California Governor Gavin Newsom announces new framework for collaborative approach to Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta Conservation

February 5, 2020

Statement of American Rivers President and CEO Bob Irvin
February 4, 2020
Contact: Amy Kober, 503-708-1145

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced today that his water team has proposed a new framework for reaching an agreement among California cities, farms and conservation interests to restore fish and wildlife in the San Francisco Bay-Delta and its tributaries.

The proposal establishes a framework for Voluntary Agreements among water interests to work collaboratively to increase instream flows in the Sacramento/San Joaquin river system and the Delta, restore thousands of acres of habitat for fish and wildlife, and establish a science program to ensure results and help address scientific uncertainties. If successfully completed, the Voluntary Agreements would be evaluated by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act, and if deemed adequate the SWRCB would adopt the VAs as part of the updated Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan, mandated by the federal Clean Water Act and the state law to protect the beneficial uses of the Bay-Delta. 

The framework and Voluntary Agreements are intended to break the logjam of rancorous debate and litigation that has frustrated state objectives to restore the ecological health of the Sacramento/San Joaquin and the Bay Delta, save the system’s critically endangered fish, and secure reliable water supplies for municipal and agricultural use. Since the adoption of the current Water Quality Control Plan, salmon and other native fish have continued to decline. Consequently, American Rivers believes it is time to try a new approach to protect the Bay-Delta.

Bob Irvin, President and CEO of American Rivers made the following statement:

“The framework announced by Governor Newsom is a promising step to save the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta system.  With the prospect of years of litigation over a new Bay-Delta Plan and potentially decades of water rights adjudications, the people and the fish and wildlife of the Central Valley and the Bay Delta can’t afford to wait while the ecosystem continues to decline. While there remain significant and complicated issues to be resolved, we believe the framework for Voluntary Agreements has a much better chance of significantly improving conditions on a meaningful timeline for the people, fish and wildlife of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta system.”