How Much Water Does the Delta Need? Highly Anticipated Flow Criteria Released

On Wednesday, the State Water Resources Control Board released its draft flow criteria report for the Bay-Delta estuary, calling for increasing the volume of fresh water flows. The report meets the mandate outlined in Senate Bill X7 1 from last year, by specifying the volume of water that must flow to the Delta from its major tributaries, including the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, to sustain healthy ecosystems and native fish populations.

The flow recommendations in the report are based on the work of leading academic researchers, wildlife agencies, and the Delta Independent Science Board. The call for increasing flows reflects overwhelming scientific evidence that greater flows will be required to prevent the Delta’s fragile fisheries from collapsing. Speaking to the Contra Costa Times regarding the recommendations, Gary Bobker, program director at The Bay Institute, said, “Flows are critical to protecting this estuary. In order to restore the species and habitats you have to dedicate significantly more water than we do today.”

The flow criteria outlined in the report will be one of the most important inputs to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan process and the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Plan. The State Water Resources Control Board will convene August 3rd, to consider adopting the recommendations in the report.