On Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) formally adopted its flow criteria report for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, defining the timing and volume of water that will be required for a healthy Delta ecosystem. The SWRCB’s report suggests that recent record levels of water diversions are unsustainable and that protecting the Delta’s fisheries will require flows that more closely approximate the natural hydrograph.
Following the board’s decision, Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, said, “It’s good to see state water officials finally recognizing that it’s in the state’s interest to allow water to flow west through the estuary because of all the jobs related to the salmon fishing industry, both commercial and recreational, that depend on rebuilding our salmon runs.”
Now that the SWRCB has identified the minimum flows that will be necessary to sustain a healthy Delta, it will be up to the Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) and the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to make use of that information. As the DSC and BDCP proceed with discussions about building a massive tunnel to divert water around the Delta, their modeling and decision-making must be informed by the basic, incontrovertible, and now state-acknowledged fact that the Delta needs more water than it is currently receiving.