State Board to Hold Important Hearing to Consider Delta Fish Needs
CSPA and PCFFA only fishery groups participating
March 4, 2010 -- The California Legislature enacted SB1 in November 2009 requiring the State Water Board to develop new flow criteria for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem within nine months. Pursuant to that mandate, a hearing to receive scientific information regarding the volume, quality and timing of flow necessary to protect the estuarine and anadromous species of the Delta has been scheduled for March 22-24, 2010. The State Board is prohibited by SB1 from considering supply constraints or export needs in determining the biological needs of the estuary. The deadline for submitting written testimony and supporting exhibits was 16 February.
The hearing is important because it is the first time the State Board has been required to develop flow criteria that is protective of fisheries without balancing the needs of fish with the needs of water exporters. In a 1978 hearing, the State Board found that protecting all life stages of all fish species would require the virtual elimination of Delta exports.
CSPA and PCFFA are the only fishery organizations taking part in the hearing and submitting testimony and evidence addressing the needs of the estuary. Other environmental organizations taking part include the California Water Impact Network, Bay Institute, EDF, NRDC. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service and the Department of Fish and Game submitted testimony. South and Central Delta Water Agencies, San Joaquin County, Contra Costa Water District and East Bay Municipal Utility District are also participating, as well as a who's who of SWP and CVP Water Contractors and Sacramento Valley water users.
On behalf of CSPA:
o Fisheries scientist Dr. Carl Mesick provided testimony and evidence on flow requirements and export restrictions necessary to permit San Joaquin River migrating salmonids to reach the sea and return to their natal streams to spawn;
o Retired DFG biologists Don Stevens, Dave Kohlhorst and Lee Miller addressed the requirements of pelagic and salmonid species;
o Dr. G. Fred Lee provided testimony on the necessity for positive Delta outflow to dilute and flush pollutants and meet water quality standards;
o CSPA Executive Director Bill Jennings provided the historical context of fisheries testimony from previous State Board evidentiary hearings and presented CSPA's formal recommendations on needed inflow and outflow schedules and water quality standards necessary to protect and restore the public trust resources of the Bay-Delta estuary.
CSPA also located and reintroduced much of the resource agency historical testimony by resource agencies and environmental and fishing organizations that were presented during the 1988 and 1992 State Board hearings. The record of those hearings had been destroyed by the State Board but is remarkably consistent with current knowledge and recommendations - the needs of fish and requirements for a healthy estuary have not appreciably changed over the last three decades.
CSPA's 24 exhibits are attached. Exhibit No. 6 presents our specific recommendations for optimal ecological conditions in the estuary.