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Current Advocacy Issues

Current Environmental Issues in Butte County

Butte Environmental Council aims to keep Butte County residents aware of current environmental issues and provide opportunities for involvement through education and action. 

  • Valley's Edge Luxury Housing Development

Valley's Edge, the proposed housing and commercial development on more than 1,450 acres of wooded hills between lower Honey Run Road and Stilson Canyon. This area is habitat for various riparian community types, including Great Valley Oak and Great Valley Cottonwood Riparian Forests. Wildlife species include wintering bald eagles, western pond turtle, red-legged frog, deer, coyote, bobcat, beaver, ash-throated flycatcher, yellow warbler, and western bluebird.

It is important to know the difference between Smart Growth (Infill Development) and Urban Sprawl Development.

Infill Development is the process of developing vacant or under-used parcels within existing urban areas that are already largely developed. Most communities have significant vacant land within city limits, which, for various reasons, has been passed over in the normal course of urbanization.

Urban Sprawl refers to the expansion of low-density, auto-dependent development, which spreads out over large amounts of land, putting long distances between homes, stores, and work and creating a high segregation between residential and commercial uses with harmful impacts on the people living in these areas and the ecosystems and wildlife that have been displaced. Although some would argue that urban sprawl has its benefits, such as creating local economic growth, urban sprawl has many negative consequences for residents and the environment, such as higher water and air pollution, increased traffic fatalities and jams, loss of agricultural capacity and increased car dependency.

A Sustainable Housing Proposal from Smart Growth Advocates

​In August 2020, BEC supported a sustainable housing proposal developed by Smart Growth Advocates, a community group advocating for a healthy and livable community by avoiding suburban sprawl, has presented Chico City Council with a set of priorities for sustainable growth through the year 2030. The proposal, click HERE for full proposal, focused on include affordable housing, catalyzing infill development, and postponing development in Special Planning Areas.

We now support the resolution to not consider any SPA development until the City Housing Element has been revised and adopted and until the current General Plan is updated to be compliant with State law.

Smart Growth and Economic Success: Investing in Infill Development - Cal EPA

Link to Notice of Preparation of EIR and Notice of Scoping Meeting - Aug. 2019

  • Butte County C02 Emissions

Link to City of Chico 2020 Climate Action Plan Draft

This draft articulates within the greenhouse gas inventory for Chico: 64.7% of emissions come from the transportation sector (mostly single occupancy vehicles), 16.4% of emissions come from commercial energy consumption, 15% of emissions come from residential energy consumption, 3.9% of emissions come from solid waste sent to the Neil Rd. landfill, and 0.8% of emissions come from industrial energy consumption.

Link to 2006 Butte County Climate Action Plan

  • Tuscan Water District

The Tuscan Water District is currently a proposal for a new water district in Butte County. The Agricultural Groundwater Users of Butte County (AGUBC) is a nonprofit organization, “Agricultural Association” as a 501 (c)(6) status, with member ties to the Butte County Farm Bureau. The AGUBC formed for the “specific purpose of preserving, protecting and improving the beneficial use of groundwater for groundwater dependent users in the “white area” of the Vina and Butte Sub-basins”. AGUBC has been pursuing plans to create a new water district in the northwestern unincorporated part of Butte County. The AGUBC introduced their idea of the Tuscan Water District in Durham in September 2019. 

The Tuscan Water District will contain approximately 97,113 acres much of which is prime agricultural land and held under Williamson Act Contract. The purpose for the AGUBC forming the Tuscan Water District is to become surface water purveyors for their service area, as much of it is groundwater dependent.

Potential Problems with the Tuscan Water District: 1) This water district may undermine the health of the basin that AGUBC says it wants to protect. The priority of farmers is to make sure they have water in their wells, not to protect the shallowest portion of the aquifer. Water purveyors like to exercise aquifers and may do so to the point where the public suffers. 2) The democratic process of SGMA will be at risk if management of the aquifer are removed from the citizens and placed in the hands of privately owned special interests through district-run artificial recharge.

Feb. 2020 Orion Article: Butte Environmental Council "Water Forum Raises Alarm for Butte County"

Oct. 2019 CN&R Article: "Treading Water"

TWD Proposal to Butte County Water Commission

 

  • Paradise Irrigation District Intertie

The Paradise Irrigation District (PID) is an irrigation district that provides water to Paradise, CA. The water comes from the Paradise Lake, and gets processed through a treatment plant. PID lost 90% of its customer base (7 million in revenue) as a result of the Camp Fire.

The current timeline of this issue:

- In Aug. 2019, the PID-Calwater Intertie Project Feasibility Study was put in front of the Butte County Water Commission and proposed to be a potential project in the Vina Ground Water Sustainability Plan. The study would document the feasibility of the construction of a pipeline from Paradise to Chico which will include an eval of the source water rights for permanent long-term supply. The cost would be $72,000 through the County and 71,800 split between CalWater and PID.
- In Sept. 2019, the Butte County Board of Supervisors voted to contract West Yos Associates to conduct pipeline study.
- In Oct. 2019, Supervisor Debra Lucero indicated that she wanted to amend the vote because Cal Water hadn’t released groundwater study documents to the public. There was concern over the scope of the study, stakeholders consulted and questions about the permanent nature of the project. 
- In Nov. 2019, the Butte County Board of Supervisors voted down the PID Intertie.
- In Jan. 2020, James Gallagher introduced a bill to expedite construction of intertie between PID and Chico if the project was deemed feasible and moved forward.
 
Potential Issues with the PID Intertie: 1) The pipeline is characterized as a temporary solution for PID, yet such infrastructure is a 50-60 year commitment in terms of cost and construction. What happens when Paradise wants and needs its water back?  2) PID has said it will sell its water to the County who will sell it to CalWater. Yet, Cal Water stated they would buy directly from PID. This is an important distinction and could change the outcome of any study.  3) If Cal Water helps front the bill for the feasibility study and/or construction of the project, Cal Water rates could increase. In addition, by artificially increasing the water supply, it could induce sprawl, increasing ghg emissions for the County.  4) Who will bear the cost of the pipeline? What happens to the watersheds involved?  5) Before approved, there needs to be a legal analysis regarding groundwater for overlying landowners, clarity about conjunctive use where river water is sold to buyers elsewhere and groundwater is substituted, safeguards to prevent groundwater from being part of any sale leaving the county, and a more expansive list of cumulative impacts. 

Shasta Dam Raising

Delta Conveyance

“Our objective is to protect our community, and part of protecting our community is protecting our watershed,” says Dave Garcia, leader of the Subcommittee on Oil Trains (SOOT), a group that is part of the environmental organization Chico350.