New Biological Opinions Replaces Outdated Science
February 20, 2020
The Adoption of the New Biological Opinions
A Statement by California Farm Water Coalition Exec. Director Mike Wade
For the first time in more than a decade, the federal rules known as Biological Opinions are being updated. These rules exist to protect threatened species in the San Francisco Bay-Delta region while also meeting the water supply needs of farms, businesses and people.
The new Biological Opinions, based on more than 10 years of scientific study, will allow California to manage water in real-time using the latest science rather than relying on an arbitrary calendar approach that takes years to recognize updated research.
The decade-old rules are based on outdated science and have failed to help Delta smelt, Chinook salmon and other threatened species. And to keep us from once again letting rules get outdated while struggling species suffer, the new Biological Opinions allow for ongoing scientific review as well as independent evaluation by outside experts.
Getting these rules right impacts the entire state. Water from the federally-run Central Valley Project delivers enough water to meet the needs of 1 million California households, over 3 million acres of some of the most productive farmland in the world and over a million-acre feet of water for fish and wildlife and their habitat, including state and federal wildlife refuges and wetlands.
The State Water Project serves the water needs of 750,000 acres of productive farmland and the domestic water supply for two-thirds of all Californians. We applaud the Trump Administration as well as California leadership including Representatives Kevin McCarthy and Devin Nunes for their part in making this a reality.
To be clear, this is just one piece of a very complicated puzzle that we hope includes new Voluntary Agreements on water. We support the Newsom Administration's efforts to make water policy work better for all Californians.