Restore the Delta

ICYMI 1/19/22 Resetting Priorities: Clean Drinking Water for All Californians

A new UC Berkeley/UCLA study, Inequities in Drinking Water Quality Among Domestic Well Communities and Community Water Systems, California, 2011‒2019 has found that an estimated 370,000 Californians rely on contaminated drinking water sources that disproportionately impact communities of color in the state.  The study examines both community water systems and domestic well areas of California, covering about 99 percent of the state’s population by race and renter status, and looked at three contaminants and their average concentration for a nine-year period (2011-2019): naturally-occurring arsenic, nitrates, and chromium-6, all of which are toxic to humans, and using available water quality data from the state OEHHA.The study found:For arsenic, nearly twice the proportion of people on domestic wells (about 8.2 percent) face levels exceeding the average allowable concentrations [...]

Governor’s 2022-23 Budget Proposal: A View from the Bay-Delta

For Immediate Release: 1/11/22Contact:Tim Stroshane, Restore the Delta, 510-847-7556, [email protected], CA – This week Governor Gavin Newsom released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2022-23. After two years of “unimaginable challenges” the governor states that, “This budget is a new opportunity for us to address the greatest challenges facing our state – for the year ahead and future generations. We must meet the moment once again.” Indeed. California’s Bay-Delta is currently on the brink. Delta smelt, an indicator species of ecosystem health, may have gone extinct. Zero delta smelt were found in the annual survey for a third year. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of winter-run Chinook salmon perished in Sacramento River warm water due to Bureau of Reclamation delivering Shasta Lake supplies to senior [...]

Delta Flows 1/7/22: Same as it Ever Was

As life turns back on after the holidays, Restore the Delta has been busy. Here is our report out from the State Water Resources Control Board workshop held Wednesday, January 5, on the “Temporary Urgency Change Petition for the Delta” that would keep allowing the state to continue to ignore Clean Water Act violations in the Delta due to lack of flows.The Petition may be delayed beyond February by the Department of Water Resources because of additional recent rains. But it still could be put forth in February, March, or April etc. So you will find links at the bottom to our formal protest and comment letter to the State Water Resources Control Board regarding the TUCP. To Recap:We are not [...]

Action Alert: January 5, 2022 Water Board Workshop on “Temporary Urgent Change Petition” for the Delta

It’s 2022, and we have to get to work starting January 5, 2022 to save the Delta.There will be a State Water Resources Control Board Workshop on a plan by the Department of Water Resources and the US Bureau of Reclamation to gut water quality standards for the Delta starting in February and to leave a “temporary” barrier in place – that was to be removed at the end of November – that can interrupt fish migration.  Never mind that Delta smelt cannot be found naturally in the wild from sampling, or that iconic salmon runs are at risk. Also, fresh water flows are needed to flush and nurture the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas – an estuary that has already [...]

Delta Flows 12/19/21: Racial and Social Equity in Water Rights

– Tim Stroshane, policy analyst, Restore the DeltaLast Wednesday, December 15, staff of the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) hosted an online workshop to address “possible alternatives to address water supply shortages in the Delta watershed.” As many Delta Flows readers are aware, “water supply shortages” are dealt with through a system of privileges embedded in water rights—property in water. Rights to divert, store, and use water in California (as in most western U.S. states) are predicated on “first come, first served.” So, the workshop addressed how to make California’s water rights priority system more fair.  First, a few definitions about this water rights system, so readers can follow the rest of this blog more easily. California recognizes [...]

Delta Flows 12/12/21: Reading the Dry Tea Leaves During Drought

This past week was action packed for Restore the Delta staff. Drought (part of our past and new climate normal) is tough on people, planning, agriculture – and especially fish, wildlife, and the natural world. California water management practices have also exacerbated the problems associated with drought because of a stubborn refusal by the Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation to deal with our new reality. When these planning agencies can count on each and every governor to support unsustainable water practices, due to the influence of politically powerful interests over each and every governor, there is no reason to change how the system is managed.   Case in point: big agricultural water districts, the State Water Contractors, Metropolitan Water [...]

State Plan for 2022 Drought Sacrifices Delta Water Quality Standards, Again

For Immediate Release: 12/2/21Contact: Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta, 209-479-2053, [email protected], CA – This week, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced its Initial State Water Project Allocation to prepare for a third year of drought. Within the allocation schedule the Department, along with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BuRec) is seeking once again to do away with Delta water quality standards and planning to leave in place a major saltwater barrier that will hamper fishing migration. DWR and BuRec have submitted a new Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) to the State Water Resources Control Board which suspends Delta water quality standards. DWR is also delaying the removal of the Emergency Drought Salinity Barrier in the Delta. The rock barrier across West False River was [...]

DELTA FLOWS 12/1/21: Ecosystem Restoration and Delta Science Update

by Tim Stroshane, Policy Analyst, Restore the Delta Ecosystem RestorationWith comments due on the Delta Stewardship Council’s environmental impact report on the agency’s amendments to the Ecosystem Restoration chapter of the Delta Plan, let’s pause to recall why these amendments came before the public. When then-Governor Jerry Brown separated the two-bore Delta tunnels project from the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) in April 2015, he canceled a legally automatic transfer of BDCP’s ecosystem restoration policies and programs to the Delta Plan should BDCP be approved for construction. This was called for in the Delta Reform Act of 2009.  “The Bay Delta Conservation Plan shall be considered for inclusion in the Delta Plan,” reads the Act, provided it met several tests. The tests had [...]

Introducing our new Delta Science Coordinator, Spencer Fern!

Spencer Fern is the Delta Science Coordinator for Restore the Delta. Spencer was born and raised in Stockton and spent his childhood living alongside Smith Canal where his family would take a boat out and enjoy the water life. He was introduced to Restore the Delta in high school where he got to work with National Geographic to take photos of the Bay and Delta to raise awareness for Delta conservation.  Spencer received his degree in microbiology from California State University, Monterey Bay and he also went on exchange for a year to Stony Brook University in Long Island.  In his free time, he enjoys spending time with friends and looks forward to the next time he can snowboard.  Spencer will [...]

Today is Giving Tuesday. Can we count on your help?

Dear Friends,Are you ready to change the course of Delta history?  We are. And we hope that you will join us on this journey in 2022. 2021 has been quite an extraordinary year at Restore the Delta.  We faced a year with extreme highs and lows – all to reach a place of greater stability and equilibrium — just in time for an anticipated year of hard work and program building in 2022.We are in a critical moment.  The San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary, California water management, protection of the environment and its associated economies, and Delta community health are all at precarious points in terms of government processes, planning, and enforcement of the law. We understand that the State will be moving [...]