The Bureau of Reclamation released late last week the Biological Assessment for the re-initiation of consultation on the coordinated long-term operation of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project. The document was transmitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service for consideration in developing new biological opinions covering CVP and SWP operations. Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources re-initiated consultation in 2016 based on new information related to multiple years of drought and ongoing science efforts.
In October 2018, President Donald J. Trump signed the Presidential Memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West, citing the “diminished…ability” of America’s infrastructure “to deliver water and power in an efficient, cost‑effective way.” To that end, the Memorandum directed the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce to work together to complete the consultation process in a timely manner.
The Biological Assessment supports Reclamation’s consultation pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. It was prepared consistent with the timeline outlined in the Presidential Memorandum. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service are expected to issue final biological opinions within 135 days.
“It has been 10 years since the biological opinions on the coordinated long-term operation of the CVP and SWP were issued. Since then, we’ve experienced extreme drought and invested significant resources to advance the science of the Central Valley and the Delta in coordination with our state and federal partner agencies and stakeholders. The result of our investments is an improved understanding of the system,” said Mid-Pacific Regional Director Ernest Conant. “By expanding our toolkit with the best science and using what we know today, new biological opinions will allow us to maximize water and power benefits while supporting endangered fish populations.”
The Biological Assessment analyzes potential effects of the proposed action on federally listed endangered and threatened species and critical habitat for these species. The proposed action incorporates the best available science into the operation of the CVP and SWP. Proposed actions outlined in the document include temperature management at Shasta Dam, fall habitat and salinity measures in the Delta, and entrainment management related to water exports. Together, these proposed actions aim to give water operators more flexibility, maximize water supply delivery and optimize power generation consistent with applicable laws.
The Biological Assessment is available here.