The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is proposing a new plan that could end up having a significant impact on Kern County’s water supply, officials say.
To help protect endangered fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the plan allots a $1.5 billion investment over the next 10 years. In addition, the plan aims to take a closer look at what fish need by using new state-of-the-art science tools and making changes to water supply based on those needs.
In the past, the bureau would attempt to protect fish by setting specific calendar dates for water releases even if they were during times when the fish didn’t need additional water.
On Monday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service released their biological opinions of the proposal, which concluded that the plan will not jeopardize threatened or endangered species or negatively impact their designated habitats.
“The biological opinions set the rules for how much water is available to Kern County from the State Water Project,” said Ted Page, president of the Kern County Water Agency’s Board of Directors. “Those rules are now a decade old and needed to be updated using new scientific data developed over the last 10 years.”
Page said agency staff are in the process of reviewing the opinions to determine what impact they will have on the county’s water supply. He said he expects the new proposal will benefit the county and the rest of California.
“This new approach is expected to provide better protection for fish while improving water supply reliability for Californians,” he said.