Posted by: Jan | January 10, 2018

We know the State’s Priorities


State Agencies and Officials Continue to Prioritize Almonds over Delta Communities and Fish

In a new report on the Oroville Dam failure, reported in the SacBee: Farms’ water was a concern in Oroville Dam’s spillway crisis, DWR and State Officials were accused of favoring the needs of the Central Valley almond farmers over the safety of Northern Californians: i.e., the state’s desire to continue shipping water to faraway farms and cities that rely on deliveries from the reservoir guided decisions that led to the evacuation of the city of Oroville.

Oroville-area elected officials and community leaders have long argued that the safety and well-being of locals who live in the shadow of the dam is a secondary priority to the DWR.

The “Franks Tract Feasibility Study” being conducted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife continues that trend. The “Franks Tract Feasibility Study” would help the exporters continue to export at the current high levels or higher, but would ruin the community of Bethel Island economically and destroy the largest bass fishing area in Northern California. Once again, the trade-off is exporters versus Northern California and it’s Northern California that loses. In addition, we noticed that the project will require a large amount of fill. Suspiciously, we think, “Hummmm – the State needs a plan for where to dump tunnel muck” (which they renamed “Reusable Tunnel Material”, but muck by any other name is still muck). How much of this project is being pushed forward to solve a big part of that problem?

Meanwhile the Delta Smelt struggle to survive. (LA Times Article The delta smelt heads for extinction, marking a half-century of failed California water policy). Only two smelt were found in the latest California fish population survey. That’s a far cry from the peak of 1,673 in 1970. We are about to see the extinction of a fish species for the first time since the Endangered Species Act came into existence in 1973.

Of course, the bigger concern is not about the tiny Delta smelt for itself, but because its health is an indicator of the overall health of the delta ecosystem – it is the canary in the mine and the mine is toxic. The extinction of the smelt will be a complete failure of a half-century’s statewide water policy.

But the fate of the smelt itself is a distraction; the real issue is the fate of the Delta, says the article. And the decline of the smelt tells us it’s in trouble. While it’s true that agricultural production in Tulare and Kern counties, which receive water from the delta, is valued at more than $13 billion a year, that has to be weighed against other values needing to be preserved. They include the value of Delta farming, commercial and sport fisheries, the health of its residents and their property values.

Time to call or write the Governor and legislature representatives?
Tell them:

  • The people of California want state and federal government entities to immediately start investing time and money taking steps that could truly save the Delta Smelt and the entire Delta ecosystem: namely, to stop violation of the Delta Reform Act of 2009 and instead begin reducing the levels of exports and commit that all future water solutions MUST reduce reliance on the Delta.

  • The tunnels will NOT save the Delta – The tunnels will NOT save the Delta smelt, and if no other solutions are pursued, the Delta smelt will be the first fish species to have gone extinct since the Endangered Species Act was signed into law in 1973. And that signals the destruction of the entire Delta and everyone that relies on it.

  • Stop spending money on projects and studies like the Franks Tract Feasibility Study that only assist the exporters and not the Delta – that don’t help the communities, fish, Delta farmers, and others that rely on the Delta.

Governor Jerry Brown
(916) 445-2841
E-mail

Senator Diane Feinstein
Washington D.C. (202) 224-3841
District Offices: (310) 914-7300, (415) 393-0707, (559) 485-7430
E-mail

Senator Kamala Harris
Washington D.C. (202) 224-3553
District Offices: (213) 894-5000, (415) 355-9041, (559) 497-5109
E-mail

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