Protecting our water resources
CDFW is taking great strides to keep as much water as possible in the rivers for fish and wildlife that depend on it. To that end, CDFW has introduced a voluntary drought initiative providing a framework for water users to enter into individual agreements with CDFW and NOAA Fisheries in an effort to maintain enough water for fish spawning in specific high priority streams, and implement other collaborative actions like fish rescue, relocation, monitoring and habitat restoration. In return, landowners and water users will benefit from greater regulatory certainty under the federal and state endangered species laws, and may receive incidental take authorizations for California Endangered Species Act (CESA)-listed fish in case a participant unintentionally takes listed fish species while withdrawing water.
Also, in March 2014, CDFW expedited approval for the installation of storage tanks by landowners who currently divert water from rivers and streams. Please see below for information on water-related actions.
Maximizing efficient use of water on CDFW lands
Based on the anticipated needs of migrating birds and other threatened and endangered wetland species throughout the state, CDFW is planning how best to allocate available surface and ground water, fully recognizing that domestic needs for water will take precedence if so determined. Any water that is available for wildlife habitat work will be distributed and used to benefit threatened/endangered species and maintenance of critical wetland habitats for vulnerable wetland-dependent species in the most efficient manner possible. Planning for this involves consideration of anticipated water availability for wildlife on all public and private lands and coordination with other agencies and stakeholders. Please see below for information on lands-related actions.
CDFW, USFWS and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have collectively worked to ensure that water management decisions do not unreasonably affect threatened and endangered species.
CDFW, in partnership with its federal agency counterparts, immediately began to increase monitoring of fish in the Sacramento River to better understand the drought’s impact on threatened species. This monitoring assesses spawning, rearing and stranding conditions, and it will closely track temperature conditions in the Sacramento River and its tributaries and the health of the winter run Chinook salmon species. DFW will also implement monitoring actions detailed in the Drought Operations Plan for Delta and long-fin smelt, green sturgeon and salmon and steelhead. Later this year, CDFW plans to work with NMFS and USFWS to complete restoration and fish passage projects for the benefit of several runs of salmon in the Upper Sacramento River and its tributaries.
Funding for drought response actions:
As part of the state's comprehensive drought response, CDFW has been funded to act on a wide variety of critical drought related fronts, including:
- Habitat restoration in key areas of the Delta to support declining fish populations
- Increased and enhanced monitoring of Central Valley salmon populations to inform targeted drought response actions
- Additional habitat restoration and infrastructure improvements to support the San Joaquin River restoration program
- Water conveyance and infrastructure improvements focusing on water efficiency on many of the state’s wildlife areas and ecological reserves
- State-of-the-art monitoring of Delta fisheries to support real-time water management decisions
- Infrastructure at many fish hatcheries to support short- and mid-term hatchery-based management fish removed from streams impacted by the drought
- Additional targeted funding under the Fisheries Restoration Grant Program to deliver resources to partners poised to improve habitat in key spawning and cover areas
- Increased funding for law enforcement to promote compliance with fish and wildlife protection laws in the context of drought stress to many fish and wildlife populations
- For more information on current CDFW grant application opportunities for projects that sustain, restore and enhance California's fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats, see Grant Opportunities.
Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent and prevent water waste – visit saveourwater.com to find out how everyone can do their part, and visit drought.ca.gov to learn more about how California is dealing with the effects of the drought.
Quarterly progress reports
The 2013-14 state budget included $38 million for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to respond to the effects of the California drought on fish and wildlife. Please link below to the progress reports recapping how projects are going and how the funds have been spent quarterly.
Drought contract exemptions