December 10, 2019
The concept of a more cooperative approach to water management has been gaining more and more support after initial skepticism earlier in the year. It appears that state officials are warming up to the idea for developing voluntary agreements among water districts and other agencies, despite the recent discord between state and federal officials.
“The state Environmental Protection Agency recognizes the danger of not implementing voluntary agreements. They’re anticipating a decade of lawsuits, or more,” said Mike Wade, Executive Director of the California Farm Water Coalition. “That would impact our ability to deliver water, not only for farms, homes, and businesses but achieving the goals that we have for endangered species here in California and we can’t ignore that.”
Voluntary agreements have been gaining more momentum, as more stakeholders participate in the process to find agreeable solutions to local water management. At the same time as Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration moves to file litigation to block biological opinions drafted by federal agencies, the administration notes that it is “collaboratively working with state, local and federal partners to refine a voluntary approach.”
The prospect of collaboration between water agencies and water users has endured several setbacks, including the minimum flow decision for the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan. Nonetheless, Governor Newsom included voluntary agreements in the executive order that was issued calling for the development of a water resilience portfolio.
“We’re looking forward to a new California; one that has water supply for farms in more abundant quantities and more reliable deliveries than we’ve seen in recent years and doing that through partnerships at the state, federal, and local levels,” Wade noted. “The work that’s being done at the federal level to improve science and understanding of our ecosystem and our water supply, we have a real bright future ahead of us.”