Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Why State Water Contractors Sued Over Restrictions on Water Deliveries
gvw_calmatters
By CalMatters
Published 4 years ago on
May 3, 2020

Share

For more than a decade, the State Water Contractors have heavily invested in scientific research to learn more about the Bay-Delta ecosystem and the endangered species that call it home.

Much of this investment worked to resolve lingering questions surrounding permits issued in 2008 and 2009 for the long-term operation of the State Water Project and Federal Central Valley Project. Having spent $50 million annually this past decade, we now better understand how water operations affect the Delta ecosystem. And with that understanding we can operate the statewide water system to achieve the co-equal goals of providing safe and reliable water supplies while protecting and restoring the environment.

Opinion

Jennifer Pierre
Special to CALmatters

For us, better science is the only path that can achieve those two important goals.

Unfortunately, as the state completed its new permitting effort at the end of March, a decade of research was largely ignored in favor of political objectives that impose unjustified restrictions on the State Water Project and offer no opportunity to manage water supplies for the benefit of the environment, 27 million people, 750,000 acres of agricultural land or the California economy.

In fact, the permit issued by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will make it substantially more difficult to manage water resources in the face of climate change, mega droughts and new state groundwater management rules.

Diverse Interest Groups Came to the Table

California needs to make foundational investments to ensure our water infrastructure is operating with the flexibility and capacity to provide the maximum benefit for our residents, farms and environment.

The March 31 Incidental Take Permit issued by the Department of Fish and Wildlife for the long-term operation of the State Water Project includes requirements that are contrary to what years of research has shown us. The permit also halts years of work to develop a Voluntary Agreement to update the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan – an effort that sought to provide more water and habitat for the environment while protecting the water rights of public water agencies.

In that process, diverse interest groups came to the table to develop substantial new instream and Delta outflow criteria, a robust collaborative science program spanning the Delta watershed, funding to purchase water and construct habitat, and an ability to test hypotheses to further our understanding of how flows and landscapes interact to benefit fish.

The historic agreement would have brought together nearly all of the state’s water users, some conservation groups, and the state and federal government to share in the implementation responsibilities. It represented our best hope of working together to achieve a better outcome.

The Latest Turn of Events Is Disappointing

Under the Voluntary Agreement process, costs and water supply impacts would have been shared among many parties. Instead, the Incidental Take Permit  burdens only the State Water Project ratepayers with costly measures unrelated to the impacts of its operations while reducing water supplies.

The latest turn of events is disappointing, to say the least. Interrupting the Voluntary Agreement process is an unfortunate choice by the Newsom administration that pushes stakeholders away from collaboration and back toward conflict and litigation.

While the state permit fails to acknowledge the scientific advancements achieved over the past decade, we will continue supporting efforts that enhance our knowledge, create collaborative venues to test and refine hypotheses, and adjust operations and actions based on the best available science. Because the Incidental Take Permit does not represent these values, the State Water Contractors and its member agencies have been left with no choice but to challenge the state’s permit.

About the Author

Jennifer Pierre is the general manager of the State Water Contractors, a nonprofit association that purchases water under contract from the California State Water Project, JPierre@swc.org. She wrote this commentary for CalMatters, a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s Capitol works and why it matters.

DON'T MISS

The Cost to Inform California Voters? $118,000 a Page for Official Guide

DON'T MISS

Top Russian Military Officials Are Being Arrested. Why Is It Happening?

DON'T MISS

Delta Tunnel Water Project May Finally Be Nearing a Historic Decision

DON'T MISS

CA Senate Passes Hospital Seismic Compliance Bill: What’s the Impact on Local Hospitals?

DON'T MISS

Take This Memorial Day Quiz Before Warming up the Grill

DON'T MISS

Hate Wasting Money? Use These 7 Hacks to Feed Your Family for Less

DON'T MISS

NCAA and Leagues Back $2.8 Billion Settlement, Setting Stage for Current, Former Athletes to Be Paid

DON'T MISS

UC Berkeley Faces a Summer of Discontent as Gaza Protesters Remain Steadfast

DON'T MISS

Newsom Promised 1,200 Tiny Homes for Homeless Californians. How Many Are Being Used?

DON'T MISS

Fresno Unified Unveils 5-Year Literacy Plan. What Are the Expectations?

UP NEXT

Take This Memorial Day Quiz Before Warming up the Grill

UP NEXT

Opinion: Likelihood of Trump Seeing the Inside of a Cell Is Increasing

UP NEXT

California Supreme Court Weighs Two Cases That Could Limit the Ballot Initiative Process

UP NEXT

Newsom Says No New Taxes, Yet His Budget Has Billions in New Levies on Businesses

UP NEXT

How the Beatles Empowered a Research Genius to Save Millions of Lives

UP NEXT

A Radical Lesson From El Salvador to Solve Fresno Housing & Homeless Crisis

UP NEXT

How California’s Bursting Budget Morphed into a $45 Billion Deficit in Just Two Years

UP NEXT

Hydrogen vs. Electric Batteries: A Case For Fresno’s Transportation & Ag Future

UP NEXT

Netanyahu’s Misguided Gaza Strategy Threatens Israel’s Future: Fareed Zakaria

UP NEXT

Opinion: How Urban Renewal Ruined Everything

CA Senate Passes Hospital Seismic Compliance Bill: What’s the Impact on Local Hospitals?

2 days ago

Take This Memorial Day Quiz Before Warming up the Grill

2 days ago

Hate Wasting Money? Use These 7 Hacks to Feed Your Family for Less

2 days ago

NCAA and Leagues Back $2.8 Billion Settlement, Setting Stage for Current, Former Athletes to Be Paid

2 days ago

UC Berkeley Faces a Summer of Discontent as Gaza Protesters Remain Steadfast

2 days ago

Newsom Promised 1,200 Tiny Homes for Homeless Californians. How Many Are Being Used?

2 days ago

Fresno Unified Unveils 5-Year Literacy Plan. What Are the Expectations?

2 days ago

Man Sentenced to 25 Years for Teaching Bomb-Making to Person Targeting Authorities

2 days ago

UCLA Police Arrest Young Man for Alleged Felony Assault in Attack on Pro-Palestinian Encampment

2 days ago

UAW Files Objection to Mercedes Vote, Accuses Company of Intimidating Workers

2 days ago

The Cost to Inform California Voters? $118,000 a Page for Official Guide

What’s the cost of democracy in California? Sameea Kamal CalMatters If we calculate that based just on the pages informing the state’s 22...

21 hours ago

21 hours ago

The Cost to Inform California Voters? $118,000 a Page for Official Guide

21 hours ago

Top Russian Military Officials Are Being Arrested. Why Is It Happening?

21 hours ago

Delta Tunnel Water Project May Finally Be Nearing a Historic Decision

2 days ago

CA Senate Passes Hospital Seismic Compliance Bill: What’s the Impact on Local Hospitals?

2 days ago

Take This Memorial Day Quiz Before Warming up the Grill

2 days ago

Hate Wasting Money? Use These 7 Hacks to Feed Your Family for Less

2 days ago

NCAA and Leagues Back $2.8 Billion Settlement, Setting Stage for Current, Former Athletes to Be Paid

2 days ago

UC Berkeley Faces a Summer of Discontent as Gaza Protesters Remain Steadfast

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend