Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said the Delta flows issue has been decades in the making and “it's going to take some time to figure this out,” with the administration having worked just two years on it so far.

Crowfoot was speaking at the annual meeting of the Northern California Water Association last week. His comments followed months of criticism from environmental groups that negotiations over voluntary agreements have delayed critical state action and not presented any tangible solutions.

Water agencies wanted to know when the Newsom administration plans to return to the negotiating table to reach a compromise between the framework plan the administration presented early last year and an earlier proposal from water contractors.

“The time is generally now to focus in on trying to get this done and turned into a proposal for consideration [by the State Water Board],” said Crowfoot. “This spring we should get back around the table.”

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He noted that the water board is required by state and federal laws to move forward on the next phase for a Bay-Delta Plan, regardless of voluntary agreements.

CalEPA Deputy Secretary Kristin Peer, who serves as a special counsel for water policy, added that “the time is now” for rounding out the discussions and getting a package together. Peer urged stakeholders to “stay tuned” for public notices and be prepared for “a lot of process before anything is completed.”