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Members Call on Interior, California to Work Together to Manage California Water Supply

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representatives Jim Costa, Josh Harder, TJ Cox and John Garamendi (all D-Calif.) today called on Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and California Governor Gavin Newsom to maintain coordination of operations between the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.

The two projects provide water for an estimated 30 million Californians, nearly 4 million acres of agricultural land in California and numerous ecosystems, including managed wetlands. Both projects have traditionally coordinated their operations to achieve favorable outcomes for communities, endangered species, the environment and the agriculture industry.

Recently, the state and federal governments developed conflicting rules for the amount of water each project can pump. Without an agreement, it will be harder for both projects to capture water for agricultural and other uses and to coordinate on increased flows for threatened or endangered fish at critical times for the species. 

In a letter to Secretary Bernhardt the members wrote: “Continued coordinated operation is threatened by the conflict between the federal biological opinions and the state’s recently issued incidental take permit for the long-term operation of the State Water Project. Given the seriousness of this challenge, we urge you to take advantage of what is likely the last opportunity to work with the state and seek a solution to this impasse.” Read the full letter here.

In a separate letter to Governor Newsom, the members wrote: “We believe the most plausible path forward is through continued negotiation and the voluntary agreement process. We understand that an agreement between the necessary parties was close but has not yet been reached. Early implementation of such a voluntary agreement when fully negotiated could provide a framework to allow the State to settle its lawsuit with the federal government and resolve the differences between the federal biological opinions and the State’s incidental take permit for the long-term operation of the State Water Project.” Read the full letter here.

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