Delta water flow criteria report stirs controversy

The confluence of the Merced and San Joaquin Rivers.

Long time adversaries in the Delta water wars are weighing in on a State Water Resource Control Board (SWRCB) draft report released this week. Highly controversial, it contains recommended criteria to establish water flow requirements for the Delta, the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, and their tributaries. It returns to the SWRCB for action on Aug. 3rd.

Folks who want more water in the Delta for habitat and fish crow that the report is a major indictment of SWRCB’s management of the California water system.  Others who want water for Southern California and Central Valley farms and communities bluster, “Nonsense! Water rights!” Still others point out that just mandating flow won’t solve all the Delta’s problems.

As reported in the Contra Costa Times yesterday, the report is really bad news for areas upstream of the Delta (including watersheds of origin).

“The key finding is that about 75 percent of all the snowmelt and rain that flows or falls into the Delta’s watershed, which covers 40 percent of California, should flow through the Delta into the Bay. Today, about 50 percent of the flow passes through the Delta on average as nearly all of California taps into its tributary rivers and the Delta itself…”

That doesn’t bode well for the water supply up here, that’s for sure. But I’ll post a number of links here over the next week or two so you can make up your own mind.

Most of today’s articles support the report’s conclusion that the Delta needs more, not less water.  I’ll balance perspectives with opposing pieces as I find them.

Click below to read the articles:

No more watered down excuses, Stockton Record (this piece is classified as news, but golly, there’s a lot of opinion in the thing);

Response to article:

It seems as though the writer completely ignored statements by the State Board throughout the report that it will take more than flow changes to fix the problems in the Delta. The Board, in fact, was prohibited by the Legislature from looking at anything BUT flow, effectively tying their hands as they conducted their work.

The approach taken by the State Board in its 181-page report limited its scope to “flow criteria determinations” and did not look at broader issues. Those issues, such as “habitat, water quality and invasive species” should be addressed in more comprehensive processes, such as the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan. The report stated that there is a “need for an integrated approach to management of the Delta. This clearly indicates that the State Board understands that fixing the Delta cannot be achieved by simply adding more water.

Mike Wade
California Farm Water Coalition

California’s ailing water supply needs help, SF Chronicle

Delta flow criteria issued, Legal Planet Blog

The next Delta report, and inevitable spin,  Fresno Bee (don’t bother with all the spin, the Bee says. Just read the Report.)

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I like going places: out West, west of the West, and all the way around the back of the globe to the East. I like to go by train, plane, automobile, horseback. Whatever. And I like writing about what I see, feel, hear, smell, and touch all along the way and once I get there.

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