California, Interior, NOAA Reaffirm commitment to comprehensive solution to California's water supplies and a healthy ecosystem
SACRAMENTO, CA – California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Assistant Administrator for Fisheries Eric Schwaab today outlined revisions to the proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) that, along with a full range of alternative proposals, will undergo a rigorous public environmental review in the coming months. In announcing the path forward for an enhanced BDCP process, the officials emphasized that California's water system is unsustainable from an environmental and economic perspective, and that the BDCP is a key part of a comprehensive solution to achieve the dual goals of a reliable water supply for California and a healthy California Bay Delta ecosystem that supports the State's economy.
Population growth, habitat loss and ongoing threats to levee stability and water supply have crippled the California Bay Delta, threatening the health and economies of California communities. The revised approach, which is grounded in science, is designed to help restore fish populations, protect water quality, and improve the reliability of water supplies for all water users who receive deliveries from state and federal projects. It improves on key aspects of previous proposals and offers a strong governance model, financing options, a scientific review process and a steadfast conservation foundation for a new water conveyance facility to move water and help restore the health of the ecosystem.
"A healthy Delta ecosystem and a reliable water supply are profoundly important to California's future," said Governor Brown. "This proposal balances the concerns of those who live and work in the Delta, those who rely on it for water and those who appreciate its beauty, fish, waterfowl and wildlife."
“As broken and outdated as California's water system is, we are also closer than ever to forging a lasting and sustainable solution that strengthens California's water security and restores the health of the Delta,” said Secretary Salazar. “Through our joint federal-state partnership, and with science as our guide, we are a taking a comprehensive approach to tackling California's water problems when it comes to increasing efficiency and improving conservation. Today marks an important step forward in transforming a shared vision into a practical, effective solution. With California's water system at constant risk of failure, nobody can afford the dangers or costs of inaction.”
“The status quo isn't working for fish, communities around or dependent upon the Bay Delta, economic development, or water resources management,” said Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator. “Our proposed changes to the BDCP reflect important improvements in shaping a comprehensive strategy to fix a broken system. Because this is a complicated issue and we do not have all the answers today, we will continue to evaluate and refine the proposal. We call upon the many participants throughout California to join us in staying focused on science-based solutions.”
The elements of a preferred proposal include the construction of water intake facilities with a total capacity of 9,000 cubic feet per second -- down from an earlier proposal of 15,000 cfs – operations of which would be phased in over several years and a conveyance designed to use gravity flow to maximize energy efficiency and to minimize environmental impact. Many other alternatives, including no conveyance facility, and facilities with capacities ranging from 3,000 to 15,000 cfs, will also be fully considered as part of the upcoming environmental review process.
Governor Brown and Secretary Salazar affirmed their commitment to continue working with water users, non-governmental organizations and local governments to achieve the co-equal goals in a manner that incentivizes reduced, efficient water use throughout California and that protects and enhances the unique cultural, recreational, natural resource, and agricultural values of the Delta.
Having identified the key elements of a proposal, the parties expect to issue a draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan and corresponding Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement for public review this fall. In recognition that water supply reliability and affordability elements are vitally important to the public water agencies who are expected to pay for any proposed facilities, the state and federal agencies will work intensively with the public water agencies and other interested parties over the next 90 days to address these important questions. State and federal agencies will continue to refine the proposals announced today and will issue a major progress report after the completion of this initial work.
The proposal outlined today is based on shared objectives, including:
For more information on today's announcement, including a q&a document and information on how the proposal is expected to improve fish species, please visit: http://baydeltaconservationplan.com