Water Supply Enhancement Project EIR
(Stockton East Water District)
Stevens Consulting is leading an effort to prepare an EIR for the Water Supply Enhancement Project (WSEP) for the Stockton East Water District. The WSEP is a project in eastern San Joaquin County to divert surplus wet season flows in the Calaveras River, Rock Creek, and Littlejohns Creek, using one existing diversion structure, three new diversion structures, nine miles of new canals, 26 miles of new pipeline, and other ancillary improvements. On average approximately 80,000 acre-feet of water would be diverted each year into approximately 6,700 acres of temporary and permanent recharge sites through eastern San Joaquin County.
Mr. Stevens is managing the preparation of the EIR, coordinating and overseeing the work of six subconsultants, and managing communications between the team and an oversight team consisting of the District, their attorneys, and the lead engineer. The EIR addresses all of the issues in the CEQA checklist, with the focus of effort on aquatic and terrestrial ecology, surface water (including Delta modeling), flood management, and groundwater. He also has coordinated the efforts of the management team to develop alternatives to the proposed project which eliminate the vast majority of the project's impacts on wetlands, California tiger salamander, oak woodlands, and Valley elderberry longhorn beetle, while achieving the goals of the District.
Somerston Estate Water Right
(State Water Resources Control Board)
Stevens Consulting has been conducting technical studies for Somerston Estate on their property located in eastern Napa County. Our work, in support of their water right Petitions for Change has included both terrestrial and aquatic biological surveys, cultural resource surveys, and a wetland delineation. The project site is located on a tributary to the Russian River, so key issues to be addressed will include impacts on fisheries and aquatic ecosystems, terrestrial habitat and species, and water quality.
CEQA Compliance for Water Right and Sphere of Influence Amendments
(Hidden Valley Lake Community Services District/Lake LAFCo)
Stevens Consulting is leading a team to prepare an EIR for the Hidden Valley Lake Community Services District (District) in the Coyote Valley portion of Lake County. The District possesses a water right license and a permit to pump underflow to Putah Creek for domestic and commercial uses. The District has submitted petitions to the State Water Resources Control Board requesting that several terms required in their license and permit be removed, including a requirement to monitor and report on groundwater in the Coyote Valley, and a requirement to provide supplemental flows in Putah Creek from their wells during summer months when flows are below the long-term average. They are also requesting that the amount of time allowed for them to put all of the water in their rights to beneficial use be extended, to allow for continued growth within the District boundaries.
Stevens Consulting and Planning Partners have been hired by the District to conduct studies of aquatic resources in Putah Creek preparatory to preparing an EIR for the water right petitions. They will also be coordinating the water right work with actions the District is planning with Lake LAFCo, including a Municipal Services Review, and a possible Sphere of Influence study. Stevens Consulting is developing an experimental design to collect data in Putah Creek over a period of years to clarify the biological resources in the segment of Putah Creek within the Coyote Valley, and to demonstrate whether the District's supplemental flows are providing benefits to these biological resources. We will also be attempting to determine whether the District's pumping is adversely affecting water levels in the Coyote Valley groundwater basin.
American Basin Fish Screen and Habitat Improvement Project
(Natomas Central Mutual Water Company)
The Natomas Mutual Water Company (Natomas) currently operates five old diversion structures, three on the Sacramento River and two on the Natomas Cross Canal, to serve its customers in the Natomas Basin. In cooperation with the California Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Natomas sponsored a project to improve habitat conditions for fish by consolidating its five diversions into two new diversions, constructing fish screens on the new diversions, and making improvements to Natomas' internal conveyance system to accommodate the changes in points of diversion.
As part of the Miriam Green Associates/Mead & Hunt team, Stevens Consulting assisted Natomas in preparing a joint EIS/EIR for the project. The focus issues of the EIS/EIR were effects of construction and operation of the project on fish species in the Sacramento River and Natomas Cross Canal, and on the giant garter snake, valley elderberry longhorn beetle, and Swainson's hawk. The work also included preparation of an Action Specific Implementation Plan in compliance with the Endangered Species Act and the California Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Fish and Game served as the NEPA and CEQA lead agencies for this effort. The EIS/EIR received the highest rating from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Also, despite being in the controversial Natomas Basin, no substantial comments were received on the Final EIS/EIR, allowing it to be completed in far less than the projected cost.
June Lake Public Utility District Water Rights
June Lake Public Utility District serves treated water to domestic and commercial uses within the June Lake Loop portion of Mono County. Stevens Consulting has provided support to the June Lake Public Utility District (JLPUD) for two separate sets of water right petitions it has filed with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).
2011 Water Right Petitions - JLPUD has four water right permits under which they provide water to its Village System service area. JLPUD filed Petitions for Extension of Time and Petitions for Change to add 40 acres of land into their authorized place of use, to each of their permits. Mr. Stevens prepared an Initial Study/Negative Declaration in support of these eight petitions, with JLPUD as the CEQA lead agency and the SWRCB as a CEQA Cooperating Agency. The amended permits were issued by the State Water Resources Control Board in January 2012.
2014 Water Right Petitions - JLPUD has eight water right permits and licenses for the diversion and use of water from Fern Creek to support its Down Canyon service area. Due to continuing drought conditions in Mono County, JLPUD submitted a Temporary Urgency Petition for Change to the SWRCB to request a temporary change to the minimum bypass required under its Fern Creek permits. Stevens Consulting assisted JLPUD in preparing the petitions, and coordinated the efforts of a hydrologist and aquatic ecologist to establish a data collection and analysis system to determine the effects of the lower flows likely to occur with the lower bypass conditions. The temporarily amended petitions were granted by the SWRCB in August 2014. Stevens Consulting is now assisting JLPUD with preparation of a long-term monitoring plan for Fern Creek, associated with petitions JLPUD has filed to permanently reduce the bypass requirements contained in their licenses and permits.
Other Water Right Projects
(State Water Resources Control Board)
Stevens Consulting specializes in environmental compliance for water right applicants and petitioners before the State Water Resources Control Board. Working through engineering firms and water right attorneys, Stevens Consulting provide strategic advice to clients regarding compliance with the many environmental laws and regulations associated with water rights projects. The following are examples of projects we have completed or are in the process of assisting clients with, including projects where CEQA is required, or where a Public Trust Resources evaluation is required.
Wine Country Applicants and Petitioners
- Pride Mountain Vineyards - Application to construct new on-stream reservoir and irrigation of 11 acres of existing vineyards. Mayacamas Mountains above St. Helena. Completed IS/MND.
- Nord Ridge Vineyards - Application to construct new 14.9 acre-foot reservoir, expand existing reservoir to 10 acre-feet, and irrigate 22 acres of existing vineyard. Above Pope Valley in Napa County. Completed IS/MND.
- TDB Real Estate - Application to expand an existing reservoir and divert to storage 49 acre-feet of water to irrigate new vineyards. Pope Valley portion of Napa County. IS/MND in process.
- A&G Montna Properties - Application to divert water to Sutter County rice fields during the winter for rice decomposition and wildlife enhancement.
- Leal Family Trust and Odysseus Farms - Application to divert water to Sutter County rice fields during the winter for rice decomposition and wildlife enhancement.
- Chateau Montelena - Application to divert water to storage in one existing and one proposed off-stream reservoir for use in irrigating a vineyard. IS/MMD in preparation.
- Moskowite - Petitions for existing water right licenses for a vineyard in the Capell Valley of Napa County to expand and consolidate the place of use for all three licenses, and to add frost protection to the purposes of use. Public Trust Resources analysis in preparation.
- Bewley-Motluk Family Limited Partnership - Petitions to amend two licenses and one permit to conform the place of use to existing developed lands. West of Laytonville, in Mendocino County. Public Trust Resources evaluation completed.
- Omnium Estates - Application for direct diversion and diversion to storage in an existing off-stream reservoir for the irrigation of 72-acres of existing vineyards. Southern Mendocino County. Public Trust Resources evaluation and permitting completed.
- Constellation Wines - Application to divert to storage 40 acre-feet of water in an existing reservoir and to irrigate 74 acres of existing vineyard. Northeast of Healdsburg, in Sonoma County. Work on Public Trust Resources evaluation completed.
Environmental Compliance for Mitigation and Conservation Banks.
Stevens Consulting has provided a variety of environmental compliance support services to Westervelt Ecological Services (WES), a private mitigation banking firm.
The Sutter Basin Conservation Bank is a 429-acre bank, located in Sutter County, which contributes to the conservation of the giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigas) a species listed as threatened under both the federal Endangered Species Act and California Endangered Species Act. Stevens Consulting prepared an Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration for the project, with the Sutter County Community Services District acting as the lead agency.
The Van Vleck Mitigation Bank is a 775-acre bank in eastern Sacramento County, owned by the Van Vleck Ranching and Resources Corporation. WES protected vernal pools already on the site and created additional vernal pool complexes on portions of the site. Stevens Consulting prepared a detailed project description, oversaw the preparation of technical reports, and worked closely with Sacramento County Department of Environmental Review and Assessment (DERA) to allow them to prepare a Categorical Exemption for the project.
The Consumnes Floodplain Mitigation Bank is a 472-acre bank, strategically located at the confluence of the Mokelumne and Cosumnes rivers, across from the Cosumnes Preserve. WES acquired the property, re-shaped the land, planted thousands of seedling trees, and breached the farm berm on the south side of the Cosumnes River to allow natural restoration of riparian floodplain forest to occur. The bank will provide a variety of habitat types, including: shaded riverine aquatic; a suite of riparian, perennial, and seasonal wetlands; and riparian forest and shrub scrub. Stevens Consulting assisted WES in evaluating the marketability of credits on the site in light of Delta planning efforts and restoration goals. We also worked with WES to develop an environmental compliance strategy, and coordinated with Sacramento County DERA to ensure that all needed information, including technical studies, were provided to allow them to prepare an IS/MND for the project.
Guide to Regulatory Compliance for Implementing CALFED Actions
Craig Stevens served as project manager in the preparation of this comprehensive guide to regulatory compliance, published in two volumes. Volume I lays out a 13-step process for facilitating regulatory compliance, including tips on how to integrate other regulatory compliance processes into the NEPA/CEQA process. Volume II provides specific guidance for complying with all of the most important regulatory compliance processes triggered by water-related projects. This volume is structured by process, starting with federal requirements and moving on to state and local requirements. The following questions are answered for each process: Who should comply? How long does the approval process take? What information must the applicant provide? What is the fee? What does the application and evaluation process entail? Does this process trigger the need for compliance with other regulations? What are the opportunities for facilitaing compliance with this process?
- Santa Clara Valley Water District Stream Maintenance Program SEIR
- Sacramento Suburban Water District Wells 37 and 38 IS/MNDs
- Rural North Vacaville Water District EIR
- Delta-Mendota Canal-California Aqueduct Intertie EA/IS
- Central Valley Project Improvement Act Programmatic EIS
- Lower Mokelumne River Restoration Program EIR/EIS
- North Delta Flood Control and Ecosystem Restoration Project EIR
- Delta Risk Management Strategy
- Environmental Water Program
- San Joaquin County General Plan Update
- Environmental Compliance Training
- CALFED Bay-Delta Program Support
- Affordable Housing NEPA Compliance On-Call (for AEM Consulting)
- Stockton Deep Water Ship Channel Dissolved Oxygen TMDL
- Las Tres Marias Estates IS/MND
- North Bay Aqueduct Alternative Intake Project