Sacramento, CA – Environmental agency heads and stakeholders have provided input to acrimonious plans for a broadly described “water grab” by state water regulators.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife and California Department of Water Resources recently submitted a voluntary agreements package to the State Water Resources Control Board as an alternative to its Bay-Delta substitute environmental document.
The action relates to Governor Gavin Newsom’s stated efforts and direction to state agencies to “cross the finish line on real agreements to save the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta.” The package contained a cover letter, signed by 40-plus water and other resource agencies and other stakeholder groups along with two documents. The under signers’ stressed that their materials provided a critical step “worthy of further analysis and discussion” by the board.
The first document, a project description involving a set of voluntary agreements submitted for Water Board staff analysis, bases on a framework agreement outlined during early December meetings before the board’s vote to adopt its controversial plan without integrating the input. The second is a planning agreement that outlines the under signers’ agreed to implementation approach and terms for work efforts still needed.
The package identifies resources and possible actions that would support environmental and biological objectives. It also outlines an implementation approach and terms for the additional work ahead. Overall stated goals are to integrate river-specific flow and non-flow measures to establish water quality conditions that support the viability of native fishes in the Bay-Delta watershed and achieve the board’s objectives laid out in its own plan.
Seeking Open, Transparent Way Forward
The closing paragraph of the cover letter stated, “ As individuals representing our respective organizations in this process, we are committed to continue working with the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and other interested parties in an open and transparent process to assess and further develop this proposal. We remain committed to try to reach Voluntary Agreements that advance California on the path toward sustainable water management.”
Among the signers are Modesto (MID) and Turlock (TID) irrigation districts. MID General Manager Scott Furgerson comments, “We’ve done the science on the Tuolumne River; we’ve negotiated in good faith and now we’ve memorialized all of our work and progress to date. The districts remain committed to advancing this historic water agreement…it is key to balancing the needs of our communities and our environmental resources.”
MID and other water managers continue to advocate for broader measures versus the board’s unimpaired flows approach to achieve biological and environmental objectives. Among these are targeted river flows and a suite of habitat-enhancing projects, including floodplain inundation and physical improvement of spawning and rearing areas.
The submission includes a request that the board consider adoption of a comprehensive plan and proposed amendments consistent with the voluntary agreements by the end of December. To read more details about the submission, click here.