On Thursday, the Newsom Administration and the State Legislature approved a commitment of $70 million in the 2019-2020 State Budget for a comprehensive series of innovative fish and wildlife habitat enhancement actions identified in the collaborative Bay-Delta Voluntary Agreement proposals. This is a significant, early investment in the success of the Voluntary Agreements.
The Governor in his State of the State address earlier this year stated that “our collective effort must be to cross the finish line on real agreements to save the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta. We must get this done for the resilience of our mighty rivers, for the stability of our agricultural sector, and for the millions and millions of people that depend on this water every day.” The approved budget and the funding for this program is a significant step forward to implement the Governor’s vision of a new, smart approach to one of California’s longstanding water problems.
The Northern California Water Association (NCWA) and water leaders throughout Northern California are fully committed to this collaborative approach and we appreciate the administration’s initial investment in the program. NCWA has been working closely with conservation organizations, water suppliers in other parts of the state, and our state and federal partners to advance the science-based Voluntary Agreements as a more comprehensive and immediate solution to the vexing challenges in California’s Bay-Delta watershed.
This $70 million in state funding will leverage local and federal contributions to accelerate meaningful habitat enhancement projects for salmon and hundreds of other species of fish and wildlife in the Central Valley, including waterfowl and shorebirds.
In the Sacramento Valley, the science-based enhancement actions identified in the Voluntary Agreements will utilize natural infrastructure along the American, Feather, Sacramento and Yuba Rivers and are designed to increase instream flows in these rivers, increase flows in the Delta, and re-create floodplain habitat. These actions are consistent with the principles identified in Governor Newsom’s recent Executive Order, which directs state agencies to develop a comprehensive water resiliency portfolio to address our changing natural world.
Sacramento Valley water agencies are collaborating with the Newsom Administration, conservation groups and others to increase instream flows and flows into the Delta by approximately 250,000 to 300,000 acre-feet annually, and to implement over 30 enhancement projects in the first two years. Over the term of the Voluntary Agreements, Sacramento Valley water agencies are committed to contributing tens of millions of dollars to support these actions and an ongoing science program.
Much of the Sacramento Valley is part of the historic floodplain–naturally flood prone areas along the river. Under the Voluntary Agreements, farmland, wildlife refuges and flood bypasses will be managed to recreate this historic floodplain, benefitting salmon and hundreds of other species of fish and wildlife, while maintaining and enhancing flood protection, and maintain water supply certainty for the region’s vibrant communities and farms.
We are encouraged by the progress that the various partners have made in advancing Voluntary Agreements, as can be seen in the Voluntary Agreement Progress Report.
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