Archive for July, 2012

Jul 31 2012

KS: State tries to help state livestock water supplies

Published by under Kansas,stockwater

The Kansas State Conservation Commission on July 30 approved a plan to work with Kansas livestock producers on a cost-share program targeted at improving existing livestock water supplies. The Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Division of Conservation urges livestock producers to focus project applications on restoration of existing ponds, well development, spring development or other water storage projects.

The SCC, which is a board of commissioners consisting of five elected and four appointed members, approved the use of $500,000 of fiscal year 2012 cost-share funding that has been carried forward to provide immediate assistance to livestock producers in drought-stricken Kansas. Producers will have 45-days to sign-up for the cost-share assistance initiative and will be eligible to receive up to $2,000 per project and up to $4,000 per landowner. Projects will be considered and approved on a first-come, first-served basis. KDA’s Division of Conservation will collect applications submitted by county conservation districts and then process and approve individual contracts.

“The impacts of this drought are being felt far and wide and will continue to be felt even after rain arrives. We are here to help producers cope with the drought today but also help them recover and plan for future droughts,” said Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman. “From a newly adopted effort to restore existing ponds to drilling deeper wells, developing springs or digging new ponds, this funding will provide critical assistance to assure the hard-hit livestock producers in Kansas have water storage and supplies available for critical seasons going forward.”

Pastures that currently have limited or no existing water supplies are the primary targets for this initiative. Livestock producers with existing ponds who are requesting cost-share assistance must meet specific criteria to be eligible. Specifically, dams must be in satisfactory condition or the landowner must commit to bring the dam to a satisfactory condition and the pond must still be capable of serving a conservation use for stockwater. Cost-share funding can be used for sediment removal; principal spillway replacement; or embankment seeding. Rodman said the Division of Conservation and the county conservation districts will be flexible with livestock producers to help assure they meet the specific criteria.

Projects related to well development, spring development and new ponds will follow current policy requirements.

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Jul 31 2012

CA: Pacheco project may go ahead

The Bureau of Reclamation has made available the Draft Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for the Pacheco Water District Lateral 3 Canal Lining, a CALFED Water Use Efficiency Project.

Under the Proposed Action as presented in the Draft EA, Reclamation would provide grant funding to PWD for the lining of three miles of their Lateral 3 canal to reduce subsurface drain water generated within PWD. In addition, the Proposed Action would reduce aquatic weed growth and reduce the need for in-water chemical applications and channel maintenance, which would improve water management.

The area where the Proposed Action will be implemented is located within PWD boundaries, approximately 10 miles southwest of the community of Dos Palos, Calif. PWD lies within the Grassland Drainage Area and is a participating agency in the Grassland Bypass Project, through which subsurface drain water generated within the region is discharged to the San Joaquin River.

The Draft EA/FONSI were prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act and may be viewed online at http://www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_projdetails.cfm?Project_ID=9850. If you encounter problems accessing the documents online, please call 916-978-5100 (TTY 916-978-5608) or email mppublicaffairs@usbr.gov.

Written comments are due by Monday, August 13, 2012, and may be mailed to Mr. Bradley Hubbard, Bureau of Reclamation, 2800 Cottage Way, MP-410, Sacramento, CA 95825, emailed to bhubbard@usbr.gov or faxed to 916-978-5290.

To request a copy of the draft documents or for additional information, please contact Mr. Hubbard at 916-978-5204. Copies of the documents may also be viewed at Reclamation’s Sacramento office at the address listed above.

The CALFED Bay-Delta Program is a 30-year Program (2000-2030) among 25 federal and state agencies with responsibility in the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta. The Program is based on four major resource management objectives that guide its actions to achieving a Delta that has a healthy ecosystem and can supply Californians with a reliable water supply. Those objectives are levee system integrity, water quality, water supply reliability and ecosystem restoration. Reclamation plays a key role as the federal lead agency for implementation of water supply reliability actions in coordination with our state CALFED partner agencies.

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Jul 28 2012

ID: Comment sought on aquifer management

Published by under aquifer,Idaho

The Idaho Water Resource Board (IWRB) will receive comment on the proposed Treasure Valley Comprehensive Aquifer Management Plan (CAMP) during public hearings scheduled for Monday, September 10, 2012 in Caldwell at the Caldwell Public Library, 1010 Dearborn St., and Tuesday September 11, 2012 in Boise at the Idaho Water Center, 322 E. Front St. A copy of the proposed plan and associated documents are available on the Idaho Department of Water Resources Treasure Valley CAMP Web site.

In March 2010, the IWRB appointed an Advisory Committee comprised of representatives from water providers, local governments, utilities, business interests and conservation groups. Between April 2010 and June 2011 the committee held regular meetings. The result of those meetings is the proposed CAMP for the Treasure Valley. The proposed Treasure Valley CAMP was accepted for public review by the IWRB at its meeting on May 18, 2012. After considering public comment and reviewing the proposed plan, the IWRB will consider adopting a final plan for submission to the 2013 Idaho Legislature.

The IWRB will hold a 60-day public comment period from August 1 to September 30.

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Jul 28 2012

OR: Man charges for illegal water use

Published by under Oregon

On July 11, a Jackson County Circuit Court Jury convicted Eagle Point resident Gary A. Harrington on nine counts, each related to the unauthorized use of water. Under Oregon law, all water is publicly owned, and those who wish to use it for their own purposes must obtain a water right permit issued by the Oregon Water Resources Department. State law grants various exceptions to this requirement, including an exception for collecting precipitation water that gathers on an artificial impervious surface, such as a rooftop or parking lot; in rain barrels, for example.   
           
Harrington stored and used water illegally by placing dams across channels on his property and preventing the flow of water out of these artificial reservoirs without obtaining a water right permit. The height of each dam varies; two dams stand about ten feet tall and the third stands about 20 feet tall. The total amount of water collected behind these dams totals about 40 acre feet; enough to fill almost 20 Olympic?sized swimming pools. These man?made reservoirs feature boat docks, boats, and were stocked by Harrington with trout and Bluegill for recreational fishing.

The state first identified Harrington’s illegal water use more than ten years ago and initiated enforcement action to discontinue his illegal use of water. After numerous attempts by OWRD and the Watermaster to achieve voluntary compliance, the Department enlisted the assistance of the Oregon State Police in 2002. Citations were issued, and Harrington pleaded guilty to several violations. He was assessed a nominal fine and ordered to drain the three reservoirs, which he did. However, Harrington again closed the headgates in 2004 and refilled the reservoirs. As a result, OWRD and the Oregon State Police submitted reports to the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office alleging additional violations of Oregon water law. That office filed misdemeanor charges against Harrington, and in 2008 he pled guilty to one count. He was issued another fine, placed on one year probation, and was again ordered to drain the reservoirs.  

According to testimony in the most recent trial, the day after Harrington’s probation expired, he again closed the outlet valves and refilled the reservoirs. The District Attorney’s Office enlisted the help of the Oregon Department of Justice, charges were once again filed in Jackson County Circuit Court, and on July 11, 2012, a jury found Harrington guilty of all nine counts.  

The Court sentenced Mr. Harrington to 30 days in jail and three years’ probation, and imposed a $1,500 fine. Judge Timothy Gerking also ordered that the headgates holding back the water be opened and kept open with locks and chains. He also ordered the dams to be breached after the water is drained.

“Mr. Harrington has operated these three reservoirs in flagrant violation of Oregon law for more than a decade,” noted OWRD Deputy Director Tom Paul. “We rely on the judicial system to maintain the rule of law and the Court’s conviction and sentencing in this case has done just that.”

Officials with the Department, in conjunction with the State Police, plan to visit the site during the next several days in order to confirm Harrington’s compliance with court orders.

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Jul 26 2012

ID: Fine tuning adjudication’s end

Judge Eric Wildman on June 28 issued his decision and order on a challenge to a plan for delivering a final unified decree in the SRBA.
There were numerous challenges, involving a long list of parties and law firms in various ways weighing in on the final decree.

“Whether the term ‘persons’ rather than the term ‘parties’ should be used in reference to those who are bound by the Uniform Final Decree?”
“Whether duplicates of partial decrees entered pursuant to federal reserved water right settlement should be included in Attachment 2 to the Final Unified Decree with a remark cross-referencing the applicable settlement documents included in Attachment 4?”

“Whether the Court should issue a new order clarifying the definitions of de minimis ‘domestic’ and ‘stock water’ claims and the procedures for adjudicating deferred claims?”

“Whether the Final Unified Decree should include language clarifying that the results of water right transfers initiated and completed after the entry of a partial decree but prior to the entry of the Final Unified Decree are not superseded by the Final Unified Decree?”

“Whether the Final Unified Decree should include a finding that ‘Each partial decree was the result of a specific factual investigation related to the underlying water right,’ and that “Because the evidence adduced for each partial decree varied, the Final Unified Decree does not address what evidence is admissable in any subsequent proceeding?”

“Whether the Final Unified Decree should include a finding that the elements of each water right reflect the extent of beneficial use as of November 19, 1987?”

“Whether the Final Unified Decree should state that the quantity element of each water right defines the maximum amount of water that may be diverted?”

“Whether the tolling of the forfeiture period during the SRBA precludes the Director from considering beneficial use in water distribution proceedings?”

The first four of those, Wildman noted, were not opposed and “the Court set forth on the record at oral argument that it concurred with the reasoning in support of the Challenge and would adopt the proposal advanced by the party who raised the issue.”

The next four, sought by the city of Pocatello and several ground water districts, involved more complex questions, to “define the scope of the preclusive effect of the partial decrees included in the Final Unified Decree …”

Wildman said he “rejects the inclusion of the proposed provisions. As a general matter, the Court declines to include provisions in the Final Unified Decree for the purpose of advising or influencing tribunals in future proceedings as to the legal effect of a partial decree issued in the SRBA. The issue of what pre-decree evidence may be discoverable, relevant and/or admissable in a given future post-decree proceeding is simply not an issue propoerly before this Court at this time and will not be considered.”

He ordered that the term “persons” rather than “parties” would be used in the final order.

He said that “duplicates of partial decrees entered pursuant to federal reserved water right settlements should be included in Attachment 2.”

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Jul 26 2012

AZ: New appropriation form issued

Published by under Arizona

Effective August 3, 2012, there is a new Application For Permit To Appropriate Public Water Of The State Of Arizona For Instream Flow Purposes and instructions which reflect the new statutory requirements of A.R.S. § 45-152.01.

Application for Permit to Appropriate Public Water of the State of Arizona for Instream Flow Purposes.

“A Guide to Filing Applications for Instream Flow Water Rights in Arizona” published December, 1991 is withdrawn.

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Jul 23 2012

CA: Docs released on Westlands delivery

The Bureau of Reclamation on July 23 released final environmental documents for the delivery of up to 5,000 acre-feet per year of Byron Bethany Irrigation District’s non-Central Valley Project water to Westlands Water District via the San Luis Canal.

A 2010 environmental document analyzed the execution of five-year Warren Act Contracts for Banta-Carbona Irrigation District, Byron Bethany Irrigation District, Patterson Irrigation District, and West Stanislaus Irrigation District. The five-year Warren Act Contracts allowed for the conveyance and storage per contractor of up to 10,000 acre-feet per year of non-Central Valley Project surface water in the Delta-Mendota Canal through February 28, 2016.

This Final Supplemental Environmental Assessment and Finding of No significant Impact is for the additional points of delivery to Westlands Water District, the only change to the 2010 environmental assessment.

The Final SEA/FONSI were prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, and are available online at http://www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_projdetails.cfm?Project_ID=5198.

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Jul 21 2012

NM: Drought pressures Rio Chama area

Published by under New Mexico

The New Mexico Office of the State Engineer/Interstate Stream Commission is reaching out to Rio Chama area water users to collaborate and explore ways to mitigate the current limited amount of native Rio Chama water supplies and find solutions to the possible need to curtail surface water diversions in August. The drought substantially reduced the supply of native water in the Rio Chama. The remaining water downstream of Abiquiu Reservoir is imported to the Rio Grande from the San Juan Basin. This imported water is not available to Rio Chama irrigators.

Senior irrigators on the Rio Chama, located below the Abiquiu dam, may be required to severely reduce or stop their diversions for irrigation purposes starting in mid-August. This situation could trigger a priority call to administer water against junior water users upstream, located near the headwaters of the Rio Chama in the vicinity of Tierra Amarilla and the Village of Chama.

The Office of the State Engineer/Interstate Stream Commission is working with community members to identify alternatives and avoid the need to strictly curtail surface water diversions. Our staff is optimistic area communities and Acequia leaders will team with hydrologists, local and state agencies, and tribal representatives to produce viable solutions which protect San Juan Chama Project releases and allow surface water rights holders along the lower Rio Chama, primarily agricultural water rights, to use native water.

“The severe and prolonged drought has impacted our rivers and increased pressure on our citizens. We are reaching out to the area Acequia Associations to let them know our concerns. The farmers along the acequias are as important to us as the municipalities or larger irrigation districts,” said Interstate Stream Commission Director Estevan López.

Currently, nearly all of the water flowing within the Rio Chama downstream of Abiquiu Reservoir is water imported to the Rio Grande Basin (in the Rio Chama valley) from the San Juan Basin as part of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation San Juan Chama Project and is therefore not native to the river. That water is being released from storage in reservoirs for use by San Juan Chama contractors, is owned by them, and is not available for use by acequias of the Rio Chama Acequia Association. San Juan Chama contractors include: the Jicarilla Apache Nation, Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, Espanola, Los Alamos, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, City and County of Santa Fe and others. In addition, some of the San Juan Chama Project water is being released by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to meet required downstream endangered species flows near Albuquerque.

“Some of the water rights on the Rio Chama are the oldest in the state of New Mexico and were established over 400 years ago,” said State Engineer Scott Verhines. “We are looking at the entire watershed, considering how junior water users impact senior users, and meeting with community representatives to determine alternatives to get through the growing season. If New Mexico is united in our responses to this dry summer, we can be resilient and ensure senior water rights holders have access to water.

The Rio Chama Acequia Association has been working with staff at the NMOSE/ISC and the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District over the past decade to offset their use of water in times of drought by purchasing San Juan Chama Project water from various San Juan Chama contractors. This innovative approach has been successful to date. Unfortunately, prolonged, severe drought conditions will force the RCAA to exhaust their limited supply of San Juan Chama Project water in the immediate future. MRGCD will likely stop its releases of stored water in mid-August, having exhausted their irrigation supplies for this year.

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Jul 20 2012

ID: New state water director

Published by under Idaho

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter on July 11 named Gary Spackman director of the Idaho Department of Water Resources, where Spackman has been interim director for the past three years.

Spackman – a 26-year veteran of State government – previously was administrator of the department’s Water Management Division, manager of the agency’s Western Regional Office, and a hearing officer on contested water rights cases. He became interim director in June 2009 with the resignation of Director David Tuthill.

Spackman, who grew up on a small dairy farm, has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural and irrigation engineering from Utah State University and a law degree from Brigham Young University. He is a registered professional civil engineer and practiced law in southeastern Idaho before going to work for the State.

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Jul 20 2012

NM: Regular water report released

Published by under New Mexico

A review of key accomplishments and challenges faced by the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer/Interstate Stream Commission during fiscal years 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 is documented in the combined annual report, which is now available on the agency’s web site.

“A small number of the annual reports were printed again this year to save paper and printing costs, and we have posted the document on the website for the public to access,” said State Engineer Scott Verhines. “The report highlights the passage of key legislation including the creation of a regional water district in eastern New Mexico, and the Claims Resolution Act of 2010 signed by President Barack Obama, as well as the status of adjudications and important basin-specific activities, among other items.”

The report can be found on the Office of the State Engineer/Interstate Stream Commission website. The annual report is produced as required by state statute (NMSA 1978, Section 72-2-5).

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