Biological opinion for the California Water Fix (National Marine Fisheries Service)
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) | June 16th, 2017
Based on the best available scientific and commercial information, the Biological Opinion (Opinion) concludes that the Project is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of federally listed:
• Endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha),
• Threatened Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon (0. tshawytscha), • Threatened Central Valley steelhead ( 0. my kiss),
• Threatened Southern Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of North American green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris), and
• Endangered Southern Resident killer whales ( Orcinus area).
NMFS concludes that the Project is not likely to destroy or adversely modify the designated critical habitats of:
• Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon,
• Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon,
• Central Valley steelhead, and
• Southern DPS of North American green sturgeon.
Southern Resident killer whales critical habitat is outside of the action area. As required by section 7 of the ESA, for the above species, NMFS has included an incidental take statement for activities within the proposed Project that do not require further analysis. The incidental take statement describes reasonable and prudent measures NMFS considers necessary or appropriate to minimize the impact of incidental take associated with these activities. The take statement also sets forth nondiscretionary terms and conditions, including monitoring and reporting requirements, that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) as the Federal action agency, must comply with to carry out the reasonable and prudent measures. Incidental take from activities that meet these terms and conditions will be exempt from the ESA’s prohibition against the take of listed species.
The Project for this consultation is a “mixed programmatic action” because it approves some actions that are not subject to further section 7 consultation as well as provides programmatic review of future actions that would be authorized, at a later time. For actions that are expected to be developed in the future (mitigation/restoration, monitoring, adaptive management), take of listed species would not occur until those future actions were authorized. For other actions (construction and operations), NMFS is providing an incidental take statement with this Opinion.
The enclosed Opinion is based on information provided in the Reclamation’s transmittal letter and biological assessment, correspondence and discussions between NMFS, Reclamation, and California Department of Water Resources staff, and consultants; a final proposed action issued on June 2, 2017; comments received from Reclamation; peer review reports from the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Science Program; and an extensive literature review completed by NMFS staff. A complete administrative record of this consultation is on file at the NMFS California Central Valley Office.
NMFS also concurs with Reclamation’s conclusion that the proposed action is not likely to adversely affect threatened Central California Coast steelhead (O. mykiss), endangered Central California Coast coho salmon (O. kisutch), or the designated critical habitat for Central California Coast steelhead. Designated critical habitat for Central California Coast coho salmon is not included in the action area.
NMFS reviewed the likely effects of the proposed action on essential fish habitat (EFH), pursuant to section 305(b) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) (16 U.S.C. 1855(b)), and concluded that the Project would adversely affect the EFH of Pacific Coast salmon, Coastal Pelagic species, and Pacific Coast Groundfish in the action area.
We have included these EFH consultation results in Section 3 of this document. The EFH consultation itself includes Conservation Recommendations specific to the adverse effects to EFH identified during our review.
Reclamation has a statutory requirement under section 305(b)(4)(B) of the MSA to submit a detailed written response to NMFS within 30 days of receipt of these EFH conservation recommendations, and 10 days in advance of any final approval of the action if the response is inconsistent with any of NMFS’ EFH Conservation Recommendations. The written response must include a description of measures adopted by Reclamation for avoiding, minimizing, or mitigating the impact of the Project on EFH (50 CFR § 600.920(k)). If unable to complete a final response within 30 days, Reclamation should provide an interim written response within 30 days before submitting its final response. In the case of a response that is inconsistent with our recommendations, Reclamation must explain its reasons for not following the recommendations, including the scientific justification for any disagreements with NMFS over the anticipated effects of the Project and the measures needed to avoid, minimize, or mitigate (also referred to by NMFS as measures that “offset”) such effects.