Water Stakeholders Report Declining Delta Water Quality

Dec. 28, 2000
At a capitol legislative hearing today, a broad coalition of urban water agencies released "California's Bay-Delta Water Quality Dilemma: It's Getting Worse, Not Better," an analysis of water quality impacts of federal agency actions, and a companion case study on the December water quality crisis in the Delta."Delta water quality is already poor compared to national averages," noted Walt Wadlow, assistant general manager for the Santa Clara Valley Water District. "Water system management must move away from a rigid regulatory approach to a more flexible style that balances the needs of the environment with water quality and supply needs." Delta water quality was further degraded when federal regulators closed a key water control gate to aid migrating spring-run salmon. Within days, salinity levels in Delta water reached their highest level since 1977, the driest year of record. Despite credible evidence that the rebounding spring-run population would not be jeopardized, regulators delayed opening the gate to freshen Delta water. As a result, municipal water quality standards were violated and normal water diversions from the estuary were dramatically curtailed. Currently, San Luis Reservoir, the key south-of-Delta storage facility for the Silicon Valley, San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California is still short 600,000 acre-feet of water. This is equivalent to the annual water needs of three million people. Other federal actions addressed in the report that harm water quality and reduce water supplies include unplanned curtailments of normal Delta water diversion activities, and a shift of pumping to times of the year when water quality is poorer. (Source: Business Wire)

Image by Burnham RNG, courtesy twentytwo & brand.