Today, the Newsom Administration rejected the Federal Government’s water proposal and released its draft environmental impact report for “fish protective management” of the State Water Project and water flows through the Delta.

According to the Administration, the proposed plan “reflects the state’s assessment that operating rules recently proposed by federal agencies are not scientifically adequate and fall short of protecting species and the state’s interests.”

The Federal government released its proposed biological opinions for the Central Valley Project last month. That plan would potentially result in more water flowing through the Delta to the San Joaquin Valley.

The Newsom Administration also announced that it intends to sue the Trump Administration to ensure the protection of endangered species.

Interestingly, the Administration simultaneously reiterated its support for continued negotiations of the voluntary agreements “to provide additional water, habitat, and science to improve environmental conditions in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River systems and the Delta…”

EPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld and Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot also reaffirmed the Administration’s commitment to the process. In a joint op-ed for the Publication CalMatters, Blumenfeld and Crowfoot write, “We remain committed to finding common solutions with the federal government and all those interested in ending the patterns of the past…Top of our list is working together to develop a set of voluntary agreements..”

The Governor’s announcement and the subsequent lawsuit is incredibly disappointing.  While we appreciate the Administration’s commitment to continuing with the voluntary agreement negotiations, a lawsuit will arguably derail the progress made here to fore. It’s imperative for the future of our water supply that the biological opinions are revised to reflect what the science tells us – existing practices are not protective of fish and are unsustainable from a water supply perspective.  CCM will continue to work with the Federal and State administrations to advocate for water policies that are balanced and scientifically justified.

The Governor further stated his intention to release a draft water resilience portfolio that “that provides important tools for local and regional entities to continue building resilience and encourage collaboration within and across regional lines.” CCM joined with members of the Water Blueprint coalition to provide input to the document that is consistent with the policy objectives of the Blueprint.

The Administration’s statement can be found in its entirety below:

State Agencies Lay Out Actions to Protect Endangered Species and Meet State Water Needs

Department of Water Resources issued draft Environmental Impact Report today

Agencies also intend to file litigation against federal government

Newsom administration continues to work toward voluntary agreements in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta rivers

SACRAMENTO — The California Natural Resources Agency and the California Environmental Protection Agency today announced a series of actions to protect imperiled fish while improving real-time management of the State Water Project (SWP). Earlier today, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) took a formal step toward more fish-protective management of the SWP by releasing a draft environmental impact report under the California Environmental Quality Act. The move reflects the state’s assessment that operating rules recently proposed by federal agencies are not scientifically adequate and fall short of protecting species and the state’s interests.

Additionally, the state intends to file litigation against federal agencies to ensure adequate protection of endangered species, shared responsibility of state and federal water project operations to protect those species and to protect the state’s interests.

“When California has the opportunity to tackle a longstanding challenge with innovative, collaborative solutions, we take it,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “We are once again marshaling our collective resources — and building on our record of strong, science-based environmental policies — to chart a new path forward for water policy in California. As stewards of this state’s remarkable natural resources, we must do everything in our power to protect them. The next generations of Californians deserve nothing less.”

“We value our partnerships with federal agencies on water management, including our work together to achieve the voluntary agreements,” said California Secretary for Environmental Protection Jared Blumenfeld. “At the same time, we also need to take legal action to protect the state’s interest and our environment.”

In a separate but related effort, the Newsom administration is collaboratively working with state, local and federal partners to refine a voluntary approach to provide additional water, habitat and science to improve environmental conditions in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River systems and the Delta, and secure water for other beneficial uses. The effort is a potential game changer in that it combines flows with a broader suite of tools including habitat and adaptive management to create more opportunities for species to survive and thrive.

In addition, state agencies are preparing to release a draft water resilience portfolio that provides important tools for local and regional entities to continue building resilience and encourage collaboration within and across regional lines. Governor Newsom called on agencies to develop the portfolio via executive order earlier this year. The draft, which will be available soon for public comment, recognizes that no quick or singular fix will safeguard our water resources in coming decades. Instead, advance planning, thoughtful investments, integrated management and unprecedented collaboration are needed to prepare for the future.

“We have to find ways to protect our environment and build water security for communities and agriculture” said California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot. “We have to become much more creative, collaborative and adaptive, which is why this Administration is working hard to secure voluntary agreements and develop a water resilience portfolio to meet objectives.”