News

Barbed Wire - March 9, 2012

RCRC Turns 40 in 2012

RCRC Shares Concerns re State Responsibility Area fees at Budget Subcommittee Hearing

During a committee hearing in Sacramento this week, RCRC shared its concerns regarding proposed changes to the State Responsibility Area (SRA) fees. Legislative advocate Cyndi Hillery testified before the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee’s Subcommittee 2 on Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy and Transportation, expressing previously stated concerns re SRA fee implementation, as well as new concerns regarding a recent Administration proposal to expand categories of activities that may be funded by the fee – namely adding suppression or basic firefighting to the list of prevention activities. 

Specifically, the Administration’s proposal adds “the prevention of the expansion of wild land fires during emergency situations” to the list of eligible “prevention” activities for SRA fee funding. RCRC testified that: a) this expands the activity to one of fire-fighting rather than fire-prevention, as intended by the original AB 29X bill; and b) if the list of categories were expanded to include fire fighting actions, without a clearly articulated list of activities with corresponding fiscal allocations, there would be no remaining money for local prevention activities as envisioned by AB 29X. 

The current SRA fee emergency regulations institute a flat $150 fee to each owner of a “habitable structure” in the SRA and allows a $35 discount if the structure is located within a local fire protection agency. 

RCRC submitted a letter to the Committee, which included additional concerns re SRA fees such as legal ramifications for the state. While any SRA fee may create a new state liability, expanding the fee to cover fire suppression will only heighten this risk. Additionally, the letter reiterated that SRA fees are an inappropriate solution for funding Cal Fire activities, and that it will remain a challenge to implement. 

The Subcommittee did not take any action on this item; the hearing was for additional information gathering and discussion as part of the Budget process.

For further information or questions regarding this issue, please contact RCRC Legislative Advocate Cyndi Hillery at chillery@rcrcnet.org or (916) 447-4806.

Senate Adds Secure Rural Schools Extension to Highway Bill

This week, the U.S. Senate continued debate on reauthorization of the nation’s surface transportation programs, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21St Century (MAP 21, S. 1813).  As part of the deliberations, a deal was struck by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), and Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to include a one-year extension of the Secure Rural Schools Act to the package. The amendment was adopted by the Senate by a vote of 82-16, with California Senators Boxer and Feinstein both in support. Specifically, the amendment would extend the already expired SRS Act through 2012 with a 5 percent cut from 2011 levels. This level is consistent with the Senate SRS reauthorization proposal, S. 1692.  Additionally, the amendment would extend the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program through 2013. 

MAP 21 is expected to be approved by the full Senate as early as Tuesday, and House leadership have indicated the House may consider the Senate version of the transportation bill after abandoning their version, H.R 7, a few weeks ago.   

For questions or comments, please contact RCRC’s Melissa White at mwhite@rcrcnet.org.

RCRC’s Environmental Services Joint Powers Authority Provides Working Group with Rural County Perspective re California Solid Waste Infrastructure 

RCRC Regulatory Advocate Mary Pitto -- also Environmental Services Joint Powers Authority (ESJPA) Program Manager-- and RCRC’s ESJPA Consultant Larry Sweetser for the first time participated on a working committee to help evaluate California’s solid waste infrastructure. In preparation for its 2012 California Infrastructure Report Card, and recognizing that rural counties were not at the table during the last report’s preparation, the American Society of Civil Engineers asked RCRC’s ESJPA representatives to participate in its solid waste working group.

The update is conducted every five years and assigns a letter grade (a report card) to each of the categories. The Report Card evaluates California’s eight public works infrastructure categories, and recommends public policy options with corresponding funding amounts to “rehabilitate and revitalize” our state’s infrastructure. The solid waste working committee consisted of public and private sector representatives who reviewed California’s solid waste policies and programs; collection; materials recovery, composting and processing facilities; and disposal. The newly released report gives a B grade to California’s solid waste category. Copies of the report are at www.ascecareportcard.org.  

Carpet Product Stewardship Update – Six RCRC Member Counties Kick-off Pilot Program

As previously reported in the Barbed Wire, RCRC’s Environmental Services Joint Powers Authority (ESJPA) has been working with the California Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) for the past year on implementing the carpet recycling program. As part of this effort, ESJPA has been involved in developing a pilot program in conjunction with various entities, including rural county staff.  The pilot program is now in place with six counties participating --Calaveras, Del Norte, Humboldt, Plumas, Siskiyou, and Tehama.  ESJPA staff and others conducted site visits last week to provide training materials and determine final program needs. 

For more information, please contact Mary Pitto at mpitto@rcrcnet.org.

AB 32 Mandatory Commercial Recycling Regulations - Update

When last reported in the Barbed Wire, the California Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) was completing the rulemaking and regulatory adoption process to implement AB 341 (Chesbro) – a diversion and mandatory commercial recycling bill. Since then, RCRC’s Environmental Services Joint Powers Authority (ESJPA) has been working with CalRecycle staff on a model rural commercial recycling program that would satisfy minimum requirements of a rural jurisdiction’s good faith efforts.  A draft model program will be presented at the March 15th ESJPA meeting for discussion and county input. The intent is to have a final product that is acceptable to both CalRecycle and our member counties.

The regulations require a business or public entity that generates four cubic yards or more of solid waste per week, or multifamily units of 5 or more to begin recycling by July 1, 2012.  Local jurisdictions are required to implement a commercial recycling program by July 1, 2012 that provides outreach, education, identification and monitoring of businesses that fit within their existing programs, resources, and infrastructure. To view the Mandatory Commercial Recycling Regulation please visit  http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/Climate/Recycling/Regulations.pdf.   

For more information, please contact Mary Pitto at mpitto@rcrcnet.org.

Announcements
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Provides $15 Million to Help Small Drinking Water and Wastewater Systems Nationwide

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is providing up to $15 million in funding for training and technical assistance to private well owners, and small drinking and wastewater systems that serve fewer than 10,000 people. The money is for training and technical assistance to enhance system operations and management practices at small public water systems and tribally-owned and operated water systems, as well as for compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act.  Additionally, the money may be used for improved water quality by private well owners.  Applications must be received by April 9, 2012. Please visit. http://water.epa.gov/grants_funding/sdwa/smallsystemsrfa.cfm for more information.

EPA expects to award these cooperative agreements by summer 2012.

Central Valley Flood Protection Plan Hearings Scheduled

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) will hold four public hearings to receive comments on the just released Draft Program Environmental Impact Report (DPEIR) for the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan (CVFPP). DWR and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board will use the DPEIR to learn about potential program-level environmental effects, as well as any mitigation measures that may be required as a result of implementing the CVFPP. The DPEIR and its companion documents are available at CVFPP Program documents. Written comments are due by 5 p.m on Friday, April 20, 2012 to: Mary Ann Hadden, Staff Environmental Scientist, DWR- Division of Flood Management c/o MWH, 3321 Power Inn Road, Suite 300, Sacramento, CA 95826; DPEIR@water.ca.gov

Public hearing dates and locations are as follows:

  • April 5,2012 – 2 p.m.: Natural Resources Building, Auditorium, 1416 Ninth Street, Sacramento

  • April 6, 2012 – 2 p.m : Yuba County Government Office, Yuba County Government Office, Board of Supervisors Boardroom, 915 8th Street, Marysville .

  • April 9, 2012 –4:30 p.m.: Robert J. Cabral Agricultural Center, San Joaquin County Robert J. Cabral Agricultural Center, 2101 E. Earhart Avenue, Stockton

  • April 11, 2012 – 4:30 p.m.: Yolo County Board of Supervisors Building, Yolo County Board of Supervisors Building, 625 Court Street, Woodland 

Most recently, RCRC -- in conjunction with the California State Association of Counties and the League of California Cities – submitted a letter to the CVFPB in February 2012 asking that our comments and concerns be addressed in the CVFPP. For questions or comments, please contact Kathy Mannion at kmannion@rcrcnet.org.

Department of Water Resources Schedules Mountain Counties Regional Forum

The first Department of Water Resources Mountain Counties Regional Forum on Water Management and Planning is scheduled for Monday, April 2, 2012 from 10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. The primary meeting location is in El Dorado Hills, with satellite locations in Sonora and Oakhurst. A webinar format will also be available.

The Department of Water Resources, in cooperation with local entities and organizations, is holding the regional forum to gather and share information relating to the California Water Plan and statewide and local Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM). The agenda includes collecting feedback on local conditions and priorities that will help inform statewide investments.

Please visit www.waterplan.water.ca.gov/materials/index.cfm?subject=apr0212  to download the agenda, webinar link and conference call number. Meeting materials will be posted as they are available. Lunch will be served for a $10, which you may reserve at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/P37FKGR.

One or two Mountain County regional forums will likely be held each year, with agendas focused on specific water-related programs associated with the Department of Water Resources, other agencies and local priorities.  RCRC staff is a member of the Mountain Counties Regional Forum Design Team.  Please contact Kathy Mannion at kmannion@rcrcnet.org with any questions.