San Francisco, as well as numerous urban and agricultural water suppliers, under the plan would face new limits on how much water it draws from the San Joaquin River and its tributaries in the Sierra Nevada.
While the restrictions would help move once free-flowing waterways closer to their natural states, providing a boon for the freshwater-starved Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and such threatened fish as coho salmon, the effort comes as cities and farms are already facing tighter water supplies because of changing climate and drought.
Many fear they won’t get the water they need or will have to pay a lot more for it going forward.
San Francisco officials were still reviewing the plan, but they said they, too, were yet to find improvements from a proposal released last year.
The Public Utilities Commission had warned that the initial plan, if left unmodified, would force new water restrictions on city residents or raise customer rates in order to fund additional sources of water, like desalination.
The agency, which serves San Francisco and many Bay Area suburbs, has largely been free of regulation because of privileged water rights at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite. Hetch Hetchy, however, sits on the Tuolumne River, one of the rivers now targeted for higher flows.