Last Friday, California water officials released a final proposal of amendments for the Lower San Joaquin River and Southern Delta flow objectives, as well as a draft Final Substitute Environmental Document. This plan, called Phase 1, can be found here.
Phase 2, which will soon follow, will update flow requirements for the Sacramento River, its tributaries and the Delta and its tributaries—including the Calaveras, Cosumnes and Mokelumne Rivers—Delta outflow objectives, Delta interior flow objectives and cold-water habitat.
The State Water Resources Control Board staff report says the “analysis shows that 40 percent of unimpaired flow, within a range of 30-50 percent unimpaired flow will ‘reasonably protect fish and wildlife while moderating impacts to water supply for human uses.’” Although the framework document allows for adaptive management, it must occur between the ranges of 30-50 percent unimpaired flows which could result in an average of 288,000 acre feet less for the “cities of San Francisco, Modesto and Merced and hundreds of farms in the San Joaquin Valley.” The State Water Board says that a major goal of the plan is to restore depleted salmon migrations.
Western Growers is adamantly opposed to this regulatory assault on the state’s water rights system.
In response to this plan, Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced) released a statement condemning the State Water Board for ignoring a decade’s worth of science and public opinion by adopting radical new requirements to seize critically needed San Joaquin Valley water supplies.
“The State Water Resources Control Board’s decision today is the first shot fired in the next chapter of California’s water wars,” said Gray in his statement. “This is what theft looks like. A small group of special interests have spent years plotting one of the largest water takes in our state’s history. They attempted and failed to change the law and win in court, so instead they have infiltrated government itself. They positioned their allies to influence the process from within and spent hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money to prop up their house of cards. Despite entire agencies at their disposal and seemingly unlimited funds, no amount of trickery can obscure the truth – their fish first philosophy will decimate our region, poison our drinking water, and provide no environmental benefit what-so-ever.”
WG encourages its members to communicate directly to the State Water Board. The final public comment period is now open until July 27th with final adoption scheduled for August 21st. You can submit comments via email to Jeanine Townsend, Clerk to the Board, at LSJR-SDComments@waterboards.ca.gov.