Water Stakeholders Report Declining Delta Water Quality

January 31, 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)

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