Central Valley Flood Protection Plan (CVFPP) Conservation Strategy
The Central Valley Flood Protection Plan (CVFPP) Conservation Strategy (Conservation Strategy or Strategy) is a primary component supporting the CVFPP. It aligns and contributes to the attainment of all CVFPP goals, specifically focusing on the improvement of ecosystem quality, quantity, function, and sustainability within the State Plan of Flood Control (SPFC). Its purpose is to provide actionable and measurable targets for improving riverine, aquatic, wetland, and riparian habitat in the flood system. The Conservation Strategy provides data, information, and guidance to floodplain managers to assist with developing multi-benefit flood infrastructure improvement projects by integrating project components and management strategies that benefit native species and their habitats. Multi-benefit projects may also create additional public benefits such as sustaining agricultural production, improving water quality and water supply reliability, increasing groundwater recharge, supporting commercial fisheries, and providing public recreation and educational opportunities.
Every five years, DWR
The 2022 Conservation Strategy update focuses on the following objectives:
- Reporting on implementation and progress toward the measurable objectives
- Incorporating new information and reviewing the target species list and measurable objectives from the 2016 Conservation Strategy
- Identifying the impediments DWR and stakeholders most often encounter when implementing multi-benefit flood infrastructure improvement projects and developing actions and strategies to overcome or reduce those impediments
- Ensuring continued alignment and coordination with related state and local plans and programs
Collaborative and sustainable flood management and habitat restoration is the objective of the Conservation Strategy. Development of the 2022 document involved input and guidance from numerous divisions of DWR, partner agencies, NGO’s, Agricultural interests, and stakeholders.
The Conservation Strategy promotes the protection and restoration of natural areas as part of flood protection improvement efforts by implementing multi-benefit projects. Some flood management projects do not in and of themselves provide environmental benefits. For those projects, we are taking a proactive regional approach to mitigate certain unavoidable environmental impacts. We are coordinating these regional planning efforts with other state and federal agencies.
Advance mitigation establishes mitigation areas before flood infrastructure projects are implemented to promote more meaningful large-scale and cost-effective conservation outcomes. By mitigating for future project impacts in advance of those impacts, we expect to:
- Reduce permitting delays
- Diminish disruption to affected plant and animal species during construction
- Reduce costs
Four projects were funded through Proposition 1E funds allocated for advanced mitigation. These projects have enhanced floodplain and riparian habitat and provided mitigation credits for salmonids, giant garter snake (GGS), Swainson's hawk, and riparian habitat. We expect credits to become available for valley elderberry longhorn beetle (VELB) at a later date.
Moving forward, when a flood project cannot be designed as multipurpose or cannot self-mitigate, and is projected to have an impact on one or more of these species, the lead agency may apply to DWR to use some of these accrued mitigation credits to compensate for those impacts. Use of the mitigation credits will be determined on a case-by-case basis, but generally, the credits will be available to DWR or to local levee maintaining agencies with the legal authority to operate and maintain State Plan of Flood Control facilities. By mitigating impacts in advance, sensitive species will enjoy a baseline level of protection, and public agencies will be able to implement flood projects more efficiently while knowing they will not be detrimental to sensitive native species.
Implementation of the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan and Conservation Strategy will involve numerous flood management and conservation actions over a long time frame. Many of these activities will require regulatory approvals to ensure consistency with federal and state environmental laws. Project-by-project compliance with these laws can be inefficient, costly and unpredictable, which can result in unsafe deferred maintenance and small, isolated and ineffective (or unsuccessful) mitigation areas.
DWR will develop "programmatic permits" that will ensure compliance with environmental laws at a regional scale and over longer time periods than traditional project-by-project permitting. This regional approach will make it possible to have a single permit support multiple projects implemented by numerous entities, including California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and Local Maintaining Agencies (LMAs), on a voluntary basis.
Regional permitting may cover activities such as maintenance, structural repairs, reconstruction, improvements to existing levees or new levee construction and multi-benefit conservation actions such as levee setbacks, ecosystem restoration and enhancement, including the removal of fish passage barriers.