Voluntary Agreements to Improve Habitat and Flow in the Delta and its Watersheds
The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is home or migratory pathway for several endangered and threatened fish species and also the place from which major water projects divert water to supply 27 million people and three million acres of farmland.
The State Water Resources Control Board is in the process of updating its regulatory framework for protecting fish and wildlife, water quality and other beneficial uses of water in the Delta and its key watersheds. The update to the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan is required by state law. More information about the Water Board’s effort is available here.
The California Natural Resources Agency has been leading a separate but related effort to negotiate voluntary agreements with water users to support environmental objectives through a broad set of tools, while protecting water supply reliability.
The effort has made significant progress since an initial framework was presented to the State Water Board on December 12, 2018.
On March 1, 2019, the California Department of Water Resources and the Department of Fish and Wildlife submitted documents to the State Water Resources Control Board that reflect progress since December to flesh-out the previously submitted framework to improve conditions for fish through targeted river flows and a suite of habitat-enhancing projects including floodplain inundation and physical improvement of spawning and rearing areas.
Further work and analysis is needed to determine whether the agreements can meet environmental objectives required by law and identified in the State Water Board’s update to the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan.
The package submitted March 1 is the product of renewed discussions over the past six weeks since Governor Gavin Newsom took office. It includes a project description identifying resources and actions that could be deployed to support environmental and biological objectives and a planning agreement that outlines an implementation approach and terms for the additional work ahead. While significant work remains, the package represents an important step forward in bringing together diverse California water interests.
Project description (PDF)
Planning Agreement (PDF)