US EPA Files Comments on Bay-Delta Plan

Plan must include numeric criteria and adopt Tribal Beneficial Uses

SACRAMENTO – US EPA Region 9 has filed an administrative comment with the California State Water Resources Control Board. The comment responds to the Board’s Draft Staff Report for the Phase II Update of the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan (Bay-Delta Plan). Meanwhile, the Delta Tribal Environmental Coalition (DTEC) Civil Rights Complaint and Petition for rulemaking is ongoing.

On January 19, 2024, US EPA Region 9 urged the State Water Board to update, adopt, and implement a Bay-Delta Plan that incorporates Tribal Beneficial Uses and numeric flow objective supported by the best available science for the protection of estuarine species, communities, and economies. Additionally, EPA recommends the Board to incorporate new scientific studies published after 2017.

Read the complete US EPA Region 9 Comment Letter Here

Comments submitted by US EPA are on the Proposed Plan Amendments and Voluntary Agreements described in the Draft Staff Report. Restore the Delta appreciates EPA’s continued technical assistance that reflects similar concerns as those set forth in comments submitted by DTEC.

EPA’s comments recommend numeric flow objectives, improved public participation, protection of designated uses, transparency and accountability, and adoption of TBUs and proper Tribal consultation. We are encouraged by EPA’s support to adopt Tribal Beneficial Uses and their recommendation to designate beneficial uses that are informed by Delta Tribes. Generally, EPA urges the board to adopt numeric criteria supported by the best available science that will provide conditions required to protect designated uses, and not only show improvement from an inadequate baseline.

Voluntary Agreements
The Voluntary Agreement Program proposal as set forth in the Staff Report is incomplete and inconsistent, discouraging meaningful public analysis and participation. Considering the urgency of an updated Bay-Delta Plan, Restore the Delta would recommend the Board to dismiss proposed voluntary agreements in this iteration of the plan.

Statements by DTEC Member Groups

Krystal Moreno, Traditional Ecological Knowledge Program Manager, Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians
“We are encouraged by the US EPA’s comments on the Bay-Delta plan, especially the EPA’s strong recommendation that the Water Board move with urgency to protect Tribal Beneficial Uses. The Bay-Delta plan must ensure water quality standards that adequately protect California tribes and the unique way we utilize the waterways. Our culture, traditions, ceremonies, and identities are deeply connected to water.”

Cintia Cortez, Policy Analyst, Restore the Delta
“We agree with much of the EPA’s analysis of the Bay Delta Plan. The Bay-Delta Plan must include numeric standards required for estuary recovery. We also agree that the proposed Voluntary Agreements program is incomplete and inconsistent with the information provided and its analysis. Restore the Delta recommends the Board dismiss proposed voluntary agreements in this iteration of the plan.”

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