Friday February 3, 2023


The State Water Resources Control Board is taking new steps in updating a set of controversial water quality regulations known as the Bay-Delta Plan. Arguments began with a lengthy hearing that delved into both the plan and a set of voluntary agreements (VAs) water districts are proposing to soften the blow of the board’s regulatory hammer.

Dozens of environmental and sportfishing advocates decried the decade-long pursuit of VAs as a distraction and a closed-door water grab. They pushed instead for an update to the plan that would require as much as 60% of the freshwater flowing from rivers to travel unimpeded through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta. When the Newsom administration pushed for a more collaborative solution, environmental groups walked away from the negotiating table in protest.

“All of our interests have been frozen out of the existing voluntary agreement process,” said Barry Nelson, a policy advisor for the Golden State Salmon Association, who added that tribal and environmental justice advocates oppose the VAs as well. “When that effort to engage our communities begins, we also want to know if that is going to be a meaningful effort or if the deal will have been cut before we’re invited to be engaged.”

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