Fishery plans aim to add flexibility to water system

Oct 30, 2019 at 5:00pm

AgAlert, by Christine Souza

In an action that influences how water will move through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, federal fisheries agencies have issued new biological opinions to guide operation of federal and state water projects. Representatives of farmers and water districts said the opinions released last week promise to enhance the flexibility of the California water system.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries determined that the proposed long-term operations of the federal Central Valley Project and State Water Project do not jeopardize the continued existence of protected salmon and delta smelt in the bay-delta watershed.

In issuing the opinions, the fishery agencies outlined habitat-management measures in the delta and operational criteria for the water projects to avoid harm to the protected species.

California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson said the biological opinions enhance prior protection for fish while adjusting operation of water projects to improve water supplies.

"Everyone wants to see endangered fish recover," Johansson said. "But the methods of the past haven't worked. Doubling down on those failed methods would make no sense. It's time to try something new, and we're satisfied that the career scientists at the federal agencies have taken the time they need to create well-thought-out plans that reflect advances in knowledge acquired during the past 10 years."

The new biological opinions replace opinions issued in 2008 and 2009.

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