CSPA and more than 150 other environmental, fishing, environmental justice and tribal organizations have submitted two letters regarding the supposed three-year update of the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan. A letter to the State Water Resources Control Board urges the State Board to complete the update after years of delay. A second letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency urges the EPA to step in and complete the Plan itself because the State Board hasn’t done the job. The Water Quality Control Plan deals with Delta inflow and outflow requirements in addition to water quality issues as such.
The letters’ signatory groups represent millions of Californians. These groups have united because the wait for scientifically justified, protective water standards has taken far too long.
The notion that the update will take place every three years has become a bad joke:
- 1995 was the last time the State Board substantively or comprehensively updated the current water quality standards for the Bay-Delta estuary.
- In 2009 the State Board initiated its current review of the standards.
- Today, after seven years, the State Board has yet to complete even an environmental document for amendments to the Plan. In the interim, instead of adopting new protections, the State Board relaxed standards during the drought. This completely devastated two year classes of multiple Chinook salmon runs, pushed two species of smelt to the brink of extinction, and caused significant harm to other fish and wildlife beneficial uses.
- Mid-2018 is the recently revised date the State Board says it will complete the Plan.
The current water quality standards are failing to protect fish and wildlife and must be updated. The letters ask the agencies to complete the Plan by the end of 2017.