Water is an important topic here in Mendocino County for farmers, ranchers, wildlife, residents and businesses. Farmers and ranchers in Mendocino County are very aware of the importance of a long-term, reliable water supply and good water quality for everyone. Mendocino County Farm Bureau works directly with farmers and ranchers in the various watersheds to consider critically important water issues. Farm Bureau’s Water Committee reaches out to collaborate with multiple stakeholder groups and seeks to build partnerships that allow us to do even more for our members.
Water Committee News
Submitted by Frost Pauli, Water Committee Chair
Potter Valley Project (PVP) Update:
If the water level in Lake Pillsbury drops below 12,000 acre feet, PG&E is worried that significant damage to its facilities at Scott Dam could happen. This damage would be caused by potential bank sloughing if the water level dropped below that point. Therefore, PG&E filed a variance with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reduce flows being released to retain more water in the lake. The approach taken reduces flows through the PVP into the Russian River watershed but maintains the flows in the Upper Main Eel River, rather than equally reducing both. This reduction will affect all water users in the Russian River basin above Healdsburg, as that water diverted through the PVP flows into Lake Mendocino. Furthermore, the variance is a band aid on a hemorrhage. Had PG&E and FERC implemented water saving procedures earlier in the year, or even last year when it was evident that we were entering a massive drought, the water pool in Lake Pillsbury would be in a much better position. MCFB submitted written comments on the variance which can be viewed by going to our website at: https://www.mendofb.org/
Ukiah Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency:
A big thank you to Zac Robinson and Levi Paulin for representing Agriculture on the SGMA board. The final Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) for the basin must be submitted to DWR in January 2022. The focus of MCFB in recent months has been on what the GSP will cost and who will pay for those costs. The lack of a concrete budget has been a frustration. Cost estimates range from $135,000 to $300,00 per year to implement the GSP, to cover the monitoring mandated by SGMA regulations over the next five years. In the coming months, the details of the GSP and its costs will be a major focus for MCFB. It will be important for agricultural groundwater users to understand the process and participate in GSP review opportunities. Information on the Ukiah Valley GSA can be found here: https://www.mendocinocounty.org/government/affiliated-agencies/ukiah-valley-basin-gsa
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Water Diversion and Use Reporting
If you divert and use water from a surface water source such as a lake, creek, stream, or river, or you divert water from a subterranean stream that flows in a known and definite channel, California law requires you to report your diversion and use to the State Water Board, Division of Water Rights. Water use reports shall be filed on an annual basis and shall document diversions made during the prior calendar year. Reports for permits, licenses, registrations and certificates are due by April 1st. Statements of water diversion and use (riparian rights) or groundwater recordation are due by July 1st. All water right holders who have previously diverted or intend to divert more than 10 acre-feet per year (riparian and pre-1914 ), or are authorized to divert more than 10 acre-feet per year under a permit, license, or registration, are required to measure the water they divert.
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)
In December 2014, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) released the ground water basin classifications to determine coverage under SGMA. For Mendocino County, the upper Russian River from the Tomki Road area in Redwood Valley to Knight Hill (north of Hopland) was classified as a medium priority ground water basin, the Ukiah Valley ground water basin # 1-52, and is subject to SGMA compliance. From July of 2016 until July of 2017, the Mendocino County Water Agency hosted public meetings to assist in the formation of the Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) and Farm Bureau was at the table to ensure that agriculture was represented in the process. The GSA formation was the first step to work toward compliance and this was completed in June of 2017. The Ukiah Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency (UVBGSA) was created by a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) and have been meeting regularly since 2017 to work toward the development of the groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) for the basin. The GSP will need to be finalized and submitted to DWR by 2022. For additional information, please see the links below.
Other Water Related Resources
“In my opinion, the benefits realized from the small amount of money we pay for the membership, by far outweighs the cost. If I had to go to a Water Rights Specialist alone, I would be talking about hundreds if not thousands of dollars.”member since 1995