SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — As drought conditions continue, people who rely on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are demanding California make sure their communities are protected.
Early Tuesday, a group gathered in front of the California State Water Resources Control Board building to demand the state enforce the Bay-Delta plan.
It’s been a long fight and the group said enough is enough. For many of the tribes, the Delta is an important lifeline.
“My people have stewarded and utilized resources from the Delta for sustenance, medicine, transportation, shelter, clothing, ceremonies since time memorial,” Malissa Tayaba, vice-chair of the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, said.
But as time goes on, dry weather and drought conditions worsen, and the Delta hasn’t been as useful for the tribes as it once was.
“The degrading condition of the Delta impedes our cultural practices and reconnection,” Tayaba said.
And for many of these tribes, they believe the state can help fix that.
“The state water board must take action to correct the flow conditions for me, my family, and our community,” Gloria Alonso Cruz, a climate water advocate, said.
The tribal leaders and environmental justice groups called out to the state water board in the building demanding changes.
“The board must review the Bay-Delta plan every three years, and it must update the water quality standards in it to protect public trust resources,” Sydney Speizman, with Stanford Environmental Law Clinic said.
On Tuesday afternoon, a petition was filed claiming the state water board is in violation of federal law by not updating the Bay-Delta plan.
“We’re petitioning the board to open a rulemaking that will fulfill its legal duties to responsibly manage the Delta and reverse the pattern of putting big (agriculture) and other water exporters before the needs of tribes, Delta communities, and the health of this eco-system,” Speizman said.
Members even showed up to the board meeting to take a stand.
A spokesperson for the state water board said it got the petition but will need time to review it before responding. They also said there was an update to the plan in 2018 that included updates to the Sacramento River and Delta in the next two years.
The group that met Tuesday to petition the state water board said it’ll give the board 30-days to respond.
The state water board’s full statement can be read below:
The State Water Board just received the petition and will need to evaluate it carefully before responding. Updating the Bay-Delta Plan is one of the board’s highest priorities. The board completed a significant update in 2018 for the Lower San Joaquin River tributaries and anticipates completing updates for the Sacramento River and Delta in the next two years. This process will include an analysis of the Voluntary Agreements recently developed by the California Natural Resources Agency, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Department of Water Resources, and public water agencies.
In the board’s 2018 resolution adopting updates to the Bay-Delta Plan, the board provided opportunities for Voluntary Agreement parties to conclude their negotiations and present an agreement to the board for consideration as part of future Bay-Delta Plan updates. However, that negotiation process did not and does not supplant the robust public, technical, and legal processes the board has and will follow under the Water Code and the California Environmental Quality Act as part of the Bay-Delta Plan update process. The board will evaluate the Voluntary Agreements in conjunction with other alternatives for updating the Bay-Delta Plan.
Throughout the entire Bay-Delta Plan update process, the board will consider actions to reasonably protect all beneficial uses.