San Francisco Baykeeper submitted a letter in support of a petition filed last month with the California Water Resources Control Board by the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, Save California Salmon, Little Manila Rising, and Restore the Delta. The petitioners have asked the state to complete and implement updates to the water quality control plan for the Bay-Delta, now over a decade past due. Governor Newsom has blocked progress on completing the plan in his pursuit of "voluntary" deals with water districts. Meanwhile, Central Valley water quality and fish populations are in free fall.
The water board adopted a racial equity resolution late last year that pledges to confront the historical effects of institutional racism (which Baykeeper commented on at the time). The petitioners have asked the board to live up to its commitments and called for a Bay-Delta plan that provides protection for fish, wildlife, and traditional Tribal uses, reallocates water rights as necessary to increase flows through the Delta, and improves water temperature conditions upstream.
Baykeeper senior attorney Eric Buescher issued the following statement:
"Baykeeper supports the Tribes and Delta community groups in their just call for Governor Newsom and his administration to update water quality standards for the Bay, Delta, and Central Valley, which is now over a decade behind schedule. This petition puts a human face on the harm caused by the Newsom administration's failure to protect San Francisco Bay and its watershed. The Water Board needs to do its job and not be beholden to California's antiquated and unjust water rights system, with its origins in racism and the state-sponsored genocide of California’s Native peoples.
"The Board made lofty commitments to principles of justice last year, and now has a chance to follow through and implement policies that will protect our fish, water quality, and communities, rather than perpetuating a 19th century water rights system that has caused the current crisis."