CCA-sponsored AB 589 by Assemblymember Frank Bigelow (R-O'Neals) was enrolled for the Governor's signature yesterday (9-14-2017) after passing both houses of the legislature. If signed by Governor Brown, AB 589 will provide significant cost savings for ranchers who divert more than 100 acre-feet of water per year. Current State Water Resources Control Board regulations require those diverters to hire a licensed engineer to install a water-measurement device or implement an alternative measurement method, often at exorbitant costs.Meanwhile:
AB 589 will allow diverters to instead install their own devices or implement their own measurement method upon completion of a course offered and taught by the University of California Cooperative Extension. The Governor will have until October 15, 2017 to sign or veto legislation, and CCA is strongly urging the Governor to promptly sign the bill into law. If the Governor signs the bill, it will be enacted January 1, 2018.
On Tuesday, CCA succeeded in defeating a proposal by the State Water Resources Control Board which would have increased fees for small domestic use registrations and livestock stock pond registrations (which are both capped at 10 acre-feet per year) by 400% and would have increased fees for small irrigation use registrations (which are capped at 20 acre-feet per year) by 650%.I have calls into the organization to discuss these items further. Watch for my continuing coverage of these issues at CapitalPress.com.
Under the current fee structure, registration holders submit an initial $250 fee and a renewal fee of $100 every five years. Under the proposed fee increase, the initial fee for small domestic use and livestock stock pond registrations would have doubled to $500 with an annual fee of $100. For small irrigation use registrations, the initial fee would have been raised to $750, with an annual fee of $150.
CCA was particularly concerned with the impacts that a fee increase would have upon diverters with numerous stock ponds registered on their ranch or ranches, and the cumulative annual fees could prove overwhelming. Additionally, for especially small ponds, CCA was concerned that the annual fee could exceed the value of water impounded in the stock ponds.
Based on CCA's written comments and concerns raised at Tuesday's Board meeting, the Water Board rejected the proposed fee increase for the three classes of registrations, and directed Water Board staff to work with CCA and other agricultural stakeholders to develop a more reasonable fee proposal for registrations, which the Board will likely consider in 2018.