“These voluntary agreements were created by the most powerful water users in California and usurped a scientifically informed, democratic process meant to protect water quality and salmon that was open to all Californians,” stated Regina Chichizola from Save California Salmon.
“Only about half of the water that is needed for water quality and salmon in the Delta will be provided. It is telling that Tribes, scientists, fishermen and even most cities that rely on clean water in the Sacramento River and Delta were left out of these negotiations. Restoration activities are no substitute for clean water,” she said.
“The agreements exemplify California’s commitment to maintaining its archaic and undemocratic water rights laws. These laws were created during a time when people of color and women could not vote or own land, and California policy supported the genocide of native people. These agreements seem to also put the needs of large landowners and crop exporters above fish and cities despite our drying climate,” Chichizola explained.
The group also criticized the Temperature Management Plan (TMP) for the Sacramento River.
“The proposed 2022 Sacramento River water operations agreement between State and federal agencies and Sacramento River settlement contractors is too little too late,” Chichizola said. “Save California Salmon submitted an alternative plan for water operations in 2021 that was rejected by the State Water Board. If adopted, it would have resulted in an additional 500,000 acre-feet of water stored in Shasta and Trinity reservoirs in 2022.”
“Our temperature management plan would have also protected the Trinity River’s salmon, which were not protected in 2021 and surely will not be protected in 2022. Trinity River salmon are important for tribal, commercial and sport fisheries and are totally ignored by the state and federal government,” she added.