The State Water Resources Control Board began public hearings on the Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) request to add three new points of diversion for California WaterFix. The opening three days of the hearings began with policy statements from the Natural Resources Agency and U.S. Department of the Interior followed by public comment.
The questions before the Board, defined by the members themselves for Part I of the hearings, are narrow: Does the new point of diversion alter water flows or affect water quality such that there would be injury to any legal user of the water, and does the project in effect initiate a new water right? Part II of the hearing, expected to begin in early 2017, will address fish and wildlife, recreation, and other public trust issues.
DWR has presented evidence showing that the proposed change will neither initiate a new water right nor injure any other legal user of water. DWR’s testimony regarding its petition for change to its water right permit and the petition for the new points of diversion include these key points
- WaterFix would create more flexibility to better balance water quality and water supply (and fish protection which will be discussed in Part II).
- DWR and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation do not seek a new or expanded water right or any modifications to the water quality standards upstream or downstream of the proposed diversion points.
- DWR has a proven track record of meeting the Water Board’s Delta water quality standards and WaterFix would operate within the standards established by the Water Board. Meeting existing or future water quality standards would be easier with the flexibility provided by California WaterFix.
- WaterFix will be operated in real-time. While modeling can perform an assessment of potential water operation effects, water project operators handle complex situations on a daily basis to stay in compliance with water quality standards.
Part I of the hearings is expected to take several months. For regular updates on the hearings, follow the new California WaterFix blog.
California has been dealing with the effects of drought for five years. To learn about all the actions the State has taken to manage our water system and cope with the impacts of the drought, visit Drought.CA.Gov. Every Californian should take steps to conserve water. Find out how at www.SaveOurWater.com.