The discretionary approval by CDFW is the issuance of the incidental take permit (ITP) amendment identified above. The ongoing operations of the State Water Project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Suisun Marsh is expected to result in incidental take and impacts to habitat of longfin smelt (Spirinchus thaleichthys), Delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus), winter-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), and spring-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Longfin smelt and spring-run Chinook salmon are designated as threatened species under the California Endangered Species Act. Delta smelt and winter-run Chinook salmon are designated as endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act.
In 2021, the lack of precipitation within California, recent warm temperatures and extremely dry soils have depleted the expected runoff water from the Sierra-Cascade snowpack and has again caused a potential for water supplies to be insufficient to repel salinity and meet existing requirements of Water Rights Decision 1641 (D-1641) in the Delta. In an Emergency Proclamation issued May 10, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom directed the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to consider modifying requirements for reservoir releases or diversion limitations to conserve water upstream later in the year in order to protect cold water pools for salmon and
steelhead, improve water quality, protect carry over storage, or ensure minimum health and safety water supplies. Permittee and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation submitted a Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) to the SWRCB on May 17, 2021 requesting to change D-1641 Delta outflow requirements and salinity compliance points from June 1 – August 15, 2021. This request was subsequently approved by the SWRCB on June 1, 2021. On May 18, 2021, Permittee submitted an application for a minor amendment to change the description of Project operations for the June 1 – August 15, 2021 time period to incorporate modifications to D-1641 included in the TUCP. This amendment to the ITP adds Section 2.2.1 to the Project Description, Temporary Urgency Change Petition, June - August 2021. Section 2.2.1 reflects changes to the requirements of D-1641 and additional data analysis and synthesis efforts that were included in the approval of the TUCP by the SWRCB.
The ITP referenced above as issued and amended by CDFW authorizes incidental take of longfin smelt, Delta smelt, winter-run Chinook salmon, and spring-run Chinook salmon that may occur as a result of ongoing operations of the State Water Project facilities, as is more specifically described in the ITP.