BAKERSFIELD – Yesterday, the Executive Director of the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB)approved parts of the Temporary Urgency Change Petition filed by the California Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, but denied a provision of the Temporary Urgency Change Petition that allowed increased pumping for the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project under certain circumstances in February and March 2015.
The Kern County Water Agency (Agency) is astounded that the SWRCB Executive Director denied the increase in pumping that was supported by the State and federal fishery agencies. Although each of the fishery agencies expressed concerns, all three found that the increase in pumping was scientifically appropriate and allowable.
It is not possible to determine how much water may be lost as a result of this decision. However, it is clear that the Executive Director chose not to use all of the tools available to mitigate the impacts of this severe drought on State Water Project water users from San Jose to San Diego. Instead, the Executive Director chose to approve limited pumping to meet minimum public health and safety requirements for cities but not provide irrigation water for use by agriculture.
“California is in the midst of one of the worst droughts ever seen. Farms, families and businesses up and down the San Joaquin Valley are being squeezed by the drought. Locally, we are doing everything possible to help, but California must use every resource available to reduce the drought’s impacts,” said Ted Page, Agency Board President. “As a state, we cannot afford to ignore, as the SWRCB Executive Director has done, opportunities to improve our water supplies when it is acceptable scientifically. The Executive Director should revise his decision immediately and approve the Temporary Urgency Change Petition in its entirety.”
The State Water Resources Control Board has the opportunity to revise the Executive Director’s decision when it meets on February 18, 2015. “If the Executive Director does not revise his decision, we encourage the SWRCB to take action to approve the Temporary Urgency Change Petition in its entirety at that meeting, or sooner, if possible,” said Page.
The Kern County Water Agency (Agency) was created in 1961 by a special act of the State Legislature and serves as the local contracting entity for the State Water Project. The Agency, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011, participates in a wide scope of management
activities, including water quality, flood control and groundwater operations to preserve and enhance Kern County’s water supply—the main ingredient for the well-being of an economy.