The Department of the Interior and its bureaus are urged to take timely actions to help address the effects of drought and climate change on California’s water supply and imperiled wildlife.

As per the order, the department has been directed to take scientific support, technical advice from the US Geological Survey (USGS) to complete technical, scientific and analytical work necessary for permitting, regulatory and other decisions on water initiatives.

Actions to be taken for California WaterFix environmental review include the Bureau of Reclamation and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to allocate resources to complete Biological Opinions under the Endangered Species Act.

The review will help California in moving forward with its plan to upgrade the infrastructure in the estuary where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers meet before flowing into San Francisco Bay. The upgradation is expected to secure water supply for 25 million people.

The order has directed the Reclamation, FWS and USGS to work in collaboration with California and to use Adaptive Management Framework to guide scientific studies and monitoring, assist Central Valley Project and State Water Project operations.

As per the Delta Smelt Resiliency Strategy, assessment of risk to Delta Smelt, a critically endangered fish in the Delta and the risk to water supplies will be carried out. As per the strategy, Reclamation shall make up to 250,000 acre-feet/year of outflow above current state water quality permit requirements.

This additional outflow can use water transfers, changes in exports from the Bay Delta, releases from upstream storage and other measures.

As per the order, Reclamation and FWS will work with other state and federal agencies on completing the recently re-initiated consultation on long-term operations of Central Valley Project and State Water Project.

The State Water Resources Control Board will be informed by Reclamation and FWS as part of the Bay Delta Plan initiative. As per the initiative, the California Natural Resources Agency will engage with stakeholders to develop agreements to increase flows and integrate flow and non-flow measures.

It will also provide information to establish water quality standards to meet fish, wildlife and ecosystem goals.

Department of Interior Deputy Secretary Michael Connor said: “This Secretarial Order is a practical and broad-based strategy to help protect California’s water lifeline for present and future generations.

“This order will ensure the integration of the Department’s actions with those of the State of California to provide a reliable drinking water supply for the public, sustain California’s agriculture, and continue to protect the Bay Delta ecosystem and enhance the conservation of species.”