WIIN Act Conversion Contract

Summary

SCH Number
2020100262
Lead Agency
Tranquillity Irrigation District
Document Title
WIIN Act Conversion Contract
Document Type
NOE - Notice of Exemption
Received
Posted
10/14/2020

Document Description
This project is for the execution of a contract to amend and convert Tranquility Irrigation District's ("District") existing contract with the United States, by and through the United States Bureau of Reclamation, for the delivery of 13,800 acre-feet (AF) of Central Valley Project water("Conversion Contract"). Authorized by the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (Pub. L. 114- 322, 130 Stat. 1628) (the "WIIN Act"), the Conversion Contract continues water service to the District in the same amounts as the District's CVP contract dating back to 1963, and is in the same scope and nature as ongoing CVP operations. The Conversion Contract allows the District to repay in one lump sum the capital construction costs incurred by the United States Bureau of Reclamation ("Reclamation") for the existing CVP facilities. The purpose of this Conversion Contract is to continue long-term and reliable delivery of CVP water to the District. The beneficiaries of this project are the landowners within the District. By converting its existing contract, the District will ensure continued water delivery that allows the District to continue to convey and deliver irrigation water to the landowners in the District. The District, on behalf of its landowners, owns, operates, and maintains the facilities that supply CVP water from and deliver it to landowners in the District. Without the District, the landowners now receiving water would have a difficult time diverting and receiving surface water.

Contact Information
Danny Wade
Tranquillity Irrigation District
25390 W Silveira Street
Tranquillity, CA 93668

Phone : (559) 698-7225

Location

Cities
Tranquility
Counties
Fresno

Notice of Exemption

Exempt Status
Categorical Exemption
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.
Exempt Status
Statutory Exemption
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.

Attachments

Notice of Exemption
2020100262_Signed NOE (10   PDF 2547 K

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