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U.S. EPA APPROVES STATE STANDARDS TO PROTECT SAN FRANCISCO BAY/DELTA

Release Date: 9/27/1995
Contact Information: Bill Glenn, U.S. EPA (415), 744-1589

(San Francisco)--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) today announced that it has approved California's recently adopted standards for water quality in the San Francisco Bay and Delta.  The action represents a major milestone in fulfilling last December's historic accord between the state and the federal government to restore and protect the Bay/Delta aquatic ecosystem while minimizing effects on agricultural and urban uses of the fresh water flowing into the estuary.

     "We commend the State Water Resources Control Board for its success in developing its 1995 Bay/Delta Plan," said U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Felicia Marcus.  "The agreement we all made last December is being followed up with concrete action, and that is good news for all Californians.  Last year we broke the gridlock, and this year we are doing the hard work of moving forward on implementation."

     Under the Bay/Delta accord, California agreed to develop a water quality control plan that meets both state and federal requirements.  The State Board adopted its revised plan on May 22, and following approval by the California Office of Administrative Law, submitted the plan to U.S. EPA on July 27.

     The state's plan includes:  1) salinity criteria in Suisun Bay, which is the nursery of the estuary and where fresh and salt water meet; 2) survival targets for young migrating chinook salmon; 3) salinity criteria to protect fish spawning grounds on the lower San Joaquin River; 4) descriptive criteria for maintaining the Suisun Marsh tidal wetlands; and 5) limits on water exports from the Delta.

     The Bay/Delta estuary is the largest and most productive estuary on the West Coast, but fish populations, including the endangered winter-run salmon and threatened Delta smelt, have plummeted in the last decade due to increased water  diversions to cities and farms.  The Bay/Delta accord signed on December 15, 1994, addressed these concerns through an integrated set of water quality standards that  meet Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act requirements while providing more reliable supplies for the state's water users.

     U.S. EPA and other federal agencies have been working closely with state agencies and other stakeholders to implement the accord.  A new long-term planning process known as the CALFED Bay/Delta Program is now underway.  This joint state/federal program has chartered a citizen advisory committee, hired full-time staff, and begun public meetings to define and propose solutions to long-term water management issues.


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