Meteorologists at the South Florida Water Management District confirmed that 2006 and 2007 were the driest back-to-back calendar years in South Florida since rainfall record-keeping began in 1932. The 2006-07 rainfall total of 83.63 inches District-wide displaces by nearly an inch the previous low of 84.59 inches that fell fifty years ago in 1955-56.
With annual District-wide rainfall of 42.88 inches, or 82 percent of the historical average, 2007 was the ninth-driest year in the 76-year record. It followed rainfall of only 40.75 inches in 2006, the sixth-driest year on record. The combined two-year total is nearly two feet less than the historical District-wide average of 104.5 inches for a typical two-year period.
“The District’s rainfall data confirms that South Florida is still in the grips of a severe regional drought, which has led to a multi-year water shortage the likes of which we have never experienced,” said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Eric Buermann. “South Florida residents – as well as water managers – must live with limited water supplies this dry season, and we all must practice conservation and follow the one-day-a-week restrictions if we are to successfully minimize the impacts of this water shortage.”
All of the SFWMD’s major basins, save for two comprising residential areas of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, experienced below average rainfall in 2007. Most notably, the Lake Okeechobee basin received 30.71 inches of rain, approximately 67 percent of that basin’s historical average, or a deficit of nearly 15 inches for the year.
“Although some southeastern counties have enjoyed average or above average rainfall this year, we have limited storage options in these densely populated areas, limiting our ability to capture large quantities of water,” added Carol Ann Wehle, executive director of the SFWMD. “The lack of rainfall in central and northern portions of the District is a concern for all of us because virtually all residential areas depend on it to augment their water supplies.”
Current Water Levels?Surface water and groundwater levels across most of the District remain unseasonably low and continue to decline due to below average dry season rainfall. Water levels in Lakes Istokpoga and Kissimmee, for instance, are well below regulation schedules established by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, while water levels in Kissimmee Basin monitoring wells are within the lowest 10 percent of historic elevations.
At 10.12 feet above sea level Monday, Lake Okeechobee remains more than four feet below its historical average – and nearly a foot below previous historic lows – for this time of year. In fact, water levels in the lake have been setting new record daily lows for more than seven months. Lake Okeechobee is the source of water for 500,000 acres of farmland in the Everglades Agricultural Area and serves as a primary back-up supply to more than five million South Floridians.
Groundwater levels in Lee, Collier and other west coast counties remain two-to-four feet lower today than this time last year, with many monitoring wells already inside the lowest 10 percent of their historic water elevations.
New Water Restrictions Effective January 15?In December and for the first time in the agency’s history, the SFWMD declared an extreme District-wide water shortage, instituting a one-day-a-week watering schedule for residential landscape irrigation. Landscape irrigation accounts for up to half of all household water consumption in the State of Florida and totals more than seven billion gallons per day nationwide.
The new restrictions become effective Tuesday, January 15. Enforcement, including the issuance of civil fines and notices of violation, also is set to commence on that date. For information on watering days and times, as well as restrictions on specific use classes, visit www.sfwmd.gov/conserve.
January 8, Jesus Rodriguez?South Florida Water Management District?Office: (561) 682-6060 Cellular: (561) 568-8025
The board of directors of the San Diego County Water Authority today approved terms for an agreement with the Semitropic-Rosamond Water Bank Authority (SRWBA) to store between 60,000 and 100,000 acre-feet of water in the two separate groundwater aquifers that encompass the SRWBA. The water, once stored, may be called upon by the Water Authority to help meet water demands in San Diego County in times when imported water supplies are constrained by drought or other factors.
“This water banking arrangement will be a vital component of our water supply reliability strategy,” said Fern Steiner, chair of the Water Authority’s board of directors. “It will help protect our region’s $157 billion economy and the quality of life of 3 million residents from the effects of water supply shortages.
Representatives of the SRWBA called the agreement a major step forward in the expansion of its groundwater banking program.
“This action represents an important partnership with the San Diego County Water Authority and a significant expansion of our successful water storage and recovery program,” said Will Boschman, general manager of the SRWBA and general manager of the Semitropic Water Storage District in Wasco, Calif.
Under the approved terms, the Water Authority will purchase 20,000 water storage “units.” Each unit will allow the Water Authority to store between 3 and 5 acre-feet of water and recover up to 20,000 acre-feet of water in a single year. Funds provided by the Water Authority will be used by the SRWBA to construct facilities necessary to place water into the aquifers and to extract water when requested by the Water Authority. Those facilities are expected to be completed before the end of 2009.
The Water Authority’s Drought Management Plan identified the need for up to 30,000 acre-feet of short-term – or “spot” – water transfers in 2008, 2009 and 2010 to help meet water demands. A key feature of the agreement includes the Water Authority’s purchase of 10,000 acre-feet of water already in storage in Semitropic. That water will be available for withdrawal in 2008, if necessary, to meet water demands in the Water Authority’s service territory.
In a related board action Thursday, the Water Authority board approved expanding the Water Authority’s goal for the purchase of spot water transfers in 2008 from 30,000 acre-feet to 40,000 acre-feet, inclusive of the water purchased as part of the agreement with the SRWBA. The Water Authority is currently in negotiations with a number of water districts in Northern California on water transfer purchases. Supplies from theses transfers may be moved directly into San Diego County this year or stored in the Water Authority’s storage account with the SRWBA.
San Diego County Water AuthorityJanuary 24, John Liarakos; Office (858) 522-6703
The Idaho Department of Water Resources and the Washington Department of Ecology have put the finishing touches on an agreement that will guide how the two states will continue to coordinate with each other about water supply issues in the face of unprecedented growth on top of the Rathdrum Prairie-Spokane Valley aquifer.
IDWR and Ecology’s water resources programs administer water rights and make determinations about water availability in their respective states. The aquifer serves more than 500,000 residents in portions of Spokane County, Washington and Bonner and Kootenai counties in Idaho.
The agreement details the continued coordination involving the maintenance and improvement of the technical tools developed in a bi-state water study. The comprehensive Idaho- Washington-U.S. Geological Survey study of the bi-state aquifer that was completed last year resulted in a numerical computer model that represents the best current knowledge of the groundwater flow system and how the aquifer interacts with the Spokane River in both states.
The computer model allows for water managers to enter data about a proposed withdrawal and see just how it would affect water levels in the vicinity of the withdrawal. With this tool the water managers can make well informed decisions about water use.
The new Memorandum of Agreement establishes a collaborative “modeling committee” of experts from both sides of the border to manage and secure the computer model and make sure that any updates are agreed upon by both states. The committee will decide what enhancements to the model would be valuable and establish the direction in which research should go to enhance the model.
The agreement was signed by IDWR Director David Tuthill, and Ecology Director, Jay Manning.
The committee will establish protocols to make sure that the most recent version of the model is available to local government and the general public.
“This will be a transparent process to make the model available, while also securing its contents,” said Guy Gregory, Ecology’s aquifer study lead. “We’re placed a lot of trust in IDWR and they’ve placed a lot of trust in us to make this work.”
“This agreement frames a process for the continuation of the excellent Washington and Idaho cooperation in managing this important aquifer. An additional benefit of the aquifer study has been the development of a close working relationship between Ecology and IDWR. It is important for those relationships to be built upon as we move forward with management decisions,” said David Tuthill, director of IDWR.
The modeling committee has two representatives from both states. The members will be looking for broad input from other agencies and organizations along the way and will develop mechanisms to make that happen. The committee will meet at least twice each year.
Media Contacts: Jani Gilbert, Ecology, 509-329-3495; cell, 509-990-9177; e-mail email@example.com; Linda Cawley, IDWR, 208-287-4826; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Ecology’s website: http://www.ecy.wa.gov IDWR website: http://www.idwr.idaho.gov January 22
A sustainable future for the Klamath Basin became a lot closer today, as American Rivers and 25 other parties finalized a proposed Klamath River Basin Restoration Agreement to restore salmon runs, revitalize tribal and commercial fishing and provide security to the basin’s farmers.
Participants in the negotiations will now seek support for the Basin Agreement within their own organizations. American Rivers and other parties to the Basin Agreement are also negotiating a separate agreement with PacifiCorp to remove four hydropower dams.
Steve Rothert, director of the California office of American Rivers, made the following statement: “With this proposed agreement we are on the cusp of ending decades-long disputes and charting a better future for farmers, tribes, fishermen and all the communities that depend on a healthy Klamath River.”
“We applaud the hard work and commitment of all the partners in hammering out this agreement. It proves that when people with very different interests work together in good faith, real solutions are possible.”
“I am hopeful that these sustainable solutions in the Klamath Basin will become a model for other rivers and communities around the country.
Key components of the Basin Agreement include:
? A program to rebuild fish populations sufficient for sustainable tribal, recreational, and commercial fisheries
? Reduced but more predictable irrigation water allocations
? Reliable supplies of water for national wildlife refuges
? Assistance for counties that may be impacted by the removal of the hydroelectric facilities
? Programs to promote the economic health of tribal communities.
Parties to the Basin Agreement include American Rivers and 10 other conservation organizations; four tribes (Karuk, Yurok, Klamath and Hoopa); Klamath County (OR), Siskiyou and Humboldt Counties (CA), the Klamath Water Users Association, farmers outside of the federal irrigation project, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Associations, the states of Oregon and California, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce.
A separate, forthcoming agreement with dam owner PacifiCorp will lay the path for removing four hydropower dams [JC Boyle, Copco 2, Copco 1 and Iron Gate] to open over 350 miles of habitat for salmon and steelhead.
The four dams produce a nominal amount of power, which can be replaced using renewables and efficiency measures, without contributing to global warming. A study by the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the Department of the Interior found that removing the dams and replacing their power would save PacifiCorp customers up to $285 million over 30 years.
Steve Rothert?530-277-0448?Amy Kober?206-898-3864 American Rivers Tuesday January 15
Formal statement on agreement: The public release of the proposed Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (Agreement) on January 15th has provided many Oregonians who live and work in the Klamath River Basin with their first opportunity to review the proposal in depth. The Agreement is lengthy and complicated. It presents a daunting task for many to understand what impact the Agreement may have to their individual livelihoods, to the current and future economic vitality of their communities, and to their ability to assert claims or contests in the Klamath Basin Adjudication (Adjudication).
The purpose of this statement is to express reasons why the Oregon Water Resources Department (Department) supports the Agreement and to help clarify the relationship between the Agreement and the Adjudication.
The Department supports the Agreement for the following reasons:
The parties to this negotiation have worked very hard to fashion this proposal and we respect the tremendous effort that has been put forward by these parties.
The Department recognizes Oregon Governor Kulongoski’s support for a successful and comprehensive solution to the restoration efforts in the Klamath River Basin to rebuild fisheries, sustain agricultural communities, and resolve other longstanding disputes related to the allocation of water resources. The Department believes this Agreement represents a positive step toward meeting these goals.
The Department is prepared to sign this agreement. One of our primary interests as a participant in the Agreement negotiations has been to ensure that it is consistent with Oregon Water Law and the prior appropriation doctrine of water allocation and management. The Agreement contains a number of provisions, such as Section 14.2 Consistency with Applicable Law, that make clear that the any proposed water use brought before the Department pursuant to the Agreement will be subject to the Department’s authority to determine and administer water rights according to and consistent with Oregon Water Law.
Relationship between the Agreement and the Klamath Basin Adjudication
The Agreement contemplates that the Adjudicator will still submit a Final Order of Determination in the Adjudication to the Klamath Circuit Court and that this order will serve as the basis for water management while the order is pending in the Court. The Agreement does not either “create” new water rights separate from the Adjudication process or limit the Department’s obligation or authority concerning the Adjudication. Nor does the Agreement affect the ability of non-Agreement parties to continue to assert their claims or contests in the Adjudication.
Parties to the Agreement may file documents agreed to in the Agreement in the Adjudication, either at the present hearing stage, or before the Circuit Court, concerning certain of their claims or contests. Non-Agreement parties may also file settlement documents in the Adjudication. However, this Agreement or any such documents filed with the Adjudicator are recommendations only and do not bind the Adjudicator to render a particular decision in the Adjudication.
A water agreement that could result in new water rights being issued from the Columbia River is now available for public review.
The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) and the Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association (CSRIA) are proposing the “voluntary regional agreement” (VRA) as a way to provide new water for irrigation while at the same time protecting river flows.
The proposed VRA is the first regional water management agreement to be considered under Washington’s Columbia River water management program that seeks to develop new water supplies for both people and fish. It is the result of months of negotiations and consultation with regional tribes, fish agencies, county governments and watershed planners.
“This pilot VRA gives us the opportunity to test these new kinds of agreements, to determine how much water that the proposed conservation projects can produce and to put the new ‘saved’ water to use in the Columbia basin,” said Jay Manning, director of the Department of Ecology.
Under the proposal, irrigators will help pay for water conservation projects that in turn will allow Ecology to issue new water rights from the Columbia River. Provisions of the agreement require that new water withdrawals not reduce stream flows during the crucial months of July and August, when demand for water is at its greatest for farmers and fish.
To qualify for the program, irrigators must maintain and certify advanced water-efficiency standards, identify how much water they are saving through conservation and enroll that saved water into the state’s water trust program.
Farmers obtaining new water rights will pay an annual fee that will fund future conservation projects managed by the state. In exchange, irrigators may be issued new water rights that will not be interrupted.
CSRIA members whose existing water rights may be interrupted during drought years may be eligible for drought permits – water rights they can exercise when their current water use would otherwise be curtailed.
LeAnn Purtzer?(509) 454-4335 Washington State Department of Ecology Thursday January 17
Former Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice Schroeder today issued a recommended order as a result of the hearing in the Thousand Springs area water call.
Schroeder, acting as independent hearing officer, presided over the hearing conducted November 28 through December 13 at Idaho Department of Water Resources headquarters in Boise.
The hearing was conducted to resolve disputes between ground water users and two aquaculture businesses that hold senior water rights located in the Thousand Springs area near Hagerman. These businesses use water flowing from the springs to raise trout for sale.
The disputes involved objections to orders issued by former IDWR Director Karl Dreher in 2005 in response to water delivery calls made by senior water right holders Blue Lakes Trout Farm and Clear Springs Foods’ Snake River Farm.
A water delivery call is made when the holder of a senior water right experiences a shortfall in the water they are beneficially using and are entitled to receive. The department then issues an order requiring the holders of junior water rights either to mitigate the effects of their diversions or stop diverting water in order to satisfy the senior right.
The provisions of Schroeder’s recommended order will not become effective until the IDWR Director David Tuthill issues a final order in the matter expected sometime late this winter.
With the release of the recommended order, each party who appeared at the hearing now may file a petition for reconsideration, briefs and exceptions to the recommended order, and may request oral argument before the IDWR director.
Former Justice Schroeder also will act as independent hearing officer in the hearing for the Surface Water Coalition water call, which is scheduled to begin Wednesday, January 16. The hearing will be conducted at IDWR headquarters on the sixth floor in conference rooms C & D.
Idaho Department of Water Resources Friday January 11
Coachella Valley Water District and the City of Coachella have reached an agreement that establishes boundaries for water and sewer service for current and future residents living within the city, the city’s spheres of influence and unincorporated areas adjacent to the city.
The agreement resolves years of differences and marks the start of a new cooperative relationship between the agencies. Coachella Mayor Eduardo Garcia and CVWD Board President Peter Nelson initiated the new relationship by signing the agreement at a small ceremony Wednesday at Coachella City Hall.
“With the new leadership and direction at City Hall, collaborating with our neighboring agencies has become a top priority,” Garcia said. “The planning for future growth in the Eastern Coachella Valley is dependent upon our most precious natural resource, water. Our agencies, CVWD and the Coachella Water Authority working together ensure responsible solutions for the future water demands.”
CVWD provides water and sewer service to more than 100,000 homes and business in the Coachella Valley. While CVWD’s general district boundary stretches from Palm Springs to the Salton Sea, the district does not provide water or sewer service within the original city boundaries of Coachella or Indio, which have their own water authorities. The City of Coachella provides water service to approximately 7,000 homes. However, as the valley’s population grows and cities expand their boundaries through annexation, the determination of who should provide service to new neighborhoods can be unclear.
“By eliminating the need for lengthy discussions on a case-by-case basis, both agencies can focus more attention on what’s really important — providing quality service,” Nelson said.
Domestic water and sewer service in the Coachella Valley is also provided by the Desert Water Agency, Mission Springs Water District and Myoma Dunes Water Co., which generally serve the areas of Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs and Bermuda Dunes, respectively.
CVWD also provides irrigation and recycled water, regional stormwater protection and groundwater management across 1,000 square miles, primarily in Riverside County but also in portions of Imperial and San Diego counties.
Dennis Mahr?(760) 398-2651 Ext.2352 Source: Coachella Valley Water District Thursday January 10
The city of Kennewick has entered into an agreement to receive up to $1 million from the Washington Department of Ecology to study how to store millions of gallons of Columbia River water in basalt formations under Southridge in Benton County.
The project is being funded by the state’s Columbia River water management program that was authorized in 2006 and makes $200 million available to explore new water resources from the Columbia River through storage, conservation and voluntary regional agreements.
The city of Kennewick plans to take water from the Columbia River in the winter and store it underground in natural aquifers, thereby reducing withdrawals from the river in the summer. The pilot will help the state and municipalities learn more about aquifer storage and recovery projects and establish protocols for implementing projects in the future.
Columbia River unit supervisor Dan Haller noted that the state’s Columbia River water management program offers the perfect opportunity to explore projects like Kennewick’s.
“Underground storage is appealing because there’s no dam construction and the stored water will remain cool and clean and can be released at the times of year we need it most,” Haller said.
The city will have another source of water from which to draw during times of peak capacity, and water can be available in stream during the critical months of July and August.
“Both the city and Ecology recognize benefits of further evaluating ASR as a viable strategy for making additional water available through storage, particularly during critical flow periods of the Columbia River,” said Bob Hammond, Kennewick city manager
The first phase of the study will analyze whether the current site is viable for an underground reservoir, and how much water might be stored at the site and how the water stored might benefit stream flows and be allocated for out of stream uses. The first phase is estimated to cost about $200,000.
Actual withdrawal and injection of water into the aquifer through test wells is planned in the second phase of the project, based on results of the initial study.
Joye Redfield-Wilder, Dept. of Ecology, 509-575-2610 ?Peter Beaudry , City of Kennewick Public Work Director, 509-585-4292 Monday January 7 Washington State Department of Ecology
The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) finalized an agreement Jan. 7, 2008, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs and National Park Service related to the SNWA’s request to draw upon untapped groundwater supplies within Cave, Delamar and Dry Lake valleys in Lincoln County.
“The federal agencies and the Southern Nevada Water Authority recognize the importance of balancing the needs of people with the needs of the environment, so our goals were compatible,” said SNWA Deputy General Manager Kay Brothers. “We have worked together to develop a monitoring system that will be able to identify potential changes in the groundwater table, effectively providing an ‘early warning’ system that helps protect water-dependent ecosystems and the sensitive wildlife species they support.”
The agreement follows the consensus-based process established in a similar agreement with federal entities related to Spring Valley in White Pine County, where the SNWA was granted water rights last year. In addition to the extensive groundwater monitoring program already in place, through which data has been collected for a number of years from throughout eastern and central Nevada, the agreement calls for an additional four monitoring wells and eight new spring monitoring sites within the area of interest.
Ongoing biological research focused on “special-status” wildlife species such as threatened or endangered fish and snails that inhabit springs in the area is also included within the agreement. Before any pumping begins, the SNWA will also draft an operation plan that defines specific mitigation measures and the conditions under which they will occur.
For their part, the federal bureaus will withdraw their protests to the SNWA’s applications at the upcoming water rights hearing before the Nevada State Engineer, scheduled to begin February 4. The agreement’s protections extend beyond the three valleys in which the SNWA has applications to include the Pahranagat Valley Hydrographic Basin, which encompasses the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge and the Key Pittman Wildlife Management Area, and the southern portion of the White River Valley Hydrographic Basin, which includes the Kirch Wildlife Management Area.
“We recognize that our efforts to reduce Southern Nevada’s reliance upon the drought-plagued Colorado River cannot come at the expense of Nevada’s environment,” Brothers said. “This agreement assures that our use of Nevada’s untapped water resources will be conducted in an environmentally responsible manner.”
Southern Nevada Water Authority Monday January 7