California Water Board Introduces Potential $1.7 Billion Lifeline For Fish Conservation (Updated)

Update: After a long day and lots of testimony, the plan was voted through, per the Sac Bee: 

The vote probably won’t be last word on river flows, however. Earlier in the day, Brown’s administration offered a broad, $1.7 billion compromise agreement under which many cities and farms across the Central Valley would surrender water to the fish and would kick in cash to help the ailing species survive. The money would be spent on building spawning grounds and making other habitat improvements.

The compromise represents “collaboration over conflict,” said Chuck Bonham, director of Brown’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. Karla Nemeth, director of the Department of Water Resources, said some of the habitat restoration projects could begin as early as next year.

Read more here:


The tug-of-war/steel cage match that’s California water wars  took a new turn today when the state’s water board introduced a $1.7 billion plan that could help the potential fallout for salmon and other ecological interests in the state.

The Sacramento Bee was at the meeting and has some details: 

Capping 30 days of feverish negotiations, the Department of Water Resources and the Department of Fish and Wildlife unveiled a dramatic plan that would reallocate more than 700,000 acre-feet of water from farms and cities throughout much of the Central Valley, leaving more water in the rivers and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to support ailing steelhead and Chinook salmon populations.

That’s enough water to fill up three quarters of Folsom Lake, and several thousand acres of farmland would be fallowed as a result.

In addition, agricultural irrigation districts and municipal water agencies up and down the Central Valley have tentatively agreed to surcharges on their water to pay for massive habitat restorations to help fish — improved spawning grounds, development of nutrient-rich floodplains and more. The districts would kick in a total of $800 million and the state is planning to contribute $900 million, using water-bond proceeds and other sources, said Karla Nemeth, director of the Department of Water Resources.

That unveiling brought some negative and positive reactions – the former coming from many conservationist types who didn’t feel the plan was enough to support the state’s fish during a time when the state has suggested more water for agricultural interests and diversion to Southern California.


But there does seem to be some progress made today, though it’s difficult to imagine any peace pipes shared anytime soon.