Archive for the 'Delta Dams/Gates' Category

Three Delta Dams Meeting

A proposal to temporarily dam three sloughs in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will be presented at a public meeting Thursday in Clarksburg from 6 to 8 p.m. at Clarksburg Community Church, 52910 Netherlands Ave.

These dams are opposed by Delta boaters, fishermen and farmers. Their purpose is to continue to export more and more water for the use of the expanding almond orchards in the desert near I-5 and throughout the Central Valley, even during the drought.

The announcement says the dams purpose is to keep salt water from coming into the estuary during the drought. However, the alternative is to export less water. There is sufficient fresh water for urban use and most farming. The expanding profitable almond orchards need to be balanced with the available water resources.

To read more in the Sacramento Bee, click here.

Remember to SEND IN YOUR COMMENTS BY FEBRUARY 25 on the Delta Dams to:

Fax: (916) 653-6077
Snail Mail: Jacob McQuirk, Supervising Engineer, Bay-Delta Office
California Department of Water Resources
PO Box 942836
Sacramento, CA 94236

IMPORTANT!!! Tell them these dams need a formal EIR (Environmental Impact Report) and analysis due to the impacts and issues that they could cause.

The False River Dam’s Impact on Bethel Island

More reasons to send in your comments on the Delta Dams project! See the end of this blog for where to send comments.

This month (until February 25th) is time to send in comments regarding the proposed three Delta Dams and what their impact would be if installed. One of the dams will be in False River, west of Franks Tract.


Let’s focus on Bethel Island.

Bethel Island is a small community just south of Franks Tract. My husband and I are familiar with Bethel Island because we kept our first ski boat at Russo’s Marina there. We had our first larger boat, a 28-foot Bayliner first at Bethel Harbor then had both boats at Russo’s. Later we bought a house south of Sam’s Harbor on Sandmound Slough and had our boats there for years. So we’ve hung out around Bethel for years.

Hal Shell’s book, Dawdling on the Delta, calls Bethel Island “the boating hub of the Delta” and goes further to say “For whatever the reason, Bethel Island has hands-down become the single most important place in the Delta as far as pleasure boating is concerned. That was in 1983 but many events continue to be focused at Bethel.

By far Bethel Island has the most marinas in the Delta in a small area:

Boats that are kept in marinas on Bethel are used to fish in Franks Tract, go east to Mildred Island on weekends, Discovery Bay, or north to Sacramento. But often trips are west: To Antioch, Pittsburg, Benicia or all the way to San Francisco.

The routes west will be blocked by the False River dam! The trip around is about 15 miles longer to backtrack through Franks Tract and up to the San Joaquin channel.

The San Joaquin Yacht Club, chartered in 1948 with 270 members, is located on Bethel Island:

The SJ Yacht Club is a great spot for other yacht clubs to visit. The club hosts events such as the January Crab Feed. Other yacht clubs come for exchanges and fun.

What will a dam between Bethel Island and the Delta to the west do? Won’t it make Bethel Island marinas less attractive for boaters who want a range of options? Won’t it cut-off the San Joaquin Yacht Club from a large number of clubs in the Delta? What will the impact be on Bethel Island’s economy?

This could be disastrous for Bethel Island marinas, yacht clubs and economy!

This dam will mean that instead of simply traveling directly from Bethel Island to the San Joaquin via False River, boats will need to backtrack across Franks Tract east to the San Joaquin River, an estimated 15 additional miles. The area could lose business, causing significant economical issues!

Why are they installing these dams?

They say it is to control salinity. However, their documents released are xxxTo enable the state to keep exporting water for the almond trees in Westlands and near I-5. The rock barriers are not needed for exports for Municipal and Industrial uses. The State Water Project urban contractors only need 330,000 acre feet next year. There is 1.9 million acre feet stored in Oroville reservoir, which is more than enough to supply water to the South Bay Aqueduct agencies and Southern California.

Some fear these dams are because the state thinks the tunnels are going to die. The rock barriers could be part of a fallback plan. In 2009, the BDCP maps showed the “through the Delta” peripheral canal alternative which was to wall up the Delta to make the Sacramento River and Middle River a “pipeline” to the Clifton Court Forebay. These dams were on those maps.

This is all about the almond farmers who have junior water rights but have planted permanent trees for profit.

Even though Northern California boating, recreation, and fishing are all beneficial use of Delta waters, and as such, meeting needs for these beneficial uses has legal priority over watering almond orchards in the San Joaquin Valley, the state is wanting to put in these dams to give more water for almonds for Asia.

Remember to SEND IN YOUR COMMENTS BY FEBRUARY 25 on the Delta Dams to:

Fax: (916) 653-6077
Snail Mail: Jacob McQuirk, Supervising Engineer, Bay-Delta Office
California Department of Water Resources
PO Box 942836
Sacramento, CA 94236

IMPORTANT!!! Tell them these dams need a formal EIR (Environmental Impact Report) and analysis due to the impacts and issues that they could cause.

Delta Dams Meetings – UPDATED

UPDATED 4:21 PM 2/5/2015 – The DWR rep will not attend tonight’s (2/5) meeting in Clarksburg. The group is still going to talk about the barriers, but no one from the DWR will be attending

This week’s meeting of “North Delta Cares” in Clarksburg, near Sacramento, will be a discussion of the delta dams (drought barriers).

February 5th, 6 PM

Meetings held at:
Husick’s Restaurant and Taphouse
36510 Riverview Dr, Clarksburg, CA 95612

(Feel Free to Order food and beverage during discussions)
Delicious BBQ-Beer-Wine

NEXT WEEK FEBRUARY 12, “North Delta Cares” in Clarksburg, near Sacramento, is with Mr. Paul Marshall, Chief, DWR Bay-Delta Office to talk about these proposed barriers (dams) in the Delta. Let me know if you attend and I’ll distribute your report/minutes to our members.

WHAT: Informational meeting about preparations for emergency drought barriers in Delta channels. DWR staff will give an overview of the proposal, followed by a question-and-answer period.

WHERE: Clarksburg Community Church, 52910 Netherlands Avenue, Clarksburg, CA 95612

WHEN: Thursday, February 12, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Dams in the Delta! Send in your comments!

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:
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?

Related Information:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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

Comments Due on the 3 Dams by April 16

Plans are moving forward to approve putting rock dams in three sloughs: False River (just west of Franks Tract and the typical navigation route for boats traveling from the South Delta to San Francisco), Sutter Slough and Steamboat Slough (in the North Delta). These would impact boating and navigation. Worse, they are being proposed by the water contractors to enable them to continue to over-export water south.

Opinions about the dams vary. There is a chance the False River one could actually help water quality in the South Delta. However, there are more that have negative opinions:

  1. They could (to me, it seems likely) become permanent. They definitely will be full-time over this summer since they are rock dams, not like the previously proposed opening gates.
  2. They 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?
  3. 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.
  4. This will have a negative effect on boating all over the area. False River is a well used navigable waterway as are Steamboat and Sutter Sloughs. The boating and marina industry is already suffering in the Delta along with restaurants and resorts.
  5. I worry that the barriers are part of the overall plan 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.

UPDATED April 14, 2014: There’s a different email address than the one sent out previously:

SUBMITTING COMMENTS: Written comments, referencing Public Notice SPK-2014-00187 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before April 16, 2014.

Bill Guthrie, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
1325 J Street, Room 1350
Sacramento, California 95814-2922

The Corps is particularly interested in receiving comments related to the proposal’s probable impacts on the affected aquatic environment and the secondary and cumulative effects. Anyone may request, in writing, that a public hearing be held to consider this application. Requests shall specifically state, with particularity, the reason(s) for holding a public hearing. If the Corps determines that the information received in response to this notice is inadequate for thorough evaluation, a public hearing may be warranted. If a public hearing is warranted, interested parties will be notified of the time, date, and location. Please note that all comment letters received are subject to release to the public through the Freedom of Information Act. If you have questions or need additional information please contact the applicant or the Corps’ project manager Bill Guthrie, 916-557-5269,

(Old information below)

If you have concerns about these dams, send your comments in to, or by telephone at 916-557-6746.

The original Army Corps of Engineers notice is provided below.

——– Original message ——–
From: “Imamura, Eileen R SPK”
Date:04/01/2014 3:07 PM (GMT-08:00)
To: “Simmons, Zachary M SPK”
Subject: Public Notice SPK-2014-00187 – Emergency Drought Barriers project (UNCLASSIFIED)

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District has posted Public Notice SPK-2014-00187 to

The California Department of Water Resources has applied for a permit to place dredged or fill material in approximately 3.89 acres (0.75 acre permanent and 3.15 acres temporary) of waters of the United States to construct three temporary salinity barriers. Proposed barriers would be located in Sutter Slough, approximately 1.25 miles downstream of the Sacramento River, Steamboat Slough, approximately 0.95 miles downstream of the Sacramento River, and False River, approximately 0.4 miles east of the San Joaquin River.

Written comments and/or a request for a paper copy of the notice may be submitted to project manager Zachary Simmons, by mail at 1325 J Street, Room 1350, Sacramento, California 95814-2922, by email at, or by telephone at 916-557-6746.

Comments must be received by April 16, want to get on the bus!
&body=I want to go to Sacramento July 17th! My Name: Address: Phone#:” =”

Eileen Imamura
Administrative Officer, Regulatory Division
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
1325 J Street, Room 1350, Sacramento, CA 95814-2922
916-557-5262 FAX: 916-557-7803

Let us know how we’re doing. Please complete the survey at:

Information on the Regulatory Program.

Regulatory Public Notices:

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

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.”

The Dept of Water Resources is meeting with Reclamation District 799 to get a permit to install “temporary barriers” in the False River due to the drought. Apparently this is just a prelude to installing barriers in Three Mile Slough and Fisherman’’s Cut. It appears the drought is being used as an excuse to put in barriers that will be needed for the Twin Tunnels in the future.

Anyone interested in attending the meeting it is on Tuesday, March 18th at 10 AM at the Reclamation District Office 6325 Bethel Island Rd., Bethel Island, CA.

Please notify everyone you know that opposes our navigable waterways being blocked.

Read more in the Sacramento Bee today.

STCDA submits comments on the draft “Delta Plan”

STCDA attorney Michael Brodsky submitted formal administrative comments to the Delta Stewardship Council on behalf of STCDA criticizing many aspects of the Delta Plan. The Plan is currently being developed and could change life in the Delta as we know it. See the formal administrative comments here.

Mr. Brodsky also sent the following letter to Wall Street Journal reporter Jim Carlton

Dear Mr. Carlton,

Mike Guzzardo asked me to contact you to provide my overview of Delta water issues. I apologize in advance for the length here but there are number of interrelated things going on and so far I haven’t seen any coverage that puts all the pieces together in a way that really gives the public an overview of what is going on so I thought you might find this useful.

From my perspective all of the present controversies are really framed by one thing: the water contractors have seized the levers of power. Not only is this Chinatown all over again, its Chinatown meets George Orwell: the huge new canal to divert Sacramento River water to Los Angeles is officially classified as a “conservation measure;” the move to privatize public water resources is advanced under the newspeak rubric of “public benefit;” the master plan to guide resource management of San Francisco Bay and the Delta for the next 30 years, called the Bay Conservation and Development Plan (BDCP) is being formulated with the water contractors in the driver’s seat and the dominant goal of building the Peripheral Canal to divert water to southern California.

1) The Peripheral Canal and the BDCP. Plans to build the Peripheral Canal in order to transport Sacramento River water around the Delta and directly to the export pumps, depriving Delta sloughs and rivers of water that currently flows through them, is being advanced through the BDCP process. The BDCP process was originally billed as a fair, balanced, and transparent planning process where all options to deal with Delta issues were on the table. As it turned out, the water contractors had secret and outsized influence from early on and the BDCP’s stakeholder meetings and other public relations measures are no more than a fig leaf for the water contractors to push through the Peripheral Canal.

Congressman George Miller has complained extensively about the inappropriate role of the water contractors in the BDCP. The San Jose Mercury news has covered the issue and editorialized about the favoritism of the BDCP process to water export agencies. I have submitted formal comments to the agency on behalf of MIke Guzzardo’s group (Save the California Delta Alliance) about the unlawfulness of the process.

2) The Canal Bond Measure. An $11 billion dollar bond measure will be submitted to California voters this November. The bond is billed as the “Safe, Clean, and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act.” Who could be against that? But this bond has nothing to do with the safety of drinking water . Drinking water standards are set by the federal and state governments and are in no way affected by this bill. Rather, the underlying purpose of the bond measure is to enable construction of the Peripheral Canal, shift costs from the water contractors to the tax payers, and further privatize public water resources. The bond measure states that its funds cannot be used for canal construction. However, it allocates billions for other critical costs associated with the canal. The exact mechanics of this are a bit too complicated to go into in detail here, but I would be happy to explain the details if you wish. Traditionally water infrastructure is paid for by the end users through the water rate structure. Here a new concept of “public benefit” has been introduced. But what public benefit really means is that the cost is shifted from the water contractors to the general tax base.

The water contractors have attempted to hide the true purpose of the bond measure from the public as follows: California law requires that for all ballot measures submitted to the voters, the California Attorney General has the duty to review each measure and prepare an impartial ballot title and summary of 100 words. From the 100 word summary, a condensed 75 word ballot title is drawn. The ballot title is what the voters see in the ballot booth when they place their mark for “yes” or “no.” The A.G. has a duty to prepare a title and label that are impartial and will not create prejudice either in favor or against the measure. Here, the water contractors have inserted language into the Canal Bond that purports to deprive the A.G. of authority to prepare an impartial summary for this measure. Instead, the water contractors have written their own summary and inserted it into the Canal Bond. If they have their way, the voters will see only the water contractor’s version next to where they place the X on the ballot.

In my view, this was patently unlawful when the legislature approved this scheme in 2010. If there was any doubt, subsequent case law on unrelated ballot measures has removed it. The A.G. has a statutory duty to prepare an impartial summary and the legislature (doing the bidding of the water contractors) does not have the authority to usurp this function. It remains to be seen how the A.G. will respond when the time comes to prepare ballot summaries, but her actions will certainly be closely watched. California law allows for a challenge to the ballot summary before it is submitted to voters. I would not be surprised to see a challenge to this ballot summary later this summer (from groups like ours if the summary favors the water contractors, or from the water contractors if it doesn’t).

I can provide you with the source documents (bill language, etc) establishing the above-stated facts as well as contact information for others familiar with the subterfuge associated with this bond measure.

3) The Delta Plan and the Delta Stewardship Council. Running alongside the BDCP planning process is another process to plan for the future of the Delta. Once adopted, the Delta Plan will be the top tier plan for the Delta. After the BDCP planning process is complete, the BDCP will be submitted to the Delta Stewardship Council (the agency responsible for promulgating the Delta Plan) and, if approved by the Council, will be incorporated as a part of the Delta Plan. The legislation that created the Delta Stewardship Council and authorized the Delta Plan requires that reliance on the Delta as a source of water be reduced. This was part of the grand bargain struck to allow for construction of the Peripheral Canal. It mandates increased conservation and development of local supplies (among other things) in order to reduce Delta exports. However, the regulations being proposed by the Delta Stewardship Council thus far ignore this critical requirement by simply stating that existing water conservation measures are going really well and nothing further need be required. The water contractors thus get their canal but don’t have to keep their end of the reduced Delta reliance bargain. I have submitted formal administrative comments on behalf of STCDA to the Stewardship Council addressing this issue.

4) The Consolidated Salmonid Cases. Operation of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project (the two vast systems of canals that export water from the Delta) is governed by biological opinions issued by federal regulators from time to time. The 2009 biological opinion mandated a number of measures to protect endangered fish populations, including water export curtailment. The water contractors challenged this biological opinion in court and in a surprising decision, departing from precedent and normal practice, Judge Wanger struck down the biological opinion. You are probably familiar with the controversy surrounding Judge Wanger’s decision to retire from the bench and go to work for the water contractors immediately after issuing the Consolidated Salmonid Opinion.

The case is currently being appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

5) Privatizing the Kern Water Bank. In a series of secret meetings, the State Department of Water Resources turned over ownership and control of the Kern Water Bank to private interests. The secret deal is being challenged in court and opponents claim that the deal “turned over control of a significant portion of California’s water supply to a cabal of agricultural barons including billionaire Stewart Resnick.” This is another example of the “public benefit” concept.

6) The 2-Gates Project. I believe the 2-Gates project was the original concern that got you in touch with Mike Guzzardo. I submitted administrative comments on behalf of STCDA challenging the science underlying this project (as well as addressing its environmental impacts). Currently operation of the export pumps near Discovery Bay is curtailed by court order because the pumps tend to suck up the endangered Delta Smelt. The water contractors are always looking for ways to get around this court order. 2-Gates is their latest attempt. The idea behind 2-Gates is that the smelt prefer muddy water (high turbidity). Their theory is that by operating the gates they can manipulate water quality so it is less muddy in the area surrounding the pumps. If the water is less muddy, the smelt will stay away and they can run the pumps full tilt. However, there is little evidence to support the theory that the smelt will respond in this way. Because of our comments and those of others regarding the lack of scientific support for the 2-Gates model, the project was put on hold. But the water contractors are sponsoring new research that will purport to prove their theory. The researchers are employed by the United States Geological Survey but I would not be surprised if the water contractors are paying the tab for the research (they certainly will pay for construction and operation of the Gates project if it goes through). And the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California hired the researchers who came up with the original smelt-turbidity hypothesis. The new U.S.G.S. research was originally planned as 4 year study but it is being cut short and the researchers are being pressured to write up their findings based on a truncated study. The whole 2-Gates thing was billed as a “demonstration project” to generally benefit fish in the Delta. This is nonsense. It has no purpose other than to allow vastly increased water exports. The water contractors have been roundly criticized for trying to hide the true purpose of the project by the Delta Science Panel, among others.

The Peripheral Canal is the water contractor’s long term plan to take more water, but even under the best scenario for them it wouldn’t be operational for at least 10 and probably 15 years. So the gates are a high priority in the near term.

Finally, I understand Mike took you out for a boat ride. I hope you enjoyed our Delta and got to meet some of the characters out on some of the islands out there. From grizzled Marina operators to farmers fighting eminent domain to make way for the canal you can’t beat the Delta for local color. You’re less than a 100 miles from San Francisco but you might as well be on another planet. The Post Office even delivers mail by boat out there.

Michael Brodsky
Law Offices of Michael A. Brodsky

AJR-38 and 2-Gates Update

AJR-38 passed the Senate (1 Nay vote) – to the Governor for sign-off
We posted on August 16th that the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water revised the 2-Gates bill, AJR-38 and removed the request to prioritize the 2-Gates project and instead only to complete the study to determine whether or not to go forward with 2-Gates. That change was sufficient for all of the members of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee to vote yes.

On August 18, the Assembly reviewed the Senate revision. Assembly comments:

    1) Acknowledged that from 2007 to 2009 California experienced water
    management challenges due to a severe drought and, to a lesser
    extent, the need to prevent the extinction of Delta fish

    populations protected by FESA, CESA, or both and that drought,
    recession and other hardships contributed to the economic
    dislocation of rural farming communities
    on the west side of the
    San Joaquin Valley.

    2) Recognized the Two-Gates Project as an experiment that proposes
    to install barriers and gates across two Delta rivers with a
    hypothesis that this would reduce the loss of Delta smelt at the
    SWP/CVP pumps and an inference that such a reduction would allow
    greater SWP/CVP export water deliveries.

    3) Requested USDOI to complete the Two-Gates Project study.

Isn’t something missing here?
The assembly recognized that the main water issues were “due to a severe drought” and only “to a lesser extent, the need to prevent the extinction of Delta fish.” They also recognized that it’s a combination of “drought, recession and other hardships”, not Delta fish that impacted farming communities (and as we now know, most of the hardships were in the construction business). This is an “experiment”. Yet this resolution moves forward to complete the study of the 2-Gates.

The recent State Water Board Delta Flows report stated the crisis in the Delta is too much water being extracted and the legislators are saying they want “greater SWP/CVP export water deliveries.” We say reliable exports, yes. More water exported, no.

What’s also missing is legislative recognition of the impact the 2-Gates will cause to Delta communities. Besides 1) above, there should be a 1B:

    1B) Acknowledged that the installation of these 2 Gates would cause
    economic and other hardships to the Delta Communities and to all
    those that use the South Delta waterways, cause safety issues,
    and are likely to negatively impact Delta fish and wildlife.

And then, if they would acknowledge these facts, wouldn’t the resolution logically be killed and the study stopped?

Only 4 Assembly members voted no in May 2010 when the resolution was first voted on. The Assembly vote was 63-4 with Nay votes from the Discovery Bay Assemblymember representative Joan Buchanan plus Gaines, Niello, Yamada. Only one Senator voted no last week. Mark DeSaulnier the senator that represents Discovery Bay and other Delta communities was the lone “NO” vote.

Today the Delta Stewardship Council released the Final version of their Interim Plan. It lists as the first responsibility under the DWR:

  • “Efforts to cooperate in the construction and implementation of the Two-Gates Fish Protection 21 Demonstration Project by December 1, 2010”.

The study hasn’t been completed, the DWR and many others know it is not a good idea. Why is there still an aggressive implementation date?

Sometimes it seems people are starting to listen to reason and rational thought concerning the Delta. The DWR understood the issues and concerns when they wrote their Dec. 22, 2009 letter putting 2-Gates on hold for more scientific analysis. The Obama Adminsistration and EPA called for additional environmental analysis. Newspapers are now reporting more about water issues and exposing private special interests. Then the senate passes AJR-38. We’ll have to see what happens next.

Senate Committee votes YES on 2-Gates Study

The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water voted a unanimous “YES” this week on 2-Gates AJR-38.

AJR-38 says “This measure would request the United States Department of the Interior to prioritize completion of its study of the Two-Gates Fish Protection Demonstration Project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … The project should be expeditiously analyzed … and, if viable, implemented.”

The unanimous senate committee vote means passage by the Senate is likely. Even committee member Senator Lois Wolk, typically a strong supporter of the Delta voted YES. This is after the senate committee analysis clearly stated the objections the Delta communities have raised:

    “Opponents argue that the science does not support moving forward with the project. They question why the state would attempt to restart a project determined not to be viable and one that has serious impacts on the Delta and its communities. In particular, they note that the project, by blocking Old River and Connection Slough, would pose serious navigation problems, not just for recreational boaters, but for emergency marine response crews as well.”

Hearing our grave concerns, why would the legislature even consider continuing this study?

The legislature needs to push for real solutions, not spending money to study projects that should never be implemented.

Sounds like the special interest water groups have more pull on our legislators than common sense.

The list of those who are pushing AJR-38:

    Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
    Southern California Water Committee
    Association of California Water Agencies
    Chambers of Commerce Alliance (Ventura & Santa Barbara Counties)
    City of San Diego

Those who oppose it:

    Contra Costa County
    Sacramento County
    Solano County
    Yolo County
    Recreational Boaters of California

If you are concerned about a re-start to the 2-Gates Project, copy the paragraph below referencing the AJR-38 Analysis Report opposition statement into your Senator’s “Contact Me” comments section (or replace with your own words) .

For Discovery Bay residents, go to Mark DeSaulnier’s Website.

    The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water reported that there is serious opposition to AJR-38 including that the science does not support moving forward with the project. Opponents question why the state would attempt to restart a project determined not to be viable and one that has serious impacts on the Delta and its communities. In particular, they note that the project, by blocking Old River and Connection Slough, would pose serious navigation problems, not just for recreational boaters, but for emergency marine response crews as well. I urge you to vote “NO” for AJR-38.

Click here to view the complete analysis.

UPDATE 8/16 from Senator Wolk’s office: Senator Wolk agrees with the analysis of AJR 38 [which pointed out the concerns and issues Delta communities have with AJR-38] and made many of those points in Committee. The Author agreed to take some amendments during the hearing which made Senator Wolk more comfortable with the bill. The amendments effectively stripped AJR 38 of the provision requiring “prioritization” of the study. Now the language simply states that the study should be completed. It’s now just like any other proposal that comes before the Bureau, and will be prioritized based on merit (which as we understand it, this project has very little merit).

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