Article from Maven's Notebook.
April 8, 2016
Wednesday, a large coalition of conservation, fishing, recreational, and tribal organizations sent letters to the State Water Resources Control Board and to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, urging completion of the Bay Delta’s water quality control plan by the end of 2017, and asking the feds to step in should the state fail to do so.
Signatories to the letters are too numerous to list here (full list is below), but include AquAlliance, the Bay Institute, CSPA, C-WIN, Clean Water Action, Environmental Water Caucus, Friends of the SF Estuary, Environment Now, Friends of the River, NRDC, the Nature Conservancy, Planning and Conservation League, Restore the Delta, and Trout Unlimited, as well as numerous tribes, fishermen’s associations, and conservation organizations.
The letter points out that the State Water Board is required under federal and state law to review the Bay-Delta’s water quality control plan every three years, yet despite worsening conditions, the State Water Board has not updated the water quality standards for the Bay-Delta since 1995.
The letters state:
“There is no dispute in the scientific or resource management communities that the current water quality standards are failing to protect fish and wildlife and other beneficial uses of the estuary’s water. The record is strong and clear that insufficient freshwater flows and inadequate water quality are primary drivers of the long-term degradation of ecological conditions for the public trust resources of the Bay-Delta estuary, and this state of affairs is only growing worse. The decline of pelagic organisms that was first detected in the early 2000s has accelerated, with many native fish species at record or near-record low population levels in recent surveys.”
The latest review of the water quality control plan was initiated in 2009, but the Board has yet to adopt any amendments, and in fact, has relaxed the standards over the last two years to the detriment of the Bay-Delta’s endangered and other native species; now with the latest timeline for completion of the water quality control plan extending in mid-2018, water quality conditions in the estuary are simply too urgent to allow for such a delay, the letters state.
The coalition writes in their letter to Felicia Marcus at the State Water Board that there is more than enough information available for the Board to adopt scientifically justified, more protective new standards and they urge the Board to complete their work by the end of 2017.
To Jared Blumenfeld with the US EPA, they ask the US EPA to initiate the process of adopting new protective standards for the Bay-Delta by the end of 2017.