header image

[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Sunny
Sunny
37°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
January 24
1888 - Acton post office established; Richard E. Nickel, postmaster [story]
postal cover


| Wednesday, Apr 1, 2020
water plan - The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta viewed from above Sherman Island, with the Sacramento River above and San Joaquin River below. | Photo: WorldIslandInfo.com/Wikipedia.
The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta viewed from above Sherman Island, with the Sacramento River above and San Joaquin River below. | Photo: WorldIslandInfo.com/Wikipedia.

 

SACRAMENTO — In the latest break between the Trump administration and California on environmental policy, officials decided Tuesday to give the state unprecedented control over a water plan that delivers water to more than 27 million residents.

For decades California and the federal government have collaborated on rules intended to supply farmers, fish and cities with enough water to survive the state’s boom and bust rainy seasons. As managing partners of California’s intricate water infrastructure — the feds largely keep farmers’ fields green while the state focuses on parched cities like Los Angeles and San Diego — the two sides routinely cooperated on a framework to ensure the survival of Chinook salmon and other endangered species.

The federal government operates the Central Valley Project and California manages the State Water Project, with both sourcing water from the drainage point of the state’s largest rivers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

But under President Donald Trump’s administration, the seemingly solid relationship has crashed and the sides are now suddenly setting their own playbooks when it comes to California’s prized water supply.

The feds initially reviewed the impact of their proposed changes to fish species such as salmon and smelt in July 2019 and concluded excess water deliveries to farmers would harm the populations of imperiled species. But the administration pulled that document within two days of its publication and two months later reversed course by claiming it was possible to increase farmers’ take without killing fish.

Last month, Trump traveled to California to make good on a campaign promise to “open up the water” to Central Valley farmers and inked the plan critics warned was a death sentence for the state’s iconic species.

“As a candidate for president, I promised to help solve the water crisis that was crippling our farmers due to the chronic mismanagement and misguided policies,” Trump said, taking a shot at California water managers and environmentalists.

California responded one day later and slapped the Trump administration with a lawsuit challenging the new biological opinions. It believes the lax pumping requirements could result in a lack of fresh water for fish during the summer and fall.

With communication and cooperation at a standstill, California on Tuesday for the first time issued a new operating permit for its water project without guidance from the federal government.

The heads of the state’s natural resources agencies defended the move in a joint statement, claiming it was necessary to install new pumping limits in order to protect salmon.

“California’s water operations need to support our communities while protecting our fish and wildlife,” said Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth and Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton Bonham. “Most importantly, it ensures that our state water infrastructure operates in a manner protective of fish species listed under the state’s endangered species law. It does so in many ways, including by dedicating water for delta outflows during drier periods when fish and habitat need it the most.”

According to the state, the incidental take permit relies on new scientific data and modeling and will provide a sorely needed update to old laws governing when and how much water can be pumped out of the delta. It says the goal is to make the water system more flexible and allow up to an additional 250,000-acre feet of water to be released during the spring and summer when conditions are right. The State Water Project delivers an average of 2.9 million acre-feet to its contractors annually.

Meanwhile, environmental groups have been critical of both the government pumping plans.

A collection of groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Restore the Delta and California Sportfishing Protection Alliance argue the state plan does not accurately account for climate change impacts like brackish water and reduced river flows. They have long fought for stricter pumping limitations and roundly oppose the state’s permit.

“Climate change sensitivity analysis is likely not sensitive enough to the effects of climate change,” the groups wrote to state regulators. “The environmental impact report provides no sea-level rise analysis for long-term operations of the State Water Project as it would affect delta operations.”

Doug Obegi, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, says the state’s version fails to protect the delta’s ecosystem and is likely to spark litigation.

“I expect that conservation and fishing groups will be forced to go to court to challenge these unlawful decisions, in order to prevent these species from being driven extinct and to protect the thousands of fishing jobs that depend on a healthy delta,” Obegi wrote in a blog post late Tuesday.

Public water agencies, including Friant Water Authority which operates a 152-mile canal in the Central Valley, echoed Obegi’s prediction of new court battles.

Jason Phillips, Friant CEO, called the state’s decision to disregard the feds’ biological opinions “disappointing.”

“While we are still evaluating the full impact of the state’s permit, we fear the inconsistency with the federal opinion and the failure to acknowledge the best available science will throw California’s water operations into a tailspin, causing unnecessary disruptions to the operations of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project,” Phillips said in a statement. “It’s very difficult to envision a path forward that doesn’t include litigation, public bickering and finger-pointing, and water shortages and uncertainty for family farms, disadvantaged communities, and municipalities throughout the San Joaquin Valley and elsewhere in California.”

As is often the case in California, the courts will ultimately have a major say in determining how much and often water should be pumped out of the delta. But for the time being, the sides are planning to abide by two sets of rules regardless of the confusion that may come. “Operating to different criteria creates challenges for both real-time operations and seasonal and long-term planning,” the Bureau of Reclamation warned in January.

— By Nick Cahill

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


SCV NewsBreak
LOCAL NEWS HEADLINES
Friday, Jan 22, 2021
COVID Death Rate Soars to New Daily Record in California
Despite signs that California’s latest and most damaging wave of the pandemic is subsiding, the state nonetheless sets a one-day record of 764 deaths on Friday.
Friday, Jan 22, 2021
California Attorney General Launches Civil Rights Probe of L.A. Sheriff’s Department
Claims of excessive force, retaliation, and other misconduct by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will be probed during a C, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Friday.
Friday, Jan 22, 2021
Friday COVID-19 Roundup: 3 New Deaths at Henry Mayo; L.A. County Hospitalizations Decreased by 8%
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials on Friday confirmed 256 new deaths and 9,277 new cases of confirmed COVID-19 countywide, as Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia reported it's 107th death.
Keep Up With Our Facebook

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1888 - Acton post office established; Richard E. Nickel, postmaster [story]
postal cover
1882 - Author Helen Hunt Jackson visits Rancho Camulos; inspiration for "Ramona" novel [story]
HH Jackson
The COVID-19 crisis has trashed recycling efforts and instead generated an increase in plastic waste, according to a recent study, but Los Angeles County restaurants could soon be required to make adjustments related to disposable food ware in an effort to reduce waste.
Jan. 26: Board of Supervisors to Consider Restaurant Requirement Aimed at Curbing Waste
Despite signs that California’s latest and most damaging wave of the pandemic is subsiding, the state nonetheless sets a one-day record of 764 deaths on Friday.
COVID Death Rate Soars to New Daily Record in California
Claims of excessive force, retaliation, and other misconduct by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will be probed during a C, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Friday.
California Attorney General Launches Civil Rights Probe of L.A. Sheriff’s Department
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials on Friday confirmed 256 new deaths and 9,277 new cases of confirmed COVID-19 countywide, as Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia reported it's 107th death.
Friday COVID-19 Roundup: 3 New Deaths at Henry Mayo; L.A. County Hospitalizations Decreased by 8%
When Dr. John Scaramella, a dental surgeon, moved to the Santa Clarita Valley in 1978, there were only 18 others in his field.
SCV Dental Surgeon Sells Practice After More than 40 Years
The Los Angeles County Library, in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is set to host a series of free virtual workshops running every other week on Fridays from January through June.
L.A. County Library to Host Virtual Art Programs in Partnership with LACMA
The temporary residential green waste pick-up schedule will continue through Jan. 29 for customers in Santa Clarita after Waste Management requested an additional week for its modified schedule.
Waste Management Extends Modified Green Waste Pick-Up Schedule an Additional Week
The Santa Clarita City Council will hold a virtual regular meeting at City Hall on Tuesday, January 26, starting at 6 p.m.
Jan. 26: City Council Virtual Regular Meeting
The William S. Hart Union High School District Governing Board has approved the recommendation to name Julian Gomez as the assistant principal of Bowman High School.
Hart District Names Julian Gomez Assistant Principal
The Los Angeles County Development Authority will launch the Small Business Stabilization Loan Program on Jan. 28 and will begin accepting applications to help small businesses prevent further job loss and business closures.
L.A. County to Launch Small Business Stabilization Loan Program
The William S. Hart Union High School District governing board voted 3-1 Wednesday night to let athletic conditioning return to district campuses Jan. 27.
Hart District Votes 3-1 to Allow Return of Athletic Conditioning to Campuses
1839 - Gov. Juan B. Alvarado gives most of SCV to Mexican Army Lt. Antonio del Valle. [story]
Diseno map
Join the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency (SCV Water) on Thursday, Jan. 28, from 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., to learn about and provide input on its Water Shortage Contingency Plan (WSCP).
SCV Water Encouraging Public to Provide Input on Contingency Plan
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed 262 new deaths, including an additional death at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, and 8,512 new cases of confirmed COVID-19 countywide, with 22,360 total cases in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Thursday COVID-19 Roundup: Additional Death at Henry Mayo; 22,360 Total SCV Cases
SACRAMENTO – California State Epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan issued the following statement Thursday advising providers that they can immediately resume the administration of lot 41L20A of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which was temporarily paused on Sunday due to possible allergic reactions.
State Says Moderna Vaccine Administration Can Resume Immediately
As winds began to die down in the Santa Clarita Valley, firefighters were able to increase containment on the Towsley Fire to 53% Thursday.
Firefighters Reach 53% Containment on Towsley Fire
Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley, is supporting the effort by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to address concerns of communities throughout Los Angeles County, which continue to experience ongoing Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) initiated by Southern California Edison (Edison).
Barger Supports Efforts in Limiting Power Shutoffs; Public Hearing Set
Single Mothers Outreach (SMO) is proud to announce “Survivor” as the theme for the 11th annual Empowering HeArts fundraising gala set to take place virtually on Saturday, Aug. 7.
Nominations Open for Annual Empowering HeArts Awards
The College of the Canyons School of Personal and Professional Learning was presented an Honorable Mention award by the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges’ 2021 Exemplary Program Award.
COC Recognized for Personal, Professional Learning Program
The William S. Hart Union High School is looking for two new members to serve on the Measure SA Citizens’ Oversight Committee. These members will serve two-year terms with a maximum of three consecutive terms.
Hart Seeking Members for Citizens’ Oversight Committee
Santa Clarita-based Princess Cruises announced Thursday the sale of Pacific Princess to an undisclosed buyer.
Princess Cruises Announces Sale of Pacific Princess to Undisclosed Buyer
After a dayslong wind event hit the Santa Clarita Valley, most area residents power had been restored by Thursday morning.
SoCal Edison Restores Power to Most SCV Residents
%d bloggers like this: