Citing potentially severe impacts on water supply and power operations, a group of public water and power agencies is asking the State Water Resources Control Board to delay any revision of Delta flow objectives until key analyses can be completed as part of the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan.
In a letter submitted to the State Board, the water and power organizations said flow criteria developed by Board staff in a narrow process in 2010 would have devastating effects on beneficial uses of water if formally adopted by the State Board. Storage levels in key reservoirs would be greatly reduced by the end of summer in many years, hydropower generation would be reduced by an average of 30%, and temperature objectives designed to help winter- and fall-run salmon would not be met in most years, according to the letter. Water supplies for a variety of uses would also be severely reduced.
The agencies called on the State Board to delay any formal process to revise Delta flow requirements until it has a more complete picture of the real-world impacts. Initiating action before the BDCP is completed would be inappropriate and inconsistent with the 2009 water package enacted by the Legislature, they said.
“The BDCP process is taking a much more holistic approach to promoting the Delta ecosystem health (which takes into account the benefits of proposed habitat restoration and steps to address non-native species and other stressors, as examples) than is evident in the Delta Flow Criteria or the subsequent staff focus on historical unimpaired flows. In addition, it would be premature for the State Water Board to proceed with scheduling hearings for new flow objectives for the Delta, given the lack of analysis of the real- world effects of the Delta Flow Criteria,” the letter said.
“We ask the State Water Board to delay any review of the Delta outflow objectives until: (1) the ongoing Habitat Conservation Planning process for the Delta has been competed; and (2) the State Water Board becomes more informed about the real-world impacts that such changes would have on public trust resources and water supply and power implications. We request the opportunity to present in detail the findings of our analyses before any State Water Board hearings on Delta outflow objectives are initiated.”
The letter is signed by representatives of Northern California Water Association, Yuba County Water Agency, Northern California Power Agency, State Water Contractors, California Municipal Utilities Association, Redding Electric Utility, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, City of Redding Public Works Department and Westlands Water District.
ACWA submitted a letter to the State Board concurring with the views expressed by the water and power organizations and asking the Board to fully consider potential impacts to other beneficial uses and public trust resources.
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