Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt joined President Donald Trump and other federal officials in Bakersfield, California for the signing of a Presidential Memorandum supporting more water development and delivery in California.
In addition, the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation issued a new operations plan, which will maximize water deliveries and optimize power generation for communities and farms in California and implement improved measures to protect endangered species and their habitats in the Central Valley.
Issued in 2018, the President’s previous Memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West directed the Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce to complete a new operations plan to address the fragmented regulation of water infrastructure in California and address inefficiencies, burdens and conflicts in water delivery. The new operations plan brings greater efficiency to water delivery by modifying the coordinated long-term operations of the federally-owned and operated Central Valley Project and the California-owned and operated State Water Project.
“President Trump gave the Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce clear direction to move forward and provide water to California’s communities and farms,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “This action furthers President Trump’s commitment to America’s hardworking farmers who need water to feed our nation.”
“The Central Valley Project is one of Reclamation’s largest and most important water projects,” said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman. “This decision will enhance water reliability for California communities and agriculture, as well as provide protection for the endangered species who depend on the CVP for survival.”
In addition to operational changes, the operations plan broadens the suite of tools to address species needs beyond flows alone and includes habitat restoration, facility improvements, hatchery actions, monitoring, and science commitments estimated to cost $1.5 billion of Federal and state funding for the needs of threatened and endangered species over the next 10 years.
The revised operations plan provides better cold water management at Shasta Reservoir to directly benefit incubating salmon eggs; includes a commitment to accelerate ongoing reintroduction efforts of imperiled winter-run Chinook salmon populations on Battle Creek; and commits to a strategy to supplement Delta smelt in the wild in the next 3 to 5 years. These and other actions will significantly contribute to improving conditions for endangered species while ensuring optimal delivery of water for farmers and communities.
The operations plan is based on the Bureau of Reclamation’s December 2019 Final Environmental Impact Statement and biological opinions completed in October 2019 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries to protect threatened and endangered species.
The Bureau of Reclamation considered several alternatives in the environmental impact analysis for modifying the operations of the CVP and SWP. The preferred alternative, adopted by the operations plan, best balances the need to provide a safe and reliable water supply to farms, families and communities, and protects species with flow measures, habitat restoration, improved temperature management strategies, performance measures and strong oversight by independent panels.
Environmental Utilities Director for the City of Roseville Rich Plecker - “Reclamation’s decision will protect carryover storage at Folsom Reservoir for the benefit of both water supplies and environmental needs.”
California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson - “Improved flexibility in water management will benefit rural communities throughout the Central Valley. We appreciate the bureau’s work to update coordination with the State Water Project and to adapt operations to fit the needs of fish and people alike.”
Chief Executive Officer of Friant Water Authority Jason Phillips - “With the signing of the Record of Decision on the biological opinions, the Federal government can now operate the CVP using best available science to protect listed species without relying on decade-old mandates that were not showing positive results for fish but were causing major water shortages up and down the state. We extend our gratitude and appreciation to all involved in this effort.”
Chair of Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District Don Bransford - “We are extremely appreciative of the Reclamation team for their completion of this Record of Decision as well as the federal fishery agencies for their respective Biological Opinions. As a CVP Settlement Contractor in the Sacramento Valley, we look forward to partnering with Reclamation and other agencies to implement Sacramento River flow and habitat projects consistent with decision for the benefit of our in-stream fisheries and water supply reliability.”
Executive Director, California Farm Water Coalition Mike Wade - “This decision advances a science-based approach toward improving the water supply that is critical for some of California’s most productive farms, the jobs they support, and the communities that are the backbone of rural California. This is also an important path toward restoring the populations of threatened and endangered species, and supporting wildlife refuges that are critical to the migration of millions of birds along the Pacific Flyway.”
General Manager, Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority Jeffrey P. Sutton - “The signing of the Record of Decision sets the stage for the implementation of the new Biological Opinions. This new plan utilizes the latest and best science and provides for operational adaptive management that will greatly benefit endangered fish species, while simultaneously improving our ability to manage California's critical water resources. The TCCA commends the Bureau of Reclamation, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service for their efforts and leadership in developing this improved structure that will restore flexibility to CVP operations.”
President of the California Agricultural Irrigation Association Paul McFadden - “We thank the Trump Administration for their vision and the Bureau of Reclamation for taking an active leadership role in this decision. Facilitating enhanced communication and cooperative efforts between the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project, coupled with new science and improved management flexibility, will support the beneficial use of our water resources for agriculture and the environment. We look forward to seeing the tangible results that come out of these actions.”
General Manager of Grassland Water District Ricardo Ortega - “This action creates new opportunities for South of Delta wildlife refuges to transfer water to meet critical needs for our already threatened native species and waterfowl.”
Family Farm Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen - “This decision is critically important to our many members in California’s Central Valley. The new water plan employs new science and knowledge to improve management of water – for both food production and the future of fish species in the Bay-Delta. It’s an important first step towards reestablishing the water supply reliability that is an essential cog in California’s – and our Nation’s – critical food production capacity.”