaks service area is approximately eight miles southwest of Ocala. The previous annual average permitted quantity was 1.704 million gallons of water per day (mgd.) The new permitted quantity is 3.2 mgd, which is an increase of 1.496 mgd. The increase is based on projected population growth. The permit removes recreational quantities currently included in one of the permits. The recreational quantity will be issued under a separate permit. The permit expires Sept. 25, 2013.
Quail Meadows?The Quail Meadows WUP combines and modifies two public supply permits and increases the permitted quantities. The 725-acre Quail Meadows service area is northwest of the intersection of U.S. 27 and Interstate 75. The previous annual average permitted quantity was 647,300 gallons of water per day (gpd.) The new permitted quantity is 660,600 gpd, which is an increase of 13,300 gpd. The permit expires Sept. 25, 2014.
As part of both permits, the county must investigate the feasibility of reuse water and other alternative water supplies. The county must also submit required reports, which include monthly meter readings, wellfield water levels, water quality information and water conservation measures.
In addition, the Board modified a water use permit for the City of Wildwood in Sumter County.
The modified permit increases the permitted quantities. The previous annual average permitted quantity was 2,137,200 gallons of water per day (gpd.) The new permitted quantity is 4,980,000 gpd, which is an increase of 2,842,800 gpd.
The increase in quantity is based on an estimated increase in population and commercial development. One of the significant commercial use customers is the federal prison at Coleman.
As part of the permit, the city must investigate alternative water supplies and submit an alternative water supply plan. The city must also develop long-term monitoring plans to ensure that no unacceptable adverse impacts occur to water resources.
Another requirement of the permit is for the city to develop a water conservation rate structure. A water-conserving rate structure has tiered water rates which increase with water use, meaning high volume water users pay more per gallon.
The city must also submit required reports, which include monthly meter readings, wellfield water levels and water quality information.
The permit expires July 29, 2013.
September 25 Southwest Florida Water Management District
U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman announced September 25, that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will enter into a partnership cooperative agreement with the City of Deming for a water/wastewater project.
Under the agreement, the USACE will provide $2.77 million to upgrade the city’s water and wastewater system. Increased growth in the area has put increased demand on the current system.
The City will install 42,500 linear feet of new 8” thru 15” PVC sanitary utility collection pipe, 98 concrete sanitary utility manholes, one 12’ diameter by 18’ deep sanitary utility lift station, and 42,500 linear feet of new 12” PVC water distribution pipe with associated fittings and connections.
The estimated total project cost is $3.693 million.
Contact: Jude McCartin?or Maria Najera?703 Hart Building?United States Senate?Washington, DC 20510?(202) 224-5521 U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on September 20, heard testimony in favor of legislation to continue restoration efforts on one of New Mexico’s largest tributaries to the Rio Grande. The bill reauthorizes the Río Puerco Watershed Management Program, which Bingaman first wrote into law in 1996. Over the past decade, the Rio Puerco Watershed Management Program has helped restore much of the 7,000 square-mile degraded watershed.
The Rio Puerco Watershed Management program authorized the creation of the Rio Puerco Management Committee—a panel comprised of federal and state agencies, Native American Indian tribes, local governments and private entities. Congress has provided the committee with more than $6 million over the past decade to develop and implement proposals for watershed rehabilitation.
The Río Puerco Management Committee has become one of the most effective collaborative land management efforts in the Southwest. Among the committee’s accomplishments is a project to return the Río Puerco to its original streambed, originally altered to accommodate the construction of State Highway 44, now U.S. Highway 550, in the late 1960s. According to the BLM, the channel became a primary contributor of erosion and sediment in the river’s main stem, and even began advancing toward U.S. 550, threatening the highway’s stability. The large-scale project is one of only three in the entire country like it.
The legislation authorizes funding for the Río Puerco Management Committee over the next ten years.
According to the BLM, while the Río Puerco contributes less than ten percent of the total water to the Río Grande, it represents the primary source of sedimentation entering the Upper Río Grande. The Río Puerco contributes the majority of the silt entering Elephant Butte Reservoir about 65 miles downstream of its confluence with the Río Grande.
U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman and U.S. Senator Pete Domenici
United States Senators Ken Salazar and Wayne Allard sponsored Senate Bill 499, which is expected to be included in a natural resources tax package to be reported out of the Senate Finance Committee on September 20. The provision will clarify that exchanges involving shares of stock in mutual ditch companies should be tax-free.
Mutual ditch companies are unique corporations, organized as non-profit organizations solely for the convenience of their members in managing a joint water distribution system. The shareholders are often farmers and ranchers who have an exclusive right to use the ditch company’s water in direct proportion to the number of shares they own.
As a result, the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that ditch company shares represent a tangible property interest. The Internal Revenue Service, however, issued a General Counsel Memorandum in 1986, prior to the Colorado Supreme Court ruling, which concluded that Colorado mutual ditch company stock is not covered by Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code, which otherwise permits tax-free exchanges of like-kind property. The senators’ legislation will clarify that exchanges involving ditch company shares – like exchanges involving other kinds of real property – should be tax-free.
This technical change will provide predictability for Colorado’s mutual ditch companies as they enter into transactions to raise needed capital and for other purposes such as physical infrastructure maintenance.
Once the natural resources tax package is marked up, it will go to the Senate floor for final passage.
Contact: Stephanie Valencia (Salazar) – 202-228-3630; ?Steve Wymer (Allard) – 202-224-6207
Nevada State Engineer Tracy Taylor in September turned down a plan for pumping as much as 38,000 acre-feet of water per year from Granite Valley, a desert area east of Pyramid Lake (which is northeast of Reno).
The proposal would create problems with currently-used water rights in the area, Taylor said. Churchill and Pershing counties were among the critics of the proposal, along with the Bureau of Land Management nd the large C-Punch Ranch.
The proposal came from Summit Engineering Corporation of Reno. Tylor also suggested that Summit may have lacked the financial backing needed to undertake such a large project.
Reno Gazette-Journal, September 19.