Jul 06, 2018
“California’s agricultural industry suffered another blow today when the State Water Resources Control Board released the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan’s Supplemental Environmental Document (SED). Details in the SED confirm that the Water Board’s Plan will leave thousands of acres of farmland with zero surface supply in certain water year types, stripping the Central Valley of over 6,500 jobs and $1.6 billion in economic output.
“Despite dozens of meetings, testimony from experts representing public water agencies, cities, farms, school districts and more, as well as mounting scientific proof that their approach is wrong, the State Water Board has not budged an inch, said Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition.
“The State Water Board’s unimpaired flow strategy does nothing to address major stressors in the system, such as the loss of habitat for native species and overwhelming predators that have gained a problematic foothold on the Delta. What is needed, instead, are functional flows, which can meet multiple needs from farming to habitat protection, recreation, and urban water supply needs.
“This sort of unresponsive bureaucracy is extremely frustrating for people at the local level who are committed to viable environmental restoration activities, said Wade. Simply dumping more water down the river with the hope that it will solve the Delta’s water issues is an incomplete solution to a complex set of problems.
“Californians are being asked to make good water management a way of life. We are being asked to be adaptive and seek flexible, creative approaches to how we use water at home, at our jobs, and on our farms. We are being asked to be reasonable with the water we use, to be good stewards, to avoid waste, and to limit our water use to what is reasonably required.
“Californians have risen to those challenges and we should expect no less of California’s State Water Resources Control Board,” he said.
“No one can deny we’ve heavily damaged the natural function and benefits of the rivers by over-diversion. Salmon runs in the three major San Joaquin River tributaries have fallen from 70,000 in 1984 to 8,000 in 2014. This has hurt fishing families and coastal communities.
Any proposal to increase water for fish is really a proposal to increase water for fishing families and communities downstream that rely on salmon. Most Californians don’t want to see our state rivers dammed and diverted to the point where everyone else downstream is left high and dry and driven out of business. Basic fairness requires the upstream dam operators to share with others downstream that rely on the state’s natural resources historically provided by these rivers. The State Water Board has taken a historic first step to address this problem.”
Golden Gate Salmon Association
” … As the Board recognizes, the Delta is in ecological crisis. The Board’s approach of requiring a percentage of unimpaired flows to remain in the river and Delta is scientifically sound and has repeatedly been peer reviewed, as discussed in more detail below. But the details of the proposal matter, and will determine whether California sustains its native fish and wildlife for future generations. NRDC and our partners will closely review these documents over the coming weeks and months, and we look forward to the State Water Board releasing its environmental review of these proposals and alternatives later this year.
In 2009, the Legislature established state policy to reduce reliance on the Delta and invest in local and regional water supplies (Cal. Water Code § 85021). The Board estimates that its proposal would result in an estimated 17\% reduction in diversions from the watershed (with is only a 5\% reduction in total water supplies, since water diversions from the Bay-Delta account for less than one third of total water supplies used by all of us who divert from the Bay-Delta). However, California has a hugeUntapped Potential to create millions of acre feet of new, sustainable water supplies by improving water use efficiency on farms and in cities, increasing water recycling, and capturing more stormwater in urban areas. These and other sustainable water supplies can help California protect the environment and sustain our economy for generations to come. …