The latest biological opinions that were released will provide for an updated approach to water management in relation to state and federal water projects. Using the latest scientific information, the new biological opinions will offer a more refined method of balancing environmental protection and the need for better access to water.
“The new biological opinions replace a set that have been in place for about ten years that have not shown a lot of results in a favorable way for the threatened and endangered fish species that we’re trying to protect,” said Mike Wade, Executive Director of the California Farm Water Coalition. “The new biological opinions we believe are more sensible, it’s a smarter way at approaching species protections and providing more flexibility for water projects.”
The next step in the process will be the review and adoption of the opinions followed by the signing of a Record of Decision, which is likely to happen sometime in early 2020. The new biological opinions will then become the governing rules for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its tributaries.
“Once that happens, we’ll be monitoring fish in real-time,” Wade noted. “We’ll be monitoring how they’re responding and making adjustments using advance, science methods that haven’t been implemented in the past and just approaching all of this from a smarter perspective.”
Critics of the updated biological opinions are making the claim that President Donald Trump is vindictively dismantling environmental protections. Environmental groups will likely be filing lawsuits against the federal government in an attempt to prevent California from applying the latest scientific studies to water management strategies.
“The process to develop [the biological opinions] and get them up to where we are today started in the Obama administration,” said Wade. “The justification is there for adopting the new biological opinions and while we expect lawsuits to be filed, we’re hopeful that the courts will see this new approach for managing the ecosystem and will agree that there’s no jeopardy for endangered species.”
Listen to Wade’s interview below.