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AB-71 Salton Sea restoration. (2013-2014)

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AB71:v94#DOCUMENT

Assembly Bill No. 71
CHAPTER 402

An act to add Article 2 (commencing with Section 2940) to Chapter 13 of Division 3 of the Fish and Game Code, relating to the Salton Sea.

[ Approved by Governor  September 28, 2013. Filed with Secretary of State  September 28, 2013. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 71, V. Manuel Pérez. Salton Sea restoration.
Existing law, until January 1, 2013, established the Salton Sea Restoration Council as a state agency in the Natural Resources Agency to oversee the restoration of the Salton Sea.
This bill would require the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, in consultation and coordination with the Salton Sea Authority, to lead Salton Sea restoration efforts. This bill would authorize the authority to lead a restoration funding and feasibility study, in consultation with the agency, as prescribed. This bill would also require the secretary to seek input from the authority with regard to specified components of restoration of the Salton Sea. By imposing duties on a local joint powers authority, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Article 2 (commencing with Section 2940) is added to Chapter 13 of Division 3 of the Fish and Game Code, to read:
Article  2. Salton Sea Restoration

2940.
 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) The Salton Sea is California’s largest inland water body with beneficial uses that include fisheries and wildlife habitat and preservation of endangered species, and is a repository for agricultural drainage.
(b) The Salton Sea ecosystem is a critical link on the international Pacific Flyway and supports over 400 species of birds.
(c) The Salton Sea is threatened by increasing salinity and reduced inflows. These changes increasingly threaten the unparalleled wildlife resources at the sea, as well as air quality in the region.
(d) In cooperation with local governments, nonprofit organizations, private businesses, and the public, the Salton Sea Authority can help protect wildlife habitats and endangered species, improve water and air quality, and enhance recreational opportunities in the region.
(e) In restoring the Salton Sea, it is the intent of the Legislature to do all of the following:
(1) Permanently protect fish and wildlife that are dependent on the Salton Sea ecosystem.
(2) Restore the long-term stable aquatic and shoreline habitat for fish and wildlife that depend on the Salton Sea.
(3) Mitigate air quality impacts from restoration projects using the best available technology or best available control measures, as determined by the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the Imperial County Air Pollution Control District.
(4) Protect water quality.
(5) Maintain the Salton Sea as a vital link along the Pacific Flyway.
(6) Preserve local tribal heritage and cultural values associated with the Salton Sea.
(7) Minimize noxious odors and other water and air quality problems.
(8) Coordinate with local, state, and federal agencies that are responsible for air quality, endangered species, and other environmental mitigation implementation requirements of the Quantification Settlement Agreement.
(9) Enhance economic development opportunities that will provide sustainable financial improvements benefiting the local environment and the economic quality of life for communities around the Salton Sea.

2941.
 Unless the context requires otherwise, the definitions set forth in this section govern the construction of this article.
(a) “Agency” means the Natural Resources Agency.
(b) “Habitat mosaics” means two or more proximate habitat types, such as saltwater shoreline abutting riverine deltas and irrigated farmland.
(c) “Quantification Settlement Agreement” has the same meaning as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 1 of Chapter 617 of the Statutes of 2002.
(d) “Salton Sea Authority” or “authority” means the joint powers authority comprised of the County of Imperial, the County of Riverside, the Imperial Irrigation District, the Coachella Valley Water District, and the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Tribe.
(e) “Secretary” means the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency.
(f) “Vector management” means services that eliminate or reduce the risk of illness caused by any organism transporting a pathogen.

2942.
 (a) (1) The secretary, in consultation and coordination with the authority, shall lead the Salton Sea restoration efforts that shall include all of the following:
(A) Early start habitat demonstration projects.
(B) Biological investigations relating to the restoration of the Salton Sea.
(C) Investigations of water quality, sedimentation, and inflows relating to the restoration of the Salton Sea.
(D) Air quality investigations, in consultation and coordination with local and regional air quality agencies, relating to the restoration of the Salton Sea.
(E) Geotechnical investigations relating to the restoration of the Salton Sea.
(F) Financial assistance grant programs to support restoration activities of local stakeholders.
(2) The secretary and the Legislature shall maintain full authority and responsibility for any state obligation under the Quantification Settlement Agreement. The secretary and the Legislature shall have final approval for any proposed restoration plan.
(3) (A) To the extent that funding is appropriated to the department for Salton Sea restoration activities, the Department of Water Resources, in coordination and under agreement with the department, may undertake restoration efforts identified in this subdivision.
(B) The department and the Department of Water Resources shall do all of the following for the Salton Sea Species Conservation Habitat Project:
(i) Immediately make available relevant information relating to the factors that influence the cost and size of the alternatives discussed in the environmental impact report or environmental impact statement for the species habitat conservation program.
(ii) Release all available detail on a final project design immediately, or upon final determination of a least environmentally damaging preferred alternative by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Details of a final project design shall include location, configuration, size, and cost.
(iii) Immediately make available project evaluation protocols that include the following principles of adaptive management:
(I) Goals and objectives of the project.
(II) The project design and an operations plan.
(III) A monitoring plan that will include metrics that identify benefits to the species.
(IV) A performance evaluation based on species population identified through monitoring.
(V) A decisionmaking framework to evaluate project performance and guide operations and management changes.
(b) (1) The authority may lead a restoration funding and feasibility study, in consultation with the agency, to do the following:
(A) Investigate access and utility agreements that may contribute to the future funding of restoration activities at the Salton Sea.
(B) Analyze all feasible funding sources for restoration program components and activities.
(C) Analyze economic development opportunities, including, but not limited to, renewable energy, biofuels, mineral development, and algae production for the purposes of identifying new revenue sources for the Salton Sea restoration efforts.
(D) Identify state procurement and royalty sharing opportunities.
(E) Review existing long-term plans for restoration of the Salton Sea and recommend to the secretary changes to existing restoration plans. In any review pursuant to this subparagraph, the authority shall consider the impacts of the restoration plan on air quality, fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, and the technical and financial feasibility of the restoration plan and shall consider the impacts on other agencies responsible for air quality, endangered species, and other environmental mitigation requirements for implementation of the Quantification Settlement Agreement.
(2) No evaluation, study, review, or other activity pursuant to this article shall delay the planning and implementation of ongoing and planned mitigation projects, including, but not limited to, the Salton Sea Species Conservation Habitat Project or other mitigation measures pursuant to existing state and federal programs and agreements, including, but not limited to, those programs and agreements undertaken pursuant to the Quantification Settlement Agreement.

2943.
 For the purposes of considering local, publicly derived input concerning habitat objectives and actions, types and levels of public access, and integration of air quality management and habitat restoration, the secretary shall seek input from the authority with regard to the following components of restoration of the Salton Sea:
(a) Design opportunities and constraints, including the integration of the habitat, public access, and air quality management objectives.
(b) Public access and recreational components.
(c) Opportunities for economic development.
(d) Habitat mosaics and location.
(e) Vector management and predator control.
(f) Feasible financial resources to fund all recommended restoration program components.

2945.
 (a) Nothing in this article interferes with or prevents the exercise of authority by a public agency to carry out its programs, projects, or responsibilities.
(b) Nothing in this article affects requirements imposed under any other provision of law.

SEC. 2.

 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district are the result of a program for which legislative authority was requested by that local agency or school district, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code and Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.