CA WaterFix Aquatic Science Peer Review - Overview
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.
The construction and operation of the new dual conveyance facilities will need to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7(a)(2). As the federal agency, Reclamation is the lead agency for the ESA Section 7 consultation. As part of the CWF ESA consultation, Reclamation and DWR have written a Biological Assessment (BA) that summarizes the effects of the proposed actions in CWF on ESA-listed species and their designated critical habitats. Concurrently, NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) are evaluating the effects of the proposed CWF on listed species and their designated critical habitats and are working towards the development of a Biological Opinions (BO) in response to the BA.
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. At the request of NMFS, FWS, and CDFW, select staff from the Delta Science Program has convened a two-phased independent scientific peer review of the aquatic science for the CWF. The goal of Phase 1 science review is to provide a scientific evaluation of the methods and approaches for developing the Biological Opinions and analyses prepared for the Incidental Take Permit application. The purpose of the Phase 2A science review is to obtain the view of experts on the use of best available scientific information as it pertains to analyses of effects on aquatic CESA-listed species in the CWF ITP application and the Adaptive Management Framework proposed to integrate future scientific research, monitoring, and decision making during construction and operations of CWF. The Phase 2B science review will scientifically evaluate the conclusions in the forthcoming draft Biological Opinions for CWF.
Review Panel Members:
- Charles “Si” Simenstad, Research Professor, University of Washington (Chair)
- Nancy Monsen, Ph.D., Civil/Environmental Engineering Consultant (Lead Author, Phase 2)
- John Van Sickle, Ph.D., Environmental Statistician Consultant (Lead Author, Phase 1)
- Ernst Peebles, Ph.D., University of South Florida
- Greg Ruggerone, Ph.D., Natural Resources Consultants
- Hannah Gosnell, Ph.D., Oregon State University