Battling over Delta Water

The State Water Agencies are pushing the State Water Board to abandon the effort to ensure sufficient water flows through the Delta to aid fish and for local use. They say the drought years have shown there just isn’t enough water to satisfy all of the “beneficial uses” of the Delta.

Well, yes – if you expand almond and other trees as far into the desert as possible until the water runs out, there won’t be enough water. Especially when such mismanagement occurred and an excess of water was exported from the North to the South during the first few years of the drought “assuming” the drought would not last long. There’s not even enough water in the ground to satisfy the expanded orchards. Yet, like the year before, 2014 was a record year for almond production. The orchards continued in 2015.

The Delta Flows Report produced in 2009 by the SWRCB and Bay Institute per the Legislature’s request, identified that for many years prior to 2009, the exporters had been removing more water from the Delta than required to protect the salmon runs and keep the Delta healthy. A broad coalition of environmental, fishing, environmental justice, and tribal organizations, including STCDA and many others, have signed onto a letter spearheaded by Bill Jennings, California Sportsfishing Protection Alliance and a long-term Delta supporter. The letter to Felicia Marcus at the State Water Board, urges her to reject the demand by water agencies to abandon the ‘unimpaired flow’ approach in the update of the State Board’s update to the Delta’s water quality control plan.

The letter states: “Recent modeling demonstrates that a percent-of-unimpaired flow approach is feasible. It is also equitable and the fairest approach to protecting the public trust and other beneficial uses because it asks for a fair-share commitment of flow from all tributary streams. It will reward those who wisely conserve and promote water use efficiency and penalize those who recklessly overspend their share of water.”

The question that must be asked is about what crops we’re growing where, and on what land.

See the entire Unimpaired Flows Letter here.

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