State Agencies Present Framework for Voluntary Agreements to Improve Habitat and Flow in the Delta

By on February 10, 2020

The California Natural Resources Agency and the California Environmental Protection Agency released a framework for potential voluntary agreements to improve river flows and habitats in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta last week.

The framework, which expands on previous commitments, outlines a 15-year program that would provide substantial new flows for the environment to help recover fish populations, create 60,000 acres of new and restored habitat, and generate more than $5 billion in new funding for environmental improvements and science.

“This framework is an important milestone, but there is much work ahead to shape it into a legally enforceable program,” California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot said. “We’re committed to developing successful voluntary agreements because they hold the promise of improving environmental conditions more quickly and holistically than regulatory requirements, while providing more certainty to communities, farms and businesses.”

In an effort to implement the Bay-Delta Plan through an integrated program, the framework would include up to 900,000 acre-feet of new flows for the environment above existing conditions in dry, below-normal and above-normal water year types, and several hundred thousand acre-feet in critical and wet years to help recover fish populations. It also provides for 60,000 acres of new habitat and $5.2 billion in investments funded by water users, the state and the federal government to improve environmental conditions and science and adaptive management.

The California Natural Resources Agency and CalEPA will work with water users and other participants in the coming weeks to refine the proposed framework into a legally enforceable program.

The refined document will be submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board where it will undergo a third-party scientific review, environmental review and a public approval process by the Board.