Food Grows Where Water Flows

For more than 25 years, the California Farm Water Coalition has been working with our members to share information about farm water issues, and reminding Californians that "Food Grows Where Water Flows."

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Releases and Statements

Statement by Mike Wade, California Farm Water Coalition Executive Director On the Release of New Biological Assessments

February 6, 2019 in News Archives, Releases

Statement by Mike Wade, California Farm Water Coalition Executive Director On the Release of New Biological Assessments

SACRAMENTO, CA – Recognizing the failure of the existing biological opinions issued a decade ago by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for Delta smelt and by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for salmon, the Bureau of Reclamation released a new biological assessment which serves as the basis for new biological opinions that will be released within 135 days. The Biological Assessment details the manner in which the agencies will operate the project and make operations more effective in preserving fish and delivering water to communities and farms. The Bureau of Reclamation is now taking a common-sense approach and applying scientific principles to water supply and fishery protections.

“The current, outdated biological opinions have been plagued with operational problems that experts determined were largely ineffective at helping the endangered fish they were intended to help,” said Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition. “In addition, the two outdated biological opinions often worked against one another, such as requiring more upstream storage for salmon to keep temperatures lower and at the same time, requiring more water to be released to the Delta to benefit smelt. These biological opinions have failed all parties – fish and wildlife, communities, and farmers,” he said.

The Bureau’s new Biological Assessment takes into account the failures of the older biological opinions and creates a new process to modernize operations, utilizing science and operational flexibility to improve the operations and efficiency of the Central Valley and State Water projects. The Biological Assessment makes several changes to the operations of the Central Valley Project, based on the experience with the older biological opinions, the drought, and prior policy decisions. This modern Biological Assessment requires science-based operational changes that respond to actual conditions rather than follow a calendar-based approach to species protections. Using a smarter approach encourages adjustments that will allow for better temperature control for salmon while reducing the impacts on the Delta. It bases flow requirements on a variety of factors rather than using flow as the sole determinant for water project management.

The Biological Assessment moves away from the failed presumption that water projects are the only cause of the decline in fish species.

“The new Biological Assessment starts with a “clean slate” and seeks to determine those effects that are unrelated to the projects but are impacting fish populations in order to manage the projects. By focusing on a more integrated and holistic approach, federal and state agencies can utilize science and effective operational measures in the new biological opinions to address all the factors impacting the fish populations, he said.

The operations analyzed in the new Biological Assessment are intended to allow the projects, designed and built to provide water to California communities, to fulfill that obligation and provide critical information to federal and state agencies that will improve the conditions for fish and wildlife and the Delta habitat.

CFWC Statement on Voluntary Agreements Presented to the State Water Board on its Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan

December 12, 2018 in CFWC Blog, Farm Water in the News, Releases

CFWC Statement on Voluntary Agreements Presented to the State Water Board on its Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan

“Water users and the State of California have brought to the table almost 1 million acre-feet of water and almost $2 billion in funding to implement an unprecedented set of ecosystem restoration goals. It is a comprehensive, system-wide plan that will start showing progress in 2019 with restored habitat, functional water flows, improved temperature for fish, and floodplain improvements that are proven to grow stronger, healthier salmon on their journey to the ocean. We hope the Water Board will choose this more collaborative approach to its water quality control plan rather than a set of forced rules that will harm communities and the economy and that haven’t worked in similar efforts to help fish populations in the past.”

Learn more about the proposed voluntary agreements at: https://water.ca.gov/-/media/DWR-Website/Web-Pages/Blogs/Voluntary-Settlement-Agreement-Meeting-Materials-Dec-12-2018-DWR-CDFW-CNRA.pdf

CFWC Statement on End of Drought

April 7, 2017 in CFWC Blog, Drought, Releases, Water Supply
“Today the Governor declared an end to California’s drought and his administration issued plans to permanently entrench many of the drought restrictions and water use efficiency requirements it brought about.

 

“California farmers work every day to make the most out of every drop.  While total agricultural water use in California has remained relatively constant over the last 50 years, the amount of food we produce with that water has increased over 43 percent. Any way you look at it, that’s a pretty efficient use of resources, said Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition.

 

“By planning to prepare for future drought the Administration recognizes that Californians can no longer rely on our broken water system to provide sufficient water to all California water users – urban, farm and environmental. Without fixing our broken system, we face the risk of permanent water shortages during even the wettest of years, and ever-escalating disaster during multi-year droughts.

 

“Californians have long known that our state must develop water infrastructure in smart ways to foster prosperity, avert crisis, and ensure our long-term success. In 2014 the voters overwhelmingly passed Prop 1, agreeing to spend money on badly-needed water infrastructure. And yet, projects that have been studied for years and are ready to go remain unfunded. Why? Our water management system with more than 15 overlapping federal, state, and local agencies continues to delay. Sites Reservoir and Temperance Flat alone would add enough water to meet the needs of 4.3 million people for a year or grow over 11 billion salads

 

“We must act now to prepare for future droughts by building integrated water storage that helps to grow our economy, protect the environment, and ensure prosperity for future generations. But fixing our broken system goes beyond our urgent need to develop these smart storage solutions. California must pursue robust, adaptive, and durable solutions to the other water management issues confronting us. Local, state, and federal agencies must adopt not only a culture of cooperation, but outcome-oriented policies that encourage responsive, efficient, and smart solutions.

 

“We stand ready to roll up our sleeves and work to fix the broken water management system and keep California from a state of permanent drought,” Wade said.