Biological Opinions by National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Initiated by Obama Administration, are Vital Step in Permitting Process
Sacramento, Calif. – Today, with the release of biological opinions (BiOps) from federal agencies responsible for the protection of species listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), Governor Jerry Brown’s California WaterFix clears a critical permitting threshold. After extensive environmental reviews that started under the Obama Administration, the new BiOps from the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service found the construction and operations of WaterFix would not jeopardize the future existence of ESA-listed species.
Groups supporting WaterFix, representing thousands of businesses, community groups, family farmers, labor unions, water agencies, engineers and public safety leaders from across the state reiterated their continued support for the project and applauded it clearing this major milestone in the permitting process.
Over the past six months, critical strides have been made in moving WaterFix forward, including the issuance of the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) released on December 22.
California WaterFix’s exhaustive review process reflects nearly a decade of scientific and public analysis, including nearly a year of public review of the EIR, 600 public meetings throughout the state, and responses and revisions based on more than 40,000 public comments, concluding that WaterFix is the only viable plan to protect our state’s water supply and the environment. Furthermore, as WaterFix moves toward implementation, rigorous and continuing assessment of habitat and wildlife standards are expected.
Below are statements of support from selected members of the Californians for Water Security coalition:
“These BiOps represent critical permitting milestones for California WaterFix, bringing our state forward in the plan to protect the Delta ecosystem while securing our water supply. After years of exhaustive environmental review and changes, WaterFix and the Governor’s Eco-Restore program are the only viable solutions to protect species and our water supply from the ravaging effects of climate change.” – Dr. Jerry Meral, Director of California Water Program, Natural Heritage Institute
“We are encouraged that federal environmental agencies, under Presidents from both sides of the aisle, have provided the necessary environmental clearance to move this project forward. WaterFix is the responsible solution to secure our state’s water deliveries for communities, businesses and residents statewide. It’s time to move forward with upgrading our water infrastructure for future years with WaterFix.”- Allan Zaremberg, president, California Chamber of Commerce
“Thanks to this federal milestone toward permitting of California WaterFix, we are closer than ever to securing California’s water future with urgently needed infrastructure upgrades. We continue to support improving the reliability of statewide water deliveries and protecting supplies from earthquakes, floods and natural disasters with the Governor’s WaterFix, as well maintaining environmental protections for Delta wildlife.” – Robbie Hunter, president, California State Building and Construction Trades Council
“WaterFix is absolutely vital to every sector of our economy and quality of life. Our region receives 40 percent (40%) of our clean drinking water from the state water project and that water is at risk due to outdated infrastructure. The plan will help secure our water supply, while also achieving important environmental protections to ensure the health of the Delta.” – Mike Mielke, senior vice president, Environment & Energy, Silicon Valley Leadership Group
“WaterFix reflects Central Valley taxpayers’ interests by improving antiquated infrastructure and ensuring water reliability for our region’s homes, businesses, farms and habitats. It is a fiscally responsible investment to protect the water supply for our region. We cannot wait any longer to move this project forward and are pleased this important federal permitting milestone has been reached.” – Michael Turnipseed, executive director, Kern Taxpayers Association
“Seventy-five percent (75%) of Ventura County’s population relies heavily on our state’s antiquated water distribution system. Ventura County CoLAB is proud to stand with local residents, workers, farmers, and business owners in supporting California WaterFix to secure our regional water deliveries.” – Lynn Gray Jensen, executive director, Ventura County Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business
“This is a critical step forward in achieving a secure water future for Southern California and the entire state. The federal Biological Opinions are the culmination of extensive environmental reviews starting with the Obama Administration. The approvals are further validation of California WaterFix’s ability to provide water for our homes and families, while also protecting environment.” – Charles Wilson, executive director, Southern California Water Committee
“We strongly support the California WaterFix and commend the federal environmental advancements of the plan. WaterFix will safeguard water deliveries for two-thirds of California, as well as protect and create nearly one million jobs across the state.” – Michael Quigley, executive director, California Alliance for Jobs