U.S. Water News Online
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Negotiations are under way with irrigation districts served by the New Melones Reservoir to provide water to help increase flows in the Stanislaus River.
Irrigators have submitted a proposal under which they would forego up to 75,000 acre feet of their water entitlement from the reservoir for the Department of Interior's use in meeting flow objectives in the Stanislaus River for the Anadromous Fish Restoration Program. The quantity of water to be made available to Interior will depend on hydrologic conditions.
Negotiations, led by the Bureau of Reclamation (BuRec) and the Fish and Wildlife Service, began last month. Four additional sessions are scheduled.
"So far, all are willing parties to the negotiations," according to Lynnette Wirth, deputy public affairs director of BuRec's Mid-Pacific Region. BuRec and Fish and Wildlife would buy an agreed-upon amount of water from these users, she said, thus making the water available for instream flow.
These negotiations are part of the larger program to mitigate the effects of the Central Valley Project, mandated under the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) of 1992, she said.
The Central Valley Project (CPA), a series of canals, dams, and reservoirs with a total capacity of approximately 12 million acre feet of water, spans the geographic area from Bakersfield, Calif. north to the Cascade Mountains, a 500-mile stretch of the state that encompasses the Bay/Delta area.
"The CVPIA made water for the environment an integral part of the CPA water storage process," said Wirth, and an important part of the legislation includes the mandate to acquire water for the environment from willing sellers -- to get water where it needs to go without undue impact on water users."
The Stanislaus River is one of many rivers from south of the delta where this type of water acquisition is being considered, said Wirth.
"In every transaction, we have to consider the potential effects on both water quality and availability of water, not only to prime users, but second and third parties," she said. "This type of transaction gives us the flexibility to meet all the water needs for the benefit of everyone involved."
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