Archive for the 'News and Events' Category

2019 Franks Tract Futures Report

by Jamie Bolt

“Franks Tract Futures” is a pending project by the State of California aimed at decreasing salt water intrusion into our delta drinking water supply. Causation can be potential drought years as well as natural sea level rise. The intention is to block the powerful tidal, funnel action that Franks Tract causes which potentially brings salt water into the delta from the San Francisco Bay. The initial plan proposed creating a huge tidal marsh which would completely block Franks Tract and a portion of False River from boating traffic. Unfortunately, it would also block the beneficial tidal flushing action of these critical waterways. An abundance of boaters, fisherman, kayakers, duck hunters, kite-boarders and residents rely on access to Franks Tract for year-round recreational purposes. Additionally, marinas, supporting businesses and homeowners would suffer irreversible negative impacts by the original planned project. California Department of Fish and Game is the lead agency with collaborative leadership by the University of California at Davis. In 2019 a small group of local delta residents and members of the STCDA formed an “advisory committee” with other “stakeholders” of the project. We, along with concerned Bethel Island residents, object to the blocking of historically navigable waterways to boating traffic.

In workshops over the past year the committee has discussed dozens of other potential designs which, at our request, would leave boating channels and open waterways in the area while still allowing for the basic project goal to be met. We have requested dredging of the channels to eliminate the abundance of prop-fouling waterweed. We have also requested the formation of sandy beaches accessible to boaters. At the last meeting the group fine-tuned three designs which have now gone back to the state in order to model salt water intrusion rates. While we would prefer that Franks Tract and False River be left untouched completely, we are striving to mitigate the results of the potential project in order to make it favorable for delta boaters.
We look forward to continuing positive change to the project in the 2020 New Year.

*The STCDA is not unaware of the fact that the proposed delta tunnel conveyance of precious delta waters will also cause increased levels of salt water intrusion from the bay.

Jamie Bolt
Harbormaster, Bethel Harbor
Director, STCDA

Franks Tract State Recreation Area
©2018, California State Parks.
Photo by Brian Baer

Here’s some photos of activities at Franks Tract State Recreation Area:

Photos are from:

End-of-Year News

In the news: Hurdle with L.A. Water District buying Delta Islands; Ground Water Table Collapse; Sites Reservoir; Sites, Temperance Flat, Raising Shasta.


Hurdle with L.A. Water District buying Delta Islands

A controversial plan that would put Southern California’s most powerful water agency in control of a group of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta islands has run into a potentially significant hurdle. Yea! Hopefully it ends up being more of a roadblock, than just a “hurdle.” There’s no good in Metropolitan Water District (L.A.’s water district) owning Delta farm islands.

Ground Water Table Collapse

This is why, during the worst four years of drought in California’s history, the profit from almonds continued to rise, year over year. Instead of cutting back on the amount of almond orchards, the farmers have recklessly over-pumped the ground water. U.S. Geological Survey researchers later called the sinking land in the Central Valley, one of the “single largest alterations of the land surface attributed to humankind. (Not to mention, communities in the Central Valley are completely without water due to their wells going dry.)

Sites Reservoir

The SacBee editorial today recommends using Water Bond money for the Sites reservoir, to aid the environment, the Delta, and, by the way, the farmers. I remain skeptical.

First, they say “Proper operation of the reservoir would have downstream benefits for the Delta, waterfowl habitat and for fisheries.” There’s my worry. Until the state proves itself able to operate the system in-place now, I do not agree with adding another reservoir to flow through the Delta to Clifton Court Forebay, further impacting salmon runs. They managed the system horribly during these four years of drought. Let’s first reduce acreage to match available water, then talk about whether more dams make sense. Besides, dams end up reducing water until they are full. Building the Friant Dam is what destroyed the San Joaquin salmon runs. I’d vote to restore the Tulare Lake Basin, a natural lake in the Central Valley which used to recharge the aquifers.

Second, they say the bond would only cover a portion of the cost. While they say farmers and urban users should pay, they also recommend congress and “environmental organizations” pay. Why should congress pay for more water for ag when there is a continued, irresponsible expansion of almond orchards for profit? Also, aren’t all environmental organizations non-profits? It’s also not for urban users – it’s to continue to expand almonds.
I vote for regional self-sufficiency, ground water recharge where it’s needed, in the Central Valley, and better ag water recycling/clean-up.

Sites Reservoir, Temperance Flats, Raising Shasta

Here’s another article about Sites and other dams the Central Valley growers are pushing for, despite multibillion dollar price tags and studies that show the new reservoirs would do little to boost the state’s overall water supplies.
Jay Lund, director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, says: “It makes more sense, Lund said, to modify the operation of existing dams so they capture and release more winter flows for long-term storage in the ground, replenishing the state’s overtaxed aquifers for use in future droughts.”
I agree with him. The main problem with reservoir management during the drought was that way too much was released in the first few years of the drought. We need to replenish the aquifers as the real long-term solution.

The EPA Agrees – the Delta Tunnels are bad news

The EPA submits a 43-page report warning that the Delta Tunnels could violate Federal law.” See the Sacramento Bee Report. Also reported in the LA Times.

The 43-page review against the Delta Tunnels agrees with what we and other BDCP opponents have been saying all along:

  • The tunnels may be good for the farmers and municipalities that receive the water but not for farmers and municipalities who divert water directly from the Delta.
  • The project failed to analyze environmental effects both upstream and downstream of the Delta, particularly on San Francisco Bay.
  • The BDCP plan to restore the Delta by habitat projects yet there is no evidence that restoration would be effective.
  • The EPA recommends the BDCP ensure sufficient water flow through the Delta for it to remain healthy. The Delta needs fresh water to remain healthy, a fact the water contractors have ignored from the start.

The EPA Review itself:

The EPA review also advocates consideration of a variety of approaches, a suite of measures, including water conservation, levee maintenance and reduced reliance on the Delta. Sounds like what our Northern California legislators, Mary Piepho, Jerry McNerney and John Garamendi have been proposing all along!


Almonds versus the Drought

Good Op Ed in the SF Chronicle today by C-WIN’s Carolee Krieger making the link between the almond growing craze and the Monterey Plus Amendments, which eliminated the urban preference in times of drought and turned the Kern Water Bank over to the Resnicks.

She writes: “We need equitable policies that accommodate ratepayers, the environment and sustainable agriculture. It must be noted that industrial almond production is not sustainable in the arid San Joaquin Valley.

“We, the public, can reclaim our water, but we must break the unholy alliance between Sacramento and the San Joaquin agribusiness cabal. It may be 2014, but our water policies remain rooted in the 19th century. It is high time we brought them up to date.”

Read the entire article here:

Invasive Weed Meeting Tuesday July 8 6:30 PM

*** REMINDER *** Delta Weed Meeting Tomorrow, Tuesday July 8, 6:30 PM in the DB Elementary School Gymnasium.

I’ve heard of bays where boaters can’t get out, families can’t use their back yard waterways for swimming and fun plus sales are being impacted. This problem isn’t limited to Discovery Bay – our Bethel Island neighbors and marinas throughout the Delta are struggling. Yet the Division of Boating and Waterways recently announced they weren’t going to spray this year.

Assemblymember Jim Frazier is bringing the Division of Boating & Waterways reps to talk to us about their invasive aquatic weed abatement plans (or lack thereof). In addition biologists will be on hand to discuss the invasive species and methods of management.

It looks to be an important and informative meeting plus hopefully enough people will attend to demonstrate that there really is a problem this year.

Private Water Ownership – the Kern Water Bank

More is coming out in the mainstream media about the private ownership of the Kern Water Bank by Central Valley farmers – primary ownership Stewart Resnick’s Paramount Farms.
Kern Water Bank

Linda Yee who produced a great two-part piece on the Delta Tunnels from the Delta’s perspective just released on CBS Evening News Group Sues California for Privatizing Massive Water Reserve .

She says “There is one place where there’s no shortage of water. The bountiful pomegranate, almond and pistachio fields of paramount farms are as green as ever.
You wouldn’t know it because you can’t see it. But there is a huge underground water reservoir on the south end of the Central valley, near Bakersfield. It’s four times as big as Hetch Hetchy reservoir.”

There is a great deal of money that can be made transferring water at cheap subsidized agriculture rates to urban users at their much higher rates. Cathy Yee interviewed Katy Spanos, an attorney with the California Department of Water Resources, who disagrees. “We don’t see any signs that it will be used to sell water outside the service area,” she said.

Oh yeh?

Today another article came out tracking down the convoluted way water IS getting transferred from the Kern Water Bank to urban use, even though the Bureau of Reclamations Contract with the Kern Water Bank owners is for ag use only.
See Lois Henry: Water From Kern County Sprawls Home Growth in Madeira, CA.

While Sacramento is on water rationing, Delta flows are being cut back (which will be devastating for the salmon) and Eastside Central Valley farmers need to chose between depleting their ground water with those dire effects or letting crops die, Paramount Farms orchards are flush with water and a handful of Westside Central Valley mega-farmers can profit from their privately owned, full water bank.

The latest attempt to steal water from the North

Last week’s attempt by Central Valley farmers to move water South when there is none to move was to put provisions to start the Delta pumps into the Farm Bill. Fortunately that was an unsuccessful move even though the Central Valley Representatives were able to get the House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) to come out for a photo op to push for their changes to the Farm Bill.

After that Farm Bill trickery failed, Nunes, McCarthy and the other Central Valley representatives jumped right back in with a new bill, H.R. 3964, the “Sacramento–San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act”, also with the goal to start the pumps to move water South even though there is none to move without bringing saltwater further into the delta threatening Northern California’s drinking water, fish and farms.

Restore the Delta is calling for people to write their congressmen and tell them to vote ‘No’ on H.R. 1837. Dan Batcher has posted How to Reach your Rep to vote No on H.R. 3964 to make it easy to contact your representatives.

The media has jumped on the “No on H.R. 3964” bandwagon

Here’s a great report on News10, Attorneys Say California’s Drought was Avoidable is good. I particularly like the last part where they are clearly identifying that permanent crops being grown in the south Central Valley where water is scarce is a huge part of the issue. They say “The notion that people rely on a supply that’s sporadic and not guaranteed and plant permanent crops, is insane.”

Today’s Sacramento Bee also had two great articles:

Sac Bee Editorial on HR 3964. This is today’s Editorial criticizing Rep McCarthy and other Central Valley representatives who are pushing HR 3964 to start the pumps up so farmers can get water saying that is a narrow view and would ensure that more ocean water would encroach in the Delta, which would be destructive for Californians who depend on Delta water. They call for the Central Valley representatives to start looking for what is beneficial to the entire state, not just their area. There are reports that Gov. Brown, John Laird and others who back the BDCP are strongly opposing HR 3964.

Also in today’s Sacramento Bee, a “Viewpoints” article by Congressmembers Mike Thompson and Doris Matsui, House Emergency Drought Bill Just Another Water Grab also lambasts H.R. 3964 as just a thinly veiled attempt to use the statewide drought as an excuse to steal water from Northern California. They add that “it shows zero regard for the fishers, farmers, families and businesses dependent on the Delta for their livelihoods.”

It’s always good to keep getting the messages out:
(1) There are too many crops planted in the Central Valley that are not rotational (they are trees). They can’t be supported during times of drought.
(2) The Central Valley farmers keep making water grabs to take needed water from the north where it is needed for the fishers, farmers, families, etc.
(3) We are currently in a drought – it isn’t about the farmer versus fish – and Bills like H.R. 3964 won’t help.

Farm Bill Trickery

The House Bill for Farm aid (food stamps) has been revised to include provisions to to start the Delta pumps and stop the San Joaquin River Restoration flows – both of which reverse the little progress made to-date to save the salmon and protect the Delta from total demise.

We don’t want their surprises! The Central Valley farm representatives are urging everyone to contact Feinstein and Boxer and ask them to pass the “Farm Bill”. They are very “pleased” that they are sneaking in these trick provisions – see Pass the Farm Bill! It Has Some Surprises!

The House Bill is similar to the Senate Jobs Bill Sen. Feinstein sponsored in Feb 2010 where she slipped in a measure to remove restrictions for endangered salmon. She withdrew that part after public outcry. The Bill is now going to the Senate.

We need public outcry again. Contact the senators and complain that the right answer isn’t to send more water to Westlands for Almonds to Asia. As Bill Jennings with the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance explains, “We entered 2013 with Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs at 115 percent, 113 percent, and 121 percent of historical average storage. In April, they were still at 101 percent, 108 percent and 96 percent of average. With no rainfall and little snowpack, the Department of Water Resources and the Bureau (of Reclamation) notified their contractors that water deliveries would be reduced. But they didn’t reduce deliveries. Instead, they actually exported 835,000 acre-feet more water than they said they would be able to deliver.”

Read more here:

Here’s what I entered in both of the Senator’s on-line comment forms (kind of rushed – not sure how good a job it was):
Revise the Farm Bill:
The House has added the emergency drought relief package to start the Delta pumps and stop the San Joaquin River Restoration flows to the Farm Bill which includes needed food stamps. This is a very bad trick. Those actions will put Northern California cities and farmers at even more risk due to the lack of water in the North.

We entered 2013 with Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs at 115 percent, 113 percent, and 121 percent of historical average storage. In April, they were still at 101 percent, 108 percent and 96 percent of average. With no rainfall and little snowpack, the Department of Water Resources and the Bureau (of Reclamation) notified their contractors that water deliveries would be reduced. But they didn’t reduce deliveries. Instead, they actually exported 835,000 acre-feet more water than they said they would be able to deliver.”

– Reservoirs serving the Metropolitan Water District in Southern California are filled to 90 percent
– It’s the reservoirs in the North that are at an all-time low due to earlier releases for unsustainable farms
– The answer isn’t to release more water for farming in the desert or building tunnels.

The answer is to cut back on unsustainable farming in the arid desert. Powerful corporate agribusinesses have been expanding farmlands, especially water-thirsty almonds to ship to Asia, without regard for how much water actually exists that is needed by Northern California farmers, communities and the environment.

This bill’s hidden provisions and the BDCP Delta Tunnels only make the matter worse. Please protect my community and surrounding Delta communities and remove the offensive clauses from the Farm Bill.

Contact Dianne Feinstein:

E-Mail (Contact form):

San Francisco
One Post Street, Suite 2450
San Francisco, CA 94104
Phone: (415) 393-0707
Fax: (415) 393-0710

Contact Barbara Boxer:

Email (Contact Form):

Office of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
70 Washington Street, Suite 203
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 286-8537

Office of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
2500 Tulare Street, Suite 5290
Fresno, CA 93721
(559) 497-5109

Office of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
312 N. Spring St. Suite 1748
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 894-5000

Office of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
501 I Street, Suite 7-600
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 448-2787

Office of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
(202) 224-3553

Water Usage in California

I thought this was interesting – who uses the most water in California from the latest survey:

Sacramento Bee – January 17, 2014

For those of us who didn’t grow up in California and didn’t learn the county names, here’s which counties are which:

Carrying on the good fight

Bill Wells, our Bay & Delta Yachtsman Magazine’s “Delta Rat” journalist was honored for his efforts in battling the BDCP in a recent Rio Vista newspaper:

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