Besides the Delta Tunnel plan being released today, I just became aware of two other projects in the review cycle that have worrisome components.
The one I’ll address in this blog is the Delta Four Island proposal. The comment period ends July 18. So if you have any concerns, please send email comments to: Marc.A.Fugler@usace.army.mil
The 2nd project involves different types of gates but I don’t understand it yet so will post more information when I get it.
The proposal under review with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is SPK-1901-09804, SDEIS Delta Wetlands Project, San Joaquin & Contra Costa Counties, CA. If you go to the link you can get the information plus attachments showing all four islands.
Some time ago, water agencies down south purchased four Delta islands: Bouldin Island, Webb Tract, Holland Tract, and Bacon Island, Bacon is just west of Mildred Island. Bouldin is north of the channel, north of the two Potato Sloughs. Webb is north of Franks Tract, Holland is south of Franks Tract, and Bacon Island is between Holland Island and Mildred Island.
Two (Bouldin and Holland) are planned as new habitat islands – marshlands, etc. Seems like a good idea, don’t know of any issues. Two (Webb and Bacon) are planned as reservoir islands to have their levees reinforced and intake pumps on the north and discharge pump on the south. They will be filled with water in the spring and available to release later in the year.
(1) For South Delta boaters, especially those who like to anchor at Mildred Island or on the west side of Bacon, at “The Horseshoe” or near there, they are adding docks where the intake and discharge pumps are. They are locating the docks in an extremely bad place for water skiiers/wake boarders that use Mildred – near the north of the favorite ski run. Another dock is near horseshoe and I’m not sure the impact to recreation there but could block again. At the south if you ski along the railroad cut and go north, it’s right there across from Bullfrog.
That really wipes out or impacts a significant portion of the recreational areas if people need to go 5 miles and hour everywhere. My bigger concern is these projects don’t even consider or look at if they are going to disrupt and make a mess of the anchorages. I know in the scheme of things, all of the projects proposed that are much worse, but I worry if these things all take away from Discovery Bay the quick access to beautiful ski areas it’s going to really affect our economy and home values. So in my comments I asked them to consider any docks be near the bridges (Connection and Bacon Island) instead of in the middle of everything.
(2) The bigger concern is, with especially Webb but also Bacon, will they have even more reason to try to put in more gates to block salinity, once they invest in making these reservoirs for their farm/agriculture water?
It’s clear that the agribusinesses in the Central Valley look at the Delta as just a pipe to ship water from north to south. There’s never any consideration of the Delta as an estuary and beautiful place to enjoy.
Bacon Island and Webb Tract are very far West (especially Webb Tract). There already is an issue this year with salinity because of the drought coupled with the way the water has been handled in the state – moving too much from the reservoirs in the north to the L.A. reservoirs and the Kern Water Bank in the south. Even San Luis has gained a lot of water the past months. The pumps have continued to export during this year even though L.A. has enough until 2016 and the junior water rights holders shouldn’t get any even if they decided to plant almonds.
If Webb Tract becomes a reservoir island, will there be a push to keep the False River dam in place and put in even more dams and gates? In Discovery Bay, we are extremely anxious due to the 2009 Two-Gates Fish Protection Project which would have virtually blocked boating for significant amounts of time (because the only way in/out then would have been through the Bacon Island Bridge which isn’t 24×7 and has maintenance issues periodically. In the winter there are days it doesn’t even operate.
This project needs to have a disclaimer or caveat that says that it is accepted that in drought years there may not be fresh water to store in these reservoirs even if they are built. Else the project is totally unacceptable and these agencies need to invest in real solutions instead of continuing to impact the Delta.