Regional San has been actively engaged in efforts aimed at
solving the serious issues facing the Sacramento-San Joaquin
River Delta. A variety of potential solutions to the Delta’s
problems have been proposed, most of which aim to produce a Delta
that simultaneously supports a vibrant ecosystem and continues to
supply fresh water to large parts of the state.
As these solutions evolve, Regional San will continue to
contribute to the ongoing Delta dialogue with the aim of
supporting policy decisions that produce measurable and
cost-effective benefits for the Delta ecosystem.
Delta in Decline
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is an important economic and
environmental resource that benefits virtually all of California.
The Delta provides agricultural and municipal water for
two-thirds of the State’s population. It’s also a unique
ecosystem that provides crucial habitat for important species and
attractive destinations for recreational users. But today, there
is no question the Delta is in peril, as 1,100 miles of levees
are aging and deteriorating, water supply and reliability are in
jeopardy and native species are declining.
While multiple “stressors” are thought to be
responsible for the Delta’s problems, the science is not
conclusively settled as to what is contributing most to the
Delta’s decline. Many stressors have been shown to have a direct
impact on Delta. For decades, it has been well-known that water
projects that send Delta water to other parts of the state have
caused negative impacts to Delta fish species.
In August 2010, the State
Water Resources Control Board developed a report on how much
water the Delta environment needs to thrive. The report
determined that reducing the amount of water pumped out of the
Delta would improve the Delta ecosystem by protecting threatened
fish species like the delta smelt. Currently, the Water Board is
developing flow criteria for the Delta.
Other types of stressors that may be contributing to fish
declines include invasive species (such as clams and plants),
predation, and food limitation. Scientific research conducted by
many organizations is providing information on these multiple
stressors to the Delta ecosystem to help make management and
policy decisions that will benefit the Delta.
Regional San’s Discharge
In recent years, Sacramento’s wastewater discharge to the
Sacramento River—specifically the ammonia it contains—has been
looked at as a potential contributor to Delta decline downstream.
As a result, regulators at the State’s Central Valley Regional
Water Quality Control Board decided in 2010 to impose strict
new ammonia discharge rules that require substantial—and
costly—upgrades to Regional San’s treatment plant. These upgrades
are now being implemented as part of Regional San’s landmark
Shaping the Future
The Sacramento region must work together to inform policy
decisions that will dictate how the Delta region, and its water,
is utilized. By nature of our proximity to the Delta and
interdependence of water resources, Sacramento—its water supply,
land uses, wastewater and stormwater operations, flood protection
and economic health—will be impacted by policies aimed at solving
the issues facing the Delta and securing water for other parts of
The Sacramento region, through Regional San’s ratepayers, is
already making a huge investment in safeguarding the Delta’s
health through construction of the EchoWater Project. This project alone is
estimated to cost between $1.5-2.1 billion. When it becomes
operational, EchoWater will produce cleaner discharge that will
contribute to improved water quality in the Sacramento River.
Sacramento ratepayers and community leaders must stay informed
and engaged as Delta policies, programs and projects evolve in
the coming years. Regional collaboration and engagement will help
us meet the following goals:
- Ensuring Sacramento does not bear unfair and disproportionate
impacts as new Delta policies are considered.
- Securing additional funding to help offset the impacts of
Regional San’s stricter discharge permit and the pending
construction of the EchoWater Project. Working to create and
secure funding for sustainable water management practices
throughout the region, such as Regional San’s Harvest Water program.