Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Salmon Preservation Act

Since the construction of the federal Central Valley Project, California’s water needs have grown dramatically while supplies have stayed virtually steady. In the past few years, we saw capricious curtailment of water deliveries to California communities with the goal of preserving the lifecycle of Pacific salmon and the Delta smelt. Such curtailments cost thousands of jobs, inflicted up to 40 percent unemployment in some towns, and fallowed hundreds of thousands of acres of fertile farmland. During this time, the Federal government has ignored thousands of in-Delta water diversions that have significantly impacted Delta water quality and fish habitat. Furthermore, federal law continues to allow the City of San Francisco to flood the famous Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park so they can divert pristine Toulumne River water around the Delta to provide drinking water to its residents. Both of these actions have evaded the Endangered Species Act and eliminated vital freshwater flows into the Delta which could be used to protect Pacific salmon and Delta smelt. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Salmon Preservation Act will close legal loopholes which have been exploited by wealthy Delta farmers and the social elite in San Francisco. The bill requires both Delta farmers and the City of San Francisco to abide by the Endangered Species Act and ensure they pay their fair share to restore the water quality in the Delta.
Regulation and Measurement of in-Delta Water Diversions According to the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta: “Some 2,000-3,000 largely agricultural, unscreened and unregulated water diversions currently operate in the Delta. A 1993 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listing of the delta smelt estimated that local in-Delta diverters export up to 5,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) from the Delta - or almost half as much as the combined federal and state pumping plants maximum export rate of up to 11,000 cfs. The number of agricultural in-Delta diversions has expanded over the past decade and therefore, the rate of unscreened and unregulated diversions has likely increased. Unscreened in-Delta diversions impact the delta smelt through entrainment and hydrodynamic influence. Moreover, state and federal regulators have expended little or no effort to date to regulate or monitor these diversions in order to slow the decline of endangered species.” While a 2009 California water law created a Delta Watermaster with the authority to monitor and enforce state law on water diversions, little to nothing has been done by the Delta Watermaster to
____________________________________________________________________________________ Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Salmon Preservation Act (Legislative Summary) 112th Congress

address this pervasive problem. Yet the federal and state pumping operations at the south end of the Delta have had to comply with stringent federal biological decisions put in place under the auspices of the Endangered Species Act. This uneven application of the law must end. This act will require the Secretary of the Interior to investigate all in-Delta water diversion facilities to determine compliance with the Endangered Species Act. Those facilities that are found to be out of compliance shall be required to obtain an Endangered Species Act incidental take permit. Furthermore, the act requires any facility required to obtain an incidental take permit install a water measuring device and report to the Secretary of the Interior monthly detailing the quantities of water diverted. Regulation and Annual Rental Fee of Hetch Hetchy Water and Power System According to the advocacy group Restore Hetch Hetchy: “Situated inside Yosemite National Park, the Hetch Hetchy Valley was described by John Muir as “one of nature’s rarest and most precious mountain The Bathtub Ring of Hetch Hetchy Valley inside Yosemite National Park temples.” The pristine Tuolumne River flowed along the valley floor, surrounded by flowered meadows and ancient forests which teemed with bears and bobcats, rushes and eagles. Indeed, Hetch Hetchy Valley was considered one of the most unique and diverse ecosystems in the world. Initially protected by the establishment of Yosemite National Park, in 1913 the city of San Francisco won congressional approval to build the O’Shaughnessy Dam which buried this extraordinary wilderness valley under 300 feet of water.”

____________________________________________________________________________________ Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Salmon Preservation Act (Legislative Summary) 112th Congress

Since the construction of the Hetch Hetchy Water and Power System a century ago, the environmental damage to our nation’s flagship National Park has never been mitigated. The diversion of pristine Toulumne River water around the Delta directly to the taps of San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara (Silicon Valley), and Alameda (Oakland and Berkley) Counties residents1 has contributed to diminishing water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and put a number of endangered species at risk throughout the Stanislaus County water shed. To add insult to injury the Raker Act, enacted nearly 100 years ago, mandated that the City of San Francisco pay the Department of the Interior a meager annual charge of $30,000 for the easement to use Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park as a water reservoir. Even with the negative effects to the environment, this annual charge, set in the early 1910s, has never increased. Nearly forty years after the enactment of the Endangered Species Act, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Salmon Preservation Act will require the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) to abide by our nation’s environmental laws and obtain an Endangered Species Act incidental take permit. This is the first step in reversing the environmental damage the Hetch Hetchy Water and Power System has caused. Moreover, the act mandates the SFPUC pay the fair market value for the use of Yosemite National Park and its resources. This is done through a “Net Benefits Methodology” developed by the National Park Service to determine the annual permit fee for a hydroelectric facility within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. Of the charges paid through the “Net Benefits Methodology”, seventy-five percent shall be deposited into a restoration fund which can be used to buyout salmon fishing permits, build salmon and Delta smelt hatcheries, and conduct salmon and Delta smelt restoration programs. Net Benefits Methodology

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park Hydro Facility: Kaweah #3 Power: 25MW Annual Permit Fee: $1.4 Million

Yosemite National Park Hydro Facility: O’Shaughnessy Dam Power: 500MW Estimated Annual Permit Fee: $28 Million

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According to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission they “are the third largest municipal utility in California, serving 2.5 million residential, commercial, and industrial customers in the Bay Area. Approximately one-third of our delivered water goes to retail customers in San Francisco, while wholesale deliveries to 28 suburban agencies in Alameda, Santa Clara, and San Mateo counties comprise the other two-thirds. The Hetch Hetchy watershed, an area located in Yosemite National Park, provides approximately 85% of San Francisco's total water needs. Spring snowmelt runs down the Tuolumne River and fills Hetch Hetchy, the largest reservoir in the Hetch Hetchy water system. This surface water in the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is treated, but not filtered because it is of such high quality.” The service area includes the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Alameda County Water District, Brisbane, Burlingame, California Water System Bear Gulch, California Water System Mid Peninsula, California Water System South San Francisco, Coastside County Water District, Daly City, East Palo Alto Water District, Estero MID, Guadalupe Valley, Hayward, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Mid-Peninsula, Millbrae, Milpitas, Mountain View, North Coast County Water District, Palo Alto, Purissima Hills Water District, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Jose (North), Santa Clara, Skyline Water District, Stanford, Sunnyvale, Westborough Water District. (http://www.sfwater.org/index.aspx?page=355)  

____________________________________________________________________________________ Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Salmon Preservation Act (Legislative Summary) 112th Congress

The operations of the Hetch Hetchy Water and Power System has reduced the quantity of flow in the San Joaquin River, with concomitant impacts on fish, wildlife, and habitat resources dependent on the San Joaquin River below the confluence of the Tuolumne River and San Joaquin River. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that reduced flow in the San Joaquin River has negatively affected the abundance of fish species in the Delta, including the Delta smelt, green sturgeon, and San Joaquin River steelhead. As is the case with the Friant Division of the Central Valley Project, it is appropriate for recipients of water from the Hetch Hetchy Water and Power System to pay a restoration charge to implement programs and projects to mitigate the impacts of the Hetch Hetchy Water and Power System and to restore the San Joaquin River and SacramentoSan Joaquin River Delta ecosystems. This act applies Section 3407 of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act to the Hetch Hetchy Water and Power System. Section 3407 assesses a restoration fund fee which is used to mitigate for the environmental damages caused by the operation of the project. All other users of Federal water in California are assessed this fee and Federal law should be equally applied – estimated to be nearly $40 million over ten years.

____________________________________________________________________________________ Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Salmon Preservation Act (Legislative Summary) 112th Congress