Archive for May, 2009

May 31 2009

GA: Water rights in review

Reflecting on the Georgia-Alabama-Florida water dispute, the Columbus (GA) Ledger-Examiner offered this in an editorial:

Not too many years ago, a group of developers bought parcels of land on both sides of the Chattooga, the northeast Georgia/South Carolina border river beloved of rafters and kayakers the world over, and made famous in the movie “Deliverance.” Because they owned acreage on both sides of the wild and scenic river, they took the logical leap that they controlled that section of the stream as well, and put up signs warning that anyone passing through was trespassing.

The idea is absurd on its face: If you own a riverfront acre in Memphis and another in West Memphis, Ark., you don’t “own” the waters of the Mississippi that flow between them. But it goes to show some of the bizarre claims that can arise when rights and access to water are at stake.

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May 28 2009

WA: Grant County permits issued

Published by under irrigation,Washington

From the Washington Department of Ecology:

The Washington Department of Ecology issued 16 new water use permits today for the Quincy Basin near Moses Lake. This is in addition to the 16 permits it issued on May 1.

The permits issued today and on May 1 went to people who applied for Quincy Basin “artificially-stored” groundwater (ASGW) several years ago and have been waiting for water to become available.

The artificially-stored groundwater is water that has accumulated underground over many years as a result of the federal government’s Columbia Basin Project. The Columbia Basin Project provides irrigation water from Lake Roosevelt for more than 670,000 acres of agricultural land in the Columbia Basin.

The new 16 water permits are for irrigation uses, except that one permit also will authorize the Grant County Public Utilities District #2 to use nearly 5,800 acre-feet of water per year for industrial uses for aquaculture (fish farming). Continue Reading »

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May 28 2009

AL/GA/FL: Salazar says feds out of dispute

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, on a trip to Georgia, said that (in contrast to the Bush Administration) his agency will not try to intervene to develop a settlement in the long-running Georgia-Alabama-Florida dispute over the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin.

Salazar spoke at one of the heated center-points of the dispute, in Georgia after a visit to much-battled-over Lake Lanier along with Governor Sonny Perdue.

“I do not see us as coming in and hammering heads and getting the deal done,” he was quoted as saying.

Salazar was headed next to Florida and a visit there with Governor Charlie Crist. [see Atlanta (GA) Journal-Constitution, May 27]

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May 26 2009

ID: Tuthill departs as IDWR head

Published by under adjudication,Idaho


David Tuthill

Idaho Department of Water Resources Director David Tuthill said on May 26 that he plans to retire from the department as of the end of June.

He has been director since January 2007; previously, he had led the water management division and for some years before that was the adjudication bureau chief, the IDWR official most directly involved in overseeing work on the SRBA.

In that capacity, he was central in setting – from the department’s point of view, across the aisle from the SRBA Courts – the pattern for researching and resolving water claims and the state’s review of them. Mont by month, those numbers have dropped dramatically, and the number of basins reviewed increased. The SRBA has some resolution in sight, a situation unknown when Tuthill moved in more than a decade (and three SRBA judges) ago.

Water resource directors in Idaho ordinarily are appointed by the governor (with state Senate confirmation) for four-year terms (roughly matching those of the governor). Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter will appoint a replacement to fill the rest of the term; that appointee will need Senate confirmation in 2010.
From Tuthill’s departure memo: Continue Reading »

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May 22 2009

OR: Klamath settling on state level

The state level of a long-running water battle in the Klamath River Basin appeared, in May, to have been resolved in the wake of a counterpart federal settlement.

The limited water in the Klamath, sought after by irrigators, the Klamath Tries of Oregon, fish advocates and others, has been the subject of legal battles for more than a decade. In 2001 irrigation was shut off, hurting farmers but helping the fish; in 2002, irrigators got their water but tens of thousands of fish were reported as having been killed. In January 2008, involved groups agreed to the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, which provided for dam removal and an approach for apportioning the water.

That still left state water issued unaccounted for. But on May 20 the tribes and the irrigators filed with the state Department of Water Resources an agreement with a plan that reflects the federal approach.

[see Eureka (CA) Times-Standard, May 22]

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May 22 2009

WI: Marquette to teach water law

Published by under law schools,Wisconsin

It may be a commplace thing for law schools in the parched west, but this is something new for a law school in wet Wisconsin: Marquette University Law School plans to start a curriculum in water law, effective this fall and for the upcoming academic year.

Subjects are expected to include water ownership, acquisition, supply management, adjudication, administration and related subjects.

The Business Journal of Mikwaukee on May 20 quoted two local people active in the development:

“Establishing a specific water law program for students is another piece to the larger puzzle of positioning the Milwaukee region as the worldwide destination for water policy and research,” said Joseph Kearney, dean of the Marquette University Law School.

Richard Meeusen, chairman, president and CEO of Badger Meter Inc. and co-chairman of the Milwaukee 7 Water Council, said the curriculum is a “vital addition to an already solid program that positions the Milwaukee region as the world water hub.”

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May 21 2009

OK: Major water bill sets state policy

Published by under Oklahoma

A sweeping water rights bill – claiming priority for the state of Oklahoma for water within its boundaries – has cleared that state’s legislature, and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Brad Henry.

It generated little opposition anywhere in the legislature. It was prompted by concerns about water from within the state, which has widely varied lls of precipitation, from being spirited away elsewhere.

From the legislature’s description of House Bill 1483: Continue Reading »

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May 21 2009

CA: $275/af in the San Joaquin

Californias’s water bank is running hard n this water-tight year. According to the Marysville Appeal-Democrat:

“The Department of Water Resources’ Drought Water Bank is buying water for $275 per acre-foot from willing water rights holders upstream of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The water would then be transferred to entities suffering water shortages.”

The volumes sound as if they may be substantial.

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May 21 2009

NC: ALCOA permit contested

A North Carolina state grant – preliminary – of a 50-year extension of water use by Alcoa is being challenged by environmental groups in the area.

From a statement by the Yadkin Riverkeeper:

Last week, Yadkin Riverkeeper filed a Petition for Contested Case against the NC Division of Water Quality (DWQ). We are hopeful the Office of Administrative Hearing will grant a request for a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent the state from issuing the 401 Water Quality Certification necessary for Alcoa to receive another 50 year federal license. The DWQ failed to meet its legal duties to address water pollution problems authorized under the Federal Clean Water Act and the NC Constitution. The states report acknowledges “significant contamination” at Alcoa’s 47 hazardous waste sites, contamination in the swimming areas, dissolved oxygen violations and that some of the PCBs found are directly linked to Alcoa. It is the last chance to get the permit right for the next 50 years. Continue Reading »

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May 20 2009

NC: A shift from traditional riparian?

Published by under North Carolina


Daniel Clodfelter

The bill, by North Carolina state Senator Dan Clodfelter, D-Mecklenburg, is large-scale enough that there’s a sense it will not see final action this session – it may have to wait for another year.

But then the topic is a big one. North Carolina has always been a traditional riparian state, allowing water users adjacent to rivers and other bodies to use as much as “reasonable” – whatever that may mean. In the process, some industrial users have used so much other water users have seen their sources run dry.

Clodfelter’s proposal: Establish a system (comparable to that in prior appropriation states) of permits for large water users.

From Senate Bill 907:

Except as otherwise provided in this section, no person shall withdraw water from the waters of the State without obtaining a water withdrawal permit under this Article from the Department and without complying with all orders, permit terms and conditions, and rules established pursuant to this Article.
(b) Exception. – A permit shall not be required pursuant to this section for a withdrawal of water from the waters of the State if the withdrawal is always less than 100,000 gallons in any single 24-hour period. To calculate the amount of withdrawal of water from the waters of the State pursuant to this section, the Department shall count all separate withdrawals by a single person for a single use or for related uses as a single withdrawal.
(c) Daily Withdrawal Limit. – A water withdrawal permit shall include a daily withdrawal limit based on inflows, seasons, and other conditions that are shown by the approved basinwide hydrologic model to be significant factors in meeting the water resource policies set out in G.S. 143?352.
(d) Voluntary Permit. – A person not required to obtain a water withdrawal permit under this section may voluntarily apply for and obtain a water withdrawal permit subject to the same procedures, terms, and conditions as for other water withdrawal permits obtained pursuant to this Article.

The proposal has drawn sharp opposition from industrial groups, and the state’s Farm Bureau organization has described it as “extreme.” But even those more supportive acknowledge it would constitute a major change in North Carolina water policy.

Tom Reeder, director of the N.C. Division of Water Resources, told the Charlotte Observer that, “It’s a paradigm shift. This bill puts specific parameters on what ‘reasonable’ means.” The term isn’t clearly defined in state law at present.

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