Today, Congressman Kevin McCarthy and Congressman David Valadao (CA-21) led the California Republican Congressional Delegation in urging the Biden administration to continue an operations plan to deliver water to the Central Valley and southern California from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. In a letter to the White House, every California Republican requested the continued implementation of a new operations plan consistent with those set by the U .S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service in 2019.
These plans – known as biological opinions – determine how much water can be diverted from the Delta to the Central Valley without damaging the environmental habitat.
“The Trump Administration followed the rules put in place by the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama, which directed the Secretary of the Interior to develop a new operations plan for California water and was completed last year. This new plan is consistent with the 2019 federal biological opinions which use the latest science and best data to help ensure that Californians receive the water they contract and pay for while simultaneously safeguarding the environment and protected species,” said McCarthy.
At the time these plans were set, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stated that it had finalized its biological opinions and ultimately “concluded that…proposed operations [would] not jeopardize threatened or endangered species or adversely modify their designated critical habitat.”
The biological opinions in 2019 were developed using the best science to ensure that California’s families have access to life-giving water while also protecting listed fish species in the Delta. Given California’s disposition for drought, maximum flexibility to move water in this operation is critical.
“Central Valley is home to one of the leading agricultural producing regions in the nation, and this water is key to keeping farmers and farmworkers afloat and families safe,” McCarthy continued. “As California faces the likelihood of a dry 2021, rather than repealing the science-based 2019 biological opinions, the Biden Administration must continue to implement the new water management plan consistent with those opinions so that our most vulnerable neighbors have the water they contract and pay for.”
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