Scientists have just issued a new report about the possibility of the Hayward Fault to suffer a major earthquake in the near future. Fortunately for we in the Delta, the impacts will be slight. But that doesn’t stop the people advocating for the Delta Tunnels to try to slant the report to fit their position. (What’s new?)

The “Haywired” analysis was as if the slip were centered under the city of Oakland. Mercury News Hayward Faults Nightmare Scenario.

The report discusses potential impacts to the Bay Area’s water supply. The Hetch-Hetchy aqueduct pipes travel across that route, as do East Bay Mud’s water supply lines. Those are a concern. The Hetch-Hetchy pipes take water from Hetch-Hetchy near Yosemite to Crystal Springs Reservoir and that clear Sierra water is used by both San Francisco and Silicon Valley. East Bay Mud, more recently, installed a pumping station near Sacramento (in Freeport) and routes water from there to the East Bay.

Of course, some (i.e., proponents of the Delta Tunnels) are linking that HayWired report to the earthquake scare about the Delta. But there’s really no concern for the water exported from the Delta, even though the water exporters and California Department of Water Resources (DWR) have been trying to build that case, that hoax for years. Dr. Pyke and others have called that the “earthquake bogey” and disproved any connection. But, of course, if you scare the L.A. population enough into thinking they could end up thirsty if the “big one” happened up north, well that gets buy-in for the Delta Tunnels.

Well, here is the important point:

To protect the water supply of their collective 4 million customers, both East Bay MUD and the San Francisco PUC have protected their water mains with clever engineering systems that allow the earth to shift around the pipes, which range from 6 to 9ft in diameter, without damaging them. One of the San Francisco PUC’s major pipes is fitted with ball joints and slip joints that allow the steel-lined tube to shift and move without breaking.

San Francisco PUC’s ongoing upgrades are part of the $4.8 billion Regional Management Program, of which a key element is major seismic upgrades.

Among East Bay MUD’s major supply pipes, critical sections in high-risk fault zones have been retrofitted so they can shift and flex within spacious concrete tunnels.

“The pipe is on rollers so that when that offset occurs, it can move with the shifting earth,” said Andrea Pook, an East Bay MUD spokesperson, referring to a 2,000ft section of pipeline bored through the East Bay Hills.

“That tunnel could actually shear, but without shearing the pipe itself,” Sykes added.

For the unlikely event that the main water line is ruptured, East Bay MUDkeeps a six-month supply of reservoir water ready on the west side of the hills.

Now, let’s compare that with the Delta Tunnels

The tunnels are not being designed to withstand earthquakes. Really? Yes. I posted this earlier showing how the Delta Tunnels are NOT being designed to withstand earthquakes: Tunnels not being designed to withstand earthquake in the Delta!

The map in the HayWired report shows that, at most, some small aftershocks could shake the Delta area.
aftershocks_scaled_v6_rgb__1488393011694__w1500

Fortunately, the levees have proven to not be prone to falling down in an earthquake. So there really isn’t any problem – just the state agencies trying to make more hay.
How California Water Suppliers Are Getting Earthquake-Ready.

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I listened to an interesting audio stream this week, discussing “Sustainable farming means farming with less and less water” on the City Visions program on KALW Radio.

Ethan Elkins was the host of the audio stream.
Other participants:
Ellen Hanak, Public Policy Institute of California
Ashley Boren, Sustainable Conservation
Cannon Michael on the phone, Bowles Farming in the Central Valley

First, I’ll post my transcript from that discussion. I apologize up-front if I didn’t capture anything correctly. In particular, I sometimes had trouble telling whether it was Ellen or Ashley talking, so hope I credited the right person with the right statements.

Afterwards, I’ll post the comment I sent in about where the discussion missed the mark.

The Discussion

Ethan: Typically the farmers are not receiving 100 percent allocation. How is that affecting you?
Cannon: Vast area west side has 20 percent allocation. Large, large swath of land that folks are pretty disappointed. The allocation report is coming so late [due to the late rainfall], it makes it hard to plan and plant. [Jan’s note – not sure what the state should do about that, if anything. They can’t allocate until they know how much they have.]

Ellen: We move water around a lot in California. A lot of it is based on who owns the source.

Shasta Dam comments: There were comments about Fed support for raising Shasta Dam. That was surprising, they said. CA has a state bond with almost $3 billion going. There are 11 projects in competition for that funding. Raising Shasta isn’t one of those 11. Those involve some above ground, other in-ground storage.

Ethan: Do we need to increase storage?
Ellen: The state needs to take much better advantage of the vast underground water storage we have available – at least 3 times more capability than all of our above ground dams we have now. Plus it’s cheaper and they refill.

Ethan: Why is there a debate about that?
Ellen: It is changing. We haven’t coordinated as well as we can between our above-ground storage and below-ground. Many farmers have converted to micro-sprinklers/drip irrigation. During wet years, they keep using those that are based on ground water instead of taking advantage of the available water.

Cannon: Farmers are doing everything they can to reduce water usage. We are also concerned with the anadromous fish in California. The majority of Shasta is being used for cold water for salmon populations. Chevron recently reported that climate change is real and manmade so we do need to admit that and look at above ground storage to preserve fish species. Underground storage is a regional thing that can/should happen. There’s really no shame it takes water to make food, but need to prove we are good stewards.

Ethan: Where there are the most farms, tends to be the most conservative voters in the state, who don’t believe in climate change. Yet it sounds like you do (to Cannon).
Cannon: Maybe there’s just a sense of exactly what is causing it and … we see crop shifting from southern areas coming into their area, a lot of variability. No tule fog any more. You can see the changes happening. Unfortunately, it’s become such a polarized political discussion, there’s much more people coming to the table and realizing this issue (climate change) is going to continue.

Ethan: Farmers need to grow stuff, people need to eat.

Ethan: We hear CA’s policy sometimes rewards inefficient use of water.
Ashley: I don’t subscribe to the view that our water rights system automatically leads to inefficiency. The system is a little like mining claims. There’s a protection in that, you need to use it or loose it. That was good so people didn’t just sell it to other people. But in CA we do allow trading it. We find that that actually really does help to reallocate it and gives people an incentive to use it efficiently. We aren’t in as terrible shape as some other Westerns states that don’t have as much flexibility. We’re talking about not just drip irrigation, but shifts in what they are growing. CA used to grow just field crops. Now half is orchards, vines, strawberries. That’s the kind of economic efficiency in a state where water is so scares.

Ellen agrees. CA used to mostly grow field crops. Now it’s fruit & nut orchards, vineyards, vegetables. So that’s economic efficiencies.

Ashley agrees ag is extremely water efficient and getting more value for each drop of water. One thing we’ve come to realize is a paradigm shift that has to happen due to climate change. We are having more droughts and some big water years. We want farmers to think about if they have land that can percolate down into the ground, we want them to flood their crops during big water years. Thinking about adapting and really flood irrigate in those really wet years. With our new SGMA passed in 2014, she believes there will be programs that give farmers credit for that.

Cannon: There are certain crops you can’t use drip irrigation. When we get into root veg crops like carrot, onions, garlic that doesn’t always work. We also use GPS and laser level fields because any excess hurts, doesn’t help.

Caller: I understand we grow alfalfa and ship to Saudi Arabia for cows there in the desert where they shouldn’t even have cows.
Ashley: Not sure about the Saudi Arabian cows, but we do grow alfalfa for the CA cattle industry, which is the most revenue for CA.
Ellen: We do export some alfalfa. That particularly comes from the Imperial Valley. There’s very productive desert farmland. Gets senior water rights from the Colorado River. The reason they export it (a) very high quality alfalfa and (b) we have a lot of free shipping containers to go back to Asia and Japan as a result of our trade program.
Cannon: The interesting question is what does “ag water use” actually mean. We are taking water, transforming it, and sending it back to human uses. He’d say a large lawn in Bel Aire is “water use.” It’s a good conversation for people to have when you talk about our need for food. The better way to have the discussion is if it is not produced here in California, where’s it going to come from. Fiber for cloths, etc. Even though the anti-ag folks have done a good job about how much water it takes to produce a hamburger, there are still millions sold every day. Throwing bombs at each other is not productive. Where do we want food and fiber to come from. Should be local and a defined set of penalties for farmers when they break rules. In CA we do protect our workers, we protect our environment. How do we insure safe and affordable food is available for everybody.

Discussing SGMA: Goes into effect Jan 2020
Cannon: It’s possible that huge amounts of land, a million acres, could come out of production, south of the Delta, due to the SGMA. What are other options? Barring increasing storage or fish species. Unfortunately, we aren’t seeing good outcomes from the fish side. If we could come more with a holistic approach to fixing things in the Delta, if we could be more creative and stop fighting each other as much in the courtroom setting, we would see more positive results. There are groups out there that want better solution and moving water is critical. But we can’t do it without the fish species recovering.

Call-in (Doug): Yesterday driving down I-5 sign “Is growing food a waste of water?” He asks “is growing food in a desert a waste of water?” In other areas like Spain, growers grow without water, like dry farming vineyards.
Cannon: About farming in the desert piece,every place needs something. San Francisco can’t be the city it is without Hetch-Hetchy. There shouldn’t be any shame that this is an engineered state requiring moving water around. There isn’t any shame to produce food. If people want store shelves with local food, then … at the end of the day it still takes a considerable amount of water for me to put a tomato on your table. It just is what it takes. If you rely on rain-fed ag, there are too many variables. In CA we need to move the water. There’s no shame in the fact that we eat every day and that takes water.

Ethan: Are there other models, like Israel, that are doing better?
Ellen: It’s kind of funny because during the epic drought, we had a lot of folks coming over from Australia and Israel telling us about the technologies they use. A lot of those are already in use here. California is more on the leading edge than most other places because we do have a lot of regulations in place that mean we grow high quality and responsibility.

Ethan: What’s going on in the Delta?
Ashley: What Cannon was referring to was that the way the water gets there, it has to go through the delta. The way the pumps operate are creating a lot of problems for the Delta Smelt and other species. So now water is cut back to try to protect those species but we haven’t seen any improvement in those species. They are sacrificing without gain. We don’t really understand why they aren’t improving. Part is water, part is habitat, there are predator species in the Delta. There is a whole host of factors. It is kind of a mess in the Delta. What we’d like to see most of all is people working together to try to figure out what to do. We didn’t have enough of that early on and as a result we have people in their camps and a lot of litigation. Something has to be done in the Delta. The Governor is very gung ho about the tunnels so we don’t have to pump and harm the fish.
Ellen: A lot of the scientists are at a point of saying we maybe experiencing a regime shift in this region. Some of the species listed as endangered, there are so few it’s hard to generate a rebound. It’s also hard to use them as indicators for whether you are doing a good job. We need to think about the shift in the approach to ecosystem management and think about goals for the ecosystem instead of a specific species. It means really think about how to be as efficient and effective with that water, combining it with habitat.

Ethan: Would the twin tunnels solve some of these challenges in the Delta?
Ellen: They wouldn’t solve it on their own but are an important piece.

Ethan: What would you like seen as a policy change:
Ashley: One of our big priorities is helping the state and farmers implement the SGMA. It is a critical resource for the state. There are things that need to happen to successfully implement that.
Cannon: No immediate fixes. Would just like to see more of the collaborative spirit and less of the bomb throwing and rhetoric. United by food. United as Californians to the type of state we want to see left to the next generations. I want to see rivers full of fish, good drinking water. How do we marginalize the voices that are trying to make the news. The fact we have great environment, great agriculture, great cities. What is there to lose at this point finding new paths to work together.

Caller Linda: It was really more of an observation. I completely agree in collaboration. I have a lot of empathy for farmers in the CV. But I was a little bit disturbed by us not being ashamed of moving water around and engineering water when we use so much water on almonds and exporting almonds to the world. I think it is disingenuous to say we are putting food on the tables when we are exporting so many almonds.
Ellen: America is built on trade. We import things, we export things, it includes tourism in and out. California is an incredibly productive place to grow a lot of food products that grow well and travel well in international markets.
Ashley: I think almonds are an unfair target. They got so much negative publicity during the drought. When you think about the nutritional value, the protein. It is probably better than other products. Also she wants to know how much water we consume just eating.

Jan’s Comments

The first part of the program was interesting and Cannon seemed very balanced between wanting to produce food and concern about the environment. But once they got to the Delta questions, all three totally missed the point. It’s simple, really. Science says that the Delta ecosystem requires that no more than 3.0 to 3.5 million acre feet/year (MAF) be withdrawn. For decades, the exporters have taken 5.0 MAF +. That is why the fish species are in decline. They’ve known that for years but refuse to limit exports. No amount of new habitat improvements can give us healthy fish without enough fresh water flowing, yes flowing to the ocean. Until that basic fact is faced, the Delta will remain in jeopardy.

What can be done? The caller, Linda, hit the nail on the head when she said, “I think it is disingenuous to say we are putting food on the tables when we are exporting so many almonds.” The acreage of almonds has grown exponentially. Orchards continued to expand even during the drought years. In 2013, one in six acres of line crops in Stanislaus County alone were converted to almonds. The problem with orchards is that trees can’t be fallowed during dry years. And while Ellen was correct that almonds ship well and are very profitable, that also means they can be easily imported. Californians want farmers to grow the fresh fruits and vegetables for out tables first. We don’t want beans and other produce from Mexico if they can be grown locally. Fine if they can also grow nuts, but we can import those. After all, Iran was the main producer of pistachios in the world until the sanctions were imposed and Stewart Resnick started growing pistachios to fill that void. It is interesting to note that Steward Resnick is also a huge, multi-million dollar donor to very right-wing organizations who fight to keep sanctions on Iran. Resnick also is part owner of the privately held Kern Water Bank, which holds four times more water than Hetch-Hetchy. I wonder if that was what Ellen meant when she said projects to increase ground water had some issues.

But I digress. The original CVP idea was that the desert farmlands could take advantage of “excess” Delta water. Now the farmers feel they deserve all of the water their paper contracts say they can have during the wettest years. Actually, there isn’t ever enough water to satisfy all the contracts even during wet years. Cannon talked about the scary potential of taking acreage out of production to satisfy the SGMA. They really need to evaluate and remove acreage, starting with the tainted selenium-laced land by I-5 now. We need to start reducing exports to save the Delta and balance that with reduced almond acreage. Instead, the state plans has been taking fertile Delta farmland out of production and plans to turn our irrigation water here into salt water. That’s just wrong. We need to start working on real solutions for regional self-sufficiency: conservation, recycling, desalination, etc.

Posted by: Jan | April 16, 2018

Rating the Candidates for Governor on the Tunnels

UPDATED 4/16 10:52 AM: A new article says Villaraigosa is opposed to the tunnels even though he’s supportive of the Central Valley famers: Villaraigosa is spending time in farm country. Let’s hope he doesn’t get his mind changed.

In other words:
#1 Strongly opposed: The two Republican candidates and Democrats Delaine Eastin and John Villaraigosa.

#2 Open to debate and other alternatives: Chiang (D)

#3 Thinks one tunnel is OK and needed (that’s bad) but wants to reduce reliance on the Delta (that is good): Newsom (D)

ORIGINAL POST:

Republican Candidates: The two Republican candidates — John Cox and Travis Allen — are solidly opposed to the tunnels.

Democratic Candidates prioritized by their tunnel position:

    #1 ** Delaine Eastin, adamantly against. She had the best answer of the Democratic candidates; she gets it: ”Jerry is stubborn about certain things. He wanted the Peripheral Canal. The tunnels are the Peripheral Canal with a lid on it. The state isn’t doing water planning,” she adds. “We’re just doing expensive things like tunnels — an old idea.”

    #2 Antonio Villaraigosa, prior mayor of L.A. is aware of the division of the topic, and recently came out as opposed: “Before we divide this state around the proposal for new twin tunnels, let’s understand all of our options.”

    #3 John Chiang, state Treasurer wants to continue the debate: “Despite new financing by the Metropolitan Water District, we must first ensure that we are doing everything possible to protect our ecosystems, our water supply and our economy. … That’s why I believe it’s important to continue this debate.” It also sounded like Chiang thinks the tunnels should be voted on. My concern with that is that with all of the marketing the Brown Administration has done, scaring people about sudden loss of their water supply due to an earthquake (not valid, just a scare tactic), and the number of people who still aren’t aware of the real issues with the tunnels, I’m not sure voters have the right information to make an informed decision.

    #4 Gavin Newsom is for one tunnel and has bought into the “Something has to be done to fix the plumbing in the Delta” story line! He said, “One tunnel might be OK. The status quo is unacceptable. But that can’t be our only approach. I strongly believe California must work to reduce our dependence on the delta by focusing on regional solutions, investing in critical water infrastructure like recycling and ground water replacement, and conservation.” Maybe he isn’t a lost cause, but I sure don’t like his opening remarks. Keep sending him your Delta photos and stories!

LA Times Article: “When it comes to the California delta, none of Gov. Jerry Brown’s potential successors have tunnel vision” (the title is misleading, since Newsom may).

Whatever your politics, there’s a good chance Gavin Newsom will be our next governor (he’s ahead in the race). Earlier on in the race he said he was against the tunnels. But most recently, he said something wishy washy – probably to get the Central Valley and Southern California votes and to have Jerry Brown endorsing and pushing his candidacy. Or maybe he, like Jerry Brown, is getting campaign financing from the big Corporate almond farmers like Stewart Resnick and big L.A. Developers who want the fresh Sacramento water. If that’s the case, he, like Jerry Brown and Feinstein, will be beholding to them and supporting of the tunnel boondoggle.

BUT THERE IS AN OPENING RIGHT NOW TO CONVINCE HIM OTHERWISE!!! He’s opened up the door with his email below where he wants to find out what each of us love about CA. Gavin asks:

“What it is about your part of CA that makes it a special place for you. I’m aiming to drop by as many parts of the state as I can before Election Day, but whether I catch you on a visit or not, I’d love to hear from you: Can you show me what your favorite place in California is, captured in one great photo?”

GavinEmail

We need to FLOOD his inbox flooded with one photo from each of you featuring the Delta.

Here are my ideas:

  • Beautiful shots of Discovery Bay water and let him know your fears for your home values and community because the Delta Tunnels will destroy our water quality. Lots of people should send those in. Let him know how panicked our community is about the tunnels!
  • Photos of water skiers and wake boarders, specifically on Twin Sloughs and let him know the nearby/favorite slough will be blocked by the tunnel construction
  • Photos of anchor outs at Mildred and let him know our only anchorage in the South Delta will be ruined for 11 years during the construction
  • Photos of a Small Boat Dinner Cruise to Union Point and let him know that establishment will be cut off from boats and likely go out of business
  • Photos of groups enjoying ski beach which will be cut off from use by construction
  • Photos of Bullfrog Marina and let him know that marina will be surrounded by barges and construction and likely go out of business
  • Photos of boats underway on Middle River and let him know those waterways will all be blocked with barges and construction
  • Photos of quaint legacy communities in the North that will be ruined first by the construction of the giant pumping plant and later by the awful view of the plant
  • Photos of fishermen on the Delta and let him know how the tunnels will be the end of many species here
  • Photos of the birds of the Delta: majestic blue heron, egrets, and others and your fear that a noisy, polluting, 11-year construction project through the heart of the Delta will take an unrecoverable toll on the waterfowl
  • Photos of any other scenic part of the Delta that you love and tell him your fear that this wonderful place is about to be destroyed
  • Photos of your farm in Brentwood or on a Delta Island and tell him the tunnel operation plan includes increased salinity which will sterilize your fertile farmland

We should all add that the tunnel route through the heart of the Delta was a terrible, terrible idea and we’ve been loudly complaining that they picked the wrong route which will destroy the Delta by construction even before the operation of the tunnels ruin Delta water quality.

If you have a boat, tell him to come out and take a boat ride to find out what the Delta is and how it will be destroyed by this project.

Email
Subject: RE: be featured on my Instagram!
To: gavin@gavinnewsom.com – BUT DON’T CC ME ON YOUR EMAIL
or it will look coordinated. But if you would, please either BCC stcda@NoDeltaGates.com so I know how many we send.

Or let me know in a separate email to stcda@NoDeltaGates.com what your photo was of and if we miss some important spots, I’ll work to get those covered.

If you aren’t a photographer, maybe ask Bill Klipp or others on FaceBook you see post pictures and see if you can borrow one 🙂

Together we can make a difference!

Posted by: Jan | April 12, 2018

Don’t panic about the tunnels yet

Before everyone panics about the Metropolitan Water District’s vote this week to pay for the Delta Tunnels, it’s not over yet. The article in the SacBee today is right with it’s lead-in: “California Delta Tunnels Project Still Faces Obstacles.” I agree. Big obstacles.

On the other hand, even though this article says that the biggest barrier is the hearings underway now by the State Water Resources Control Board, we know that since it’s members were all appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown, getting a permit in June at this point is likely. Not only has Brown stacked the deck with his pro-tunnel appointees, the meets have been rigged. The Water Board Hearing officers have been colluding with the State’s DWR who are requesting the permits. And we have proof that the modeling they used to show how much water they can extract has been manipulated. AND the design for the tunnels is not earthquake-proof, even though their cost justification is heavily based on the assumption that the current levee system is not earthquake proof and that is a huge risk. Hmm.

But the big obstacle is that once the permits are issued, then the law suits will begin.

The article says: ” At least 58 tunnels opponents, including Sacramento-area governments, fishing groups and a Native American tribe, are suing under California’s environmental protection law. Many of those same opponents filed lawsuits challenging the plan’s financial arrangements. And in late February, many of these groups filed a fresh lawsuit saying the water board broke state law by secretly meeting with state and federal officials about the project.”

And you remember who it was that found out about those secret meetings, about the rigged hearings? That’s right. Save the California Delta Alliance’s own legal council, Michael Brodsky. We’ve already won one case against the Delta Plan that the Judge agreed with Brodsky, ruling the plan needs to show how they will be reducing reliance on the Delta, how they will meet the Delta Flow Requirements, and what alternatives they have considered. Since the tunnels are opposite to all of those rulings, we are confident that the Judge will agree with us again, especially since these hearings have been rigged!

Thank you to everyone who has been getting on-line and donating to us (click “Donate” button on the right.) Our lawyer is the best of the best and if we continue to support him in hiring expert witnesses to build his case, we can succeed.

Here’s the article: Sacramento Bee Article: California Delta Tunnels Project Still Faces Obstacles.

Metropolitan Water District backs two Delta Tunnels.

The vote was disappointing but not unexpected. Disappointing, since at each juncture we keep hoping we’ve seen the final nail in the coffin. But the tunnel project never seems to die. Not unanticipated because their fall-back of voting for just one tunnel would have meant the Water Board permit process would have been extended to Part III and a new EIR for one tunnel at a time; hence it would not be done during Gov. Brown’s reign. Not funding both tunnels up-front was equivalent to Gov. Brown giving up, and we know he wasn’t about to do that.

We know the tunnels are not cost effective and are not guaranteed to produce another drop of water, assuming the tunnels will be operated responsibly. Obviously it means the water exporters have no commitment to responsible operations. Thus the law suit wars will need to begin as soon as the Water Board issues the permits by June. We know that process is rigged, so we know the permits will be approved. Save the California Delta Alliance is gearing up to begin that battle.

This makes it vital for us to make an early push for fund raising, to be sure we are ready to take on the battle.



Or send a check made out to “STCDA” to:
STCDA
P.O. Box 1760
Discovery Bay, CA 94505

We appreciate everyone that has been supporting us!

Posted by: Jan | April 5, 2018

This could be bad. Very bad.

In a memo dated March 30, 2018, Scott Pruitt directed EPA regional offices to “cede their Clean Water Act determinations” to him. According to this report, “The move appears to change the approval process to lessen the role of EPA employees and scientists when it comes to evaluating whether a project has a significant negative environmental impact on waterways or wetlands.”

Currently, the State Water Board is holding Hearings on whether to issue a permit for the Delta Tunnels. If that permit is approved, and has seemed more likely since STCDA found out that the Water Board has been colluding with the DWR and altering Delta Flow requirements in favor of the Tunnels, the next and final steps are (1) Army Corps of Engineers Permit and (2) final approval from the EPA.

If you recall, it was the EPA that blasted the 2014 Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), saying it was not a Habitat Conservation Plan and would more likely kill fish than save them. That stopped the project in its tracks . . . for a while. Then Jerry Brown got the bright idea and basically said, “OK, our tunnels won’t save the Delta, let’s just build the tunnels.” and split the BDCP into two projects:

  • California WaterFix (aka the Delta Tunnels)
  • California EcoRestore (the part to save the Delta).

Has anyone heard “boo” about EcoRestore the past 4 years? No? That’s because the only focus has been on WaterFix, the Tunnels . . . on killing the Delta, not saving it.

At least, in the past, we had the EPA on our side. It was the EPA that also shut down the Two-Gates Fish Protection Project in 2010. Remember that? The plan to put dams in Old River and Connection Slough and virtually shut down boating in the South Delta.

So now the concern is, will the EPA once again let the scientists and experts chime in? Or will Pruitt ignore science, facts, and let the Exporters build their destructive tunnels?

Scott Pruitt took over the Clean Water Act

Posted by: Jan | April 5, 2018

Who’s Paying for the Tunnels?

People were getting happily excited when they read the news that “Water agency won’t finance Brown’s $17B tunnels” reported in the E&E News. The reporter misstated when he said, “Southern California’s largest water provider yesterday unexpectedly backed away from a plan to fund Gov. Jerry Brown’s $17 billion effort to replumb the state’s water system.”

The LA Times title was a little misleading but more accurate when it said, “Metropolitan Water District backs away from plan to finance both delta tunnels.” Note: That’s “both” delta tunnels. MWD was always planning a certain amount of funding. When the Ag water districts backed out of funding anything, MWD was going to vote whether to fund both tunnels now or just one. They reverted to their original offer to fund the amount that will give one tunnel now. The second is not totally off-the-table – it could be built later if/when funding becomes available or if/when they can sell the water from the first tunnel to agribusinesses, frackers, or any others and make a profit. MET said, “More important is that we just get going…. We’re talking one tunnel for now.”

This is the worst possible scenario. If they build one, they plan to take more water than they get now and they could sell any excess and raise money for the second tunnel. A phased approach means 17-20 years of construction through the heart of the Delta, instead of 11-13. One tunnel gives them less operational flexibility and the fear is they would pump during dry periods, doubling the water quality problem in the South Delta at those times while still causing negative environmental impact throughout the Delta.

Posted by: Jan | March 26, 2018

Only for 1 Week Amazon Donates 3x

AmazonSmile

I just found out that AmazonSmile has a triple donation promotion on now – ends on March 31! So one week only! Amazon is tripling the donation amount to 1.5% when customers make their first eligible smile.amazon.com purchase from now through March 31.

3x your impact! Amazon is tripling the donation rate on your first smile.amazon.com purchase – through March 31! Go to smile.amazon.com/ch/27-1326502 and Amazon donates to Save the California Delta Alliance.

Because I attended a meeting in Bethel Island in January, they asked me to send in comments on the Draft Franks Tract Feasibility Project Proposal. Sorry to say, I wasn’t really that supportive. The draft wasn’t that much different from the original proposal. There were a series of meetings with Bethel Island and other Stakeholders. That information was dutifully captured in this new draft. But it didn’t change the proposal. Similar to the BDCP/WaterFix, they meet, they say they “listen,” and move on with their original concept.

Here are the comments I submitted.

I commented is that there must be better places to put this smelt habitat area and not destroy the primary Northern California bass fishing area (a State Recreational Area) and also destroy the community of Bethel Island. The first site that comes to mind is Webb Tract. It’s just north of Franks, actually better flow-wise so smelt would migrate north, and it’s already owned by Metropolitan Water District (the entity that is funding the report) so they can easily do with Webb Tract what they want.

In my comments about the plan, one of my concerns is that they never quantify the economic loss to Northern California from killing the bass fishing industry.

Another problem to me is that nowhere in the document do I see any reference to the homes and marinas that now look out on the portion of Franks Tract that is planned as a “tidal marsh” where the view is considered of value and probably part of the home value/worth. Yet this is where they plan to pile mud and make it a mud pond. They don’t talk about the vegetation they would plant, what it would look like, the new view. They don’t talk about the smell from tunnel muck or mosquito abatement. Very worrisome.

But bottom line, this sums it up for me. Their report says on page 29: “Most stakeholders strongly objected to the location and configuration of the proposed tidal marsh restoration areas in Franks and Little Franks Tract because it would block some marina and boat traffic to residential areas. Alternative configurations are possible that will have less impact on local communities and economies.“

My comment was, “Re-read that part please. ‘Strongly objected to the location and configuration.’ To me, that should drive the conclusion, but the conclusion is full-speed ahead on the current location and configuration.”

That’s the problem. They gather information, but the conclusions, the plan doesn’t change. Just like the tunnels.

The report also said: “Meetings and conversations about this proposed restoration approach have begun to build trust and more open communication between state agencies involved in restoration efforts and the general public.”

That’s the problem we’ve been having with all of these state agency projects. They may have meetings. We present our comments. The BDCP even held “In-Delta Meetings” in the Brentwood Library where young admins took down our concerns and left, not really understanding our concerns or properly documenting them. They leave and nothing changes.

What these agencies don’t understand is that conversations are two-way streets. We don’t want to just talk and then next reiteration of the project has no significant changes. This draft does capture our concerns, in words. But nothing changes. Our concerns don’t change the recommendations or the conclusion.

That isn’t “listening.” That is simply understanding the objections but then, regardless, moving ahead.

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