ICYMI 5/10/21 Drought, Water Rights, VAs, SJ River Basin Plan

No, California isn’t ‘flushing water to the ocean,’ despite what Fresno politicians say – Fresno Bee 5/7/21
I’m guessing that’s not news to most folks. What they may not understand about the Delta — and certainly won’t be told by Fresno-area politicians bent on keeping the narrative simple — is the vital role it serves not just for fish and the environment, but entire fishing industries. In addition to providing water for Bay Area residents and farmers in five counties.
Those same politicians certainly won’t tell you the Delta, thanks to decades of diversions, over-pumping and slow poisoning, is on the brink of ecological collapse. Because that doesn’t fit their narrative, either.

“State must reform water rights system” – Letter to the Editor, San Francisco Chronicle 5/7/21
People need fish and clean water, not carpools [trucking salmon downstream]. It is time to reform our water rights system. Recent articles in this paper have discussed the drought and proposals for actions such as trucking hatchery salmon. Discussions of real solutions, such as reassessing water rights for large farms, which use 80% of the state’s water but export crops, are not discussed.
These articles quote farmers, fishermen, even environmentalists that are worried about the salmon extinction, but they ignore Native people who say that salmon extinction is cultural genocide and the millions of Californians who still lack access to clean water, many of whom watch as almond orchards get clean water while they do not.
Who gets clean water in California is a social and racial justice issue. It is not about fish versus farms. The drought highlights the fact that California has to reassess its antiquated water rights systems. Cities and rivers should not be without water while farms flood-irrigate grass.
California’s water rights system was created while Indian land was being taken. It was before people of color could vote or own land. It is racist and classicist and prioritizes corporations above clean water for cities, people and fish.
– Regina Chichizola, Orleans, Humboldt County

Letter to Biden Admin on CA water “Voluntary Agreements” – 5/7/21

…Yet the 2020 Framework for voluntary agreements, which is guiding the current negotiations, fails to provide adequate instream flows and other critical environmental protections for fish and wildlife and lacks adequate consideration of the impacts of impaired water quality on communities in the Delta and Central Valley tribes. Moreover, negotiations over Bay-Delta voluntary agreements over the past decade have unacceptably delayed the adoption of updated water quality standards that would actually protect fish and wildlife and water quality in the Delta.
Rather than endorsing these backroom negotiations that are based on a fundamentally flawed Framework, our organizations strongly support the Biden Administration withdrawing the Trump Administration’s 2019 biological opinions and fully engaging in a science-based, transparent, public process at the State Water Resources Control Board to adopt and implement improved water quality standards for the Bay-Delta watershed.

Stockton Coalition Comments for Sacramento River and San Joaquin River Basin Plan Triennial Review – 5/7/21
The beneficial uses we request you consider for high priority protection in the next three years for the San Joaquin River include:
– Fish flows and biodiversity to and through the Delta
– Subsistence fishing in the River and the Delta
– Water contact and non-contact recreation
– Drinking water quality and landscaping
– Water quality effects of climate change—including sea level rise, flooding risks, and water temperature
– Restoring interconnections between surface river channels and groundwater aquifer systems
– Breathing clean air as a water quality issue
– Homeless people residing near, comforted by, but not necessarily aware of waters of the San Joaquin River and the Delta
We suggest these beneficial uses not in any particular ranking. They are all very important to us and our communities.

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