Outcry over outflow

Recent storms have boosted the amount of water flowing through the Delta, and San Joaquin Valley farmers expressed frustration today that more of that water isn’t being sent their way, given that more than half a million acres are expected to be fallowed this year.

“As we speak this very moment there’s 25,000 (cubic feet per second) flowing as outflow out to the ocean. At the same time, we’re pumping 4,400 cfs,” said Dan Nelson, head of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, at a drought meeting held at U.C. Merced today.

“I ask you,” Nelson said, addressing State Water Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus, “is this the balance that you anticipated? Is this the balance that you’re working for? I don’t think so. We knew this storm was going to happen last week. Why didn’t we prepare for it?”

Marcus responded that the state board is waiting for an emergency request from the state and federal water projects, which could alter how much water can be pumped south.

“My understanding is they’re talking about it,” she said. “We can’t do it on our own.”

But the spike in flows will probably last only another four or five days, Nelson countered. “While we set up forums to talk about it, water’s flowing to the ocean.”

“I don’t disagree,” Marcus said.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the debate, environmental organizations on Monday formally protested emergency changes that have already been made in response to the drought, arguing that “gross mismanagement” of the state and federal projects is what brought the system to its knees.

Waiving standards that were established to protect the Delta “has become standard operating procedure,” the groups say.

But juvenile salmon need water left in the streams to make it out to the ocean.

“(It is not) in the public interest to ignore and violate federally promulgated water quality standards,” the groups argued.

Read their protest letterĀ here.

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