We Need to Get Salmon Upstream of Central Valley Rim Dams

Since 2006, one of CSPA’s primary areas of effort has been to reintroduce salmon to historic habitat upstream of major Central Valley dams. Today, Central Valley salmon are confined to the valley floor: 5-10% of their historic habitat. In the face of climate change and inadequate flows due to political pressure, regulatory timidity, and frequent bad management, limiting salmon to the valley floor is a strategy for extinction, widespread extirpation, and/or reduction of salmon to a few boutique tourist attractions.

In a July 22 op-ed in the Sacramento Bee (http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article28349512.html#storylink=cpy), Yvon Chouinard and Matt Stoecker criticize the Yuba Salmon Partnership Initiative (YSPI), one of the reintroduction efforts of which CSPA has been part. The YSPI is working to create a program to trap and haul adult spring-run Chinook salmon from the lower Yuba River to the North Yuba River, and to capture juveniles moving down the North Yuba River and transport them downstream to where they can gain access to the ocean. Chouinard and Stoecker say that trap and haul is the “wrong way” to recover salmon in the Yuba River, and suggest that trap and haul should be off the table everywhere. Instead, they recommend removal of Englebright Dam.

Central Valley rim dams are here to stay

Dams on the Sacramento, the Feather, the American, the Mokelumne, the Tuolumne, and other major Central Valley rivers aren’t going away. They are all too tall to put fish ladders on. Right now, wild salmon are struggling and in some cases dying on the valley floor. They are competing with fish from hatcheries; but without those hatcheries, there wouldn’t be enough salmon in California to allow any salmon fishing at all. Fish that spawn in Central Valley rivers are affected by extensive hydraulic infrastructure and by dozens of management decisions affecting water operations in the Delta, in the major rivers, and even in the smaller rivers like Butte Creek, where the largest population of Central Valley spring-run salmon is kept going by weekly and sometimes daily oversight. The whole system is managed. What can and must change is how it is managed. It’s high time that part of the management include getting wild salmon back to historic, higher elevation, cold water habitat.

In the big picture, that means getting fish past about five Central Valley rim dams. While options need to be investigated in each case, the likelihood is that this will be accomplished using trap and haul. For CSPA, the question is not whether trap and haul is morally acceptable or achieves “real recovery,” but whether we can reintroduce salmon upstream of rim dams soon enough and well enough to help save the Central Valley’s wild salmon populations. What’s not morally acceptable is to live with the way things are now. Continue reading

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CSPA, Coalition Win Major Lawsuit Against State Over Farm Pollution

On 10 August 2015, CSPA, the Otter Project, Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Associations, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water and an elderly woman who was deprived of drinking water because of agricultural pollution prevailed in an important lawsuit against the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) over the waiver of rules protecting fisheries, water quality and human health from highly polluted discharges from farms. Discharges from agricultural activities had resulted in endemic aquatic life toxicity in Central Coast streams and routine violations of numerous water quality standards protecting human health and the environment.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley ruled that the “waiver” failed to ensure compliance with water quality standards and failed to comply with the California Water Code, Water Quality Control Plan for the Central Coast Basin, state’s Non-Point Source Control Plan and was not in the public interest. He issued a peremptory writ of mandate compelling the SWRCB to vacate the waiver and go through the process again.

The Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, Golden Gate University Environmental Law and Justice Clinic and California Rural Legal Assistance represented CSPA and the other plaintiffs in this case.

Lawsuit Decision   Press Release

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CSPA Protests State Board Approval of Sacramento Temperature Plan

On 6 August 2015, CSPA, CWIN and AquAlliance filed a formal protest, petition for hearing and petition for reconsideration of the State Water Resources Control Boards approval of the Sacramento River Temperature Management Plan. The protest states that the weakening of temperature criteria during critical life stages of Chinook salmon does not serve the public interest, is contrary to law and will have an adverse environmental impact. The protest begins a 90-day window for the SWRCB to reconsider or deny the protest, whereupon CSPA et al. is free to pursue the matter in court.

The protest follows a separate 3 August complaint against SWRCB and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) filed by CSPA over relaxation of Sacramento River temperature requirements. The two actions address different administrative processes requiring different response actions by the SWRCB and USBR.

Last year, failure to maintain protective temperatures in the Sacramento River led to the destruction of 95% of winter-run, 98% of fall-run and virtually all of the spring-run Chinook salmon brood year. This year, because deliveries to Sacramento Valley water contractors had depleted the cold-water pool behind Shasta Dam, the SWRCB actually increased temperature targets to levels that are identified as lethal to incubating eggs and emerging fry.

CSPA Protest

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CSPA Sues State Water Board to Prevent Fish Extinctions

On 4 August 2015, The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA), California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) and AquAlliance, collectively “Petitioners,” filed a lawsuit against the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and a writ of mandate, under California Code of Civil Procedure, in Alameda County Superior Court. The lawsuit alleges that the State Water Board and its Executive Director violated the California Water Code, Public Trust Doctrine and a suite of environmental laws when it issued a series of Temporary Urgency Change Orders (TUCP Orders) that weakened legally adopted standards protecting water quality and fisheries.

This action is a companion to a 3 June 2015 federal lawsuit against the Department of Interior and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for violations of the Administrative Procedure Act, Central Valley Project Improvement Act and Clean Water Act. The lawsuit asks the court to issue a writ of mandate ordering the State Water Board to vacate its TUCP Orders, to preliminarily and permanently enjoin the Board from activities undertaken pursuant to the TUCP Orders, enter a declaratory judgment that the Board has engaged in an illegal pattern and practice of adopting TUCP Orders and enjoin the Board from further engaging in an illegal pattern and practice of adopting TUCP Orders that violate the law.

“This lawsuit is an effort to prevent the extinction of fisheries that thrived for millennia. If Delta and longfin smelt and winter- and spring-run Chinook salmon go extinct, it will not be because of drought. These fish survived the great mega-droughts of the past. But they may not survive the State Water Board’s serial violations of law,” said CSPA Executive Director Bill Jennings adding, “fallowed fields will be replanted after the drought, extinct fisheries are forever lost.”

Press Release  Lawsuit

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CSPA Protests Water Board’s Serial Weakening of Delta Fish Protection Standards

On 3 August 2015, CSPA filed a protest, objection and petition for reconsideration of the State Water Resources Control Board’s (State Board) issuance of a 3 July 2015 Order further weakening Bay-Delta water quality and flow standards protecting fish and wildlife between July and November. Over the last three years, the State Board has relaxed standards that were established to protect the environment during critical drought years 15 times. These actions have brought the Delta’s pelagic and salmonid fisheries to the brink of extinction. CSPA was the only fishing organization filing a protest and was joined by the California Water Impact Network and AquAlliance.  Restore the Delta and the Bay Institute also filed protests.

Protest   Attachment 1   Attachment 2   Attachment 3

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CSPA Files Complaint Against State Board, Bureau of Reclamation for Violations of Laws Protecting Sacramento River Chinook Salmon

The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) has filed a formal complaint against the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) for violations of the Water Quality Control Plan for the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River Basins (Basin Plan), violations of WR Order 90-05 and Sacramento River temperature requirements and for violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), Public Trust Doctrine and the California Constitution.

Specifically, CSPA alleges that the SWRCB has failed to implement crucial Basin Plan water temperature criteria and CWA requirements protecting water quality and fish and wildlife beneficial uses with respect to USBR’s water rights permits and licenses and has failed to take enforcement actions against USBR’s habitual violations of the Basin Plan, CWA and WR Order 90-05 temperature criteria and requirements against USBR.  CSPA alleges that USBR has failed to comply with explicit temperature criteria protecting fish and wildlife beneficial uses contained in the Basin Plan, CWA and WR Order 90-05. CSPA additionally alleges that the SWRCB and USBR have failed to comply with their respective responsibilities and obligations under the ESA, Public Trust Doctrine and Article X of the California Constitution.

Should winter-run Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt and potentially several other species that have evolved and thrived over millennia go extinct, it will not be because of drought. It will be because the SWRCB and USBR have refused to comply with the law.

CSPA Sacramento River Complaint

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CSPA Files Complaint Against SWRCB, USBR, DWR for Violations During Current Drought

On Tuesday, July 21 CSPA filed a complaint with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) against the SWRCB, US Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), and California Department of Water Resources (DWR) alleging a multitude of serious water quality violations during the current drought. The complaint alleges that in allowing these violations, these the agencies have violated the Bay-Delta Plan, D-1641 critically dry year water quality objectives, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Public Trust Doctrine and the California Constitution.

Violations of Bay-Delta Plan and D-1641 requirements have resulted in increased salinity that has directly impacted multiple species, including American Shad, splittail, Chinook salmon, and the almost extinct Delta smelt. Despite growing consequences, the agencies have not provided any assurance of reasonable use of water. Agricultural practices like flood irrigation and the continued production of low value crops are allowed to continue while water standards are weakened to the point of ecological collapse.

Time and time, again the SWRCB has weakened and refused to enforce minimum standards during drought, and California’s fisheries and the public’s water security have paid dearly for these actions. Without an end to this drought in sight, the SWRCB must use its authority to enforce water quality standards and balance the public trust with competing uses.

CSPA Complaint

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CSPA Presentation on Sacramento Temperature Plan

On 24 June 2015, CSPA submitted a detailed presentation to the State Water Board’s workshop on drought issues, Delta flows and the revised Temperature Management Plan for the upper Sacramento River. Under the proposed plan temperature criteria would be increased from 56F to 58F at Clear Creek near Redding.

The failure to maintain adequate temperatures last year during spawning, incubation, emergence and early fry development led to the loss of 95% of winter-run, 98% fall-run and virtually all of the spring-run Chinook salmon brood year. It appears that a similar debacle is likely to occur this year.

In a joint press released issued with Restore the Delta, CSPA Executive Director Bill Jennings was quoted as saying, “Sacramento River water temperatures are already exceeding lethal levels and it’s beginning to look like this year will be a repeat of last years debacle that obliterated an entire brood year of Chinook salmon. Delta and longfin smelt are teetering on the precipice of extinction. And the State Water Board is again preparing to weaken legal water quality standards that are critical to the very existence of these species. It is both unreasonable, illegal and a moral sin to send species that thrived for millennia into extinction simply to provide millions of acre-feet of water to irrigate pasture, alfalfa and other low value crops in the desert.”

CSPA Waterboard Presentation

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CSPA Objects to Change in Delta Water Quality Standards

On 19 June 2015, CSPA, joined by the California Water Impact Network and AquAlliance, filed an extensive formal Objection to the 21 May 2015 Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP Petition) from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) and California Department of Water Resources (DWR) asking the State Water Board to further weaken Bay-Delta water quality and flow standards established to protect fisheries and water quality. The State Board is expected to rule on the USBR/DWR TUCP Petition in the near future.

The Objection asks the State Water Board not to approve the TUCP Petition and its requested weakening of outflow requirements, relocation of the salinity compliance point to Threemile Slough and reduction in Sacramento River flow at Rio Vista between September through November.  If approved, these changes will cause the low salinity zone to move further east and expose Delta smelt and other pelagic species, already on the brink of extinction, to lethal water temperatures and harm Chinook salmon during critical migration periods.

The CSPA Objection describes the perilous conditions facing the Central Valley’s pelagic and anadromous fisheries, identifies the severe impacts that will occur if the requests are implemented, chronicles the egregious mismanagement by the state and federal water projects that have exacerbated the present drought crisis and identifies the numerous state and federal statutes that would be violated should the State Board approve the Petition. Should the State Board approval the Petition, the matter will be incorporated into CSPA’s recent lawsuit against the Board and USBR.

CSPA TUCP Objection

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CSPA Seeks to Protect Sacramento River from High Temperature and Toxic Metal Wastewater Discharges

In January 2013, CSPA filed a lawsuit against the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) for violations of the Clean Water Act in issuing a permit to the Sacramento Regional Sanitation District (SacRegional) for wastewater discharges to the Sacramento River. CSPA prevailed and, in October 2014, the Court ordered the Regional Board to 1) vacate the relaxation of compliance with the state’s Thermal Plan, 2) vacate portions of the permit that improperly established discharge limits for hardness dependent metals and establish new limits that comply with regulatory requirements and 3) establish a weekly effluent limitation for aluminum in the permit.

The permit regulates the discharge of up the 181 million gallons a day of treated municipal wastewater into a relatively narrow reach of the Sacramento River that is within the tidal prism and habitat and a migration corridor for numerous pelagic and anadromous fish species. Numerous species listed or proposed to be listed, pursuant to state and federal Endangered Species Acts, depend upon these waters for all or a critical part of their life cycle.

The Regional Board delayed complying with the Court’s order. CSPA returned to Court and secured an order directing the Regional Board to comply by 31 July 2015. The Regional Board subsequently issued a draft permit that evades complying with explicit regulatory requirements. CSPA submitted extensive comments on the draft permit on 19 June 2015, will be present at the Regional Board hearing on 30/30 July and should the Regional Board adopt the permit as drafted, CSPA intends to return to Court and request sanctions against the Regional Board.

CSPA Comment Letter

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CSPA Sues Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, State Water Board and DWR to Prevent Fishery Extinctions

The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, California Water Impact Network, AquAlliance and Restore the Delta have filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief, under the Administrative Procedures Act, and a Petition for Writ of Mandate, under California Code of Civil Procedure, in federal District Court for the Eastern District of California.

The lawsuit alleges that the U. S. Department of Interior, U. S. Bureau of Reclamation the State Water Resources Control Board and the Department of Water Resources violated the federal Clean Water Act, the Bay-Delta Plan, Central Valley Project Improvement Act, the Delta Protection Act and other state and federal statutes in weakening and/or failing to comply with water quality standards established to protect the Bay-Delta estuary.  As a result of their failure to comply with the law, water quality in the Delta is severely degraded and fisheries have been pushed to the brink of extinction.

“We bring this lawsuit in an effort to prevent the impending extinction of fisheries that thrived for millennia. Delta smelt, once the most abundant species in the estuary, are on the precipice of extinction and longfin smelt and winter-run and spring-run Chinook salmon are close behind,” said CSPA Executive Director Bill Jennings adding “we cannot stand aside and watch species go extinct simply because special interests have captured our regulatory agencies and they refuse to comply with laws enacted to protect fish and water quality. The situation is critical and we’re left with no alternative but the courts. And we’re prepared to sue them again and again and again. We don’t know if we can save these species, perhaps we can, but by god we will try!”

Press Release   Lawsuit

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CSPA and allies comment on Draft EIS for Merced River relicensing

CSPA and seven other Conservation Groups filed comments on May 29, 2015 on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the relicensing of the Merced River Hydroelectric Project and the Merced Falls Hydroelectric Project. These relicensings began in 2009. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued the DEIS in March. Along with the State Water Board’s ongoing update of the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan, these FERC relicensings will determine in part flows in the lower Merced River for the next 30-50 years.

The central theme of Conservation Groups’ comments is that the DEIS inequitably balances uses of the Merced River:

The Commission has an obligation to balance the beneficial uses of a waterway consistent with the public interest. Unfortunately, staff has adopted an overly restricted view of its authority to balance certain uses, leaving it with a self-inflicted inability to fix the institutional problem in the Merced River. That problem is unsustainable water demand, which systemically threatens the health of fish and wildlife resources that inhabit and utilize the Merced River, and which ultimately threatens the sustainability of the agricultural economy in eastern Merced County.

The comments conclude that, “… it appears that FERC is on course to leave the hard problems of this relicensing to others.”

Conservation Groups’ comments on Merced DEIS

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CSPA Comments on the Crisis in Delta at SWRCB

On May 20, 2015 the State Water Board held a workshop to hear comments on its April 6 Order that approved relaxed Delta flow and water quality standards until June. During the public comment period CSPA’s Bill Jennings presented yet again on catastrophic impacts weakening water quality standard has on the health of the Delta.

The presentation summarized the mismanagement by DWR and Bureau that has led to an estimated loss of 91% of Delta Smelt over the last three years, and devastating decline of 95% winter-run, 99% spring-run, and 97% fall-run Chinook salmon in 2014 alone. In contrast farming profits and jobs in both the Sacramento Valley and San-Joaquin Valley actually increased during the drought.

CSPA Presentation SWRCB – May 20 2015.PDF

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Support CSPA’s Actions to Enforce the Clean Water Act

CSPA is working with Lawyers for Clean Water, Inc. on a Clean Water Act enforcement action against an industrial facility near the Stanislaus River in Oakdale. Stormwater discharges from the dairy feed manufacturing and heavy equipment storage facility flow into the Stanislaus River, which conveys the pollutants to the San Joaquin River and then to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

Downstream of FacilityUnder the citizen-suit provisions of the federal Clean Water Act, CSPA has issued a notice letter informing the owners of the facility of specific violations that CSPA has identified under the federal Clean Water Act and California’s General Industrial Stormwater Permit.

During this fourth year of drought, CSPA is working harder than ever. Please consider donating to the CrowdDefend campaign for this enforcement action. Your donation will support CSPA’s continued leadership in enforcing the Clean Water Act, and more importantly it will help to prevent the illegal pollution of California’s rivers.

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CSPA Protests Weakening Bay-Delta Flow and Water Quality Requirements

On May 6, 2015, CSPA, joined by CWIN, and AquAlliance, submitted a Protest, Objection and Petition for Reconsideration to the State Water Resources Control Board’s Temporary Urgency Change Order (TUCO) issued on April 6th. In the order the SWRCB continues to illegally fail to enforce water quality standards during the present drought.

This Protest follows CSPA’s February 13th Protest of the February 3rd TUCO,  presentations by CSPA at February 18th State Water Board workshop and  comments submitted to the Board on February 19th. With several fish species facing extinction, the Protest maintains that the weakened flow and water quality requirements proposed in the TUCO  will cause serious and, perhaps, irreparable harm to Delta fisheries and water quality.

CSPA Protest TUCP, Order, May 2015

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CSPA and very diverse partners working on salmon reintroduction to North Yuba River

The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Trout Unlimited and American Rivers, along with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries Service, and Yuba County Water Agency, released a framework on May 7, 2015, that will guide negotiations whose primary goal would be to reintroduce spring-run Chinook salmon (and possibly steelhead) into the North Yuba River upstream of New Bullards Bar Reservoir.

Working together as the Yuba Salmon Partnership Initiative (YSPI), these six entities have signed a “Term Sheet” and a have developed a “Concept Plan” that will guide further discussions on reintroduction. The settlement that the framework contemplates would, if completed, also define and implement physical habitat improvements in the lower Yuba River.

To be clear, this is not a “deal.” This is a preliminary setting of boundaries on what would be needed to reach an agreement. The Term Sheet and the settlement it contemplates do not propose to resolve all the issues in the watershed, including lower Yuba River flow or other issues that may arise in the FERC relicensing of YCWA’s Yuba River Development Project. What the YSPI proposes instead is to choose two areas where the parties are likely to find agreement and focus on those.

YCWA has argued that these two areas (reintroduction and lower river habitat improvements) are not within the purview of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or of the State Water Board, since channel alteration and dam construction involve events, conditions and structures that predate YCWA’s hydroelectric project. CSPA and other conservation groups have argued (and we think very effectively) that both FERC and the State Board have jurisdiction. Rather than continue the argument in a drawn-out regulatory or legal context, we are trying to see if we can get an outcome that works for all the negotiating parties and for most other people, if not everyone, and especially that works for fish.

Some folks have asked why YSPI is going public now with the framework for an agreement, rather than waiting for an agreement itself. There are several reasons, but the most important is that we want to get it right. We therefore want to hear concerns, comments and above all suggestions from colleagues and supporters. We also want to hear from others who may have different concerns.

For many of us who have worked long hours for many years in the Yuba River watershed, the trap and haul program to the North Yuba that the YSPI contemplates is not what we envisioned when we started. Some will not find moving fish in trucks to be a good choice now, and some will never find it acceptable. After three years of review and analysis in the Yuba Salmon Forum, a process during which CSPA was showed up to almost every meeting, we believe trap and haul to the North Yuba is likely the best option that it is both technically and socially achievable and feasible, and we have committed to trying to work it through.

Please feel free to contact Chris Shutes at blancapaloma@msn.com if you wish to comment or if you have questions.

YSPI Term Sheet            YSPI Concept Plan               YSPI Project Summary                  FAQ

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The News is Spreading: California cannot continue to ‘save water’ by depleting flows to endangered fisheries

On the heels of mandatory urban water conservation requirements, the news is spreading that reduced delta inflows are not enough to support endangered delta fish populations. The articles below take a look at how California’s limited water supply is being shared, and begs the question: who are we conserving water for?

On April 20, 2015 the San Francisco Chronicle Open Form published Don’t ignore the San Francisco Bay’s needs during the drought.  In the article Gary Bobker, director of the Bay Institute, describes how “in order to save water over the last two years, the State Water Resources Control Board has virtually eliminated even the minimal bay inflows required under the Clean Water Act — which the state has acknowledged were already insufficient to protect the estuary.”  The apparent flaw is that the SWRCB is only ‘saving’ water for thirsty farms, not endangered delta species.

Comstock’s Groves & Fishes: There is water war brewing between farmers and fisherman was also published on April 20.  The article is a frustrating look at how many farmers vilify the native fish populations for not ‘sharing’ water. This is despite the fact that last fall so much water was ‘shared’, or rather taken, from endangered winter-run Chinook that “thousands of salmon were unable to spawn in the low and lethally warm water exiting Shasta Dam.”

The ChicoER succinctly sums up the situation in the Editorial: Little fish’s disappearance is a big problem, published on April 22, 2015. The article describes how those who see the Smelt as an obstacle for diverting more water from the Delta to the San Joaquin Valley are applauding the disappearance of the endangered fish. What these farmers and politicians choose to ignore is that the Smelt are only the beginning of problems for the Delta ecosystem: “If the Delta Smelt go, other species will be next.”

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Epidemic of Comprehension: Outbreak of articles on break-up of BDCP

Following news that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will not issue 50-year environmental permits for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) an epidemic of comprehension has spread, resulting in an outbreak of articles on the break-up of BDCP.

On April 11, 2015 the San Jose Mercury News published Delta tunnels: Major changes to environmental restoration could endanger Brown’s water plan. In the article the Mercury News announced new information that “the Brown administration is proposing a major and politically risky change: dropping a 50-year guarantee to restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta’s environment.” Brown is quoted in the article saying the change is “kind of a technical point,” a sentiment not shared by others affected by the plan including an environmental group, farmers, and water agencies.

Published on April 17, 2015 the San Jose Mercury News editorial: Jerry Brown needs new water strategy — no tunnels acknowledges that without any conservation claim in the BDCP the project is… “Dead in the murky, barely habitable water.” Mercury staff urges Brown to use his leadership in ways other than promoting the tunnels.

Adding to the growing chorus the  The San Francisco Chronicle Editorials wrote The end of the delta tunnels plan? We should hope so on April 21, 2015.  In the editorial the Chronicle states “What we want to hear is how the state is prioritizing water for the environment and the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary, not building tunnels to divert more of it to the south.”

Also on April 21 the Modesto Bee Editorial Board wrote Our View: Now we see real goal of Delta plan. Responding to the news that the BDCP is dropping the 50-year environmental permits the article points out that the co-equal goals of a reliable water source and environmental protections for the Delta “don’t mesh; they never have.”

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Five-Year Water Board Process Comes Up Short For Rivers during Historic Drought

The decision was a blow to Northern California waterways such as the Scott and Shasta Rivers, which suffer from extremely low to no flow, including during salmon spawning seasons. Above it a photo of the Scott River, taken in October 2014

The decision was a blow to Northern California waterways such as the Scott and Shasta Rivers, which suffer from extremely low to no flow, including during salmon spawning seasons. Above it a photo of the Scott River, taken in October 2014

On April 8, 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board rejected an urgent appeal of a coalition of conservation, tribal and fishing groups to formally recognize Northern California Rivers and Steads as “impaired” under the Clean Water Act. CSPA has been working with the group for years to get these waterways 303(d) listed under the Clean Water Act due to over-diversion that has resulted in flows too low to support fish and other uses. Numerous other states already identify waterways as “impaired” due to low flow and are acting on that identification to put more water back into waterways, but the State Water Board has chosen to dismiss this important opportunity.

Coalition Media Release

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CSPA Continues the Fight with Central Valley Regional Board for Immediate Water Quality Compliance

The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) has won a motion to ensure prompt compliance with a writ issued against the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) regarding the wastewater discharge permit for the Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant. In October 2014, the Honorable Michael P. Kenny of the Sacramento Superior Court found that the Regional Board had abused its discretion in developing the permit and ordered immediate changes to the permit. When the Regional Board filed a response in December 2014 indicating that it would not begin complying with the writ until December 15, 2015, CSPA challenged the Regional Board’s delay. On March 26, 2015, the Court ruled that the Regional Board had delayed compliance with the Court’s order, which requires immediate compliance. The Court noted that the Board’s delay, driven by solely by convenience, and was “not acceptable” and ordered the Board to comply with the Order no later than July 31, 2015. The Court will retain jurisdiction to ensure compliance.

Final Order On Objections to Writ

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