On March 29, 2022, the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency, the California Department of Water Resources, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and water agencies from across the state, including Yuba Water Agency, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which outlines terms of an eight-year comprehensive program to meet the needs of different watersheds feeding into the Bay-Delta. The MOU is available here.
The Voluntary Agreements represent a comprehensive, collaborative plan that is designed to contribute to the recovery of fish and wildlife species and provide an alternative to previously proposed one-size-fits-all requirements to release massive amounts of flows in an attempt to improve Bay-Delta fisheries.
The Voluntary Agreements MOU provides a framework for drafting implementing agreements that will include flow and habitat contributions, funding, a robust science program and a governance structure. Additional information will be shared in the coming months as the agreements are further developed.
- What is the Yuba Water Agency voluntary agreement?
Yuba Water Agency’s voluntary agreement includes a commitment to collaboration, increased flows, funding, fish habitat improvements and the development of a river science program meant to contribute to the recovery of fish and wildlife species in the Bay-Delta ecosystem. It is an important element of a broader, collaborative approach to improving fish and wildlife habitat in the Bay-Delta ecosystem.
- Why is Yuba Water Agency voluntarily signing this agreement?
As Yuba Water Agency has proven over more than ten years, since the successful and continuing implementation of the award-winning Yuba Accord, collaborative agreements are more sustainable, innovative and result in actual improvements more than controversial regulatory requirements do. Regulatory requirements also are often limited in approach and get tied up in court for decades. When parties focus on interest-based negotiations and allow science to lead the way to determine the best path forward, the results can provide more meaningful solutions for California’s economy and environment. Water supply reliability for the benefit of Yuba County farmers and residents is the agency’s top priority in both Federal Energy Regulatory Commission relicensing and in this voluntary process. Implementation of the Voluntary Agreement will ensure that Yuba Water is able to both maintain our water supply reliability as well as provide better environmental benefits than alternative proposals.
- Are other Sacramento Valley agencies participating in the Voluntary Agreements?
Yes. The State of California is leading this collaborative effort, which includes the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Water Resources, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, as well as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and local water agencies from across the state. Water agencies on the American, Feather, Sacramento and Yuba rivers all signed the MOU which includes provisions that are based on the unique situations in their watersheds.
- What are the next steps in this process?
The State Water Resources Control Board is updating the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan to protect beneficial uses, including native fish and wildlife, as well as municipal and agricultural water supplies. Yuba Water will be working with other parties to build on the Voluntary Agreements framework detailed in the MOU so they can be incorporated into the process for updating the Bay-Delta Plan and implemented in full.