After a winter of heavy rains and several years of severe drought, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order earlier this week that his office says will protect the state’s water supplies this year.
Newsom’s order also put him at odds with the Golden State’s environmental groups that typically support him.
What’s in it: The order gives the State Water Resources Control Board the ability to modify state requirements that regulate the outflow of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta into the San Francisco Bay.
- Newsom’s order helps facilitate groundwater recharge projects by having the Department of Water Resources, the State Water Resources Control Board and the Department of Fish and Wildlife continue to collaborate on expediting the permitting of recharge projects and to continue to work with local water districts on recharge projects.
State of play: In response to the executive order, the Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation submitted a Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) to the Water Resources Control Board to seek an urgent, temporary change in the State Water Project and Central Valley Project’s water outflow requirements in the Delta.
What they’re saying: While Newsom’s order has been met with consternation by the state’s environmental groups, who are concerned about the Delta smelt and Chinook salmon, Westlands Water District applauded the move.
- “As a result of the Governor’s Order, actions have been taken to improve system resiliency by streamlining permitting and providing needed operational flexibility to mitigate for the past two years of drought and, ultimately, increase the amount of water captured for California’s farms, people, and valued ecosystems,” the district said in a statement.
- Jennifer Pierre, the General Manager of the State Water Contractors, said the TUCP is the appropriate action to help realign California’s water management decision making with the latest and most relevant science.
- “Even with the TUCP, the Delta is and will remain substantially fresh, providing opportunities to maintain water supply operations without negative effects on fish and water quality,” Pierre said in a statement. “We are grateful that the water flowing through the Delta is sufficient to meet all the beneficial uses, but we must invest in infrastructure and establish operational rules that are better able to respond to our changed climate and hydrologic conditions.”
- Meanwhile, environmental advocates fumed at Newsom’s decision.
- Doug Obegi, a top advocate with the Natural Resources Defense Council, argued the executive order “effectively gives the State Water Project and Central Valley Project a ‘get out of jail free’ card for stealing water from the Bay-Delta environment.”