19 Aug 2010

Boom goes the Delta!

DF sent me this interesting document [doc]:
On Tuesday August 3rd the State Water Board adopted the Delta Flow Criteria Report (Report) produced by the State Water Resources Control Board’s (Board) Division of Water Rights pursuant to Water Code section 85086 established by Senate Bill No. 1 of the 2009-2010 Seventh Extraordinary Session. SB 7x1 [pdf] requires the Board to develop, within nine months of enactment of the requirement, new flow criteria to protect public trust resources for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) ecosystem.

The Report [pdf] provides recommendations, based on the best available science, for the minimum hydrologic flow that is needed within the Delta to provide sufficient resources and protection for fish species within the ecosystem.

Essentially, the recommendation of the report, based on analyses of historic conditions (1921 to 2003), indicates that water within the Delta will need to return to 75% of unimpaired flows in order to halt the population decline and increase populations of native species as well as species of commercial and recreational importance. The adoption of the report, by the Board, is a significant step towards California water management reform as it represents the first time a state agency of such magnitude, under such circumstances, has provided formal recognition that the Delta is not receiving an adequate amount of water to protect public trust resources.
Is this the end of Delta exports? Is it just another shot in an endless skirmish? Does it mean that co-equal means 75% flow through and 25% for human uses? Does it mean that we don't have to fix the Delta [pdf]?

Please tell me (us!) what this means...


  1. The report also states:

    “Limitations of State Water Board Approach
    “When setting flow objectives with regulatory effect, the State Water Board reviews and considers all the effects of the flow objectives through a broad inquiry into all public trust and public interest concerns. For example, the State Water Board would consider other public trust resources potentially affected by Delta outflow requirements and impose measures for the protection of those resources, such as requiring sufficient water for cold water pool in reservoirs to maintain temperatures in Delta tributaries. The State Water Board would also consider a broad range of public interest matters, including economics, power production, human health and welfare requirements, and the effects of flow measures on non-aquatic resources (such as habitat for terrestrial species). The limited process adopted for this proceeding does not include this comprehensive review.”


    “In this forum, the State Water Board has not considered the allocation of water resources, the application of the public trust to a particular water diversion or use, water supply impacts, or any balancing between potentially competing public trust resources (such as potential adverse effects of increased Delta outflow on the maintenance of coldwater resources for salmonids in upstream areas).”

    In announcing the report, the SWRCB publicly stated that the report is “limited” and has no “binding authority.” It ignores the impacts to water users throughout our state, including those north of the Delta, and further impacts to fish species that rely on cold water releases from north of the Delta reservoirs. This report was created in a vacuum with no reasonable solutions to solving California’s water problems.

    Mike Wade
    California Farm Water Coalition

  2. Wait a minute, Mike. Is that to say that the Board's ruling recognizes that "people count"? And, that the 40% (+) unemployment on the Central Valley's Westside mustthe be considered relative to "human health and welfare requirements" of the law? And, that David's biased declaration of "victory" (for whom?) may be jsut a bit premature? How refreshing to get "the rest of the story"...before jumping to self-serving and misleading conclusions. I trust that the SWRCB's stated limitations and additional needs are addressed before anyone's future Gold Medal celebration.

  3. Mborba…Good job in putting the SWRCB’s language into every-day language. By the board’s own admission, had they undertaken a full review process in adopting the flow standards then they would have been required to consider the effects the standards would have on people. But they didn’t do it that way because the legislation hand-cuffed them. The result is that we have people and groups running around and insisting that the unimpaired flows promulgated by the board are unchallengeable. How sad.

    Mike Wade
    California Farm Water Coalition


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