A coalition of environmental and conservation groups is
arguing that the best chance Michigan has of hanging onto
the use of that water for its residents and to prevent withdrawals from the Great Lakes basin is a package of bills
currently in the state House. The coalition staged press
conferences at five locations throughout the state in April to
push for adoption of the House legislation.
Hugh McDiarmid Jr., spokesman for the Michigan
Environmental Council in Lansing, said there are
competing versions of bills regulating water withdrawals
within Michigan in the House and the Senate. The bills
would be the enabling legislation that would place Michigan
in compliance with the Great Lakes Compact signed by all
eight Great Lakes governors.
The compact would work in accord with an international
agreement between the United States and the Canada
banning diversions-with very limited exceptions-of Great
Lakes water to areas outside of the Great Lakes basin.
The compact has been approved by legislatures in New
York, Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota. It also has been
approved by the Ontario provincial parliament and is
making progress in the Quebec provincial parliament.
After the compact is approved by the states and
provinces, it must be approved by the U.S. Congress and the
Canadian federal parliament.
Approval of the compact, McDiarmid said, is in both the
House and Senate packages and has not been controversial.
Michigan’s current ability to protect against diversions of
water outside the Great Lakes basin, he said, rests with two
to three sentences in the Water Resources Development Act
of 1986 that prohibit diversions unless approved by all eight
Great Lakes governors.
Michigan Gov. John Engler in 1992 used the act to veto a
request by Lowell, Indiana, to divert 3.2 million gallons per
day from Lake Michigan for public drinking water supplies.
McDiarmid said there have been doubts as to the
constitutionality of WRDA and Michigan needs its own
package of strong water protection regulations to prevent
That’s where the bills before the state House and the
Senate come in, said Christy McGillivray, senior organizer
for Clean Water Action in Clinton Township.
Until 2006, the state effectively had no laws regulating
withdrawals of surface and groundwater, she said.
She called legislation passed in 2006 a stepping stone
that contained several loopholes.
The most important loophole, she said, allows water to be
exported from the state in containers less than 5.7 gallons.
That means water could be exported by the truckload, she
said, as long as it was in individual containers less than 5.7
The House legislation would require permits for
withdrawals of 100,000 gallons per day for bottled water,
according to information from Clean Water Action.
The House version, she said, also defines that “water is a
public resource and not a private commodity,” she said.
The House legislation has a trigger for a water
withdrawal permit of 1 million gallons per day from inland
waters; the Senate threshold is 2 million gallons,
Environmentalists and conservationists believe the
House bill provides more public oversight of potential
withdrawals than the Senate version.
The House bills, said Aaron Rubel, president of Clinton
Valley Trout Unlimited, allow large-volume withdrawals up
to a point where they are predicted to have no harm to cold-
water fisheries-allowing for 14% to 22% of summer low-flows
to be withdrawn, depending on stream size.
The Senate bills, he said, allow an average of 25% of
summer low-flow to be withdrawn from streams statewide,
Contact Bob Gross at (810) 989-6257.
During April, the Idaho Water Resource Board in a
partnership with the city of Twin Falls, North Snake and
Magic Valley ground water districts, completed a series of
transactions resulting in the purchase of Pristine Springs
fish farm operation. The transactions are designed to
address conflicts between spring water users and ground
water users in Magic Valley as well as provide the city of
Twin Falls with a fresh water source to improve the quality
of its water supply and provide for future growth of the city.
The acquisition of Pristine Springs provides ground
water users with replacement water to address the Blue
Lakes Trout Farm delivery call by making available 10 cubic
feet per second (cfs) of water for mitigating ground water
user’s depletions on spring flows at the Blue Lakes trout
facility. The acquisition provides for a permanent solution
to one of the water calls and keeps farmland in production
that would have been dried up. The water districts will pay
$11 million in total, $1 million initially plus $10 million and
interest for ten years as part of a loan from the IWRB. The
IWRB will eventually have the $10 million plus interest
returned to its revolving loan program which will be used to
finance other water projects across the state.
The water provided by the water districts will avoid the
need to curtail as many as 30,000 acres of ground water
irrigated farmland thereby avoiding an estimated economic
impact of $80 million to $100 million to the region.
The purchase also avoids potential water delivery calls
from Pristine Springs and the city of Twin Falls. In
addition, the acquisition resolves a lawsuit between the
Department of Environmental Quality and the former owner
of Pristine Springs concerning the amount of effluent
returned to the Snake River by the fish farm operation.
The city of Twin Falls benefits from the plan and will
contribute $10 million to acquire a clean water source in
order to comply with federal water quality standards. The
alternative for the city was to build a $33 million water
treatment facility. The city will also have use of additional
spring water to meet future growth.
Included in the acquisition of the Pristine Springs are
two hydropower facilities that will generate approximately
$100,000 per year under current agreements with Idaho
Power. That revenue, in excess of operating costs, will be
returned to the IWRB revolving loan program.
As part of the agreement, IWRB will lease the property
back to the current owner to continue some fish farming
operations for at least the next two years. The funds gained
from the lease will further reduce the Board’s purchase
In addition to the numerous water supply benefits of the
transaction, the State will own water rights for more than
200 cfs of water, 400 acres of prime river front property
(including 200 irrigated acres), fish hatchery and
hydropower facilities, and other buildings on the property.
The $5 million in funding contributed by the Board is the
result of an appropriation to the IWRB by the Idaho
Legislature in 2006 to acquire water and facilities to help
resolve water conflicts in the Thousand Springs area.
The deal resulted from the leadership of Governor Otter,
Speaker Denney, Pro- Tem Geddes, Co-Chairmen of JFAC,
Senator Dean Cameron and Representative Maxine Bell and
the Idaho Water Resource Board. The acquisition was
approved by the Joint Appropriation Finance Committee on
March 12, 2008 by a 20 to 0 vote. It was also unanimously
approved by the IWRB on March 14, 2008.
Contact: Bob McLaughlin – 208-287-4828 April 28
The Washington Department of Ecology and Kittitas
County have signed a groundwater management agreement that will guide how decisions are made on residential
developments served by exempt wells.
Rapid growth in the county has resulted in a proliferation
of the wells that are exempt from water right permits. That
spurred a citizens group to petition Ecology last year and
seek a temporary moratorium on the wells. As an
alternative to the moratorium Ecology and the Kittitas
County Commissioners negotiated the groundwater
agreement over seven months and Ecology hosted four
public meetings to address water supply issues in upper
A key component of the agreement is a groundwater
study that will define the hydrogeology of upper Kittitas
County. Gov. Chris Gregoire asked for and received
$300,000 in funding from the 2008 Legislature for the
groundwater study. The governor also requested and
received $383,000 in funding for Ecology and Kittitas
County to implement provisions of the groundwater
Ecology will hire a watermaster for the region and the
county will add staff and purchase equipment to monitor
and collect data on groundwater use in western Kittitas
County. Senior water right holders have been concerned
that rapid rural development will impair their water
supplies. The agreement will help ensure a water supply for
present and future users.
The final agreement outlines management measures that
will be put in place while the groundwater study is under
way. Now, rural developments relying on permit-exempt
wells for their water supply will be allowed only one
groundwater exemption. Development applications will be
required to show how all domestic and lawn/garden water
use in a development won’t exceed 5,000 gallons per day.
Water metering will be required.
The signed agreement may be viewed online at http://www.co.kittitas.wa.us/cds/current/ and
http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wr/cro/kittitas_wp.html Hard copies of the agreement are available at the
Kittitas County Development Services Center in Ellensburg at 411 North Ruby St. and at Ecology’s office
in Yakima at 15 W. Yakima Ave., Suite 200, Yakima, WA 98902. Tom Tebb, Department of Ecology, water
resources program, 509-574-3989; Darryl Piercy, Kittitas County director of Community Development
Services, 509-933-8228; Dan Partridge, Department of Ecology, 360-407-7139. Department of Ecology
News Release – April 8
To help increase operational flexibility along the Colorado
River, Metropolitan Water District’s Board of Directors on
April 8 authorized $28.7 million to join agencies in Arizona
and Nevada in funding construction of a new reservoir that
will save up to 228 billion gallons of water per year.
In return for its funding, Metropolitan will receive
100,000 acre-feet of water, including up to 34,000 acre-feet
this year that will be created though construction and
operation of the reservoir adjacent to the All American
Canal in Imperial County. (An acre-foot of water is nearly
326,000 gallons, about the amount used by two typical
Southland families in and around their homes in a year.)
Based on historical Colorado River water releases from
upstream reservoirs, the 8,000-acre-foot Drop 2 Reservoir is
expected to save water by capturing and storing water that
would have otherwise been lost. Once completed in late
2010, the reservoir is expected to generate up to 3.5 million
acre-feet of water over 50 years.
Under the funding agreement, Metropolitan and Central
Arizona Water Conservation District will reimburse
Southern Nevada Water Authority for their share of the
$172 million paid to the federal Bureau of Reclamation to
build the Drop 2 Reservoir.
In return, Reclamation, which will design and build the
facility, will make a total of 600,000 acre-feet of water
available to the three agencies through 2036. Central
Arizona, along with Metropolitan, will receive 100,000 acre-
feet, while SNWA will take delivery of 400,000.
Metropolitan will be the first agency to take delivery of
the water through 2010, provided that Colorado River
shortages are not declared.
Contact: Bob Muir, (213) 217-6930; (213) 324-5213, mobile
Attorney General Jon Bruning issued the following
comment about a letter from the Kansas Department of
Agriculture alleging Nebraska owes more than $72 million
in damages for 2006.
“While we remain committed to working with Kansas to
resolve the compact issues, we’re disappointed to receive a
damage claim that has no basis in reality. Kansas’ method
of calculating damages was rejected by a special master and
the U.S. Supreme Court in the Arkansas River case,” said
Bruning. In 2007, Nebraska used less than its share of
water. Water officials expect the same in 2008.
Bruning also said, “We’re confident that the integrated
management plans put in place by the Nebraska Natural Resources Districts and the Department of Natural
Resources will achieve compact compliance. I especially
want to thank the producers in the Republican River Basin
who’ve taken the extra step of using up to 30 percent less
water than they were allocated over the last few years.”
Nebraska has repeatedly requested that Kansas provide
an analysis of any actual damage it has suffered. To date,
the state hasn’t received the requested information.
Leah Bucco-White_402.471.2067 _Leah.firstname.lastname@example.org Nebraska Attorney General Jon
Bruning April 22
The Senate on April 10 approved legislation sponsored by
U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (both D-
Calif.) to increase the supply of non-drinking water for
California’s Bay Area. The legislation was included in the
comprehensive public lands bill approved by the Senate.
The legislation would authorize federal assistance to
seven Bay Area water recycling projects. When completed,
these seven projects are estimated to make available 12,205
acre-feet of water annually in the short term, and 37,600
acre-feet annually in the long term-all while reducing
demand on the Sacramento River Delta and on existing
Specifically, the bill would help seven Bay Area
communities increase their municipal water supplies
through innovative and much-needed water recycling
projects. These seven projects are estimated to make 12,205
acre-feet of non-drinking water available annually in the
short term, and 37,600 acre-feet annually in the long term,
all while reducing demand on the Delta and on existing
Companion legislation sponsored by Representatives
George Miller (D-Calif.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Mike Honda
(D-Calif.), Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.),
Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), Pete Stark (D-Calif.), and Ellen
Tauscher (D-Calif.) was approved by the House in July 2007.
The measure will require approval by the House before it
can go to the President for his signature. It is expected that
the House will pass the legislation soon.
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein , April
Four Columbia River Basin tribes and three federal
agencies on April 7 announced the start of a public comment
period for an unprecedented set of proposed agreements and
comprehensive actions designed to improve habitat and
strengthen fish stocks in the Columbia River Basin over the
next ten years. The participants also believe these proposed
agreements will improve the working relationships between
these tribes and the federal government, focusing on
common goals and ending decades of litigation.
The Columbia River Basin agreements build on
“biological opinions” for listed salmon and steelhead and the
Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s fish and
wildlife program. They provide common goals and priorities
for hydro system mitigation; additional hydro, habitat and
hatchery actions; greater clarity about biological benefits
and secure funding for ten years. In fact, as NOAA
Fisheries prepares its latest biological opinions for issuance
and filing with the U.S. District Court of Oregon on May 5,
2008, these agreements underscore that the new salmon
plan is being developed with the highest-ever level of
stakeholder collaboration and support.
The agreements are the result of two years of extensive
negotiations between Indian tribes and the federal agencies.
The proposed Memoranda of Agreements (MOAs) are with
the federal “action agencies” that have a responsibility for
operating and maintaining the Federal Columbia River
Power System (FCRPS) as well as for selling the power from
these facilities: the Bonneville Power Administration, U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation.
The FCRPS Action Agencies have agreements with the
following entities: The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla
Indian Reservation; The Confederated Tribes of the Warm
Springs Reservation of Oregon; The Confederated Tribes
and Bands of the Yakama Nation; The Columbia River
Inter-Tribal Fish Commission; and The Confederated Tribes
of the Colville Indian Reservation.
Under these agreements, the federal agencies would
make available approximately $900 million over ten years to
continue existing programs and to implement new priority
fish projects with the tribes. Most of this money would be
provided by BPA. The tribes commit to accomplishing
biological objectives with the funds, linked to meeting the
agencies’ statutory requirements. These agreements would
promote a collaborative relationship between the parties for
ten years. The parties agree that the federal government’s
requirements under the Endangered Species Act, Clean
Water Act, and Northwest Power Act are satisfied for the
next ten years and that they will work together to support
these agreements in all appropriate venues. The
agreements would specifically resolve, for these parties, ESA
litigation pending before Judge James Redden of the U.S.
District Court of Oregon.
The announcement also begins a BPA-led public process
that seeks input on the proposal to enter into these
agreements as negotiated and potential environmental
effects of these proposed agreements. The comment period
will close April 23, 2008. A decision on whether to proceed
with the agreements will follow the public comment period.
For more information on the public process, please visit
For specific details of the MOAs and the types of projects involved, please visit: www.critfc.org and
Cadiz Inc. announced on April 21 that Los Angeles
Superior Court Judge Jane Johnson issued favorable final
rulings late Friday of last week on a number of pre-trial
motions in the Company’s case against the Metropolitan
Water District of Southern California (“Metropolitan”). In
the case, Cadiz is seeking to hold Metropolitan accountable
for breaching its fiduciary obligations resulting from a long-
term partnership between the two parties to develop a
secure water supply for southern California. From 1998-
2002, Cadiz and Metropolitan worked together as partners
to develop the Cadiz Groundwater Storage and Dry-Year
Supply Program (“Cadiz Program”) through an extensive
environmental and technical review that culminated in
approval of the Cadiz Program by the Federal Government.
Upon making her ruling, Judge Johnson also set the trial
date for May 5, 2008, pending the outcome of a mandatory
settlement conference that is to be held on April 30, 2008. In
her ruling on the most recent motions, Judge Johnson:
Denied Metropolitan’s motion to strike the request for a
jury trial, so that a jury of Southern California citizens will
now have the opportunity to review the facts in the case and
evaluate Metropolitan’s testimony in court.
Denied Metropolitan’s motions to exclude the testimony
of an expert witness, who has valued Cadiz’s damages at
between $397 – $673 million.
Denied Metropolitan’s motion to exclude evidence of
damages resulting from its failure to accept a right-of-way
grant offered for the Cadiz Program and its failure to certify
the Final Environmental Impact Report for the Cadiz
Originally proposed in 1997, the Cadiz Program would
have built and operated facilities in eastern San Bernardino
County for aquifer storage of imported Colorado River water
available during wet years, and for delivery of previously
stored Colorado River water and indigenous groundwater for
use within Metropolitan’s Southern California service area
during droughts, emergencies, and other periods of need.
In September 2001, following four years of environmental
review, a Final Environmental Impact Statement (“FEIS”)
and Final Environmental Impact Report (“FEIR”) were
issued by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and
Metropolitan, in collaboration with the U.S. Geological
Survey and the National Park Service.
The FEIS/FEIR included one of the most comprehensive
groundwater monitoring and management plans ever
proposed in California to ensure protection of critical
resources in and surrounding the Cadiz Program area. On
August 29, 2002, the U.S. Department of the Interior
(“DOI”) issued a Record of Decision (“ROD”), the final step in
the federal environmental review process. The ROD
included approval of the FEIS for the Cadiz Program and
offered a right-of-way grant for the Project’s conveyance
pipeline and electrical transmission line.
However, in October 2002, Metropolitan’s Board of
Directors decided not to proceed with the Program, declined
to accept the right-of-way grant authorized by the DOI, and
declined to consider the FEIR, which was the final step in
the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) process.
As a result, no other public agency or private party could
move forward with implementation of the program.
In April 2003 Cadiz filed a claim against Metropolitan
seeking compensatory damages for Metropolitan’s failure to
make these entitlements available to Cadiz. When
settlement negotiations failed to produce a resolution, Cadiz
filed the lawsuit against Metropolitan on November 17,
Cadiz Inc._ Courtney Degener, Investor Relations Manager_213-271-1600_or_Mercury Public Affairs_
Laura Braden / Adam Mendelson_213-880-4636
U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Pete Domenici, and
Representative Tom Udall introduced legislation in both
chambers of Congress to help meet eastern New Mexico’s
future water needs by authorizing the federal government to
build a pipeline that will carry water to several communities
in Curry and Roosevelt counties.
The legislation, called the Eastern New Mexico Rural
Water System Authorization Act, authorizes the U.S.
Bureau of Reclamation to spend up to $327 million to assist
the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority in the
construction of the pipeline. The water will come from the
Ute Reservoir, which was built on the Canadian River in
1959 as a sustainable water supply for eastern New Mexico.
A few years after the reservoir was constructed, Congress
authorized the study of a pipeline that would transport the
water to eastern New Mexico communities that needed it.
But it was only in the past few years, with an increasing
concern about declining and degrading groundwater
resources in the area, that the affected New Mexico
communities began planning for the pipeline.
Under the legislation introduced in both the Senate and
the House of Representatives, the state and the Eastern
New Mexico Rural Water Authority (ENMRWA), which
represents communities in eastern New Mexico that will
benefit from the pipeline, will contribute a total of 25
percent of the cost of construction. The Authority will be
responsible for operating and maintaining the pipeline.
Communities that will be served by the pipeline include:
Grady, Clovis, Melrose, Texico, Portales, Elida, Cannon Air
Force Base, and other potential locations in Curry, Roosevelt
and Quay counties.
The New Mexico lawmakers have introduced similar
legislation in previous Congresses which allowed for
congressional hearings that led to changes reflected in the
version of the bill introduced today.
Contact:_ Jude McCartin_Maria Najera_703 Hart Building _United States Senate_Washington, DC 20510
_(202) 224-5521 Source: U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman April 3
For the first time since the Biological Opinion was issued
for the Middle Rio Grande in 2003, the Bureau of
Reclamation will operate under the conditions of a wet year.
The year is defined as “wet” in the 2003 Biological
Opinion when the April streamflow runoff forecast at Otowi
gage is 120 percent of average or higher. The April runoff
forecast at Otowi this year is 155 percent of average.
This means a150-cubic-feet-per-second (cfs) flow will be
targeted over Isleta Diversion Dam through the year. A
100-cfs flow will be targeted over San Acacia Diversion Dam
into November. A 100-cfs flow will be targeted past the San
Marcial gage through June 15.
The Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers announced the requirement as they released the
2008 Annual Operating Plan for the Middle Rio Grande.
The agencies expect to meet the flow requirements in the
Biological Opinion for the Rio Grande silvery minnow
throughout the irrigation season with water resulting from
the above average snow pack in the mountains of northern
New Mexico and southern Colorado and water that
Reclamation has in storage in upstream reservoirs.
The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District expects to
have a full irrigation supply this season.
The April forecast data released by the Natural
Resources Conservation Service shows snow pack levels that
feed the Rio Chama and Rio Grande to be well above
average. The inflow at El Vado Reservoir is expected to be
about 375,000 acre-feet of water or 158 percent of average.
The inflow at Heron Reservoir is expected to be about
150,000 acre-feet or about 150 percent of average.
Mary Perea Carlson _(505) 462-3573 U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Upper Colorado Region April 16