Sinkholes in Orland area raise new water concerns Public records reveal problems on ag land around Stony Creek

photo courtesy of the Sacramento Valley Mirror
Public records recently released to the water monitoring nonprofit AquAlliance show sinkholes like this one appearing east of Orland.

by Todd Bishop
Sacramento Valley Mirror
posted April 20, 2022

Glenn County — State and local officials have been quietly looking into the emergence of numerous sinkholes starting last summer and fall on agricultural land east of Orland, in the area of Stony Creek, according to newly released public records.

Many of the sinkholes are relatively small and shallow, a few feet wide and less than a foot deep, for example. However, there are isolated reports of bigger sinkholes, as wide as 10 to 12 feet. read more

Tuscan Water District gets LAFCO nod Commission unanimously approves TWD

photo by Leslie Layton
Wilson Landing Road orchard.

by Leslie Layton
posted Feb. 3

The Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) today gave its unanimous approval to the Tuscan Water District (TWD), a proposed district that will now give northwestern Butte County landowners the chance to vote on formation, with one vote allocated for each acre owned.

The seven-member commission voted after more passionate debate, with members of the public often arguing that the landowner-based voting structure isn’t fair to small farmers and homeowners. But TWD and LAFCO said the district has agreed to divide into nine voting blocks to minimize influence by the largest landowners. read more

Proposed Tuscan Water District before LAFCO TWD is a "scramble" for the "new gold," critics say

photo by Karen Laslo
Deseret Farms, part of a corporate family run by the Mormon church, is the largest landholder in the proposed water district.

by Leslie Layton
posted Jan. 31

Many on the petitioners’ list of 70 parties working to form the proposed Tuscan Water District (TWD) describe themselves as local families who want to ensure the future of their farms.

But whether it’s the landowner-based voting structure, the many out-of-town mailing addresses, or the fact that that they’re trying to secure supplies of what many are now calling the “new gold,” TWD has rankled many Butte County residents.

The Butte County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) will consider giving its stamp of approval to TWD at a 9 a.m. Feb. 3 public hearing in the Oroville City Council chambers. LAFCO will also recommend conditions for approval meant to address the concerns of critics. read more

On the 3rd anniversary of the Camp Fire, a message to COP26 Allen Myers: "People are dying"

photo by Allen Myers

by Leslie Layton

Several days prior to the third anniversary of the devastating Camp Fire, a group of Paradise residents and former residents hoisted a banner with their message to the world painted in charcoal: “COP26: WE ARE ON FIRE. DO SOMETHING!”

Gathered in the Plumas National Forest in the Dixie Fire burn scar on Nov. 6, the demonstrators said their message was directed to world leaders at COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference underway in Glasgow, Scotland. “The climate crisis is here. We are on fire,” said Allen Myers, executive director of nonprofit Regenerating Paradise. read more

County supervisors endorse new water district Tuscan Water District creates water oligarchy, critics say

photo by Karen Laslo
Supervisor Tod Kimmelshue: “I believe we should use all of our county resources, including surface water.”

by Leslie Layton

The Butte County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 Tuesday to endorse the formation of a new, landowner-run water district in which members will get one vote per acre of land they own. Members may also have to pay a hefty fee to belong to the governing body that will have authority to implement projects affecting the region’s aquifer.

The proposed Tuscan Water District (TWD) was endorsed by board Chair Bill Connelly and supervisors Tod Kimmelshue and Doug Teeter after hearing more than two hours of impassioned testimony from dozens of members of the public. (District 2 Supervisor Debra Lucero cast the lone vote in opposition and District 3 Supervisor Tami Ritter left the meeting early because of a personal emergency.) read more

Lucero: Public discourse on Tuscan Water District comes — but late "The public had not been part of the formation process"

photo by Karen Laslo
District 2 Supervisor Debra Lucero

by Debra Lucero
guest commentary

The Tuscan Water District story is unfolding in Butte County. This isn’t the first time large landowners have joined together to try to “preserve their way of life and heritage.” It has happened all over the state and more recently, in San Luis Obispo where the proposition to form a new, powerful California Water District failed.

So, how did this current effort in Butte County get birthed?

The former Butte County Water Conservation & Resource Department director, Paul Gosselin, (now the State of California’s deputy director of SGMA – Sustainable Groundwater Management Act) and a former longtime Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission executive officer, John O’Farrell, came up with another idea — one that could circumvent the arduous San Luis Obispo process and even the Board of Supervisors. read more