The Barbed Wire - January 31, 2014

January 31, 2014
House Passes Farm Bill, Federal PILT Funding Extension Included
Final California Water Action Plan Released
Rural Communities Facing Water Shortages
Flood Insurance Legislation

House Passes Farm Bill, Federal PILT Funding Extension Included

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a five-year reauthorization of the nation’s agriculture and nutrition programs, known as the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill includes key provisions that provide a one-year extension of the federal Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which compensates counties for the loss of property tax revenue when the federal government takes private land into federal ownership. 

Federal PILT is a critical program that RCRC member counties rely on to fund various governmental services. The Farm Bill passed the House after nearly six months of political wrangling between the House and the Senate over crop subsidies, dairy programs, and food stamps, and represents tough negotiations and necessary concessions to gain the majority vote needed to get the bill out of the House. The U.S. Senate is expected to pass the Farm Bill in the coming days, sending it to the President for final approval. 

California is expected to receive slightly more than $41 million dollars in federal PILT payments. A specific county-by-county breakdown of funding can be accessed here.

RCRC appreciates the leadership of the House members who voted to support the Farm Bill with a one-year extension of PILT. In addition, RCRC will be advocating to Congress for the need to enact a longer-term program.

For additional information, please contact RCRC Senior Legislative Advocate Paul A. Smith at 916.447.4806 or

Final California Water Action Plan Released

On Monday, the State released the final California Water Action Plan, which lays out the Administration’s goals and vision for the next five years. Revisions to the draft plan, released for comment in October 2013, include an expanded section on drought response and a new effort focused on better management of Sierra Nevada headwaters that help water storage, water quality, and ecosystems. 

The Governor’s 2014-15 Proposed Budget provides $618.7 million in funding for implementing near-term actions for water efficiency projects, wetland and watershed restoration, groundwater programs, conservation, flood control, and integrated water management.

The final California Water Action Plan can be accessed here.

For additional information, please contact RCRC Legislative Advocate Kathy Mannion at 916.447.4806 or

Rural Communities Facing Water Shortages

Earlier this week, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that it has identified and offered support to 17 rural communities with vulnerable drinking water systems due to drought conditions. The 17 identified rural communities may face severe water shortages in the next 60-100 days. 

The 17 rural drinking water systems identified serve communities that range in population from 39 to approximately 11,000 residents. CDPH will work with the impacted systems in implementing required conservation measures that could include rationing, or banning outside watering. CDPH will also work to identify possible additional sources of water, such as nearby water systems, or hauled water, and to provide guidance on the possible construction of additional wells to meet the system’s needs.

This announcement follows the Governor’s drought state of emergency proclamation on January 17, 2014 in which he directed CDPH’s Drinking Water Program to identify communities that may run out of drinking water, and “provide technical and financial assistance to help these communities address drinking water shortages.” The proclamation also calls on CDPH to “identify emergency interconnections that exist among the State’s public water systems that can help these threatened communities.”

CDPH’s Drinking Water Program has currently identified the following drinking water systems at greatest risk:

-       Shaver Lake Heights Mutual Water Company (Fresno County)

-       Sierra Cedars Community Services District (Fresno County)

-       Bass Lake Water Company (Madera County)

-       Whispering Pines Apts (Mariposa County)

-       Boulder Canyon Water Association (Kern County)

-       Lake of the Woods Mutual Water Company (Kern County)

-       Camp Condor (Kern County)

-       Jackson Valley Irrigation District (Amador County)

-       City of Willits (Mendocino County)

-       Redwood Valley Community Water District (Mendocino County)

-       Brooktrail Township Community Services District (Mendocino County)

-       Washington Ridge Conservation Camp (Nevada County)

-       Ophir Gardens (Placer County)

-       Lompico County Water District (Santa Cruz County)

-       City of Cloverdale (Sonoma County)

-       Healdsburg (Sonoma County)

This list may change as solutions for these systems are implemented and additional vulnerable systems are identified.

For additional information, please contact RCRC Legislative Advocate Kathy Mannion at 916.447.4806 or

Flood Insurance Legislation

This week, the U.S. Senate passed S. 1926, which would delay the implementation of certain provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. This legislation would require that rate increases that began on certain properties starting last year would be rolled back and frozen until the Federal Emergency Management Agency complete an affordability study. The affordability study is expected to take roughly four years. The House has indicated that they will not take up the Senate bill but will introduce their own legislation to address the rate increases in Biggert-Waters.

For additional information on federal matters, please contact RCRC Senior Legislative Advocate Paul A. Smith at 916.447.4806 or


Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Workshops Announced

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced dates for three workshops to gather input on potential changes to improve the grant solicitation process for the IRWM program. 

Full details on the workshops can be accessed here.