DROUGHT: Coalition Opposes Temporary Urgency Changes for CVP and SWP

For Immediate Release: 6/29/21

Tim Stroshane, Restore the Delta 510-847-7556, spillwayguy@gmail.com
STOCKTON, CA – A coalition of Delta-based groups has sent a formal Petition for Reconsideration to the State Water Board opposing the Board’s June 1 order to relax water quality standards for Delta operations of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project. The Temporary Urgency Change Order (TUCO) was issued by the Water Board on June 1, 2021.

“The State Water Board issued its order before receiving all public input, including from our coalition,” said  Tim Stroshane, policy analyst with Restore the Delta. (RTD was joined in the reconsideration request by Little Manila Rising and Save California Salmon. “We insist they reconsider their order to take account of deliveries they made to northern California senior water right holders instead of holding water back for young salmon and to protect against Delta harmful algal blooms this summer. The only thing they seemed to feel was urgent was making sure rice and almond growers got their irrigation water this spring and summer.” 

The coalition’s petition shows that 4.5 million acre-feet of water will be delivered to state and federal water contractors (including about 10 percent for Central Valley wildlife refuges), based on Water Board information. The Board’s action will only add another 3 percent in water savings to put toward protecting salmon and the Delta, “a miserly allocation,” said the petition for reconsideration.

The coalition further argues that the Temporary Urgency Change Order for the CVP and SWP violates:

  • Public trust protections for fish and wildlife and environmental justice communities in the Delta Estuary’s watershed. 
    • California Constitution Article X, Section 2 and California Water Code Section 106 stating that the waters of the state of California are to serve beneficial uses to the fullest extent they are capable, prohibiting waste and unreasonable use of water, and requiring that all uses, methods of use, and methods of diversion of water must be reasonable.
    • The state’s “Co-Equal Goals” policy seeking to balance a more reliable water supply for California with protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem.
    • A mandated state policy to reduce reliance on the Delta for California’s future water needs. And 
    • California state civil rights and environmental justice laws prohibiting discrimination in the application of and benefits from state funds and programs, and protecting fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

The letter continues…

“None of these policies were suspended in Governor Gavin Newsom’s emergency declarations. But the Water Board’s TUCO implicitly and improperly interprets the declarations as an opportunity to gut California’s water policy, endangered species, and environmental justice and civil rights laws. A drought is, instead, precisely the time when burdens like scarce water must be shared, and these policies and laws guide how best to accomplish this.”

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