California Water Wars agreement threatened by Governor’s plan to sue President Trump

By on December 28, 2019

Gov Gavin Newsom and threats of suing President Trump are endangering the California Water War agreement.  This provisional agreement, set up by Newsom’s predecessor, resolved a more than ten year-old controversy over how much water should be left in the state’s major rivers to bolster the endangered fish populations. This provisional agreement concerns the third main tributary of the San Joaquin, the Tuolumne River, which serves Valley farms as well as San Francisco and Modesto, to deliver hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water from the San Joaquin watershed to Steelhead, salmon, and other endangered species of the Delta. The agreement also calls for about $800 million for habitat restoration projects and the state contributing $900 million to the plans. A year later, this provisional agreement has yet to be finalized.

In response to Newsom’s threat to sue the President over Trump’s plan to pump more water to farmers from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the Westlands Water District, a Fresno-based water district and one of the nation’s most influential farm irrigation districts says it will rescind its commitment to the agreement if Newsom does indeed follow-through with the suit, according to Tom Birmingham, the general manager of the Westlands Water District.

This positions Westlands even more closely with Trump and his aims for California’s water system, which would send more water from the Delta to Westlands.

Jeff Sutton of the Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority in Willows, a major Sacramento Valley irrigation district, also sent a similar communication, expressing his strong disapproval and unwillingness to move forward should the threats against the Trump Administration be carried out.

Trump’s plan to send more water from the Delta to San Joaquin Valley farmers, developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, would overhaul the rules governing the Delta. Trump stated it will “optimize water deliveries and power production for California communities and farms in an environmentally sound manner.”

Negotiations have continued behind closed doors with very little publicly expressed. Newsom’s decision to veto a bill in September, SB 1, would impede California and the federal government from working together to manage the state’s fisheries and water supplies.

What deal eventually comes to fruition remains to be seen.