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Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Chronology

1772 First recorded sighting of the Bay Delta by Spanish explorers.

1849 Settlers begin farming in the Delta.

1861 Reclamation  District Act authorized, allowing drainage of Delta lands and construction of sturdier flood control levees.

1879 The striped bass is brought by rail from the East Coast to the Delta.

1911 Legislature creates Reclamation Board to implement comprehensive flood control plan for Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers.

1935 Congress authorizes federal Central Valley Project. Construction begins in 1937.

1940 Delta water diversions begin with completion of Contra Costa Canal, the CVP’s first unit.

1951 U.S. Bureau of Reclamation constructs the Delta Cross Channel to help move water to the Delta export pumps. The Delta-Mendota Canal begins carrying water south.

1959 Delta Protection Act passed, resolving some issues of legal boundaries, salinity control and water exports.

1960 Voters authorize State Water Project.

1971 State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) issues SWP and CVP water quality standards.

1973 New legislation provides funding for certain Delta levees.

Delta Environmental Advisory Committee concludes federal-state Peripheral Canal, properly designed and operated, is necessary to protect the Delta.

1977 Department of Water Resources reaffirms Peripheral Canal as best facility to move water to the Delta export pumps.

1978 State Water Board issues Water Rights Decision 1485 (D-1485) requiring SWP and CVP to meet Delta water quality standards.

1982 Voters defeat Proposition 9, which includes the Peripheral Canal, by 3-2 margin.

1986 Historic DWR-Reclamation accord, the Coordinated Operation Agreement, authorized by Congress.

State Supreme Court affirms “Racanelli Decision” strengthening powers of State Water Board to protect all uses of Delta water.

1987 State Water Board begins to revise D-1485 after U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declares it inadequate.

1988 Suisun Marsh salinity control gates begin operation.

1989 Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon listed as threatened under Endangered Species Act.

1991 State Water Board releases new Bay-Delta salinity control plan. EPA rejects portions of it under Clean Water Act.

Construction completed on four additional pumps at SWP’s Banks Pumping Plant in the south Delta.

1992 CVP Improvement Act allocates 800,000 acre-feet of water annually to environment. Legislature passes Delta Protection Act, establishing the Delta Protection Commission.

1993 Delta smelt declared threatened.

1994 State and federal officials announce Bay-Delta Accord.

Winter-run Chinook salmon listed as endangered.

1995 Bay-Delta Plan establishes beneficial uses, associated water quality objectives and an implementation program. In Water Rights Decision 1641, the State Water Board primarily assigns responsibility for meeting Delta water quality objectives to the SWP and CVP.

1998 CALFED releases final plan on fixing the Delta and Record of Decision for the CALFED Bay-Delta Program Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report.

1999 Sacramento splittail and spring-run Chinook salmon listed as threatened under ESA.

2000 CALFED ROD signed.

2003 California Bay-Delta Authority created to oversee implementation and coordination of CALFED program.

Sacramento splittail removed from ESA list.

2004 State Water Board initiates review of 1995 Water Quality Control Plan.

Congress approves long-awaited legislation to reauthorize and help fund the CALFED program.

2004 Scientific surveys reveal ongoing fish population crash.

New law directs DWR to evaluate Delta’s future and rank alternative solutions.

2006 Legal ruling upholds most of D-1641; State Water Board adopts updated water quality plan

Coalition of fishing groups sues DWR, alleging it never obtained proper legal authority to kill fish while exporting water.

2006 BDCP Steering Committee is formed to create a Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan for the Delta

2007 SWP Delta export pumping operations temporarily shut down to protect endangered Delta smelt. DWR releases major study (Delta Risk Management Study) that estimates 209 Delta island floodings could occur within the next 100 years.

Gov. Schwarzenegger endorses a canal to transfer water around the Delta.

Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force report says a healthy Delta ecosystem and a reliable water supply are the primary, coequal goals for sustainable management of the Delta.

2008 Schwarzenegger directs DWR to study at least four Delta water conveyance alternatives.

Public Policy Institute of California states peripheral canal is the best Delta conveyance option for meeting the co-equal goals of a healthy Delta ecosystem and water supply reliability.

A court-ordered biological opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concludes that Delta smelt were in jeopardy of extinction from the operation of the Delta export pumps.

Pacific Fishery Management Council closes the salmon fishing season throughout California.

2009 Salmon, steelhead and sturgeon in the Central Valley are being driven to extinction by SWP and CVP Delta export facilities and upstream reservoir operations, according to National Marine Fisheries Service draft report.

U.S. District Court Judge Oliver Wanger rules federal government did not analyze impact of Delta smelt protection rules on water exporters.

Congress and the Department of Interior call for National Academy of Sciences to begin a two-year review of the biological opinions issued by both the USFWS and NOAA.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs a comprehensive water package designed to achieve the co-equal goals of ecosystem restoration and water supply reliability.

2010 National Academy of Science releases the first of two reports on Delta operations and finds that “most federal actions to protect endangered fishes in California Bay-Delta scientifically justified, but additional clarification is needed.”

State Water Resources Control Board begins hearings on in-Delta diversions.

Judge Wanger rules the federal government did not form an adequate plan when it restricted pumping from the Delta to protect Chinook spring-run salmon and other fish.

2013 State Water Resources Control Board continues update of flow objectives as recommended by Delta Plan.

Delta Plan adopted by Delta Stewardship Council.

Final chapters of Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) released in May by Governor Jerry Brown’s administration proposing long-term Delta restoration and promoting a more reliable statewide water supply through the creation of twin tunnels to move water beneath the Delta to the existing state and federal pumping facilities. Public comment to begin in October.

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