Conaway Conservancy Group / Conaway Ranch, California
West Yost began working with Conaway Ranch to get an early start on developing a water transfer program, identifying key technical and policy issues, opening discussions with DWR and USBR staff, and holding preliminary discussions with potential buyers.This successful transfer of 12,000+ acre-feet of water was accomplished through savings of crop water consumptive use, through a combination of land fallowing and shifting to crops with lower water use. West Yost developed a comprehensive Conaway Ranch land and water use plan based on farm economics and practices. A key part of this project was maintaining wildlife-friendly agriculture – a hallmark of Conaway Ranch.
West Yost prepared environmental documents, a comprehensive surface and groundwater monitoring program, and continued to refine the land use plans as refinements to the water transfer were developed. We worked very closely with USBR and DWR staff, since both agencies had approval roles for this transfer. We also worked very closely with the law firm of Kronick, Moskowitz, Tiedemann & Girard to assure that all legal, institutional and technical requirements were met.
The buyer was the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority (SLDMWA). West Yost worked closely with SLDMWA to assure that the purchased water could be made available to match the windows of opportunity at the CVP pumping facilities in the southern Delta. At the end of this project, the seller and buyer were very satisfied with the results of the work. Towards the end of 2008, preparations began for a potential 2009 water transfer. Work for this client regarding potential transfers continued through June 2009 in developing and refining Conaway Ranch farm and water management plans, comprehensive groundwater and surface water monitoring, and continued discussions with regulatory agencies and the State’s drought water bank. No transfer went forward in 2009 due to the high commodity price for rice, but the client continues to be interested in both short-term and long-term water transfers.