Type, Section or Code
Existing Facilities - Cal. Code Regs., tit. 14, § 15301; Cal. Code Regs., tit. 14, § 15061, subd. (b )(3)
Reasons for Exemption
CEQA Guidelines, § 15301 -A Class 1 exemption "consists of the operation, repair, maintenance, permitting, leasing, licensing or minor alternation of existing public or private structures, facilities, mechanical equipment, or topographical features, involving negligible or no expansion of use beyond that existing at the time of the lead agency's determination . . . . The key consideration is whether the project involves negligible or no expansion of existing use." (CEQA Guidelines, § 15301.) This categorical exemption applies because the Project Water the District receives pursuant to the Conversion Contract will be through existing facilities and involves no expansion of use beyond that already existing.
Common Sense Exemption - The "Common Sense Exemption" applies to this project. As described above, the Conversion Contract contemplates delivery in the same nature and scope as prior contracts which have been in place for over fifty years. The District's landowners have relied on this water for the same amount of time and in similar amounts. While the Project Water actually delivered will, as always, depend on seasonal and annual availability, the Conversion Contract does not change the contracted quantity, purpose of use, timing, or facilities used. Therefore, there is no possibility the Conversion Contract may have a significant effect on the environment within the District's service area or in neighboring areas.
Type, Section or Code
Ongoing Project - Cal. Code Regs., tit. 14, § 15261; Cal. Code Regs., tit. 14, § 15273, subd. (a)(4)
Reasons for Exemption
CEQA Guidelines, § 15261 - Executing the Conversion Contract is statutorily exempt from CEQA because the water deliveries currently under contract were approved prior to November 23, 1970. The District entered into Contract No. 14-06-200-701-A ("Original Contract") with the United States on December 23, 1963 for the delivery of 20,200 acre feet (AF) of permanent Schedule 2 water ("Rights Water") and 13,800 AF of supplemental CVP water ("Project Water"). Section 3(a) of the Conversion Contract confirms that the project does not alter the terms of the District's Rights Water, which continues to operate under the terms of the Original Contract. The Original Contract for Project Water was extended pursuant to Subsection 3404(c)(l) of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, whereby the United States and the District entered into interim renewal contract(s) identified as Contract No. 14-06-200-701-A-IRl and 14-06-200-701-AIR2 ("Interim Contracts"), which provided for the delivery of Project Water to the District from March 1, 2004, through February 28, 2006. The United States and the District then entered into a long-term contract identified as Contract No. 14-06-200-701-A-LTRl ("Existing Contract"), which provided for continued water service to the District following expiration of the Interim Contracts. The Existing Contract was still in place as the Conversion Contract was being negotiated. As in the Original, Interim, and Existing Contracts, the quantity and timing of Project Water delivered to the District in any given year depends on a number of conditions. The Conversion Contract would not change those terms and thus would not result in any increase or decrease in the amount of water the District receives. The District will continue to receive Project Water through the same CVP - Delta Division facilities it currently uses, and no new construction, expansion, or modification is contemplated as part of the project. The District would continue to use the amount of up to 13,800 AF of Project Water received annually for municipal, irrigation, and beneficial recharge and transfer consistent with California law. Therefore, because the Conversion Contract represents the ongoing delivery of Project Water to the District in the same nature and scope as the Original 1963 Contract, this statutory exemption applies.
CEQA Guidelines § 15273 - This statutory exemption applies because part of the purpose of the Conversion Contract is to provide for the lump sum repayment of construction costs for the development of existing CVP facilities that provide water to the District. Since the passage of the Reclamation Act of 1902, federal water contractors have been required to repay an allocated portion of the construction costs for those water projects. Converting the Existing Contract to a repayment contract allows the District to repay the capital construction costs allocated to the District in one lump sum, which would normally be repaid annually. Thus, the District is "modifying" or "restructuring" the capital construction charges it would annually be charging to its irrigation customers. This restructuring is necessary to maintain water services throughout the District. However, the District will not be charging its landowners any more for the payout costs, as those funds are already held within the District's prudent reserves. Therefore, to the extent that this project may involve a change in rates, tolls, fares, or other charges necessary to repay the capital costs for the CVP facilities, this statutory exemption applies.