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Voluntary Agreements

The funny thing about the voluntary deals they want farmers to enter into don't mention very much about farm water.

Feb 10, 2020

The article below from Western Farm Press (State agencies propose voluntary water agreements) gives you just about every reason you need not to support them.  Of course, when the State of California, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and the entire water bureaucracy is in control of the water, there aren't a lot of other options other than agreeing to 'voluntary' deals.  

The funny thing about the voluntary deals they want farmers to enter into don't mention very much about farm water.  But, there's a whole lot of talk about restoring fish flows and environmental projects.  The key in the article is the phrase "...expands on previous commitments of FLOWS."  Translation:  900,000 acre feet less water for people and farms.

Many in the Valley thought we already had a commitment on  the ’Voluntary Agreements’.   However, it now appears the environmentalists have convinced the State and its agencies that the S.J. Valley, its counties, cities, farms, and embedded citizens should give 900,000 acre-feet more at the Valley’s expense to appease the never-ending demands of the enviros. 

Here are some other key phrases from the article: 

"...to help recover salmon and other native fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its key watersheds."

"...outlines a 15-year program that would provide substantial new flows for the environment to help recover fish populations."

"...create 60,000 acres of new and restored habitat."

"...generate more than $5 billion in new funding for environmental improvements and science."

California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot:  “We’re committed to developing successful voluntary agreements because they hold the promise of improving environmental conditions more quickly and holistically than regulatory requirements."

"...includes expansive habitat creation, significant new flows for the environment above existing conditions, substantial funding for environmental improvements and a new, collaborative science program for monitoring and adaptive management."

California Secretary for Environmental Protection Jared Blumenfeld:  “This science-driven framework has the potential to achieve landscape-scale improvements and deliver water and habitat on a faster timeline than the traditional regulatory pathway.”

"The framework provides for up to 900,000 acre-feet of new flows for the environment above existing conditions in dry, below-normal and above-normal water year types, and several hundred thousand acre-feet in critical and wet years to help recover fish populations."

"Habitat improvements include creation of spawning and rearing habitat for salmon and smelt, completion of high-priority fish screen projects."

"It also establishes a governance program to strategically deploy flows and habitat, implement a science program and develop strategic plans and annual reports."

The 'voluntary' document "will then be submitted to the State Water Board where it will undergo a third-party scientific review, environmental review and a public approval process by the State Water Board."

That's the bad news.  The good news is that if farmers don't voluntarily agree, then a worse deal will be shoved down their throat.  As one farmer said, “Voluntary Agreements, my ass.” 

State agencies propose voluntary water agreements

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