In case you missed it! Yesterday, Northern California Congress members took action based on evidence found in our Public Records Act request. Now State legislators are speaking out!
State legislators late Tuesday called upon the State Water Resources Control Board to reject a petition to change water rights that would reduce fresh water flows to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta as part of the controversial WaterFix proposal, a move the lawmakers say will cause catastrophic damage to the environment and economies of the Delta and San Francisco Bay region.
A letter by Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Solano, and 11 Delta and Bay Area legislators denounced the proposed water diversions, citing evidence that doing so will cause serious and potentially irreparable harm to hundreds of plant and wildlife species, and also significantly damage the agricultural, fishing, tourism and recreation industries that rely upon the Delta.
“Contrary to its name, the WaterFix fixes nothing,” Wolk said in a press release. “The project won’t provide any additional water supply or increase water deliveries, and will only exacerbate conditions in the Delta. Further reducing fresh water flows to the Delta will cause serious and potentially irreparable harm to the Delta’s fragile ecosystem, as well as its communities and economy. That includes the Delta’s $5.2 billion agricultural economy, as well as the iconic Delta and Coastal fishing industries, which are worth billions annually.”
The petition to add three new points of diversion from the Sacramento River was submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board by Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the principal backers of the California WaterFix Project.
Wolk, a long-time opponent of the Tunnels project, was the lead author of the letter to the Water Board. The letters other authors include Senators Mark Leno, Loni Hancock, Jerry Hill, Cathleen Galgiani, Steve Glazer, Dr. Richard Pan, and Bob Wieckowski, and Assembly Members Bill Dodd, D-Solano, Susan Eggman, Catharine Baker, Ken Cooley, and Phil Ting.
Wolk and the letter’s other authors urged the Water Board to consider the effects of diverting up to two-thirds of the Sacramento River from the Delta, including increased salinity that would contribute to further declines in species including the critically endangered Delta Smelt, the endangered Chinook salmon, and the Greater Sandhill Crane.
Reduced fresh water in the Delta is already to blame for the rapid spread of invasive species such as the water hyacinth, as well as increases in toxic algal blooms—all of which require considerable state and local resources to address.
The letter also notes the widespread concern from scientific bodies including the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Delta Independent Science Board that flawed science is being used to advocate for the WaterFix’s proposed benefits to the Delta environment and water quality.
“Current water diversions are already overtaxing the Delta ecosystem. Reducing stress on the Delta by reducing reliance on fresh water exports is a fundamental and necessary step to ensure the sustainable and resilient water supplies needed by the economies, communities and ecosystems in the Delta and throughout the state,” Wolk said. “It’s time for a Plan B that can succeed where the WaterFix has failed, a plan that help us achieve the coequal goals established by The Delta Reform Act, while protecting the Delta as a place.”