The Newsom Administration is unveiling a $2.6 billion agreement for farms and cities to surrender billions of gallons of water while, funding the restoration of troubled fish habitats.
This allocation is designed to help the taxed rivers and waterways across the central valley. The administration is calling this plan a compromise measure in order to help restore the fish habitats and still provide water to drought ridden areas for agricultural use. The agreement that was signed Tuesday between state and federal officials and some of California’s biggest water agencies, would result in about 35,000 acres of rice fields left unused — 6% of the state’s normal crop each year, according to the California Rice Commission. “We don’t have to choose between healthy ecosystems or a healthy economy, we can choose a path that provides for both,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said. “This is a meaningful, hard-earned step in the right direction.”
Environmentalists argue Newsom’s compromise doesn’t go nearly far enough to protect the fish. “It’s a fundamentally illegitimate and exclusionary process, and it’s not surprising that the results are bad for fish and wildlife. The old adage, ‘If you are not at the table, you are on the menu,’ comes to mind,” Doug Obegi, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said.
Key cities, like San Francisco, have yet to sign onto the agreement, including the water districts serving Turlock and Modesto.