The Bay Institute receives Grant from Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation
The Bay Institute will produce a scientific critique of the environmental documents for the Sacramento-Delta phase of the update, supported by major new statistical and other analyses that will establish the basis for adopting stronger flow and water quality requirements.
The reduction and alteration of natural runoff to the San Francsico Bay estuary is perhaps the most important driver of the ecological collapse of this unique natural treasure. On average less than 50%, and in some years less than 35%, of natural runoff reaches San Francisco Bay; ecologically critical winter and spring flows have been cut even more, with only about a third of the seasonal “unimpaired” runoff (and just one-fourth of the runoff from some storms) reaching the Bay.
The change in Bay inflow is so extreme that the Bay now experiences a devastating, nearly permanent drought. As shown in the figure below, natural precipitation produced only one “supercritically dry” year between 1975 and 2017, but the Bay experienced 20 supercritical years because of the massive diversion and storage of freshwater runoff.