NEWS WORTH NOTING: 58 groups sign on to letter demanding stronger flow standards in Water Board’s Bay-Delta Plan updates; DISB report on water quality science in the Delta

58 Groups Sign on to Letter Demanding Stronger Flow Standards in Water Board’s Bay-Delta Plan Updates

Today, a coalition of organizations from fishing, environmental, tribal, Delta, and business communities submitted a letter to the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) demanding stronger flow standards in its update of the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan—a document that sets regulatory standards for water quality and flow criteria in Central Valley Rivers and the San Francisco Bay Estuary, including the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

The Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan’s updates consist of two parts—the first (“Phase I”), proposes final flow standards for the San Joaquin River and three of its lower tributaries, in addition to setting new south Delta salinity standards. The second (“Phase II”), currently exists as a draft framework for a long-awaited update to standards for the Sacramento River and its tributaries, through-Delta flows, and San Francisco Bay inflow.

In the letter, the 58 groups and businesses agree that the Water Board’s proposed flow criteria for Phase I and Phase II are insufficient to protect and restore fisheries and ecosystems in the Central Valley and the Bay-Delta Estuary, according to recommendations from state and federal fishery managers and independent scientists.

The groups that signed on span the entire West Coast of the U.S. mainland, reaching as far south as Los Angeles, and as far north as Seattle, with other communities located in the Central Valley, and along the Pacific Coast in between. The widespread interest in the Water Quality Control Plan updates demonstrate the far-reaching, interconnected consequences of the Water Board’s two-decade-long delay in addressing deteriorating Bay-Delta water quality conditions.

Gary Bobker, Program Director for The Bay Institute said,
“Everyone, especially the State Water Board, knows that the San Francisco Bay Estuary’s fisheries and water quality are declining rapidly and that unsustainable diversions of water are the primary cause. That’s why it’s so disappointing that the Water Board hasn’t secured even the minimum amount of water needed to maintain these resources, much less the volumes that science indicates are necessary to recover from decades of neglect.”

Board President of Friends of the San Francisco Estuary, Mitch Avalon said,
“We welcome this proposal by the State Water Board as a long overdue step in the right direction; however, the currently proposed standards do not leave enough water in these mighty rivers and will not do enough to restore healthy populations of endangered species like Chinook salmon. We are counting on our state agencies to give California’s fish and wildlife—our natural heritage—a fighting chance.”

Larry Collins, President of the San Francisco Crab Boat Owners Association, said,
“As Salmon season is about to open off of San Francisco, two months late, we have another opportunity to do what’s right for our rivers and their fish. The thousands of families from the fishing, processing, and consuming communities demand that we give these fish adequate flows. Time after time, water has been stolen from these fish and gifted to the moneyed agribusiness interests. It is time to re-water our rivers so our salmon thrive and we thrive with them.”

The Water Board will close its public comment period for the Water Quality Control Plan this Friday, July 27. Over the next month, the Water Board is tasked with reviewing these comments before considering adoption of the proposed Phase I Plan amendments at its public meetings on August 21 and August 22.

Background on the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan
The San Francisco Bay Estuary is in an ecological crisis, as reflected by its half-dozen endangered fish species, declining and increasingly restricted recreational and commercial fisheries, and deteriorating water quality. After nine years of hearings, review, analysis, and extensive input from scientists, managers, and stakeholders on all sides, the State Water Board released proposed final flow standards for the San Joaquin River and three of its lower tributaries, as well as new south Delta salinity standards (“Phase I”) and a draft “framework” for its forthcoming update of standards for the Sacramento River, its tributaries, through-Delta flows, and San Francisco Bay inflow (“Phase II”) on July 6, 2018.

These proposed changes by the Water Board are the first significant updates to water quality standards since 1995. The Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan and its updates are required by both federal law (Clean Water Act) and state law (Porter-Cologne Act).

Now available: A Review by the Delta Independent Science Board of Water Quality Science in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

From the Delta Stewardship Council:

The Delta Independent Science Board (Delta ISB) has finished its review of the scientific basis for assessing water quality in the Delta. This review focuses on contaminants and nutrients in the Delta, and on how findings about them have been sometimes used and sometimes neglected in decisions related to ecosystem health.

With the completion of this review, the Delta ISB is committed to undertaking an active outreach effort to engage the community about the findings and recommendations from this review.

To read the final water quality review, please click here.

Questions? Please contact the Delta ISB at disb@deltacouncil.ca.gov.

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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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