In light of the Lower Basin states’ conservation proposal, the Biden Administration has announced that it is temporarily withdrawing the draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) published last month so that it can fully analyze the effects of the proposal under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The United States Bureau of Reclamation will then publish an updated draft SEIS for public comment with the consensus-based proposal as an action alternative. Accordingly, the original May 30, 2023, deadline for the submission of comments on the draft SEIS is no longer in effect. The Department plans to finalize the SEIS process later this year.
The Arizona/California/Nevada proposal commits the three states to conserve at least 3 million-acre-feet of system water through the end of 2026, when the current operating guidelines are set to expire. Of those system conservation savings, 2.3-million-acre feet will be compensated through funding from last December’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which provided substantial monies to the three states to increase near-term water conservation, build long term system efficiency, and prevent the Colorado River System’s reservoirs from falling to critically low elevations that would threaten water deliveries and power production. Under this proposal, the remaining system conservation needed for sustainable operation will be achieved through voluntary, uncompensated reductions by the Lower Basin states.
Early next month, the federal government will formally advance the process for the development of new operating guidelines replacing the 2007 Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and the Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead at the end of 2026. In the coming weeks, expect to see a Notice of Intent for the Environmental Impact Statement related to the post-2026 guidelines. With the three Lower Basin States having come to agreement on how to divvy up the savings necessary to protect the integrity of the Colorado Basin in the short run, both processes are going to proceed in tandem.
As we have been suggesting in all our reporting on this subject, the actions and statements of the three Reclamation States and the United States Government in recent months have all been about positioning themselves to come to precisely the consensus evidenced by today’s breakthrough. The precise details of that consensus – the amount of allocation ceded by each state and each agency within each state – remain to be worked out, but the outlines are clear for Southern California. The State Water Project allocation may be 100% for the first time in years, but we’ll be losing some of our Colorado River water between now and 2026, after which we may well lose even more. Given that golf’s portion of that loss will not be part of the “compensated” savings envisaged through federal largesse – you can fallow farmland; you can’t fallow golf courses – the need to keep reducing the game’s water footprint promises to become just that much more acute, as does the need for the game to make clear to policymakers that golf understands this fact to its very core.
Click here to read the joint letter filed today by the States of Arizona, California, and Nevada – a letter that was well enough received by the Biden Administration to cause the Bureau of Reclamation to withdraw the draconian SEIS it issued after January 31 came and went without agreement among the states on so much as a temporary salve to the Basin’s woes.
Are you interested in becoming an advocate for golf in California? The CGCOA is seeking amateur golfers who are passionate about protecting the game of golf and promoting public policies that enable golf to flourish in California. Take the next step to becoming an advocate for golf by completing the attached Golf is Good Ambassador Application.Read More →
FORE - The magazine of the SCGA. Find archived Public Affairs articles on the website of the SCGA's award winning quarterly publication.Read More →
Affordable housing a big winner; local control a big loser. What might it mean for golf in California.Read More →
“CalMatters” is a nonprofit, non-partisan state news service that was created a few years ago to do the kind of in-depth journalism once routinely provided by newspapers and periodicals and now provided scantily if at all only by those media organs funded by charitable contributions or substantial enough to sustain deficits.Read More →
A local example but an instructive one in a long string of examples of how a golf association can amass the facts of the matter as opposed to a version of them provided by those intent on repurposing golf course land for their preferred use, make those facts known to the decision-makers, and then rally its members and member clubs behind those “facts” to get a verdict in the public arena favorable to golf’s cause.Read More →
Our last “Update” detailed the one piece of water legislation (AB 1572 – Proscription upon the use of potable water to irrigate nonfunctional turf) that we considered the most positively impactful to the statewide golf community to get signed into law in the 2023 legislative session – “positively impactful” because golf is specifically referenced as “recreational” and/or “functional” turf exempt from the proscription, language sure to be copied and pasted into all sorts of future bills and regulations, not just at the state level, but at the local and regional levels as well.Read More →
Six years and one month ago in October 2017 the Director penned an article in SCGA’s hard copy magazine FORE entitled, “The Era of Recycled Water May be Drawing to a Close.” The kind of recycled water used for outdoor irrigation, that is – nonpotable reuse.Read More →
Often attributed to Albert Einstein, who many say wrote it on a blackboard in his Princeton office, its origin is much older than that. However, in this exact form, it appeared in a seminal sociology textbook in 1963 and has been quoted repeatedly since to highlight the fact that certain important matters are simply not amenable to quantification.Read More →
The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) is set this Wednesday to open its first public hearing on the Proposed Rule it published August 18 to effectuate what the Governor and others have termed “Making Conservation a California Way of Life.”Read More →