Congressional Efforts To Thwart Bay-Delta Water Quality Plan As Disingenuous As Proclaiming Tunnels Will Save The Delta

For immediate release: October 15, 2018

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta, 209-475-9550,

Tim Stroshane, Restore the Delta, 510-847-7556,

STOCKTON, CA – Last week, Congressman Jeff Denham (CA-10) hosted a visit by Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Andrew Wheeler to discuss using the Clean Water Act as a tool to thwart the Bay-Delta Water Quality Plan, which calls for increased flows to move down the San Joaquin River and its tributaries into the San Francisco Bay-Delta.

According to a report in the Manteca Bulletin, Congressman Denham noted in a press release that the “EPA has the authority under the Clean Water Act to stop the plan because it ‘fails to meet the Clean Water Act’s ‘sound, rigorous’ science standards for flow criteria.’”

In 2010, in hearings on flow requirements for the Delta at the State Water Resources Control Board, consensus was reached between Federal and State fishery agencies, fishery biologists, and independents scientists with an array of NGOs that additional flows were needed to save and restore the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary.

Restore the Delta Executive Director, Barbara Barrigan-Parrila, said regarding Congressman Denham’s press statement:

“Congressman Denham has it backwards.  Sound science shows that 50-60% of San Joaquin River flows need to pass through the Delta to the San Francisco Bay from February through June for the estuary to be restored.

“The questionable science presented at the State Water Resources Control Board has been paid for by upstream irrigators who do not want to contribute more flows to the estuary.  Pulse flows and habitat without regular moving freshwater will not save the estuary.

While we have empathy for farmers on the lower San Joaquin River and its tributaries because they are being expected to sacrifice water, while upstream water users that are part of the Friant system have not been brought to the table to make water contributions, misrepresenting the science to influence the EPA is dishonest.

“In a world where up is down, and day is night presently, Congressman Denham’s view of stopping restored flows for the Delta is as dishonest as Governor Brown saying tunnels will save Delta fisheries.  Remember, Congressman Denham voted in support of the Calvert and Valadao riders, which would strip Delta residents of due process rights for litigation against the Delta tunnels and mismanagement of the Central Valley Project.

“Contrary to Congressman Denham’s statement, the science has shown time and time again that freshwater flows are essential to protect water quality in the Delta for all the beneficial uses listed under the Clean Water Act. And the idea that we shouldn’t put flows back into the Delta because it will enable the construction of the tunnels is the logical equivalent of one starving herself to death to prevent her own future murder.

“Don’t be fooled. Politicos using the Delta to serve their self-interests and aspirations come from both political parties. We believe in what is right for the Delta first! We believe in stopping the WaterFix tunnels.  We believe in restoring San Joaquin River flows to at least 50%.  We believe those flows must reach the San Francisco Bay, which is NOT wasted water, but is water to keep the entire system healthy for the `millions of people dependent on a healthy San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary. We believe that increased flows must NOT be exported from the existing pumps.  We believe in preserving the existing South Delta salinity standard.  And we believe in protecting water quality for the Delta municipalities dependent on a healthy Delta to maintain their drinking water supplies.

“Starving the estuary is not stopping the water grab. Misrepresenting the science and the Clean Water Act helps nobody – unless Congressman Denham’s goal is to appease his big donors like Stewart Resnick and board members with the Oakdale Irrigation District.”


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