ACWA Statement on Release of Draft Final Bay-Delta Plan Update For The Lower San Joaquin River and Southern Delta

  • by Heather Engel
  • Jul 9, 2018
  • News Releases

Sacramento – Timothy Quinn, executive director of the statewide Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), issued the following statement today in response to the State Water Resources Control Board’s release of draft final documents for the Bay-Delta Plan update for the Lower San Joaquin River and Southern Delta, as well as a framework document for the Sacramento River and Delta. The documents were released Friday.

“ACWA recognizes that the State Water Board is wrestling with an enormously difficult problem that has bedeviled California resource managers for decades. ACWA and several water suppliers from throughout California previously urged the State to move in a new direction, embracing comprehensive, integrated strategies for fishery management that we believe would be better for fisheries and water supply. However, the substance of the latest draft is the same as the original proposal that raised so much controversy. If we don’t find a way to better implement the state’s core value of advancing both the environment and water supply, California will be missing a critically important opportunity.”

The revised version of the State Water Board’s draft continues to propose 40 percent of unimpaired flows for February through June, with an allowed adaptive range between 30 to 50 percent for the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced Rivers through to the San Joaquin River. The proposed flow objectives are intended to increase the required flows left in rivers for the protection of fish and wildlife but would significantly reduce water available to water users in the Lower San Joaquin River Watershed.

In written comments, ACWA had suggested updating the plan to provide for specific timing and function of river flows to achieve scientifically-determined outcomes in consideration of multiple variables. Such variables include predation, food, and habitat availability, and to incorporate non-flow solutions that reconnect land and water to restore habitat and address the full life cycle of species needs. These so-called “functional flows” and “non-flow measures” would contribute real benefits to ecosystem recovery while maintaining water supply reliability.

California’s agricultural and urban water managers are united in their vision for a future that includes a healthy economy as well as healthy ecosystems and fish populations.  The State Water Board’s approach fails to ensure adequate habitat and other important functions critical to species survival. Instead, it will lead to widespread fallowing of vital agriculture land, affect drinking water supplies and hydro power generation, undercut groundwater sustainability goals  and make more difficult the implementation of other priority water issues in the Brown Administration’s California Water Action Plan.

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