Bill Text


PDF |Add To My Favorites |Track Bill | print page

AB-2736 Groundwater: pumped hydroelectric energy storage systems: Joshua Tree National Park.(2019-2020)

SHARE THIS:share this bill in Facebookshare this bill in Twitter
Date Published: 05/18/2020 09:00 PM
AB2736:v96#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  May 18, 2020
Amended  IN  Assembly  May 05, 2020
Amended  IN  Assembly  May 04, 2020

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 2736


Introduced by Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia

February 20, 2020


An act to add Part 2.77 (commencing with Section 10790) to Division 6 of the Water Code, relating to groundwater.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 2736, as amended, Eduardo Garcia. Groundwater: pumped hydroelectric energy storage systems: Joshua Tree National Park.
Existing law provides for the management and monitoring of groundwater. Existing law, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, requires all groundwater basins designated as high- or medium-priority basins by the Department of Water Resources to be managed under a groundwater sustainability plan or coordinated groundwater sustainability plans, except as specified. Existing law authorizes a local agency, as defined, to adopt and implement a groundwater management plan for a groundwater basin designated as a low- or very low-priority basin by the department.
Under existing law, the State Water Resources Control Board and the 9 California regional water quality control boards regulate water quality in accordance with the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act and the federal Clean Water Act.
This bill would require a person who extracts or uses water from a groundwater basin within 20 miles of Joshua Tree National Park for purposes of construction and operation of a closed-loop pumped hydroelectric energy storage system to submit to the state board any plans, technical reports, or monitoring data reports related to groundwater required under any license for hydroelectric generation issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The bill would require those materials submitted to the state board to include certain other information relating to groundwater monitoring and environmental impacts. The bill would require the person to report the materials to the state board on the same schedule and in the same manner as provided in the license. The bill would make a person who fails to timely submit those materials subject to a penalty of up to $10,000 per day, as assessed by the state board. The bill would require the state board to review the materials and, and would authorize it, if it concludes the person is not in compliance with its hydroelectric generating license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to petition the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of the license.
The bill would prohibit the extraction of groundwater in excess of maximum allowable change thresholds, as defined, by a pumped hydroelectric energy storage facility unless the extraction is permitted following consideration of an action or project that requires discretionary approval by a state or local governmental entity. The bill would subject extraction of groundwater beyond those thresholds to civil liability in an amount not to exceed $10 per gallon of excess groundwater extracted, with the aggregate penalty not to exceed $1,000,000. The bill would establish the Joshua Tree National Park Environmental Protection Fund and would require civil penalties imposed under the bill to be deposited in the fund. The bill would make moneys in the fund available, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to mitigate the environmental harms caused by the extraction or use of water from a groundwater basin within 20 miles of the boundaries of Joshua Tree National Park for purposes of construction and operation of a pumped hydroelectric energy storage system.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 Part 2.77 (commencing with Section 10790) is added to Division 6 of the Water Code, to read:

PART 2.77. GROUNDWATER MONITORING FOR PUMPED HYDROELECTRIC ENERGY STORAGE

10790.
 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) California must urgently respond to the economic adversity created by the novel coronavirus without abandoning the state’s leadership in combating the threats posed by climate change. Eastern Riverside County has long experienced levels of unemployment and poverty disproportionately higher than many parts of the state. These hardships have been amplified by the current 2020 health crisis and action must be taken to attract capital and high paying employment to the region. Promoting advanced clean energy infrastructure offers the region an opportunity to realize critical and timely economic development.
(b) The Public Utilities Commission has identified a range of approximately 1,000 to 1,600 megawatts of pumped hydroelectric energy storage systems as necessary and cost-effective additions to California’s electric resource portfolio by 2026. Pumped storage supports the dual goals of economic development and fighting climate change by providing thousands of well-paying jobs during construction and hundreds during operation, as well as by advancing California’s clean energy goals through increased grid flexibility, shifting delivery of significant amounts of clean energy to periods when needed, and lowering reliance on carbon-emitting generation sources.
(c) The federal government, through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, grants licenses authorizing the construction and operation of pumped storage facilities within the United States. The jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also pertains to a pumped hydroelectric energy storage system that will operate as a closed-loop facility that relies upon groundwater for its initial fill and replacement water.
(d) The Department of Water Resources prioritizes the state’s groundwater basins into four categories – high, medium, low, and very low – based on multiple factors, including consideration of adverse impact on local habitat and the effect on current and future agricultural and municipal use. The Chuckwalla groundwater basin is classified as a very low priority basin.
(e) The benefits of pursuing pumped storage must be balanced against prudent environmental stewardship. Joshua Tree National Park has previously been identified as part of California’s state heritage network and is one of the great jewels of California, deserving protection so that its sensitive environment is preserved for the region as well as for generations of Californians to come. To the extent pumped storage, including the Eagle Mountain Pumped Storage Project, developed in the vicinity of Joshua Tree National Park is likely to make use of a groundwater basin with some hydrological connectivity with groundwater underlying Joshua Tree National Park, the state has an interest in ensuring that all permit and license conditions potentially affecting groundwater are strictly observed.
(f) The board has broad responsibilities, on its own and in conjunction with the regional water quality control boards, to protect surface water and groundwater quality and balance competing demands on California’s water resources through programs that allocate water rights, adjudicate water right disputes, develop statewide and regional water quality control plans, establish and implement water quality standards, and enforce water-related standards, rules, and regulations. In this regard, the board has a concrete and particular expertise in ensuring pumped storage located in the vicinity of Joshua Tree National Park complies with applicable permit or license conditions.

10791.
 (a) A person who extracts or uses water from a groundwater basin within 20 miles of the boundaries of Joshua Tree National Park for purposes of construction and operation of a closed-loop pumped hydroelectric energy storage system shall submit to the board any plans, technical reports, or monitoring data reports related to groundwater required under any license for hydroelectric generation issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission pursuant to subsection (1) of Section 23(b) of the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. Sec. 817).
(b) Unless otherwise provided by federal law, the materials to be submitted under subdivision (a) shall include all plans, reports, and monitoring data provided to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in connection with any of the following:
(1) (A) A site-specific groundwater level monitoring plan that ensures the water supply pumping rate will result in water levels that are at or above maximum allowable change thresholds for the applicable groundwater aquifer. The plan shall include, at a minimum, provisions for all of the following:
(i) Twenty-four months of groundwater level monitoring to establish baseline groundwater levels before the initial use of water for reservoir filling.
(ii) Sampling the monitoring wells at least monthly during the initial fill period, at least quarterly for the first seven years of pumped hydroelectric energy storage system operations, and semiannually thereafter for the term of the license.
(iii) If water levels fall to within one foot of maximum allowable change thresholds or if trends indicate that levels may drop below those thresholds due to pumped hydroelectric energy storage system pumping, management of pumped hydroelectric energy storage system water level drawdowns through either reducing the pumping rate, reducing the pumping duration, or changing the pumping location, provided that the water levels will be maintained at all times at or above the maximum allowable change thresholds.
(B) For purposes of this section, “maximum allowable change thresholds” mean the change, measured in feet, that the water level at a monitoring well may decrease in reference to an elevation above sea level or any other method of water level measurement set forth in an applicable license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
(2) A site-specific groundwater quality monitoring plan to monitor for any adverse effects of seepage from the pumped hydroelectric energy storage facility’s reservoirs and evaporation ponds on groundwater quality. The plan shall provide for, at a minimum, all of the following:
(A) Two years of preproject operation baseline groundwater quality monitoring data for the project’s reservoirs, desalination ponds, seepage recovery wells, and water supply wells, as applicable.
(B) Monitoring groundwater quality for the pumped hydroelectric energy storage system’s reservoirs, desalination ponds, seepage recovery wells, and water supply wells over the term of the license, as applicable.
(C) Identifying specific sampling locations, methods, and frequency.
(D) Specifying constituent features to be analyzed, including salinity, odor, and trace metals.
(E) The applicant to file annual monitoring reports with the board.
(F) An implementation schedule.
(c) The materials to be submitted to the board pursuant to subdivision (a) shall also include any of the following provided to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission:
(1) A soil erosion and sedimentation control plan or other plans designed to mitigate the effects of soil and vegetation loss, as well as any revegetation plan or other plans designed to revegetate any areas affected by the project.
(2) An inflow design flood and hazard classification study or other plans designed to evaluate and assess potential downstream hazards in the event of a dam failure.
(3) A groundwater level monitoring plan or other plans designed to confirm that the project’s water supply pumping rate will be maintained at levels that are in the historical range.
(4) A groundwater quality monitoring plan or other plans designed to monitor for any adverse effects of seepage into the groundwater.
(5) An aquifer testing plan or other plans designed to model groundwater levels.
(6) A salt management storage and disposal plan or other plans designed to characterize potential waste streams and provide for proper storage and disposal of such streams.
(7) A water and soil pollution prevention plan, air quality monitoring plan, or other plans designed to ensure the safe construction and operation of the plant and mitigate any potential pollution issues.
(d) A person required to submit the materials described in this section to the board shall do so on the same schedule and in the same manner as provided in the license issued pursuant to subsection (1) of Section 23(b) of the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. Sec. 817).
(e) A person who fails to timely submit the materials described in this section shall be subject to a penalty of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000) per day, as assessed by the board, for noncompliance.
(f) The board shall review the materials submitted pursuant to this section. If the board concludes the person is not in compliance with its hydroelectric generating license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the board shall may petition the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to ensure compliance with all of the terms and conditions of the license.
(g) (1) Subject to federal law, the extraction of groundwater in excess of maximum allowable change thresholds by a pumped hydroelectric energy storage facility subject to this section, regardless of whether the groundwater basin is subject to an adjudication under California law, is prohibited unless the extraction is permitted following consideration of an action or project that requires discretionary approval by a state or local governmental entity.
(2) Excess extraction of groundwater in violation of this subdivision shall be subject to enforcement by the board pursuant to the standards and procedures set forth in subdivisions (b), (c), and (e) of Section 13350, provided that any civil penalty imposed pursuant to subdivision (e) of Section 13350 shall be imposed on a per gallon basis so that each gallon of groundwater extracted in excess of the maximum allowable change thresholds shall be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed ten dollars ($10), with the aggregate penalty not to exceed one million dollars ($1,000,000).
(h) (1) The Joshua Tree National Park Environmental Protection Fund is hereby established in the State Treasury. Civil penalties imposed pursuant to this part shall be deposited in the fund.
(2) Moneys in the Joshua Tree National Park Environmental Protection Fund are available, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to mitigate the environmental harms caused by the extraction or use of water from a groundwater basin within 20 miles of the boundaries of Joshua Tree National Park for purposes of construction and operation of a pumped hydroelectric energy storage system.