Yet no one said it would be easy to get stakeholders with sometimes very different perspectives – and some, like farmers, with livelihoods heavily dependent on water – to reach a consensus on how to meet the water quality and habitat needs of the Delta watershed. Added to the complications is the delta`s role as a water export marshalling yard serving large areas of the state as far as San Diego, more than 500 miles away. Voluntary agreements would require water users to provide new rivers for the benefit of rivers and streams throughout the Central Valley and delta runoff, and to provide money to fund habitat restoration, science and management to assess the impact of efforts. On the other hand, voluntary agreements offer a positive path forward, where all water users have a voice. And once these agreements are concluded, they immediately start to improve things. The additional water will be released for the environment, habitat restoration and other environmental projects will begin, and water users will benefit from some security in terms of the amount of water available. Voluntary Agreements (VA) have been proposed as a collaborative, modern and holistic alternative to the Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan (WQCP) updates proposed by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) Staff. From August 2018 to early 2020, public and federal authorities, public water authorities and non-governmental organizations conducted robust discussions to identify the best way to update the WQCP. Westlands and other water authorities are working to resume the PDO completion process as they provide the best route for California water. “While this agreement seems to have something for those who accept it, it does not do what it is supposed to do: protect the quality of the fish and water of the Bay Delta. First, the state proposes that its recent proposal would increase delta throughput compared to today. Delta flow (the amount of water that passes through the delta) is a determining measure of the health of the Bay Delta, and the best available science shows that if California wants to restore and maintain the health of the estuary, native species that live in the delta or cross the delta are needed. and the thousands of fishing jobs that depend on salmon and healthy delta communities that depend on clean water.
In a letter dated February 24 to Gov. Newsom, Interior Minister David Bernhardt called the complaint “unfounded,” adding, “Over time, I guess this battle, like many other California stunts, will end in many parts and many twists and turns.” The superior alternative to litigation is cooperation that manifests itself in a remarkable coalition that includes the Newsom Administration, the California legislature, members of Congress, landowners and farmers, public and federal authorities, and local water authorities.