My Motherlode –
Water control and supply-related politics are percolating again.
On Thursday, Mother Lode lawmaker Senator Andreas Borgeas criticized the latest move under Governor Gavin Newsom’s Administration by Department of Water Resources (DWR) regulators to divert water away the State Water Project (SWP) for species protection.
It involves DWR’s obtainment on Tuesday of an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) from the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) that will govern water delivery within the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta “to minimize, avoid and fully mitigate impacts to threatened or endangered species as a result of SWP operations.”
The permit specifically covers four species covered under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA): Delta smelt, longfin smelt, winter-run Chinook salmon and spring-run Chinook salmon.
In past years, DWR used a consistency determination from DFW based on federal biological opinions issued by federal regulators. However, in 2018, as federal agencies were working to update those documents, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum to greatly accelerate their completion.
Subsequently, the state agencies announced last February they would for the first time pursue a separate state permit to ensure SWP’s compliance with CESA. By pursuing a separate permit, the agencies would be able to avoid relying on federal permits. They also reasoned that they could establish protection rules using transparent, science-based guidelines.