Here is a more detailed update as to why we are asking you all to join us in advocating for a completed Bay-Delta Plan with the State Water Resources Control Board on 3/27 from 1 to 7 pm. (More details about the mechanics of the event at the end of this email.)
If you have been following our work with petition filing with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and US EPA, you will note that we have been asking for the following:
1.Updated, protective Bay-Delta water quality standards because the Board has not updated standards for over two decades. The entire process has been delayed by the voluntary agreements, which will further short-change the Delta of protective water quality flows and will serve as the basis for operating the Delta tunnel.
2. For the SWRCB to finish drafting and implementing the entire Bay-Delta Plan, before moving ahead with any processes for permitting the Delta tunnel.
3. For the SWRCB to stop prioritizing the Newsom Administration’s voluntary agreements, a closed-door, back-room deal between the Governor’s Office, the Secretary of Natural Resources, and powerful water interests that excludes impacted disadvantaged communities, and tribes (as noted in our petitions), as well as all Delta communities, local water districts, local government entities, and the commercial fishing community facing another closed salmon season. Why should decisions regarding management of the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas leave out the most impacted parties and be made in a private process in the Natural Resources Building without public input every step of the way, which is part of a robust Bay-Delta process?
4. For the SWRCB to set protective flow standards to save our collapsing fisheries (remember commercial salmon fishing is closed down again impacting the lives of thousands due to years of mismanagement during the drought) and that a HABs standard that addresses all beneficial uses of Delta waters (not just drinking water) must be set now – not eight years from now. Toxic algae is dangerous to ingest, toxic in fish consumed, a source of air pollution, and an airborne health threat to all who live adjacent to HABs infested waters.
If you read our work carefully, we have heavily critiqued the faux-science report behind the voluntary agreements. Today, our petition coalition (Stanford Law Clinic, Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, Little Manila Rising, and Save California Salmon) sent the following letter indicating what we expect from a robust Bay-Delta process and that we expect decision makers from the Natural Resources Agency and the Governor’s Office to be present when we receive updates from the Board regarding voluntary agreements, as they are the true decision makers on how the SWRCB conducts its work that will directly impact the quality of our lives, environmentally and economically. Meetings and consultation without having the decision makers present are a waste of the public’s time.
This is not to say that we consent to or agree with the voluntary agreements, or that we want to negotiate a settlement. We have maintained with the Board for 8 years now that a robust Bay-Delta Plan with targets and measurable standards is the minimum of what is required to restore the health of the Bay-Delta estuary. However, if those who are deciding our fate are not present to hear our reactions to vague updates about the Bay-Delta Plan that continuously elongate the process or the on-the-ground impacts that we are documenting and living with (dying fisheries, degraded water quality, proliferation of HABs), then our work and observations are not being considered with the expertise and gravitas that they deserve. We conduct ourselves with respect, and we expect respect in return from decision makers.
We understand that water districts pushing the inadequate voluntary agreements will be showing up to the Delta’s listening session on Monday to push their agenda. We need your help to stop the nonsense of how gravel alone will save fish instead of flows, while they propose reduced flows into and out of the Delta, leaving us with stagnant waters and toxic algae.
The event on 3/27 can be attended through Zoom – so you can leave it on, listen, and go about your lives in your offices or homes, and be prepared to comment when it is our turn. We understand that the presentation will be repeated at 5 pm for those who can only attend in the evening, so they can watch and have a chance to comment. We, however, believe when possible that we should try to participate earlier so that our message is made clear from the start of the event.
Here are the specifics for registering with the Water Board event:
When: Monday 3/27/23 from 1-7:00 PM
Where: Zoom, register here
If you have questions, please let our team know.
Yours in service,