California's unique San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary – including the rivers that feed it and the species that depend on it – is in a state of crisis because too much of its water is diverted. Incredibly, most water diverters in the Bay’s watershed are not required to allow water to flow to the Bay to protect water quality, or the fish and wildlife species and natural environments that make this ecosystem so unique. Many water users do not use water nearly as efficiently or wisely as they should. As a result, Central California's once abundant salmon runs and other fishes are in imminent danger of extinction, and the Bay-Delta estuary ecosystem that supports these and other economically critical species is collapsing.
This fall and early next year, the California State Water Resources Control Board will decide whether to require that more water make it from the San Joaquin River basin into the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary. Currently, two-thirds of the San Joaquin’s water is diverted upstream of the Delta, on average – in some years close to 90% of this river’s water is diverted upstream. Increasing flows from the San Joaquin River to the Bay-Delta estuary is a critical first step towards restoring the balance between the needs of California’s fish and wildlife, the many businesses that depend on healthy fisheries and rivers, and the other uses of water.
Based on the best available science, the State Water Board’s own findings show that 60% of the San Joaquin River basin's natural flow in the winter and spring is needed to fully restore the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary and the fish populations of the San Joaquin River and its tributaries. But, those who divert most of this river's water, including wealthy industrial agriculture interests, are lobbying to maintain the unacceptable status quo – or worse!
Now is the time to remind the Board to do what its own science shows is needed to restore the San Joaquin River and the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary.