Each year since 1986, American Rivers has released its America's Most Endangered Rivers report to spotlight the nation's ten most imperiled rivers. This year, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta found itself at #2 on the Most Endangered Rivers List. California's Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta supplies drinking water to 25 million people, irrigates the country's most productive agricultural land, and provides critical habitat for the Pacific salmon fishery. However, outdated water supply and flood management systems have decimated the ecosystem and closed the commercial salmon fishery, leaving Californians ever more vulnerable to droughts and floods. Now two separate efforts to re-engineer the water supply and flood control system threaten to increase water diversions and preclude floodplain restoration. Before his term ends, Governor Schwarzenegger must act to advance river restoration, public safety, and water supply reliability.
The current water supply and flood management systems in the Delta are driving fish species to extinction while not securing reasonable water for those who depend on it nor providing adequate protection for communities threatened by floods and rising sea level. For this reason, American Rivers has identified the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2010.
The Central Valley Flood Management Plan process, ordered by the California legislature and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), must be coordinated and work in tandem to reduce flood risk and have an enforceable plan to secure water supplies and restore the Delta ecosystem.
California voters recently passed bonds providing $5 billion to upgrade flood protections for the Central Valley. Learning from the Hurricane Katrina disaster where a highly engineered system was overwhelmed by nature, I urge you to ensure that these funds do not simply build bigger levees, but rather go towards modern flood management techniques that work with nature. Green infrastructure approaches like creating flood bypasses and setting levees further back from the river's edge will reduce flood risks while providing benefits to fish, wildlife, and water quality.
I urge you to incorporate river and flood plain restoration as the foundation of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and Central Valley Flood Plan. California needs your leadership to ensure that 21st century solutions are adopted to address the state's most valuable and threatened natural resource, the Sacramento-San Joaquin system.
Thank you for considering my views. Please notify me in writing of your decision.