A Year Later, ‘Water Grab’ Plan Settlements Still Stuck

My Motherlode –

A year later, issues triggered by a contentious plan by state water regulators to increase unimpaired river flows for the benefit of fish remain firmly mired in red tape.

Last December, as reported here, the outgoing and incoming California state governors were trying to help facilitate stakeholder agreements ahead of the Water Board’s vote that passed its long-proposed plan to require unimpaired river flows of up to 40 percent through the Lower San Joaquin River and its tributaries for the supposed benefit of protecting delta fish.

Among the far-reaching consequences of what many described as a major “water grab” are heavy impacts to upstream communities, including locally to New Melones reservoir, which could under the plan be largely rendered useless for recreation.

Last month, officials at the California Natural Resources and Environmental Protection agencies announced several actions they were taking to protect imperiled fish while improving real-time management of the State Water Project (SWP). At the same time, the state Department of Water Resources (DWR) released a draft environmental impact report reflecting the state’s assessment that indicated recently proposed rules by federal agencies are not scientifically adequate and fall short of protecting species and the state’s interests.

Read more