Given all the uncertainties facing the state and national economies now, the California Farm Bureau Federation urged state and federal water and environmental agencies to cooperate on operation of water projects in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The request came after state agencies issued an environmental permit for the State Water Project that could place its operation in conflict with the federal Central Valley Project.
“This disagreement among federal and state agencies throws another layer of uncertainty on top of an already complicated situation,” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. “State and federal governments need to work together for the mutual benefit of the environment and the economy.”
Johansson noted that the season’s final snow survey, taken Wednesday, showed the Sierra Nevada snowpack at only about half of average.
“The dry winter underlines the need to restore resiliency to our state’s water system,” he said. “That makes it even more important for the federal and state water projects to be on the same page. Having the state and federal projects operated in a different fashion would undermine that resiliency, at the same time as regulations restrict supplemental groundwater supplies.”
Farm Bureau said the incidental-take permit issued by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife represents a significant departure from past practices that coordinated operations of the state and federal projects. Though the permit includes novel features such as habitat actions to benefit potential voluntary agreements on water flows for the benefit of fish, it remains at odds with a federal permit.
“We believe the federal record of decision released in mid-February showed a way to improve the environment without gutting the economy, and the state should work forward from that framework in conducting its water operations where the projects can be coordinated,” Johansson said. “The federal and state water projects need to complement each other, in order to serve the millions of Californians and millions of acres of farmland that depend on them. We will continue to work with elected officials at the state and federal levels, urging them to bring both levels of government into agreement on delta management.”