A call for comments! The DWR is trying to get approval to install rock dams in three areas without proper review or process (reminiscent of the 2-Gates Project). The end of the comment period is February 25, 2015. So please send in comments now.
Send comments via E-Mail to: DWREDBCOMMENTS@water.ca.gov
Fax: (916) 653-6077
Snail Mail: Jacob McQuirk, Supervising Engineer, Bay-Delta Office
California Department of Water Resources
PO Box 942836
Sacramento, CA 94236
First, the issue. Next are some suggested comments.
THE ISSUE: The DWR is trying to get approval to install dams whenever they want over the next 10 years in three locations: West of Franks Tract, Sutter Slough and Steamboat Slough. The dam in False River next to Franks Tract will block the primary route for boats traveling between Discovery Bay/Bethel Island and Benicia, Petaluma and San Francisco. The dams in Sutter and Steamboat Sloughs will affect boating between Sacramento and San Francisco.
Unlike the 2-Gates, these aren’t opening gates but rock dams.
The dams could have some benefits – but without an environmental review it’s unclear if the benefits outweigh the negative impacts.
Of concern, this could set the precedent for dams wherever they want – even to re-start the 2-Gates proposal in Old River and Connection Slough which would block boats in and out of Discovery Bay and between Bethel Island and Discovery Bay.
The end goal, of course, is if they don’t get the Delta Tunnels approved, to “wall off” Middle River to form a direct channel from Sacramento to the Clifton Court Forebay to ensure lots of clean water for the farmers. The result would be the entire west side of the Delta would be a brackish mess. Goodbye salmon.
They claim they do not need to go through a formal EIR/EIS process. They are trying to rush approval through for these rock barriers without proper process. The DWR admits these rock dams will be detrimental to boating. They do not state if there’s issues with migrating fish yet we know from the 2-Gates fiasco that their planned gates there would have more likely killed fish than “protected” them as advertised.
Their goal is to block salinity from coming into the Delta so that they can continue to pump more water out than the Legislature approved. They need more water because they keep expanding profitable almond orchards in the Central Valley desert. Did you notice that we are seeing more produce (beans, asparagus, etc.) from Mexico and Costa Rica lately? Because the Central Valley is rapidly converting produce crops to the more profitable almonds. The need for almonds is rapidly growing in Asia.
Suggested Comments (re-write in your own words):
- MOST IMPORTANT COMMENT: I oppose installing any dams in the Delta without a complete environmental review. The DWR admits these dams will be detrimental to boating. An environmental review is needed to determine what the effect on migrating fish, impacts to the levees, boating and other environmental and economic problems.
- What will dams mean economically to communities reliant on boating and what will that cost for added fuel costs and other impacts?
- What will be the effect on migrating fish? The Head of Old River dam has been documented to trap smelt behind the dam for predators to easily kill. The 2-Gates Fish Protection Project (another set of dams/gates proposed for salinity control) were withdrawn due to the likely negative effect on fish. These new dams need a complete environmental analysis before approval.
- Will the rock be completely removed once the dams are removed or will there be wing dams and if so, what will that do to the water flow and how will that impact the safety of boating in the area?
- These dams are to stop salt water; however, the direction on operating the pumps is supposed to maintain the X-2 line (salinity line) west of Pittsburg. How will Antioch’s water supply and western farms be affected if salt water is allowed to intrude nearly to Franks Tract and as far North as Steamboat and Sutter Sloughs?
- Why were LA’s reservoirs and the Kern Water Bank “topped off” in 2013 during the 2nd year of a drought allowing the Northern California reservoirs to be at too low a level to support adhering to the legislative-directed salinity controls in the Delta?
- How will these dams help maintain urban users’ fresh water supply during 2015? The LA reservoirs were topped off in 2013 and the LA mayor has said that LA has enough water until 2016. Isn’t this really to continue to provide expanded water to the Central Valley farmers for almonds?
- These dams could become permanent. They definitely will be full-time over the summer since they are rock dams, not like the 2-Gates proposed opening gates.
- The dams are not planned to be fully removed. The wing dams on the side will remain. What will that do to the water flow during high tides? Will it be safe to boat through?
- There is a massive hyacinth/egeria densa problem in the Delta that is caused by low water flows. Frank’s Tract could become a meadow if the water flow is tampered with. Marinas are already having to spend millions of dollars of their own money to control invasive plants. If there are dams on Steamboat and Sutter Sloughs, the hyacinth problem there will be horrendous as there will be little or no water flow.
- Barriers are part of an overall backup plan (if the BDCP fails) to “wall in” the delta and create a pipeline from Sacramento to the Forebay to export water south. These dams are 3 of a dozen or so that were seen on the BDCP maps in 2009 as part of the “through-the-Delta” peripheral canal plan.
The proposed False River dam is already further upriver than the agreed-to X-2 Salinity line. Letting salt water that far upriver will impact the City of Antioch’s drinking water and west-side farms. This is not a good plan.
There is an alternative – slow down exports during this time of drought. These dams support ongoing exports even during the drought. The need is as much a result of mismanagement of the water system in California as anything. In 2013 the USBR and DWR approved releases of water from Northern California dams to completely fill LA reservoirs and the privately-held Kern Water Bank. That was totally irresponsible and now Northern California’s water crisis is worse than it would be if the system had been well-managed. The dams are not as much for drinking water protection but rather to increase the amount of exports allowed for Central Valley corporate farmers; mainly for almonds to ship to Asia.
Dams are not the answer. At least not without a complete EIR/EIS to study the effects on Northern California fish, boating and western farms.
These are the same rock dams we asked people to comment about last April but end of 2014 the DWR withdrew the request siting sufficient water flow for 2014.
This year the DWR is trying to streamline approval to have the dams installed whenever they decide.
Documents are available online at http://www.water.ca.gov/waterconditions/emergencybarriers.cfm