On 5 January 2016, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) filed a formal protest of the WaterFix Project petition to change the point of diversion for the State Water Project (SWP) and Central Valley Project (CVP) WaterFix Project that was submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). The California Water Impact Network (CWIN) and AquAlliance joined CSPA in the protest.
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) petitioned the SWRCB to modify their SWP/CVP water rights to add Sacramento River points of diversion to facilitate the export of millions of acre-feet of water through proposed twin 30-mile long, 40-foot diameter tunnels under the Delta for delivery to southern California.
The Delta ecosystem has collapsed because the excessive diversion of water has already deprived the estuary of more than half of its historic inflow and its hydrograph (timing of flow) has been turned on its head. Consequently, the Delta’s water quality is highly degraded and its pelagic and anadromous fisheries are on the precipice of extinction. The WaterFix Project will eliminate all hope of restoring the estuary and its fisheries.
CSPA protested that the WaterFix project would increase the concentration of numerous pollutants, push fisheries into extinction, harm existing users of water, violate the public trust and numerous state and federal statutes and should not be considered by the SWRCB at the present time because of vast procedural irregularities. The identified procedural irregularities include the fact that the SWRCB: has not updated the Water Quality Control Plan for the Delta in twenty years, despite state and federal requirements to do so every three years; failed to conduct licensing hearings for existing CVP and SWP water rights and there is no final environmental review document for the WaterFix Project.
The evidentiary hearing on the matter will begin in April and is expected to take many months. CSPA will provide extensive legal and scientific testimony under oath, cross-examine project proponent witnesses and submit rebuttal evidence and closing arguments. CSPA, CWIN and AquAlliance have already made clear that, if necessary, we are prepared to litigate to save the Delta and its fisheries.