California WaterFix

Project Background

The California WaterFix (CWF) is a proposal to modify the point of diversion for the State Water Project (SWP) and Central Valley Project (CVP) in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, including three intakes, two tunnels, associated facilities, and a permanent head of Old River gate; as well as operate existing south Delta facilities in coordination with these new facilities. The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) coordinate the operation of the CVP and the SWP, respectively, and are also the lead agencies for the CWF.

Reclamation and DWR have written a Biological Assessment (BA) that summarizes the effects of the proposed actions in CWF on Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed species and their designated critical habitats. NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) are charged with evaluating the effects of the proposed CWF on species listed under the Federal ESA and their designated critical habitats and including our analyses in final biological opinions, developed in response to the BA.

NMFS’ final biological opinion concludes that construction and operations of CWF as proposed would not jeopardize the continued existence of endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, threatened spring-run Chinook salmon, threatened North American green sturgeon, threatened California Central Valley steelhead and endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales, which depend heavily on Chinook salmon for food.

The biological opinions recognize the uncertainty inherent in the dynamic ecology of the Delta and include a strong adaptive management component, where research, monitoring, and real-time tracking of fish populations and other factors will guide future operation of the new intakes.

“Our staff have worked diligently with our partners to make certain, through a robust scientific and technical analysis, that this project conserves listed species,” said Barry Thom, Regional Administrator for NMFS’ West Coast Region. "We will continue to work together to monitor the project's progress and implement adaptive management measures when necessary."

The biological opinions are an important component of the analysis of the environmental effects of CWF, and will inform Reclamation’s final decisions about the proposed project.  These biological opinions will also be considered by the State Water Resources Control Board in hearings now underway on a petition by DWR and Reclamation to allow for the change in points of diversion to add three new intakes on the Sacramento River as part of CWF. 

In addition to complying with ESA, DWR intends to obtain California Endangered Species Act (CESA) authorization from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) under Fish and Game Code section 2081(b) for incidental take related to the construction and operation of the CWF and modified operations of the SWP. DWR submitted an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) application to CDFW on October 5, 2016. This application includes analyses of the effects of the proposed action on CESA listed species. CDFW is reviewing the analyses of perceived impacts on state-listed species and may issue a permit if conditions in Fish and Game Code sections 2081(b) and (c) are met.

Resources

California WaterFix

NMFS correspondence on CA WaterFix

Biological Opinion for the California WaterFix Project in Central Valley, California

Appendix A1 - August 2016 Description of the Proposed Action

Appendix A2 - June 2017 Description of the Proposed Action

Appendix B - Rangewide Status of the Species and Critical Habitat

Appendix C - Section 2.5.1 Supporting Tables and Figures

Appendix D - Modeling Analysis of Habitat Restoration

Appendix E - Analysis of UPP Using Perry Survival Model

Appendix F - Evaluating the Effect of the North Delta Diversion on Flow Reversals and Entrainment of Juvenile Chinook Salmon into Georgiana Slough and the Delta Cross Channel

Appendix G - Summary of Survival Methods

Appendix H - Model Description for the Sacramento River Winter-run Chinook Salmon Life Cycle Model