Archive for the 'Delta Dams/Gates' Category

The time is NOW – Stop AJR 38!

We knew Two-Gates had only been postponed, not stopped indefinitely. But we were hopeful that the project would be taken off the table when we heard from the USBR last week that (1) their scientific study to determine if there would be any positive effect on the Delta Smelt from the Two-Gates would take 2-3 years and (2) the final project would be very different from the initial Two-Gates plan and instead, if implemented, would take the needs of the local communities in mind. The revised plan would undoubtably cost a great deal of money to implement (especially if the “gates” are expensive locks) – an expensive “experiment.”

But as reported by, the fact that Two-Gates has been put on-hold “makes Assemblymembers like Caballero, Arambula, and Fuller impatient. It makes ACWA, the San Luis and Delta Mendota Water Agency, and the Metropolitan Water District impatient. It makes Westlands Water District very impatient.” They don’t care about the Delta (the environment or the communities who rely on it), they only care about extracting more water from the Delta even if that results in the Delta becoming a salty, polluted bog.

On Tuesday, May 11, the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife reviewed Assembly Joint Resolution AJR 38, proposed by Assemblymember Caballero. The resolution requests the U.S. Department of the Interior to prioritize the study of the Two-Gates Fish Protection Demonstration Project and implementation.

Mary Piepho represented the five Delta counties at the committee meeting voicing opposition to AJR 38. However, the committee still voted to approve an amended version. While the amended version removed some of the posturing and myths that were in the initial version (thanks, I’m sure, to Mary and the other Delta supervisor’s efforts), we still have a HUGE concern that instead of taking steps to really fix the state’s water issues, Westlands and others interested in privatizing and making a profit from re-selling water continue to push projects, like Two-Gates, that will not provide any true short-term solution to the water issues and will ultimately continue down the path of irreparable harm to the Delta.

The resolution is headed for votes by legislators.

Tell your representatives to oppose AJR 38 !

Even representatives that we know oppose Two-Gates benefit from continued feedback. It gives them more ammunition when voicing their constituents concerns.

For Discovery Bay:

For other areas:
If you don’t know your representative, go to the League of Women Voter’s (LWV) site. It also gives hints on the best way to contact each (via email or website).

Sample Letter

(Be sure to replace [NAME] and [ADDRESS] with your name and address)
—————CUT HERE————————-

Please vote “NO” on Assembly Joint Resolution 38. Comments sent during the Two-Gates comment period identified that the project was an ill-conceived “experiment”, was unlikely to protect Delta Smelt, and would have major detrimental effects on local communities. Two-Gates would cost a great deal of money to study and implement, money better spent on real initiatives to reverse the damage done by excessive water exporting and other stressors on the Delta.

Instead of wasting money on more experiments that will negatively effect the Delta, please spend money to research the amount of water required for a healthy Delta, the amount of water that can be safely exported and a balanced state plan to address any additional water needs from other sources (desalinization, agricultural conservation, etc.)



Water Education Foundation Tour

Discovery Bay was the next to last stop today in a two-day Water Education Foundation “Flood Management Tour” taken by about 50 people. The tour group included farmers, county supervisors, water agencies, and others – many from the Central Valley and L.A. The meeting was at the Boardwalk Grill and was a chance to show them Discovery Bay and to express the South Delta communities’ concerns about Two-Gates and other proposed changes to the Delta.

The first speaker was Mario Manzo from the US Bureau of Reclamations, Project Manager for the Two-Gates project. Following Mario, our own Mike Guzzardo talked about the STCDA concerns with Two-Gates: the appreciation for the Delta the people who live here have and the desire to not see it turned into a salt water estuary. Concerns with the proliferation of dams and gates affecting the water quality “IN” the Delta (as opposed to the rest of the people in the room’s concern about the quality of the water being “EXPORTED” from the Delta for agriculture and drinking water) and navigation and safety issues with the Two-Gates. About the desire for a “balanced” state water plan which takes into consideration the needs of Delta communities.

Although Mike wasn’t speaking to an audience sharing our concerns, it was an opportunity to give a human face to the views on the other side of the water export argument. Mike did a great job !

Good news from the USBR

Of significant interest were a couple of updates about the Two-Gates project from Mario. First, from the USBR perspective, the next steps are two to three years’ study to validate the science behind the project before anything would be done.

In addition, the USBR has been meeting with the Dept. of Waterways and Desmond & Desmond (agency representing the interests of the Recreational Boaters of California (RBOC)) about navigation, water access, and the other concerns raised about the Two-Gates project. “IF” any gates are installed, they would be different than in the initial project – more boater-friendly. Perhaps locks or equivalent. So that’s great news even though our goal is to avoid any experimental dams in the Delta which are likely to negatively effect the ecosystem.

It shows your comments and feedback were heard and is making a difference in how the USBR is looking at the Delta and its use. Mario made reference more than once to the 1400 comments the USBR had received about the Two-Gates project – and all but one objected to the Two-Gates project and most raised navigation and safety concerns. Good work everyone !

However …

While that’s good news, the bad news is that the legislative bills to re-start the Two-Gates project and do so quickly are still being pushed through the legislature. Mary Peipho spoke in opposition to Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR) 38 at the committee hearing Tuesday and all five Delta County supervisors oppose the Two-Gates and AJR 38. But it is still moving ahead. And the Delta Interim Draft Plan still lists Two-Gates as an objective.

We still have work to do but by all of us in the community working together, we are making progress.

Check out the new look for We think it’s nicer and easier to read. Hope you agree.

Interim Delta Plan – Comments Due May 12

The Delta Stewardship Council has posted a Draft Interim Plan and an invitation for comments. Click here for a copy. Send comments to The Interim Plan will be in effect until the “Delta Plan” replaces it and becomes an enforceable document. Comments received by May 12 will be included in the Council’s May 27-28 meeting packet. Items received after May 12 will be considered in the later June Council meeting.

Two-Gates – They’re Back

Draft Plan item V:
“(a) Continue working on the rapid science study for the Two-Gates Fish Protection Project”
“(b) Construct and implement the Two-Gates …”

First, if it is a “rapid” science study will it be comprehensive? Second, there is no qualifier that said if the scientific study showed gates weren’t effective, don’t construct them. Constructing the gates is a step of its own. There’s no Environmental Impact Report (EIR) step listed or any other updated project plan. There’s nothing that addresses the safety, boating, and economic issues raised by our communities. Looks to me like it’s another attempt to ram rod the Two-Gates project even though the US Department of the Interior stated (see the AJR 38 Bill Analysis) that they were concerned with the lack of scientific study, the escalating cost of the project, and the potential impacts of the project as raised in over 1400 comment letters.

The Two-Gates project as it was originally scoped in the USBR FONSI should not be included in this plan.

The Delta isn’t a Plumbing Fixture

The Plan is heavily focused on the Delta as the primary solution for the entire state’s water needs. Step 1 of the plan should be to determine the amount of flow required to maintain a healthy Delta ecosystem. Once that is determined, the rest of the plan can be finalized. Specific steps should be included to minimize the amount of water the state needs from the Delta such as reducing evaporation from the Aqueduct, desalination plants, agriculture conservation, and groundwater clean-up.


The goal “Support for agriculture” needs clarification. As seen in Sen. Feinstein’s proposed Amendment to the Jobs Bill, some are quick to propose changing priority water rights and put the Westlands farmers to the front of the line ahead of Delta farmers and others who hold senior water rights. The plan needs to include maintaining farmers’ priority water rights.

In addition, “Support for agriculture“ needs to be qualified.
1. There are currently lands with high levels of selenium being farmed. This has resulted in wildlife deformities and causes significant issues for downstream Delta farmers.
2. Some crops like cotton and rice consume more water than others. The plan needs to support balancing the economic value of agriculture to the State with negative impacts to the state water supply
3. Some farmers leverage their water rates to resell at a profit. This should be eliminated by mandating no profiteering from reselling water rights.

Programs to encourage farmers to switch to crops needing less water, eliminate farming on selenium-filled land and eliminate reselling water rights should be added to this plan.

Recognition of Delta Communities’ Needs

Recognition of the Delta as a home to millions and an economic basis for the communities (local agriculture, fishing, boating, home values, local businesses) needs to also be specifically considered and supported by this plan. As shown by the Two-Gates project, these project do not include consideration for the Delta communities. Furthermore, there is no oversight by Delta legislators or funding for that oversight as part of the plan. The five Delta County supervisors have requested funding – that should be part of the plan.

Send Comments

We encourage anyone with concerns about this becoming the Interim Delta plan send comments to If you share the concerns above, copy them or revise to describe your specific concerns/recommendations.

Good News/Bad News Bills

The bass are off the chopping block, for now

The good news is that the REVISED Assembly Bill 2336 was passed, not the original. Assemblymember Fuller originally introduced AB 2336 April 11 to terminate the management and protection of the public’s striped bass fishery that inhabits the Bay-Delta estuary. The bill named bass as the cause of the decline of “native” fish species which sent the Delta fisherman into action. The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance lead the charge and an estimate one hundred anglers attend the April 13th hearing in the state capitol. The bill was afterwards amended to simply send the issues of estuary’s fishery declines to be reviewed by Delta Stewardship’s Council “Independent Science Board”. It was interesting that the “Rationale” given for this Bill specifically excludes impacts of the pumps from the analysis – the Bill’s stated Rationale: “to reduce or eliminate the impact of significant stressors on California’s native fish populations other than the pumps that export water out of the Delta, including nonnative fish species and the amended bill passed this week.

They won’t admit that the problem is the pumps

The bad news about AB 2337, is that now the Delta Independent Science Board will be reviewing the “impact of invasive species and non-native species, water quality impairments, and predation on native species” as the primary stressors. The BDCP and others continue to try to find reasons for the Delta’s decline other than the State Pumps and resulting flow reductions. The State Water Resources Control Board held a public informational proceeding on Monday, March 22, to develop flow criteria for the Delta ecosystem necessary to protect public trust resources but reports were that more time was spent looking for other stressors instead of evaluating what flow criteria is required for maintaining a healthy Delta ecosystem.

And users of the water won’t be paying

Another worrisome bill also passed out of the committee was Huffman’s AB 2092 regarding fees for planning and administration for the Delta Stewardship Council. The bill originally required the SWP and CVP contractors to pay for “planning and administrative costs.” As reported, “This sounded reasonable to the Audubon Society, NRDC, and the Nature Conservancy, but a lot of water districts and growers’ groups balked. So the bill has been amended to say ‘specified costs.’ Whatever that means. Also amended out of the bill was the part that would have made beneficiaries responsible for paying for the costs of implementing the Plan.”

Status Update

People have been asking me “What’s happening with the 2-Gates and other Delta projects?” While we made great progress delaying the 2-Gates project, there are many projects moving ahead and legislation to re-start 2-Gates being debated.

Since our Discovery Bay meeting March 1st, the STCDA (NoDeltaGates) team has been monitoring current events and working with other organizations like

RestoreTheDelta reported on April 19th:

    “April 1st was more than just April Fools’ Day; it was also the seating of the Delta Stewardship Council, which happened to coincide with the West Coast Salmon Summit hosted by Congressmen George Miller and Mike Thompson. RTD had called supporters out to attend the Salmon Summit, which contributed to a glaring absence of Delta supporters at the historic seating of the Stewardship Council. The absence of Delta support in the room was noted by one of the public commentators.

    The first order of business was for the Council to elect their Chair. Not surprisingly, Phil Isenberg was unanimously elected Chair. No Vice Chair was elected.

    Then the appointees were introduced. Sacramento Supervisor Don Notolli holds the only seat guaranteed to represent any Delta interest on the Council by virtue of the fact that he is the Chairman of the Delta Protection Commission. Besides Supervisor Notolli, we have Hank Nordoff, Patrick Johnston, Randy Fiorini, Phil Isenberg, Gloria Gray, and Richard Roos-Collins, who was absent.

    Judge Ronald Robie officiated the swearing in of the Council. Judge Robie, a former head of DWR, reads and interprets water laws, some of which he wrote years ago.

    Mr. Isenberg called Judge Robie “one of the best water judges in the state; he wrote the laws.” Resources Agency Director Lester Snow told the newly sworn in Council that one of their goals should be to keep the Council’s actions out of Judge Robie’s court because “he’s not a friend of ours.” It is hard to know whose friend Snow thinks Judge Robie is, but there was chuckling in the room by those thinking the BDCP and Alternative Conveyance are done deals. Time will tell. “

The STCDA were also dissappointed on April 10th to see email from the California Sportsfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) that:

    “Assemblymember Fuller has introduced AB 2336 to terminate the management and protection of the public’s striped bass fishery that inhabits the Bay-Delta estuary. The bill mandates the elimination of all regulations that govern the legal harvest of the fishery thereby eliminating its sport fishing protective status. The author alleges this is necessary to reduce striped bass predation on salmon and Delta smelt protected by the state and federal Endangered Species Acts.

    This bill is similar to the one the Fuller introduced last year that was defeated by a coalition of anglers who care about the fishery and that acted in concert with sportfishing and environmental groups lead by CSPA. That bill was killed in its first committee hearing because the false arguments used by the author significantly overstated the impact of striped bass predation. Scientific testimony provided during the hearing made it clear that striped bass rarely, if ever, eat Delta smelt and that predation on listed salmon is so low that it does not impact the population level of the listed salmon.

    This bill is different in that it calls for the elimination of “the program enhancement, expansion or improvement of the fishery”. Ironically, such programs do not exist! It also requires that the Delta Stewardship Council to establish programs to discourage the promotion of the Bay-Delta striped bass as a sport fishery. It further requires the Stewardship Council to evaluate predator suppression options and make recommendations to remedy these problems. “

As a friend of mine who grew up in Brentwood said “I used to do a lot of striper fishing in the Delta back when the salmon were plentiful. I always make a point to cut open the bellies of the fish I catch to see what they are eating. I have never found a salmon in the belly of a striper!”

Other noteworthy news: Mary Piepho and the other four Delta County supervisors are fighting to obtain funding because of the Delta Plan’s critical importance to the communities of the Delta. We need to support these efforts and speak out against the new bills to re-start the 2-Gates project and, definitely, against the Water Bond Bill in November!

KQED re-aired their “Saving the Bay” series in April. Interesting information:

    In 1945 the Central Valley Project (CVP) (Shasta Dam and Friant Dam and huge pumping station, the Tracy Pumps was planned). The CVP had 4 goals:

      1. Water supply
      2. Hydro-electric
      3. Recreation
      4. Flood Control

    Not until it (the CVP) was in place would its impact on ecosystems become evident. Notably the blocking of the salmon’s runs.

    Today the survival of salmon is based on unceremonious procedures – fertilization no longer occurs in pristine rivers, instead, unceremoniously in a bucket.

    Meanwhile the huge pumping stations in the Delta reverse the estuary’s natural flow of the Delta, often destroying a vast population of fish drawn into its own irresistible pull. The millions invested in 2 great engineering marvels [the Shasta Dam and Tracy Pumps] would, by century’s end, cost billions to deal the consequences.

    We have committed the sin of serial engineering when it comes to the Estuary. For every engineering effort, for every engineering investment where we have tried to engineer a particular ecosystem service out of the Delta there has been a cascade of effects. Each one of those effects requiring a new investment of engineering. On that new investment of engineering against the need for more engineering. So we get locked into a cycle of serial engineer we can’t escape.

We know the “science” behind the 2-Gates project is flawed. We need to ensure that additional Delta projects are not implemented that affect the ecosystem.

Good News – Six months after the court-ordered release of water from a Central Valley dam, the San Joaquin River is now reconnected with San Francisco Bay, a major development in the river’s long-term recovery and re-establishment of chinook salmon populations.

Website Note: We’ve added a new tab, “Event Tracker” to help you and us keep track of the current issues and current legislative bills we need to focus on. It also includes a “History of Events” starting with when many of us first heard about the 2 Gates project and tracking activities and events since then for reference.

Delta Residents told to Ready for Water War

Central Valley Business Times Article:

    Residents of the Discovery Bay area of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta were warned Monday night that powerful, unnamed, forces from Southern California are waiting to spring a massive peripheral canal on them.

    Such a canal would be bigger than the Panama Canal and would send fresh water around the Delta to pumps that would transfer it to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.

    Much of the Discovery Bay opposition keys in on what is dubbed the “Two Gates Project” that would construct dams in the Delta to divert the flow of water.

    The project, which seemed to be on the fast track last fall, now seems stalled.

    But leaders of the [Save the California Delta Alliance – formerly the] Save the San Francisco Bay and Delta Foundation say it’s merely a lull in a water war pitting Southern California interests against the landowners in the Delta.

    “We’ve won some good battles, but we haven’t won the war yet,” says Mike Guzzardo, spokesman for the Save the San Francisco Bay and Delta Foundation. “It can change week by week. We just can’t let it go and assume we’ve won.”

Click here to see an interview with Mr. Guzzardo taped at Monday night’s SFBDF meeting in Discovery Bay.

California Delta Water Meeting – Monday March 1st 6:30pm


against the U.S. Department of Interior’s – Bureau of Reclamation
“2 Gates Fish Protection Demonstration Project”

Hello SFBDF Members and Friends!

Save the San Francisco Bay and Delta Foundation

Monday March 1st – 6:30pm

Discovery Bay Elementary School Gym.
1700 Willow Lake Road Discovery Bay CA 94505


Our members will be presenting an update on where we are today on the “2 Gates” issue plus enhancing everyone’s understanding of the bigger water issues that will be affecting us for years to come.

There will be special guest speakers including:

  • Mary N. Piepho – Contra Costa County Supervisor
  • Susanna Schlendorf – District Director for Assemblymember Joan Buchanan
  • David Nesmith – Environmental Water Caucus

This special program is designed to give an overview of:

  • A Brief History of the Bay and Delta.
  • An Update on the 2 Gates project.
  • An overview of major Delta water projects.
  • Who’s taking water from the Delta, where are they taking it from and why?
  • What contaminants are in our water, where are they coming from and what can we do about it?
  • How do we provide water to those who need it and what measures can we take to conserve water?
  • Why are we growing low value crops instead of growing more drought resistant crops that yield more and use less water?
  • Water conveyance and storage.
  • Our efforts to maintain the beauty and health of the Southern Delta and Discovery Bay.
  • A surprise announcement about SFBDF you won’t want to miss.

We hope you can make this event, please feel free to pass this email on to anyone you know who may be interested.

“Save the San Francisco Bay and Delta Foundation (SFBDF) is a public interest organization committed to working with local, state, and federal government
to create a balanced plan that offers water for everyone and also makes the California Delta and San Francisco Bay a safe and healthy environment for all who live here.”

Dave Dove, Chairman   925.354.3800
Karen Mann, Vice Chairman   925.513.3231 x1
Mike Guzzardo, Media Relations    925.864.5757

Please read the email below for the latest from Supervisor Piepho who is keeping a watchful eye on those that would ruin our delta.

From: BOS District3 []
Sent: Friday, February 26, 2010 4:28 PM
Subject: Feinstein’s water meddling

For Your Information
Courtesy of Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho, Contra Costa County, District III

Los Angeles Times Editorial
February 17, 2010

Feinstein’s water meddling

By attempting to divert water to a group of farmers in the west San Joaquin Valley, she risks upsetting a delicate compromise reached last year.

Cities, farmers, fishermen and environmentalists have been waging an exhausting tug of war over water for decades in California, but last fall something unusual happened. All those ropes being tugged by competing interests were woven into something new — a framework for settling conflicts approved under a package of bills by the Legislature. The agreement might have been a fragile web, but it was a historic one nonetheless. And then, last week, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) fired a cannonball through it.

Feinstein announced that she would attach a rider to an upcoming federal jobs bill that would boost water deliveries from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to a vocal agribusiness community in the west San Joaquin Valley. Because these farmers were late to the game of acquiring water rights, they’re the first to get shorted when deliveries are cut, as they were last year because of drought conditions and court- ordered pumping restrictions aimed at restoring fish populations. West valley farmers only got about 10% of their allocations of federally subsidized water in 2009, and Feinstein’s rider would ensure they get closer to 40% this year and next.

Feinstein says she’s proposing the amendment because “people in California’s breadbasket face complete economic ruin without help.” Indeed, unemployment is running alarmingly high in some Central Valley communities. But then, they’ve long been beset by chronic unemployment. Moreover, a report by the University of the Pacific suggests that the vast majority of the region’s job losses have been in the construction industry, not agriculture. And it’s perverse to insert language in a jobs bill aimed at benefiting farmworkers without considering the impact on fishermen, whose industry has been devastated by heavy pumping of delta water. The delta is home to hundreds of species, including the increasingly threatened chinook salmon.

That’s only the beginning of what’s wrong with Feinstein’s amendment. If approved, it would create a legal morass around conflicts between federal and state endangered species protections. Worse yet, it would blow apart the trust built up among competing stakeholders during years of negotiations preceding last year’s water package. Her attempt to make an end run around this bipartisan process, at the behest of a powerful interest group, could destroy what limited progress has been made and end in years of litigation and acrimony.

Though the west valley’s farms are important to the state’s economy, they are located in a naturally arid landscape that’s unsuited to agriculture; moreover, runoff from the area contains heavy selenium deposits, which turned a local reservoir into a toxic waste dump. If cuts in water deliveries make it expensive to farm in such unsustainable places — well, maybe that’s as it should be. The region should only get its water allotment if managers deem there is enough surplus to allow it.

Feinstein says she’s still working on the language of her rider and is open to alternative suggestions. Here’s ours: Stop interfering with the state’s delicate water talks and withdraw this destructive amendment.


Office of Supervisor Mary N. Piepho
Contra Costa County, District III
309 Diablo Road
Danville, California 94526
Ph: (925) 820-8683
Fax: (925) 820-6627

181 Sand Creek Road, Suite L
Brentwood, California 94513
Ph: (925) 240-7260
Fax: (925) 240-7261


Tomi Van de Brooke, Chief of Staff
Lea Castleberry, Deputy Chief of Staff
Marion Murphy, Scheduler/Office Operations
Karyn Cornell, East County Field Representative
Jennifer Quallick, South County Field Representative

A message for Sen. Feinstein – Don’t Drain the Delta !

(Posted by Jan on behalf of Mike Guzzardo)


When you read this, remember I’m not a “cause guy” … just a Delta resident who is fed up with the nonsense and had to stand up with my fellow committee members and form SFBDF just 3 months ago.

What a wild ride it’s been so far.

We appreciate the support of YOU, and other delta residents who are also fed up. We continue to make a difference.

I know you’re as busy as I am (running a business and working on too many committees to remember…) BUT

Please take 5 minutes to view this video that Snugg Harbor Resort put together about the Delta entitled “Don’t Drain the Delta”.


THIS IS the message I would like everyone to see and hear about our wonderful Delta. Almost brings me to tears…


Did you see the San Francisco Chronicle article last week?
U.S Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., will try to remake the Endangered Species Act in her own image early next week to reve up the federal pumps in the San Francisco Bay Delta.

Federal Judge Oliver Wanger ordered the pumping diminished earlier this month to protect endangered fish, including Sacramento River salmon.

Feinstein reportedly intends to attach a pump-restarting rider to next week’s “must pass” Senate jobs bill.

CLICK HERE to read Dianne’s article in the Chronicle.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Burying this in a JOBS BILL? ? ? It ought to be illegal…

We can see how confused Water issues are getting (how misleading SOME politicians are making it). This San Francisco Chronicle article is scary because of the inaccurate facts linking farm issues only to water.

THIS editorial in the same paper CLICK HERE clarifies the myths.

The bottom line from the editorial responding to Feinstein’s SF Chronicle article:
Feinstein’s statement oozes compassion for the “tens of thousands of people unemployed” in the San Joaquin Valley. University studies show most unemployment in the San Joaquin Valley resulted from the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage housing construction boom, not the drought. About 8,500 jobs have been lost to the drought, and about 2,000 of those to fish protection at the delta pumps.

Meanwhile California has 23,000 workers idled by the two-year shutdown of salmon fishing — a $1.5 billion a year hit to the state’s economy.

I urge you to email Di Fi and let her know she’s WRONG!

..she’s WRONG to use PUBLIC money in promoting issues that support her friends…and she’s WRONG to betray her constituents by draining the delta – which in the end will hurt even her friends she’s working so hard to support.

Forward the link to the video too if you wish…
How to . . . Contact Dianne Feinstein’s Washington, D.C. office
Senator Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-3841
Fax: (202) 228-3954
TTY/TDD: (202) 224-2501
Click here to email me. (DIANNE’S EMAIL)

Thanks to Dave Dove for the Snugg Harbor link and his hundreds of hours of web surfing research on the OUR behalf.

See you all at our March 1st California Delta Water Meeting!
6:30pm Discovery Bay Elementary School Gym!


Contra Costa County
Board Supervisors, District III

December 21, 2009

For more information contact:
Tomi Van de Brooke – Chief of Staff
Office of Supervisor Mary Piepho
Phone: 925-820-8683
Cell: 925-457-6260

Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho
Discovery Bay Community Leaders and County Officials
Meet with Congressman McNerney

Groups Pleads for More Thorough look at 2-Gates Project

Brentwood, CA – Contra Costa County Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho brought a delegation of Discovery Bay community leaders and county officials to Stockton and met with Congressman McNerney today to express grave concerns with the 2-Gates project currently being considered by the U.S. Department of the Interior – Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers.

“I appreciate that Congressman McNerney took the time and brought in the two federal agencies to hear first hand our reservations about the 2-Gates project and potential impacts that had been largely ignored or gone unanswered by state agencies,” stated Supervisor Mary Nejedly. “The federal agencies assured us that the 2-Gates project would get a more thorough review and questions would be answered before the project moved forward,” She added.

Working with Supervisor Piepho, the group sought the meeting because they felt there had been little opportunity to bring the local perspective to the project design and development. They expressed concern that the project is focused on a predetermined outcome and is not stepping back to see the bigger picture including serious degradation of the Delta estuary.

“I was proud to see a number of local groups come together to elevate the issue and work together to affect change,” commented Mike Guzzardo, a local realtor and representative of the Save the San Francisco Bay and Delta Foundation. “The system worked as it should and it appears we were heard,” added Guzzardo.

The group’s concerns included agency oversight, public safety, water quality, and boating impediments. The agencies listened and acknowledged that the cost and the scientific underpinnings of the project may warrant additional evaluation.

Attendees included Discovery Bay Community Services District Director, Kevin Graves, Commissioner Lenora Clark with the California Department of Boating and Waterways, Discovery Bay resident Jan McCleery, Mike Guzzardo and Dave Dove representing the Save the San Francisco Bay and Delta Foundation, and County staff.

The 2-Gates project proposes to mount gates on a submerged cargo barge in the Old River area of the Delta. The project’s stated purpose is to determine if Delta Smelt can be prevented from being sucked into the pumps that send water to points south. The applicant and proponents of the project include Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the San Luis and Delta Mendota Water Authority. The State of California has already waived the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements for the project and is proposing to spend $44 million on the five year research project.


Office of Supervisor Mary N. Piepho
Contra Costa County, District III
309 Diablo Road
Danville, California 94526
Ph: (925) 820-8683
Fax: (925) 820-6627

181 Sand Creek Road, Suite L
Brentwood, California 94513
Ph: (925) 240-7260
Fax: (925) 240-7261


Tomi Van de Brooke, Chief of Staff
Lea Castleberry, Deputy Chief of Staff
Marion Murphy, Scheduler/Office Operations
Karyn Cornell, East County Field Representative
Jennifer Quallick, South County Field Representative


The following letter was read at the meeting yesterday in Discovery Bay by our member Michael Brodsky, and signed by many of the people in attendance. For the folks that were unable to sign yesterday, but wanted a way to sign this letter on our web page, please read at the end of this post.

We, the undersigned, submit these comments in mass to express our grave concern that adequate consideration has not been given to the environmental, economic, and cultural impacts of the proposed 2-gates project. We also express grave concern that the stated purpose of the project, to alter smelt behavior in the delta, is little more than wishful thinking without adequate scientific support.
Because any benefits of the project are, at this time, speculative at best, and the potential for negative impacts so great, we are confounded that the BOR has elected to cut environmental corners by proffering a FONSI instead of conducting a full environmental analysis and producing an adequate EIS. It appears to us as if the BOR is in a headlong rush to begin construction despite many red flags auguring for caution and more careful scientific analysis before any decision to proceed is made. We sincerely hope that you will reconsider the rush to break ground and will take the necessary time to make an adequately informed decision.

The BOR extended the comment period (originally 30 days) by two weeks, albeit two weeks including the Thanksgiving holiday. Based on the information presented below, we believe that it is obvious that starting construction on this project in December 2009, as the BOR originally intended, is completely out of the question. Given the amount of work BOR has yet to do to justify the project, a more realistic start date (if indeed serious investigation reveals any merit to the project) would be December 2011 at the earliest. We request a further extension of the comment period of at least 90 days from the date such extension is announced. We believe that comments in response to this EA will be useful to the BOR in scoping and performing a full Environmental Impact Statement, which we also believe is mandatory in this situation.

A blue ribbon panel of independent scientists has reviewed the project and concluded that the project proposal “has some significant shortcomings and problems.” CALFED Science Program, Science Review of the Two Gates Project, September 29, 2009 (“CALFED Science Review”) at 10. Chief among these is that “[a] critical element of project design, the smelt behavior model, is incomplete and not connected to existing literature on fish behavior models.” CALFED Science Review at 11. CALFED concludes that the assumptions about smelt behavior upon which the entire project is based have never been substantiated: “[s]ince the behavioral rules are biologically questionable, the assumptions that they will capture the response of fish to the Two Gates operations is a central defining CALFED bay-delta program web siteaspect of the project that needs substantiation.” Simply put, with the information that is available at this time, there is no reason to believe that the 2-Gates project will do anything at all to achieve its purpose, which is the alteration of smelt behavior. On the other side of the ledger, the very significant and far reaching impacts of the project on the hydrodynamics and water quality of the delta are firmly established by the BOR’s own documentation: “Changes would occur to channel flows (direction, magnitude, and/or duration) and water quality (primarily turbidity and salinity).” 2-Gates Fish Protection Demonstration Project, Draft Environmental Assessment (“Draft EA”) at 123. The project “would substantially modify hydrodynamic flow patterns in the interior delta.” Draft EA at 125. Examples of altered flows acknowledged by BOR include January–February reductions in flow of 43% on Old River at Holland Cut on ebb tide and a reduction in flow volume of 33% on flood tide; a reduction in flow of 16% on Middle River at Middle River on ebb tide. Draft EA, table 3.9-3 at 221–222. In March, examples of flow reduction include a reduction of 44% on Old River at Holland Cut on ebb tide and a reduction of flow volume of 68% on Old River at Holland Cut on flood tide as well as a reduction in flow volume of 75% on flood tide on Old River at Bacon Island. Draft EA, table 3.9-4 at 223. These flow reductions and alterations raise serious questions about circulation, stagnation, accumulation of contaminants, increased deposition of sediments, algal growth, impact on human health, and fish species other than smelt. It will take serious and rigorous scientific analysis that has not yet been done to answer these and many other outstanding questions.

The BOR has concentrated almost exclusively on attempting to analyze how its project will affect smelt behavior with very little attention to other impacts that 2-gates will have on the environment. This fundamental failure to consider the wide ranging impacts of the project was not lost on the CALFED Science Review: “The Panel feels that considerable uncertainty remains around potential unanticipated consequences of the Two Gates Project operation.” CALFED Science Review at 18. Examples of impacts that the Science Review found BOR has failed to adequately consider include “potential impacts on juvenile salmon,” and “other species of concern or sensitivity, such as Sacramento Splittail,” and “Sacramento tule perch.” CALFED Science Review at 18.
Nor has BOR considered the impacts on human health. An intended result of the project is to increase residence time for waters of the central and south delta. With increased residence time, lowering of dissolved oxygen and algal growth are to be expected.
However, BOR has not considered changes in water quality due to lowering of dissolved oxygen. BOR has proposed providing stations to monitor algal growth after the gates are installed, but none of those monitoring stations is to be located in Discovery Bay where
children frequently swim.

The CALFED panel characterized the EA’s treatment of potential environmental impacts as having “little rigor.” CALFED Science Review at 18. Where our property values, the health of the environment, and the health of our children are at stake, “little rigor” is not good enough for us. We hope that it will not be good enough for you either. We request that BOR extend the comment period for at least 90 days on the currently circulating EA, and that BOR use its experience in circulating this EA to conduct the necessary science to
1) justify the project with rigorous scientific support; and
2) prepare a full scope Environmental Impact Statement.

If you would like to sign this letter (and hadn’t had a chance at the meeting), please click on this link (or on the “comments” link right below this post), state your name and address, and any other comment you wish to leave. We will add your name to the overall list of people that signed the petition.

Thank you!

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