Our voluntary agreement will ensure water security and reliability, includes environmental improvements, enhances fish population far beyond what is projected in the state’s current plan and most importantly, guarantees timely implementation.
On January 10, 2019 we filed a lawsuit against the State Water Resources Control Board’s unimpaired flows proposal (a.k.a Substitute Environmental Document or SED). The SED is the state’s call for requiring 40 percent unimpaired river flow to be released downstream within the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers for the alleged benefit of fish and water quality.
To balance the needs of our environment and customers, MID continues to advocate with our Tuolumne River partners for a durable solution comprised of flow and non-flow measures. Parallel to filing our lawsuit and consistent with the State Water Board’s direction, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and California Department of Water Resources submitted a package of voluntary agreements to the State Water Board. The package – supported by MID and more than 40 other water agencies, resource agencies and non-governmental groups – is being offered as an alternative to the unimpaired flow paradigm adopted by the State Water Board in December 2018.
Benefits of the Voluntary Agreement
This 15-year agreement will allow us and the State Water Board to come to an agreeable conclusion based on site-specific science. The agreement will serve as a durable solution that ensures water security for our communities and protects our environmental resources for years to come. It will also become the terms and conditions for the Don Pedro Project’s new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license.
The benefits of the Tuolumne River voluntary agreement can be grouped into five categories – flows, predation, habitat, governance and early implementation.
The Tuolumne River voluntary agreement flow schedule is largely based on what was proposed by MID and the Turlock Irrigation District in the Tuolumne River Management Plan with the addition of a spring floodplain pulse flow that includes dry year relief.
We know that 90% of juvenile salmon are eaten by non-native fish. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife will partner with the Districts on annual suppression and removal program:
Includes both positive capture and removal programs and use of a predator barrier weir
Predation isn’t included in the SED.
The Voluntary Agreement dedicates $38 million to fund additional habitat improvement projects.
SED has no funding for habitat improvement projects
MID and our Tuolumne River partners are willing to make flows immediately available and to begin non-flow measures.
We will develop the Tuolumne River Partnership Advisory Committee to serve as a collaborative partnership with agencies and non-governmental organizations to identify habitat improvement projects, spill management and other activities.
This is only an advisory committee; MID and our river partners will retain final decision-making authority.
Watch the Video
To balance the needs of our environment and customers, MID continues to advocate with our Tuolumne River partners for a durable solution comprised of flow and non-flow measures. The State Water Resources Control Board is currently reviewing the voluntary agreements submitted for the Tuolumne River and various Sacramento Valley rivers. Watch the video above to learn more on the Tuolumne River voluntary agreement.