Just in: INITIAL STUDY AND PROPOSED NEGATIVE DECLARATION FOR THE: EWD Diffused Surface Water Program – Sand Creek Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) Project: Document 1, Document 2, EWD RCPP Full Proposal Submitted 2017, Partnership Project Focus Area Full Proposal, Letter of Commitment, Letter of Commitment Partners, Stanislaus County Cost Share Agreement
May 2016 Progress Report, Including Proposition 218 Election Progress Results
The basis for the now approved capital and operational water charges was illustrated in the October 22, 2015 ‘Water Charge Analysis Report’ completed by the Provost & Pritchard Consulting Group of Modesto. The period for submitting any property owner protest of these charges ended the day of the public hearing (December 17, 2015). After the final tally of protest received by the water district, it was determined that the roughly two-dozen protests received was less than 8% of the threshold necessary to delay implementation of the proposed charges. The water district Board of Directors acted in January 2016 to implement the initial capital charge for the 2016-17 fiscal year. Landowners will see this $30 per-acre charge in their tax bill this year. The initial operation charge will be considered by the water district and likely appear in fiscal year 2017-18 tax bills.
In February, March, and April your Eastside Water District (EWD) Board of Directors developed its work plan for the 2016-17 fiscal year. An action by the Governor late in 2015 has given the EWD an opportunity to temporarily acquire a right to collect surface water from Mustang and Sand Creeks in addition to its plan to collect diffused surface water from Turlock Irrigation District’s (TID) Highline Canal. The Governor’s action allows EWD to secure a temporary water right for the creeks’ flow to help his statewide effort to store as much of the expected El Nino surface water flow as possible into the ground for the benefit of the groundwater aquifers. So, in addition to the projects proposed by EWD to date, applying for use of the waters from Mustang Creek and Sand Creek in associated projects to recharge the aquifer have been added to EWD’s project list.
The quantity of water available from these added work efforts magnifies the impact of the original Diffused Surface Water Project (DSWP) by at least four-fold. In other words, assuming the DSWP on average would provide 2,500 AF annually to the aquifer; adding waters from these two creeks has the potential of adding on average over 10,000 AF annually. For this reason, the EWD Board of Director has directed its water consultant to pursue the temporary water rights as a first priority project.
To be clear, the projects discussed in the 2014 and 2015 workshops leading up to approval of the DSWP are still expected to be constructed. These include diverting diffused surface water for field-flooding, and dry-well and basin direct recharge facilities. Due to the more effective projects proposed on Mustang and Sand Creeks, these projects have simply been delayed for a time.
The EWD has also organized a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) formation committee; made up of interested governmental and non-governmental organizations located between the Tuolumne and Merced Rivers and east of the TID boundary. This work will also be funded by the water charges as previously explained. An initial meeting was held in March and a second meeting in April. The committee’s plan is to form the GSA well in advance of the formation deadline of June 30, 2017. If EWD landowners would like more information about the formation of this GSA or implementation of the Groundwater Sustainability Management Act (SGMA), you are encouraged to contact EWD’s water consultant (Kevin M. Kauffman, P.E.) at [email protected] or (209) 478-4940.
The EWD Board of Directors is committed to addressing the overdrafted condition of the aquifer below its boundary through a logical and transparent process. The implementation of the capital and operation per-acre charges provides the funds necessary to earnestly begin this process. Each landowner is recognized for your efforts to be informed through this process and supporting EWD’s efforts in making this process a success.
Periodically, EWD will provide updates on its progress with the DSWP, 2016 work plan, and future programs and projects. If you desire updates on a more regular basis, landowners are encouraged to attend EWD Board of Director meetings held monthly on the third Thursday at TID offices.