July 2006 Newsletter

GROUNDWATER USERS GROUP RESPONDS TO STATE ACTIVITY

The Butte-Sutter Basin Area Groundwater Users has re-energized in response to the California Department of Water Resource's California Water Plan Update-A Framework for Action.

"The way we manage California's water resources is changing...Integrated regional water management is the future...because it will help regions diversify their water portfolio strategies and get the most for local state and federal resources and funding...The Department of Water Resources will continue to support general obligation bonds and non-general fund revenue sources to carry out long-term improvements in statewide water management systems while providing all customers with reliable water supplies". ---- Lester Snow. Director of DWR.

Two regional plans for Northern California are outlined in this newsletter: Northern California Water Association (NCWA) and Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District (GCID) have plans that envision additional groundwater pumping to enable statewide water transfers.

Neither plan has been developed with input from those who are totally dependent on groundwater; who have no other feasible source of water. Neither plan has any significant study of the groundwater recharge mechanisms or amounts. Both projects have received grants of $500,000 dollars in State Water Bond funds.

LEARNING FROM THE OGALLALA AQUIFER

The Lower Tuscan Aquifer is the deep confined aquifer where most ag wells in Butte County and all of CalWater's wells are located. As more studies have been conducted, boundaries of the aquifer have been revised. For example, when this organization was formed in 1992, it was believed that the Sacramento River was a physical boundary to the aquifer. Current DWR maps have the Lower Tuscan sloping deep under the river requiring wells in Glenn County to be drilled as deep as 1000' to reach it.

Current DWR estimate of the capacity of the Tuscan formation is 30 million acre feet. (This sounds like a lot until it is compared to the Ogallala, another confined aquifer in the Midwest). In 1990, the Ogallala was estimated to hold 3.27 Billion acre feet, but by 2002, testimony in the U.S. House Resources Committee revealed that large parts of the aquifer have less than 25 years of economic life remaining. Too late, they learned recharge is measured in millimeters/year, while the water table is dropping by feet/year.

Our aquifer holds less than 1% of the water in the Ogallala. Can we afford to repeat their mistake of mining fossil water? What is our real recharge rate?

Who is GCID and What are their Plans?

Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District (GCID) is located on the west side of the Sacramento River in Glenn and Colusa Counties.

They requested $499,940 for developing a water plan for GCID, Orland/Artois Water District, Orland Water Users' Association and the Natural Heritage Institute self-described as "a non-governmental, non-profit organization founded in 1989 by a group of experienced conservation lawyers and scientists who foresaw the need for a toolkit for the next era of environmental problem solving".

A statement from the State Prop 50 Evaluation Form explains "The applicant is proposing to develop an IRWMP (Integrated Regional Water Management Plan) for the lands overlying the Lower Tuscan Formation aquifer system in the Sacramento Valley, including Butte County, Glenn County, and Colusa County to satisfy three objectives: Improve local water supply reliability, Improve Central Valley system-wide water supply reliability through participation in the emerging water transfer markets(our emphasis), and Enhance ecosystems in the rivers of the Sacramento Valley".

Who is NCWA and What are their Plans?

Northern California Water Association (NCWA) is an association of more than seventy water agencies and districts stretching from Shasta to Sacramento. Over 70% of their members are water suppliers such as irrigation and reclamation districts, and water companies.

NCWA’s draft plan states that the "Northern California water suppliers (our emphasis) in partnership with local governments, environmental representatives and state and federal agencies continue to refine an "Integrated Regional Water Management Plan for the Sacramento Valley.

This plan has been developed by a Northern California Joint Exercise of Powers Agreement (Orland-Artois Water District, Princeton-Codora-Glenn Irrigation District, Provident ID, Reclamation District #108, Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority and the Yuba County Water Agency with NCWA as administrator)
There are two different Proposition 50 Evaluations online that relate to their Integrated Regional Water Management Program (IRWMP).
Proposal # 4764 received $499,980.
A larger request for $40 million, is described as “aproposal to obtain funding to implement projects to assist in meeting the Sacramento Valley IRWMP regional objectives, which are: Increase water supply reliability and availability; Protect surface water rights and groundwater aquifers; Implement the Sacramento Valley Water Management Agreement; Make water available for strategic transfers; Improve water quality; Improve environmental conditions, and Improve quantity and timing of flows to the Delta."