We hope you’ll be able to join us for Earth Day and the Great Race for Saving Water in Palo Alto on Saturday —  If you might be available to help TRT table and staff a tap water station, please let me know.


Also, I would welcome your sponsorship of my participation in the Great Race.  All funds raised will support TRT’s advocacy, education and habitat restoration programs.  Please visit my fundraising page at


Are you looking for an Earth Day action to take from the comfort of your own home?  If so, please consider writing a letter to Governor Jerry Brown in support of a strong Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan.  While the decision will be made by the State Water Resources Control Board, the Governor has a lot of influence.  He appoints the Water Board members and has been the driving force behind a settlement agreement that is being facilitated by former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt.  We need to demonstrate to Governor Brown that people care deeply about the Bay-Delta and rivers that feed it, including the Tuolumne, and that we’re counting on him to do everything in his power to make sure the revised Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan is as strong as possible.  Letter writing details are below.


Thank you for your support, and happy Earth Day!




Write a Letter to Governor Jerry Brown


Please address your letter as follows, and submit it by email, fax or standard mail.


Governor Jerry Brown

State Capitol, Suite 1173

Sacramento, CA 95814


Fax: (916) 558-3160

Email Form:


Talking Points


Begin your letter by introducing yourself.  Why is the Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan important to you?  Perhaps you enjoy boating, fishing, swimming, backpacking or bird watching in California’s watersheds.  Please feel free to share any personal history with rivers or nature in general.


Encourage Governor Brown to do everything in his power to support a strong Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan that includes improving unimpaired flows for the benefit of fish and wildlife, recreation and water quality.  Consider including a few of the following points, but remember that unique letters get more attention:


• In 2010 the State Water Board issued a report titled Development of Flow Criteria for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Ecosystem that determined that approximately 60% of unimpaired flow between February and June would be fully protective of fish and wildlife in the lower San Joaquin River and its three major tributaries.  At least half of the natural flow from the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Merced and lower San Joaquin Rivers should make it to the Bay-Delta.


• The Bay-Delta forms the West Coast’s largest estuary, providing habitat for more than 500 species of wildlife.  It serves as a major stopover for the Pacific Flyway and as a migration pathway for salmon, steelhead and sturgeon traveling to and from their home streams to the Pacific Ocean.


On average less than 50% of the freshwater flow from the Central Valley reaches the Bay, and in some years less than 35%.  Reducing inflows shifts the size and location of the ecologically-important salinity mixing zone, affecting everything from plankton to marine mammals.  Between 1975 and 2014, the natural unimpaired runoff in the watershed was only low enough to create a “supercritically dry’” year once, but upstream diversions captured so much runoff during those four decades that the Bay experienced “supercritically dry” conditions in 19 years instead of just one.

• Reduced freshwater inflow has changed the chemistry of the Delta, enabling cyanobacteria to thrive.  These blue-green algae produce neurotoxins that can make people sick and kill plankton and wildlife.

• Historically, populations of spawning salmon may have exceeded 400,000 fish in the San Joaquin River Basin, but in many recent years that figure has plummeted to just a few thousand.


• Salmon are a keystone species, providing food for other animals and transporting nutrients from the ocean to upland habitats.  More than 100 species depend on salmon, so it’s not just about salmon, it’s about restoring our salmon-based ecosystem.


• Low river flows impede fish passage, concentrate pollutants, raise water temperatures, decrease dissolved oxygen, and eliminate migratory cues for fish returning to spawn.


• Flows should be sufficient to inundate floodplains, which serve as critical habitat for juvenile salmon and other fish.


• The commercial salmon fishery in California is on the brink.  The salmon population was so low in 2008 and 2009 that the commercial fishing season had to be cancelled, resulting in the loss of more than 2,200 jobs and $255 million in annual revenue..


• Through better management of snowmelt, water efficient irrigation technologies and practices, and replacing lower-value, water-intensive crops with higher-value, water-efficient crops, we could grow more food with less water.  More crop per drop!


• In the South San Joaquin Water District, a pressurized irrigation system reduced water use by 30% while increasing crop yields by 30%.


• In the Hetch Hetchy service area, water use decreased by 30% between 2006 and 2016 as a result of water conservation.  We can accomplish great things when we all work together.


• In California, water is a public trust resource, meaning it belongs to the people of California.  Water agencies have water rights, but the State can determine which beneficial uses have priority.  It could be argued that food grown for Californians is a beneficial use of our water, but it’s harder to make that case for exports.  Agricultural exports benefit a few farmers – often corporations – at the expense of other beneficial uses.


Peter Drekmeier

Policy Director

Tuolumne River Trust

(415) 882-7252