In our post last week, State Releases Delta Flows Report, the recent report released by the State Water Board had a key central conclusion: Significantly more water must be left to flow through the Delta. Now groups that rely on delta water are beginning to take positions on what this report means.
Those who are concerned about the Delta are pleased to have an official report on delta flow requirements. “This [report] is something that some of us have been awaiting for more than two decades,” said Zeke Grader, executive director of a trade group for commercial salmon fishermen, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. The conclusion was unsurprising to many given evidence developed during the 1980s and 1990s during similar proceedings but which were ignored under political pressure. “This doesn’t have the (regulatory force) those other two processes had, but the science has finally been liberated,” Grader said.
The San Jose Mercury News reported that water agencies sought to dismiss the report as “pie in the sky.”
- It was “an interesting theoretical exercise” and “not a useful resource” said the State Water Contractors, an association that represents the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the Kern County Water Agency and a handful of water agencies in the Bay Area.
- Thomas Birmingham, general manager of the Westlands Water District, the nation’s largest irrigated farm district, called the report “immaterial” and urged board members not to adopt it.
Although water agencies have long been able to define how much water they need, the report marks the first time specific numbers could be put on the environment’s side of the scales, said Gary Bobker, program director at The Bay Institute.
The study found that about 75 percent of the rain and snowmelt in the Delta watershed should be allowed to flow uninterrupted to the bay and ocean. Currently only about half the water flows through to the bay. To meet the report’s recommendations, Delta water use would have to be cut in half.