≡ Categories

Delta Flows 2/17/22: State Water Board, TUCP, Harmful Algal Blooms

At a State Water Resources Control Board meeting this week, the Board considered a revised Temporary Urgency Change Petition for Delta operations. 
Water contractors claimed they shouldn’t be hampered by Harmful Algal Bloom studies. DWR was busy seeking extensions. 
Restore the Delta made these comments in response to the requests made by water contractors and DWR.

Chair Esquivel, Board Members and staff:

We appreciate the revised order – it is movement toward improvement of managing the system for the health of the Delta.

We agree with comments made by Dante Nomellini Sr. and John Herrick that the TUCPs need long-term drought planning and transparency about the operations plan for the projects. We agree that harm to fish, wildlife, Delta farmers, recreation, tribal and ej communities must be evaluated under the logic of the standards you have already set.

On Harmful Algal Blooms, water contractors bear part of the responsibility for HABs conditions; it sounds like they do not want to assume part of the responsibility for solving the problem. Having the IEP involved in more detailed study with the fine work completed by water board staff around HABs is essential. Our program is moving forward with citizen science tracking and testing, but the barrier at Franks Tract, overall temperature and flow conditions, along with discharge and local challenges lead to the creation of HABs. It is not one condition over the other. HABs are the manifestation of multiple factors.

Solving problems from drought management from saving fisheries to protecting water quality for all uses is going to take shared sacrifice and shared responsibility from all parties in California. Water contractors should not receive the benefit of exports during extreme drought without being part of studies and solutions. The same should be expected of DWR and the Bureau. Kicking the can down the road is not the answer. We need real time tracking for HABs for public safety this year with an estimated 5000 unhoused people living in proximity to water ways in SJ County alone. And we need long-term study for solutions that the IEP can lead on simultaneously.

If our scrappy small, NGO can gather the resources to help with real time studies and train recent college graduates to be part of the solution, so then can the water exporters, DWR and Reclamation with their large scale resources. We invite contractors to be part of real time tracking in a timely manner. If some of the work has to be done in stages – we understand – science dictates the process — but there should be findings submitted by DWR and the Bureau monthly during the length of the TUCP as research is completed with a final report as the culmination of all research completed this year.

We have made our concerns about HABs known to DWR for 7 years. They have dragged their feet on creating a real response and doing their part for the solution. They should be held to timelines for HABs study as closely as possible.

Thank you for considering our comments.