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Surface and Groundwater Management in Times of Drought Michael J. Van Zandt, Partner Hanson Bridgett LLP 425 Market Street, 26 th Floor San Francisco, CA 94105 415-995-5001 Direct Phone [email protected]

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Page 1: MVZ Drought Presentation V 4

Surface and Groundwater Management in Times of

DroughtMichael J. Van Zandt, PartnerHanson Bridgett LLP425 Market Street, 26th FloorSan Francisco, CA 94105415-995-5001 Direct [email protected]

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DroughtDefining drought is difficult because of the word normal. In many areas, normal conditions generally mean conditions that do not deviate from long-term averages. However, using averages can mask extreme high and low water years.

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I. WHAT IS A DROUGHT?A. National Drought Mitigation Center

definition: “Drought originates from a deficiency of precipitation over an extended period of time, resulting in a water shortage for some activity, group, or environmental sector.”

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B. California Department of Water Resources definition:

a. “Defining when drought occurs is a function of drought impacts to water users. Drought can best be thought of as a condition of water shortage for a particular user in a particular location.”

California Department of Water Resources Drought Background

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C. What constitutes a drought is different in different places.

Drought in Libya could occur when annual rainfall is less than 180 mm, but in Bali, drought might be considered to occur after a period of only 6 days without rain!

National Drought Mitigation Center,

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“Water year” 2015 was hot, dry and fiery, compounding the misery brought on by a fourth year of drought.

The most recent US Drought Monitor, released September 8, 2015, has 46% of the state under the most extreme drought category (D4-Exceptional Drought).

Every region in California is missing at least a year’s worth of precipitation.

D. Drought in California

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E. Drought in Nevada Like California, most of Nevada’s water goes to

agriculture. DWR estimates 60% of the state’s water goes to irrigating crops; 22% goes to municipal water districts.

In early February of this year, the state water engineer ordered a 50% reduction in the amount of groundwater that can be pumped for crops in some valleys, home to Nevada’s biggest agricultural producers. most-of-nevada-naa-associated-press

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F. Drought in New Mexico The statewide percent of normal precipitation for

January 2016 was 87%, 56 driest on record. Reservoir storage is below capacity at all lakes

across the state, at only 29% of capacity as of February 1, 2016.

There was above normal precipitation in 2015, and a reduction in short term drought conditions, but a long term hydrological drought is still very much alive.

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G. Drought in Colorado

As of June, 2015, a federal report shows that after years of perpetual thirst in southeastern Colorado, the region is no longer in a drought.

Colorado classification from the National Weather Service was reduced from “extreme” to “abnormally dry”

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Runoff ForecastsRunoff occurs as the result of precipitation –

both rainfall & snowmelt – that is in excess of the demands of evaporation.

Water Year 2015 produced the lowest snowpack in the Sierra Nevada since records have been kept.

The cumulative effect is a reduction in natural runoff. As much as 75% of water supplies in the western states are derived from snowmelt.

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Drought Measures California State Water Resources Control

Board enforcing priority of water rights. Insufficient water for all water users then water

diversions curtailed in order of priority. California has just ended its fourth consecutive

year of below average rainfall & snowpack and Water Year (2015) was the eighth of nine years with below average runoff.

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II. Impacts of a DroughtA. Required Reductions in Urban Water Use: Voluntary conservation mandatory rationing extensive education and outreach programs

to reduce urban water use.

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On February 2, 2016, The State Water Resources Control Board adopted an Emergency Conservation Regulation that will extend mandatory urban conservation through October, 2016.

Data provided by the State Water Resources Control Board Shows that from June 2014 through December 2015, Californians have cumulatively saved just over 25%, or about 1.1 million acre-feet, compared to 2013.

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Mandatory Water Conservation

Comprehensive legislation on water enacted in November 2009 established new statewide water conservation mandates that require a 20% reduction in urban per-capita water use by 2020.

Superseded by emergency regulations to reduce by 25%.

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B. Increased Groundwater Pumping: Increased reliance on groundwater to supply urban and agricultural water users. Lowers groundwater levels in groundwater basins. Causes subsidence of land surface.

Department of Water Resources Drought FAQ,

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Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

• Passed in 2014 to regulate groundwater.• First of its kind in California.• Local solutions and control.• Identified High, Medium, Low priority

basins.• Must have a Management Agency in place

by 2016.• Groundwater management plan by 2020.

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• Basin wide adjudications streamlined.• Physical solution to overdraft.• Adjustment to boundaries,

hydrogeological, physical, political.• Local control by local agencies.• Can impose restrictions on pumping.• Will have strict reporting and measuring.

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C. Economic Impacts. Example - Agricultural Communities. Revenue loss, required crop changes, income loss, employment loss, and land use changes, depending on the extent to which farmers can rely on groundwater pumping as an alternative water supply. Particularly noticeable in large agricultural areas.

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D. Fire. Increased fire danger. Direct impact on vegetation, drought reduces moisture in living trees and woody materials on the ground. Reduced moisture has a direct impact on the ability for a fire to ignite. Dry weather conditions set a stage for wild land forest fires to occur outside of the fire season. Even if we get a little bit of rain, one dry, sunny afternoon can zap the moisture out of the vegetation.

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III. Water Resource SolutionsA. California Department of Water

Resources Drought Assistance: DWR offering grants or loans to assist with

water conservation, agricultural water recycling, groundwater management, water quality and supply, and studies and activities to enhance local water supply reliability.

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B. Transfers/ Water Market: Pursue a short or long-term water transfer to augment supply.

Both temporary and permanent transfer provisions exist in the California Water Code. All types of transfers must not injure any existing legal users of water, or harm fish and wildlife.

Most transfers require CEQA compliance. Other requirements based on type of transfer.

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2. DWR Drought Water Bank: To help facilitate water transfers, DWR

has established a Drought Water Bank. DWR will purchase water from willing

sellers primarily upstream of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and make it available to water suppliers that are experiencing water shortages due to drought conditions.

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a. DWR Drought Water Bank Transfers exempt from CEQA – DWR

complies with CEQA for all transferors / transferees in the program that year.

For this reason, proposal must be submitted to DWR before the calendar year begins.

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D. Recycled Water is Drought Proof! Water Recycling is the treating and managing of municipal, industrial, or agricultural wastewater to produce water that can be productively reused. Recycled water can satisfy most water demands as long as it is adequately treated.

Prevents pollution and maximizes resources by redirecting nutrient enriched treated wastewater from discharging into streams and lakes and onto beaches for other beneficial uses.

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E. Conservation. Local agencies spearheading public

awareness campaigns to encourage water conservation.

Some imposing mandatory rationing. (Examples above.)

Department of Water Resources website gives 20 ways the public can help to conserve.

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Water recycling provides an additional source of water that can be used for beneficial purposes, such as agricultural irrigation, landscape irrigation, groundwater recharge, in industry, for the environment and recreation, and as indirect potable water.

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C. Conjunctive Use of Groundwater and Surface Water

Conjunctive water use refers to simultaneous use of surface water and groundwater.

Combining surface water and groundwater minimizes the undesirable physical, environmental and economical effects of each solution and optimizes the water demand / supply balance.

Usually conjunctive use of surface and ground water is considered within a river basin management program (both the river and the aquifer belong to the same basin).

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Conjunctive use project issues: Underground storage availability, Production capacity of the aquifer(s) in terms

of potential discharge, Natural recharge of the aquifer(s), Comparative economic and environmental

benefits derived from the various possible options.

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Less water, higher prices The price we pay for water is a small fraction of

what it actually costs to extract water, deliver it to users and treat it after its use.

As scarcity increases, so does the cost of supplying it from remote sources.

In Brazil and Ecuador, a small percentage of water fees paid by city dwellers is used to protect watersheds that supply their water. It is extremely cost effective; healthy watersheds produce clean water that requires less water treatment.

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Australia Drought Initiative

• Worst drought in history in 2009.• Government worked to force conservation.• Some cities conserved over 50% of water.• Recycled water for irrigation.• Electronic Billboards to motivate efforts.• New reservoirs and pipelines.• Desalination plants never used.

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How Will We Know When The Drought is Over?

“The drought could end this year, according to state water officials. But for that to happen, as California and Nevada enter the fifth year of the worst drought in history, rains will have to continue arriving in pounding, relentless waves through April to fill depleted reservoirs and dry rivers and push the Sierra snowpack to at least 150 percent of normal”

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