For Immediate Release: Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Contact: Brian Smith 415/320-9384; [email protected]
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 [email protected]; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta;
Bill Jennings 209/464-5067 [email protected];
State Water Resources Control Board Violated Prohibition Against Unreasonable Use of Water
Sacramento, CA- Restore the Delta (RTD), the leading opponents of Gov. Brown’s rush to build massive underground water tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom sustainable farms, salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today, along with with the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance made detailed comments at the State Water Resources Control Board workshop on drought management of the Delta and the State’s water system. Both organizations charge that the SWRCB is violating key laws in its management of the system during the drought.
Presentation links below
Restore the Delta policy analyst, Tim Stroshane, pointed out to the Board that the Temporary Urgent Change Petition (TUCP) and the installation of False River Barrier, which the Board approved to lift Delta water quality standards for continued water exports, violated the Delta Reform Act of 2009. Stroshane charged, “The State Water Board has ignored managing the system for the coequal goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem and protecting the Delta as a unique place. It has violated this key law through its short term water management decisions made this year. Furthermore, by favoring water exports over Delta fisheries and communities, the Board has given the State and Federal governments an escape hatch from reducing reliance on Delta imports to meet California’s future water needs as mandated by the 2009 legislation.”
Restore the Delta also provided slides showing how the TUCP and the installation of False River Barrier dividing the Delta into regions of poorer and better water quality. The determining factor is whether a given area in the Delta is in the path of water being taken for exports at the pumps.
Restore the Delta’s Executive Director, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, added, “Throughout this entire crisis, the Board has allowed government agencies to move forward with operation plans that fail to manage the Bay-Delta estuary as a whole. Through administrative processes in the past, determinations have already been made as to the types of flows needed to keep the Delta from crashing during a drought, but the board has thrown science and law out the window to keep the water export pumps running.”
In an extensive presentation, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance’s (CSPA) presentation to the Board revealed that the Board in its management of the Delta and water system during the drought is operating in violation of the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the constitutional prohibition against the waste and unreasonable use of water.
CSPA’s Executive Director, Bill Jennings stated, “Sacramento River water temperatures are already exceeding lethal levels and it’s beginning to look like this year will be a repeat of last years debacle that obliterated an entire brood year of Chinook salmon. Delta and longfin smelt are teetering on the precipice of extinction. And the State Water Board is again preparing to weaken legal water quality standards that are critical to the very existence of these species. It is both unreasonable, illegal and a moral sin to send species that thrived for millennia into extinction simply to provide millions of acre-feet of water to irrigate pasture, alfalfa and other low value crops in the desert.”
Barrigan-Parrilla concluded, “The hardened demand for water caused by the expansion of permanent crops planted in the west side of the San Joaquin Valley during four years of drought has brought us to the breaking point for the Bay-Delta estuary. The present crisis in the Delta is compounded by mismanagement by the State who failed to bring water demand and availability into balance in anticipation of historical drought.”
View the presentations here: