Several Congressional leaders sent a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom expressing disappointment in the decision to issue an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) for long-term operations of the State Water Project. The six Members of Congress who represent a large portion of California noted that the ITP will have a detrimental impact on cooperative efforts to govern California waterways.
“This unprecedented action threatens to send the operations of the State Water Project (SWP) and the Federal Central Valley Project (CVP) into a downward spiral of conflict, confusion, and litigation,” the letter states. “It also virtually eliminates the possibility of finding a lasting peace to California’s never-ending water wars and effectively kills negotiations on Voluntary Agreements.”
The letter was signed by Representatives Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes, Ken Calvert, Tom McClintock, Doug LaMalfa, and Paul Cook. The lawmakers point out that the ITP undercuts the efforts to ensure that communities are confident that they can rely on water supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Given the serious health, safety, and economic concerns our constituents are facing due to the pandemic…the timing and judgement of the State’s decision on the new ITP is even more baffling.”
Citing the best interests of their constituents, the Members of Congress emphasize how imperative cooperation and coordination is in the administration of state and federal waterways. By issuing the ITP to the Department of Water Resources (DWR), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) has essentially bypassed the latest federal biological opinions. Under the California Endangered Species Act, pumping activities can be dictated on the basis of salmon populations.
“DWR stated its intent to refrain from seeking “to increase SWP exports” in its application to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) for an incidental take permit. This demonstrates that DWR, DFW, and your administration never intended to follow the best science if it ultimately allowed increased exports on the SWP,” the letter reads. “Notably, the State’s new ITP goes even further than the status quo by limiting SWP exports to an arbitrary amount of water.”