The California WaterFix project

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On May 2, 2019, in a tremendous victory for the Delta communities, fishermen, conservation groups, and citizens that have fought to protect the health of the Bay-Delta estuary, the State of California announced that it was abandoning its two-tunnel California WaterFix project, and asked the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service to withdraw their biological opinions for the project—decisions challenged by NRDC in two separate lawsuits. After the federal agencies withdrew their biological opinions, the court closed both cases.

The California WaterFix project—a $17 billion–plus proposal to construct three new water–diversion facilities and two massive tunnels underneath the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta—would have had devastating effects on threatened and endangered species, including the Delta smelt and winter and spring-run Chinook salmon.

Despite acknowledging these adverse impacts in their biological opinions—which the agencies are required to provide under the Endangered Species Act—the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service approved the WaterFix proposal. So in June 2017, NRDC and our partners filed two cases against the agencies, alleging that their decision to approve the project is arbitrary and capricious.

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