Rep. Jim Costa called for action to increase water supplies South of Delta to U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Mike Connor today. In the letter, Costa outlined specific steps that the Bureau could take immediately that would result in thousands of additional acre feet of water every day.
In February, Reclamation announced slowing of water exports through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta due to reports that Delta smelt had been lost in the pumps. These pumping restrictions resulted in the loss of over 820,000 acre feet of water since mid-December, which would have supported $2.2 billion in economic activity.
"Our farmers, farm workers, and farming communities have great anxiety about the impact this year's limited water supply will have on our economy, and I share their concern," said Costa. "Reclamation has the flexibility to offer much-needed relief from a regulatory drought that is yet again threatening our region. They must use it. The steps I have called for are no-brainers that will increase our water supply and will help our farmers to stay afloat."
On February 25th, the Bureau of Reclamation announced a 25 percent water allocation, which is insufficient to sustain the Valley economy and jobs. Costa has called anything less than a 40 percent allocation in consecutive dry years completely unacceptable.
In the letter, Costa outlined three steps the Bureau could take immediately that would yield an additional 2,000 acre feet of water per day, enough to help mitigate the negative impact of water supply shortages and increase the South of Delta water allocation. These steps are:
Increase pumping at the Jones Pumping Plant and the Banks Pumping Plant to manage reverse flow in Old and Middle Rivers
Immediately seek authorization from the Army Corps to increase permitted pumping at the Banks pumping facility, consistent with the actions taken in 2010 after June 30, which will be evenly split between the Central Valley Project and State Water Project
After June 30, use the physical capacity at the Jones Pumping Plant allowing more water to be used through the Intertie
Costa also reminded Commissioner Connor that improving the situation for water users throughout the state would require leadership and engagement by all parties. To do this would also require the Bureau and others to recognize the devastating impacts of the looming water crisis and take administrative action to avoid the failures from 2009 and 2010.