Securing New Water Supplies – Proving Availability is the Key

As part of a water rights application, the applicant is required by the California Water Code Section 1260(k) to perform a Water Availability Analysis (WAA), to include “sufficient information to demonstrate a reasonable likelihood that unappropriated water is available for appropriation.”  In addition, before the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) can grant a water rights permit, it must find that there is “unappropriated water available to supply the applicant” as outlined in Water Code Section 1375(d).

ECORP has a long and successful record of developing WAAs in support of SWRCB-compliant water rights applications for submittal as evidence to the SWRCB. Each WAA is tailored to best uphold project objectives and includes a detailed description of the quantities, rates, timing, and frequency of water requested from sources to meet demands, and a technical evaluation to determine if there is a reasonable likelihood that unappropriated water is available for appropriation sought under the application.

We use a variety of approaches and methods to evaluate unappropriated water within a watershed with special care in appraising water right priorities. We determine the impaired and unimpaired streamflow over a study period by evaluating effects resulting from higher priority direct diversion and storage water rights, and instream flow requirements. WAAs include an estimation of water supply available in differing water year types (wet, average, and dry).  A comparison of supply and demand for the study period will be completed to verify that water is available under the application for appropriation.

water-availability-analysis

If you have questions or would like to discuss a Water Availability Analysis, please contact Michael J. Preszler, California Water Practice Leader, at (916) 782-9100.

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Needlegrass Mitigation Experts at ECORP Can Help with New Requirements

What is Valley needlegrass grassland, and why are agencies interested in conserving it?

 

native-needlegrass-grassland

A Stand of Native Needlegrass Grassland

Throughout California, native grasslands are estimated to provide habitat for 90% of the state’s rare and endangered species. Prior to European colonization, native needlegrass species (such as purple needlegrass, nodding needlegrass, and foothill needlegrass) dominated the Central Valley; today, less than 1% of former Valley needlegrass grasslands remain. Mature needlegrasses have been found to live up to a century and can have roots up to 20 feet deep. The deep roots of these species contribute to erosion control, water infiltration, nutrient cycling, and carbon sequestration. Unlike nonnative annual grasses that now dominate the landscape, needlegrasses grow in bunches, leaving empty spaces in-between where native wildflowers flourish.

Impacts to Valley needlegrass grassland often require mitigation
On occasion, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is requiring mitigation plans for the preservation and restoration of Valley needlegrass grassland as a component of permitting. Valley needlegrass grassland mitigation plans may also be required during the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process.

young-purple-needlegrass

Young Purple Needlegrass Bunches

In addition, general erosion control and restoration plans required for many projects can be tailored towards the goal of restoring Valley needlegrass grassland. ECORP has experienced staff biologists to handle needlegrass mitigation requirements; for example, ECORP biologist Taraneh Emam recently published a peer-reviewed research article discussing needlegrass restoration methods in the journal Restoration Ecology. ECORP is currently preparing Valley needlegrass grassland mitigation and restoration plans for projects within the 3,500-acre Folsom Plan Area Specific Plan.

ECORP’s New Services

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Flowering Purple Needlegrass

ECORP now provides services related to Valley needlegrass grassland mitigation, from the initial stages of field surveys and impact assessments through the preparation of mitigation and restoration plans. Mitigation measures often place an emphasis on using locally collected seed, and collection of seed from impact areas both conserves needlegrass diversity and helps increase the likelihood of successful restoration. Therefore, to support Valley needlegrass mitigation, ECORP is now offering the service of needlegrass seed collection from project impact areas for use during restoration.

Please contact Taraneh Emam at (916) 782-9100 (Northern California), or Josh Corona-Bennett at (858) 279-4040 (Southern California) for more information on Valley needlegrass mitigation requirements and strategies.

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ECORP Exhibiting at ACWA Conference

ECORP is looking forward to exhibiting at ACWA’s 2016 Fall Conference and Exhibition November 29 through December 2, in Anaheim! We hope you’ll stop by our booth (#105).  http://www.acwa.com/

 

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The Shrimp are Getting Ready to Hatch!

fairy-shrimpFairy shrimp and tadpole shrimp occur within ephemeral pools and wetlands. Many of the shrimp species found in California are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. Shrimp eggs/cysts lie dormant in seasonal pools during the dry months and hatch once the wetlands become ponded from winter rains.

Surveys for these species must be approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and conducted by a qualified/permitted biologist. ECORP biologists have extensive experience identifying and working with these organisms and ECORP is permitted by the USFWS to conduct both wet and dry season surveys, which constitutes a complete survey pursuant to USFWS guidelines. draining-the-swampECORP regularly conducts these surveys to support Endangered Species Act Section 7 Consultations, and the results of these surveys are often used to substantially reduce the time needed for permit authorization and the cost of mitigation. As winter rains are approaching, now is the time to schedule surveys for listed shrimp. This winter’s survey “window” is almost upon us, so don’t delay.
If you have questions or would like to discuss whether conducting surveys may be right for your project, please contact Peter Balfour or Todd Wood at (916) 782-9100 (Northern California), or Kristen Wasz at (909) 307-0046 (Southern California).

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Mandatory Dry Season Surveys Now Required for Threatened and Endangered Fairy Shrimp and Tadpole Shrimp

Fairy-Shrimp

On May 31, 2015 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) released updated Survey Guidelines for federally listed threatened and endangered large branchiopods (e.g., fairy shrimp and tadpole shrimp) in California and southern Oregon. To complete a survey for large branchiopods, the new guidelines require that one wet season survey and one dry season survey, in no particular order, be conducted within a three-year period. This is a significant change, as there is no longer an option to conduct two wet season surveys in lieu of a dry season survey. A dry season survey is now required to complete the survey protocol.

Fairy-Shrimp-Collection

The advantages that dry season surveys offer are reduced overall survey cost and time, as well as additional survey window flexibility. Dry season sampling is conducted after vernal pools dry in the spring and prior to the onset of winter rains. Hence, the appropriate timing varies by location and year. Annual rainfall totals and patterns are not an issue, often making dry season survey results more reliable than wet season surveys for project proponents, in some instances.

The new guidelines require that dry season soil collection, processing, and egg identification for large branchiopods be conducted by permitted biologists that have these provisions specifically defined in their USFWS permit. ECORP is one of only a small number of firms with permitted biologists authorized for dry season sampling in California. In addition, ECORP currently has over a dozen biologists permitted for large branchiopod wet season sampling in our Rocklin, Redlands, Santa Ana, and San Diego offices. We have sampled vernal pools throughout California.

In instances in which unidentifiable fairy shrimp eggs are found during a dry season survey, USFWS may require that the eggs be sent to an appropriate facility for DNA analysis and identification, or that the eggs be hydrated and reared (cultured) until they are identifiable to species. ECORP has the ability to culture fairy shrimp eggs and partners with a well-qualified lab that can conduct DNA analysis. ECORP has biologists with the additional permit terms and conditions for processing, isolating, identifying, and culturing large branchiopod eggs/cysts. To expedite processing and reduce costs, we operate an in-house laboratory for conducting these tasks.

If you have questions about the newly issued USFWS guidance or would like to discuss whether conducting surveys may be right for your project, please contact Peter Balfour or Todd Wood at (916) 782-9100 (Northern California), or Kristen Wasz at (909) 307-0046 (Southern California).

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ECORP Leads Educational Sunday FunDay in Redlands

Redlands-FunDay

Redlands residents enjoyed an afternoon of archaeology in the park, including a short hike to an archaeological site and a full-scale, controlled, mock excavation. ECORP Associate Archaeologist Andrew Myers led the expedition as attendees were educated about archaeological methods and issues facing development within open spaces. The event was coordinated by the Redlands Conservancy and was well received by those who attended.

For more information about ECORP’s archaeology and cultural resources capabilities, contact Evelyn Chandler at (909) 307-0046 or Roger Mason, Ph.D. at (714) 648-0630 (Southern California), or Lisa Westwood at (916) 782-9100 (Northern California).

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California Rapid Assessment Method – Trained!

cram-raft

In April, two additional staff members completed the California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM) “Practitioner” training for riverine and depressional wetlands. CRAM is an assessment toolkit used to evaluate the functional condition and status of aquatic features such as streams, wetlands, vernal pools, and riparian or estuarine systems. These types of evaluations are not only useful, but are required in some regions of the state to develop and/or analyze proposed mitigation measures during the design and permitting phases. You might also see this as a requirement on a Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Standards Certification as a pre-construction or post-construction special condition of approval, or specified in restoration plans as a method for measuring and reporting progress towards meeting success criteria or achieving compensatory mitigation goals. ECORP has CRAM-trained professionals ready to help with your projects throughout California.

For more information on how ECORP can assist with CRAM assessments and restoration projects, contact Scott Taylor at (909) 307-0046, or Margaret Bornyasz at (858) 279-4040 (Southern California), or contact Debra Sykes or Pete Balfour at (916) 782-9100 (Northern California).

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