The Barbed Wire - October 27, 2023

October 27, 2023
RCRC Testifies Following Changes to Middle-Mile Maps that Jeopardize Rural Area Last-Mile Networks
CPUC Holds Technical Workshop on BEAD Proceeding
Strong 2022-23 Water Year Leads to Healthy Reservoir Storage
CalRecycle To Take Public Comments on Feasibility of Bifurcating Organic Waste Collection and Processing
Congressional Representatives Call for White House to Include Agriculture Disaster Relief in New Supplemental Request
ICYMI - RCRC 2023 Legislative Digest Provides Guide to Latest Legislation Impacting Rural California Counties
Save the Date – RCRC Webinars Coming in November

RCRC Testifies Following Changes to Middle-Mile Maps that Jeopardize Rural Area Last-Mile Networks

On Wednesday, RCRC staff testified before the California Broadband Council (CBC) on the impacts of recent and ongoing changes to the statewide middle-mile design. The California Department of Technology (CDT) most recently altered the middle-mile maps on October 20th, three weeks after Federal Funding Account (FFA) applications were submitted, jeopardizing last-mile networks in rural areas dependent on the state fiber backbone for middle-mile service.

The CBC was created in 2010 to ensure coordination across state agencies in promoting broadband deployment in unserved and underserved areas. In 2021 the state made an unprecedented $ 6 billion investment in broadband deployment that included establishment of the Middle-Mile Broadband Initiative to create an over $3 billion state owned middle-mile network. The state middle-mile is the foundation of many proposed projects seeking funding through the $2 billion last-mile grant program, the FFA. For more information, contact Senior Policy Advocate Tracy Rhine.

CPUC Holds Technical Workshop on BEAD Proceeding

On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) held a technical workshop on the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) proceeding it is undertaking to implement the federal broadband infrastructure funding program. The workshop included an overview of the BEAD program by a representative of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA); presentations by CPUC staff on key policy issues to be addressed in the BEAD Initial Proposal; and panel discussions of selected topics in the proceeding. Scott Armstrong, the Regional Broadband Coordinator with Inyo County and Len De Groot, Information Technology Project Manager with Tuolumne County were panelists offering their expertise and perspective on rural broadband efforts. 

The BEAD program provides $42.45 billion nationally to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs in all 50 states. California has been allocated approximately $1.86 billion under BEAD based on the federal government's calculation of California's share of unserved locations nationally. The CPUC is expected to release a staff proposal outlining program rules very soon as the state must provide NTIA with a plan for implementing BEAD by the end of the year. For more information contact RCRC Senior Policy Advocate, Tracy Rhine.

Strong 2022-23 Water Year Leads to Healthy Reservoir Storage

After a strong 2022-23 water year, which concluded on October 1st, both the Central Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project (SWP) are reporting some of the healthiest water storage levels at key reservoirs in several years. Both projects were able to deliver 100% of contracted supply to project contractors by mid-year 2023; and, the continued strength of surface storage heading into the 2023-24 winter season, where precipitation totals are again expected to be above average, has project managers optimistic for continued delivery at full allocation levels well into 2024. 

The federal Central Valley Project, in particular, benefitted from healthy rainfall this past year. This resulted in near-record storage, allowing project authorities to extend delivery to non-priority contractors, such as those holding Section 215 agreements with U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. While the total 2023 year-end storage for the project (slightly more than 8-million-acre feet stored at project reservoirs) falls short of the record years in 1983 and 2019 (both exceeding 9-million-acre feet stored), project authorities are optimistic a second wet winter may allow 2024 to reach or surpass those previous records. 

State Water Project (SWP) authorities also reported a near-banner year in 2023, with increasing optimism for strong supply into 2024. At a press conference recapping the 2022-23 water year, Department of Water Resources (DWR) Director, Karla Nemeth, reported the SWP was able to deliver full allocations to its 29 agency contractors and its several agricultural contractors. In addition, SWP Deputy Director, Ted Craddock, highlighted the project’s record year for off-stream and underground storage, with nearly 400,000-acre feet diverted to groundwater storage alone. Agencies contracted with the project applied for over a million-acre feet in permits for local groundwater storage projects, though DWR was unable to verify how much total storage was achieved through permits to local agencies. 

Overall, project managers remain optimistic that longer-term supplies will continue to be bolstered by sturdy surface and groundwater storage as El Nino sets in for the 2023-24 water year. However, these authorities are also reminding the public that if precipitation arrives in California through warmer, more rapid, and intense rain events, as opposed to arriving by way of the winter storms that traditionally accumulate as Sierra snowpack, water storage may not be fully optimized into 2024 and 2025, since intense rainfall events typically trigger flood-control obligations that require project managers to release higher amounts of water in the spring. 

For more information, contact RCRC Policy Advocate, Sidd Nag

CalRecycle To Take Public Comments on Feasibility of Bifurcating Organic Waste Collection and Processing

The Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) will hold a workshop on November 1 to take comments on the feasibility of bifurcating the organic waste collection and processing system to accommodate products that are not currently acceptable compost feedstocks.  CalRecycle’s discussion paper can be found here

Under the federal National Organic Program, the USDA establishes standards for organic agricultural products.  These standards allow the use of compost for agricultural production if the materials used to produce compost are specifically allowed feedstocks.  These standards generally do not allow the use of synthetic materials in organic compost. 

In California, most composting facilities regularly screen out compostable plastics and non-compostable materials to improve the quality and marketability of their finished product.  In 2021, Assembly Bill 1201 (Ting, Chapter 504, Statutes of 2021) established restrictions on when products can be labeled “compostable” or “home compostable.”  The bill also required CalRecycle to consider whether it would be feasible to separate the collection of organic waste suitable for use in organic agricultural applications from the collection of products not suitable for use in organic agricultural applications.  If CalRecycle determines that bifurcation is feasible, it must adopt regulations “to establish a bifurcated approach.” 

RCRC initially supported AB 1201, but strongly opposed the measure when these last two requirements were added in the closing days of the 2021 legislative session.  RCRC noted the bill could add significant additional burdens on local governments and ratepayers who are struggling to implement the existing SB 1383 organic waste recycling regulations.  RCRC feared that the bill would prompt CalRecycle to modify SB 1383 to impose a new dual stream collection system for organic waste.   

Responding to RCRC’s concerns, Assembly Member Ting drafted a letter to the Assembly Journal clarifying that the bill’s intent is to “expand content and labeling requirements for compostable products, not adopt new regulations requiring a bifurcated organic waste collection and processing system…The only intent of this provision was for CalRecycle’s feasibility determination to trigger a requirement to adopt regulations to establish a bifurcated approach to product labeling.”   

RCRC and other local government organizations opposed CalRecycle’s early 2022 request for budget funding to implement AB 1201 unless its scope was amended to reflect the Legislature’s intent in enacting AB 1201.  Assembly Member Ting subsequently included clarifying language in the 2022 Public Resources Trailer Bill (AB 203, Chapter 60, Statutes of 2022) to provide that CalRecycle’s authority for adopting regulations was limited to “requiring a bifurcated approach to product labeling.”  These changes went into effect on June 30, 2022, but were inadvertently “chaptered out” when another bill amending the same code section was not amended to reflect current law before being signed by Governor Newsom.  This means those statutory changes disappeared January 1, 2023; however, the Letter to the Journal still indicates the Legislature’s intent in enacting AB 1201. 

CalRecycle conducted a survey of 34 composting facilities earlier this year pursuant to AB 1201.  24 facilities responded, of which 58% said that processing separate organics streams would not be feasible and 79% said doing so would increase their operational costs by more than 20%.  The survey does not appear to have considered the feasibility of bifurcating collection of organic waste by local governments or solid waste haulers. 

RCRC will provide comments at the November 1 workshop, noting that CalRecycle’s regulatory authority is limited to requiring bifurcation of product labeling, regardless of its finding on the feasibility of bifurcation.  RCRC will also note the current challenges locals face in implementing the existing SB 1383 organic waste collection and recycling framework and that bifurcation of that process would neither be feasible nor an effective use of scarce ratepayer resources. 

For more information, please contact RCRC Senior Policy Advocate, John Kennedy

Congressional Representatives Call for White House to Include Agriculture Disaster Relief in New Supplemental Request

In a letter dated October 24, 2023, California Congressional Representatives Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara); Jim Costa (D-Fresno); Jimmy Panetta (D-Monterey); Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose); and Julia Brownley (D-Oakpark) called on the White House to include disaster relief funds for California farmers and growers in their forthcoming supplemental request for domestic priorities. This letter is the latest step taken by the lawmakers, who have been pushing since spring for Congressional leaders to pass an agriculture relief package. In April, they wrote to the leaders of the House Appropriations Committee requesting funds to help offset damage to California’s agricultural operations.  

ICYMI - RCRC 2023 Legislative Digest Provides Guide to Latest Legislation Impacting Rural California Counties

On Friday, October 13, 2023, Governor Newsom completed final action on bills sent to him by the Legislature for the year. Signing 890 bills and vetoing 156, the Governor finished his actions one day before the deadline. RCRC’s Legislative Digest is a thorough guide to significant bills representing the advocacy efforts of the RCRC Government Affairs staff during the legislative session. View RCRC’s 2023 Legislative Digest here

Save the Date – RCRC Webinars Coming in November

On November 9th, join RCRC for a webinar that takes a deep dive into 2023 legislation with the most significant impacts on counties. And, on November 30th, RCRC brings you a webinar focused on ballot measures expected in November 2024. Registration details coming soon!


A monthly update regarding the important work of RCRC's affiliated entities, providing innovative services for the benefit of rural communities.


Out Now – GSFA’s “Journey to Homeownership”, Season 2 – Episode 3 | A Leap of Faith  

“It’s that peace of mind financially that we have something that is ours that will grow,” said Toulue. “Jump in there, figure it out. See where you stand or where you are at with a lender… See what programs are there to help you out.” 

Meet Tia and Toulue Thao from Sacramento, who realized their dream of owning their own home during the global pandemic with down payment and closing cost assistance from GSFA.  In Season 2 – Episode 3 of GSFA’s “Journey to Homeownership” video series, the Thao’s discuss the impact of interest rates on homebuyers and how they decided it was the perfect time to buy, and they share words of encouragement for today’s buyers. Watch the video on the Golden State Finance Authority (GSFA) YouTube Channel, here.


GSFA Presents at San Benito County Board Meeting

In a presentation at the San Benito County Board of Supervisors Meeting on October 24, 2023, Golden State Finance Authority’s Director of Marketing and Stakeholder Relations, Carolyn Sunseri, gave a presentation on GSFA’s “Assist-to-Own” Down Payment Assistance program available to employees of San Benito County. 

"Assist-to-Own" Down Payment Assistance is only available to individuals who are employed by one of the GSFA Member Counties (a County Employee). Verification of employment with the eligible County is required for eligibility; however, employees can purchase or refinance anywhere in California, as long as the home will be their primary residence. The Program, with flexible qualifying guidelines, provides up to 5% in financial assistance to help employees purchase a home with little-to-no money out of pocket. 

For more information about “Assist-to-Own” Down Payment Assistance, which is part of GSFA’s Platinum Program, click here or visit


Update from ESJPA’s Fall Board of Directors Meeting

The Rural Counties’ Environmental Services Joint Powers Authority (ESJPA) held its Fall Board of Directors meeting on October 19, 2023. The Board held extensive discussions on (1)  CalRecycle’s organics recycling program; and (2) how to work with recent recommendations by the Little Hoover Commission to improve its implementation for rural jurisdictions. ESJPA is exploring ways to aid member jurisdictions in leveraging state and federal grant funds for solid waste and recycling programs. To assist, ESJPA staff is working with members to help them apply for local assistance grant dollars to implement the state’s organics mandates.


GSCA Submits Grant Applications to CPUC’s Federal Fund Account/Last-Mile Program

On September 27, 2023, GSCA submitted thirty-seven applications to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Federal Fund Account (FFA)/Last-Mile Program. These applications cover proposed project areas in thirty-seven jurisdictions, including thirty member counties and seven cities therein, aimed at increasing access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet in rural California. If awarded, these applications will serve as the foundational investment for GSCA's deployment of an open-access, last mile municipal fiber network in rural California. 

GSCA serves as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Lead Agency on all projects. In that role, now that applications have been submitted, GSCA is completing the required work to review, document, and submit required CEQA determinations on each of the project areas within the thirty-seven applications to the CPUC in the next 60-90 days.  

At the same time, GSCA will be re-engaging with GSCA-partner Local Agency Technical Assistance (LATA) awardees to proceed with the final phase of work under the LATA grants, that of Low-Level Network Design.  

GSCA has taken the initiative to compile a comprehensive document that addresses frequently asked questions about the CPUC's Federal Fund Account/Last-Mile Program and the applications submitted by GSCA. Find the full document here.


Announcements regarding hearings, grants, and public comment notices of importance to California's rural counties.


USDA Rural Development Disaster Grant Assistance in California - Upcoming Webinar

USDA Rural Development’s California team will highlight disaster assistance programs which are available to help rural and Tribal communities to restore community facilities and repair water infrastructure that was damaged by natural disasters in 2022. This webinar will provide rural leaders and potential applicants the opportunity to discuss specific projects and learn the application process.  

Date: Thursday, November 9, 2023
Time: 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. PST
Register here.  Registration is required.

Contact with any questions or requests. 


ReCover California Launches Program for Homeowners Affected by the 2020 Disasters

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has launched its ReCoverCA Housing Programs for those affected by 2020 disasters. Homeowners who lost their single-family home or manufactured housing unit in a 2020 disaster or has mitigation or home-hardening needs on their property may be eligible for up to $500,000 to help rebuild, depending on unique housing needs. Some homeowners may also qualify for up to $50,000 for mitigation assistance, even if the home sustained no damage from the disasters. 

Eligible MID areas for ReCoverCA 2020 are:
•    FEMA DR-4558—Butte, Napa, Santa Cruz, Solano, and Sonoma Counties
•    FEMA DR-4569—Fresno, Los Angeles, Napa, Shasta, Siskiyou, and Sonoma Counties

To learn more about the program, eligibility details, and to apply, please visit the ReCoverCA website.


Career Opportunities

  • Yolo County is recruiting to fill one full-time position in the class of Fleet Services Superintendent at the Community Services Department.  The salary range is $92,227.20 - $112,112.00 Annually.
    This position closes October 27, 2023 at 11:59 p.m.
  • Yolo County is recruiting to fill its Deputy County Counsel II/III position. The recruitment is open until filled, with the initial application review date of October 13, 2023. The appointing authority will place the selected candidate at the appropriate class or salary level, depending on their background and experience. The salary range is $110,573 - $165,547 annually. Those interested in this opportunity can apply here.
  • Yolo County Flood Control & Water Conservation District is seeking to fill the Assistant General Manager position. Learn more about this opportunity to join an irrigation district that is focused on customer service, modernization, and diversification to meet current and future challenges. Read the solicitation here. Visit the district website for more information.


November Discussion on Williamson Act Key Topics with the Department of Conservation

Join Department of Conservation staff for a monthly discussion on key topics under the Williamson Act. County staff and members of the public are invited to these hour-long, virtual sessions where staff from DOC’s Division of Land Resource Protection (DLRP) discuss select topics, provide technical assistance, and invite questions on Williamson Act implementation. The remaining session in 2023 is scheduled for November 16th and will be an Open Question Hour. For questions, contact For more information, please visit


Access the State Grants Portal for a Multitude of Funding Opportunities

Billions of dollars are up for grabs to public agencies and other entities, including tribes and businesses. Grant seekers can access a centralized portal of grant and loan opportunities here, or sign up to receive new grant opportunities delivered straight to your inbox


RCRC press releases and related news clips about RCRC and our member counties. Please note that a subscription may be required to read some external publications.


One Central Valley dam project gets nearly $95 million in funding; two others still in proposal phase – SJV Water

Three dam expansion projects in California's Central Valley will increase water storage by 304,000 acre-feet, benefiting communities, agriculture districts, and wildlife refuges. The B.F. Sisk Dam in Merced County is already being raised, expanding the San Luis Reservoir's capacity by 130,000 acre-feet. Two other projects are in the proposal stage: one aims to raise the Buchanan Dam in Madera County by 50,000 acre-feet, and the other seeks to increase the Pine Flat Dam in Fresno County's capacity by 124,000 acre-feet. These projects address water supply security, seismic safety, and mitigation of downstream flood impacts.


Proposed California coast marine sanctuary will protect vast area – San Francisco Chronicle

A new national marine sanctuary, the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary, is set to protect a 5,617 square mile stretch of the California coast along San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara County. Proposed to honor Indigenous people who have lived in the area for millennia, it has been endorsed by President Joe Biden and is the first sanctuary nominated by Indigenous groups and the first in California in 30 years. While the sanctuary's boundaries and name remain subject to debate, it aims to safeguard ocean biodiversity in a region where cold and warm waters converge, creating a crucial ecosystem for marine life, including Pacific leatherback sea turtles. The sanctuary also preserves culturally significant heritage sites of the Chumash people and involves various Indigenous groups in its planning. However, concerns persist over the sanctuary's proposed boundaries and name, with some areas excluded to accommodate offshore wind development, and some tribes objecting to the name.


Depleted Groundwater Could Be Refilled by Borrowing a Trick from Solar Power – Scientific American

Depleted groundwater is a growing concern in many regions worldwide, with over-pumping causing various issues, including land subsidence and threats to water supplies. To address this, a new model suggests a solution inspired by solar power: distributed groundwater recharge projects. In Pajaro Valley, California, an initiative known as recharge net metering (ReNeM) is already working to demonstrate the concept. Landowners are compensated for infiltrating water into the ground, replenishing groundwater in a distributed and decentralized manner. The system can be adapted for various landscapes and communities and offers incentives like rebates, payments, or tax discounts. These efforts represent a cultural shift towards collective responsibility for groundwater as a shared resource.