Newsom Issues Executive Order to Protect Water Supply
Early last week, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order intended “to extend available [water] supplies, protect water reserves, and maintain critical flows for fish and wildlife.”
Perhaps the most significant provision of the Executive Order directs the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to “consider modifying requirements for reservoir releases or diversion limitations in Central Valley Project or State Water Project facilities to,” among other purposes, “provide opportunities to maintain or to expand water supplies north and south of the Delta.” This provision enables the SWRCB to waive certain water quality standards in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (intended to protect fish species such as Chinook salmon and Delta smelt) to improve reservoir levels and increase pumping to Southern California agricultural producers and cities. To enable the SWRCB’s modification, the Executive Order invokes the Governor’s emergency powers to suspend provisions of the Water Code and Public Resources Code relating to state actions which may impact water quality.
Shortly after Governor Newsom’s Executive Order was issued, the California Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation jointly filed a Temporary Urgency Change Petition with the SWRCB “to ensure the availability of an adequate water supply” for the Central Valley Project and State Water Project, citing the authority granted to the SWRCB under the Executive Order. The SWRCB is expected to act on the petition this week.
Newsom’s order also renews a term from a prior March 28, 2022 Executive Order which prohibits local agencies from issuing permits for new groundwater wells or for alterations to existing groundwater wells in medium- and high-priority groundwater basins unless the agency finds that the well would not be inconsistent with sustainable groundwater management and would not negatively impact adjacent wells or infrastructure.
Finally, the Executive Order directs state agencies to facilitate groundwater recharge projects and to streamline permitting for such projects, and to provide recommendations for “ongoing emergency drought response” to the Governor by April 28. Ahead of that date, CCA will encourage state agencies to recognize the benefits that ranching practices – including the development of livestock stock ponds – can have for groundwater recharge and drought resiliency.
FSA Accepting ECP Applications to Restore Damage from Severe Winter Storms
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has announced that it will accept applications through April 14 for Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) funds to address damages “to eligible farmland, fences, and conservation structures” caused by the series of severe atmospheric rivers which hit the state from late December to mid-January. Producers in 41 California counties are eligible for ECP funds. For more information, see last week’s edition of Legislative Bulletin.
USDA Designates Stanislaus Co. a Primary Natural Disaster Area Due to Excessive Heat
Earlier this month the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated Stanislaus County as a primary natural disaster area due to “Excessively high temperatures that occurred from September 1, 2022, through September 9, 2022.” Ranchers in Stanislaus County and bordering counties may be eligible for assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), including FSA emergency loans which can be used for purposes such as replacing equipment or livestock. The application deadline is September 13, 2023; for more information see last week’s edition of Legislative Bulletin.
SWRCB Again Extends Curtailment Suspensions Within Scott River Watershed
On Friday, the State Water Resources Control Board announced that curtailments in the Scott River watershed remain suspended through midnight next Monday, February 27, so long as flows of 200 cubic feet per second (cfs) are maintained at the Fort Jones gage (if flows dip below 200 cfs, diversion under all water rights listed here must immediately cease).
Otherwise, water rights curtailment suspensions and conditional curtailments remain unchanged from the statuses reported in the January 30 edition of Legislative Bulletin.
New Episode of Sorting Pen: The California Cattleman Podcast
On this week’s episode of Sorting Pen: The California Cattleman Podcast Katie caught up with the Public Land Council and NCBA’s Natural Resources Associate Director Sigrid Johannes during the 2023 Cattle Industry Convention earlier this month for a conversation on what the groups are working on in D.C. on behalf of California ranchers on both public and private lands. Hear about the two regulatory lawsuits NCBA recently filed in January against the Biden Administration and more in this episode. Click here to listen.
Rancher Technical Assistance Program Hosts Flood Assistance Webinar
The Rancher Technical Assistance Program hosted a Flood Assistance Webinar for ranchers and producers who may have been impacted by recent storms.
Navdeep Dhillon, the Farm Program Chief for USDA, Farm Service Agency in California provided and overview about the different programs available. These programs include:
Emergency low interest loans are available to those with a loss in access of 30%. The deadline to sign up must be within eight months of the disaster.
To view the webinar, click here. For further information on loan assistance programs click here. RTAP is a joint project developed by the California Cattlemen’s Foundation and Western Resource Strategies, LLC and funded by the California Cattle Council.
Small Business Administration Disaster Loans Available for Six Counties
Agricultural businesses in San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties impacted by recent winter storms and floods that began on Dec. 27, 2022, are eligible to apply for long-term, low interest direct federal loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
For further information on these loans click here.
Although the Economic Injury Deadline isn’t until Oct. 16, 2023, SBA advises submitting applications as soon as possible.
For further information on this funding click here.