Gates, gates and more gates

Meetings were held both in the Walnut Grove and in Bethel Island concerning the DWR’s rush plan to install rock barriers in various sloughs throughout the Delta in an attempt to keep salt water out and allow additional pumping during the drought months. The Walnut Grove meeting covered barriers in Sutter Slough and Steamboat Slough. These two are being hotly contested by people in the North Delta.

The Bethel Island meeting covered a barrier in False River (although two additional barriers have been discussed recently as well).

Plans are to start installation by May 1, 2014. These are like the 2 Gates but worse – rock barriers that will not open. 75 to 80 people showed up in Bethel Island and the meeting had to be moved to accommodate all the attendees.

Here’s a report by Pat Borison from the STCDA and Nordic Tug Boats about the Bethel Island Meeting:

Bethel Island Meeting Notes

Meeting of Bradford Island Reclamation District #2059
Presentation by CA Dept. of Water Resources
Re: Proposed Dam at False River
Held at Bethel Island – March 18, 2014

A rancher on Bradford Island passed along an email notice of this meeting. So many people turned up that the location had to be changed to the Community Center on Bethel Island. The audience was quite informed about the background and potential impacts; the speakers seemed unprepared to answer most questions, and clearly did not expect such a large audience.

The main speaker was the head of the South Delta Temporary Barriers Project. When asked how to get further information, he gave the following website:
I have been able to get as far as “waterconditions” but cannot find anything posted about current emergency barriers. Notes from the meeting will be posted at when they are written.

Crux of the presentation:
• Because of the drought, a temporary barrier across False River is proposed to keep water in the Delta fresh.
• The intent is to install the barrier by May 1, 2014.
• The rock barrier will be 7 feet high (above water level) with 75-foot wide abutments on each side and include sheet piles to protect levees.
• There will be no passage across the barrier. “We will block False River.”
• The plan is to remove the “temporary” rock in November, but keep the abutments.

Mainly through written questions, the audience raised many concerns:
• Velocities and water flow; a “high increase” of water flow through Fisherman’s Cut is expected, increasing flow 5 times.
• What is the impact on the ferry, the only access to Bradford Island.
• Iron Horse District, which owns some of the land, “hasn’t been told anything” and must issue encroachment permits. Presentation there on Wednesday, March 19.
• A prior proposal to put moveable gates on False River, called the Frank’s Tract Project” was dropped, apparently because studies showed it wouldn’t solve the problem. (With some searching, a link to that project can be found on the DWR website.)
• Water flow on Georgiana Slough will increase. Barriers will also be put on Sutter and Steamboat Sloughs.
• Is this not pushing water into the east Delta in order to move it south?
• Could you not decrease water releases by EBMUD to achieve same end? Not much inter-agency coordination.
• Permits are needed; a 404 Permit from the Army Corps of Engineers would include sign-off by the Coast Guard. Not clear if they have been contacted.

A representative from Assemblyman Jim Frazier’s office was present.
At least one news reporter (probably from the Contra Costa Times) was present, and someone video-taped the presentation and discussion.

At the very end of the time, almost as an afterthought, the speaker said public meetings were being set up, including one in Antioch, “possibly April 3 or 4.”

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