Are you a Discovery Bay boater? Do you or your kids like to take the ski boat or wakeboard boat out for a quick run: before work, after school, or on weekends? If so, you may want to read what the state is planning to do as early as 2018!
Where do you go skiing or wakeboarding? Say you are making a quick run. You head out past the lighthouse a ways (especially on weekends, far enough so the formula boats and big boats aren’t rocking your start) and put a skier/wakeboarder in the water. We head east on Indian Slough to Old River, turn right and ski from there. South on Old River is the safer ski-water: less big boats and calmer water. All the go-fast formula boats and big cruisers turn left on Old River to go through the Orwood RR Bridge and beyond.
You can ski south on Old River to where you have to make a U-turn because of the Hwy 4 bridge. But even better, as we go by Twin Sloughs, we glance and if there aren’t a lot of boats, we head east up the right side of Twin Sloughs. That’s our favorite nearby ski slough.
Figure 1. Satellite view of the Twin Sloughs
Officially, what we locals call “Twin Sloughs,” are named “North Victoria Canal” on the right (south) and “Woodward Canal” on the left (north), named after the islands they run next to. They used to be two separate canals, but over time the levee in the middle eroded and now there are even places where where a boat can get through. What is left of the old levee divides the two sloughs into separate lanes. Everyone knows to stay on the right, U-turn at the end, and come back on the other side. That’s one of the great things about the Twin Sloughs. They are safer because, like a divided highway, traffic is managed. The other reason the Twin Sloughs is so popular is because they are each just the right size for a skier to slalom or wakeboarder to make his/her curves. And the tules on each side and down the middle dampen boat wakes so that the water quickly settles down and each skier gets their turn on glassy water.
We often go up and down Twin Sloughs until our gang gets tired. If Twin Sloughs is too crowded, there’s the option to ski Middle River. North on Middle River is just a short run past Ski Beach and you need to turn around before the 5 MPH zone at the ferry crossing. South on Middle River towards Union Point Bar & Grill is descent until you need to turn around because of the 5 MPH zone and Hwy 4 bridge.
That’s our “typical” ski run from our home with our kids, grandkids, or when friends go out in the morning or during the day. Here are the ski/wakeboard runs accessible nearest Discovery Bay and what makes our location so convenient:
Figure 2. Discovery Bay Recreation Sloughs
And here is what the State plans to do to them:
Figure 3. DWR Official map of Construction areas: Barges, docks, ruin – for 11 years!
Twin Sloughs will be completely blocked during the summer for eleven (yes 11) years because there will be two docks built there: one on Woodward Island on the north side of the twin sloughs and one on Victoria Island to the south. The impact area shows that even access to Old River going south will be closed some of the time with barges and construction blockages. I believe the brown outline identifies areas that will be 5 MPH zones at best.
That means no access to Ski Beach either. And you won’t be able to jet ski the short route over to Union Point Bar & Grill.
Small recreation boats leaving DB to go skiing or wakeboarding will have only a small run near DB or will need to check out the traffic going north on Old River and east on Railroad slough to get to the nicer calm areas west of Mildred Island.
My crowd (I guess we’re spoiled) choose to not ski up Old River and Railroad slough and instead take a boat ride until we get past the Bacon Island overpass to the sloughs west of Mildred that is our other nice, calm, glassy-water ski/wakeboard area. Oh, but wait until you see what the plans are for Middle River and Mildred Island! (You’ll need to wait for the next blog.)
The State surely wouldn’t ignore the value of boating and recreation to the community of Discovery Bay, would they? What is their mitigation for the people of Discovery Bay?
Their “mitigation plan,” because they are wiping out Twin Sloughs, is that there are other similar sloughs in the Delta. Specifically, they say we can go ski at Brannan Island. What? Just do a quick ski run to the north side of the San Joaquin and to the Sacramento River? Getting there isn’t something we can do for a ski boat run. Obviously, people working on projects for the Delta have no clue about the Delta.
What can we do?
Send in your comments before January 30th that our town doesn’t want the State to wipe out our recreation sloughs. Yet this is the State’s plan in it’s Final EIR/EIS on the California WaterFix.
If your teenage son/daughter likes to wakeboard, this would be a great lesson in civic duty to send an email to let the State government know just what they think about the State’s plan for Discovery Bay waterways.
The Final EIR that we’re commenting about during this timeframe doesn’t even list boating and recreation as important for Discovery Bay’s economy or community! The analysis in the EIR is inadequate, incomplete, and flawed. Discovery Bay isn’t even mentioned, even though if you look through previously submitted comments in 2013 and 2016, more than once Twin Sloughs is mentioned as a recreation area to maintain, and that boating and recreation is key to Discovery Bay’s economy and community. The EIR Chapter 15 – Recreation doesn’t even list Discovery Bay as a boating site! The only reference to Discovery Bay is as one of the communities in Contra Costa County. There is nothing about the 2,300 waterfront homes in Discovery Bay that each have boat slips (most have even more than one). There is nothing that identifies that recreational boaters need continuous sloughs where they can go up to 30 MPH, not barges all over to go 5 MPH around. Tell them you object!
STCDA is still working to fight for the rights of the Delta communities as well as the fish. An alternative Rep. Garamendi and others have proposed is a portfolio of solutions, with one component being a single, smaller 3,000 CFS pipe. Even if this proposal goes through, it will still be a tunnel along the same alignment, causing perhaps shorter-term impact, but still ruining our waterways and leaving Twin Sloughs forever ruined.
There are simple alternatives that would save recreation near Discovery Bay regardless of what size pipe they decide to run:
- THE BEST – Use the Eastern Alignment Alternative. This would be best for boaters, fish, waterfowl, and the Delta. I don’t know who that route effects, but no towns or communities. There is nothing in the EIR “Alternatives Considered” documentation that I can find that considers the impact on people related to their considered alternatives.
- AT A MINIMUM, move the barge locations around the corner on each island. That can’t be so hard and saves a lot of boaters a lot of grief. Saving nearby recreation will help our community remain a viable boating community.
Figure 4. Alternative Barge Locations
Send in your Comments
Email your comments/objections to this plan to: CalWaterFix@water.ca.gov. Note: This link also adds a BCC to our mailbox for reference. In 2013 it took them THREE YEARS to post people’s comments!