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San Francisco Bay/Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta Estuary (Bay-Delta) Program

DELTA FLOW CRITERIA

Final Report on Development of Flow Criteria for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Ecosystem

Water Code section 85086 requires the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board or Board) to develop, within nine months of enactment of the requirement, new flow criteria to protect public trust resources for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) ecosystem. The statute further requires the State Water Board to submit its flow criteria determinations to the Delta Stewardship Council within 30 days of their development. In accordance with Water Code section 85086, the State Water Board conducted a public process in the form of an informational proceeding, held on March 22-24, 2010, to develop the flow criteria. The State Water Board released a draft Report on Development of Flow Criteria for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Ecosystem on July 21, 2010, for public review and comment. On August 3, 2010, the State Water Board adopted Resolution 2010-0039 approving the final report determining new flow criteria for the Delta ecosystem necessary to protect public trust resources. On August 25, 2010 the Executive Director of the State Water Board submitted the final report to the Delta Stewardship Council. The final report and other information from the proceeding can be viewed using the links below.

This report, required by Water Code section 85086(c) (2009 Delta Reform Act) in 2010, suggests the flows that would be needed in the Delta ecosystem if fishery protection was the sole purpose for which its waters were put to beneficial use.  In keeping with the narrow focus of the legislation, this report only presents a technical assessment of flow and operational requirements to provide fishery protection under existing conditions.

We know however, that there are many other important beneficial uses that these waters support such as municipal and agricultural water supply and recreational uses.    The State Water Board is required by law to establish flow and other objectives that ensure the reasonable protection of beneficial uses.   In order for any flow objective to be reasonable, the State Water Board must consider and balance all competing uses of water in its decision-making.  More broadly, the State Water Board will factor in relevant water quality, water rights and habitat needs as it considers potential changes to its Bay-Delta objectives.  Any attempts to portray the recommendations contained in this report as an indicator of future State Water Board decision-making ignores this critical, multi-dimensional balancing requirement and misrepresents current efforts to analyze the water supply, economic, and hydropower effects of a broad range of alternatives.  This report represents only one of many factors that will need to be balanced by the State Water Board as it updates the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan.  For more current information on the State Water Board’s Bay-Delta Plan update efforts, please visit http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/bay_delta/.

If you have any questions regarding this matter, please email Diane Riddle or phone (916) 341-5297.

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