San Francisco Bay desperately needs a plan for sustainable water use that protects our fish, wildlife, water quality and the communities that depend on it. Instead, Governor Newsom is giving away water the Bay needs, subsidizing industrial agribusinesses at every turn. In dry years, his agencies have slashed environmental safeguards in order to deliver more water to cattle and water-intensive crops like almonds and rice. In wet years, the Newsom administration cuts environmental protections again, handing out water that our Bay and its rivers need to recover from drought.
The results: California will not have a salmon fishing season this year for only the 2nd time in the state’s history. Native American tribes will continue to suffer from the destruction of an important food source and their fishing culture. Six of the Bay’s native fish species are listed as endangered, and more may join that list soon. Meanwhile, communities in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta grapple with toxic algae blooms, caused by inadequate river flows, every summer.
Since 2009, the State Water Resources Control Board has been developing a science-based plan that would require increased river flows into the Bay. The new protections would force both agribusinesses and cities to use water sustainably. But Governor Newsom has actively blocked this plan. If Governor Newsom doesn’t stop blocking action soon, San Francisco Bay will no longer support the fish and wildlife species that people have relied on for thousands of years.
Native fishes like salmon, steelhead, and smelt need cold, flowing rivers to survive. And many other creatures need fish to survive. As fisheries crumble, a domino effect occurs throughout the food web, starving everything from orca whales to osprey.
For years, Governor Newsom has tried to negotiate a compromise with Big Ag. Environmental organizations, fishing representatives, and tribes have been excluded from those talks—and the latest proposals don’t do nearly enough to protect our rivers, our fish, or our communities. San Francisco Bay needs a plan to protect the quantity and quality of water it receives from its watershed—and that plan must be based on science, not the demands of powerful water districts.
After a decade of failed negotiations with corporate agribusiness, it’s time to put our rivers and communities first. The State Water Board can avert a crisis in San Francisco Bay—in fact, it is legally required to do so.
Want to learn more? Make sure to catch the award-winning film, "River's End: California's Latest Water War", which is now available for streaming: