On 4 November 2010, CSPA, C-WIN and AquAlliance filed a Petition for Reconsideration with the State Water Resources Control Board regarding its approval of amendments to the Water Quality Control Plan for the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Basins to address selenium control in the San Joaquin River Basin.
The amendments have the effect of extending the date for compliance with selenium water quality standards to 31 December 2019, almost 25 years after the water quality standards were originally adopted. Selenium concentrations in the San Joaquin River are routinely found at levels highly toxic to salmon and wildlife.
CSPA, C-WIN and AquAlliance submitted extensive comments and testimony during hearings before the Central Valley Water Quality Control Board and the State Board. The amendments are contrary to specific requirements of the California Endangered Species Act, CEQA, Migratory Bird Treaty, Fish and Game Code and the Clean Water Act.
The majority of the selenium comes from the approximately 100,000-acre Grasslands Drainage Area that discharges through a portion of the Bureau of Reclamation’s San Luis Drain into Mud Slough and thence the San Joaquin River. No affordable technological treatment has been developed and the waterboards have refused to require those who farm these toxic lands to comply with water quality standards.
The selenium discharges pose a clear threat to spring-run Chinook salmon that are scheduled to be reintroduced into the San Joaquin River in 2012, as part of the San Joaquin River settlement agreement.