On October 8, 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 389 (SB 389), which amended § 1051 of the Water Code to expand the investigatory authority of the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board). The bill was introduced by Senator Ben Allen of Santa Monica.
While the bill imbues the Water Board with additional investigatory authority to ascertain whether or not a water right is valid, it does not alter the statutory scheme for enforcement should the Water Board determine as part of an investigation that a particular diversion or use of water was not supported by a ...
We are excited to release the inaugural issue of Nossaman’s California Water Views – 2023 Outlook. April 1st is an important milestone in California’s water year – marking the annual snowpack assessment and related drought determination. We asked a number of our attorneys and policy advisors who are committed to the water sector to identify the pivotal issues they’re watching now and for the year ahead. …
On January 10, 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom announced his $297 billion budget proposal for 2023-2024, which includes a $22.5 billion budget deficit. Despite environmental/climate change programs facing $6 billion in cuts, Governor Newsom’s proposed budget includes relatively few negative impacts to water projects. In fact, the drought response and water resilience section, which includes the vast majority of water-related funding, only faces a cut of two percent, from $8.7 billion to $8.6 billion. That two percent reduction is the lowest of any environmental category. ...
At a board meeting on April 26, 2022, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (“the Met”) announced it would be requiring reductions in water usage from retail water suppliers that are dependent on water from the State Water Project. The reduction, which the Met took as a result of the severity of the state’s current drought, will apply to six million Californians covering Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties. The impacted retail water suppliers are Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Three Valleys Municipal Water District, Upper San Gabriel ...
Recently, I authored a post for DeltaCurrents, the Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management's blog. The focus of the piece is on the ways in which science can play a role in the success of the so-called Voluntary Agreements (VAs). The VAs are an alternative to an adjudicatory water-rights proceeding as a means for the State Water Resources Control Board to implement updated water quality objectives for California’s Bay-Delta and its tributary rivers.
A number of federal, state, and local agencies took a significant first step toward negotiation of VAs by ...
The past few weeks have been active ones for California in assessing the severity of its current drought and how it plans to manage its water during the third year of that drought. On top of other, more localized action, California released its report on 2021 groundwater conditions, evaluated current snowpack conditions and Governor Newsom issued an executive order directing action affecting 2022 water usage.
2021 Groundwater Conditions Report
On April 4, 2022, the California Department of Water Resources (“DWR”) issued its Groundwater Conditions Report for Water Year 2021 ...
On November 18, 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) announced the availability of a pre-publication version of a proposed rule (Proposed Rule) to amend the definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS). This much anticipated rulemaking is the latest attempt by the agencies to provide regulatory clarity on what water features are subject to the protections of the Clean Water Act.
The agencies did not announce a date for official Federal Register publication, but once published, the Proposed Rule will have a 60-day comment period ...
On September 3, 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) announced the agencies will abandon the definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS) set forth in the April 21, 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) and will instead rely on the pre-2015 regulatory framework. The agencies’ announcement comes on the heels of a decision from the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona vacating the NWPR. …
On August 30, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona vacated the April 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule in which the Trump Administration revised the definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS). The court is still weighing whether (a) to restore the Obama-era WOTUS rule, which more broadly defines jurisdictional areas; or (b) simply to undo the Trump rollback, which would result in a return to pre-Obama WOTUS regulations.
This ruling affects those states within the jurisdiction of the court and may apply more broadly within the jurisdiction of the U.S ...
At the end of July, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the Biden administration will begin working to create a “durable definition” of Waters of the United States (WOTUS). EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have announced that they “are committed to developing a reasonable, effective, and durable definition of WOTUS that protects public health, the environment, and downstream communities while supporting economic opportunity, agriculture, and other industries.” It is notable that the announcement did not mention specifically the ...
On June 23rd, California Coastkeeper Alliance (CCKA) filed the lawsuit California Coastkeeper Alliance v. County of Sonoma (Case No. SCV-268718) in Sonoma County Superior Court. According to CCKA’s website, the suit was filed “to compel the County of Sonoma to consider and mitigate impacts to public trust resources caused by unregulated and wasteful groundwater pumping in the Russian River watershed.” The organization went on to state, “This is an important move during this historic drought to protect salmon populations that are already at risk of extinction, and to ...
As the clock slowly ticks forward on California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) deadlines, earlier this month, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) issued its first assessments of groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs). Two groundwater sustainability agencies’ (GSAs) plans were approved: Santa Cruz Mid-County Basin in Santa Cruz County and 180/400 Foot Aquifer Subbasin in Monterey County. GSPs from the Cuyama Valley Basin and Paso Robles Subbasin were deemed to “lack specific details” and were not approved.
According to the DWR’s ...
The first 100 days of a new administration can define what lies ahead for the next four years. Join our panel of Nossaman Environment & Land Use attorneys from across the U.S. on April 15, 2021 from 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. PT as we review and evaluate the Biden administration’s first 100 days of policy moves involving environmental and natural resources management.
We will discuss efforts to fill leadership roles at CEQ, EPA, Interior, DOT and other federal agencies. Updates and analysis will be provided regarding key areas of policy, legislation and regulation, including:
- Climate ...
As of December 7, 2020, water has been included as a traded commodity on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (“the Merc”). According to a recent Chicago magazine article, “Now cities and farmers can buy futures in California’s water, meaning they can hedge against (or bet on) rising water prices out west, based on the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index [ticker symbol: NQH2O], which tracks the current market price of the five largest water supplies in the state…So far, only the Golden State’s water supply is being traded; it’s sort of a test run.”
Some see this move at the ...
President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump could mean big changes for federal treatment of issues affecting water service providers, as well as how such issues are addressed in California, where Governor Newsom will presumably now have an ally in the White House. At both the state and federal levels, legislators are still working to address the impact of COVID-19 on public health and the economy, while pursuing existing policy goals that may have been put on hold due to the challenges created by the pandemic.
To navigate these new changes, please join us on December 3, 2020 ...
California’s fourth annual Water Professionals Appreciation Week kicks off on October 3rd, highlighting the important role of water industry professionals and local public water agencies in ensuring safe and reliable water, wastewater and recycled water operations in California. Now more than ever, we appreciate the dedication of our highly trained operators, technicians and other specialists in the water sector.
Water Professionals Appreciation Week was established in 2017 by Senate Concurrent Resolution 80, by Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa). Recent labor studies estimate ...
Nossaman recently presented the webinar "WOTS Next? An Update on the Clean Water Act and Regulation of Waters of the State & Waters of the U.S." To hear some of the key points which I discussed concerning current WOTS permitting requirements, please click here for the overview of that topic from the webinar.
If you were not able to attend the full live session, we invite you to watch the on-demand webinar at your convenience. During this presentation, you will learn about:
- The current status of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule;
- The current status of the new federal Clean Water Act ...
Please join us along with our guest panelist, Thienan Pfeiffer, President & CEO of Glenn Lukos Associates, from 1:00 – 2:15 p.m. PT on July 16, 2020 for a timely webinar: "WOTS Next? An Update on the Clean Water Act and Regulation of Waters of the State & Waters of the U.S."
In the ever-shifting landscape of the Clean Water Act and Porter-Cologne jurisdiction, it can be difficult to determine whether you are engaging in activities that result in discharges of dredge, fill or pollutants to a Water of the United States (WOTUS) or Water of the State (WOTS), triggering regulatory permitting ...
California Water Views provides timely and insightful updates on the water sector in the state. We relay information on how water legislation and policy from the nation’s capital, Sacramento, and around the U.S. affect California’s water utilities, agencies, practitioners, and consumers. We also write about important events, conferences, legal cases, and other key happenings involving all things water in and around California.
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