Unraveling the Myths of “Restore the Delta” Testimony to State Water Board Regarding California WaterFix

Recently, “Restore the Delta” submitted testimony to the State Water Resources Control Board in response to the California WaterFix petition. Below are some facts to counter some of their false claims.

WaterFix has been studied and reviewed for over a decade by the state’s leading scientists, water and environmental experts and represents the only viable plan to protect our water supplies and the Delta.  Failure to act on WaterFix means promoting the status quo – which not only jeopardizes water security for 2/3 of our state but also threatens the very Delta they claim to want to protect.

Below, we dispel some of the myths that opponents continue to perpetuate.

MYTH:  The California WaterFix is out of line with state water policy.

FACT:  In 2009, the California Legislature passed the Delta Reform Act which calls for improved Delta conveyance to provide a more reliable water supply and to protect the Delta Ecosystem, precisely what California WaterFix works to achieve.

Delta Reform Act Section 85004:

  1. The economies of major regions of the state depend on the ability to use water within the Delta watershed or to import water from the Delta watershed. More than two-thirds of the residents of the state and more than two million acres of highly productive farmland receive water exported from the Delta watershed.
  2. Providing a more reliable water supply for the state involves implementation of water use efficiency and conservation projects, wastewater reclamation projects, desalination, and new and improved infrastructure, including water storage and Delta conveyance facilities.

The California WaterFix is completely in line with state water policy as it does not negatively impact water rights, protects existing water rights, will meet water quality standards and better protects threatened and endangered species in the Delta.

MYTH:  Proposed facilities with the California WaterFix represent a “new” water right, not a mere change to existing water rights.

FACT:  The State Water Project Analysis Office’s (SWPAO) testimony clearly shows that WaterFix will be operated consistent with existing water right permits, that the proposed project does not change the diversion rate or season of use permitted under the permits, and the petition and information provided by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) clearly demonstrate that the new points of diversion will not injure other legal users of water or in effect initiate a new water right.

Section 5 in The State Water Project Analysis Office’s testimony directly states, “DWR testimony and supporting documentation provide evidence… that the changes requested by DWR and Reclamation in their CWF Petition for Change do not constitute a new water right because the CWF Petition for Change does not include a request to change the source of water, allowable rate of diversion, maximum diversion to storage or season of use.

MYTH:  The California WaterFix would negatively alter water flow and water quality.

FACT:  Section in the Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report/Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) reads: “None of the alternatives would modify water deliveries to non-SWP and non-CVP water rights holders, including in-Delta water rights holders.”

WaterFix would operate within standards set by the Water Board and DWR has a proven track record of meeting the Water Board’s Delta water quality standards. When the Water Board establishes new standards, DWR will meet its obligations under them, as has been the case for nearly four decades. Meeting the Water Board’s current and future water quality standards would be easier with the flexibility provided by the dual conveyance.

Furthermore, the WaterFix actually improves reverse flows that hurt native fish. And EcoRestore will restore at least 30,000 acres of critical habitat in the Delta over the next four years. Read the full testimony here.

About Californians for Water Security

CWS is a growing coalition of more than 12,000 California citizens and 180 organizations representing business leaders, labor, family farmers, local governments, water experts, environmentalists, public safety officials, infrastructure groups, taxpayer associations, and others who support the plan to fix California’s broken water distribution system. The Governor’s plan was drafted after nearly a decade of scientific review and analysis by leading water experts and conservationists and has received input from leading scientists and engineers. The coalition is waging an active advertising, grassroots lobbying, social media and public advocacy campaign to support this important project to fix our aging water distribution infrastructure and improve water reliability and security throughout the state.

For more information on Californians for Water Security, visit: www.watersecurityca.com