Friday, December 19, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Proposed settlement to bring more reliable water supplies

North Bay Water Treatment Plant

Water treatment operator Bill Flagg inspects the tanks of water being purified for homes around Fairfield in 2012 at the North Bay Regional Water Treatment Plant. Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta water is used by the treatment plan and pumped to residents. (Daily Republic file 2012)

By
From page A1 | September 18, 2013 |

FAIRFIELD — A proposed “area-of-origin” water settlement with the state should mean more reliable water sources for Solano County cities during drought years.

The Solano County Water Agency, Napa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, Yuba City and Butte County in 2008 sued the state Department of Water Resources. At issue was how to interpret a water contract developed in the 1970s.

Local water agencies said the contract gives them 100 percent of their water allocations from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, no matter how little water the state releases into the Delta during the summer from Lake Oroville reservoir. The state Department of Water Resources – and water contractors south of the Delta – disagreed.

“If they say, ‘That’s not what it meant,’ you have to litigate it to have an impartial, outside judge determine what it means,” Solano County Water Agency General Manager David Okita said.

Mediation led to the proposed settlement. Local cities won’t get all of the water that they wanted, but they will get more than they do now.

“The biggest problem throughout the state is getting additional water supplies in dry years,” Okita said. “This doesn’t quite get us up to 100 percent, (as) if we had won the litigation. But it provides a very good compromise chunk of water that’s free and shores up those dry-year deficiencies.”

Local cities get water both from the Delta and Lake Berryessa reservoir. The Delta water delivered through the North Bay Aqueduct is part of the State Water Project. The Berryessa water is a separate matter, with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation owning the reservoir.

But having Delta allocations and getting the full amount are two different things. The state rarely delivers 100 percent of the promised Delta water supplies. Factors range from how rainy the past winter was to pumping restrictions because of rare fish to simply having too much demand for Delta water and too little water. Cities throughout the state this year are getting 35 percent of their allocations.

The Delta provides water to 25 million Californians, including in such Southern California urban areas as Los Angeles. It provides water to Central Valley farms. It has long been the focus of California’s water wars, with the state trying in vain to find enough water for cities, farming and the environment.

Northern California communities have long made an “area-of-origin” argument. They say, in essence, that they have first call on Delta water because they are in the Delta’s watershed. They say those 1970s contracts recognized this.

Under the settlement, local cities will be subject to less of the water allocation restrictions. They would get 5 percent to 15 percent more water, Fairfield Assistant Public Works Director for Utilities Felix Riesenberg said. For example, instead of getting 35 percent of their allocations this year, they might get 50 percent.

“It’s not huge, but it’s a little higher every year,” he said.

Local cities will also have a total of 15,000 acre-feet of water during the summer that they will divide up based on their allocations. Of Solano County’s seven cities, four – Fairfield, Vacaville, Vallejo and Benicia – are using Delta water.

There are various restrictions on this extra water, such as a cap of 60,000 acre-feet during a multiple-year drought until Lake Oroville reaches capacity again.

In California’s water world, the term “acre-foot” is key. An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons, or the amount of water needed to cover one acre with water a foot deep. This is enough water to serve two California families for a year, according to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Fairfield has about 50,000 acre-feet in water rights annually, roughly half from Berryessa and half from the Delta. The city uses about 20,000 acre-feet annually. But, like all cities, it gets only a fraction of its Delta water allocations.

The city should get 11,800 acre-feet of water annually from its main annual Delta allocation – the rest of its Delta water comes from a previous lawsuit settlement involving Delta water in the fall, winter and spring and water it purchased from Kern County. During a multiple-year drought, Riesenberg said, Fairfield can count on getting only about 3,540 acre-feet annually of that 11,800.

Under the settlement, Fairfield should have another 4,720 acre-feet of Delta water available, he said.

“It’s like new water,” he said.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or beberling@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Rich GiddensSeptember 18, 2013 - 8:16 am

    California failed to plan for the future. Instead of building dams and water storage facilities up and down the Sierra mountain range, you guys built big nanny state government and welfare / illegal alien society. Now you whine as business, industry and agriculture leave for literally greener pastures.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Groundbreakings, ribbon-cuttings play role in civic life

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Sondheim’s ‘Woods’ holiday showcase for Missouri Street Theatre

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Frankye Kelly ready to spread holiday cheer

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Celebrate the magic of Christmas

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2, 2 Comments

 
 
Safe streets task force work nets 3

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 5 Comments

Santas have busy week at schools

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3, 2 Comments

 
Solano College approves officers, meeting schedule

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A4

Longtime Suisun harbor master to retire

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
 
 
Suisun City police log: Dec. 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
Fairfield police log: Dec. 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Next steps on Cuba: Normalizing could take awhile

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Sony hacking fallout puts all companies on alert

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Sony film took aim at North Korea’s biggest taboo

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 4 Comments

 
Timeline of the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Spy’s parents search for son after Cuba-US deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Hope and some fear in Cuba amid thaw with US

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

California’s top utility regulator defends record

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
‘Pretty horrible’ scene; car slams into crowd

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Police: Drunk man shot while entering wrong house

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

 
Local emergencies in Northern California counties after rain

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Tsarnaev appears in court for 1st time since 2013

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
President signs legislation ending Nazi benefit checks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

2 states challenge Colorado marijuana legalization

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

 
‘Prison Houdini’ set to make his 1st legal escape

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
Feds sue NYC over Rikers Island jail violence

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Russian sailors leaving France without warship

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 2 Comments

 
Putin: West wants to defang, declaw Russian bear

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 2 Comments

Suspected Islamic extremists kidnap 185 in Nigeria

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 2 Comments

 
European court rules obesity can be a disability

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

.

Opinion

News of the day strikes a chord

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11, 10 Comments

 
 
Another look at school bonds

By George Guynn Jr. | From Page: A11, 5 Comments

Editorial Cartoon: Dec. 19, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Living

Today in History: Dec. 19, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

 
Community Calendar: Dec. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Dec. 19, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: D8

 
Should I use Child Protective Services threat to get back rent?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: D8

.

Entertainment

Week in preview Dec. 19-25, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Sweet ‘Night at the Museum’ bids farewell to Robin Williams

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Craig Ferguson to end 10 years as host of ‘Late Late Show’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Eric Idle brings ‘Not the Messiah’ to Carnegie Hall

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Entertainment calendar Dec. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

.

Sports

Warriors beat Thunder 114-109 after Durant injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
A’s acquire lefty De La Rosa from Arizona for cash

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Raiders defense depleted by injuries

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

49ers’ Harbaugh mum on reported offer from Michigan

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
49ers’ Aldon Smith hopes to build off tough year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

A’s trade All-Star catcher Derek Norris to Padres

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Celtics trade Rondo to Mavericks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Rodriguez boys open Les Curry Tournament with victory

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

 
39 bowl games and a reason to watch every one

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Column: Thaw in US-Cuba relations warms up MLB

By Jim Litke | From Page: B8

 
Rivera: Newton ‘probably’ will start vs. Browns

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Bears bench QB Jay Cutler for Clausen

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
‘Hands Up’ players to attend Ferguson Christmas party

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Signups for Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

 
This date in sports history for Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Sports on TV/Local sports for Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B11

 
.

Business

Roomiest Subaru Legacy debuts for 2015

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1

 
Ford expands drivers air bag recall nationwide

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Constantly changing online prices stump shoppers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Dow industrials have their best day in three years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Obituaries

Lisa Dee McHughes

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Travis Curt Price

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Ernest “Ernie” Moretti

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Jennie Ponce Reyes

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Patricia “Pat” Anne Stringfield-Pierre

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics