Reclamation Weighs In On State Water Board Bay-Delta Plan Update

  • by Will Holbert
  • Aug 8, 2018
  • Water News

The Bureau of Reclamation is asking the State Water Resources Control Board to reconsider its proposed amendments that would generally establish a 40% unimpaired flow standard for the Lower San Joaquin River and its tributaries, and postpone its public meeting currently scheduled for Aug. 21-22.

In a July 27 comment letter, Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman stated that the State Water Board’s proposed amendments to the Bay-Delta Plan update appear to “directly interfere” with the New Melones Project’s water storage ability.

“The Board amendments essentially elevate the Project’s fish and wildlife purposes over the Project’s irrigation and domestic purposes contrary to the prioritization scheme carefully established by Congress,” Burman’s letter states. “Notably, implementation of the 40% unimpaired flow standard will reduce storage of water at New Melones by 315,000 acre-feet per year, on average – even after taking into account likely reductions to Central Valley Project contract deliveries.”

ACWA submitted a comment letter to the State Water Board on July 27 expressing concern that the percentage of unimpaired flows approach would fail to protect all beneficial uses of water, including agricultural and municipal beneficial uses. ACWA also signed onto a coalition letter written by the California Farm Bureau Federation. This letter underscored the anticipated impacts of the proposal, reiterated the legal issues that the proposal raises and noted the alternative pathways that exist for achievement of fish and wildlife goals.

Currently, ACWA is meeting with the Brown Administration regarding the proposal.

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