Updates from Friends of the San Francisco Estuary
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Water News for the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary


May 2016

What's Happening Today:

On Monday May 9, Governor Brown issued Executive Order B-37-16 to establish longer term and permanent water conservation measures, building on the emergency regulations of last year. Key elements of the executive order include:
  • Development of new water use efficiency targets for urban water agencies that go beyond 20 x 2020 goals;
  • Permanent prohibition of wasteful practices such as hosing down sidewalks and other hardscapes, washing automobiles without a shut-off nozzle, and over-watering lawns;
  • Stronger requirements for Urban Water Management Plans that include planning for drought of at least 5 years;
  • Updated requirements for Agricultural Water Management Plans that include water shortage planning and measures to increase water use efficiency;
  • Directing urban and agricultural water suppliers to improve data collection and water system management.
The State Water Resources Control Board also released proposed water conservation regulations that amend some emergency measures in place since 2015. More information on both announcements can be found on Maven's Notebook here and here.

The Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan, which has not undergone a comprehensive update since 1995, sets the regulatory standards for water quality in the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary. These standards include the amount of fresh water that flows out of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, through the Delta, and into San Francisco Bay. Under the Clean Water Act, this plan is supposed to undergo a review every three years. The last review of the plan was completed in 2006, but did not include any substantive amendments to the water quality standards.
Letters Calling for Immediate Updates 
On May 3, eleven Bay and Delta legislators sent a letter to the State Water Resources Control Board, calling for an expedited update to the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Board. The letter, sent May 3, was signed by Senators Wolk, Hancock, Hill, and Leno and Assemblymembers Chiu, Chu, Dodd, Gordon, Levine, Mullin, and Thurmond. This letter echoes the letters sent on April 5 by over 150 business, recreation, and conservation organizations to the State Board and EPA, urging the State Board to complete the update process in the next one to two years in order to better protect fish and wildlife. Friends of the San Francisco Estuary was one of the signatories to the April letters. All letters can be found on the Friends of the San Francisco Estuary's website.

Lawsuit Filed by NRDC et. al.
On April 22, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Bay Institute, and Defenders of Wildlife filed a lawsuit against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in response to more than 20 decisions made by California’s State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) over the last three years to weaken or waive water quality standards in the Bay-Delta. The lawsuit claims that under Section 303(c) of the Clean Water Act, the EPA is required to review and approve of changes to water quality standards before they can be implemented. This comes at a time when the Delta smelt and winter run Chinook salmon are at near extinction. Read the complaint here and here.

Measure AA will be on the June 2016 ballot.  If passed, this annual parcel tax would benefit our Bay and the economy by providing funding for:
  • Habitat restoration for commercially valuable Chinook salmon and wildlife endemic to the Bay
  • Flood protection and sea level rise adaptation for lower income communities like Alviso, East Palo Alto, Oakland, Marin City and Richmond
  • Increasing shoreline public access
  • Improvements to water quality
  • Reducing trash, pollution and toxins in the Bay
This measure would generate $500 million over 20 years and could help leverage more state and federal funding for more restoration projects. 

Elected officials endorsing this measure include: Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. Mayors Ed Lee, Sam Liccardo, Libby Schaaf and many more.  Supporting organizations include Friends of the San Francisco Estuary, Save the Bay, the Bay Area Council, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.  Find the complete list here.
Statement of support from Friends of the San Francisco Estuary:
“Measure AA will help fund essential projects throughout San Francisco Bay that will improve habitat and water quality, projects that Friends of the San Francisco Estuary have been supporting for many years.”


Statewide snowpack at 51% of average
DWR California Data Exchange Center, 5/11/16

Yolo Bypass-Cache Slough coordination moves forward
Maven's Notebook, 5/11/16

Lake Mead expected to drop below critical 1,000 ft. mark
Las Vegas Sun, 5/11/16

World Bank predicts global water shortages will cause economic stress
Washington Post, 5/10/16

Recycled water to be provided to San Joaquin Valley wildlife refuges
YubaNet, 5/10/16

Mono Lake near crisis ‘tipping point’
Water Deeply, 4/27/16
Friends of the San Francisco Estuary is looking for an intern with a background in environmental or ecological economics! Please visit our website for more info:
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