Another group of lawmakers are encouraging Governor Gavin Newsom to take a more cooperative approach to water administration in California. Senator Dianne Feinstein along with Representatives Jim Costa, Josh Harder, TJ Cox, and John Garamendi sent a letter to Governor Newsom in response to the Incidental Take Permit that was recently issued, calling for change of tactics as it relates to water management.
“We urge you to take what likely is the last remaining opportunity over the next few weeks to help preserve the longstanding tradition of successfully coordinating the operation of the State Water Project and federal Central Valley Project. We believe the most plausible path forward is through continued negotiation and the voluntary agreement process,” the letter states. “Together, these two projects provide water for an estimated 30 million Californians, nearly 4 million acres of the most productive agricultural land in the world.”
The letter points out that a compromise on water administration between state and federal agencies was within reach. The lawmakers highlight the value of voluntary agreements in meeting water supply goals while also avoiding what is expected to be a lengthy process of litigation. A voluntary agreement, the letter notes, could “resolve the differences between the federal biological opinions and the State’s incidental take permit.” A voluntary framework could negate the need for California’s lawsuit challenging the validity of the latest biological opinions and arguing that the federal biological opinions are unlawful. The lawmakers also sent a similar letter to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, encouraging a more cooperative attitude between regulating authorities.
“Continued coordinated operation is threatened by the conflict between the federal biological opinions and the State’s recently issued incidental take permit,” the letter states. “Numerous water users, both urban and rural, have made clear to us that all Californians stand to lose if the state and federal water projects are no longer operated in coordination.”