EDC did not give away Upper American River water rights
More than 50 years ago, our county had the foresight to enter into agreements with SMUD to access up to 40,000 acre-feet of water storage in SMUD’s Upper American River reservoirs our county would eventually need to support our economy, environment and quality of life. Over the years, SMUD has been an important partner in the management of our natural resources, and in 2005 further clarified the agreements to include protection against drought for our community.
However, it’s important to clarify that the water rights held by SMUD (granted by the State Water Resources Control Board and not El Dorado County) are for hydropower generation only. Neither SMUD nor our county has ever held the right to use water from UARP reservoirs for residential or agricultural purposes. That’s why we must apply for a water right with the State Water Resources Control Board, the state agency with permitting authority over water rights in California. Any suggestion that we gave away such rights to SMUD or that SMUD gave them to anyone else is not accurate.
Looking forward, our county is now on an excellent path to securing the necessary water rights to finally realize the benefits of these water storage agreements with SMUD. Over the last several years, we have worked hard to redesign the water rights application in a way that meets our local needs while advancing important policy goals of the state and our region such as groundwater banking, drought protection, water use efficiency, ecosystem enhancement and local water supply reliability today and for the future. Thank you very much for the Mountain Democrat’s ongoing coverage of this critically important effort for our community.
General Manager, El Dorado County Water Agency