Court Upholds California Rules to Protect Fish, But Newsom Wants a Lenient Delta Approach

A Sacramento judge upheld a decision by California’s water regulator to cut back agricultural and municipal water use from the San Joaquin River. The decision could lend support for future regulations in the rest of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta system.

MID Sets Water Allotment and Lets Farmers Share Supply Amid Yet Another Drought

The Modesto Irrigation District will deliver about 60% of its usual water this year because of the persistent drought.

The district board voted 5-0 Tuesday morning for this allotment from the Tuolumne River. It affects about 58,000 acres of farmland, as well as a treatment plant that eases reliance on groundwater in Modesto and a few other towns.

MID is in relatively good shape as California’s drought enters its third year. The Turlock Irrigation District, which also diverts from the Tuolumne, has not yet set a 2022 allotment for its nearly 150,000 acres.

‘Framework’ Aims to Aid Water Agreements

In the coming weeks and months, the Newsom administration, water users and conservation groups will continue to refine a framework for potential voluntary agreements intended to benefit salmon and other fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Gov. Gavin Newsom released the framework last week, which acts as the alternative to a state-mandated, flows-only approach that has brought opposition and lawsuits from water agencies and water users.

The framework for voluntary agreements outlines a 15-year program that provides for up to 900,000 acre-feet of new flows to help recover fish populations, creates 60,000 acres of new and restored habitat, and generates $5.2 billion for environmental improvements and science. It would also establish a governance program to deploy flows and habitat, implement a science program and develop strategic plans and annual reports.