State Water Board plan would require water rationing in the Bay Area

: sfchronicle – excerpt

Apart from a famous Mark Twain quote involving whiskey and fighting, no cliché about California water is more abused than the phrase “water wars.” However, in the instance of the State Water Resources Control Board’s plan to restore the San Joaquin River, the label fits. War has been declared on the Bay Area’s largest source of freshwater, with grave implications for residents and businesses that go way beyond letting your lawn go brown.

At issue is a proposal to increase freshwater flows on the San Joaquin River. The plan targets the San Joaquin’s three major tributaries — the Stanislaus, Merced and Tuolumne rivers — and would require the farms and cities that divert water from those rivers to scale back their diversions to leave more water for the environment.

The Bay Area has a big dog in this fight. The Tuolumne River is the region’s single largest source of freshwater, used by 2.7 million people in 33 cities across Alameda, San Francisco, Santa Clara, and San Mateo counties…

Without some sort of grand bargain that connects conservation and new environmental water with major new investments in storage, habitat, recycling and conveyance, piecemeal efforts like the state water board’s plan are likely doomed to wallow for decades in fruitless litigation. Bay Area residents and businesses should contact John Laird, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, and urge him to reject the current Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan…

Jim Wunderman is president and CEO of the Bay Area Council… (more)

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