Deadline approaches to vote for or against Tuscan Water District Some TWD residents say they had no chance to become board candidates

Landowners in the proposed Tuscan Water District received this ballot in the mail.

by Leslie Layton
posted Sept. 16

Ballots on whether to form the Tuscan Water District (TWD) in northwestern Butte County have been mailed to landowners — without any argument opposing a formation. The proposed district was the subject of debate for hours at public meetings earlier this year.

Only an argument in favor of formation of TWD -– which will have a landowner-based voting structure that will give the largest enterprises thousands of votes -– appears on the ballot that must be postmarked by Sept. 20. The ballot asks, with a single question, whether TWD should be approved with an annual parcel assessment of up to $10 per acre. Landowning voters can also choose nine people for the board of directors from a list of 11 candidates, most of whom are known already as TWD proponents. read more

Lawsuits over groundwater plans can proceed Butte and Vina subbasins could be dramatically affected under plans

photo by Todd Bishop
A deteriorating roadside sign south of Orland, from a past campaign against a wastewater treatment plant, offers a message that remains relevant to many residents of the area.

by Todd Bishop, Sacramento Valley Mirror
posted Sept. 11

Lawsuits challenging the validity of Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) in Glenn, Colusa, and Butte counties will be allowed to proceed after three judges separately overruled efforts by local groundwater authorities to dismiss the cases based on legal technicalities.

In an Aug. 23 order, Colusa County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey A. Thompson disagreed with the Glenn and Colusa groundwater authorities and found that the plaintiffs in the case -— AquAlliance, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and the California Water Impact Network -— were not precluded from pursuing the action under the California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). read more

Butte County water levels at critical low point Major crop loss expected in some areas

photo courtesy of DWR
Aerial drone view of West Branch Feather River in May of this year.

by Natalie Hanson
posted Sept. 9

Butte County faces a worsening drought and a dim outlook for water supplies amid another year of extreme heat and little rain, as pressure on local water management to conserve grows.

The Butte County Water Commission met Sept. 7 to discuss current groundwater supply and drought levels, led by Vice Chair Matt Tennis filling in for the chair. County officials reported a dire situation that has been worsened due to low precipitation and snowpack and reduced reservoir conditions, which combined with higher temperatures puts more pressure on groundwater demand. As a result, over the last 20 years, data shows the majority of all local basins are in an ongoing decline, according to Kelly Peterson, county water resources scientist. read more

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