In a blow to growers in the San Joaquin Valley, the California State Water Resource Control Board (WRCB) released a draft proposal to update water quality requirements for salinity in the southern Delta and water flows in major tributaries to the San Joaquin River (the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced rivers), which drain into the southern Delta.
Hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water will remain in the San Joaquin river system to protect endangered fish. Currently only 20% of the river flows unimpeded to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. With this new proposal, flow will be raised to 30% to 50%, “with a starting point of 40%,” says a WRCB news release.
The proposal also updates the current salinity objective. This salinity objective would change from the current objective that varies between 0.7 deciSiemens per meter (dS/m) in the April through August time period and 1.0 dS/m September through March, to a year-round objective of 1.0 dS/m.
The Sacramento Bee reports the proposed change in water flow would leave between 288,000 and 485,000 acre-feet of water of additional water in the river system, cutting water supplies to farmers.
Mike Wade of the California Farm Water Coalition tells The Bee growers may be forced out of business or take hundreds of thousands of acres of land out of production to cope with the drop off of water delivery.
Public hearings on the proposal will be held on Nov. 2 and Nov. 10 in Sacramento, and Nov. 4 in the Modesto area. Comments on the draft proposal will be accepted through Nov. 15.