As we took our STCDA Sunset Cruise aboard Captain Frank Morgan’s Rosemarie this week, from Twin Sloughs Captain Morgan pointed out barges in the distance. He said that they were starting construction of the Woodward Bridge on Middle River.

thumb_IMG_4145_1024
Barges in the distance, seen from Twin Sloughs

As we rounded the corner to go north past Ski Beach we could get a better look at the barges with cranes on them for construction.

thumb_IMG_4146_1024

We passed the old cable ferry that the new fancy bridge will replace.

thumb_IMG_4147_1024
Woodward Island Ferry

Seen from Google Maps, the ferry crossing goes between Bacon Island Road (which you can get to turning left off Highway 4 after the Middle River Bridge) which ferries vehicles across to Woodward Island.

Ferry

When I first heard about this bridge, I asked myself, “Why would they build a fancy, 30-foot high bridge to get to Woodward Island? What’s there?” Looking at Google Maps, I could only see a single farmhouse. “Why would this farmer get this fancy bridge?” I asked.

I was very suspicious with the Delta Tunnel project being planned. I was told though that the main purpose was that East Bay Municipal Utility District’s Mokelumne Aqueduct, the major source of water for the East Bay including Oakland, crosses Woodward Island. The concern was if there was a major issue, maintenance crews needed better access than the ferry can provide.

EBMUD Pipeline

Even with that explanation, most of us on the boat remained skeptical that there isn’t some underlying desire to get that fancy bridge in place to help with the tunnel effort in some way. (Sung to the music, “Suspicious Minds.”)

thumb_IMG_4149_1024
Ferry ramp on Woodward Island with barges in the background – smokey sunset

I wondered why there was a cement truck trying to get to Woodward Island – the one that had gone plunging into Middle River in July, when the driver went back instead of forward on the ferry. Now it makes sense – they were starting on the construction of the bridge.

IMG_8374
July 6, 2018 – Cement Truck falls off the Woodward Ferry into Middle River

At least, the bridge will be high enough (30 feet above the water for the mid-span) for the Rosemarie and other big boats to go under. It will not be operated, but there will be a center span that can be removed by a crane to allow big equipment to pass if needed.

Side Note: You have to wonder if when they try to just build one bridge, they don’t know enough about the Delta to know how to keep their one cement truck out of the drink, how will they handle their 24×7 line of construction trucks traveling across narrow levee roads and bridges for the massive construction project they are planning. The Delta just is not a place for huge construction projects!

There is another reason that there may have been urgency for this bridge to be built that is not to aid the tunnels but because of the tunnels. EBMUD has been contesting the Delta Tunnels project because the tunnels runs directly under Woodward Island. EBMUD believes the tunnel drilling through soft alluvial soils will cause settling that will affect their pipeline and they want the WaterFix project to pay for pumps on both sides to ensure the EBMUD water can keep flowing. So they would need that bridge to get the pumps in stalled and any emergency crews to the island if the tunneling causes havoc.

That brings up the other huge issues with the tunneling plan. Not only does it cause EBMUD issues, the Kinder Morgan fuel pipeline also crosses Woodward Island, and the bridge will help for any emergencies there.

Speaking of emergencies, an even bigger concern is that the Sante Fe Railroad is on pilings between two sloughs just north of Woodward Island. Tunneling activities has been known to twist railroad piers which would be disastrous if it caused issues with that line. It is a heavily used freight and Amtrak line. We saw the Amtrak pass as we were on our smokey Sunset Cruise.

38738322_10155875449968282_2052985567100010496_n

See how the train is on piers – that’s a big concern with tunnels going underneath. Yet levees and trains aren’t listed as a problem in the WaterFix EIR.

Related/References:

  1. “Woodward Island Bridge Project (ferry replacement)” – Initial Study
  2. “Ferries are a Dying Breed in the Delta” – RecordNet News
  3. “Another Week, Another Project affecting the Delta” – Prior STCDA blog about the new bridge/ferry replacement project
Advertisements
Posted by: Jan | August 5, 2018

Devin Nunes is not a Friend of the Delta

Here’s a good opinion piece in the Sacramento Bee.

The writer, Mark Arax, knows a thing or two about water since he wrote a great book called “The King of California” that told the story of the cotton empire of J.G. Boswell, which had risen out of the bottom of Tulare Lake, once the biggest body of freshwater west of the Mississippi. If you have never read it, I strongly recommend it. The book tells the true history of the first farmers in the Central Valley, how they dried up the biggest (by area) lake west of the Great Lakes (yes, even bigger than the Great Salt Lake and about as shallow). The Tulare Lake would percolate down and refill the aquifers. Drying it up is much of the reason that the Central Valley is sinking as the aquifers dry up.

The editorial gives interesting insight into the thinking of the Central Valley agribusinesses that want the Delta water. Arax is also a farmer, but thinks more logically than Nunes, obviously.

In the spring of 2014, well into the drought, farmers including Arax were at a meeting. Devin Nunes, also from the Central Valley farming family and currently a US Representative, was there. Arax reports that Nunes “knew the sky hadn’t spilled enough rain in three years. He knew we [the farmers] were facing the hottest and driest spell on record. But it wasn’t drought that bedeviled our valley, he’d told us. It was a conspiracy hatched by the Communists.”

I remember the misleading Sean Hannity segment about the plight of the farmers about that same time. News footage depicted orchards uprooted, fields fallowed and equipment spoiling to rust. The truth, says Arax? “Never mind that the fallowed dirt where Hannity and Nunes were standing next to each other had produced a bounty of tomatoes the day before. One hundred feet away, beyond camera frame, acre after acre of irrigated green fields awaited harvest.”

During that timeframe, there were reports of all of the farm workers out of work, standing in food lines. It tugged at people’s hearts. Then I was told by a representative from Joan Buchanan’s office that the unemployment rate in that area is 30 percent and has been ever since harvesting machines were introduced which replace many farm workers. It was not about the smelt, but they tried to make it look that way.

But as Nunes was later quoted to say during a congressional debate, “If you tell a lie long enough, eventually people will believe you.” The people wanting our water continue to spread the lies about earthquake threats, the fish really aren’t endangered, plus they ignore the real impacts to the communities in the Delta.

It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad that these farmers like Nunes are so out-of-touch with the reality of the Delta and why enough water needs to remain in the north. Or it’s a ploy.

Nunes reportedly has said about groups like ours that are fighting to save the Delta, “When you look at the radical environmental fringe, there’s no question they are tied closely to the Communist Party. I have the documents that can prove it,” Nunes claimed.

Well, I know Save the California Delta Alliance and the good people of Discovery Bay aren’t Communists! But having folks like Nunes in the US Congress make it hard for our representatives to fight the lies about the issues in the Delta.

Arax says, “My neighbor farmers are still hoping Nunes might be repaid for his loyalty to Trump, that the Interior Department will gut the Endangered Species Act and free up more water for agriculture.”

That’s my fear, that the Interior Department will gut the ESA. The EPA is what finally stopped the Two-Gates Fish Protection Project which would have put dams in Old River and Connection Slough – virtually locking big boats from Discovery Bay to getting out to the rest of the Delta except when the Bacon Island Bridge is operating. If that bridge broke, people would be stranded. The EPA also kicked back the earlier BDCP plan because it wasn’t a “Habitat Conservation Plan” and instead would kill fish. Already the EPA has been weakened. Hopefully they will still step in when the WaterFix/Delta Tunnels gets to them for final sign-off.

I’m looking forward to Mark Arax’s next book: “The Dreamt Land: Chasing Dust and Water Across California”

Posted by: Jan | August 5, 2018

Tunnel Traffic Impacts

Here’s a good article by Ken Oliver, KCRA 3 Reporter, including a video talking about the damage that will occur to the Delta highways from the Tunnel construction project.

KCRA-Reports-Traffic-Impacts

I wonder if he got that information from our traffic expert witness, Chris Kinzel, who gave his testimony at the State Water Board Hearings.

Watch the video to see the traffic impacts. The story is very well done.

It’s great that negative articles are coming out on major networks about the tunnel construction impacts.

Other References you may find interesting:

  1. Chris Kinzel’s Experience: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/bay_delta/california_waterfix/exhibits/docs/STCDA%20et%20al/part2/scda_101.pdf
  2. Chris Kinzel’s Testimony to the SWRCB Hearings: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/bay_delta/california_waterfix/exhibits/docs/STCDA%20et%20al/part2/scda_100.pdf
  3. STCDA Blog about Traffic Issues (and waterway/barge issues): https://nodeltagates.com/?s=Bridges+Over+Troubled+Water&x=0&y=0
  4. Earlier Info about the impacts of Construction: https://nodeltagates.com/the-crisis/
Posted by: Jan | July 29, 2018

Thank You!

We had a great fundraising event last weekend (July 21). Thank you for everyone who came for golf, for dinner, or both . . . and stayed for the Live Auction. We were also able to give out great raffle prizes due to our generous donors. Even people who couldn’t attend gave donations. Thank you for your generosity.
Sponsor List

We raised over $25,000! That is more than any of our prior fundraising events. Thank you, thank you, thank you. That was a great start towards what we need to win the law suits we anticipate will be needed.

And that was even though there were a few less attendees than prior years.

Why were there fewer attendees?

Some people have the idea that the tunnels are a “done deal.” What??? They most definitely are not a “done deal.”

Why the tunnels aren’t a “done deal”

Michael Brodsky, STCDA Legal Council, explained it well to the attendees at the fundraiser.

First, there are permits needed before any work can legally start. Currently we are in the end of the multi-year permitting process for their State Water Board permits. Those are needed in order for them to take water from the Sacramento River.

But that’s not all . . . there are a plethora of permits they still need to get.

Because of STCDA’s testimonies at the Water Board, the State revised their tunnel construction plan. We don’t want a new plan, we want the entire project to terminate. But since they have made almost no changes in their plan for years, we feel we are definitely getting to areas they haven’t thought about – like boating and recreation. They have tons of scientists lined up to debate Delta scientists about water quality, fish, etc. But we hit them unexpectedly with issues that affect the South Delta that they didn’t address or even realize.

Second, since we have testified to these hearings, if they move ahead and ignore our evidence, we can go to litigation. And, as we have shown in the past with our “win” against the Delta Plan, the law and the judges are on our side.

We will stop these tunnels. $25K was a great start but the expert witnesses are really costly. That’s what the donations go for – witnesses to prove our case and then come to the legal hearings once they start.

Thank you again. And if you can, please donate!

Posted by: Jan | July 25, 2018

Discovery Bay under Attack

First, I want to thank the community of Discovery Bay for a very successful fund raiser July 21st for Save the California Delta Alliance. The community of Discovery Bay has been battling the state against the Delta Tunnels that would wreak havoc with Discovery Bay communities’ economy. We have fought hard. We are winning and feel confident that we can stop the tunnels!

Now we feel we are under a new attack when Contra Costa County, in an abundance of caution, sends out a general warning, “Stay out of the Water in Discovery Bay.” The “story” was picked up by many newspapers and now is widespread. It has blown the situation out of proportion and is likely causing home sales to fall through, can cause home values to fall, and impact the marina businesses. Since Discovery Bay’s economy is based on boating and recreation, this exaggerated and single-focused warning is very harmful to our community.

With global warming, blue-green algae is being found throughout the United States. To single-out “Discovery Bay” as a toxic hot-bed is just wrong. Besides, it was only found in a small corner of Discovery Bay during any of the testing done the last few years. Most of our bays consistently have tested negative. Only the southwest-most corner, where the water is more stagnant and shallow, has a “danger” test and a few other ends of bays near there said to use caution. But most of the waterways have more flow and test clear. There is no reason that people should not launch their boats at the Discovery Bay Marina.

If there have been any health-related issues due to this toxic algae anywhere in the County, the public would be well-served to have that information and specifics on when and where and then will be more informed to make decisions about where and if to swim.

To me, it’s irresponsible to single-out Discovery Bay this way and I hope the County sends out better, more useful information in the near future.

Let’s be clear about what is happening. The California State agencies have long viewed the California Delta as a pipeline for taking water from the mountains in the north to the Central Valley farmers and to L.A. That is all. Nothing more, nothing less. This latest Franks Tract project is simply another plot to try to allow the exporters to continue to take too much water from the Delta without the resulting salt water intrusion getting into their exported water.

The State agencies care not a twit about the people in Northern California, their economies, communities, the fish, or the Delta way of life.

I take that back – they “care” about the fish because the Delta Smelt’s near extinction is causing them to periodically shut down the pumps. So the exporters need to “prove” they are doing something to “save the fish.” They know their small efforts won’t really save any of the endangered species – it’s just smoke and mirrors.

Bottom line: They want a salinity block so they can export even more. So they “throw in” some “smelt habitat” (suspect) and conduct a survey and tell the locals they want this project. I’m surprised the CDFW has agreed to participate in this scam.

This has been going on for years and years. For some reason (do you think it could be money in politics?), even before Governor Brown, wealthy Central Valley farmers (who live in Beverly Hills and other locales), L.A. developers, and water exporters who support them have been paying for projects that they think could restructure the Delta to allow them to continue exporting the current levels (that are too high) and take even more. To make it a virtual pipeline. Wall it up or tunnel under it: a pipeline.

Does anyone wonder why we in the Delta fear the Tunnels? The tunnels are sized at a capacity to drain the Sacramento River totally. Of course they wouldn’t do that . . . would they? Think Owens Valley.

In case you want to see how the piping works, here’s the Delta:


The first/top diagram show the Delta area, the next two are the natural water flows out of the Delta to the ocean, then the natural influx of the tide from the ocean. The last one, bottom right, shows the unnatural flow north-to-south down Middle River (the little blue arrow going south to the pumps), caused by too much water been exported out

The need for more and more water from the Delta continues to grow year after year. L.A. developers continue to build, farming profits continue to rise. In particular, the demand for almonds and other nuts to ship to Asia has driven farmers to convert line crops into year-round, water thirsty orchards and to expand the acreage of orchards seemingly without bounds. To meet the need, water exports continue to ramp up.

Without enough fresh water, the fish in the Delta begin to die. Fish need water – ya know?

Without enough fresh water flowing through the estuary, salinity starts to intrude. This is a huge problem for the exporters.

So, they look at the Delta and say, how can we block the salinity intrusion?

Of course, the real solution is to reduce export levels. That would also save the fish. But that would mean telling the almond growers and L.A. Developers to limit expansion and that ain’t gonna happen.

Instead their “solution” is to reconfigure the Delta.

The first place that the salt water coming in from the ocean can get diverted towards their pumps is through Franks Tract.

“Aha!” they say. Let’s stop the salt water from coming in right there.

In 2007, there was the Draft_Franks_Tract_Pilot_Study_Summary_Paper_2 to control salinity. The purpose of the study was “to alter the Delta hydrodynamics in the vicinity of Franks Tract to reduce salinity intrusion into the central and south Delta.”

FranksTractPilotStudy.png
Study Alternatives

If you live on Bethel Island, make your living there, your economy is based on boating, just looking at the dams everywhere has got to turn your stomach. Bethel Island isn’t labeled above (I wonder why) but it’s the island right next to Franks Tract, southwest, where the label says “Operable Gates in Sand Mound Slough Alt #2”. That alternative makes me personally really mad. We owned a home on Soundmound Slough at that time. (Yes, if you noticed, they even labeled the slough name incorrectly.) I never was notified about any study being done that would block access off to my docks!!!

HOW COULD THEY EVEN THINK THAT DOING THIS WOULD BE ACCEPTABLE TO THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE THERE, WHO BOAT THERE, WHO’S ECONOMIES RELY ON FRANKS TRACT?

The 2007 project listed impacts (including that gates “can create adverse impacts to fisheries, local ecosystem, water quality, and/or recreation” (which is an understatement). But they have no mention (none, zero, nada) about the impact on the people living there !!!!!

By the way, the project above was by Bay-Delta Live, an organization funded by “state and federal agencies.”

Fast forward to 2018. Nothing has changed. Now, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), funded by Metropolitan Water District. Once again, they look at this “system”, this “pipeline” to try to figure out how to block salt water intrusion. How to “re-plumb” the system. Only now, to make it sound more altruistic and because, due to the strong reverse flows to their over-worked pumps, the now-endangered fish get entrained there and environmental law suits make them stop pumping periodically, so they claim they are going to create a “total marsh for Delta Smelt.”

Furthermore, I found lots of flaws in their research. This clearly was a project to stop salinity and get some “kudos” points for supposedly thinking about the smelt.

So let’s focus on the smelt. Why put a tidal marsh right there? Franks Tract is the primo bass fishing spot in Northern California, the State is, once again, attacking the body of water that was set aside as a State Recreation Area!

The CDFW looked for scientific “proof” that Franks Tract was an environmental mess. They quoted two papers by a scientist that seemed to back up their claim. (On further review, the papers didn’t do that, but people don’t read the references, right? Just quoting them and saying they prove your point should be good enough? Not for me!)

That body of water, Franks Tract, flooded in the 1930s and since has become home of fish, including the favored sporting fish the striped bass and black bass. The location has made the area a primary location for bass fishing, which drives a thriving economy in Northern California. A community has built up around that area: boaters, marinas, restaurants. Economically it is supported by the weekly bass fishing tournaments, boating enthusiasts, and other Delta lovers spending enjoying the area. Waterfront homes look out on the scenic body of water. Quick access to fast water is key in property values.

So why would the State suddenly plan a project that would totally destroy the economy, homes, and a State Recreation Area?

Carl Wilcox, the CDFW project manager of the Franks Tract Feasibility Study, answered that question in the Brentwood Press this week. He said, “The islands are relatively shallow and will require less fill material to raise.. and the property are already owned by the state.”

In my comments below to the CDFW I pointed out that both the west side of Webb Tract and of Holland Tract are as shallow or close). And wait – Metropolitan owns Webb and Holland. At least one is slated to be a “habitat island.”

Why damage the community of Bethel Island, the bass fishing industry in Northern California, and remove an important State Recreational Area just because the state owns it? Isn’t there some stewardship involved, some public trust that says if the state declares and area a recreational area and an entire community with marinas, homes, and other businesses are established, you don’t just abandon them and fill it in with dirt?

And here’s even a more frightening fact:
In this latest study, a reference was made that one of the “considerations” was if they should put a weir in Piper Slough. DON’T THEY REALIZE THAT WOULD BLOCK PEOPLE FROM GETTING TO THEIR HOMES VIA THE WATERWAY, DESTROY HOME VALUES, BUSINESSES, AND THEIR WAY OF LIFE? This is insanity.

I posted earlier about my review of the Franks Tract Feasibility Study, aka their “Restoration” project. They call it a “Restoration” project because their goal is to restore all of the Delta back to the way it was before the 1870’s – when it was just a tidal floodplain. Doing that ignores reality – that levees have been built, fertile Delta farms created, favored recreational boating waterways exist, communities established, etc. It’s like going to Heavenly Valley in the Tahoe area and saying, “We’ve decided to turn this are back as it was in the 1800s so we’ll be shutting down skiing and sorry if your home values are now destroyed.”

I emailed my comments to California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) that:

“I am extremely disappointed that when you came to meetings and heard such adamant objections, that your original plan is given a positive spin. What would it have taken for your organization to take a step back and say, “This doesn’t sound like a good plan at all. It will cause too much hardship on the local communities. Are there other alternatives?” and focused on those rather than on your original, flawed plan. Drop the original plan to wreck Franks Tract.

More than that, in reviewing the report, I do not believe it builds the case in support for this project, in support for picking Franks Tract. I found significant flaws.

There are two stated objectives for this project: Creating habitat for Delta Smelt and reducing salinity flows into the Central Delta. I think your real goal for Delta Smelt can be accomplished as well using one of MWD’s already-owned islands like Webb or Holland without impacting local economies and communities. Why Franks Tract? The justification for your choice is without merit. I think it’s all about an alternative to the False River Dam for blocking salinity. Not about fish at all.

Worse, part of the improvements for Delta Smelt include eliminating “non-native species” – i.e., the bass. But bass fishing is key to the economy and Franks Tract is the primo bass fishery in the state (or even beyond that). Bass fishing tournaments are significant for not only Bethel Island but related industries. The choice of Franks Tract seems to be based on a Grossman report listing “hot spots” for predation. But that report didn’t have any analysis of Franks Tract, just that it was listed in the BDCP EIR. Thirteen “hot spots” were listed in Grossman – most were due to dams, like HORB, which have been shown to block migration paths, trap the fish, and make them available for predation. In fact, it said more analysis was needed regarding Franks. BTW – in Franks Tract you are proposing a dam next to Smelt habitat. Won’t that create a new site for predation?

But moreover, your own Deputy Director Stafford Lehr says “There’s too little known right now. The consensus of the research is there’s more going on (with native fish declines) than predation. That’s the department’s position.” So I don’t see how you can use Grossman’s list of “hot spots” as justification for choosing Franks Tract, going against your own department’s position. In the same article, Peter Moyle, a veteran fisheries scientist at UC Davis, is among the researchers who say striped bass are unfairly blamed for the declines in native fish. He described the striper as a “scapefish,” whose numbers have suffered marked declines in recent decades, alongside native fish. The real issue, he said, is what humans have done to the environment by over-allocating water to competing interests.” I raised that question in the meetings – it’s the over exporting that is causing the need for smelt habitat and salinity walls. I wish CDFW would push back on that, to protect the fish and wildlife per their charter.

As far as salinity, the simulations do show freshening water at Clifton Court Forebay, but it makes the key South Delta recreational waters saltier, lowering water quality on Middle River and Mildred Island. That is where people swim and recreate. So the trade-off you are making is better water for the exporters while increasing toxic algae blooms and other health and safety issues for Delta citizens.

In addition, the simulations show that Bradford Island will be surrounded by saltier water all of the time. They use Delta water for feed for their cattle and to water the cattle. What will that do to their operations? Plus more saltwater will go up the San Joaquin. What about the farmers there on the way to Rio Vista? This report is totally focused on the exporters and is not balanced.

I did see the Bethel Island alternative had been included on a page, but although it is lower cost, it sounds like it is being summarily dismissed saying,
“At this time, results suggest it would have lower water quality and salinity intrusion reduction benefits than the CDFW approach.”

The report, if balanced, would have had a pro/con matrix and traded off the huge negative impacts of the original plan versus the alternative. (Personally, I’m not sure the local project is as good as status quo, since it still makes navigation in/out of the major marinas more restrictive and puts a barrier in the middle of the recreational area).

Perhaps I have become jaded. For those of us who have been involved with the BDCP for years and years, where that group chose the through-Delta alternative up-front and although they included other alternatives like desalination (which was summarily thrown out) and other canal/tunnel routes, none were seriously studied or considered regardless of impact to the local communities. They continued on their “preferred alternative” even though the construction was absolutely the worse for the Delta. It seemed like the other alternatives were thrown in only to meet EIR requirements to study “alternatives.” Your report doesn’t even include other alternatives like building the tidal marsh on one of the nearby islands MWD owns. And seems to have dismissed the local alternative. So you can see why when your report still trudges along the same path as before our meetings, giving lip service to what you heard from meetings and putting a note in about one other alternative seems less than genuine. How can you list all of the negatives on the community without any comments about addressing them?

Finally, most people answering your survey (99%, I’d say) said to do nothing to Franks Tract. Leave it alone. Anything you do will have negative impacts. Even the token improvements were mainly not desired by most respondents. Most didn’t want an anchorage. They want it natural, scenic, open. I do not see where the local concerns and comments were truly incorporated in the report. If they were, the report would be far different.

Just honest feedback. Next step needs to be to totally revamp the project or kill it.

Here’s more details: https://nodeltagates.com/2018/07/01/franks-tract-project/

CDFW Report

The “Brentwood Press” came out with a good article about the plan and included quotes from the CDFW lead in this project, Carl Wilcox, that I used in this blog.

Next steps for Franks Tract restoration.

Good news. Finally the State Water Board is recognizing the reality that it is decades of over-exporting that is causing the environmental collapse in the Delta and making a common-sense scientifically valid proposal.

Of course, immediately, the farmers say it will take some of the nation’s “most fertile farmland out of production” and harm the Central Valley economy. Those who have been pushing for more water exports and the tunnels haven’t worried about the economies of the Delta communities or the Commercial Salmon Fishermen. Or even about the health of the San Francisco Bay.

If instead, the California Farm Boards could do the right next step and look at the farms that should be retired and retire all those newer corporate-owned orchards on the west side by I-5 where the land is desert and toxic, the problem could be easily balanced.

But big money owns those almond, pistachio, and pomegranate orchards like the Westlands folks and Stewart Resnick. In California, money talks.

The good news, the board votes on this excellent proposal in August. The bad news, the board is made up of five regulators appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown and this scientific recommendation goes against his tunnel plan.

The other bad news, “The proposal could put California on a collision course with the Trump administration, which earlier this year released a plan to “maximize water deliveries” from Northern California to the south state. President Donald Trump has promised to bring more water to San Joaquin Valley farmers, who supported him during the 2016 election.”

Ah, supporters like CA Congressman Devin Nunes and Rep Calvert – the first a big Trump supporter and the second (Calvert) who is trying to stop any lawsuits against the Tunnels.

Fingers crossed that science and logic prevail and the exports finally start to be required to ramp down to the original proposal that is healthy for the Delta and provides water for the state.

Read more here …California has a new plan for allocating its water, and it means less for farmers BY DALE KASLER, SacBee

Posted by: Jan | July 6, 2018

Cement Truck goes Swimming in the Delta

These pictures are in Middle River. As Carl, the owner of Bullfrog Marina, told people, the cement truck was getting on the Woodward Island Ferry. The cement truck driver was told to pull up a little, went the wrong way, the ferry tilted, and the truck went off the ferry.

I heard the ferry operator dove in to help the driver get out of the truck.

So, let’s see . . . this was one cement truck trying to get to Woodward Island, falls off the ferry, and spills diesel in the Delta. (Fortunately no cement – the truck was empty).

No, this was not the start of any tunnel construction project.

But you have to wonder how the State thinks they can manage a stream of construction trucks 24×7 on the Delta levee roads, small bridges, and ferries for 11 years building the tunnels ????

Yet another problem with the State’s ill thought-out plan to put a huge construction project in the middle of the Delta instead of going around it.

Posted by: Jan | July 2, 2018

Support our Yearly Fundraiser July 21!

Help us put an end to the Delta Tunnel project!

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 3.25.03 PM

Support our fundraiser for the year. If you think you need to be a golfer to participate, you’re wrong. All you need to do is eat 🙂

Join us for a fabulous evening starting with appetizers, followed by a sit-down prime rib dinner (or substitute if you don’t eat meat but if you do, the club’s prime rib is awesome). Then enjoy a lively auction hosted by Mike Guzzardo.

Fun, fun – and for a worthy cause.

July 21 at the Discovery Bay Golf & Country Club

Sign up using this form: Sign Up Form or just email Jan at stcda@NoDeltaGates.com and let us know you want to come.

We need your support!

All the info is here . . .

Posted by: Jan | July 1, 2018

Why the Franks Tract Report Misses the Mark

CA Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW), being paid by Metropolitan Water District (MWD), recently completed a report called the “Franks Tract Feasibility Study.” It is a plan to fill in half of the Franks Tract State Recreation Area to create Delta Smelt habitat plus build a salinity wall to keep salt water from getting to the export pumps at Clifton Court Forebay.

I found that the report has significant flaws.

The problem with the report is it picks the wrong place for a Delta Smelt habitat project. There are other islands nearby just as viable and already owned by MWD.

Did I mention that Franks Tract is the primary bass fishing area in the state (or some say, the nation) and the plan calls to reduce bass habitat (i.e., get rid of the bass)? Since bass fishing is a big deal to the economy of Bethel Island and much of Northern California, getting rid of the bass is not a really good idea. Particularly when the CDFW’s own Deputy Director says the department’s position is that predation (by bass) isn’t the main cause of fish decline.

And while the proposed salinity barrier may help the exporters, it makes things worse in other areas of the Delta.

Here are the details.

1 – About the Delta Smelt

You know me. I love the environment. But why destroy Franks Tract, a State Recreation Area prized for bass fishing, hunting, and boating? And while they’re at it, destroy the economy of Bethel Island by walling off marinas (Russo’s and Bethel Harbor) and other businesses (like the Rusty Porthole and the Sugar Barge) from access directly in from Franks Tract. There are weekly bass fishing tournaments going out from one of those places, which are a huge part of Bethel Island’s economy.
NewerMap copy.jpg

Why Franks Tract? First, there are islands nearby, owned by MWD, some planned already as habitat, which could have been the focus of the study instead of Franks Tract, which is so important for local economies. MWD owns Webb, Bouldin, Holland, and Bacon Island. Where is the analysis of why Franks Tract was chosen?
DeltaIslands copy

They say it is one of the less subsided islands so requires less fill dirt (which is expensive, I guess).
SubsidedIslands

While Franks Tract is less subsided than some other islands, the west side of Webb has an area the size of the proposed tidal marsh which has both green and yellow (i.e., nearly as shallow); and the west side of Holland is 0-2.5 m. same as Franks. MWD owns both of those already so altering them would not impact communities or Delta activities.

Before destroying local communities, other alternatives that can satisfy the same objections need to be reviewed. But they weren’t.

Why Franks Tract? The choice is claimed in the report due to two paper by Grossman which called out “hot spots” where Delta Smelt face predation. First, in that report, Grossman lists 13 “hot spots” (like the HORB) and most of them are where dams or other blockages occurs, trapping the smelt and making them easy prey. So if dams are a problem, why put a dam down the middle of Franks Tract and create more areas for predation? Using Grossman’s papers as justification for focusing narrowly on Franks Tract is not valid.

Expanded, the first goal is stated as: “create habitat suitable for Delta Smelt.” and objectives are, “Key restoration objectives include reducing the extent of aquatic weeds, decrease predation on Delta Smelt and other native fishes by lowering habitat suitability for non-native species, and improve food webs.” But, are those the right objectives? The goal to “decrease predation on Delta Smelt and other native fishes by lowering habitat suitability for non-native species, and improve food webs” must be challenged.

Predation is not the major issue for Delta Smelt. Lack of fresh water flow is.

The objective of lowering habitat suitability for non-native species means bass. And bass fishing is a core component of the Delta and needs to be supported and preserved.

The theory (that the bass, which were introduced in the 1870s, are suddenly to blame for the salmon and other native species’ demise) is hotly contested among scientists and should not be used as a primary reason to destroy the economy of the Delta by destroying the primary bass fishery, Franks Tract.

According to a 2016 Sacramento Bee article, CDFW’s own Deputy Director disagrees. The article states that:

Their [the State Agencies exporting water] concern is less about the fish and more about how the population declines affect their water supply and livelihoods. Court rulings empower the federal fisheries agencies that monitor species to govern water flows in the Delta, and their decisions often translate into pumping limits to keep fish from being harmed.

There’s too little known right now,” said Stafford Lehr, deputy director of the Wildlife and Fisheries Division of CDFW. “The consensus of the research is there’s more going on (with native fish declines) than predation. That’s the department’s position.”

Peter Moyle, a veteran fisheries scientist at UC Davis, is among the researchers who say striped bass are unfairly blamed for the declines in native fish. He described the striper as a “scapefish,” whose numbers have suffered marked declines in recent decades, alongside native fish. The real issue, he said, is what humans have done to the environment by over-allocating water to competing interests.

Scapefishing the bass has been going on since the bass fishermen testified to the Legislature against the exporters and made them a target. It’s like in my childrens’ book, “The Fable of the Farmer and the Fish.” The exporters want to find any excuse for why the fisheries are failing, except the obvious – too much water being exported.

Slide09

In my opinion, their justification of Franks Tract as a location for a tidal marsh doesn’t hold water. Their research is lacking and better options are available.

So what about the second goal?

2 – Salinity Control

A year ago the State installed a rock dam in False River. That caused numerous issues and is a costly “emergency effort.” It wouldn’t have been needed if the State would balance the need every expanding almond orchards against available water and simply reduced exports. But alas, I repeat myself.

This project is supposed to be a long term fix for salinity coming into the Central Delta and Clifton Court Forebay.

Here’s their modeling about how their wall down the middle of Franks Tract will improve salinity control.
Simulations
You can watch the simulation live at these links:

They are kind of mesmerizing to watch.

But their project causes salinity problems
What strikes me from the simulation, is that with the project, the salinity is always worse along the San Joaquin River and goes further inland. How will that affect the farmers that draw water up the San Joaquin towards Rio Vista? The write-up agrees that, “It potentially increases salinity on the main stem of the San Joaquin River between Jersey Point and San Andreas Landing.” Has the effect on farmers along the San Joaquin been studied?

Today, Bradford Island has access to fresh water during an outgoing tide as does Webb and Bouldin. With the “restoration” project, Bradford Island would be surrounded always with saltier water. That island is now used to raise cattle. The fresh water is needed to grow their feed and water them. What is the plan to compensate the Bradford Island owners?

Is this really better?

Well, here’s the answer:

SouthDeltaSalinity

With the project, the water quality at Clifton Court Forebay (where exports occur) improves. But, water quality will deteriorate along Middle River including Mildred Island. Since those are key water recreational areas, that is highly undesirable. Those are areas where humans swim and recreate. The impact on health needs to be included in this survey.

The goal shouldn’t be just to improve water quality for users south, it needs to include improved water quality for the in-Delta users.

Once again, our state agencies trade off health and safety for citizens in the Delta in order to facilitate exports for the southern users.

Piper Slough: The report says they need to do more modeling about the flows along Piper Slough. (That is the slough that goes next to Bethel Island, where all the marinas and home docks are). They claim the project wouldn’t increase flows “much” but how do you funnel all of the water from False River and Fisherman’s Cut down the small narrow Piper Slough, with the entire Franks Tract dammed, without causing a rush of water flow? It doesn’t make sense to me. I am worried about the boating safety, wear and tear on docks, etc.

Fisherman’s Cut: I am also concerned about the increased flow through Fisherman’s Cut. The report said it will not be as bad as when the False River Dam was installed, but that flow was totally unacceptable and created scouring concerns at the “Horseshoe” area of Bethel Island’s levees. This deserves more attention, including impact on the people with homes and docks along Fisherman’s Cut.

What does it mean to take local concerns into account?

The report talks about how local concerns were incorporated. It recognizes that, “Most [it should have said “ALL”] 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.” [That isn’t even worded logically – it blocks businesses AND residential docks.]

The report lists the negative impacts in sidebars, in sections. Yet the project continues ahead with the original proposal. I guess that is what it means when State Agencies say they are communicating and listening to those people affected. It means the list the concerns, nod, then move ahead.

This project is totally unacceptable. Alternatives that do not affect Franks Tract must be evaluated.

More Info . . .

Older Posts »

Categories