In San Francisco City and County joined six irrigation districts in a lawsuit against the state of California concerning the State Water Resources Control Board’s updated Bay-Delta Plan. The plan’s objective is to fortify the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta which is a primary source of water for the state and according to the Water Education Foundation, is California’s “most crucial water and ecological resource.” Over the years, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta has experienced deteriorating water quality and wild-life habitat conditions. The Bay-Delta plan was approved by the Control Board in December and since then those affected districts have attempted to negotiate the terms of the plan. Although progress has been made, time is running out to contest the plan, which compelled San Francisco to join the lawsuit.
The plan calls for reductions in the amount of water that can be taken from the rivers that feed the delta, including the Tuolumne River and Hetchy Reservoir which feed the San Francisco area. Currently, farms and cities have access to about 80 percent of the water flowing in rivers; however, that amount will drop to 60 percent when the plan goes into effect. Estimates show a 2.5 percent cut in production for farmers in the region, and for those who grow certain crops, such as peaches and alfalfa, the cut in production will be even higher.
The health of the water systems is important, but the issue highlights the inherent conflict between the environment and human interests. Many of the plaintiffs have claims to the river water that go back a century or more, and therefore, the right of the Control Board to implement a plan that infringes on those rights comes into question. The lawsuit also maintains that the board underestimated the consequences to cities and farms, especially in times of drought.
All involved in the case will continue to work toward a compromise that would like include both reductions in water as well as environmental improvements. San Francisco and the other plaintiffs are not opposed to restoring river conditions, but they cannot do so at the expense of water for its residents and businesses.
 “Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.” Water Education Foundation, www.watereducation.org/aquapedia/sacramento-san-joaquin-delta.
 Alexander, Kurtis. “San Francisco Sues State over Potentially Drastic Water Reductions.” SFChronicle.com, San Francisco Chronicle, 11 Jan. 2019, www.sfchronicle.com/science/article/San-Francisco-sues-state-over-potentially-drastic-13524356.php.
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