The solution to pollution is not, in fact, dilution.
While a catchy phrase, scientific and other experts generally agree that the “solution to pollution is dilution” approach leaves much to be desired. Relying on dilution to solve the Delta’s water quality problems is at best wasteful of this precious resource, and at worst destructive to the lives of millions of Californians.
Unlike the State Water Board, California’s environmental and water experts are following the science and looking at the bigger picture question: How do we maintain the health of today’s Delta which has obviously changed since the days of the Gold Rush. Yes, the Delta has been fundamentally altered over the years with the introduction of new species, inevitable population growth and more. But experts note that the Delta as it exists today, may in fact be an ecosystem in balance. Introduced species like bass have adopted specific roles in the ecosystem, while other species have adapted and filled other ecosystem niches as changes to water quality, food webs, and habitat have evolved.
In order to keep today’s Delta healthy, ecosystem experts generally recommend holistic strategies instead of single-tool approaches like flushing the Delta with additional water. These holistic strategies address many factors, like habitat loss, predation, and water quality as delicately balanced parts of an entire working network, instead of simply isolated components.
Californians are being asked to make good water management a way of life. We are being asked to be adaptive and seek flexible, creative approaches to how we use water at home, at our jobs, and on our farms. We are being asked to be reasonable with the water we use, to be good stewards, to avoid waste, and to limit our water use to what is reasonably required.
Californians have risen to those challenges and we should expect no less of California’s State Water Resources Control Board.