Water Quality

As public trustee agencies with shared roles in protecting water quality for supporting California's fish and wildlife resources, CDFW coordinates with the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) by contributing knowledge of the water quality conditions to protect fish and wildlife resources. The needs of fish and wildlife inform water policy, legislation, and execution of water quality policy and management. CDFW participates in the development of high profile water quality policies with statewide implications (e.g., Statewide Policies, Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta) by coordinating with the State Water Board and other state agencies. CDFW regional offices generally coordinate with the Regional Water Quality Control Boards and local agencies regarding water quality standards policy and permitting processes at the regional and local level. This engagement provides for consistent program delivery statewide, increased effectiveness of regional participation, and timely submission of scientifically defensible recommendations.

CDFW has specific authority through the Fish and Game Code to protect the waters of the state from pollution and to provide oversight and approval of projects altering or diverting lakes or streams. These water quality activities are divided among the following programs at CDFW:

What is Water Quality Planning?

Protection of water quality is a vital component for conserving fish and wildlife resources. Water quality is regulated by state and federal laws which are primarily administered by the State Water Board and the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards (California Water Boards) which are part of the California Environmental Protection Agency. A key component of water quality protection is the development of water quality control plans, which include basin plans. These plans describe the beneficial uses of waters of the state, and the water quality conditions needed to protect the water beneficial uses. They also contain water quality criteria, policies, and programs of implementation which describe the regulatory requirements to protect the beneficial uses. The plans are periodically updated, when new water quality criteria, policies, and programs of implementation are deemed necessary to protect beneficial uses. The process of amending the water quality control plans legally requires the consideration of public input.

Water Quality Policy Development

Senate Bill X7 1

Senate Bill X7 1 enacted the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Reform Act of 2009 which directed CDFW to develop quantifiable biological objectives and flow criteria for species of concern dependent on the Delta; and directed the State Water Board to collect information to develop a report of flow criteria that would be needed to protect public trust resources in the Delta.

State Water Resources Control Board — Update of the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary Water Quality Control Plan

The process to update the 2006 San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary Water Quality Control Plan (Bay-Delta Plan) (PDF) began in February 2009 and is slated for adoption in a phased process. The update has been divided into four Phases: Phase 1 is for updates to the San Joaquin River flow objectives; Phase 2 is for all other portions of the Delta including export/inflow ratios and Delta outflow; Phase 3 involves changes to water rights and other measures to implement Phases 1 and 2; and Phase 4 is for the development of flow objectives in priority Delta tributaries outside of the Bay-Delta Plan Update.

CDFW is committed to providing the State Water Board with additional data and information throughout the update of the Bay-Delta Plan.

For more information, contact Stephen Louie at Stephen.Louie@wildlife.ca.gov or (916) 327-8758.