Environmental Water Caucus Offers Real Alternatives for California Water to the Delta Stewardship Council
On September 24, 2010, the Delta Stewardship Council received a presentation from members of the Environmental Water Caucus on California Water Solutions Now (now in its 3rd edition), a report that details solutions for the states water systems and its rivers and streams.
Shasta Dam in the late 1970s.
What’s paper water? It’s “water” that exists in policy, documents or agreements – but not in the real world. In other words, it’s fantasy water that contractors and politicians use to legitimize unsustainable diversions and development.
Sacramento River along State Route 160
How much water is needed to restore the depleted fisheries of the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta? A lot more than they’re getting now, a point that has been made repeatedly by independent scientists and Delta advocacy groups, including C-WIN.
And according to statements made by fisheries biologists to the State Water Resources Control Board, the fish are in particular need of enhanced flows down the San Joaquin River.
In prepared testimony to the Board, C-WIN senior research associate Tim Stroshane noted that substituting restored wetlands for increased flows – as proposed in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan – will not reverse the crash in the estuary’s fisheries. The river flows themselves are the habitat most required by the fish for recovery, Stroshane stated.
Since the 1960s and 1970s, the State Water project and the federal Central Valley Project have supplied irrigation water to approximately 1.3 million acres of drainage-impaired lands on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and the Tulare Lake Basin.
These lands are heavily laden with selenium, an element that is exceedingly toxic at high concentrations. Drainwater from the Valley’s seleniferous lands killed thousands of birds at the now-closed Kesterson Wildlife Refuge in the late 1970s and the 1980s, and it remains a chronic threat to public health, fisheries and wildlife.
The Pacific Institute has determined that retiring these impaired lands would save up to 3.9 million acre feet of water annually. C-WIN supports this conclusion. Land retirement of this scale would also greatly deduce selenium contamination in Central Valley waterways and the Bay-Delta estuary.
C-WIN's Water Rights Action Program benefits public trust protection and reasonable use of water. Visit our Water Rights Protest archive.
Whatever results come from the state and federal governments’ Bay Delta Conservation Plan process, recent legislation in the State Legislature to "fix the Delta," the 2010 water bond, the Delta Vision Task Force process, potential permanent water transfers—they all must obtain permits from the State Water Resources Control Board.
Pump me a river: Banks Pumping Plant near Old River can pump up to 10,400 cubic feet of water per second.
The California Water Impact Network consistently asks “big picture” questions that the State Water Resources Control Board has consistently failed to address with the Bay-Delta estuary:
Salt in the earth, San Joaquin Valley.