For Immediate Release: Tuesday September 28, 2021Contact: John McManus 650-218-865
Fishing and Conservation Coalition Releases Ads Calling For SFPUC Reform
Environmental and community damage from SFPUC’s excessive Tuolumne River diversions cited
San Francisco — A coalition of fishing and conservation groups called SF4water is releasing a series of ads calling on the SFPUC to reverse the environmental damage done to communities, people, and wildlife by excessive water diversion from the Tuolumne River. Environmental conditions in waters downstream of the diversions, including in the San Joaquin River, the Bay Delta, and SF Bay, are all badly damaged as a result.
The ads profile various community representatives, including a young Latina from Stockton, living next to polluted Delta waters, a commercial salmon troller, whose livelihood is increasingly threatened by the loss of salmon in the Tuolumne and downstream waters, an SF environmental leader from the Sierra Club, and a representative from a California Native tribe who’s access to salmon is harmed.
In some years, over 90 percent of the river is siphoned, contributing to stagnant cesspools downstream in what were once healthy ecosystems.
Gloria Alonso of Stockton says toxic blue green algae outbreaks, which proliferates in the stagnant water, are harming her community. Commercial salmon troller Sarah Bates says the destruction of the Tuolumne River by the SFPUC and its partner water diverters, is killing the fish that built Fishermen’s Wharf in San Francisco. San Francisco resident and Sierra Club leader, Bill Martin, says the SFPUC has filed lawsuits aligned with Trump administration attacks on California’s authority to regulate its own waters, something City residents don’t support. Tribal member Gary Mulcahy of the Winnemem Wintu tribe says diversions throughout the Central Valley are killing the native salmon runs which have fed Native people forever.
The SFPUC and its partners, the Turlock and Modesto Irrigation districts, divert water at massive, unsustainable, levels which has basically killed most of the salmon native to the Tuolumne River. As recently as 1984 40,000 adult salmon returned to spawn in the river. Last year saw less than 1,000.
The State Water Resources Control Board ordered the SFPUC and the other two big Tuolumne diverters to leave more water in the river in December of 2018. Rather than comply with the state’s order, the SFPUC and its partners sued the state to evade compliance and continue unsustainable diversions.
The release of the ad series coincides with City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s anticipated assumption of the general manager’s spot at the SFPUC. Herrera is expected to replace a general manager who was driven from office by corruption charges.
SF4water is a coalition consisting of the Golden State Salmon Association, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Crab Boat Owners Association of San Francisco, SF Baykeeper, Defenders of Wildlife, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, and the Tuolumne River Trust. The coalition was founded to protect the Tuolumne River, water and communities downstream, and the fish, wildlife, and people that live in and around those waters.