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Backfire!

Governor Newsom hoped the state contractors and Metropolitan would side with him because under his plan they would lose the water the federal contracts gained. But they didn't.

Apr 03, 2020

What's going on in the cat-and-mouse game between the State of California, Governor Gavin Newsom and the Trump Administration when it comes to pumping policy in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta?  

When the Trump Administration came out with new Biological Opinions regulating the federal pumps, what some are calling a rollback of federal endangered species protections to increase pumping for Central Valley farmers, the Newsom Administration decided to develop its own set of delta fish protections under the California Endangered Species Act.  

Newsom's action would cut state water deliveries in response to the increased pumping by the feds.  We think Newsom thought that cutting state water deliveries would force state water contractors like the huge Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to come out against the federal policies.  He thought they would see the federal policy as detrimental to them.  With Metropolitan on his side he would be in a much stronger position to fight the federal rules.

But, that didn't happen.  State contractors like Metropolitan supported the federal guidelines in opposition to Newsom.  But, embracing the Trump plan would be a definite no-no for the Newsom Administration.

So the next move in the cat-and-mouse game is the issuance of an 'incidental take permit' by the State of California that dramatically changes how the state operates its water infrastructure.  "Currently, the Department of Water Resources makes such decisions, in coordination with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.  Under the new permit, that authority has been ceded to the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife."

The response of the State Water Contractors, including Metropolitan, are to oppose the 'incidental take permit' saying, "the SWC and its member agencies do not support the permit conditions, which fail to incorporate the best available science, burden ratepayers with obligations far exceeding the impacts of water operations and will make compliance with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and climate change adaptation substantially more difficult.”

Governor Newsom hoped the state contractors and Metropolitan would side with him because under his plan they would lose the water the federal contracts gained.  But they didn't.  His plan backfired!  Governor Newsom now finds himself at odds with the State Water Contractors, the federal contractors and the Trump Administration.  
 

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