Thursday, September 26, 2019

Community Resilience through Dam Removal


Business and community members in Ojai have started a monthly "Green Drinks" meeting at the new Topa Topa Brewery.  The video below is the August 19 presentation on Matilija Dam


Public Advocacy Group Sues over State Water


The California Water Impact network (C-WIN), a Santa Barbara based organization, has filed a lawsuit against the City of Ventura's EIR for the proposed State Water Interconnection Project.  The suit formalizes complaints often brought up by local residents that the City has not put a good faith effort into developing local water solutions to maintain our current independence from imported water.

For 30 years, C-WIN has advocated for the sustainable use of California's fresh water resources, and intervened in issues associated with the State Water Project.  Their 2017 report demonstrates the cost impacts and consequences for State Water Project (SWP) participation to date, utilizing the experience of Santa Barbara County Coastal Aqueduct Project as an example of the statewide problem that will be encountered if the Twin Tunnels comes to fruition.  The 'Santa Barbara Report' exposes the underlying problem of "paper water;"  C-WIN spent three years gathering ... information through Public Records Act requests and Freedom of Information Act requests and found that consumptive water rights claims are at least 5 1⁄2 times more than available supply.  

Santa Barbara County has paid and will continue to pay extremely high costs for minimal amounts of the SWP water, largely due to the low reliability of the SWP. Actual delivery of SWP water between 1998 and 2015 for the four South Coast water agencies (Montecito, the City of Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria) was only 28% of full contract amounts, despite the fact that Santa Barbara County voters were told in 1991 ballot information that the State Water Project was expected to deliver 97% of contract amounts to urban water users.

C-WIN's action should serve as a wake-up to residents that rely on the Ventura River for their water supply.  Their experience in Santa Barbara highlights the expense and unreliability of imported water, and they warn that the resources wasted on "paper water" would be better spent on protecting and enhancing our local supplies.





C-Win Press Release:

Public Advocacy Group Sues the City of Ventura over State Water Interconnection Pipeline


Project EIR fails to demonstrate water reliability, fails to evaluate the impacts of state water on the community and fails to evaluate alternatives. 


September 9, 2019 (Ventura, CA) — On September 4, 2019 the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) filed a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Challenge against the City of Ventura’s approval of the State Water Interconnection Pipeline project based on a faulty Environmental Impact Report. The city is acting as the lead agency for the project, which proposes a seven-mile pipeline connecting the water systems of Calleguas (via the Metropolitan Water District) and Ventura, seeking to facilitate local dependence on state water from the water-scarce California Delta flowing to the Casitas, United and Ventura water districts.


C-WIN challenges the project’s inability to meet its own water reliability objectives and the City’s refusal to study local alternatives and major project impacts—including the major costs and risks of state water—as required by CEQA.


The Interconnection Project is a major step backward from the growing recognition that local dependence on state water is a problem, not a solution, for water reliability and the environment. State water must be exported from the California Delta, from which the state has allocated 5.5 times more than is available. State water is so oversubscribed that the courts have identified more than half of its allocation as unreliable “paper water”. The Delta Reform Act of 2009 requires that regions south of the Delta reduce their dependence on the Delta watershed. The City knows that state water is unreliable and that deliveries of state water will be negligible in times of drought. In March 2019, Ventura published a draft EIR for its Ventura Water Supply Project, confirming that state water from the Interconnection Project would be unreliable. The findings were wrongly excluded from the Interconnection Project EIR.


The cost of state water will cripple Ventura’s ability to explore and develop sustainable regional solutions. Districts under contract with the State Water Project (SWP) pay based on their full allocation whether or not they receive any water. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) often sets and increases rates for state water without local input. As an example, when Santa Barbara County agreed to connect to the SWP in 1991, voters were told the cost would be $270 million with 97% reliability. The actual cost, including bond interest, has been $1.7 billion for, on average, 28% of their allocation. Once a district is dependent upon the state water system, they’re responsible for the costs of the maintenance and new infrastructure of the entire SWP conveyance system. Ratepayers have no direct input and no ability to opt out of these maintenance and infrastructural decisions. The stated Ventura pipeline project estimate of $50 million does not include the exorbitant additional costs and risks of state water.


The EIR for the Interconnection Project evaded assessing the major impacts of growth encouraged by the false perception of state water availability. When the SWP predictably fails to ensure reliable deliveries, demands on other depleted sources such as groundwater, the Ventura River and Lake Casitas will only increase when it is too late to plan for integrated improvements in local water resilience.


When it approved the State Water Interconnection Project, the Ventura City Council ignored an important event in the City’s earlier water history. In 1992, Ventura’s voters rejected connecting to the SWP and indicated they would prefer desalination to reliance on state water. There has not been a vote since. Moreover, the potential for conservation and other local water resilience options has only grown in the years since that vote, as have the compelling reasons for rejecting state water.


The California Water Impact Network is a state-wide organization that advocates for the equitable and sustainable use of California’s fresh water resources for all Californians. 


More information:
       www.c-win.org
       Santa Barbara Report https://www.c-win.org/the-santa-barbara-report



In the news:

Ventura's awash in water litigation. This time, the target is state water, VC Star, Sept 13, 2019