The U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution Monday encouraging mayors to phase out city spending on bottled water and to promote the importance of municipal water. The resolution, authored by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and sponsored by mayors from 17 major cities, aims to redirect taxpayer dollars to other essential city services.
“Cities are sending the wrong message about the quality of public water when we spend taxpayer dollars on water in disposable containers from a private corporation,” Newsom said. “Our public water systems are among the best in the world and demand significant and ongoing investment.”
The vote comes on the heels of actions by more than 60 mayors nationwide, such as canceling bottled water contracts, to address the budgetary, environmental, and social impact of such purchases.
The cities of San Jose, Miami and Orlando announced bottled water phase-outs in the days leading up to the vote.
Another milestone was reached in the implementation of the Pecos River Settlement Agreement on June 23 as the Interstate Stream Commission celebrated the completion of the Seven Rivers Pipeline Project near Carlsbad, New Mexico with a ribbon cutting and “duckolympics.”
“This pipeline is an integral part of implementing the Pecos Settlement. It will help us meet our interstate compact requirements and improve the water supply outlook for the Carlsbad Irrigation District,” said New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission Director Estevan Lopez. “The completion of this pipeline demonstrates that the money appropriated by the New Mexico State Legislature and signed by Governor Richardson is producing tangible results.”
Officials attending the event included: Interstate Stream Commissioners, as well as representatives from US Senator Jeff Bingaman’s office, the Carlsbad Irrigation District, the Pecos Valley Artesian Conservancy District, the US Bureau of Reclamation, State Representatives, the Mayor of Carlsbad and others.
The Pecos Settlement and its implementation would not have been possible except for the support of the New Mexico State Legislature and Gov. Bill Richardson. The cooperation of the area legislators, the settlement parties and numerous contractors has been crucial.
The pipeline stretches from the Seven Rivers area near Carlsbad to Brantley Lake on the Pecos River. It is 12 inches to 36 inches in diameter, approximately 10 miles long and has the capacity to deliver in excess of 15,750 acre-feet of water per year to the river as required under the terms of the Pecos Settlement.
Ground was broken for the Seven Rivers Pipeline Project in June of 2007.
In 2003, the State of New Mexico, CID, PVACD, and the United States entered into a settlement, that when implemented, will put an end to 50 years of litigation and will result in the adjudication of the Carlsbad Irrigation District’s Project water rights. Additionally, the settlement will help the state comply with obligations under the Pecos River Compact as decreed by the Untied States Supreme Court in 1988.
Augmentation pumping sites have been developed at three locations, including the primary site in the Seven Rivers area. This well field has 10 artesian wells that were drilled and tested during the period of March 2005 to June 2006. These wells and an additional three private wells have been connected by this series of pipelines that can carry approximately 20,000 gallons per minute from the wells to Brantley Reservoir.
The Bureau of Reclamation contributed $1 million to the Seven Rivers Pipeline Project through the Department of Interior’s Water 2025 Program for work related to water efficiency and supply supplementation in compliance with the Settlement Agreement. Reclamation is also cooperating through a licensing agreement allowing the project to cross Reclamation land.
Maureen Haney, Public Relations Specialist, Office of the State Engineer/Interstate Stream Commission (505) 764-3864 office (505) 410-8032 cell. Karin Stangl, Planning and Communication Director, Office of the State Engineer/Interstate Stream Commission (505) 699-4923 cell
Water users between Wells Dam and Priest Rapids Dam can participate in a cost-sharing program to install metering devices and voluntarily report their diversions from the Columbia River.
The Washington Department of Ecology is gathering the information as part of the Columbia River water management program’s efforts to better understand how much water is diverted annually from the Columbia River.
The Legislature has made $1 million available on a first-come, first-served basis for grants. Voluntary participation forms and cost-share grant applications are available through Cascadia Conservation District in Wenatchee. Affected water users will receive informational packets on the program in the mail. Water users have until Oct. 31, 2008, to submit application forms.
In 1993, the Legislature added metering to the water code, which now requires measuring of all surface water diversions. Those who do not participate in the voluntary program will still need to comply with requirements of the law.
This is the second phase of the Columbia River water measurement project. The first phase focused on irrigators withdrawing water between McNary Dam and Priest Rapids Dam on the Columbia River and from the mouth up to Lower Monumental Dam on the Snake River. So far, 70 percent of diverters are participating in the program.
“Gathering this data will help fill key information gaps and help us better manage our water resources, now and in the future,” said Rick Roeder, Ecology’s Columbia River team manager. “Without this information it’s tough to make new water-right decisions that protect existing water rights and stream flow requirements—and meet future water needs.”
Water measurements help the state to more accurately evaluate current water uses and to forecast future water supply needs. In addition to publishing total water use information on its website, Ecology will report this information in a long-term water supply and demand forecast due to the Legislature in 2011 and updated every five years.
For more information, water users may contact Eiko Urmos-Berry at (509) 575-2397 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information is available online.
Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto has announced that the State of Nevada, along with the Colorado River Commission of Nevada and the Southern Nevada Water Authority have joined with six other states to successfully intervene into a lawsuit challenging the operation of the Glen Canyon Dam.
On June 3, 2008, the United States District Court of Arizona granted a joint motion for intervention by the States of Nevada, Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, along with the Colorado River Commission of Nevada, the Southern Nevada Water Authority and four other entities, which intervened in support of the Bureau of Reclamation.
Attorney General Masto said, “I am pleased we have been able to work cooperatively with the seven Basin States on this issue of great importance to southern Nevada. The Colorado River provides 90% of southern Nevada’s water supply. Our intervention into this litigation is part of our ongoing efforts to secure and protect this vital resource. We are working closely with our neighboring states, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other stakeholders in managing the river as a sustainable resource while protecting our water supply.”
On December 7, 2007, Grand Canyon Trust, a non-profit conservation organization, filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Reclamation and its Commissioner challenging the operation of the Glen Canyon Dam. The suit claims that Reclamation has violated the Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws by adopting a Colorado River flow regime which the Trust believes negatively impacts endangered fish, destroys their critical habitat, and degrades the natural environment in the Grand Canyon National Park as well as the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Nevada has an interest in the operation of Glen Canyon Dam as it has an effect on power generation and quality of water in Lake Mead. Nevada also has an interest in protecting the current Glen Canyon Adaptive Management Program and the collaborative process for development of the Annual Operating Plan for the Colorado River Reservoirs, whereby the Federal Government consults with Nevada on actions pertaining to the operation and management of the Colorado River system.
Contact Senior Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Crandell at 702-486-2673 for additional information. Contact: Jennifer Crandell (702)486-2673 or Nicole Moon (702) 486-3379 or (775) 287-7672 (cell) email@example.com
The Department of Ecology has replied to a lawsuit filed against the department in June by the Swinomish Tribe over amendments made in 2006 to the Skagit River management rule.
The rule, originally adopted in 2001, sets minimum-allowed “instream” flows for various points along the Skagit River and its tributaries. The Skagit River is the largest river in the Puget Sound basin and supports all five species of Pacific salmon.
State law requires Ecology to establish water management rules for each major river basin to protect and preserve fish, wildlife, recreation, navigation, aesthetics, water quality and livestock watering.
The 2001 rule did not specifically provide water for future agricultural, home construction and new commercial or industrial activities. The 2006 amendments kept the 2001 stream flows in place, and established and allocated “reservations” of surface and ground water for future agricultural irrigation, residential, commercial/industrial and livestock uses throughout the Skagit basin.
Here is a statement, issued by Jeannie Summerhays, Ecology’s regional director for northwestern Washington, on behalf of the department:
? “We are reviewing the legal claims in detail. Ecology is confident the instream flow rule is legally sound and protective of fish and the environment.
? “The lawsuit comes as we begin the process of implementing the rule. Important steps taken as part of this implementation have included:
? Working jointly with Skagit and Snohomish Counties to account for water use under the reservations set aside for homes, farms and businesses.
? Formation of the Skagit Water Resources Advisory Committee, which invites participation from tribes, local governments and other interests.
? Funding and participation in a U.S. Geological Survey groundwater study to provide better knowledge of how well use affects stream flows.
“The 2006 amendments didn’t change or reduce the minimum stream flows originally adopted in 2001 to protect fish and other natural resources in the Skagit stream system. We believe that rule provides fair, balanced and technically sound protections to the river, its resources and the human community it supports.”
News release on Skagit River management rule. Background on instream flows, including the Skagit rule. Media Contacts: Jeannie Summerhays, Director, Northwest Region, 425-649-7010; Larry Altose, media relations, 425-649-7009; pager: 206-663-1785; Dan Partridge, media relations, 360-407-7139; cell: 360-480-5722
On June 11, a Washington state judge struck down key parts of a water law that would have allowed drastically expanded water use for development. The law, passed in 2003, redefined private developers as municipalities and retroactively allowed developers and municipalities to increase their use of water under old water rights at the expense of other water users and rivers and streams.
“This ruling affects every water right holder who has a certificate based on system capacity or ‘pumps and pipes’ instead of actual use,” said Rachael Paschal Osborn of the Center for Environmental Law and Policy. “Judge Rogers clearly held actual use of water is the standard in Washington. Any water right based on pumps and pipes is now suspect.”
For example, Washington State University holds substantial “paper” water rights based on the pumps and pipes standard; about two-thirds of WSU’s water rights have never been used. Under the court’s ruling, WSU’s unused water rights are no longer valid. The University is mining the Grande Ronde Aquifer—sole source of water for 50,000 people—in order to irrigate its new 18-hole golf course, harming other well owners, the community, and the aquifer.
Judge Jim Rogers of the King County Superior Court held that two sections of the municipal water law were unconstitutional. The first section redefined “municipal water suppliers” to include many private developers, granting them the special rights under the water code previously reserved to public entities. The second section revived water right certificates that had been issued to developers and cities based on the size of the pumps and pipes of their water systems rather than on the actual amount of water they used. In 1998, the Washington Supreme Court invalidated those certificates, but in 2003, the Legislature attempted to reinstate them. Judge Rogers held that law is unconstitutional.
“Municipal water rights, like every other water right, are subject to legal tests intended to protect senior water users and the environment,” said Osborn. “With this ruling, we can finally evaluate paper water rights under these legal tests and ensure orderly and responsible development of state water resources. If water right holders fail the test, then they lose the right.”
“Water is finite. The state is at the end of the water frontier. In the face of climate change, our water future is with aggressive conservation,” Osborn concluded.
On September 1, 2006, Center for Environmental Law & Policy, Sierra Club, Washington Environmental Council, Puget Sound Harvesters and several individuals filed a legal challenge to the Municipal Water Law enacted in 2003. That law, also known as HB-1338, allows municipalities to access huge water rights regardless of impacts on Washington’s rivers and aquifers. In December 2006, six western Washington tribes filed a similar suit and the two cases were consolidated. Judge Rogers issued his oral decision on June 11.
CELP and its co-plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Shaun Goho and Kristen Boyles of EarthJustice.
Defendants are State of Washington, Gov. Christine Gregoire, Washington Dept. of Ecology, Director of Ecology Jay Manning, Washington Dept. of Health, and Sec. of Health Mary Selecky. Intervenors are Washington Water Utilities Council (representing water purveyors statewide), Cascade Water Alliance, and Washington State University.
Contact: Rachael Paschal Osborn (CELP) 509.209-2899 (office) 509.954-4541 (mobile) Shaun Goho (Earthjustice) 206-343-7340, x29
The Orange County Water District filed suit on June 24 against several industrial businesses that the District believes are responsible for contaminating parts of Orange County’s groundwater basin with volatile organic chemicals and perchlorate.
For decades, VOCs have been commonly used by industry as solvents and cleaning agents. Perchlorate is a contaminant that has been associated with propellants, lubricating oils, explosives, cleaning agents, and other industrial products and operations. As the groundwater management agency, OCWD filed the suit to protect groundwater resources in central Orange County. The contaminated areas in the groundwater basin pose a serious and substantial threat to the public health and environment.
The lawsuit, filed in Orange County Superior Court, seeks to recover funds needed to investigate, monitor and remove VOC and perchlorate contamination in the groundwater supplies of Orange County. Faced with the high costs of investigating and cleaning up the contamination, OCWD seeks to hold the industrial polluters responsible for their contamination.
“The water from the wells currently operating in Santa Ana, Irvine and other areas of Orange County is safe, but millions of dollars are needed to investigate and clean up the contamination and make sure Orange County’s drinking water remains safe from VOC contamination,” emphasized Mike Markus, general manager for the Orange County Water District. “VOCs and perchlorate are threatening to destroy a significant portion of our water supply unless we act now. These pollutants have significantly contaminated parts of our shallow aquifer. This lawsuit will assure that the costs of protecting our water supply from contamination are paid by the companies responsible for the problem, and not by OCWD and the community.”
The defendants named in the action are the businesses and other industries that OCWD believes have contaminated certain areas of the shallow aquifer. The suit contends that these companies failed to prevent spills, leaks, discharges and releases of VOCs and perchlorate; monitor or discover VOC and perchlorate spills; warn those who may be injured by the VOC and perchlorate leaks; or clean up and abate these VOC and perchlorate discharges as thoroughly and quickly as reasonably possible, and in a manner necessary to prevent harm or injury.
OCWD has retained Miller, Axline & Sawyer based in Sacramento as its outside counsel. The firm has extensive experience representing public water agencies in lawsuits to recover the costs of treating contaminated water.
The groundwater basin is managed by OCWD and provides up to 75 percent of the water supply for more than 2.3 million residents in the cities of Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Stanton, Tustin, Villa Park, Westminster and Yorba Linda. For more information about the Orange County Water District, visit www.ocwd.com on the Internet.
Contact:?Gina DePinto?OCWD ?(714) 378-3228,?firstname.lastname@example.org
The Idaho Attorney General’s office petitioned the Northern Idaho Adjudication District Court to begin cataloging and confirming all surface and ground water rights in much of the Idaho panhandle. This includes water rights held by the United States, Indian tribes, the state, local governments, and private property owners.
As directed by the Idaho Legislature, the Northern Idaho Adjudication will proceed in three phases. Phase 1 begins this year with Basins 91-95 (Coeur d’Alene and Spokane River Basins). Contingent on funding, Phase 2 will address Basin 87 (Palouse River Basin) and Phase 3 will deal with Basins 96 and 97 (Clark Fork-Pend Oreille River Basins).
IDWR will hold a series of town hall meetings from July 21st to July 24th in seven northern Idaho cities to provide information and education about the adjudication process. The schedule for the meetings is:
7/21/2008 7:00 p.m. Wallace Wallace Jr.-Sr. High School Commons Area
7/22/2008 2:00 p.m. Plummer Plummer Community Center, 520 C Street, corner of 6th & C
7/22/2008 7:00 p.m. St. Maries Eagles, 707 Main Street
7/23/2008 2:00 p.m. Blanchard Grange Hall, 445 Rusho Lane
7/23/2008 7:00 p.m. Athol Athol Community Center, 30355 Third Street
7/24/2008 1:00 p.m. Coeur d’Alene Dept. of Transportation, EOC Room, 600 W. Prairie Avenue
7/24/2008 7:00 p.m. Post Falls Post Falls Senior Center, 1215 E 3rd Avenue
The 2008 Idaho Legislature made changes to the original Northern Idaho Adjudication plan. Those changes include reducing the fees charged for water right claims to match the fees set for the Snake River Basin Adjudication. Many water right holders will pay a filing fee of only $25 dollars to have a small domestic water right adjudicated.
Other amendments included removing the Kootenai River Basin in the northernmost part of the state (Basin 98) from the adjudication. Changes also included direction by the legislature that small domestic and stock water claims be deferred. If approved by the NIA District Court, holders of these rights will have the option of filing claims in the Northern Idaho Adjudication or deferring filing to a later date. However, IDWR recommends that they file in this proceeding to protect their water right.
The adjudication will enhance the value of a water right holder’s property by giving certainty to their water right. Many water right holders will file via a new online claims taking process through the IDWR website without the need for the services of an attorney. For more involved claims the use of an attorney is always an option.
“Water right holders in northern Idaho will benefit from the experience gained in the Snake River Basin Adjudication. Our agency has experienced personnel and proven procedures. All parties involved will also be able to rely on the substantial body of water law developed during the SRBA,” IDWR Director David Tuthill said. IDWR personnel will also be available to assist claimants by phone or in person at the IDWR Northern Region office at 7600 N. Mineral Drive Suite 100 in Coeur d’Alene.
More information about Northern Idaho Adjudication.
There’s water—underground, and of undetermined amounts—along the border between Utah and Nevada. Both states, among the nation’s most parched, have strong interest in whatever water lies there, and who might have access to it.
The Salt Lake City Deseret News reported in June about researchers with the Utah Geological Survey researching wells and other indicators in the Dugway Montain range, on the Utah-Nevada border. Aquifers in that area long have provided critical water supplies to some Utah water right holders.
Nevada officials, the article noted, have maintained that water has been flowing from their state into Utah, which could give them precedence over some of it.
The prior appropriation doctrine—“first in time, first in right,” giving priority to senior users—also could come into play.
Reference – Salt Lake City (UT) Deseret News, June 7.
The Cochiti Pueblo and the Army Corps of Engineers in June signed a cooperative agreement related to conducting a baseline study at Cochiti reservoir in anticipation of potentially changing storage options.
The agreement, signed at a ceremony at the Cochiti Pueblo, is related to a federal provision in the Water Resources Development Act authored by Senators Pet Domenici and Jeff Bingaman that directs the Army Corps to engage pueblos in the operation and maintenance of flood control projects in the middle Rio Grande region.
“I am proud of the Cochiti Pueblo leaders for engaging the Army Corps to reach an agreement that can improve operation of the Cochiti reservoir. I trust this arrangement will serve both the Corps and the Pueblo as they work toward the mutual goal of improving the overall management of the Rio Grande,” said Domenici, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate subcommittee that funds WRDA-authorized projects.
Congress late last year overrode a presidential veto to reauthorize a new WRDA law. Within this new law, Domenici and Bingaman included a provision to allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to enter into cooperative agreements with New Mexico pueblos and give them greater opportunities to assist the Corps with operation and maintenance activities on flood control projects.
The new WRDA law also reauthorized the Corps’ Tribal Partnership program, which expired in 2006. The Tribal Partnership program allows the Corps to perform watershed assessments and study flood damage reduction and environmental restoration projects on tribal lands that will substantially benefit New Mexico’s tribes and pueblos.
Domenici also praised the signing of a Corps agreement with Bernalillo County and the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority on a $24 million continuation of a South Valley flood control project.
Domenici has championed this project for more than a decade. In the new WRDA bill, he won a new authorization for the Southwest Valley Albuquerque New Mexico Flood Damage Reduction Project ($16.15 million federal authorization, $8.69 million nonfederal share). As such the Corp is authorized to continue construction detention basins and a pumping station in Albuquerque’s North and South Valley. This is a continuation of a program supported and funded by Domenici since the mid-1990s. The Corps has worked with Bernalillo County and the city of Albuquerque on these projects.
Contact: Chris Gallegos (202) 224-7082