State Water Board Postpones Decision on San Joaquin River Flows

“Let’s go.” “We can’t.” “Why not?” “We’re waiting for Godot.”
― Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

In response to a joint written request[1] from Governor Brown and incoming Governor Gavin Newsom, the State Water Resources Control Board on November 7, 2018 postponed a decision on adoption of increased flow requirements for the lower San Joaquin River.[2]  As proposed, the San Joaquin River Flows and Southern Delta Salinity portion of the update of the Bay-Delta Plan would require release of 40% of the unimpaired flow in the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers in the months of February through June.

The update of the Bay-Delta began in 2009.  The last update was in 1995.  The State Water Board had already postponed a decision on August 22, 2018.

The ostensible reason for the November postponement was to allow additional time for voluntary settlements that would supplant the Board’s proposed plan.  Such settlements are advocated by most water users in the Bay-Delta watershed, as well as by the California Department of Natural Resources including the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

At the November 7 meeting, CSPA advocated adoption as scheduled and strongly opposed postponement, pointing out that proposed settlements would fall far short of the State Water Board’s already compromised proposed flows.  CSPA also opposed the increasing politicization of the process.  Others speaking in opposition of postponement included National Resources Defense Council, the Bay Institute, Golden West Women Flyfishers, and the Tuolumne River Trust.

The State Water Board has now scheduled its adoption hearing for December 12, 2018.  CSPA fully expects that state resource agencies and various water users will at that time present the State Water Board with one or more outlines of wholly inadequate proposed settlements.

[1] Letter is posted at:

[2] See media advisory at:


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