Earlier this week, the Newsom government released a new framework of voluntary agreements that could update the bay-Delta water quality plan. Here`s what water organizations and agencies are saying… Governor Gavin Newsom has always expressed support for the success of voluntary agreements as a way forward in the Sacramento San Joaquin Bay Delta. The California Natural Resources Agency and the California Environmental Protection Agency recently called voluntary collaborative agreements a “Game Changer” for the environment. We are in complete agreement and we are ready to bring proactive decision makers to the table for water management in the delta and its tributaries. Maurice Hall, associate vice-president of the Environmental Advocacy Fund, said the approval “confuses everything and makes it difficult to see how a voluntary agreement can be reached at that time.” Andrew Fecko, executive director of the Placer County Water Agency, was the sacramento area`s lead representative for voluntary agreements. He said the Newsom framework could reflect in some respects, but on a larger scale, the old settlement arrangements such as the American River Water Forum Agreement 2000, where Sacramento`s regional interests engage water and habitat improvement in favor of the lower American River. “Voluntary agreements remain the best opportunity to address the flow and non-flow factors that affect our native fish, and we call on public and federal authorities to stick to a negotiated solution, despite the Complaint from the State of California,” the Modesto and Turlock Irrigation Districts said in a february 24 joint statement. The statement said that while both districts sued the state, “it did not prevent the state or state from negotiating in good faith [and] we see no reason why the federal government and the state of California could not do the same.” To meet Delta water quality standards, a separate process is required to change water rights to determine who is providing water and how much. The plan would affect communities from afar, including many urban areas.
Michael Carlin, deputy general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which receives water from the Sierra-fed Tuolumne River, said a comprehensive voluntary agreement plan for the Sacramento and San Joaquin basins requires many individual agreements – a comprehensive process that takes months to clarify.