Oct 23, 2019
California water projects plan draws responses

In response to the federal government’s new plan that will guide the coordinated operations of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project in California, Western Growers President & CEO Tom Nassif issued the following statement:

 “We are encouraged by the federal government’s willingness to expedite revisions of the biological opinions that have governed water project operations in much of California for the last decade. Those rules – intended to recover threatened and endangered fish populations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta – have caused serious and lasting economic and social damage to hundreds of communities without producing the desired results.

“The proposed revisions introduce a refreshing new commitment to flexible management based on real-time data, allowing water deliveries when protected fish species are not in danger and restricting deliveries when they are. This is a common sense improvement over the status quo in which water managers’ hands are tied by inflexible calendar-based rules that ignore real-time changing conditions in the Delta. Other elements of the revised biological opinions similarly reflect the benefit of updated research and experience.

“Those who immediately condemn these revisions because they may help farm communities or cities are attempting to distract from the failure of the current regulatory regime. We suggest that protecting the status quo by any means is equivalent to consigning the endangered fish species to extinction while simultaneously extinguishing the economic future of thousands of communities. The status quo has failed; change, based on new research and practical experience, is desperately needed.

“The Newsom Administration has made thoughtful commitments to environmental protection and better water resource management through Voluntary Agreements between the State Water Board and the communities that depend on the watersheds of the Delta. It is imperative that this proposal be analyzed in the same thoughtful manner, that is, on its merits and as part of the larger Voluntary Agreement construct.”

Founded in 1926, Western Growers represents local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico. Our members and their workers provide over half the nation’s fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts, including nearly half of America’s fresh organic produce. Some members also farm throughout the U.S. and in other countries so people have year-round access to nutritious food. For generations, we have provided variety and healthy choices to consumers. Connect with and learn more about Western Growers on our Twitter and Facebook.

 California Farm Bureau responds 

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.”

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of nearly 5.6 million Farm Bureau members.


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