Archive for the 'Fish' Category

The Fable of the Farmer and the Fish

A year ago I sent a notice out about the children’s book I wrote, The Fable of the Farmer and the Fish.

  I’d hoped to write a clear explanation that even children will understand illustrating the fundamental issue behind the California water wars, why Governor Brown’s Delta Tunnels are not the needed solution and instead propose a true, long-term solution. Set in the format of a children’s book.

I received a lot of feedback that people would like to see it more available for their children. Even adults enjoyed it.

Available on Amazon (Click Here) for iPhone, iPad, PC and Kindle. There is a nominal Kindle download cost. Proceeds go to the Save the California Delta Alliance.

Illustrations by Steve Greenfield, Discovery Bay resident. Thanks, Steve.

I hope people enjoy it.

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

The Fable of the Farmer and the Fish

I’ve written my first book – a children’s book. Any parallels to the California Delta’s plight are for the reader to decide. Names were changed to protect the innocent.

The Fable of the Farmer and the Fish.

The Farmer   The Fish

(Note: Current version has temporary clipart. Will purchase or replace).

Westlands versus the Orcas

That sounds like an odd title – right? What is the connection between California’s Central Valley Agribusiness and Puget Sound Orcas?

We know Westlands Water District is working hard on the Peripheral Tunnel plan which will wipe out Delta farmers and communities from north to south, I didn’t know they were after Orcas, too.

Orca J Pod sighted by Mike, Jan and friends while in Canada

Researching, I found that the Westlands Water District (our “favorite” player in the Peripheral Tunnel scam) had been suing the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) to take Puget Sound’s critically endangered orcas off the endangered species list. Fortunately, on August 3, the NMFS denied their requests. It seemed very odd to me that Westlands Water District would be going after the Northwest Orcas.

However, they have been trying to rid the Delta of striped bass, saying the bass were the reason for the salmon’s demise (even though both species have lived together harmoniously for over 100 years). Could it have just been a coincidence that the Westlands drive to eliminate bass started right after very loud and numerous bass fishing organizations began speaking out against the BDCP plan? The bass were safe, we thought, when in February 2012 the California Fish and Game Commission rejected the request to make fishing law changes that would result in the end of the striped bass in the Delta and instead named them as a native species. Last week, however, we heard Westlands at the Fresno Delta Water Meeting continue to voice the need to get rid of bass. They never give up.

Obviously they believe they can affect the web of life not only in the Sacramento Delta but in the entire Pacific and eliminate anything that eats salmon rather than accept the fact that exporting too much fresh water from the Delta has been what is ruining the salmon runs (at least according to the NMFS report, the US Army Corp of Engineers report and independent salmon experts).

What’s next? Will Westlands call for the extinction of seals and bears?

For more details on the orcas, I found this article from August 2009 Groups Defend Salmon and Whales from Agribusiness Attack.

Here’s a summary about what happened and why (with my editorial comments included):

  • The National Marine Fisheries Service on June 4, 2009 released an 800-page biological opinion, a plan to prevent Sacramento River salmon runs from plunging over the abyss of extinction. This plan replaced one issued in 2004 by the Bush administration, in a classic case of political manipulation over the objections of federal fisheries scientists, that sent salmon runs into steep decline. Conservation groups, fishing groups and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe filed the lawsuit that resulted in the court order that mandated the federal fishery agency to rewrite the biological opinion.

  • Westlands and 29 other water agencies then filed a lawsuit against the biological opinion on June 15 [interjection – that’s really fast to file a lawsuit against an 800-page document – these guys must have tons of lawyers], claiming that the National Marine Fisheries Service should have prepared an environmental impact statement before adopting a salmon recovery plan that “will divert hundreds of thousands of acre feet of California’s freshwater supplies into the ocean.” The water district tried to portray a scenario of “imminent doom” if the court-ordered plan was allowed to proceed.

    “Denying this much water to California is going to do obvious, serious and enduring damage to habitat, to wetlands, and to other endangered species,” said Tom Birmingham, the general manager of Westlands. [Huh? How is fresh water flowing through the Delta going to damage habitat, wetlands, and fish?]

    “And it will put tens of thousands of people out of work, which affects public health and safety in myriad ways.” [This again illustrates how the exporters who have the rights only to “excess” water have negotiated contracts for much more than there is. Although they will never obtain the full amount of their contracts unless the Delta is run dry, their continual chant is that their water allotment is being “cut” even though the contract’s specific wording is they only have rights to water if there is “excess”. Instead of planning based on how much water is likely, they continue to plan for more water than exists and thus claim it is putting people “out of work”.]

  • Fishing groups, Indian Tribes and environmental organizations intervened in the lawsuit to defend the biological opinion, arguing that to keep exporting massive amounts of water to corporate agribusiness and southern California will destroy the salmon and the people that depend upon them.

I particularly like these quotes in the article:

    “What is it with these people?” asked Gary Mulcahy of the Winnemem Wintu (McCloud River) Tribe, referring to Westlands and other opponents of the federal plan. “Can they not see that what they have done in the past is killing – the Delta, the salmon, cultures, the environment, and with it – people. All for what? Greed.”

    “You cannot continue to destroy the things around you under the guise of economic growth, and expect the people to continue to believe in that lie forever. It is time to stop this madness. It is time to defeat these greedy and untruthful interests,” said Mulcahy.

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Educational Books about the Delta

Sassy the Salmon
The Fable of the Farmer and the Fish
All ages: K and above
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