Tag Archives: california water news

State Makes Groundwater Capture Easier for Local Agencies

The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) announced late last week that it has streamlined requirements for applicants seeking to divert surface water to underground storage during floods and other high flow conditions in an effort to expedite its water right permitting process. Although the changes will have no impact on existing laws and regulations, the streamlined requirements will simplify the permitting pathway for capturing water during high flow events and storing that water underground, a process known as recharge. The new requirements will also reduce application filing fees and annual permit and license costs.

“Achieving groundwater sustainability is one of California’s most pressing water management challenges,” said State Water Board Chair E. Joaquin Esquivel. “With a more variable hydrology expected, it’s critical that we prepare to capture floodwaters and other high flows, increase groundwater recharge, and better prepare for the effects of climate change. These permitting revisions will help make that process more nimble and efficient, while still protecting fish and senior right holders.”

The new measures are expected to directly benefit groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) and similar local entities. Many such entities are struggling as they strive to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and replenish overdrafted groundwater basins. The SGMA became law in 2015 empowering local agencies to manage groundwater resources for long-term sustainability. The long-term planning requirement is designed to provide a buffer against drought and climate change and contributes to reliable water supplies, regardless of weather patterns.

The new streamlined process allows applicants to choose one of two diversion scenarios during the December-to-March time frame: (1) when a river or stream’s daily flows exceed the 90th percentile and no more than 20 percent of the total stream flow is taken; or (2) a flood control agency determines actions are needed to protect the public. Agencies who divert to underground storage and choose this less complicated approach must meet certain criteria and comply with a water availability analysis that monitors diversion of high flows during the winter.

“Umbrella” permitting allows a water right holder to manage the diversion, storage and extraction of water on a landowner-by-landowner basis, from one high flow event to the next, or from year to year, without additional approvals from the Board. GSAs are encouraged to pursue “umbrella” permitting to cover dozens and possibly hundreds of diversion locations in a watershed and large areas of use, such as a water district.

Currently, California depends on groundwater for a third of its annual water supply, and significantly more during droughts. New groundwater recharge projects will likely be proposed and implemented by many GSAs as part of sustainable groundwater management. The new streamlined recharge permitting measures are designed to help GSAs obtain water right permits faster to help meet timelines for achieving sustainability.


Story via californiawaternewsdaily.com

California Seizes Nearly One Million Marijuana Plants in Raid

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced earlier this week that the statewide Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), a multi-agency law enforcement task force managed by the California Department of Justice, has thus far this year eradicated 953,459 illegal marijuana plants from 345 grow sites across the state. The CAMP operations were led by the California Department of Justice and included local, state, and federal agencies. Agents were divided into three teams that encompass the Northern, Central and Southern California regions, with teams covering 35 counties in the state.

This year’s CAMP teams’ effort have been successful in protecting public resources against misuse and in safeguarding public land and water from illegal pesticides. Of special concern to water managers – and those who use and consume California’s water – are the use of banned pesticides such as carbofuran, methyl parathion, aluminum phosphate, and illegal fertilizers, discharged in large quantities from illegal marijuana grow sites and ultimately find their way into the waterways of California.

“Illegal cannabis grows are devastating our communities. Criminals who disregard life, poison our waters, damage our public lands, and weaponize the illegal cannabis black market will be brought to justice,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “This year, our CAMP teams worked tirelessly across the state to vigorously enforce California’s laws against illegal cannabis activity. The California Department of Justice (DOJ) is extremely proud of our partnership with federal, state, and local agencies and we look forward to continuing this necessary work.”

The CA DOJ’s partnerships with other enforcement agencies has included U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, California National Guard, California State Parks, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and dozens of local police and sheriff departments from across the state. This year’s CAMP program raided 345 grow sites across the state.

“USDA Forest Service law enforcement in California commend the collaboration and continuing efforts of our task force of partners in the yearly fight against illegal marijuana grows on public lands. This multi-faceted team approach is how we stay successful in mitigating these trespassers and the harmful destruction they intend on our land, water, wildlife and communities,” said Don Hoang, special agent in Charge of United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region.

CAMP was founded in 1983 with the primary objectives of “reducing the supply of marijuana to the illegal drug trade by eradicating the large marijuana crop sites; increasing public and environmental safety by removing marijuana growers from public and private lands; investigating indoor growing operations; deterring potential growers; and promoting public information and education on marijuana.” Although California voters legalized marijuana in 2016 (Proposition 64) and the law became effective in 2018, legalized growth of marijuana must adhere to strict regulations and seek the appropriate permits.

“Although cannabis has been legalized for use in California, there is still a large unlicensed black market,” said Robert Paoletti, coordinator colonel, California National Guard Counterdrug Task Force. “Our participation works to prevent this illegal market in order to promote a fair market place for those growers, producers, and vendors who choose to operate within the system that the voters approved.”

Story via californiawaternewsdaily.com