California regulators and environmental organizations want more water to flow into the Bay-Delta, and they have targeted three tributaries of the lower San Joaquin River; one of which is the Tuolumne River. This is a real threat to all MID and TID customers; ag water, industrial water, urban water and electric.
The flow requirements described in the state's Bay-Delta Plan, Phase 1 revised Substitute Environmental Document (SED) will create significant, unavoidable and lasting impacts that will harm the socioeconomic welfare of those within Merced, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties. It's well known that our region is reliant upon agriculture thriving for continued economic stability.
The Don Pedro Project supports approximately $4.1 billion in economic output, $734.8 million in labor income and 18,900 jobs within the region. Using the 2014 socioeconomic model that MID and TID developed for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Don Pedro Project Relicensing; we explored what 2015 would've looked like under the SED's proposed 40% unimpaired flows. Absent already-incurred drought impacts, our region would have lost:
$1.6 billion in economic output
$167 million in farm-gate revenue
$330 million in labor income
Furthermore, MID and TID farmers would have received no surface water in 2015.
The SED also threatens our ability to sustainably manage groundwater. The Modesto and Turlock Sub-basins are the only two basins in the San Joaquin Valley that aren't listed in conditions of critical overdraft. With the SED's significantly increased unimpaired flows, our customers will have to rely more heavily on groundwater - this is counter to the goals of Sustainable Groundwater Management Act which stipulates sustainable groundwater management as a priority for all Californians, especially lawmakers, regulators and the Governor.
It additionally jeopardizes disadvantaged communities and Modesto and Turlock drinking water supplies. MID treats, delivers and wholesales drinking water to the City of Modesto. The City receives the same water allocation at the same rates as MID's agricultural customers. Therefore, any reduction to MID's surface water will proportionally affect Modesto residents. TID has agreed to transfer surface water to the cities of Ceres and Turlock for domestic use because these cities solely rely on groundwater. The goal of the project is to supplement groundwater with treated surface water, but the SED would threaten this too.
What's more, due to the timing of increased unimpaired flows (February to June), hydropower produced by MID and TID at Don Pedro becomes less economical as these are the months when power demand is the lowest.
You don't need a calculator to figure that a reliable supply of surface water brings value to this region. This value includes agricultural production, food processing, ag-related business, economic base, groundwater recharge and affordable water.
Our region survived the worst multi-year hydrological drought in state history. But can our region really survive a regulatory drought? MCCV has joined the fight. We will advocate against the water grab and protect the interests of our membership.
Join MCCV at the following public hearing dates:
November 29, 2016 - 9 a.m.Joe Serna Jr. - CalEPA Headquarters BuildingByron Sher Auditorium1001 I Street, Second FloorSacramento, CA 95814
December 19, 2016 - 9 a.m.Multicultural Arts Center645 W. Main StreetMerced, CA 95340
December 16, 2016 - 9 a.m.Stockton Memorial Civic AuditoriumMain Hall525 N Center StreetStockton, CA 95202
December 20, 2016 - 9 a.m.Modesto Centre PlazaTuolumne River Room1000 K StreetModesto, CA 95354
January 3, 2017 - 9 a.m.Joe Serna Jr. - CalEPA Headquarters BuildingCoastal Hearing Room1001 I Street, Second Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
For more information about the State Water board proposal, please visit the "Worth Your Fight" campaign website at www.worthyourfight.org.