Or is it? As the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) considers sweeping new “unimpaired flows” requirements on the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers, they should take a hard look at how increased environmental flows over the past decade and a half have benefited endangered species.
Recent analysis using Department of Water Resources and Department of Fish and Wildlife data shows no measurable benefits from the current environmental restrictions that require, on average, 1.3 million acre-feet of additional flow*, annually. In fact, the analysis shows that despite these additional environmental flows, endangered fish species in the Delta have continued to decline.
The SWRCB’s highly controversial and questionable proposed Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan update will have major economic impacts for nearly every region of the state from Northern California, San Francisco, the San Joaquin Valley, Southern California and the Inland Empire. The economic impacts of the massive water grab by the SWRCB may very well be for naught.
Before the State Board adopts major additional outflow requirements it would be wise to consider a more straight-forward, effective, and far less costly suite of water resource management options, including:
- Habitat restoration
- Predator control
- Reducing pollutants
- Targeted flows
- Screened in-Delta diversions
Simply throwing more water at failed management strategies isn’t a solution.
*Sunding, David. “Economic Analysis of Sequential Species Protection and Water Quality Regulations in the Delta,” Southern California Water Committee, April 18, 2017. Accessed at: http://www.socalwater.org/news/1692/just-released-the-human-impact-of-californias-water-cuts