California drought plan announced

FRESNO, Calif.

The plan seeks to strike a balance between the many interests fighting over water in the San Joaquin Delta. Northern California reservoirs need enough storage to push saltwater out of the delta.

The plan sets human health and safety as a priority. That is, drinking water, sanitation and firefighting.

Mark Cowin is director of the California Department of Water Resources. He said the goal is, "To eke out as much regulatory flexibility as possible to adapt quickly to changing weather and environmental challenges to bolster water supplies to extent possible while minimizing impact to fish and wildlife."

But even if delta pumping restrictions are eased the Westlands Water District said it's not likely farmers will see additional deliveries.

The US Bureau of Reclamation and State Department of Water Resources announced the drought plan which also protects endangered fish in the delta.

Chuck Bonham of the Department of Fish and Wildlife said, "You now have one plan from many agencies for seven months instead of disparate plans from many different agencies about isolated agencies and actions."

A map by the US Drought Monitor illustrated how the Valley faces exceptional drought conditions - beyond extreme.

The state plan assumes the drought will continue into 2015.

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