CSPA Testifies on San Joaquin River Flow and South Delta Salinity

On December 16, 2016, CSPA’s Bill Jennings and Chris Shutes made presentations to the State Water Board regarding the need to increase flow from the San Joaquin River into the Delta.  The hearings held in Stockton are part of Phase I of the Water Board’s update of the Bay-Delta Plan.

Bill Jennings discussed five major flaws in the “Substitute Environmental Document” (SED) that the Board is using to evaluate changes to the Plan. 1) The SED does not include the mainstem San Joaquin in its analysis, and does not propose requiring equitable flow out of Friant Dam.  2) The SED makes no defensible scientific justification for recommending that 40% of February-June unimpaired flow be released from the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers; more is needed.  3) The SED contains no analysis of how the Board will balance resources and offers no quantification of the benefits of improved flow.  4) The SED’s recommendation to weaken south Delta salinity standards relies on an outdated report with identified errors in analyzing impacts to Delta agriculture, and the SED does not analyze impacts to fish and aquatic vegetation that would result from weakening the standards.  5) The SED does not describe how Plan’s the salmon-doubling goal, which has been law for over twenty years as salmon populations in the San Joaquin collapsed, will be enforced.

Chris Shutes discussed four major points in his presentation.  1) California and the San Joaquin tributaries in particular have an unsustainable agricultural business model founded on the overallocation of water.  2) The urban model passed by the legislature in 2009, 20% reduction in urban water use by the year 2020, is a better model for agriculture than the existing boom or bust cycle that the SED accepts.  3) The SED uses modeling unrealistically to avoid defining the proposed project and its impacts.  4) San Francisco and the Bay Area have to do their fair share in improving flows in the Tuolumne River.  Following Chris’s presentation, Peter Drekmeier of the Tuolumne River Trust provided further discussion of San Francisco’s obligation and analysis of how San Francisco has exaggerated impacts to the Bay Area of increasing Tuolumne River flow.

The complete video of the December 16, 2016 hearing can be seen at:


Bill Jennings speaks from 5:50 to 5:59.  Chris Shutes speaks from 2:12:50 to 2:19.

cshutes-presentation-phase-i-121616                    cshutes-spoken-narrative-12616-cs-121416

Peter Drekmeier’s presentation on impacts to the Bay Area can be seen at 2:19 of the video.  A related video from the Tuolumne River Trust can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJQ5RhdU6vY&feature=youtu.be

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