Today the United States Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources announced a series of agreements to resolve water conflicts that have vexed the State for decades and to reaffirm the collaborative partnership between the Federal and State governments to develop long-term solutions to California’s major water problems.
Since August 2018, Reclamation and DWR, with support from public water agencies from nearly every region of the State, have engaged in accentuated discussions to address contributions from the Central Valley Project, the State Water Project, and the public water agencies they serve to voluntary agreements to resolve conflicts over proposed amendments to the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan Update and to revise sharing formulas under the 1986 Coordinated Operations Agreement.
The product of those discussions includes a series of voluntary agreements to resolve conflicts over proposed amendments to the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan Update that, if accepted by the State Water Resources Control Board, will provide:
- Improved water supply reliability to the Sacramento Valley, the Sacramento region, the San Joaquin Valley, the San Francisco Bay area, the central coast, and southern California.
- Significant quantities of water, on a voluntary basis, for instream flow in nearly every major stream tributary to the Sacramento – San Joaquin Rivers Delta and Delta outflow, while balancing the impacts that may result from land fallowing and other actions to generate these flows.
- Habitat improvements and other non-flow measures to enhance fish and wildlife resources in the Delta and streams tributary to the Delta.
- A secure and ongoing source of funding to implement water purchase programs, habitat restoration, and robust science programs to ensure that both water and money dedicated to environmental enhancement and restoration are being used wisely.
These agreements will result in immediate improvements to the environment and at-risk aquatic species and commit local, regional, Federal and State agencies to a long-term course for collaboration to further ecosystem enhancement and water supply improvements.
Today’s announcement is a paradigm shift in how water will be managed for human and environmental needs and how decisions will be made about the use of the State’s most precious resource. It is a good deal for the State and the Nation.