Bay-Delta Conservation


The Brown administration released a draft of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan on December 9 2013, and received public comments through July 2014. A final revised proposal is expected from the Administration later this year. Anyone who cares about San Francisco Bay should care what happens in the Delta. Our quality of life and economy depend on a healthy San Francisco Bay, and a healthy San Francisco Bay depends in large part on fresh water from the Delta.

Fresh water flows from the Delta into the Bay improve Bay water quality and provide healthy habitat for fish and wildlife, including the many endangered and threatened species that live in the Bay and along its shoreline.

Save The Bay is part of a broad coalition calling on the Governor to heed the advice of state water experts and reduce diversion of fresh water from the Delta, develop regional and local water supplies, and increase conservation efforts. That more sustainable approach will save money, and better balance the water needs of all Californians, fisheries, and farmers.

The draft plan includes a proposal to build two tunnels, 40 feet high and 35 miles long, to move water from the north Delta to pumps in the south Delta. This plan could decrease fresh water flows to San Francisco Bay, especially in drier years. Reduced flows into the Bay could further reduce already-decimated salmon populations and increase salinity in sensitive fresh water habitat.

The scope of the current plan process is enormous, and could ultimately become one of the largest and most expensive public works projects in U.S. history, with no guarantee that it will provide a more reliable water supply for all Californians and protect, restore, and enhance the Delta ecosystem, as the Governor asserts.

Water wars in California are nothing new. The battle to stop the proposed Peripheral Canal more than 25 years ago was an important turning point in California water history. Save The Bay played a lead role then, exposing the threat the canal posed to San Francisco Bay, and mobilizing a large coalition to defeat it at the ballot box.

In the News

December 9, 2013: California: Details of massive $25 billion water plan released by Jerry Brown administration

“Paying for the $25 billion project -- which is certain to face years of lawsuits and probably a statewide ballot measure -- is also uncertain. State officials say water agencies will pay for about two-thirds of the cost through higher water rates. The rest they project to come from a state water bond on the November 2014 ballot and money from Congress, neither of which is guaranteed.”

November 23, 2013:Why California water debate is going nowhere fast

“At its worst, this could be one of the biggest water grabs in state history. And for California, that's saying something. The focus instead should be the operating conditions for the delta, particularly the amount of water that needs to flow through it annually to maintain the health of the estuary.”

November 18, 2013: Why the Bay Area should care about the California delta

“If you savor locally caught salmon, the delta's health is crucial to maintaining the supply. If you love the dominant feature of our home, the San Francisco Bay, you should care about maintaining freshwater flows from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.”

February 19, 2013: Delta pipes pitch less than perfect.

“The pipe idea - single or double - won't address the need to take less water from the delta (delta exports rose to a record in 2011), and it disturbs the flow through the delta needed to maintain the salmon population.”

March 30, 2012: Prestigious panel agrees: Delta is stressed, with no easy fix

“Since 2002, nine native fish species have experienced steep population declines, capped by a declared "disaster" for Sacramento River salmon that included an unprecedented two-year closure of commercial fishing.”