The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is filled to the brim, but Valley farmers and southern California won’t get access to much of it.
After several years of hoax drought by keeping lakes drained, the intense storms over the last week would seemingly be a godsend to California and go a long way toward fixing the state’s water problems.
But the opposite is happening as the state is flushing out the vast majority of the incoming water into the ocean.
The big picture: Monday’s unrelenting rainfall resulted in 101,433 cubic feet per second of water inflow into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, according to data provided by the Bureau of Reclamation. The rainy first week of the year averaged around 85,000 cubic feet per second of water inflow.
- The latest available data recorded Tuesday’s inflow total 117,603 cubic feet per second.
- Yet on Monday, 95,980 cubic feet per second of water was flushed out of the delta into the Pacific Ocean, leaving a net of five percent of the incoming water to remain in the delta to be pumped and exported throughout the state.
- The three-day average for delta water exports currently sits at six percent, meaning more than 90 percent of the incoming water is being either being retained in the Delta or (in the overwhelming majority case) flushed out into the San Francisco Bay.
The backstory: The intense flushing of water from the Delta to the Bay – rather than by pumping to Central Valley farms, storage facilities, and southern California communities – is driven by a 2019 legal document known as an “Incidental Take Permit.” In short, no matter how much rain or how or why, they INTEND TO DUMP IT INTO THE SEA ANYWAY.
- The document, which was designed by the Newsom administration to counter a sweeping (and now-rescinded) 2019 update to Federal environmental rules governing the operation of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, requires flushing of water when Delta flow intensifies between December 1 and January 30.