What is the Delta Conveyance Project?
The Delta Conveyance Project (DCP) is a proposal to modernize water infrastructure in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta by creating an additional point of diversion along the Sacramento River coupled with conveyance facilities in the Delta. This change in the point of diversion is intended to restore and protect the reliability of State Water Project (SWP) and, potentially, Central Valley Project (CVP) water deliveries south of the Delta to ensure California’s largest supply of clean water is climate resilient.
As directed by the Governor and building on work conducted under the California WaterFix effort, the Department of Water Resources is pursuing a new environmental review and planning process for the DCP’s single tunnel proposal. DCP paired with complementary projects identified in the Governor’s draft Water Resilience Portfolio intend to improve water recycling, recharge depleted groundwater reserves, strengthen existing levee protections and improve Delta water quality in order to build a resilient water supply for California’s communities and economy.
What is CDFW’s Role in the Delta Conveyance Project Process?
CDFW’s primary role in the DCP process is to ensure compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). The Water Branch is the lead for CDFW’s review of DCP documents. As the lead, the Water Branch coordinates with other CDFW branches including the Habitat Conservation Planning Branch, Fisheries Branch, and appropriate Regions to provide technical input in the preparation of the DCP documents.
CDFW’s roles in the CEQA and CESA processes are as follows:
CEQA: CDFW is a trustee agency under CEQA and is responsible for protecting the natural resources in the public trust (Fish and Game Code § 1802). Since DWR will be seeking an Incidental Take Permit for DCP, CDFW will also be a responsible agency under CEQA. As a responsible agency, CDFW must actively participate in DWR’s CEQA process, review DWR’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR), and use that document to prepare and issue findings regarding DCP (CEQA Guidelines, Sections 15096 and 15381).
CESA: DWR intends to apply for an incidental take1 permit (ITP) under section 2081(b) of the (Fish and Game Code § 2080-2085). In order for CDFW to issue an ITP for DCP, CDFW must be able to determine if the proposed project will meet the criteria listed in Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations (§ 783.4 subdivisions (a) and (b)). CDFW will assist in the ITP application development through consultations with DWR, supply technical information and expertise, and participate in meetings with DWR and stakeholders to develop and review draft documents.
CDFW’s Involvement in the Federal Permit Process
CDFW works closely with federal fish and wildlife agencies on development of DCP documents as there is often overlap between State and federal policies regarding California’s natural resources. For example, many of the threatened and endangered species that are likely to be affected by DCP are listed under both the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and CESA.
In an effort to streamline the process and provide consistency, CDFW and the federal fish and wildlife agencies strive to present a unified perspective where possible. This requires a significant on-going effort to coordinate among State and federal fish and wildlife agencies on all issues relating to DCP where overlap between State and federal regulations occurs.