Proposition 1 Round 1 Integrated Regional Water Management Implementation Grant, Grant Funding Contract with Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority

Summary

SCH Number
2021060062
Public Agency
Big Bear Area Regional Wastewater Agency (BBARWA)
Document Title
Proposition 1 Round 1 Integrated Regional Water Management Implementation Grant, Grant Funding Contract with Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority
Document Type
NOE - Notice of Exemption
Received
Posted
6/3/2021

Document Description
In April 2021, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (SAWPA) entered into a Proposition 1 Round 1 Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Implementation Grant Agreement, providing that SAWPA would serve as the program manager for $23 million in IRWMP grant funds to be disbursed to sub-grantees, consistent with IRWMP and California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA") requirements and ensuring that the maximum benefit of such funds are realized in the Santa Ana River Watershed. SAWPA seeks to disburse up to $4,563,338 of this funding to BBARWA through the Sub-Grant Agreement. The Sub-Grant Agreement provides BBARWA with funding to cover costs for Replenish Big Bear. Work performed after January 1, 2015 is eligible to be counted as local match and work performed after June 2, 2020 is eligible for grant reimbursement. Tasks under the agreement include project management; reporting; relevant feasibility studies; CEQA documentation; permitting with the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board, Colorado River Basin Regional Board, State Water Resources Control Board, Caltrans, San Bernardino County, South Coast Air Quality Management District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife; design; the project monitoring plan; contract services; construction administration; and construction of approximately seven miles of pipeline from BBARWA to Stanfield Marsh, a 2,500 gallon-per-minute pumping plant to pump advance-treated water to Stanfield Marsh, and retrofitting/constructing treatment plant upgrades. The Sub-Grant Agreement is not subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). It constitutes a government funding mechanism or other government fiscal activity which does not involve any commitment to any specific project. The Sub-Grant Agreement merely constitutes an agreement by which BBARWA may obtain funds from IRWM to cover the costs it has incurred or will incur in connection with the Replenish Big Bear Project. BBARWA's approval of the Sub-Grant Agreement in no way commits BBARWA to the Replenish Big Bear Project. The Sub-Grant Agreement is thus not subject to CEQA. (State CEQA Guidelines sections 15060, subd. (c)(3), 15378, subd. (b)(4).) Even assuming the Sub-Grant Agreement is a "project" under CEQA, it will have no significant effect on the environment, as it is a government funding mechanism and is therefore covered by the common sense exemption. (State CEQA Guidelines section 15061, subd. (b)(3).)

Contact Information
David Lawrence, P.E.
General Manager
Lead/Public Agency
P.O. Box 517 122 Palomino Drive
Big Bear City, CA 92314

Phone : (909) 584-4521
dlawrence@bbarwa.org

Location

Cities
Big Bear Lake
Counties
San Bernardino
Regions
Countywide
Other Information
Big Bear Valley

Notice of Exemption

Exempt Status
Other
Type, Section or Code
State CEQA Guidelines section 15060(c)(3), 15378(b)(4), 15061(b)(3)
Reasons for Exemption
BBARWA approved the Sub-Grant Agreement on May 26, 2021. The Sub-Grant Agreement is exempt from, and otherwise not subject to, CEQA for the following reasons. First, the Sub-Grant Agreement is not subject to CEQA under State CEQA Guidelines section 15060, which provides that "[a]n activity is not subject to CEQA if … [t]he activity is not a project as defined in [State CEQA Guidelines] Section 15378." (State CEQA Guidelines section 15060(c)(3).) State CEQA Guidelines section 15378, in turn, expressly excludes from the definition of "project" the "creation of government funding mechanisms or other government fiscal activities which do not involve any commitment to any specific project which may result in a potentially significant physical impact on the environment." (State CEQA Guidelines section 15378(b)(4). Here, the Sub-Grant Agreement is not subject to CEQA because it constitutes a government funding mechanism or other government fiscal activity which does not involve any commitment to any specific project. Notably, the Sub-Grant Agreement merely constitutes an agreement by which BBARWA may obtain funds from the Integrated Regional Water Management Grant Program to cover the costs if has incurred or will incur in connection with permitting, planning, design, and construction process for the Replenish Big Bear Project. BBARWA's approval of the Sub-Grant Agreement in no way commits BBARWA to the Replenish Big Bear Project. The MOU also constitutes a government funding mechanism which does not involve commitment to a specific project as it sets forth repayment provisions should the Replenish Big Bear Project not proceed and does not authorize any construction or development. The Sub-Grant Agreement and MOU are thus not subject to CEQA. (State CEQA Guidelines sections 15060(c)(3), 15378(b)(4).) Second, the Sub-Grant Agreement and MOU are not subject to CEQA under the "common sense exemption" set forth in State CEQA Guidelines section 15061. The common sense exemption provides that an "activity is not subject to CEQA" where "it can be seen with certainty that there is no possibility that the activity in question may have a significant effect on the environment." (State CEQA Guidelines section 15061(b)(3).) Here, approval of the Sub-Grant Agreement will not result in any activity that could potentially impact the environment. Rather, approval of the Sub-Grant Agreement will merely serve to fund BBARWA's efforts to obtain the necessary permits, and the planning, design, and construction process for the Replenish Big Bear Project. Approval of the MOU sets forth funding repayment provisions should the Replenish Big Bear Project not proceed. The activity does not constitute an approval of the Replenish Big Bear Project or any other activity that could possibly result in a significant effect on the environment.
County Clerk
San Bernardino

Attachments

Notice of Exemption
BBARWA Notice of Exemption (Prop 1 Round 1 Integrated Regional Water Management Implementation Grant, Sub-Grant between Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority and BBARWA, and MOU) (2)   PDF 5844 K

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