Governor Newsom Doubles Down on Controversial Delta Tunnel

Chinook salmon

California’s Chinook Salmon One Step Closer to Extinction

Governor Newsom’s Water Resources Department applied for a permit today, which would allow the agency to build the controversial Delta tunnel project. The tunnel would divert large volumes of water out of the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary, even though state scientists recognize more water is needed for the recovery of the state’s iconic Chinook salmon and steelhead populations. The water will instead go to big cities and industrial agricultural operations south of San Francisco Bay, and outside of its watershed. 

Governor Newsom recently released a “salmon strategy” to restore the state’s imperiled salmon fishery, but his plan fails to provide a science-based solution for the state’s largest salmon runs, which spawn in the San Francisco Bay-Delta watershed. Instead, Newsom’s ‘strategy” calls for urban and agricultural water districts to reduce their water use voluntarily, and provides no safeguards for Bay-Delta water flows.       

Baykeeper and a number of other environmental, tribal, community, and government entities have filed multiple lawsuits to stop the Delta tunnel project. The California State Water Resources Control Board, which is responsible for maintaining the health of the state’s waterways, has the authority either to issue or deny the agency’s permit application. 

San Francisco Baykeeper managing attorney Eric Buescher issued the following response: 

“Governor Newsom is on a fast track to drive Bay-Delta salmon populations into extinction. Most scientists recognize that the Delta tunnel will accelerate the salmon’s decline. And, Newsom’s so-called ‘salmon strategy’ fails to provide any protections for these iconic fish in the Bay’s watershed, or for the people who depend on them.   

“Governor Newsom’s Delta tunnel would harm all of the communities that depend on the Bay and its tributary rivers, degrade the Bay’s water quality, and further decimate ecosystems that are already in crisis. Yet, the governor is hell-bent on sending more of the Bay’s fresh water to unsustainable industrial agriculture and to big cities outside of the watershed.  

“If the California State Water Resources Control Board follows its mission to protect the health of California’s waterways, it will have no choice but to deny Governor Newsom’s destructive project.”