CSPA Testifies at State Water Board Drought Urgency Hearing

On 18 and 19 February 2014, CSPA testified at the State Water Resource Control Board’s workshop regarding the drought urgency petition filed by the Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Water Board’s temporary order, issued on 31 January and revised on 6 February, that weakened water quality and fish protection standards for the Delta.  The workshop was conducted to receive comments and feedback on the order and suggested modifications to better protect public interest, health and safety and beneficial uses of water.  The formal comment period on the order ends on 3 March 2014.

CSPA, as the only fishery organization at the workshop, testified that: 1) fish population crashes and regime shifts tend to occur during drought; 2) fish population abundances are at a fraction of the levels that existed when the State Water Project began operations; 3) drought occurs 40% of the time in California; 4) the state and federal water projects operate on a year-to-year basis with little thought of a dry tomorrow; 5) during recent droughts, more than 6 million acre feet (MAF) of water storage was reduced in Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs; 6) the Department of the Interior gave away more approximately 450 thousand-acre-feet (TAF) of water in 2011 and DWR exported more than 826 TAF more water that it had said it could in 2013 and 7) with reservoir storage at extremely low levels, the projects continued to export almost 2.4 MAF between June and December 2013.  CSPA’s attorney followed up by pointing out that both project operations and the State Water Board’s order ignore and violate long established regulatory standards and California’s system of water rights.

In sum, California’s ecosystems and economy are facing a severe crisis, exacerbated by the state’s historical failure to enforce standards established to protect fisheries and water quality and by gross mismanagement by the state and federal export projects.  CSPA is preparing a formal protest of the State Water Board’s Emergency Drought Order.

Workshop Presentation

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