LOS ANGELES, CA, Dec. 22, 2009 -- Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, issued the following statement regarding today's release of the interim federal action plan for the water crisis in California's Bay-Delta:
"This plan represents a comprehensive federal approach to the crisis in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta if it is followed through with bold and decisive action. The Bay Delta Conservation Plan represents the foundation of an important strategy to couple restoration of the ecosystem with improvements to the water conveyance system.
"The plan to bolster federal participation in the BDCP process will be essential to implement this historic plan. A new federal approach that broadens efforts in the Delta is welcome news.
"The Delta is suffering from many stressors that are not being adequately addressed. New efforts to address endangered species such as delta smelt -- from new scientific studies to planning a possible hatchery to bolster natural populations -- are helpful alternatives to water supply restrictions that have not reversed declining fish populations.
"The Two Gates Project represents two important advances in Delta management -- new modeling that predicts the location of smelt populations based on water-quality conditions and construction of two gates at strategic locations to physically separate those populations from water operations. It is good news that federal agencies intend to aggressively study next year the new modeling that suggests a key to protecting smelt is to prevent the movement of turbid waters toward the state and federal Delta pumping facilities.
"Ultimately, the real litmus test of this plan will be the specific actions that federal agencies take in the future and whether they result in more reliable supplies and improvements in the ecosystem. Metropolitan looks forward to continuing our collaborative efforts with state and federal agencies to move forward on these critically important efforts."
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving 19 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other resource-management programs.