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Delta Deception: Health of Delta Depends Solely on Water Deliveries
Delta Deception: Health of Delta Depends Solely on Water Deliveries
11 May 2016

Half-truths about California’s water system do not advance an informed public discussion. Communications that lack the proper context, omit details or distort data can lead to the wrong conclusion. The State Water Contractors launched the “Delta Deception” series to fill in the blanks with some ongoing discussions about California water supplies.

Today’s Delta Deception comes from the editorial, “Must fight Metropolitan Water's purchase of islands,” written by the East Bay Times editorial board and published in The Mercury News on April 21, 2016:

"Every serious scientific study shows that the Delta's health is continuing to deteriorate because too much water is already being drawn and sent south."

Truth be told: Serious scientific studies have consistently concluded that multiple factors affect the health of the Delta – its condition today is not a result of “too much water” being drawn south.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) conducted a review of the factors affecting the health of the Delta, calling into question the credibility of those who focus solely on water operations when “considerable uncertainties” remain surrounding the degree to which flow management affects the survival of listed species. The NAS review found “a variety of other significant environmental factors have potentially large effects on the listed fish species.” The Delta Stewardship Council conducted an assessment of Delta stressors and found a long list, including: climate change, population growth, previous sediment and mercury discharge during the gold mining era, old infrastructure such as the network of crumbling levees, diversions, landscape changes, land-use decisions and more.

Despite years of increasingly stringent environmental regulations limiting water supplies for cities, people and farms, dramatic cutbacks in water deliveries have yielded no demonstrable benefit to the Delta environment or fish species. To suggest that science shows that the Delta’s health continues to deteriorate due solely to the amount of water delivered to Californians is deceiving.

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The State Water Contractors is a statewide, non-profit association of 27 public agencies from Northern, Central and Southern California that purchase water under contract from the California State Water Project. Collectively the State Water Contractors deliver water to more than 25 million residents throughout the state and more than 750,000 acres of agricultural land.