Outcomes of No. Cal. Instream Flows Hearing

To All,

This is a short update on the outcome of the AB – 2121 hearing

As it stands there were substantitive changes to the language – from just prior to the hearing and from the hearing itself – that were improvements on issues of our concern.  This changes are now on the State Board web-site – and open for comment to Friday (noon?).  The Board is to vote on the final language – Tuesday the 5th.

As many of us have said the policy is not perfect. It is a substantial step forward – and should be approved so we can begin the task of addressing instream flow maintenance issues.

The new an improved language addressed issues of:

Criteria related to cumulative effects analysis (cumulative diversion analysis) – mostly related to criteria related to site specific plans – have been improved.

Standards for flow monitoring have been improved

Clarity of Policy language is improved – conflicting statements have been removed.

Of note:

The real issue on the site specific plans will be the ability of Water Board, responsible agencies, and the public to administer and track responsible administration of the promulgation and enforcement of these site specific plans – based on science, good data collection, and appropriate application of control language/permitting conditions.

Tom Lippe (representing Living Rivers) – pointed out failures in the CEQA process.  If litigation does occurr, the hope is  that the litigatory process does not inhibit the application of the acceptable aspects of the policy while the areas in contention are worked out in court.

T/U submitted language for alternative  diversion methodology that would allow for longer season of diversion  – which includes lower percentage or rate of diversion.  The argument supporting this proposal would be that the low rate of diversion may be more protective of stream flows (especially in smaller watersheds).  It is not clear if the Board will include this alternative methodology language.

Some municipal and private water company diverters (notably the Sea Ranch) indicated concerns that future alterations of permits (including changing points of diversion – and related mapes) would put their existing permits in jeopardy (and subject them to a re-allocation process).  The Board, and staff, made it clear that such changes in permits (if they were not going to adversely effect instream flows) were exempt .  The Sea Ranch folks could not get this idea and unreasonably and embarrassing vocal on this subject.