Delta Flows (SBX7 1)

The State Water Resources Control Board adopted new flow criteria recommendations for the Delta on Aug. 3, 2010.

The criteria, developed as a requirement of the historic package of water bills passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor in November 2009, call for significantly increased flows into and through the Delta, particularly during the winter and spring months.

The criteria and related information can be accessed here.

ACWA's comments on the criteria can be found here.

What does the package require?

The package required the State Board to “develop new flow criteria for the Delta ecosystem necessary to protect public trust resources.” The flow criteria are to include “the volume, quality and timing of water necessary for the Delta ecosystem under different conditions.”

The flow criteria “shall not be considered predecisional with regard to any subsequent board consideration of a permit.” The flow criteria do not have any regulatory or adjudicative effect.

The package also requires the Department of Fish and Game (DFG), in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to “develop and recommend to the board [SWRCB] Delta flow criteria and quantifiable biological objectives for aquatic and terrestrial species of concern dependent on the Delta.”

The State Board is also required to enter into an agreement with the State Water Project contractors and the federal Central Valley Project contractors for reimbursement of the costs of the analysis conducted to determine flow criteria.

What are the compliance deadlines for the legislation?

  • The SWRCB’s flow criteria shall be developed within nine months after enactment of Division 35 (November 4, 2009). The flow criteria determinations shall be submitted to the Delta Stewardship Council within 30 days after their completion.
  • The CDFG recommendations shall be developed no later than twelve months after enactment of Division 35 (November 4, 2009).
  • By December 31, 2010, the SWRCB shall submit to the Legislature a prioritized schedule and estimate of costs to complete instream flow studies for the Delta and for high priority rivers and streams in the Delta watershed not otherwise covered by the initial flow studies, by 2012, and for all major rivers and streams outside the Sacramento River watershed by 2018.
  • The SWRCB shall establish an effective system of Delta watershed diversion data collection and public reporting by December 31, 2010.