Making good decisions – Getting results

This project proposes, as its primary project action, to acquire parcels comprising a large “island” within the flood channel and restore the property to riparian condition through natural and assisted processes.

Making good decisions – Getting results

During the recent drought, Californians were called to reevaluate Electronic Billboardhow we use, manage, and share water to get through the crisis. Farmers received only small fractions of the surface water they needed to grow food, and strident mandatory cuts were imposed on our cities, forcing us all to ask how to get the most bang for our water buck.

With a renewed focus on improving water use efficiency, communities across the state have been investigating and deploying advancements to ensure we meet our goals of doing more with less.

Farmers have fallowed hundreds of thousands of acres of their fields, installed billions of dollars worth of water-conserving technology and water measurement equipment, while developing sophisticated regional management plans and partnerships that help ensure farm water is managed and moved efficiently. Urban communities have invested millions in the latest high-tech water-saving technologies, landscaping upgrades, and infrastructure improvements to help modernize California’s water system, while reducing use . Farms and cities are united in their efforts to ensure that water used isn’t water wasted.

Out-of-date scientific theory fails to ensure success

Today the State is proposing a plan to help salmon using out-of-date, 20th century
scientific theory that doesn’t best consider the biological needs of the river ecosystems. They are using an approach which, when tested over the years, has repeatedly failed to improve the waterways and those that depend on them.

Fishery, habitat, and water experts agree that the bureaucrats are not using the best science to meet the needs of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River estuary and its salmon population.

Science that gets results – Functional Flows

“Functional flows” is an approach to water management that considersbay delta estuary the full complex needs of a waterway, the timing of those needs, and the needs and timings of the organisms dependent on the environment created by those relationships. This approach helps to ensure that water dedicated to help improve ecosystems and fish species achieves that goal.

Learn more about Functional Flows, by clicking here.


A functional flow is a component of the hydrograph that provides a distinct geomorphic or ecological function. These functions may include geomorphic processes, ecological processes, or biogeochemical processes. Such processes in rivers and associated biotic interactions operate in three dimensions, and are intimately tied to the timing, duration, and frequency of natural flows.  Thus functional flows must attempt to reflect the natural patterns of flow variability.

Yarnell, SM, AA Whipple, E Beller, C Dahm, C Enright, P Goodwin, G Petts, JH Viers. 2014. Functional Flows in Modified Riverscapes: Hydrographs, Habitats and Opportunities. Poster session at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA. EP41C-06

Reactions to State Board Unimpaired Flows Action

Reactions to State Board Unimpaired Flows Action

On September 15, the State Water Resources Control Board released an updated proposal for the Bay Delta Water Quality Plan, expanding the pursuit of increased flow in it’s approach for addressing species decline in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River system.

“If implemented, the State Water Board’s rule will have a devastating impact on drinking water, sanitation needs, food production, the economy and jobs for people stretching from the Northern San Joaquin Valley throughout the Bay Area. That’s why this regulation is opposed by schools, health departments, farmers, Latinos, cities, economic development officials and more,” said Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition.

Water Resource Control Board President Felicia Marcus in an Op-Ed in the Sacramento Bee on September 15, 2016 remarked that-

“sometimes our rivers are asked to do too much. And then it is the State Water Board’s duty to balance water use among the many people and wildlife that are dependent on the rivers. This is now happening with the San Joaquin River. It is the longest river in California, the second largest in the state, and a critical piece of the Bay Delta puzzle. The San Joaquin is an overburdened river.”

Marcus goes on to say that the State Board will “be listening for people’s best thoughts and proposals in the coming weeks and months before making our decisions.”

But in a joint response by Modesto Irrigation District and South San Joaquin Irrigation District issued September 15, 2016, Oakdale Irrigation District General Manager Steve Knell noted that

“these plans fail to consider new science that is pointing to holistic approaches to addressing multiple stressors that affect fish populations, not just flow”

despite the numerous attempts by community leaders and water experts to ensure that the Board was aware of the multiple stressors affecting endangered fish and the Delta ecosystem, the Board continues to pursue an approach that has failed to achieve improvements in fish populations for over 20 years. The failure of flushing more and more water to the ocean is well documented, says Wade-

“The reason they cannot demonstrate benefit is because science clearly shows that decades of releasing water to the ocean has failed to halt the decline of Chinook salmon and Delta smelt. It is time to stop relying on failed strategies and move on to solutions that science tells us will help.”

Adding to the ire of affected communities, Knell noted that despite Board member commitments to listen to the public,

“Not a single public meeting ever was held in San Joaquin, Stanislaus or Merced counties.”

Representing 27 different cities, counties, school departments, chambers of commerce, water districts and farm bureaus, A Multi-County Coalition issued a response to the action calling for better analysis of available modern science, and demanded an improved process that incorporates feedback from impacted communities and stakeholders, as well as mitigation for the impacts on disadvantaged communities from any Water Resources Control Board action. The Coalition reports that the action-

“If implemented, the proposal shuts down any hope of economic growth in this multi-county region, eliminates swaths of agricultural employment, thwarts job creation and creates enormous funding challenges for schools, cities, public health, law enforcement and other essential public services.”

“It is unbelievable that our government would propose regulations that their own staff say will put farms out of business, reduce water supplies and have negative impacts on groundwater. Yet they can’t tell us what, if anything, this will do to protect the environment.” said Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition.