Environmental Law Clinic, Stanford Law School
Little Manila Rising
Restore the Delta
Save California Salmon
Represented by the Environmental Law Clinic at Stanford, California tribes and Delta environmental justice organizations last week received a Denial of Request for Reconsideration from the State Water Resources Control Board in response to the coalition’s Request for Reconsideration of the Board decision in June 2022 of denying the coalition’s Petition to Review and Revise the Bay-Delta Water Quality Standards.
The Request urged the Board to address its decades-long failure to update water quality standards as required under state and federal law and its failure to set forth a pathway to remedy the discriminatory effects of that inaction on Indigenous Peoples, communities of color, and other vulnerable groups in the Delta.
The Request for Reconsideration detailed the Board’s ongoing violation of its statutory duty to review the Bay-Delta Plan every three years pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act and California’s Porter-Cologne Act and its failure to conduct formal government-to-government consultation with affected tribes as required under Assembly Bill 52 and the Board’s own Tribal Consultation Policy.
“The Board’s denial of the Request for Reconsideration clearly indicates that the Board will not act on its own to comply with its statutory duties to protect the public and beneficial uses in the Bay-Delta or to remedy the adverse impacts of its failures on disadvantaged communities,” said Rica Garcia, Environmental Law Clinic, Stanford Law School.
Regina Chichizola of Save California Salmon said, “Fish kills, poor water quality, and toxic algal blooms are impacting many of California’s communities and drinking water sources right now. We are facing salmon extinction, loss of jobs, and reservoirs that are nearly dry in the North State, but still large agricultural interests will not do their part to save water. For decades the state has pushed for voluntary water sharing agreements with industries instead of updating water quality plans and reforming our racist water rights systems.”
Dillon Delvo, executive director, Little Manila Rising said, “We strongly disagree, as the Board contends that ‘extraordinary time and resources are being invested to implement the Bay-Delta Plan update and direct you to observe the unhealthy, and for all practical purposes, inaccessible conditions of the Stockton waterfront as evidence. This new rejection letter is more evidence that our communities remain an afterthought to the control board. We remain convinced that it is the responsibility of the SWRCB to not only acknowledge this history but to do everything within its power to redress that history through its rulemaking authority.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has now sent a letter to the State Water Resources Control Board regarding the 2018 Bay-Delta Implementation NOP. The EPA acknowledged environmental justice concerns similar to those raised in the Request for Reconsideration and urged the Board to engage in meaningful dialogue with Indigenous Peoples and community-based groups in the decision-making process and to consider water quality standards that address tribal and environmental justice concerns.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s letter to the Board highlights the urgency and importance of the issues the tribes/EJ coalition is fighting for.