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Here is PCWA’s Andy Fecko’s addition to my column on “WATER – TOO MUCH, TOO LITTLE, SAVE IT, USE IT, WASTE IT, BUY IT!”

I thank Andy for his contribution and clarification.


Hi Jack, I wanted to take a moment to explain why PCWA does water transfers in certain years, how they work, and who the beneficiaries are.

You may have heard that the PCWA Board of Directors recently approved a unique water transfer this year. The purpose the transfer was to provide water for outflow in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to benefit the Delta Smelt and Longfin Smelt, both of which are listed species under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requested the water, and the Department of the Interior tasked the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to procure the water on Fish and Wildlife’s behalf. PCWA and other agencies agreed to provide water; however, even with these offers, the Bureau was unable to procure the full volume needed to put the Delta outflow program into motion. As a result, the Bureau cancelled the transfer for this year.

The larger story about PCWA transfers dates back to the 2000 Water Forum Agreement, which is a package of water conservation and sustainability measures designed to protect the fishery of the lower American River. In dry years, most agencies that provide water in the Sacramento region reduce their use of American River water to approximately 1995 levels. PCWA goes a step further by releasing additional water from its Middle Fork Project reservoirs down the Middle and North Fork American River to Folsom Lake. The additional water provides a larger “cold water pool” for use in the lower American River during the summer and fall, when steelhead and fall-run Chinook salmon need it most. Importantly, once the PCWA releases do their environmental work, the water is always picked up by a transfer partner; in 2015, that partner was the East Bay Municipal Utility District. Providing water for fish and humans in dry years is a win-win situation, and the extra revenue generated helps PCWA complete infrastructure and other projects that benefit all Placer residents.

PCWA’s transfer program has been highly successful, and has provided significant benefits to the lower American River as well as our partners. Even though we did not complete this year’s transfer because of the unique circumstances encountered by the Department of the Interior, PCWA continues to live up to the commitments it has made in the Water Forum Agreement.

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