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Trump Plan Could Bring Growers More Water. But Will It Harm California’s Rare Salmon?

The Trump administration this week declared that pumping more water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to supply farms will not jeopardize the endangered salmon and smelt that live in the estuary. This clears the way for the federal government to deliver more water, possibly as soon as next year.

The decision is a big and controversial step toward providing more water for people and less for fish. But the battle, yet another in a decades-long struggle for California’s water, has only just begun.

Understanding Streamflow is Vital to Water Management in California, but Gaps in Data Exist

California is chock full of rivers and creeks, yet the state’s network of stream gauges has significant gaps that limit real-time tracking of how much water is flowing downstream, information that is vital for flood protection, forecasting water supplies and knowing what the future might bring. That network of stream gauges got a big boost Sept. 30 with the signing of SB 19. Authored by Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa), the law requires the state to develop a stream gauge deployment plan, focusing on reactivating existing gauges that have been offline for lack of funding and other reasons.

WOTUS Lawsuits Start Long, Muddy Legal Battle

Get ready for a surge of lawsuits over the Trump administration’s decision to walk back Obama-era protections for wetlands and streams. Opponents to the administration’s take on which water bodies are considered “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act already launched at least two challenges this week, kicking off the next round of courtroom action. The cases add a new dimension to what could soon be a complicated legal quagmire over the Obama administration’s WOTUS rule and the Trump administration’s efforts to both erase and replace the regulation.

How Feds New Water Plan Could Affect Customers in SoCal

The Trump administration on Tuesday unveiled new rules to govern California’s scarce water, committing to send more to farmers in the Central Valley despite warnings from environmental groups that it would imperil endangered species in the fragile San Joaquin Delta. The rules govern management of the federal Central Valley Project and the State Water Project, two complex labyrinths of dams and canals that corral rain and snowmelt to provide water to more than 25 million Californians and millions of acres of farmland. An initial review by the National Marine Fisheries Services in July concluded the plan would threaten the existence of some endangered species, including winter-run chinook salmon, according to the Los Angeles Times.

OPINION: A Win for Endangered Fish and California Farmers Who Need Water

To the editor: I would like to highlight the most important information in your recent article about new rules that will govern California water deliveries and environmental protections: “Under the new rules, [U.S Fish and Wildlife Service official Paul Souza] said [Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta] pumping restrictions would be based on real-time monitoring of where smelt and migrating salmon are swimming in the delta, rather than the seasonal prescriptions contained in the current regulations.” The new rules are based on the latest science and real-time monitoring rather than a particular calendar date to determine the needs of fish. This is good news for all Californians.

Fitch Boosts Desalination Plant Bond Rating

Bonds from the Carlsbad Desalination Plant and pipeline were upgraded to BBB and given a stable outlook in a new report from Fitch Ratings, affirming the project’s sound management and its ability to provide a stable, reliable source of drinking water to the San Diego region. As the largest, most technologically advanced and energy-efficient plant of its kind in the nation, the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant’s stability stems from an effective collaboration between Poseidon Water and the San Diego County Water Authority.

Santa Barbara Water Agencies Say No to State Water Tunnel Project

Local water agencies aren’t buying into the new version of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta “twin tunnels” project, and Santa Barbara County members of the State Water Project voted Thursday to opt out entirely.

The California Department of Water Resources’ Cal Waterfix project, also known as the twin tunnels, aimed to increase State Water Project reliability by building two 40-foot-diameter tunnels to move water under the Delta instead of through it.

Editorial: California Governor Newsom Must Defend Delta

Gov. Gavin Newsom hasn’t flinched in fighting President Trump when it comes to loosening pollution rules in a smoggy state or punishing immigrants seeking protection. But he’s oddly noncommittal when it comes to a federal water grab that rewards thirsty farmers and Southern California cities.

Last week, federal rule makers followed White House dictates and issued looser restrictions on diversions from the state’s prime water faucet, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.