But finding a balance between the unaffected flow requirements of the National Water Management Board`s Bay-Delta water quality update and the alternative of flow obligations under voluntary agreements is not a fait accompli. The initial proposal for a voluntary agreement in December 2018, announced with great enthusiasm by the directors of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and the Department of Water Resources, turned out to be nothing but smoke and mirrors. Unfortunately, there is ample reason to believe that the same is true of this latter proposal, which was developed without public intervention or revision. Water users, some of whom had prepared proposals for voluntary contracts, immediately complained. The basis of voluntary agreements began in 2016, when the gov. Brown at the time spoke out strongly in his favour and commissioned the Natural Resources Agency to explore the potential for environmental flows in the Sacramento and San Joaquin basins. He attacked former Interior Minister Bruce Babbitt as chief mediator for stakeholder talks, which began in 2017. „This is a promising step that will add water to the environment, restore habitats and improve science to prepare California for a sustainable water future. While more work awaits us, Metropolitan is trying to find a viable solution.
A common and voluntary approach to offsetting the beneficial use of Sierra water is much better for the people and environment of California than years of litigation. Metropolitan praised Newsom`s administration for trying to move forward together. In 2018, the National Water Board adopted a regulatory plan that would remain in the San Joaquin River system for up to half of the electricity between February and June of each year to support delta fishing and fight salinity. Although the plan has given way to the inclusion of a voluntary agreement, the National Water Management Service has decided not to delay the approval of its regulatory plan. Public water operators have always supported a voluntary approach to updating the Delta Bay Water Quality Control Plan and are encouraged by the framework and progress.