CSPA & Allies Tell Biden Administration Not to Endorse Flawed Voluntary Agreements

On May 7, 2021, CSPA joined a broad coalition of organizations in a letter urging the Biden Administration not to endorse so-called “voluntary agreements” that propose inadequate environmental requirements for the San Francisco Bay-Delta and its tributaries.   The letter was addressed to Secretary Haaland of the Department of the Interior and Secretary Raimondo of the Department of Commerce.

The groups expressed serious concerns that some agencies of the State of California are negotiating behind closed doors with numerous water districts, without participation from conservation and environmental justice organizations, fishing industry groups, or Native American tribes.

These closed-door negotiations continue to be based on the inadequate proposed Framework for voluntary agreements announced by the State in February 2020. That Framework’s inadequate flow and other requirements will fail to protect and restore the Bay-Delta watershed and the communities and jobs that depend on it.  The Framework has not been substantively improved during the 14 months since it was released.

The Bay-Delta water quality standards in effect today are 25 years old. Improved water quality protections are urgently needed, are long overdue, and are required by both state and federal law. California’s salmon runs in the Central Valley, which sustain thousands of fishing jobs across the West Coast and are of importance to tribal peoples of this area, continue to decline. Longfin smelt and other native species in the Delta are now trending towards extinction. Harmful algal blooms are proliferating in the estuary, threatening public health for heavily disadvantaged communities like Stockton.

CSPA and allied organizations call on the Biden Administration to withdraw the Trump Administration’s 2019 biological opinions and to engage in a science-based, transparent, public process at the State Water Resources Control Board to adopt and implement improved water quality standards for the Bay-Delta watershed.

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