From Cal Matters – California’s water warriors have a new arena for their perpetual conflict over the allocation of the state’s ever-evolving supply – a nearly 6,000-word proposal from the state Water Resources Control Board.

The draft essentially calls for sharp reductions in diversions from the Sacramento River and its tributaries to allow more water to flow through the environmentally troubled Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. “It is a consequential effort,” Eric Oppenheimer, chief deputy director of the board, said during a media briefing on what is technically an update of the agency’s management plan for the Delta and San Francisco Bay. “It reflects years of scientific analysis that we’ve undertaken and years of public input.”

The board had previously issued a similar policy paper for the San Joaquin River and its tributaries. The two rivers merge to form the Delta, a vast maze of islands and channels that is the West Coast’s largest estuary. In addition to upstream diversions to irrigate fields and orchards and serve municipal users, federal and state projects pump water from the Delta’s southern edge into aqueducts for transfer to San Joaquin Valley farms and homes as far south as San Diego. The reduction of natural flows through the Delta have, scientists say, increased its salinity and otherwise made it unable to adequately support salmon and other wildlife. (more)