Wednesday, July 17, 2013

News articles and links from July 17, 2013

Shasta Dam

From: Damon Arthur, Redding Record Searchlight

Officials with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation got an earful of mostly negative comments and questions Tuesday on its proposal to raise the height of Shasta Dam.

Coalition response...Shasta Dam was originally planned to be 800-feet tall but labor and material shortages during World War II reduced its height to 602-feet. Raising the dam is possible because of the wide base that was built to uphold the taller height. As pointed out by the Environmental Impact Statement, salmon will benefit from an added supply of cold water and gravel beds as they make their way up the Sacramento River to spawn. Additional Shasta storage will also provide benefits to Northern California's water users by adding to local supplies if future minimum river flow requirements are adopted. More storage will provide a buffer for Northern California farms, homes and businesses. Farmers who have a more reliable water supply can provide a more dependable food supply for consumers throughout the state.

Those who first planned the construction of Shasta Dam recognized the benefits that would be provided to the people of California. Now is the time to move forward with that vision, even if only by a few feet.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Doug Obegi, NRDC

Earlier this month, state and federal agencies were invited to submit comments on the administrative draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan documents.  While comments from the federal agencies and some state agencies are not yet available (the state says they will be posted online later this week), comments from three independent state agencies (the State Water Resources Control Board (available here ), Delta Independent Science Board (available here), and the Delta Stewardship Council (available here)) show the need for significant improvement to the BDCP draft plan, as well as to the analysis of the effects of the plan and alternatives in the EIS/EIR.

Coalition response...Comments and suggestions to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan are sought as drafts of the Plan are released and public meetings conducted. The Plan's development process analyzes these comments and suggestions to determine whether they fulfill the co-equal goals of a reliable water supply and a restored Delta ecosystem established by the Legislature. NRDC's Portfolio Alternative and its single tunnel does not meet either of these goals.

From: Gene Beley, Central Valley Business Times 

Solano County Supervisor Skip Thomson probably shouldn't expect a birthday card from Jerry Meral, Gov. Jerry Brown's top person on the controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

"Meral is an interesting fellow," says Mr. Thomson at a recent meeting in Rio Vista. "He will promise you anything you ask for.

Coalition response...There are major differences between the proposed 1982 Peripheral Canal and today's Bay Delta Conservation Plan. The Canal had the capacity to transfer 21,800 cubic feet per second while the capacity for the BDCP's two tunnels is only 9,000 cfs. The Canal was an isolated conveyance but BDCP allows for through-Delta operations and more flexibility to maintain in-Delta water quality. Learn more at

The Delta continues to deteriorate and increased regulatory restrictions to protect species are not proving fruitful. These restrictions are also limiting the ability of local, state and federal water agencies to move water to serve thousands of family farmers and 25 million Californians. The Bay Delta Conservation Plan is the best opportunity available to secure a reliable water future for our state.  

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Jerry Meral, Manteca Bulletin

The Manteca City Council has expressed concern that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan's "twin tunnel" scenario could endanger the city's existing water rights ("Manteca leaders: Twin tunnels put water in jeopardy," June 26). This fear arises in part from a common misperception: that the tunnels are intended to increase the amount of water sent to points south of the Delta.  In reality, the tunnels are aimed at simply restoring a consistent flow of water that answers the needs of the system's many stakeholders.

From: Terry Erlewine, Sacramento Bee

Re "Can Steinberg head off a Delta train wreck?" (Editorials, July 15): The editorial on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan portrays the seven-year-long planning process as inadequate. BDCP has assembled the most complete analysis to date about what we know about the Delta and how to solve the crises facing the statewide water system and this important ecosystem, within the framework of existing environmental laws.

From: Mike Luery, KCRA-3 TV

It was supposed to be a simple groundbreaking ceremony for a big upgrade on Sacramento's water treatment plant, but Mayor Kevin Johnson couldn't resist throwing a little dirt on Gov. Jerry Brown's twin tunnels project.

From: Ryan Lillis, Sacramento Bee

Mayor Kevin Johnson and City Manager John Shirey both expressed their opposition today to Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to build giant tunnels that would divert water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to farms and cities in Central and Southern California.

Water Supply

From: Staff, Porterville Recorder

The federal Bureau of Reclamation has increased what it will release to the Central Valley Project's Friant Division from 55 percent of allocation to 62 percent, slightly improving what was a dire water situation this summer.

From: Staff, Capital Public Radio

Water Shortage? California has just experienced one of the driest springs in nearly a century and water storage levels are dropping as the hot summer plods on. We'll talk today with the president of Northern California Water Association, David Guy, about how a State Water Resources Control Board "Notice of Water Shortage for 2013" will affect agriculture in the Sacramento Region.

From: Heather Hacking, Chico Enterprise-Record

A warning letter went out this week says that even the state's most secure water rights might not be totally secure during a dry year.

The State Water Resources Control Board sent out the notice, which suggests landowners be realistic about what they plant later in the year, and suggested steps to take in case less water is available.

From: Matt Weiser, Sacramento Bee

State officials warned late Monday that extremely low runoff in California rivers could require even senior water rights holders to reduce their consumption this summer and fall.

The noticeby the State Water Resources Control Board, which regulates water rights, is informational only. But it is a "heads up" that formal curtailment orders could follow if water users don't begin taking action to conserve water now, said Les Grober, assistant deputy director for water rights at the board.

Colorado River

From: Michael L. Connor, USBR

Chairman Udall and members of the Subcommittee, I am Michael Connor, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) at the Department of the Interior (Department). Thank you for the opportunity to testify before the Subcommittee today regarding the Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study (Study). The Colorado River Basin (Basin) is one of the most critical sources of water in the West.


From: Antoine Abou-Diwan, Imperial Valley Press

A judge in the coordinated Quantification Settlement Agreement lawsuits denied a request for another 90-day stay of his final decision of the decade-long lawsuits, setting back the Imperial Irrigation District's attempt to settle the cases with all parties involved.

"...The Court has found no basis to conclude that 90 days of mediation would likely produce a global settlement of the issues awaiting final resolution in the Court's statement of decision and judgment," wrote Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly on Tuesday.

From: Associated Press, Sacramento Bee

California water agencies are contesting a federal judge's decision to double the size of a designated habitat for a threatened fish in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

From: Associated Press, Contra Costa Times

A Klamath Falls judge denied a request Tuesday to keep the state of Oregon from shutting off irrigation water in the upper Klamath Basin.

That leaves intact a state decision recognizing the senior water rights of the Klamath Tribes.


From: Capital Alert, Sacramento Bee

Lawmakers are taking a break from bill hearings, but a California Water Commission meeting today intersects with several legislative hot topics. They include a presentation from the California Department of Conservation on proposed hydraulic fracturing regulations and an update from the Delta Stewardship Council on its blueprint for balancing ecological imperatives and a sustainable water supply. Starting at 9:30 a.m. at the state's Resources Building on 9th Street.

Speaking of the proposed Delta water project, the organizations crafting the Bay Delta Conservation Plan are meeting today to discuss its recently released final chapters, which detail what it will cost and how to pay for it. Featuring Jerry Meral, deputy secretary at the California Natural Resources Agency, the meeting runs from noon to six at the DoubleTree Hotel and Conference Center.

From: Ross Farrow, Lodi News-Sentinel

The San Joaquin County Advisory Water Commission will discuss a draft memorandum of agreement with the East Bay Municipal Utility District today to develop a demonstration project to preserve groundwater in the county.

EBMUD, based in Oakland, holds water rights to most of the Mokelumne River and provides domestic water to portions of Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

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