Substitute Environmental Document

Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan Update

Years of talks between TID, the California Natural Resources Agency, and the State Water Board have led to the approval of a mutually beneficial framework that will provide benefits to people and native fish, and allow for an alternative path to implement the 2018 update to the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan. Consistent with direction from Governor Newsom and the State Water Board, we’re working collaboratively to build out the framework that was presented to the State Water Board in March 2019.


MID, TID and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission signed an agreement with the state to advance a Term Sheet for the development of a Voluntary Agreement to implement the 2018 Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan

California Natural Resources Agency releases Tuolumne River-specific term sheet

This week the California Natural Resources Agency announced that the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts (MID and TID) and our Tuolumne River partner San Francisco Public Utilities Commission signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to advance the Tuolumne River Voluntary Agreement. The state also released the Tuolumne River-specific term sheet which includes details on proposed river flow and habitat restoration efforts.

The Districts join dozens of other California water agencies committed to collaborating with the state to finalize voluntary agreements that will provide water supply reliability to our communities while enhancing river ecosystems.

Signing the MOU allows the Tuolumne River parties to participate in small workgroups with other water agencies and state agencies charged with working out the details of implementing the voluntary agreements on the tributaries that are signatories to the MOU. The state’s schedule anticipates that a number of documents that describe and analyze the voluntary agreements will be released for public review in the summer of 2023.

Any final voluntary agreement will be presented to and approved by the Districts’ Board of Directors. The State Water Board is scheduled to consider the Tuolumne Voluntary Agreement in late spring 2024.

Tuolumne agencies’ statement on voluntary agreements

Following Governor Newsom’s February 4, 2020 Cal Matters editorial California must get past differences on water. Voluntary agreements are the path forward, Turlock Irrigation District, Modesto Irrigation District and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission submit the following joint statement.

Governor Newsom hasn’t wavered from his commitment to, and confidence in, the ongoing voluntary agreement process. The Governor and his Administration have brought a newfound sense of urgency and recognition of the need for collaborative water management.

The Tuolumne River Voluntary Agreement is an explicit example in this revolutionary approach as it seeks to balance water supplies to support thriving communities and fisheries, while striving to break the current paradigm of management through regulation and litigation.

Science remains the cornerstone of the Tuolumne River Voluntary Agreement. We’ve invested heavily in studying and truly understanding the Tuolumne River, the species and industries that depend on it and developed a realistic and sustainable plan. We are encouraged that the Voluntary Agreement we submitted over a year ago, based on Tuolumne River specific science, has held up to the public and scientific examination.

While we’re analyzing the State’s recent update on the voluntary agreements framework and associated potential impacts to our communities, we remain active participants in the process.

We look forward to continuing momentum toward the successful advancement of these historic agreements.

TID joins water agencies in legal challenge of Bay-Delta Plan

On Jan. 10, 2019, the San Joaquin Tributaries Authority (SJTA), of which TID is a member, filed a lawsuit challenging the Phase 1 of the State Water Resources Control Board’s Bay-Delta Plan.

The lawsuit, filed in Tuolumne County Superior Court, contends the State Water Board adopted a wholly different plan than it analyzed, violated state and federal due process laws and unlawfully segmented the environmental review of the plan, among other claims. The lawsuit, along with others, marks the beginning of a prolonged court proceeding surrounding the adequacy and legality of Phase 1.

On Dec. 12, 2018, the State Water Board adopted Phase 1 of its Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan, despite TID and its partners on the Tuolumne putting forth a workable solution which could have been implemented immediately. The state’s action was unfortunate, but not unanticipated. If implemented as adopted, Phase 1’s objectives would undoubtedly have significant and devastating impacts on TID customers, all of whom benefit from the Tuolumne River.

On Nov. 7, 2018, after considering a request from Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom, the State Water Board voted to delay further consideration of Phase 1 of its Bay-Delta Plan to give the voluntary settlement agreement process more time to be successful.


The Draft Substitute Environmental Document (SED) prepared for Phase 1 was released in Dec. 2012, and after a public hearing at the State Water Board in Sacramento in March 2013, the State Water Board decided to update the document’s analyses and objectives. The State Water Board released an updated SED in Sept. 2016, setting off another comment period that concluded March 17, 2017.

TID strongly opposes this sweeping initiative and believes there are less drastic, non-flow-based alternatives to achieve the goals of the goals of the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control PLan. Phase 1 lacks the best available science and will negatively impact TID water and power customers. Phase 1 would also cause significant harm to the region’s economy, agriculture operations and water supply. There would also be negative effects to groundwater levels at a time when California is in search of paths to better groundwater management following the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014.

The links below are provided for customers and others seeking information or to be a part of the process regarding the State Water Resources Control Board’s proposal.