proposed water cuts could be devastating for bay area

The Bay Area Council voiced strong concerns at a State Water Resources Board hearing Tuesday (Jan. 3) on proposed changes to how water is allocated for urban, agricultural and environmental uses that could mean 50 percent cuts for 2.6 million of our region’s residential and commercial users. The Council said in testimony that the proposed changes could be devastating for a region that generates a huge portion of the state’s economic activity and that already has the lowest per capita water use rates in the state. The changes would take a disproportionate share of water that the Bay Area receives from the Tuolumne River to increase flows for native salmon and other aquatic species. About 48 percent of the Tuolumne river is diverted for agriculture in the Central Valley and 38 percent is left for the environment. Just 14 percent of the river is diverted for the Bay Area, but that 14 percent accounts for 85 percent of San Francisco’s drinking water and 55 percent of the drinking water used overall in Silicon Valley and by the Alameda County Water Agency. The Council is urging the state to take whatever measures necessary to make up the cuts through voluntary settlements, or purchases, among existing water rights holders that would pose less threat to our region’s water reliability. To engage in the Council’s water policy work, please contact Vice President Adrian Covert.

(Photo: Modesto Bee)

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