Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order to ease some endangered species requirements in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta last month kept about 600,000 acre-feet of water in storage. Family Farm Alliance Director Dan Keppen applauded that decision in Congress this week, following accolades from across agricultural and water communities.
Speaking to a House Natural Resources subcommittee, Keppen said that “even more of that potential is out there.” The alliance is urging state and federal agencies to add more regulatory flexibility in other ways to store additional water for dry years. He will also be closely watching for a decision within the next month from the California Water Commission concerning the Sites Reservoir proposal in Northern California, which would enable the state to capture more excess flood flows.
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But environmental and sportfishing groups have threatened to sue the State Water Resources Control Board over Newsom’s order, arguing that preserving more water in the reservoirs was a handout to “big agriculture.” In a notice to the board this week, the groups claimed the order violated state and federal requirements to maintain water quality and temperature conditions for endangered salmon populations.
Yet by late Thursday the water board already rescinded the emergency order, citing the changing hydrological conditions from a series of recent and ongoing atmospheric rivers pummeling the state.