The San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary is on the brink of environmental disaster. The fish, wildlife, drinking water, and the many other uses it provides are all declining due to massive water exports. An outdated 20-year-old Water Quality Control Plan allows more than half the water needed for the delta’s ecological health to be diverted away for unsustainable Big Agriculture on the west and south San Joaquin Valley.
Right now, one or more runs of salmon, which support the state’s declining salmon industry, delta smelt, sturgeon, and other species that are listed under the federal and/or state Endangered Species Act are closer to extinction (potentially as early as summer of 2016) than ever before, and other species could soon be added to the list. Warm and stagnant water in the SF Bay-Delta is leading to the emergence of toxic algae (known to cause liver cancer), which threaten cities and recreational users. Salt water intrusion coming in from the Bay due to lack of freshwater flows increasingly threatens the SF Bay-Delta’s $5.2 billion annual agricultural economy.
The estuary can’t wait any longer for new standards that improve flows and protect our water quality. New water quality standards that truly protect communities and species is a proactive step that helps ensure reliable water supplies for all users of the Bay-Delta, whether they are cities or farmers in southern California or northern California, because they set the threshold for sustainable exports of water from the estuary.
Join residents of the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary and concerned Californians who are asking the State Water Board to “Save the Bay or Get Out of the Way.” Under the Clean Water Act, the federal government delegates the setting of protective water quality standards to the states – that means if California can’t get the job done in time, it’s up to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to get the job done.