GSP workshop Summary
On April 1st the Community Water Leaders Network hosted its first ever workshop. At the event, representatives from eleven different groundwater dependent central valley communities learned about the process for developing Groundwater Sustainability Plans, a key component of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).
Groundwater Sustainability Plans, which are due for most valley areas in 2020, will have three central components: 1) A description of the plan area and current groundwater conditions 2) Sustainability Criteria that establishes minimum standards and management objectives for the groundwater basin and 3) Projects, management actions and a monitoring plan to achieve sustainability.
Workshop participants practiced setting sustainability criteria for the “undesirable results”, or negative impacts of over pumping groundwater, regulated by SGMA and calculated their groundwater basin’s overdraft using numbers from the State’s central valley groundwater model. They also brainstormed questions to ask consultants and discussed how groundwater models can and can’t help us in the SGMA process.
Thank you to everyone who attended and helped make the workshop such a great success! The workshop was so successful, in fact, that we are excited to announce we will be hosting another one in June for those who missed out this time around. An announcement will be sent out as soon as we have the date confirmed.
Participants at the April 1st Groundwater Sustainability Plan Workshop label the groundwater inputs and outputs in their basin.
Action Item: Senate Bill 623 -- Creating a New Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund
As many CWLN members know well, small water systems are often unable to meet drinking water standards because they cannot afford the cost of drinking water treatment. While state and federal grants are available to help construct the facilities needed for water treatment, currently there is no support available for ongoing operation and maintenance costs. This can result in treatment not being installed at all, or in communities raising their rates above what is affordable for their residents to sustain a treatment project.
For years, the State Water Board has called for the creation of a sustainable funding source to help fill this gap and support safe and affordable drinking water needs in California’s smallest communities. This year, Community Water Center and other drinking water advocates have made creating such a fund a top priority -- but we need your help to be successful.
We are sponsoring Senate Bill 623 (by Sen. Bill Monning) which would establish a new Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. The Fund would be authorized to provide interim drinking water supplies and to fund longer-term drinking water solutions, including O&M costs, for low-income communities that need drinking water treatment. The Fund would be administered by the Office of Sustainable Water Solutions at the State Water Resources Control Board, and it may also be used to finance a statewide low-income drinking water rate affordability program.
As a representative of a small water system, you are uniquely positioned to speak out about the need for sustainable funding. Here’s what you can do this month to support SB 623.
- Resolutions of Support -- We need Resolutions of support for SB 623 from Water Boards! Agendize this issue for your next board meeting and ask your board if they are willing to support the proposed Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. Here is link a to a SB 623 template resolution that you can use. To have the biggest impact on the legislative process, resolutions are needed by the end of May. Once adopted by your board, we can help submit the resolution for you, or provide you the information to do it yourself. Please let CWC staff know if you have questions or would like to discuss this action item further.
- Letters of Support from Board Members -- While formal resolutions of support from boards are most effective because they carry the weight of your public agency with them, letters of support from individuals are also influential, especially when they come from community leaders like board members and school officials! If you don’t have enough time to get a resolution from your board or your board does not want to take a formal position, writing a letter is good option to show your support for operations and maintenance funding. Here is a link to a template letter of support, or you can write your own. Once, signed, we can help submit the letter for you, or provide you the information to do it yourself. Please let CWC staff know if you have questions or would like to discuss this action item further.
Save the date: Water Affordability Roundtable May 23rd
For about a year the State Water Resources Control Board has been working on developing a plan to create a low-income rate assistance program for water to make sure California families are not forced to choose between water and other basic necessities. Similar programs are already in place for electricity and telecommunications and it is time that water, arguably the most fundamental service we receive, is added to that list. Between this work and a legislative campaign for assistance with operations and maintenance for small systems, water affordability is a very important topic these days. Which is exactly why, for our next roundtable, we will be talking about it!
Please join on us May 23rd from 6-8 PM at our Visalia office for a roundtable discussion on affordability! This important conversation (featuring dinner) will bring together board members from special drinking water districts, city council people and State Water Board staff and will be your chance to weigh in on how these efforts unfold as well as hear what other valley communities are already doing. Excitingly, we will be among the first to hear from the State Water Board on the analysis they did this winter and spring and their resulting recommendations as they prepare to do their next round of public workshops for the AB 401 process in June.
Invite your fellow board members and staff to come along! They won’t want to miss this important discussion.
Don’t miss our next Network Briefing: April 27, 4-5 PM
Network “briefings” are monthly conference calls that provide members the opportunity to connect with each other, crowd-source questions, and receive information from the comfort of their own homes. To join, simply dial (571) 317-3122, when prompted, enter the access code 611-041-917 followed by the pound key (#). Press # when prompted for the Audio Pin. Let Kristin know if you need a pre-paid calling card in order to call long-distance.
- Member updates and questions
- Regional and state updates and questions
- Monthly discussion topic: Tulare Lake Basin DAC water study
- April 26, 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM. RCAC in-person workshop. Monitoring & Water Quality. Holiday Inn Express (9010 West Front Rd) Atascadero, CA. Register for free at www.events.rcac.org.
- April 27, 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM. RCAC in-person workshop. Consumer Confidence Reports. Holiday Inn Express (9010 West Front Rd) Atascadero, CA. Register for free at www.events.rcac.org.
- May 2, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM. Online RCAC training. Board Basics: Budgeting. Register for free at www.events.rcac.org.
- May 16, 9:00 AM. State Water Resources Control Board Meeting: Public workshop on adoption of draft funding guidelines for drinking water for school grant program. More information at http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/grants_loans/ schools/.
- May 23, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM. Online RCAC training. Board Basics: Capital improvement planning. Register for free at www.events.rcac.org.
- May 24, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM. Online RCAC training. Consumer Confidence Reports. Register for free at www.events.rcac.org.
- May 31, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM. Online RCAC training. Board Basics: Rate setting. Register for free at www.events.rcac.org.
Resource of the Month:
Got groundwater questions? The Union of Concerned Scientists’ Groundwater Technical Assistance Tool can help! The tool aims to provide stakeholders, like you, with the technical resources they need to participate in the development of Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs). The questions you submit will be matched with an expert from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) Science Network who has the appropriate background to help you answer it. The Science Network is a community of scientists, engineers, public health professionals, and other technical experts who want to share their scientific skills with decision-makers and the public. The Science Network member will reach out to you with a response over phone or email, depending on which you prefer. The more details you can give as you fill out this form, the better the expert can answer your question!
You can submit a question to a Union of Concerned Scientist expert here http://bit.ly/2nr4dww or over the phone by calling (510) 809-1573. This is a pilot program so your feedback and suggestions to improve the tool are greatly appreciated. Contact Kate Cullen, with any questions or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org or the phone number above.
Integrated Regional Water Management
Have you heard about Integrated Regional Water Management Groups or IRWMPs before? If not, you are not alone. Although this water management program is nearly 15 years old a lot of people don’t know anything about it and many of those that do still have some questions about it.
So what exactly is IRWM? According to the Department of Water Resources (DWR)’s website “Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) is a collaborative effort to identify and implement water management solutions on a regional scale that increase regional self-reliance, reduce conflict, and manage water to concurrently achieve social, environmental, and economic objectives.” The IRWM program started in 2002 when the state legislature passed the Regional Water Management Planning Act (SB 1672) which aimed to incentivize this type of collaborative, multi-jurisdiction, multi-stakeholder planning at the watershed level through the creation of Integrated Regional Watershed Management Plans (IRWMPs). To incentivize people to participate, the state has directed made water bond money available to IRWM projects that are applied for through these local groups. Since their creation, $1.5 billion in funding has been provided to local watershed groups, or IRWMs, making it one of the larger funding sources in the state. Proposition One alone includes $510 Million for IRWMs. This funding is one important reason to know about IRWM. Another important reason to pay attention to IRWM is that other state programs sometimes require a project to be part of a local IRWM plan in order to be eligible for funding.
As part of the Proposition One IRWM funding, there is also a program specifically for Disadvantaged Communities (DACs). The creation of Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) planning has significantly altered California’s approach to water management. As the program has evolved, however, there have been ongoing challenges to engaging and addressing the needs of Disadvantaged Communities (DACs) through these voluntary regional planning/funding efforts. In response, in addition to numerous state and local efforts better understand and address DAC involvement in IRWMs, proposition 84 included a provision requiring a minimum of 10% of the total state funds to be used for DAC projects. Despite the funding target, however, many barriers still exist to getting DAC projects submitted and funded through the IRWM process and questions remain as to how best ensure that projects are benefiting the most vulnerable and underserved communities. As such, in addition to a 10% requirement for funding DAC projects, Proposition 1 includes an additional provision allocating 10% of each region’s total funding towards increasing the involvement of DACs, Economically Distressed Areas (EDAs) and other underrepresented communities.
There are many IRWM groups in the Central Valley, most of which are similar to the groundwater basins you may be familiar with through SGMA (in the Central Valley most of our water comes from groundwater so it makes sense to base our watersheds on groundwater basins). Each IRWM group is set up differently so if you are interested in getting involved the best thing to do is contact your local group. A list of contacts can be found on the DWR website here: http://www.water.ca.gov/irwm/grants/ or contact Kristin for help.