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Water Blueprint Hosts CDFA Secretary, State Water Resources Control Board, DWR Leaders

Report from Geoff Vanden Heuvel, MPC Director of Regulatory and Economic Affairs

The Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley serves as the united voice to champion water resource policies and projects to maximize accessible, affordable, and reliable supplies for sustainable and productive farms and ranches, healthy communities, and thriving ecosystems in the San Joaquin Valley. MPC has been involved with the Blueprint effort since its inception and I’ve had the pleasure of serving on the Board of Directors, working with a talented group of individuals across agriculture, water agencies and government.

Our work has included identifying potential surplus water supplies, along with initial evaluations of routes for conveyance facilities that would bring water to shortage areas in such a manner to assist rural communities and support environmentally valuable lands. The effort is complex, and solutions will potentially be very expensive. However, the cost of inaction is also expensive.

On June 22, the Blueprint held its first Large Group meeting of 2022 with more than 100 stakeholders participating in a two-hour meeting at California State University, Fresno. Most notably, the group hosted state agriculture and water leaders, including California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, Department of Water Resources Deputy Director of Sustainable Groundwater Management Paul Gosselin, and State Water Resources Control Board Deputy Director of the Division of Water Rights Erik Ekdahl.

Several reports were given, including one by me on behalf of the Blueprint’s Technical Committee. An overview of a much-needed implementation plan for strategic investments was also discussed. These near-term investments include:

Interregional Water Planning ($10 million)

  • Continued collaborative region planning to ensure the development of a multi-beneficial water strategy for the Valley.

  • Studies and pilot projects to identify best practices for diverting surplus flood water from the Delta.

Conveyance ($835 million)

  • Allocate $585 million to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) for grants to repair Central Valley conveyance facilities impacted by subsidence.

  • Apportion $250 million to DWR for grants to support local and regional water conveyance projects.

Regional Resilience and Sustainability ($1.5 billion)

  • There have been 150 groundwater sustainability projects that have been identified to expedite that will capture local storm water, increase groundwater recharge, and build resiliency, along with incentivizing water recycling.

Multi-Benefit Land Repurposing ($1 billion)

  • Allocate funds to groundwater sustainability agencies to acquire and repurpose land contributing to subsidence that affects infrastructure such as canals, drinking water wells and transition those areas to land trusts and other non-governmental organizations. These firms would acquire land for ecosystem restoration.

You can read more about the Blueprint’s plan, including a letter sent to Governor Newsom, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, here.

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