SWRCB Considers Curtailing Pre-1914 Rights in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Watershed
On Friday, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) issued a notice signaling its intent to consider a drought emergency regulation for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed.
The emergency regulation would allow the SWRCB to issue curtailment orders to pre-1914 water rights holders in the Delta watershed to protect water supplies necessary to meet human health and safety needs, preserve stored water needed to prevent salinity from the ocean from intruding into the Delta and to minimize impacts to fish and wildlife. The regulation would curtail all pre-1914 appropriative water rights in the San Joaquin River watershed, and would, affect diverters in the Sacramento River watershed with a priority date of 1883 or later (though some water rights with earlier priority dates may also be curtailed within certain Sacramento River tributaries).
The proposed regulation covers around 5,000 users in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta area, with exemptions only for human health and safety and non-consumptive uses. This is the newest in a slew of emergency diversion curtailments, with the last being released just over a week ago regarding the Scott/Shasta River watersheds. Notably, this is the second proposed emergency regulation curtailing diversions from the Delta: In June the SWRCB issued a notice of unavailability for all post-1914 water rights in the Delta.
Under the emergency regulation, all water right-holders issued a curtailment order are required, within seven calendar days of the date of the curtailment order, to submit under penalty of perjury a certification of one or more actions taken in response to the curtailment order.
While rightsholders will be mailed any curtailments issued under the emergency regulation, within the draft emergency regulation it does state that water right-holders and claimants in the Delta watershed must either subscribe to the Delta Drought email distribution list, or frequently check the SWRCB’s drought webpage to receive updated information regarding water diversion curtailment and reporting orders and water unavailability. A list of water rights for which water is unavailable under the emergency regulation can be found here.
It should be noted that curtailment orders do not implicate water already diverted to storage in stock ponds and other reservoirs. The SWRCB has clarified that “curtailment of water rights does not limit the use of water previously stored in a pond or reservoir. Therefore, uses of previously stored water authorized by a permit, license, registration or certificate can continue.”
The SWRCB will provide information about and accept public comment on the draft emergency regulation at a staff workshop tomorrow from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and at the August 3 Board meeting. Information on participating in tomorrow’s staff workshop is available here, and a live webcast of the workshop will be available on CalEPA’s website, here. The SWRCB is also accepting written comments on the draft emergency regulation, which must be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org, with a copy to Bay-Delta@waterboards.ca.gov, by Thursday at noon.
Governor Declares Wildfire Emergency in Alpine, Butte, Lassen and Plumas Counties
On Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation declaring a state of emergency in Plumas County due to the Dixie and Fly fires, in Butte and Lassen counties due to the Dixie Fire and in Alpine County due to the Tamarack Fire.
According to a press release issued by the Governor’s office, the state of emergency is necessary because “The fires collectively have destroyed homes, caused the evacuation of residents and damaged critical infrastructure, with the Dixie Fire alone having burned 142,940 acres.” The emergency declaration provides impacted counties with greater access to state resources to combat the blazes
The designations come on the heels of a similar emergency proclamation issued by the Governor on July 16 declaring a state of emergency in Siskiyou County due to the Lava Fire and in Lassen and Plumas counties due to the Beckwourth Complex Fire.
CCA will continue to keep membership informed about state and federal responses to wildfires within the state. Additional information about these and other wildfire incidents can be found via Cal Fire and InciWeb.
UPDATED: SWRCB to Consider Curtailments for Scott and Shasta River Watersheds
Earlier this month, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) issued a notice signaling its intent to consider a drought emergency regulation for the Scott River and Shasta River watersheds.
The SWRCB held a public meeting on the draft emergency regulation last Tuesday, a recording of which is available here.
The emergency regulation would allow the SWRCB to issue curtailment orders to water rights holders to ensure minimum flows to protect certain salmon species. Importantly, the draft emergency regulation provides a pathway for rightholders who receive a curtailment order to continue diverting minimum quantities of water necessary for livestock watering – approximately 15 gallons per day, or 30 gallons per day during an excessive heat warning issued by the National Weather Service.
Diverters within the Scott and Shasta River watersheds are encouraged to subscribe to the SWRCB’s “Scott-Shasta Drought” mailing list for updates (after filling out your “Signup Details” at the top of the page, click “Water Rights,” select “Scott-Shasta Drought” in the right hand column and click the blue “Subscribe” button under “Signup Details”).
It should be noted that curtailment orders do not implicate water already diverted to storage in stockponds and other reservoirs. The SWRCB has clarified that “curtailment of water rights does not limit the use of water previously stored in a pond or reservoir. Therefore, uses of previously stored water authorized by a permit, license, registration or certificate can continue.”
PLC Introduces Emergency and Disaster Tool Dashboard
Last week, CCA affiliate the Public Lands Council (PLC) unveiled a new Emergency and Disaster Tool Dashboard. According to PLC, the dashboard was developed “In response to persistent drought conditions and pervasive wildfire conditions across the West,” and “outlines federal disaster and emergency programs available to producers who need assistance.”
The dashboard also includes some non-federal assistance programs, such as programs established by certain western states and information regarding the Internet Hay Exchange.
While not as extensive as PLC’s dashboard, the CCA website also provides details about federal wildfire disaster assistance available for ranchers. Additionally, a recording of a CCA-sponsored webinar held last November regarding Post-Fire Relief and Recovery Programs for Ranchers can be viewed here.
Webinar: Grazing on public lands: what are there true costs?
Last year, CCA communicated about working closely with researchers at the University of Wyoming (UW) to analyze the non-fee costs of grazing livestock on public lands. The research was funded by CCA-affiliate the Public Lands Council (PLC).
PLC is now hosting a webinar on August 4th at 5 p.m. PST to highlight this research work that was conducted by Kasey Dollerschell. PLC says Dollerschell’s research “is vital to the understanding of the investments made by permittees that go far beyond the federal grazing permit rate.”
This webinar is free, but please register in advance by clicking here. To learn more about the webinar click here.
Senator Booker Reintroduces Farm System Reform Act
Earlier this month, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) reintroduced the Farm System Reform Act of 2021. Bay Area Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA17) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Act, which Booker alleges is an attempt “to transition to a more sustainable and humane system,” would restore mandatory county-of-origin labeling and would significantly curtail the operation of large confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), among other provisions.
The bill is identical to legislation that Booker previously introduced on December 16, 2019. Legislative Bulletin noted at that time that “It is unlikely that Congress will take any significant action on Senator Booker’s proposal: many provisions of the Act are opposed by Republicans and Democrats alike, and were largely ignored during Congressional debate on the Farm Bill.” Indeed, the bill never received a hearing in the Senate.
CCA affiliate the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) released a blistering statement in response to the newly-reintroduced legislation, calling it “the kind of broad, jumbled mess you get when you’re more focused on Twitter and talking points than the sound legislating rural Americans need.” NCBA’s statement further noted that “95 percent of cattle raised in the United States visit a feedyard. Feeding operations aren’t antithetical to small, family-owned farms and ranches — they’re part and parcel of the same, symbiotic supply chain that produces the most nutritious, sustainable beef in the world.”
CCA is tracking the Farm System Reform Act of 2021 and will keep you informed on developments (if any) regarding Sen. Booker’s legislation.
USDA Soliciting Public Input on Meat Processing Infrastructure
As previously detailed in Legislative Bulletin, President Joe Biden’s July 9 Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy and a subsequent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) press release announcing the agency’s intention “to make significant investments to expand processing capacity and increase competition in meat and poultry processing to make agricultural markets more accessible, fair, competitive, and resilient for American farmers and ranchers.” USDA’s announcement included a commitment of “$500 million in American Rescue Plan funds to expand meat and poultry processing capacity.”
Now, USDA is soliciting public feedback on how it should invest those $500 million in funds. On July 16, the agency filed a request for public comment in the Federal Register “seeking input from the public on how to invest an estimated $500 million of American Rescue Plan funds to improve infrastructure, increase capacity, and hasten diversification across the processing industry.”
The request for public feedback poses several specific questions within six broad categories: (1) general considerations, (2) fair treatment of farmers & workers and ownership considerations, (3) loans and other financing considerations, (4) grant considerations, (5) technical assistance considerations and (6) partnerships and combined funding considerations.
Comments are due to USDA no later than August 30, and can be submitted here by clicking “Comment” in the upper left hand section of the page.
Finally, USDA will be scheduling a series of stakeholder meetings on this topic; CCA will keep members apprised of those meeting times as information becomes available.
LAST CHANCE: FSA Seeking Nominees for County Committee Members
Last month USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced it was starting to accept applications for county committee members. “Elections will occur in certain Local Administrative Areas (LAA) for these members who make important decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally,” an FSA press release states. “All nomination forms for the 2021 election must be postmarked or received in the local FSA office by Aug. 2, 2021.”
According to the release, “Agricultural producers who participate or cooperate in a USDA program, and reside in the LAA that is up for election this year, may be nominated for candidacy for the county committee. A cooperating producer is someone who has provided information about their farming or ranching operation to FSA, even if they have not applied or received program benefits.”
To learn more about the committee elections click here and to find out if you are located in an LAA with an election happening this year contact your local FSA office; you can find contact information for your local FSA office here.