SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Bureau of Reclamation and the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority today finalized federal and state environmental reports that analyze potential impacts of approving water transfers to increase water reliability for those suffering shortages during dry times.
The long-term transfers would send water from willing sellers north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to water users south of the Delta through 2024. The transfers could occur through various methods, including groundwater substitution, cropland idling, reservoir releases and conservation.
The SLDMWA’s participating water districts and other Central Valley Project water contractors in the San Francisco Bay Area experience severe reductions in CVP water supplies during dry hydrologic years and due to operations resulting from regulatory requirements. When these users experience water shortages, they may look to water transfers to help reduce potential impacts.
“With this final analysis, we will be able to streamline the regulatory process for water transfers based on real-time hydrologic conditions,” said Ernest Conant, regional director of Reclamation’s California-Great Basin.
“Water transfers are essential to providing flexibility in California’s water supply system,” said Federico Barajas, SLDMWA executive director. “Because of the irregular nature of California’s hydrology, it is necessary to find innovative ways to be able to serve the needs of water users in many parts of the state. Long-term water transfer agreements give participating public water agencies more certainty in their ability to meet customers’ needs.”
Reclamation and SLDMWA completed a joint environmental impact statement/environmental impact report in 2015 for approving water transfers over a ten-year period. In 2018, a U.S. district court ruled that the document needed further clarification.
Earlier this year, Reclamation and SLDMWA released for public comment additional analysis with new information clarifying potential environmental effects of water transfers and are now providing the revised final EIS/EIR.
The revised final EIS/EIR and previous documents are available at: https://www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_project_details.php?Project_ID=18361.