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WSWC Summer (175th) Council Meetings

The Summer (175th)  Council Meetings will be held July 16-18, 2014, Tuesday through Friday.  The events will be held at the  Holiday Inn Conference Center Downtown which is located at 22 North Last Chance Gulch in Helena, Montana.

A pre-meeting workshop on Federal Non-Indian Water Rights and Needs will be held July 15-16.

To confirm a hotel reservation at the special rate of $88/night, contact reservations by calling 1-406-443-2200Reservations must be made no later than June 24, 2014 to receive the quoted rate.   The hotel may otherwise be sold out that week.  Reservations requested after the cut-off date will be accepted only based upon availability and at the prevailing rate.

For the schedule of meetings, agenda, and additional details as they become available, click here.

 

Job Postings for Oregon

Oregon Water Resources Department - Natural Resource Specialist 5 (Water Supply Development Team Leader)

Job Posting: Natural Resource Specialist 5 (Water Supply Development Team Leader) for the Oregon Water Resources Department in beautiful Salem, OR. More information about the position can be found here: http://agency.governmentjobs.com/oregon/default.cfm?action=viewJob&jobID=831837.

Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) - Administrative Specialist 2 (Supervising Administrative Support)

Job Posting: Administrative Specialist 2 (Supervising Administrative Support) for the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, a state agency that provides grants to help Oregonians take care of local streams, rivers, wetlands and natural areas. Community members and landowners use scientific criteria to decide jointly what needs to be done to conserve and improve rivers and natural habitat in the places where they live. More information about the position can be found here: http://agency.governmentjobs.com/oregon/default.cfm?action=viewJob&jobID=852940.

Job Posting – Earth Science Specialist I (TWDB)

Job Posting: Earth Science Specialist I for the Texas Water Development Board. TWDB is currently looking to fill a vacant Earth Science Specialist I position in their Water Science & Conservation Division, located in beautiful Austin, TX. More information about the position can be found here: http://lnkd.in/bAPPfD2

WSWC – CDWR Workshop on Hydroclimate Monitoring Systems and Measurement Needs

The Western States Water Council and the California Department of Water Resources are cosponsoring a workshop to discuss strategies for supporting and improving key observing systems, to be held in San Diego on June 23-25, 2014.  The workshop will begin Monday, June 23 at 1:00 pm and conclude Wednesday, June 25 by 12 noon.  Topics to be covered include an overview of the funding status of key federal monitoring programs, development of a 21st century observing system for extreme precipitation in the West, emerging opportunities for supplementing ground-based observations with remote sensing, and strategic planning for sustaining long-term observing records.

LOCATION: A block of rooms has been reserved and will be held through June 2, 2014. Please contact the Doubletree San Diego Downtown reservations department directly at ( 619) 239-6800, or central reservations at (800) 222-TREE, and announce the Western States Water Council room block. Reservations must be made by the June 2nd deadline to obtain the rate of $110 single or double occupancy.

For additional details click here.

Press Release

Press Release

March 19, 2014

As the current ongoing drought highlights, in the West water is a critical, vital resource and sound decisionmaking demands sound science and accurate and timely mapping of, and data on, precipitation, temperature and other parameters, including evapotranspiration (ET).  The demands for water and related climate data continue to increase and are used by federal, state, tribal, and local government agencies, as well as private entities and individuals to:

  • forecast and follow drought and flood occurrence and assist in disaster response;
  • project future water supplies for agricultural, municipal, and industrial uses;
  • estimate streamflows for hydropower production, recreation, and environmental purposes;
  • facilitate water management and administration of water rights (and related transfers), decrees, interstate compacts, tribal water settlements, and international water treaties; as well as
  • assess the impacts of climate variability and change.

Google and its partners today committed to apply historical plus near real time gridded weather data sets housed on Google Earth Engine’s environmental cloud computing platform to produce state-of-the-art drought monitoring products for all of the continental United States. These products will be produced in near real time and made freely available to the public.

Further, Google, in collaboration with the University of Idaho, Desert Research Institute and University of Nebraska, is committing to produce, on Earth Engine, 30 m resolution maps of ET based on the Landsat thermal-imaging-era archive dating to 1984 for all of the United States and globe. The ET maps will be freely processed by and made freely available to the public for use in field scale monitoring of actual amounts of water consumption by agriculture and natural vegetation.

Google’s commitment is very significant – one petabyte (1000 terabytes) of cloud storage and 50 million CPU hours of high-performance cloud computing on Google Earth Engine’s geospatial analysis platform.

“The Western States Water Council applauds Google’s commitment to this outstanding example of a public private partnership, which will undoubtedly lead to further innovation and applications of science to solve real world water problems,” said WSWC Chairman Phil Ward, Director of the Oregon Department of Water Resources.

Copy of Press Release:  WSWC Press Release (March 19, 2014)

White House announcement:  Climate Data Initiative

Google posted blog on their commitment to help.

Washington, D.C. Roundtable and Spring (174th) Council Meeting

The Washington, D.C. Roundtable with the Interstate Council on Water Policy (ICWP) and the Spring (174th)  Council Meetings will be held on April 1-4, 2014, Tuesday through Friday.  The events will be held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott which is located at 1700 Jefferson Davis Hwy, (METRO Blue & Yellow Lines) in Arlington, Virginia.

To confirm a hotel reservation at the special rate of $229/night for ICWP and WSWC members, contact reservations by calling 1-(800) 228-9290 or use this Marriott linkReservations must be made no later than March 10, 2014.   The hotel is otherwise sold out that week, and reservations requested after this date will be accepted only based upon availability.

For the schedule of meetings, agenda, and additional details as they become available,  click here.

Job Posting: Water Quality Program Manager for Washington Dept. of Ecology, Lacey WA

Ecology is currently looking to fill its vacant Program Manager position in Lacey, WA. This is an exempt management position (EMS 3) reporting directly to Ecology’s deputy director. This recruitment is open until filled, with initial screening scheduled on December 6, 2013. To be considered for initial screening, please submit an application and required materials on or before December 5, 2013. Please click here if you are interested.

EPA and Clean Water Act Jurisdiction – WSWC Sends Letter

On November 7, the WSWC sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) commenting on a draft EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) study that synthesizes peer reviewed literature on the connection between small, isolated waters and larger bodies of water.  Once finalized, EPA has indicated that the study will serve as the basis for a forthcoming rule it is developing with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the extent of Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction.  The SAB will review public comments on the report during a public meeting on December 16-18, in Washington, D.C.

 The WSWC’s letter states: “We are concerned that the report may be misinterpreted inappropriately to suggest that a scientific connection between waters alone is sufficient to establish CWA jurisdiction.  The report only discusses well-known scientific principles of hydrology and geohydrology regarding the interconnections between waters, but does not and can not describe how these principles apply to the legal and institutional boundaries that Congress and the Supreme Court have placed on CWA jurisdiction.”

 “The overriding question in the rulemaking is not one of science, but of legal authority, namely the extent of federal authority over water resources under Justice Scalia’s plurality opinion and Justice Kennedy’s concurring opinion in Rapanos.  For example, under Justice Kennedy’s test, a mere scientific connection or ‘nexus’ between waters is not sufficient to determine CWA jurisdiction.  Instead, [his] test requires a fact-intensive, case-by-case physical and legal inquiry to determine whether that nexus is ‘significant’ enough to establish CWA jurisdiction.  Since the report does not describe how its scientific findings apply to this test or Justice Scalia’s plurality decision, it is insufficient alone to establish or support CWA jurisdiction.”

 “The report should not be used to support a rule that improperly asserts that the scope of the CWA is essentially unlimited.  We recognize that there are differing interpretations of Rapanos, but it is undisputed that the Court rejected the EPA’s and the Corps’ pre-Rapanos interpretation of CWA authority.  A rule that attempts to return CWA jurisdiction to the pre-Rapanos ‘status quo,’ using the report’s findings of global hydrologic connectivity would be contrary to the limits that Congress and the Court have established, and would be an improper use of the report and federal rulemaking authority. [T]he CWA does not apply to ground waters, which are protected and allocated by western states, and which recognize the hydrogeologic connections.  Any reference to ground waters, including ‘shallow subsurface flows,’ is inappropriate in any related rulemaking.”

 “As stated in our position regarding the draft CWA guidance, efforts to expand CWA authority beyond the limitations the Court established in SWANCC and Rapanos ‘would likely lead to further litigation’ and would do little to resolve the current uncertainty regarding the extent of CWA jurisdiction.”

 “We are also concerned about the lack of state expertise and state representation on the [SAB panel that will review the report].  Not a single member…is a state agency expert or administrator.  As stated in our April letter, the states have on-the-ground expertise and knowledge of water quality conditions and challenges within their borders.”

 “[W]e urge you to recognize the limitations of the report as it does not address the legal limits of CWA jurisdiction and authority, and how those limits apply to the scientific principles discussed in the report.”

 Of note, the letter is based on WSWC position #330.5 and a related April 2013 follow-up letter regarding EPA’s now withdrawn draft CWA guidance.  Please contact the WSWC for a copy of the letter.  (WSW #2053)

WSWC Fall Council Meeting Recap, Deadwood, SD

For stills of the photos above and access to the Fall Council Meeting information, including presentations, click here.

Tony’s email following the meeting:

“We hope by now everyone has arrived home safely!  Having shortened our meetings to allow for an early departure on Thursday, I am aware that many were able to drive or catch early flights out that day. Several of us stayed in Rapid City to await Friday flights that were cancelled repeatedly due to the blizzard.  The city lost power Saturday, which wasn’t restored until Sunday evening, and the airport wasn’t opened until Monday.

Council staff and [some council members] were at one hotel, while [others were stuck at another adjacent hotel]. Several of us finally drove our rental cars to Salt Lake City and Denver on Sunday, with a few still in Rapid City awaiting flights Monday morning.

We are grateful that despite the inclement weather and inconvenience everyone appears to have made it out safely.  Thanks for everyone’s patience and understanding with the abbreviated meetings! We will post some pictures on the website later to provide some evidence of the magnitude of the storm!  Anyone that would like to share photos, please email them to staff.”

EPA/Corps Clean Water Act Rulemaking

On September 17, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers withdrew their proposed Clean Water Act (CWA) guidance.  At the same time, the agencies announced that they have submitted a draft rule to clarify CWA jurisdiction to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for interagency review.

After the review, the agencies will publish the draft rule for comment. EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Nancy Stoner said the rule “…will provide greater consistency, certainty, and predictability nationwide by providing clarity for determining where the [CWA] applies and where it does not.  These improvements are necessary to reduce costs and minimize delays in the permit process and protect waters that are vital to public health, the environment and economy.”  Please see: http://blog.epa.gov/epaconnect/2013/09/watersoftheus/. In addition, EPA said the rule is based on a draft report that its Science Advisory Board (SAB) released concurrently with the rule’s submission to OMB.  Titled “Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters,” the report reviews and synthesizes peer reviewed literature on the connection between small, isolated waters and larger bodies of water.  EPA also says any final regulations regarding CWA jurisdiction will be based on the final version of the report, and will maintain existing exemptions and exclusions.

The report makes three initial conclusions.  The first states: “Streams, regardless of their size or how frequently they flow, are connected to and have important effects on downstream waters.  These streams supply most of the water in rivers, transport sediment and organic matter, provide habitat for many species, and take up or change nutrients that could otherwise impair downstream waters.” The second conclusion states: “Wetlands and open-waters in floodplains of streams and rivers and in riparian areas…are integrated with streams and rivers.  They strongly influence downstream waters by affecting the flow of water, trapping and reducing non-point source pollution, and exchanging biological species.” The third conclusion states: “[T]here is insufficient information to generalize about wetlands and open-waters located outside of riparian areas and floodplains and their connectivity to downstream waters.”

EPA is requesting public comment on the draft report by November 6, which the SAB will consider during a public peer review meeting later this year.  Comments received after November 6 may be considered, but not at the public meeting.  For more on the rulemaking and how to comment on the report, see: http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/cfm/recordisplay.cfm?deid=238345.

Of note, the WSWC has expressed concerns about the draft guidance, and wrote EPA and the Corps in April, asking the agencies not to issue the guidance and stating that formal rulemaking would be a better mechanism for the agencies to use in clarifying CWA jurisdiction.  However, the WSWC’s letter urged EPA to view the states as co-regulators and to ensure “…that state water managers have a robust and meaningful voice in the development of any rule regarding CWA jurisdiction, particularly in the early stages of development before irreversible momentum precludes effective state participation.”  (WSW #2029)