Overruling their executive director the State Water Resources Control Board Thursday issued revisions to its Feb. 3 Temporary Urgency Change Order covering state and federal water project operations amid the continuing drought.
The decision to allow some flexibility in deciding whether to allow some limited water exports south of the Delta came on the urging of of federal and state fish and wildlife agencies as well as political reps from both sides of the aisle.
Water districts south of the Delta hope some small amount of water can be sent south instead of being allowed to go out to sea to bolster storage in San Luis reservoir for summer irrigation.
According to the State Board, the revisions to export increases are intended to address the extensive written and oral comments on the human suffering caused by the drought, especially related to drinking water and job losses
The State Water Resources Control Board Thursday issued revisions to its Feb. 3 Temporary Urgency Change Order covering state and federal water project operations amid the continuing drought.
Specifically, the revised order:
Clarifies that water saved in reservoirs as a result the temporary urgency change petition must be used consistent with the Drought Contingency Plan and Temperature Management Plans for Delta operations, and is not subject to the discretion of the State Board’s Executive Director.
Clarifies that export limits do not apply to water transfers by State Water Project contractors or Central Valley Project contractors to farmers and urban water users south of the Delta.
Grants limited approval of additional exports under certain conditions. Under the conditions of the order, increases would only be approved when the Delta outflow in between 5,500 cubic feet per second and 7,100 cfs, when the Delta Cross Channel Gates are closed and when Department of Water Resources or the Bureau of Reclamation determine increases are needed to meet minimum health and safety needs.
According to the State Board, the revisions to export increases are intended to address the extensive written and oral comments on the human suffering caused by the drought, especially related to drinking water and job losses.
The State Board’s revised order concludes that “while further reductions in Delta outflows will likely have a negative effect on fish and wildlife, the approval of an additional intermediate export rate, that is only available for minimum public health and safety needs, is reasonable when weighed against the human suffering of the drought.”
A press release issued by the State Board said of the revisions: “the temporary urgency change orders approved by the executive director seek to find a balance between these competing needs in the face of historic dry conditions. Unfortunately, the drought has left California with no good options, only hard choices. This order makes further revisions to operations that benefit water supply while still maintaining minimal fish and wildlife protections.”
The order says “Under Petitioners’ proposal to increase unconditionally the maximum export rate to 3,500 cfs when Delta outflow is between 5,500 and 7,100 cfs, natural and abandoned flows would be shifted on a one-for-one basis from estuarine protection to south of Delta export. Assuming continued dry conditions, this intermediate export proposal could shift up to an additional 3,200 af per day for up to 20 days in March, with the likely monthly tradeoff between Delta outflow and exports ranging from 47 to 59 TAF in March.
While Valley farmers urged more water exports ,fish groups criticized the decision.