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Major Programs/Projects Advance

static image:  photo - The San Joaquin River is the focus of a major restoration program
The San Joaquin River is the focus of a major restoration program.

San Joaquin River Restoration Program

The San Joaquin River Restoration Program is a comprehensive, long-term effort to restore and maintain flows from the main stem of the San Joaquin River below Friant Dam to the confluence of the Merced River in Central California, in order to create naturally reproducing and self-sustaining populations of salmon and other fish in the river while reducing or avoiding adverse water supply impacts from restoration flows.

Federal participation in the program is mandated under the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act, part of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009.

During 2012

The program completed and released the Final Program Environmental Impact Statement/Report in July recommending a preferred alternative for the program.

In September, Reclamation signed the Record of Decision and the California Department of Water Resources signed the Notice of Determination selecting the preferred alternative from the Final PEIS/R as the course of action for the program.

These documents help provide the foundation for implementing the SJRRP, including actions to achieve long-term flows and reintroduction of salmon to the river; and completion of major channel improvement construction projects and implementation of the water management goal.

Reclamation and the parties to the restoration settlement worked on a revised schedule and budget for the SJRRP, referred to as the Framework for Implementation. Reclamation met with third-party interests to present and discuss the document, which will remain a working draft until other SJRRP-related documents are finalized.

Interim Flow Releases

The third year of interim flows concluded September 30, 2012. During 2012, data collection continued in support of interim flows, including water temperature, groundwater levels, sediment, water quality, dissolved oxygen and biological studies. Seepage management activities to support interim flows continued, including working with landowners to install projects on their properties to prevent seepage; as well as monitoring of shallow groundwater wells to address seepage concerns and expanding of the groundwater monitoring network on public and private property to better understand changes in shallow groundwater conditions.

Additional Highlights of 2012

The SJRRP allocated more than 680,440 acre-feet and delivered more than 356,200 acre-feet of Recovered Water Account water (an account that tracks the reductions in water deliveries to Central Valley Project, Friant Division, long-term contractors as a direct result of SJRRP flows that have not yet been replaced).

Other developments in 2012:

Several other documents were released throughout the year in support of the program:

Fiscal Year 2013

During FY 2013, the program expects to:

Looking Further Ahead

For the next few years, activities will focus on continuing flow releases and data collection. The program will continue shallow groundwater monitoring and working with landowners to address potential seepage concerns related to interim flows and future restoration flows. The Arroyo Canal Fish Screen and Sack Dam Fish Passage Improvement Project and the Friant-Kern Canal Capacity Restoration Project are anticipated to be the first two projects to be constructed. The start of construction for both projects is scheduled for 2013, followed by two major channel improvement projects that may be started in 2015.


Battle Creek Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Project

interactive image:  photo - A view through the new vertical slot fish ladder at Eagle Canyon Diversion Dam; click for larger photo
A view through the new vertical slot fish ladder at Eagle Canyon Diversion Dam.

During 2012, the Region advanced the Battle Creek Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Project, which is among the largest cold-water anadromous fish restoration projects in North America. The project is an effort to increase threatened and endangered Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead trout populations by restoring about 48 miles of habitat — 42 miles in Battle Creek and another six miles in its tributaries, while maintaining renewable energy production at the Battle Creek Hydroelectric Project, owned and operated by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

Restoration, begun in 2010 and scheduled for completion in 2015, is being accomplished in three phases, primarily through the removal of five diversion dams, placement of screens and ladders on three other diversion dams, and increasing stream flows, all within Tehama and Shasta counties in Northern California.

The following details progress on the project:

Via a Memorandum of Understanding, signed in June 1999, Reclamation, the National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Game and PG&E initiated work on the project. In addition to the MOU partners, the project has been developed in collaboration with various resource agencies, including the California Wildlife Conservation Board, with participation from the public, stakeholders, and landowners (including the Greater Battle Creek Watershed Working Group and the Battle Creek Watershed Conservancy).

The project is being supported with federal, state and private funding. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the CALFED Bay-Delta Program, and the Iron Mountain Mine Trustee Council are contributing federal funds; the DFG, the WCB, the California Department of Transportation and the California Department of Water Resources are contributing state funds; and the Packard Foundation (via The Nature Conservancy) is contributing private funds. PG&E is contributing in the form of foregone energy generation, voluntarily pursuing amendments to the Battle Creek Hydroelectric Project’s federal energy generation license, and transferring certain water rights to DFG.

Fish Screens and Ladders

interactive image:  photo - Engineers and biologists evaluate operation of fish screen panels at the Eagle Canyon Diversion Dam; click for larger photointeractive image:  photo - Birds feed and rest at a Central Valley wildife refuge; click for larger photo
interactive image:  photo - Workers adjust gates on the fish ladder at the North Battle Creek Feeder Diversion Dam; click for larger photo
Top left: Engineers and biologists evaluate operation of fish screen panels at the Eagle Canyon Diversion Dam
Top right: A downstream view of the fish screen at the North Battle Creek Feeder Diversion Dam
Bottom left: Workers adjust gates on the fish ladder at the North Battle Creek Feeder Diversion Dam.


Bay-Delta Issues

Overview

The San Francisco Bay Estuary and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is where two of California’s largest rivers meet the saltwater from San Francisco Bay, creating the West Coast’s largest estuary. The area is a blend of towns, highways, marinas and farmland. More than 50 island tracts are surrounded by levees and about 700 miles of sloughs and winding channels.

The Delta, the hub of the federal Central Valley Project and California’s State Water Project, is among the most important ecosystems in the nation. Water from the Delta serves the federal and state water projects, which in turn, serve urban and agricultural areas in the San Francisco Bay area, the Silicon Valley, the San Joaquin Valley, the central coast and southern California.

The Delta itself sustains billions of dollars in agricultural and recreational activity. It is also the habitat for hundreds of species of plants and wildlife, and more than 50 species of fish, including some that are threatened and endangered.

The Delta has experienced significant ecological collapse as a result of 150 years of human activity, including California’s increasing demand for water; changing environmental and climate conditions; and stressors such as pesticides, pollutant discharges and invasive species. Long-term solutions are needed to ensure reliable, quality water supplies and a sustainable ecosystem. Since the 1970s, urban, agricultural and environmental interests have differed over how to balance water diversions with environmental restoration in the Delta. Reclamation and its partners have implemented short-term solutions and are developing long-term plans for Delta sustainability in order to avert further ecological decline while maintaining reliable water supplies.

Region’s Bay-Delta Office

The Region’s Bay-Delta Office, created in 2010, provides a holistic view of Reclamation’s affect and responsibilities on and in the Bay-Delta area and ensures that Reclamation’s management of CVP and Delta issues and activities are integrated across the management units of the CVP. The BDO is also the primary point of contact with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and other federal, state, and local agencies with which Reclamation collaborates on important issues and activities. The office is involved with numerous programs, projects and issues detailed throughout this report.

Ongoing Litigation

Several lawsuits were filed in 2009 challenging Reclamation’s acceptance and implementation of both a 2008 FWS Biological Opinion and a 2009 NMFS BO, and associated Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives, for the Coordinated Long-term Operation of the CVP and State Water Project. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California remanded, without “vacature,” the FWS BO in December 2010 and the NMFS BO in September 2011. In both cases, the court found that Reclamation had violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to conduct National Environmental Protection Act proceedings prior to accepting the BOs and associated RPA actions.

During 2012, the Bay-Delta Office responded to requirements of the court and initiated the NEPA process. Additionally, the BDO is, in coordination with its state and federal partners and other stakeholders, implementing a stakeholder engagement process that will allow broader participation in the Endangered Species Act Section 7 consultation process as well as the NEPA process. The BDO intends to meet the court order requiring NEPA completion of a final Environmental Impact Statement and FWS BO by December 2013 and a final EIS and NMFS BO by 2016.

Because the BOs were remanded without “vacature” by the court, Reclamation’s responsibility to implement the BOs and associated RPA actions continues. The BDO continues to work in coordination with the other CVP management units, FWS, NMFS, the state of California and other partners, to meet these requirements.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

Reclamation continues its participation in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan in concert with the state of California and local authorities.

The BDCP has equal goals of providing conservation of sensitive species and their habitat and assuring a reliable water supply. Reclamation participates in BDCP, along with other federal and state resource agencies, to provide technical information and guidance, which ensures compatibility with CVP requirements and responsibilities. Reclamation is a co-lead agency in the development of the Environmental ImpactReport/Environmental Impact Statement for the BDCP.

The BDCP is working to:

Proposal for Conveyance Facilities Through Delta

During a news conference in July 2012, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. jointly proposed new intake and conveyance facilities through the Delta for public consideration and environmental review.

The BDCP’s preferred proposal is construction of water intake and conveyance tunnels that would have a capacity of 9,000 cubic feet per second. Operations of the facility would be phased in over several years. The conveyance also would be designed to use gravity flow to maximize energy efficiency and minimize environmental impact. Other alternatives, including no conveyance facility, and facilities with capacities ranging from 3,000 to 15,000 cfs, will also be considered as part of the environmental review process.

The secretary and governor said California’s water system is unsustainable environmentally and economically and that the BDCP, including the proposed Delta conveyance facility, is part of a comprehensive solution to achieve a reliable water supply for California and a healthy Bay-Delta ecosystem that supports the state’s economy.

“As broken and outdated as California’s water system is, we are also closer than ever to forging a lasting and sustainable solution that strengthens California’s water security and restores the health of the Delta,” said Salazar.

“Through our joint federal-state partnership, and with science as our guide, we are a taking a comprehensive approach to tackling California’s water problems when it comes to increasing efficiency and improving conservation,” he said. “Today marks an important step forward in transforming a shared vision into a practical, effective solution. With California’s water system at constant risk of failure, nobody can afford the dangers or costs of inaction.”

The new approach is intended to help restore fish populations, protect water quality, and improve the reliability of water supplies for all water users who receive deliveries from state and federal projects. It improves on key aspects of previous proposals and offers a governance model, financing options and a scientific review process.

static image:  map of proposed delta conveyance tunnels

Proposed Delta conveyance tunnels.

February 22, 2013