From News Line, a daily compilation of farm water news distributed to CFWC members and others upon request. To receive News Line, click here.

If BDCP were science-based, Delta flows would be a priority

Coalition response…Public water agencies serve the public on a not-for-profit basis. When they do not receive supplies for which they have already contracted, the cost of water to their customers goes up. These public water agencies play a pivotal role in keeping California’s economy moving forward and it is discouraging to read an editorial that discredits their role as they seek reliable water supplies for their customers.

For more than 20 years State and federal fish agencies have attempted to protect and restore imperiled fish species through regulating water supplies. These actions have included in-stream temperature control, Delta outflow (fresh water poured into the ocean), and curtailed pumping to the extent that though northern California storage is in excess of 100% of average, today’s water supplies for farmers and communities on the San Joaquin Valley’s Westside is only 20% of what they need.  Despite these actions that have resulted in money spent, water lost and socio-economic upheaval in rural and disadvantaged agricultural communities, little if any improvement for these species has been accomplished.

Despite what this editorial purports, independent scientific evidence has already demonstrated that increasing the flow of water through the Delta will not increase the number of salmon returning to spawn or the number of Delta smelt. So what are we trying to achieve?

The safeguard of “adaptive management” is part of BDCP and will adjust operations in accordance with future unknown effects. Exports may go up if conditions improve or they may go down if there are unforeseen problems. Sacramento River flows change year-to-year and month-to-month and to set a minimum flow standard today prevents future conditions from being considered. “Adaptive management” is an important tool that should be allowed to function in order to protect all interests.

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