Praise for interim federal action plan for California Bay-Delta

FRESNO, CA, Dec. 22, 2009 -- Westlands Water District applauds the Obama Administration's initiative in developing its Interim Federal Action Plan for the California Bay-Delta...

Dec 22nd, 2009

FRESNO, CA, Dec. 22, 2009 -- Westlands Water District applauds the Obama Administration's initiative in developing its Interim Federal Action Plan for the California Bay-Delta. The announcement in this document of the federal government's commitment to "building a sustainable water future" for California hits exactly the right note. We look forward to doing our part to meet what the plan's authors rightly identify as a responsibility we all share.

We agree as well with the administration's assessment that, "The most important aspect of the Interim Action Plan is the Federal Government's reaffirmation of its partnership with the State of California and local authorities, and its commitment to coordinate its actions with those of the State and local authorities." That commitment will be critically important in the next few months as we work together to balance the implementation of the federal government's additional restrictions on pumping, with deeply depleted water storage and an uncertain supply.

The Obama Administration's commitment to partnership represents its strongest and most explicit endorsement of the twin goals of Delta Vision, our continuing progress on developing the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), and of the package of water reforms that were passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger this year.

The administration rightly identifies the collaborative development of the BDCP as "the most significant effort currently under way to address the long-term critical water issues facing California." We especially appreciate the Action Plan's promise to dedicate the resources that will be needed to expedite the processing of the draft plan, its associated Environmental Impact Statement and the necessary federal permits.

The Action Plan appropriately emphasizes the need to promote a high quality of science so that decisions will not be made on the basis of "incomplete or speculative scientific analysis," which has been a major stumbling block to cooperation in the past.

The problems the Action Plan is designed to address affect everyone in California. But for the people who live and work on the Westside of the San Joaquin Valley, we are especially grateful for the Action Plan's attention to the critical importance of:

  • Coordinating the delivery of drought relief assistance to the families of the Westside;
  • Expediting construction of the Delta-Mendota and California Aqueduct Intertie;
  • Removing unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles to water transfers;
  • Focusing attention on the means of controlling the multiple stressors which are contributing to the environmental decline of the Delta;
  • Accelerating the construction of hatcheries to restore the population of delta smelt and other imperiled native aquatic species; and
  • Diversifying Level 2 refuge supplies.

Statement by Thomas W. Birmingham, General Manager Westlands Water District

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