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Mountain Counties Water Board Takes Stance on Legislative Proposals

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Sonora, CA– The Mountain Counties Water Resources Association (MCWRA) Board of Directors, led by Chair Scott Ratterman of the Calaveras County Water District and Vice Chair Barbara Balen of the Tuolumne Utilities District, has adopted official positions on a number of proposals currently making their way through California’s legislative process. MCWRA is weighing in on proposals impacting the association’s strategic priorities, including California’s headwaters, water rights, and forest management. “I’d like to thank the MCWRA Legislative Committee for their work in identifying the bills that most impact our members,” said Scott Ratterman, MCWRA President, and Calaveras County Water District Director. “Our mission is to promote the statewide importance of Sierra Nevada water resources through advocacy and collaboration, and we look forward to engaging in the legislative process to advance this mission.”

The MCWRA board has actively advocated several proposals, including the Water and Wildfire Resiliency Act of 2023 (ACA-2), the California Environmental Quality Act (AB 1554), and the Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program: Grant Eligibility: High Hazard and Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones (SB 470). The association supports the Water and Wildfire Resiliency Act of 2023 if amended to dedicate 50% of water project funding to wildfire suppression facilities in the wildland-urban interface. MCWRA also supports AB 1554, which exempts fuel reduction projects from the California Environmental Quality Act in moderate, high, and very high hazard severity zones.

MCWRA opposes several proposals, including the State Water Board Enforcement (AB 1337), the State Water Resources Enforcement (AB 460), the Determination of Water Right (SB 389), and the Public Works: Definition (AB 338). The association opposes AB 1337, which limits water diversions through regulation and enforces the regulations through orders to divert and use water under claims of right. It also opposes AB 460, which provides new authority for the State Water Resources Control Board and allows for its motion or upon the petition of an interested party to apply or enforce items such as the Reasonable Use and Public Trust Doctrine. The association believes this would weaken the protected rights to judicial review of the board. Similarly, MCWRA opposes SB 389, which authorizes the State Water Resources Control Board to investigate the diversion and use of water from a stream system to determine whether the diversion and use are based upon appropriation, riparian right, or another basis of right. Finally, the association opposes AB 338, which seeks to expand the definition of “public works” to include fuel reduction work paid for in whole or in part out of public funds performed as part of a fire mitigation project.

Full information about this legislation and positions can be foundĀ here.