Posted by: Jan | June 6, 2017

T-Shirts Available

If you wanted to get one of the “Save the Delta | No Tunnels | No Gates” T-Shirts that you may have seen in the newspaper from recent Delta Stewardship Council meetings, or if you were at our Saturday Golf Tournament and you saw the volunteers wearing them, well now it’s easier. You can get them from the Discovery Bay Chandlery. (Thanks Lisa Black for offering to sell them for us!)

Here’s our fabulous golf foursome below. No, we didn’t win any trophies, but don’t we look cute in front of that cool Sanger red & white boat? I told Scotty Pellaton I wanted the red & white boat for our event, but they ALMOST sold it the day before! Whew. Too bad Scott lost the sale, but we got the boat for our golf photo-op! I want to buy that boat!

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Dave and Deborah Veatch, Mike & Jan McCleery

Discovery Bay Chandlery, near the Discovery Bay Yacht Harbor at 5901 Marina Road.

Posted by: Jan | May 31, 2017

The Science is Clear

Fisherman at Clifton Court Forebay
Fisherman at Clifton Court Forebay

Gov. Jerry Brown told the Sacramento Bee in December that “the best scientific thinking says California needs the project.”

At the Delta Stewardship Council Meeting in April, after the attendees had been consistently raising their “Disagree” signs when the briefing referred to the science behind needing the tunnels. one of the Council members asked the attendees if they believed there was other science not being considered by the Council in making their decision about Conveyance (aka the Delta Tunnels). All signs said “Agree.”

So, how can the Council members really sit there and tell us that the need for the Tunnels is formed on any scientific basis?

The science on the Delta is clear. The only way to restore the Delta’s health is to get more water flowing through it, not less.

  • In 2010, the Bay Institute/State Water Resources Control Board issued their Delta Flow Requirements report that said the Delta needed more water running through it, not less. A more recent Delta Flow Requirements report increases the amount of flow it recommends.
  • In 2012, the prestigious National Academy of Sciences took a comprehensive look at the twin-tunnel plan and found it riddled with holes and inconsistencies, including the failure to examine the potential to reduce demand for Delta water through efficiencies and conservation.
  • Federal scientists have been saying for years that the massive, $17 billion project will also only make things worse for the fragile Delta. In 2015, the EPA panned the BDCP project, saying it was not a true Habitat Conservation Plan (i.e., no saving fish there).
  • In 2016, the Delta Independent Science Board found gaping holes in the tunnel project. In prior meetings, the Board had stated that the State’s experimental habitat projects, planned to improve the fish survivability without providing additional flow, were showing no real results.
  • A recently released draft analysis of Brown’s Delta Tunnels WaterFix project — this one by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service — adds another scientific voice saying the project not only won’t help the salmon and Delta smelt populations, it also will likely do additional damage.

    Among other issues, it is expected that Delta smelt habitat would be negatively impacted for 10 years during construction and that the project would result in killing an additional 7 percent of the Chinook salmon winter run, doing further harm to a valued endangered species. The scientists also say the proposed habitat restoration isn’t enough to offset environmental damage.

The Science is Clear – the Tunnel will Hurt the Delta

Posted by: Jan | May 31, 2017

How To Protect the Salmon

bc_salmon_troller_0

A May 29th LA Times article talks about a recent report findings: “The Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers historically supported up to a million Chinook salmon a year. Now we’re nowhere close to that.” And ominously predicts that “three-fourths of California’s trout, steelhead and salmon species will become extinct in the next 100 years. Within 50 years, nearly half will die off.”

Yikes!

What’s to blame for that fact that where once there were millions of fish, now we’re counting thousands?

Sure, there’s blame from the past projects building levees and dams. But those serve a purpose in today’s world for reclaiming fertile Delta farmland and storing water for thirsty cities. It’s not likely the State will want to flood fertile farmlands or blow up city reservoirs (although environmentalists would be happier). Those did cause fish decline in the 1900s. But the fish were still surviving, even improving in the late 80s/early 90s and commercial fishermen still had good fishing seasons each year.

It’s what has been happening since the late 90s that should raise your ire and keep you up at night. Today,Bthe blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the excessive water diversions for irrigating orchards in the Central Valley.

Agriculture interests scream that government wastes water by letting it flow to the sea. But if water doesn’t flow to the sea, neither do salmon and steelhead. And that kills the coastal fishing industry.

What can be done?

  • Start by not making things worse by protecting what’s left of our best fish waters.
  • Try to restore waters that were lost generations ago, such as flood plains and the Tulare Lake Basin. Flooded rice fields, where fish can eat themselves silly, now are helping with that.
  • Tear down useless dams like Matilija. And provide passage around useful dams.
  • Most important: Get political leaders — not just wildlife managers — to give a rip.

You can tell a fisherman wrote the article. He quotes the old Babylonian proverb: “The gods do not deduct from man’s allotted span the hours spent in fishing.”

And then adds: “But there need to be fish to catch.”

May 29, 2017 LA Times Article: “Here’s why we should think about protecting California fish”

Posted by: Jan | May 31, 2017

Don’t Help them Drain the Delta

Call to Action: Call your Senators, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris and tell them to to REJECT Bernardt’s confirmation!

According to the Mercury News Article today, “Donald Trump was elected to the drain the swamp, not the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.”

Bouldin Island

The problem? He’s nominating one of the worst of the bad guys in the California Water Wars, a former lobbyist for water-sucking Westlands Water District. Forgot who Westlands is? They are the water district for farmers along I-5 and the leader in the push to build the Delta Tunnels.

He’s David Bernhardt, Trump’s pick for deputy Interior Department secretary. He’s the last person the state should want representing it on crucial California water issues.

Bernhardt helped Westlands develop lawsuits that specifically tried to do away with California’s environmental water protections.

Call your Senators, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, and tell them to REJECT Bernardt’s confirmation in June when it comes up for a vote!

Read the Article

Posted by: Jan | May 29, 2017

DBYC Splashers make a Splash

On April 8, the Discovery Bay Yacht Club and its Splashers organization held a wonderful event – the Fire & Ice Masquerade Ball. The purpose: to raise money to Save the Delta.

It all started when in January, after our STCDA Board Meeting, it became clear that the fight against the Delta Tunnels was heating up. There were permit hearings and other activities going on to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal to start the Tunnel project by 2018. The year 2017 was going to be busy indeed.

As Michael Brodsky, STCDA Legal Council, began explaining the challenges and milestones and money required, concern swept through me. We hadn’t done any significant fund raising for several years.

During a meeting at the DBYC in 2009, after attending the USBR’s “Two-Gates Fish Protection Project” meeting in the DB Elementary School Gymnasium, it was clear the government was going to ruin boating in our area by installing two gates (i.e., dams) to block boats from going in or out of Discovery Bay. DBYC members at the meeting generously pledged various amounts, from $100 to $1,000, to start the STCDA organization and to stop the 2-Gates.

In 2013, those funds and other individual donations we’d received through the years, were diminishing, so we held the first Save the Delta Charity Golf Event and raised $25,000. That money kept us rolling since. You see, we have no paid administrators, no paid anything. Even our Legal Council works pro-bono. The only thing we’ve needed funds for are preparing educational collateral (pamphlets about the 2-Gates project and later the Delta Tunnels) and hiring expert witnesses to back our position that gates in the water and now, even mores, the Delta Tunnels project will ruin the South Delta waterways in more ways than one.

So last January, with our pockets feeling empty, we realized we needed an aggressive fund raising year. I started email blasting members and others to raise money. Our generous community and STCDA members responded to the call and our Fundraising Thermometer started to rise.

But we needed a LOT of money for 2017.

I called Erlyn, past commodore of the DBYC and said, “Hi there. In 2009 the DBYC pitched in $1,000 to fund STCDA. Well, we need money again. Do you think the DBYC could pitch in another $1,000?”

Erlyn said quickly, “I think we can do better than that. Let me talk to the Splashers and get back to you.”

I really didn’t know much about the DBYC Splashers organization before that. I found out they are the service arm of the DBYC and put on various events through the year to raise money for charitable organizations.

Before long Lisa Ackerly from the Splasher’s called me. I found out that they had already held the meeting where they decide what charities to donate to through the year. But, she informed me, the Save the Delta organization is perhaps the most important organization for Discovery Bay. Stopping the Tunnels is key to every person in Discovery Bay and the Yacht Club. She thought she could get us on the list, but we’d need to share the funds with another needy group. “We’ve never given donations to just one group before. We always do two or three at each function. We could probably limit it to two,” and we discussed what kind of organization might be the best match.

The next day she called me back. “Good news. The Splashers have all agreed to have STCDA on the list and, even more, to make you our only donation for the event!” She proceeded to tell me that they talked about making this event a big deal. An evening event instead of smaller daytime tea or fashion show. Something to get the men out also. Even make it black tie. A BIG event.

The Splashers went out and found sponsors, donors, and attendees. The Community, as it keeps doing over and over, stepped up. The room was sold out. The entertainment, decorations, and everything was over-the-top. Tables were bidding $1,000 and $2,000 for the desert cakes. It was very exciting and rewarding.

In May, the Splashers presented the check for the profits to STCDA. Amazing!

25K-Check
Photo and write-up from the Delta Sun Times

A HUGE THANK YOU TO THE SPLASHERS AND THE DBYC FOR YOUR SUPPORT !!!

A couple of pictures from the Event.

Mike & Jan arriving at the Gala The floating table statue with auction cakes

A bus full of Discovery Bay residents made the trip to Sacramento on May 25th to protest the Delta Stewardship Council’s draft amendment on “conveyance” (aka the Delta Tunnels) and to provide public comment. But none of them were able to do so besides the formal presentation by Michael Brodsky as part of the first panel. A public comment period was supposed to follow the agenda item.

STCDA Supporters Attended En Masse | Michael Brodsky and Osha Meserve were on the first panel

Two panels were scheduled for an hour a piece. The panel discussions ran late and public comment didn’t start until nearly 4 p.m.

Read the full story here.

Regardless of why the schedule ran late, the result was a large group of disappointed attendees. The bus stayed an extra hour to attempt to allow Discovery Bay residents the opportunity to speak in public comment, but not one actually made it to the podium.

“They let everybody else speak but us,” several residents said simultaneously.

But while the Discovery Bay contingent was upset, they weren’t entirely dejected. As the group boarded the bus, they agreed to be back, and in greater numbers.

Photos courtesy of Richard Wisdom, DB Press
Article by “The Delta Confluence” Read the full story here.

Posted by: Jan | May 16, 2017

The Fruit Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree

The Father: Governor Pat Brown His Son: Governor Jerry Brown
pBrown1   thumb_Jerry-Brown-finger-to-head-AP-Paul-Sakuma-640x480_1024
FILE – This Nov. 5, 1958 AP photo shows Governor-elect Edmund G. “Pat” Brown proclaiming his victory. FILE – This Sep. 4, 2015 AP photo shows arrogant Governor Jerry Brown illustrating his distain for California legislatures.



It is now being reported that the flaws in the Oroville Dam go back to Governor Pat Brown’s overzealous ambitions to create a monument in his name, the Oroville Dam and the State Water Project.

The parallels between that project and the current California WaterFix/Delta Tunnels project being ramrodded through the process by his son, Governor jerry Brown, are quite astonishing.

Gov. Pat Brown was bent on building a dam and the accompanying State Water Project to expand water deliveries to the parched southern half of California. Gov. Jerry Brown is bent on building the Delta Tunnels for the same purpose.

Pat Brown campaigned relentlessly and convinced the Legislature and then the voters to approve a $1.75 billion bond measure when the federal government couldn’t help with funding. Jerry Brown campaigned relentlessly, using bogus scare tactics, and convinced the voters to vote “No” on Proposition 53, a bill which would have stopped the tunnels and high speed train by putting them on the ballot.

In addition, Jerry Brown has touted his $15 billion California WaterFix (aka Tunnels) project whereas independent economists identify it’s more like $60 billion now not counting likely overruns. Pat Brown later acknowledged that he and his advisers realized the project’s true cost was probably around $2.5 billion, but they weren’t sure voters could handle such a number.

Pat Brown believed cost didn’t really matter given what was at stake. “You need water. Whatever it costs, you have to have it,” he said. Hmm – doesn’t that sound like something Jerry is now saying?

Two of a kind. Full speed ahead regardless of who get hurt in the process.

The citizens of Oroville are now rioting in realization that they gave up their land and community for Pat Brown’s promises of grand improvements to come. In return for losing entire communities and thousands of acres of taxable land, the region would become home to California’s second-largest reservoir, Lake Oroville, and a tourist destination akin to Disneyland.

how-i-know-the-apple-didnt-fall-far-from-the-tree Well, at least his son may have learned something after all. Jerry Brown doesn’t even pretend that he’s trying to save the Delta. He has made no promises about improved tourism, protecting recreation, or farmers. No promises of improvements for the communities affected, only negative impacts.

I wouldn’t call that an improvement over his father’s personality, though.

The father left shattered promises; the son is shattering Delta citizens dreams for the future of life on the Delta.



References:
Yahoo News Article on Pat Brown 5/14/17
Sacramento Bee 5/15/17 Article on Pat Brown
Oroville Citizens Protest Broken Promises 5/15/17

Posted by: Jan | May 15, 2017

What Makes the Delta Special?

Another Week, Another Project affecting the Delta

The Coast Guard is reviewing a permit to build a new two-lane bridge over Middle River, replacing the existing Woodward Island ferry on the Middle River. The ferry is currently a 5 MPH zone just north of Ski Beach.
p_ferry
File photo from Quincy Engineering, Sacramento

As boaters who use Middle River as one of our local boating highways, is there a cause for concern?

There is some good news with a bridge. The cable ferry can be very dangerous. The bridge is high enough (30 feet at the center span) for most boats (except sail boats and large barges with cranes) to pass underneath without waiting for a bridge opening. It is not the normal path for sail boats.

There will be two years during summer months until October 31 of periodic 1-week waterway closures.

My main boating concern is that this project, like all others the state plans, fails to show an understanding of the esthetics of the Delta for boaters. What worries me is that, like many Delta projects including the BDCP/California WaterFix/Delta Tunnels, the project plan was developed by a group called ICF International in Sacramento. This group seems to lack a real understanding of the value of the Delta.

So I was wondering . . . what makes the Delta special?

Just because there are similar bridges here and there in the Delta, does that mean it is all right to put more bridges up just anywhere? It is similar to other project write-ups I’ve seen when I thought that just because there are rock levees in places, it doesn’t mean that an entire Delta with only rock levees would give the same visual experience.

Middle River is a more vegetated river, a prettier area. We want to make sure scenic areas of the Delta maintain their vegetation and boating enjoyment.

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Riding down a nicely vegetated slough

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Look! A turtle on a log in the tules

All projects that affect the Delta should be reviewed by people who boat on the Delta. These guys need to go anchor out at Mildred Island and watch the sun set over Mt. Diablo. The need to take a ski boat zipping through the sloughs up and down Middle River and enjoy the scenery. There is the popular Ski Beach nearby the proposed bridge. It would be preferable if note was taken about Ski Beach site and a discussion about whether the bridge would wreck the esthetics there.

We took our ski boat up there a few weeks ago and concluded there isn’t a real issue with the bridge and Ski Beach, but I wish people writing these project plans for the Delta would research first and comment on it.

In addition, is there justification for spending our tax payer money on an expensive bridge? The main use for the bridge is going to be to build the Delta Tunnels. That project should have to pay for a significant portion of this bridge.

For these reasons, I think it makes sense for people to send in comments on the new bridge. Perhaps say they appreciate boating safety being considered. But the fact that there are bridges in the Delta shouldn’t necessarily mean bridges should be installed everywhere.

And what about the costs?

Comments are due May 18th

Email to: Carl.T.Hausner@uscg.mil

Or send US Mail to:
Commander
Eleventh Coast Guard District
Coast Guard Island, Bldg 50-2,
Alameda, CA 94501-5100

More Details

Why a bridge?

My first question (always suspicious about the motives behind any project in the Delta) was why are they doing it? Looking at the map, the bridge will provide access to Woodward Island, one of the many farmed islands in the Delta. Woodward is just south of the railroad track, with Old River on the west and Middle River on the east. The Twin Sloughs runs south of it. The stated purpose is both replacing the old ferry to provide 24×7 emergency access.

Hmm. The island isn’t inhabited. However, after doing more digging I was told that the island is where the East Bay Municipal Water District (EBMUD) pipelines cross. If those broke, they’d need to quickly get equipment and workers to that island. Having a road also helps get trucks to the island to assist with levee repairs (although often levee repairs are done by barges).

There’s a bigger picture. There is a long-term goal to replace all of the old cable ferries. The cable-guided ferry has been in operation since 1936 in one form or another. It is one of five ferries still operating in the Delta. The old ferries are falling apart, dangerous, and provide limited access.

How will it affect boaters?

The good news is that the plans are for a bridge that will be 30 feet high in the center and have seven spans. That means it is large enough for even large yachts to navigate through. Sailboats will be restricted, but a sailboat cannot go under the Middle River Railroad Bridge, and that bridge typically does not open.

The other good news is that it should no longer be a 5 MPH zone. That’s nice for boaters. Although caution should still be taken if planning to tow a skier, wakeboarder, or raft through the opening. There have been accidents and even deaths caused by mishaps with wakeboarders and even jet skiers around bridge pilings. That is why the Orwood Railroad Bridge and Middle River Railroad Bridge are 5 MPH zones.

Regardless, a bridge with pilings isn’t the hazard that a cable ferry can pose. In the ’60s, several Liberty High teens lost their lives when they zoomed through the ferry area on Middle River, ignoring the 5 MPH zone. The cable ferry was in operation so that the cable was taunt and at boat height. It was quite tragic.

While the new bridge will not have an operational opening, the center span can be removed by a crane for the rare requirement of getting a large construction barge with high equipment under, or other need.

That sounds like all good news – right?

But still, an expensive bridge just in case some pipelines break?

Wouldn’t it be cheaper and more cost effective to add shut-off valves in the pipes (if they aren’t there already) and the State could helicopter equipment in for a one-time fix as fast and much cheaper than a permanent bridge?

Looking at the map, I realized that Woodward Island is also the location of one of the proposed Delta Tunnel shafts. There is currently no way to get the ongoing column of large trucks and earth-moving equipment to the shaft site needed to construct the tunnels. A large, sturdy bridge that doesn’t need to open for boats would certainly solve that problem! Ahah!

Yet, after further checking, I found out that the project started before the Delta Tunnels project. Here’s a January 2008 article: Ferries a dying breed”. That article talks about the $40 million worth of crops and cost to taxpayers that occurred when the Jones Tract levee broke and flooded the island. It sounds like their justification is that, the way the bridge is being constructed, it would be easier to get trucks over and still can move barges around for levee repairs on Woodward Island.

But that argument doesn’t hold water when the long-term plan for the state is to let salt water intrude into the Delta. Woodward Island wouldn’t be farmable at that point, so that negates the need to be able to keep Woodward Island levees repaired.

What about funding?

This seems like a pretty expensive way to go. In the 2008 article, it was reported that the project then could cost as much as $10 million, primarily funded through federal money. The rest of the cost will be picked up by the county, the island’s reclamation district and the East Bay Municipal Utility District, which owns pipelines running across the island.

If almost all of the reason is to provide emergency access to EBMUD’s pipeline, that seems expensive and seems EBUD should foot a larger proportion of the bill.

According to the Central Valley Business Times article last month, the Coast Guard says the bridge will not have a significant impact on the environment.

The official Project Plan is here: WOODWARD ISLAND BRIDGE PROJECT (FERRY RAMP REPLACEMENT) OVER MIDDLE RIVER, BRIDGE NO. 00F0001 INITIAL STUDY/MITIGATED NEGATIVE DECLARATION.

Comments are due May 18th

Email to: Carl.T.Hausner@uscg.mil

Or send US Mail to:
Commander
Eleventh Coast Guard District
Coast Guard Island, Bldg 50-2,
Alameda, CA 94501-5100

Posted by: Jan | May 11, 2017

The Battle for the Delta

An article about Save the California Delta Alliance and how it got started in May 110 Magazine: The Battle for the Delta.

110-mag

Posted by: Jan | May 11, 2017

Tulare Lake Basin – the missed opportunity

“How Wet Weather Impacted California’s Groundwater Deficit” is a good article about California’s groundwater supply and, I add, the State’s mismanagement of it.

“Even after this year’s heavy rains, California’s groundwater supply remains slowly but steadily shrinking. Our wet year was a missed opportunity by the state to have a plan in place to capture additional rainwater in wet years. I don’t mean more reservoirs. While the snow pack can hold 15 million acre-feet (MAF) and the state’s reservoirs 40 MAF, California’s groundwater reserves, by contrast, are vast. In the porous soils below the ground there may be a billion acre-feet of water storage.

A billion acre feet would fill a skyscraper 60,000 miles high.

“The best way to do this [replenish the ground water], Harter says, would be to divert surplus flows in wet years onto undeveloped land and allow it to sink. Agricultural land is the most porous.”

But then the article falls short. Stops. To me then, the obvious approach is to restore the Tulare Lake basin. That would flood existing farmland for a year or two but the result would be restored Central Valley groundwater.

Unfortunately the article echoes the answer we keep hearing from the state.

“… we could turn around California’s growing groundwater deficit. But we probably won’t,” he says.

Why not? I ask. Is it easier to destroy the entire Delta than ask the farmers to take subsidies every 5-10 years while the Tulare Lake does it’s historical job and restores the groundwater table?

Tulare Lake Article

Tulare Lake Basin Proposal

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