With Governor Newsom and the Trump Administration issuing different standards for how Central California water should be managed, Democrats are calling on both to come up with a coordinated effort.
But the Democrats also urged the Trump administration to abide by the Incidental Take Permit long-term operation of the State Water Project. Republicans, including U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy, has called for the Trump administration approach based on federal biological opinions to be used.
The State Water Project uses a voluntary water agreement process in which Newsom has been negotiating with the state’s water agencies on what water they can use.
U.S. Representative T.J. Cox, Senator Dianne Fenstein and Represenatives Jim Costa, Josh Harder and John Garamendi on Thursday called on Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Newsom to come up with a coordinated effort to manage the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.
Two two projects provide water to most of California as well as to four million acres of agricultural land in the state along with numerous ecosystems, including wetlands.
The members of Congress noted the two projects have traditionally coordinator their efforts to provide favorable outcomes outcomes for communities, endangered species, the environment and the agriculture industry.
But now they say the state and federal governments have developed conflicting rules for how much water each project can pump.
The members of Cogress say without an coordinated effort both projects will not know how much water can be pumped, leaving Central Valley farmers unsure of how much water they can use.
In their letter to Bernhardt they wrote: “Continued coordinated operation is threatened by the conflict between the federal biological opinions and the state’s recently issued Incidental Take Permit for the long-term operation of the State Water Project. Given the seriousness of this challenge, we urge you to take advantage of this last opportunity to work with the state to seek a solution to this impasse.”
In a separate letter to Newsom, they wrote “We believe the most plausible path forward is through continued negotiation and the voluntary agreement process. We understand that an agreement between the necessary parties was close but has not yet been reached.”
They also wrote early implementation of the voluntary agreement process could allow for the state to settle its lawsuit with the federal government “and resolve the differences between the federal biological opinions and the state’s incidental take permit for the long-term operation of the State Water Project.”