Council Hears from State Water Board Chair on Controversial Cuts

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Against a backdrop of lawsuits and accusations of water grabs, state Water Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus addressed a packed house at the Bay Area Council Water Committee meeting on Thursday (Feb. 7). Marcus tried to assuage fears that a controversial state water plan would cripple the Bay Area’s ability to build homes. The recently approved Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan would reallocate water from the Bay Area and Central Valley to aquatic ecosystems on the San Joaquin River and its tributaries. According to the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, the plan would significantly reduce the Bay Area’s dry year water supplies, and could even halt construction projects in areas heavily dependent on Hetch Hetchy water (which include more than 30 cities in four counties).

The City of San Francisco sued the state last month to protect its water rights, and the city’s water utility has proposed an alternative plan that would combine smaller volumes of water with targeted habitat investments. Marcus, whose term ends this month and whose reappointment is currently under review by the Newsom Administration, emphasized that the Water Board had flexibility to implement the plan to ensure water users weren’t put at risk. To engage with the Bay Area Council’s Water & Climate Resilience Committee, please contact Vice President Adrian Covert.

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