Last month, the State Water Resources Control Board voted to approve an update to the Bay Delta Plan, which calls for large increases to water releases on the tributaries of the San Joaquin River above the Bay-Delta as part of an effort to restore the ecology and fish habitats in the region. The plan includes the Tuolumne River, which delivers water from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir to Bay Area customers. The SFPUC has voiced consistent concerns with the plan, as it would dramatically reduce the agency’s water supply, leaving it potentially unprepared to deal with extreme weather conditions brought on by climate change.
The SFPUC has developed an alternative to the State’s Bay-Delta Plan that will provide better outcomes for both the fish and our residents. We have spent $25 million studying the Tuolumne River to specifically understand how to best increase fish populations in that river. The State’s Bay Delta Plan is not based on, nor does it rely on, site-specific science studies of the Tuolumne River.
While the State Water Board approved the Bay-Delta Plan, the entity specifically acknowledged the progress of SFPUC and its partners for restoration and management plans for the Tuolumne River through voluntary agreements. The SFPUC has consistently stated that these types of voluntary agreements are the best path forward for the Bay-Delta Plan, as the settlements strike the right balance between environmental stewardship and water reliability.
We have proposed $76 million in funding for habitat restoration projects, such as creating more gravel areas for spawning beds and habitat areas to protect young salmon while they grow large enough to avoid predators. The SFPUC is currently evaluating which measures can be implemented immediately as a sign of good faith. Along with those measures, the SFPUC and its partners have proposed a schedule of functional water release flows to produce positive environmental results for the Tuolumne River.
The SFPUC has a proud history of pioneering progressive conservation policies. San Francisco was the first city in the nation to adopt legislation requiring large development projects to do onsite water recycling. We also sponsored legislation to help California establish public health standards for these water recycling systems that will help other localities do the same. We support the environment and we want the same outcomes for the Bay Delta—a healthy, thriving ecosystem for local fish and wildlife.
But we are also in charge of maintaining water reliability for 2.7 million residents in the Bay Area, and with climate change bringing on increased uncertainty, it is our duty to prepare responsibly for the future. The future of our City is a stake and we are planning accordingly. We will continue to pursue and advocate for voluntary agreements on the Tuolumne River, which will achieve the best results for the people and wildlife who rely on the Bay Delta.
The SCIENCE: ⇒ The science backing our plan
The SUPPORT: ⇒ Why Governor Newsom supports voluntary settlements
The PLAN: ⇒ A better balance for the Tuolumne
The NEWS: ⇒ Find out the latest developments
- S.F. Chronicle, November 5, 2018: Buying a myth on California water impedes real-world solutions
- S.F. Chronicle, November 2, 2018: SF Mayor Breed vetoes supervisors’ resolution that supported state river plan
- S.F. Chronicle, October 29, 2018: Letters to the Editor: Diversify Supply
- S.F. Examiner, August 22, 2018: Supporting a Bay-Delta Plan that balances water reliability and environmental sustainability
S.F. Chronicle, August 19, 2018: California water wars: State plans to cut SF’s Sierra supply to save delta