Senator Feinstein, along with Congressmembers Ken Calvert, Jim Costa, Jeff Denham, Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes and David Valadao have written a letter to Secretary Sally Jewell and Secretary Penny Pritzker, backing the exchange contractors request and asking them to evaluate the operating criteria for the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project in order to capture the maximum amount of runoff possible from this week’s storm that is passing through.
The extremely low water allocations to agriculture will have severe imapcts, while so far, the numbers of take of listed species at the pumps are 0 or minimal, the letter states. “These numbers show that existing protections for endangered fish are more than adequate. On the other hand, our constituents’ farms and communities are facing potential devastation. From our view, it is apparent that there is significant imbalance of regulatory burdens,” the letter says.
A disaster of great magnitude has been unfolding in our communities, the letter says. Since the state’s drought declaration, there have been only two major storms, and based on historical weather patterns, these storms could be the last chance.
“We understand that your Departments have to consider other factors, such as salinity levels in the Delta and the need for pulse flows. Still, this latest data strongly suggests that there is significant leeway for the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service to alter current water operations to benefit water users without risking jeopardy to protected species,” the letter says.
“This latest rain storm is occurring as we speak. You have authority under the law and, we assert, the obligation, to immediately take advantage of the rare, and likely the last, opportunity this year to capture and move water to bring relief to millions of Californians, and to mitigate the large-scale drought disaster that has struck our State. We urge you in the strongest terms to take action without delay,” the legislators say.