New biological opinions for fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta open the way toward additional flexibility in the California water system, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation. CFBF President Jamie Johansson said the opinions released today by federal fisheries agencies enhance prior protection for fish while adjusting operation of water projects to improve water supplies.
“Everyone wants to see endangered fish recover,” Johansson said. “But the methods of the past haven’t worked. Doubling down on those failed methods would make no sense. It’s time to try something new, and we’re satisfied that the career scientists at the federal agencies have taken the time they need to create well thought-out plans that reflect advances in knowledge acquired during the past 10 years.”
Johansson said the biological opinions can lead to progress in restoring balance to California water management.
“We expect these new biological opinions to approach fishery recovery through a variety of tactics, including habitat restoration, improved science, and flexibility in dedicating enough water at the right time to maximize fishery benefits and improve water deliveries to people,” he said.
“Narrow solutions based only on water flow mandates have failed to restore fisheries, at great loss of water for people. Water used for environmental purposes should be analyzed for efficiency, just as people are when they water their lawns, run their dishwashers or irrigate their crops,” Johansson said.
“Californians face a challenging water future as we seesaw between extreme drought and flood, incorporate new restrictions on groundwater and work to accommodate a growing population while enhancing the environment and sustaining agricultural production,” he said. “We hope these new biological opinions will move California toward those goals, and that state and federal leaders will work together in pursuing them.”