Proposed Water Cuts Hit SF, Silicon Valley

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The Bay Area could lose as much as 10 percent of its water supply if draft recommendations by the State Water Resources Control Board are adopted next year. The Bay Area Council Water Committee is currently reviewing the proposed rules closely and considering strategies to protect the region’s water supply while supporting efforts to restore California’s iconic delta ecosystem. The state board argues the cuts are necessary to provide more water for the San Joaquin river, one of the two rivers that feed the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the largest estuary on the west coast.

Current diversions for farms and cities leaves between 15 to 20 percent of the San Joaquin’s natural flows to reach the estuary. The water board wants to increase that figure to between 35 and 40 percent. That would mean big cuts to the regional Hetch Hetchy water system, which serves 2.6 million customers in 30 cities across four counties, including San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which owns and operates the Hetch Hetchy system, estimates the cuts could cost tens of thousands of jobs and require customers, already some of the most efficient water users in California, to conserve an additional 40 percent during drought years, and exacerbate the region’s housing crisis. To engage in the Council’s water policy work, please contact Vice President Adrian Covert.

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