In a letter sent last month to Natural Resources Secretary John Laird and State Water Board Chairman Charles Hoppin, Northern California water agencies expressed their concern of what the impact of changes in flow standards for the Delta along with a change in the point of diversion for the state and federal water projects will be on upstream water rights, and requesting assurances that there will be no redirected impacts to upstream water users.
The State Water Resources Control Board is currently revising the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan, a process many expect to result in increased flows for the Delta. In setting the new flow standards, the State Water Board could amend the water rights to meet those standards. In addition, the State Water Board must approve a permit for any change in the point of diversion for the SWP and CVP. Considerable thought must be given on how best to sequence these two processes, the letter states:
“Whether the SWRCB sets new flow standards before or after approving any petition for change associated with the relocation of points of diversion for the State Water Project (SWP) and Central Valley Project (CVP), upstream water right holders should not be held responsible for meeting the obligations of those projects. Regardless of which of these efforts is completed first, our overriding concern is that existing water rights priorities be recognized when changes in flow obligations are considered for the Delta in its entirety. In any scenario for a BDCP permit, the SWP and CVP must not be exempted from contributing when the needs of the entire Delta are evaluated.
We request that the SWRCB include specific language in any order approving a change in point of diversion for the SWP and CVP to provide clear assurance that the impacts of any such change, and of the BDCP generally, will not result in any redirected impacts to upstream users, whether to meet water quality requirements, increased flows, or for other mitigation requirements. The same provision should also be included in the BDCP DEIR/S.”