CSPA Urges Changes at San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

Published 3/12/2021  |  California Sportfishing Protection Alliance

CSPA joined with 26 other fishing and environmental groups and businesses in a March 9, 2021 joint letter that urges hiring a progressive, experienced outside general manager for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC or Commission).  The SFPUC is the City of San Francisco’s water agency.  The letter to San Francisco Mayor London Breed and SFPUC President Sophie Maxwell points out that with the hiring of a new General Manager, the SFPUC has opportunities for:

  • Utilizing a science-based approach to setting new flow standards to protect the Tuolumne River, the Bay-Delta ecosystem and California’s salmon fishing jobs.
  • Embracing more realistic water demand projections and potential drought scenarios to better plan for the future.
  • Investing in water supply alternatives that can reduce vulnerability to climate change and reduce reliance on the overtaxed Tuolumne River.
  • Building collaborative relationships with community interest groups, including the environmental and fishing communities.

In a separate letter to SFPUC President Maxwell also sent on March 9, 2021, CSPA expressed disappointment that a recent petition to the State Water Board by the City of San Francisco on behalf of the SFPUC relies on the Trump Administration’s rollback of Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.  (For analysis of the rollback, see Hydropower Reform Coalition Opposes Another Trump Administration Attack on the Clean Water Act).  CSPA’s March 9 letter states: “The goal of the Petition is to prevent the State of California from requiring improved flows in the lower Tuolumne River.”  CSPA requests that the Commission “disavow policies and legal positions that rely on ex-President Trump’s environmental rollbacks,” appoint new staff leadership, and work with stakeholders on alternative strategies for dry year sequences.

In a related letter sent to President Maxwell on February 22, 2021, CSPA responded to a presentation by SFPUC staff at a February 5, 2021 SFPUC workshop.  CSPA’s February 22 letter disputes claims by SFPUC staff that science supports substituting the proposed Tuolumne River Voluntary Agreement (TRVA) for the State Water Board’s update of Bay-Delta Plan.  The letter concludes: “The purported benefits of the TRVA are founded on speculation, assumption and aspiration. The primary benefit is the assumption that use of less water is a better outcome.  The SFPUC would be better served by acknowledging the scientific basis for the Bay-Delta Plan.”

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