State board sticks to flow regime on Sacramento River

Ag Alert –

Despite calls to consider a more comprehensive approach to water management that serves multiple, beneficial purposes, an updated science report from the State Water Resources Control Board doubles down on what it has tried before: increasing flows for fish to the Sacramento River and delta.

Representatives of Sacramento Valley water users say they continue to evaluate the new report, an earlier draft version of which was released last year. Their initial assessment, they said, is that not much has changed from the original draft, although the board does encourage voluntary agreements to help achieve its objectives, an approach farm groups and irrigation districts favor.

The state water board, which allocates surface-water rights and is responsible for protecting water quality, has been trying to update its Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan for years. The Bay-Delta Plan, as it is known, outlines how water in the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will be managed.

In the current report, released last week, the board identified the scientific rationale behind its proposal to increase flows in the Sacramento River basin. Although the report “acknowledges the importance of addressing non-flow stressors to protect the ecosystem,” the board said it has focused on flows, where it has “direct responsibility.”

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