California WaterFix

June 28, 2017

California WaterFix is an infrastructure project that would include constructing two tunnels to convey water from the north to the south Delta. The purpose of WaterFix is to modernize water infrastructure and provide a secure and reliable source of water to meet the needs of farmers and communities, while including measures to address the needs of fish and wildlife. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources are consulting with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service concerning the impact of the project. See our biological opinion on the project here:

Aerial photo of the San Joaquin-Sacramento Bay Delta from south Sacramento. Credit: Steve Martarano/USFWS

Top Takeaways from the Service's California WaterFix Biological Opinion

  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a "no jeopardy" finding in the California WaterFix Biological Opinion for species under the Service's jurisdiction.
  • The Service analyzed the impact of the construction and proposed operation of the twin tunnels on 16 species. Our analysis found that the following species would likely be impacted in some way: California red-legged frog, California tiger salamander, Delta smelt, giant garter snake, least Bell's vireo, San Joaquin kit fox, valley elderberry longhorn beetle, vernal pool fairy shrimp, vernal pool tadpole shrimp and western yellow-bill cuckoo. Several species evaluated for the potential to be negatively impacted likely won't be, including the California clapper rail, California least tern, riparian brush rabbit, salt marsh harvest mouse, soft bird's beak and Suisun thistle.
  • The Service's work is not over. Elements of the California WaterFix project are still under development and will require additional consultation with the Service in the future. Those elements that will require a subsequent biological opinion include construction of the diversion structures in the North Delta and operations of new diversion structures and existing Central Valley Project and State Water Project pumping plants under dual conveyance.
  • California WaterFix could increase Delta smelt habitat availability along the San Joaquin River area of the Delta, improve flow conditions, reduce the number of Delta smelt drawn into the portion of the Delta that is negatively influenced by the Federal and state water export facilities, and mitigate for effects of the project by restoring more than 1,800 acres of Delta smelt habitat. The benefits are expected to compliment the 30,000 acres of habitat restoration throughout the Delta from California's EcoRestore program and implementation of activities contained in the 2016 Delta Smelt Resiliency Strategy.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife employees surveying on the Delta near Liberty Island. Credit: Steve Martarano/USFWS

Nimbus Dam, on the American River, is part of the Central Valley Project ,the federal water project that provides irrigation and municipal water to much of California's Central Valley. It was authorized in 1949 as a regulating reservoir for Folsom Dam, and a diversion pool for the Folsom South Canal. Construction began in 1952, and it became operational in 1955.  Credit: Steve Martarano/USFWS

An egret hunting along a riverbank in the San Joaquin Delta, south of Sacramento. Credit: Steve Martarano/USFWS