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 out of the drought — which we agree is a correct assessment.

DWR, in our estimation, is embarrassingly behind in monitoring and modeling for our new weather normals: long dry/drought periods punctuated by heavy storms. While to a degree this has been our weather pattern, it is more extreme and will become more extreme with climate change. DWR representatives also stated that they lost many Sierra Nevada snow and precipitation monitoring stations to wildfire in the last two years, many of which have yet to be replaced.

DWR acknowledged it does not have full funding for snow censors and other items needed for water monitoring. This is aggravating since we note tens of millions of dollars have been spent on wasted tunnel planning and invisible voluntary agreements. But the basics, like having the right equipment to plan water management, are underfunded.

We were also deeply disappointed in DWR’s flawed and inadequate presentation on harmful algal blooms. While they did concede that the barrier at False River contributed to the formation of a bloom at Frank’s Tract, they “claimed” TUCP’s, which reduce flows, had nothing to do with bloom proliferation. To be clear, we have never asserted that lack of flow is the only contributing factor to the formation of HABs. HABs form from warm water, lack of flow, discharge, and sunlight. Harmful algal blooms are a toxic manifestation of all that is wrong in the Delta on all these fronts. For DWR to dismiss a cause without proof at presentation to the State Board is simply immoral management.

The Board itself seems poised to approve the TUCP when needed. We see this process as a failure in water planning by DWR and the Bureau for our changing climate, for protecting fisheries, and for protecting the Delta and its people. The Board seems stuck. Constantly they speak of “balancing” water needs; in our estimation, there has been no balancing for the Delta the last 15 years — TUCP’s are about maximizing exports for one industry — big ag.

Read our formal comment letter, and our protest letter to the State Water Resources Control Board.  Also read our comments to the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board regarding the basin plan.

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