Notes from Draft EIR Fremont Valley Preservation Project

SCH #2012111014  September 2013


Volume I, Chapters 1 – 10            965 pages


p. 1-10 (p. 67 of 965)  “directly or through exchange deliver potential banking water supplies to and from LADWP Los Angeles Aqueduct, Antelope Valley – East Kern Water Agency transmission facilities, State Water Project Aqueduct and other users in Kern County”  mentions surplus water supplies; project does not show a “put” or transfer of water from the LAA in the vicinity of the Indian Wellls Valley, and does not present details about how native groundwater would be delivered from Fremont Valley to China Lake NAWS (no transmission lines shown)  Question – How far does the AVEK north feeder line go?


p. 1-10 (p. 67 of 965) at this time “project does not include a request to transfer water both outside the Fremont Valley watershed and the jurisdictional boundaries of Kern County, as such, the processing of a CUP is not required”


p. 1-10 (p. 67 of 965)  10% of the native water would be made directly available to County of Kern for use as determined by the Board of Supervisors”


p.1-10 (p. 67 of 965) “7500 AF/Y of native water would be made available for purchase and delivery to Edwards Air Force Base  no mention of delivery of native or banked water to China Lake NAWS in Executive Summary – only mentioned in Appendix B when EAFB and China Lake NAWS are identified as the first priority receivers for delivery of water


p. 1-10 (p. 67 of 965) “if BLM lands are used for transmission line routes, further environmental review may be required”


p. 1-11  EIR “reflects the independent judgment of the lead agency”


p. 1-10 (p. 67 of 965) “all native water would be used in Fremont Valley watershed or in Kern County”


Figure 1-8 Water Flows Downhill – shows directional area of flow from  Mt. Whitney, Kern Canyon, Indian Wells Valley, to Koehn Lake


p.1-36 (p. 93 of 965) “improve the overall economy of Kern County by building water facilities to serve Southern California water agencies”


p. 1-152 (p. 207 of 965) Hydrology and Water Impact – Significant Cumulative Impacts


p. 1-156 (p. 213) Monitoring Committee – monitor impacts of operations on groundwater levels and quality to ensure that adjacent landowners are protected.  Detailed Monitoring and Operational Constraints Plan.  10% of stored water is left in basin; “provide compensation or providing an alternate source of water in the event that water levels drop to unacceptable levels in off-site wells as a consequence of operation”


p. 1-157 (p.214 of 965)  sampling and analyzing water in domestic drinking water wells located within three miles of project operations


p. 1-158 and 1-159 (pp.215 &216 of 965) Technical Advisory Committee formed – funded in the amount of $100,000 – annual funding provided by project proponent to Kern County for hiring outside hydrogeologist to assist County in its role and responsibilities as a member of TAC  Could this “outside hydrogeologist” be tasked to verify and confirm some of the recharge issues stated as “likely” in Apendix B that show large amounts of subsurface groundwater recharge?  Could pilot projects or demonstration drilling projects and studies be done to ensure that the production of the native groundwater is sustainable for the life time of the project before monetary investment is made to put the operational structure and facilities in place?


pp. 160-162 (pp. 217-219 of 965) Describes Decommission Financial Plan.  Deals with Solar facility –does not address water facilities


p. 2-3 (p. 240 of 965) “water supply and treatment options to the San Joaquin Valley (central portion of Kern County) and eastern Kern County”;  water transported by rail car” ; “longer term pipeline facility from project site to San Joaquin valley  - we presume the pipeline facility would be for the delivery of native water to San Joaquin Valley – otherwise exchanges would be mentioned if the water would be through the banked and stored water system for the project.


p.2.4 (p. 241 of 965)”any potential future improvements… will be required to undergo further CEQA evaluation”  Would this mean the longer term pipelines to the San Joaquin Valley and any transmission lines to Indian Wells Valley for China Lake NAWS?


p.2-7 (p. 244 of 965) USEPA Region 9 April 2, 2013 comment letter  Underground Injection Control Program “concern regarding the potential of injection water to degrade the quality of aquifer water”


p.2-9 (p. 246 of 965) County of Inyo Water Department – concern over how the project will be supplied with water; need to analyze the effects of increased groundwater pumping in Owens Valley; analyze how supplying project with water up to 220,000 AF/Y could affect points upstream in LA Aqueduct system


p. 2-9 (p. 246) Letter from Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board – Check letter in its entirety in Appendix A, pp. 202-208 of 6840.  Obtaining a permit and monitoring do not constitute mitigation measures.


Where are the comments from Eastern Kern County RCD?  Why was our letter not included?

P.2-20 (p. 257 of 965) EKCRCD should be listed under Local Agencies


p.2-17 and 2-24 (p. 254 and P. 261 of 965) EIR documents should be available in libraries in Ridgecrest, Inyo County and San Bernardino County  Without access to the documents have residents in these areas been provided with enough review time in order to make comments on the project?


p. 3-12 (p. 274 of 965) Give proper identification of USGS HUC (Hydrologic Unit Code) for Fremont Valley Watershed.  EIR should provide a better map of Watersheds for Figure 3-9 on P. 276 of 965.


p. 3-15 (p. 277 of 965) Current rate of subsidence in the Fremont Valley is unknown; “subsidence from regional groundwater withdrawal has been an issue in the region”


pp. 3-41 (p. 299 of 965) and 3-51 (p. 309 of 965)- specific transmission lines and details describing delivery of water to Edwards Air Force Base – China Lake NAWS not listed and no details regarding delivery of water to NAWS


p. 3-43 (p. 301 of 965) 4 above ground water tanks – 48 feet wide by 20 feet tall; p. 3-39 360,000 gallon capacity of each tank ; storage tanks 40 feet in height with capacity of 1,000,000 to 2,000,000 gal.


p. 3-43 (p. 301 of 965)  production capacity of 100,000 AF/Y of banked water and 114,000 AF/Y of native water


p. 3-42 (p.300 of 965)  This EIR is not intended to provide any necessary review that may be required under CEQA for conveyance improvements needed to move native water from Fremont Valley watershed to both outside the watershed and outside of Kern County.  However, this EIR is intended to provide the necessary review that may be required under CEQA for conveyance improvements needed to move water bank supplies to the appropriate participant, likely another party from both outside the watershed and outside of Kern County.”   Does this mean that transmission lines to deliver native water to Indian Wells Valley or to the San Joaquin Valley would require additional CEQA review?


**p. 3-43 (p. 301 of 965)  “Further studies of actual storage volumes and recharge capacities of the entire basin from the surface to a depth estimated by gravity surveys at up to 10,000 feet bgs are underway as a part of the GMMMP attached as an Appendix B.”   Recommendation that all these studies be completed before a decision is made regarding approval for this project in order to be certain that the project has sufficient water supplies to sustain the project over 20 to 25 years and to justify the investment of money required to build the facilities for the project (cost/benefit analysis).

Has an independent geohydrologist or hydrology consultant firm already been selected for this work?  Is the work already being done?  Will  agencies and the public have a chance to review the findings and conclusions before the project is considered for final approval?


** p. 3-44 (p. 302 of 965)  “source of available surplus surface water supplies is unknown at this time and could potentially include either directly or by exchange, surplus water supplies from LADWP Los Angeles Aqueduct, AVEK transmission facilities and SWP aqueduct”  Concern that some of these water exchanges could involve the put and take of native water into these systems and that occurrence would not be in compliance with Kern County Export Ordinance – native water would be sent outside of Fremont Valley watershed and jurisdictional boundaries of Kern County


p. 3-40  Wind fencing near Rancho Seco Community – is this a mitigation measure for existing  windblown fugitive dust issue from fallow ag lands?


p. 3-42 (p. 300)withdrawal rate – 90% of the 100,000 AF/Y of the total volume of banked water loaded – in each of two phase . In other places the total is described as being 220,000 AF/Y  “Take” is 20,00 AF/Y more than “Put” of banked water.  What is the source of the additional 20,000 AF/Y or stored water?


p. 3 – 54 (p. 312 of 965)  Provide AVEK with water storage in Kern County for the flexibiliby to exchange water resources with SWP, KCWA, LADWP, MWD agencies – see above comment about Kern County Export Ordinance


4.1-3 (p. 347 of 965)“ Fallow ag lands have led to extensive wind-blown soils across the entire project area and adjacent roads and highways”


p. 4,1-5 (p, 349 of 965) wind erosion has blown sandy soil into drifts as deep as the roofs on abandoned houses


Figure 4.1-2  ( p. 350 of 965) shows windblown sands


Figure 4.1-14 (p. 371 of 965) shows view from BLM Jawbone Visitor Center


p. 4.9-10 (p. 712 of 965) arsenic concerns


p. 4.9-14 (p. 716 of 965)  Injected water must meet drinking water standards  What about the quality of the water put into the percolation ponds?


p. 4.9-18 (P. 720 OF 965) native groundwater definition


p. 4.9-26 (p. 728 of 965) “recovered water may need TDS and arsenic treatment to meet drinking water standards”


*pp. 4.9-30 and 31 (pp. 732 and 733 of 965) “164,000 AF of past native recharge available in the basin”  potentially significant impact  “ Based on available known data the annual native groundwater recharge has been estimated to be 15,000 AFY to 17,000 AFY and current water demand for the Koehn Lake Area is 4,500 AFY (GEI 2012).  Over the past 20 years, the estimated groundwater production in the Koehn Lake Area has totaled 135,914 AF (approximately 6,795.7 AFY).  The annual native recharge over this 20 year period as described above, is estimated at 210,000 AF (10,500 AF times 20 years).  Evidence supports the conclusion that there is in excess of 164,000 AF of past native recharge water available in the basin.”


**p. 4.9-37 (p. 739 of 965)”With regard to water operations, although the analysis supports the conclusion that there is sufficient water available in the basin, without ongoing monitoring and operational adjustments, there is no certainty the implementation of the proposed water banking and native water extraction for off-site use operations would not impact adjacent landowners and/or impair the groundwater basin.  Despite the fact that a plan and measures are in place to address on-going impacts to the water basin, which includes the GMMMP proposed by the project proponent and project-specific mitigation measures including monitoring of adjacent wells, cumulative impacts are considered significant and unavoidable.  Level of Significance After Mitigation (Water Facilities)  cumulative impacts would be significant and unavoidable

**These facts are reconfirmed in the Appendix H letter from GEI Consultants


Refer to Lahontan comment letter –“obtaining a permit and conducting monitoring does not constitute adequate mitigation”


*p. 3  Psomas and Associates stated in their report for the Samda project (later used in the Application for Certification for the Beacon Solar Energy Project Docket N. 08-AFC-2) “ It is preferable to rely on data and to limit the use of assumptions when possible”

**The draft EIR is fraught with assumptions, things that are “likely”, “unknown at this time”, “potential”, estimates and statements of amounts not based on data or facts.


p. 4.6-1 (p. 610) Kern County is located in one of the more seismically active areas of California and may at any time be subject to moderate to severe ground shaking influence of several fault systems.  San Andreas Fault, Garlock Fault p. 4.6-2  most are capable of causing damage to the proposed project structures; capable of generating ground motions subsidence in  Fremont Valley.


P. 4.6-8 (p. 617) Subsidence will likely continue to occur as a result of historical pumping and the continued dewatering of the clays (GEI 2012)


p. 4.6-23 (p. 632)  Development of native groundwater extraction for off-site use facility if not monitored and mitigated by GMMMP included in Appendix B, could produce subsidence impacts if previously non-dewatered clay layers are dewatered.  Unknown potential subsidence impacts of 114,000 AF of native groundwater per year can only be determined by collection of data based on GMMMP.  These potentially significant impacts cannot be feasibly mitigated at this time.  Operation of the water facilities could potentially raise groundwater levels, thus increasing the potential for liquefaction.


p.4.8-10 (p. 712)  Groundwater quality  TDS, arsenic, nitrate, DBCP, EDB, Hexavalent chromium, percholate.  Table 7.2 in Appendix H


p. 4.9-26  Water quality of LADWP Aqueduct is of higher quality than the groundwater in the FVGB in all categories except color


p. 4.9 – 30 and 31 (p. 732 and 733)   in groundwater storage – estimated 210,000 AF (recovery of 10,500 AF x 20 years)  Evidence supports the conclusion that there is in excess of 164,000 AF of past native recharge water available in the basin


p. 4.9 – 31 (p. 733) (f) during the recovery operations monitoring water levels in off site wells and adjusting operations, providing compensation, or providing an alternate source of water in the event that water levels drop to unacceptable levels in off-site wells as a consequence of operations.  There is no certainty the implementation of the proposed water banking and native water extraction for off-site use operations would not impact adjacent landowners and/or impair the groundwater basin.  Cumulative impacts are considered significant and unavoidable.


p. 4.15-7 (p. 890)  Senate Bills 610 and 221 – If groundwater is the proposed supply source, the required assessments must include detailed analysis of historic, current and projected groundwater pumping and an evaluation of the sufficiency of the groundwater basin to sustain a new Project’s demands.  In addition the supply and demand analysis must address water supplies during single and multiple dry years presented in five-year increments for a twenty year projection.  Has this analysis been done?  Agencies and the public must have a review and comment period for this information before decision is made regarding approval of the project.


p. 6-5 (p. 920) Objectives for the proposed water facilities.  Improve the overall economy of Kern County by building water facilities to serve Southern California water agencies.

To permit Kern County, South Lahontan Basin, and Southern California Water participants to maximize the water storage capacity in Kern County.

To permit the formation of a local or regional Joint Powers Authority or other public-private partnership to own, operate, control, and manage the accomplishment of these objectives.

p. 6-6 (p. 921)  Provide AVEK with water storage in Kern County that allows for flexibility to exchange water resources with SWP, Kern Water Agency, LADWP and other MWD agencies for the benefit of both.  How can these objectives be carried out without violating the Kern County Ordinance dealing with Native Groundwater Transfers – Chapter 19.118 of the Kern County Zoning Ordinance?


p. 6-29 (p. 944)  Alternative B is considered to be the environmentally superior alternative.


Recommend an alternative to develop only the proposed Solar Facility.  Delay the proposed water banking and native groundwater pumping portion of the project until some more definitive data can be presented to quantify that the FVGB has sufficient groundwater reserves to sustain the project over the long term and can protect the water quality of the basin.



Notes prepared for Eastern Kern County Resource Conservation District   October 17- 23, 2013

by President Donna C.  Thomas