The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is involved in on-going negotiations with the State on a voluntary agreement for implementation of the Bay-Delta Plan, which calls for large increases in water releases on the tributaries to the San Joaquin River, a major tributary to the Bay-Delta.
The adopted Plan addresses water quality issues affecting the ecosystem and fisheries of the Bay-Delta system. That includes the Tuolumne River, which provides water via Hetch Hetchy Reservoir to Bay Area customers. The SFPUC has voiced concerns with the Plan, as it would dramatically reduce the agency’s water supply, leaving it subject to significant rationing in droughts and more extreme weather conditions brought on by climate change. The SFPUC has also raised concerns over the fishery benefits of the State’s Plan.
In response to the Bay-Delta Plan, the SFPUC and the Modesto and Turlock Irrigation Districts have proposed the Tuolumne River Voluntary Agreement, a combination of flow and non-flow measures sufficient to improve all life-stages of native fish populations in the lower Tuolumne River. The SFPUC has consistently stated that voluntary agreements are the best path forward for the Bay-Delta, as the voluntary agreement strikes the right balance between environmental stewardship and water reliability.
While the long-term voluntary agreement work continues, the SFPUC does not want to wait to restore the Tuolumne River’s ecosystem. In 2021, the SFPUC and the Modesto and Turlock Irrigation Districts launched a proactive pilot program with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that provides an immediate $4 million investment for habitat improvements for fisheries in the Tuolumne River.
More about the Tuolumne River Voluntary Agreement can be found at http://www.tuolumnerivermanagementplan.com.