There was some progress on fixing California’s water supply issues before the state legally challenged the outgoing administration. Will that momentum pick back up under the new administration?
At the beginning of 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced some framework for voluntary agreements on pumping water from the Sacramento-San Juaquin Delta. The agreements would allow individual partnerships to decide when to restrict pumping and when to increase water flow. Water agencies support the idea of voluntary agreements and believe it will be a critical component of meeting Sustainable Groundwater Management Act plans.
In February, the Trump administration signed their own water legislation for California that relaxed biological opinions providing additional water to flow through the Delta. California promptly sued the administration’s actions under the direction of Newsom which put a halt to the federal decision and paused the voluntary agreements momentum.
Does all of that change now that a Democratic party is transitioning into leadership? Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia said it’s complicated but hopeful. “I know there are already people that think the Biden team will just withdrawal from that litigation, concede the point, and let California win. That would not be good for California agriculture,” Puglia said. “I’m not sure that’s the case necessarily. I think there is an opportunity for the Biden administration, reflecting Biden’s more centrist philosophy if he chooses to govern that way, to get into a settlement discussion…and get those parties out of court and back to the table in the voluntary agreement issues.”
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