...where the scientists found "more than 40 potential causes for the Delta's decline...but ranking them in order is just too difficult."
May 17, 2020
We like to remind people every now and then that there are a lot of problems in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The Delta Independent Science Board likes to call them stressors. If you pay a little bit of attention to water news you would think there is only one problem there, the pumps. If you pay a little more attention you probably realize there is a problem with partially treated sewage dumped daily by the millions of gallons which isn't healthy for people or fish. It's ironic that the cities around the Delta dump the partially treated sewage into the drinking water that's sent to Southern California. It doesn't only go to farmers. You might also realize that striped bass eat a lot of smelt and baby salmon. These are just three of the problems (stressors) in the Delta.
The article below tries to make the case that the efforts to deliver more and more water to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (by cutting water exports through the pumps) are justified and should have already been mandated by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).
This debate is, of course, one of the primary reasons why our organization, Families Protecting the Valley, exists. We believe that the continued taking of more and more water away from our Central Valley and into the Delta and out to sea will lead to less and less farming and more and more fallowed land. We have outlined the numerous water battles in several newsletters in the past including the last one (Farmer Appreciation).
The article below describes a November, 2018 meeting of the SWRCB where the board "was scheduled to vote on an to the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan, something that is supposed to happen every three years but has not been done since 2004. The proposed decreed that the tributaries that feed the San Joaquin River maintain up to 50 percent “unimpeded flow.”
This is the meeting where the Governor Jerry Brown and incoming governor Gavin Newsom asked that the vote be postponed for a month in favor of pursuing voluntary agreements between the parties. A month later there was still no resolution and the board went ahead against the wishes of Brown and Newsom and voted 4-1 to take action.
Because there were no voluntary agreements, there were predictable lawsuits and there haven't been any attempts to enforce the standards voted on by the board since.
One section of the article got our attention: "Steve Rothert, California director of the nonprofit American Rivers, has spent the past five years working on the issue and says board action was urgent. “Most scientists would agree that nearly all the key indices of ecosystem and native fishery health are in decline — in many cases, at catastrophic levels.”
We and others have attempted to point out some obvious problems in the delta, like the partially treated sewage and the striped bass eating salmon and smelt. The sole concentration on water flowing into the delta hasn't solved any of the problems, and ignoring the other problems hasn't helped.
We remind you of a study done by the Delta Independent Science Board almost 10-years-ago, in January 2011, where the scientists found "more than 40 potential causes for the Delta's decline...,but ranking them in order is just too difficult." These scientists could not find the primary cause of the Delta's decline, and "ultimately, the scientists said they could not conclude that any one factor, or any small combination of the 40-plus factors, is the root of the Delta's problems."
We are not aware of any subsequent studies that contradict this. There are still at least 40 stressors, and they still can't rank them in any kind of order. But, all the major media, the elected officials, the appointed bureaucrats and their paid staffs continue to focus only on the pumps. It hasn't done any good.
Nevertheless, the only solution pursued by the water board and their unelected bureaucrats is to pursue more and more water from Central Valley farms and the people of Southern California who rely on getting their water from the Delta. Until they pursue other remedies we think they will get the same results, no improvement for fish.
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