Local water districts recently received an letter from the State informing them that they are walking away from the Tuolumne River Voluntary Agreement process and instead moving forward with implementation of the Phase 1 Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan which calls for 40 percent unimpaired flow in the Tuolumne River. 

“The Districts have negotiated in good faith for years and, by walking away, the State has rejected the collaborative process we’ve built,” said Turlock Irrigation District communications division manager Constance Anderson.

Voluntary agreements allow local water districts and the state to develop plans to help manage waterflow together. The Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan will not include that collaboration. 

The Tuolumne River Voluntary Agreement includes: providing 75 to 125 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water to serve environmental needs, investing $83 million for non-flow measures in and along the river to support native fish species, Increased gravel to support and improve spawning and creating additional quality habitat for fish. According to TID, voluntary agreements account for economic savings estimated at nearly $50 billion and creating more than 194,000 jobs.

Representative Josh Harder criticized the state for ending discussions with local water districts and urges the governor to engage with the central valley which he feels gets often looked passed.

“It’s disappointing to see the Newsom Administration walking away from our Voluntary Settlement Negotiations and picking a courtroom over a real conversation. In a historic drought year like this one, now is not the time to drag out or halt these important negotiations,” said Harder. “I urge the Newsom Administration to come back to the table and work with our local partners on a water management plan that will help our state as well as our farmers, families, and water agencies. If the Newsom Administration refuses to negotiate with the Central Valley, once again green lawns in Beverly Hills will be prioritized ahead of growing the food that feeds our nation.”

TID, along with other neighboring water districts have filed lawsuits against the State Water Resources Control Board’s Bay-Delta Plan and continue to move forward in those processes. TID and the San Joaquin Tributaries Authority partners are evaluating the next steps – both through and outside of litigation.