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

For Immediate Release: 12/2/21

Contact: Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta, 209-479-2053,

Stockton, 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 scheduled to be removed by November 30, however will now leave the barrier in place and create a notch in the barrier in January 2022 to allow for fish passage and boat traffic until April 2022.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director, Restore the Delta, responds:
“It is beginning to feel as if the Newsom Administration’s Department of Water Resources should mark out the Delta with a big red X and be done with it. Clearly, they have no interest in saving the estuary or protecting water quality conditions for the 4 million people who live in the region.

“While Governor Newsom and DWR cannot make it rain, Californians still need real water solutions for a climate that has already changed. Their solution so far? Persist with the Delta tunnel folly and cut deals with huge irrigation districts even though industrial ag contributes only 2-3% to the state’s gross domestic product. Meanwhile, this plan harms Delta communities, rivers, fisheries, tribes, and “second” cities like Stockton. Those backroom voluntary agreements are all about filling a Delta tunnel with plenty of water for big ag and speculative development. Meanwhile, Delta water quality protections are suspended.  

“At a recent meeting at Metropolitan Water District, California Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot misrepresented the plight of farmworkers during the 2014-15 drought claiming 1.5 million layoffs. Documentation from Dr. Jeff Michael during that time shows that farm worker jobs actually increased, as did pay. Acreage and yields for almonds have also expanded every year, including last year. But Crowfoot continues with the false narrative to justify water giveaways to big ag. Never mind the Delta ag economy and other economies tied to the Delta.

“The Newsom Administration claims to care about drinking water community needs, yet the growers, who have pumped their groundwater supplies dry, who have polluted San Joaquin Valley drinking water wells, demand more and more water from the Delta for their almond trees. Figuring out how to manage our limited water supply for climate change should be one of the top priorities for this administration — before building a tunnel to serve big water interests. For 2022, they will gut water quality standards in the Delta to feed the beast, special interest control of California water and the political donor class. The Newsom Administration manages the system for venture capital almonds and the Metropolitan Water District — not the people, the Delta, or California’s public trust resources.”

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