Yuba Water Agency, Brown administration strike deal to benefit fish, farmers | TheUnion.com

Yuba Water Agency, Brown administration strike deal to benefit fish, farmers

Submitted to The Union

Yuba Water Agency announced its support for the Brown administration's comprehensive restoration strategy to improve fish and wildlife habitat conditions in the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary watershed, according to a release.

The administration's strategy, which includes fisheries restoration measures on the lower Yuba River, was considered by the State Water Resources Control Board during its meeting Wednesday.

"Our proposal for the lower Yuba River includes releasing more flow to the Delta, habitat restoration, and new funding to improve conditions for salmon and steelhead," said Brent Hastey, Yuba Water Agency Board chairman. "After working with state and federal agencies and local farmers on these agreements for several years, we believe these measures will achieve the coequal goals of water supply reliability and ecosystem protection."

The Brown administration strategy is based on 15-year voluntary agreements with water agencies to protect the Bay-Delta watershed, as an alternative to burdensome regulatory requirements.

The Yuba Water Agency restoration proposal builds on the 2008 Yuba Accord. The agreement would recognize that the Yuba Accord continues to improve conditions for salmon and steelhead, reduces the flood risk for the people of Yuba County, ensures water certainty for local farmers and ranchers, as well as for Yuba Water Agency's hydropower generation needs, and provides critical water supplies for cities and farms throughout California.

Yuba Water Agency's proposed commitments include releases of water from New Bullards Bar Dam of up to 50,000 acre-feet annually for fisheries, the restoration of up to 100 acres of habitat at a cost of up to $10 million, and an annual $520,000 contribution for a new Bay-Delta watershed science program.

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Under this agreement, Yuba Water would receive compensation for water releases that contribute to Delta inflow and outflow, providing funding to reduce flood risk in Yuba County — an estimated $80 million over the term of the agreement.

As Yuba Water Agency works to finalize a voluntary agreement with local, state and federal stakeholders, the agency is developing additional measures proven to facilitate an interaction between land and water that fish experience in natural flow conditions.

These measures will be based in part by the Yuba Accord's science program, through which the Yuba Water Agency has funded $5 million in studies. The agency continues to fund $500,000 each year for further science studies.

Source: Yuba Water Agency

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