Monday, August 19, 2013

News articles and links from August 19, 2013

Trinity River

From: Editorial Staff, Eureka Times-Standard

A U.S. District Court judge in Fresno this week extended a temporary restraining order blocking vital water releases from the Trinity River intended to prevent another massive fish kill on the lower Klamath River.

From: Catherine Wong, Eureka Times-Standard 

The Board of Supervisors has a message for the federal judge who halted flows meant to protect Klamath salmon: Lawsuit or no lawsuit by Central California farmers, there's water in the Trinity River that belongs to Humboldt County and we want it released.

(The following comment is in response to the above articles.)
Coalition response...Reclamation had more than 400,000 acre-feet of water to use for fishery protection this year and has determined that its necessary to take additional water from other legal uses including protection of endangered species, management of waterfowl, clean power generation, recreation, industry, daily human needs, and, yes, farming. Regarding the question of what the judge's ruling means for the future, northern California residents should take comfort from a possible decision protecting existing water rights and uses.

What has been missing from the discussion is the fact that current flows under the 2000 Trinity Record of Decision are actually double what they would be this time of year under natural conditions. That water is coming from storage. An unfortunate die-off occurred one time more than a decade ago. No science exists that links diminished water flows in 2002 to the incident. It is irresponsible to cut additional supplies from rightful water users in an experiment to protect non-endangered fish.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan 

From: Editorial Board, Sacramento Bee

Kudos are in order for Mark Cowin, the director of the California Department of Water Resources. For months, Cowin has taken seriously the concerns of farmers and landowners whose lives and businesses could be upended by a gargantuan water tunnel project the state wants to build through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Coalition response...The changes announced last week to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan as outlined by this editorial is a continuation of changes that have taken place with the planning process. People may forget, or may not even be aware that at one time the proposal called for three tunnels. These and other changes have been the result of listening to comments and conducting studies and analyses to determine if they would benefit the Plan.

It is puzzling why the editorial continued to question how the project will be operated during different times of the year or in wet or dry years. The BDCP Conservation Measure 1 - Water Facilities and Operations brochure has been on the BDCP web site for five months with an easy-to-understand diagram of variable export rates based on Sacramento River flow conditions. When water levels are high in the Sacramento River, more water will be available to move through the tunnels. When river levels are low, less water will be diverted. Individuals seeking to learn more about the flow of water through the tunnels can read it themselves at

It is also important to remember that the objective of BDCP is to obtain a 50-year endangered species permit that will improve the Delta through a long-term conservation strategy. These improvements should also increase the reliability of water supply deliveries to almost 4,000 farms and 25 million Californians from the Bay Area to San Diego.

From: Editorial Staff, San Jose Mercury News  
From: Editorial Staff, Contra Costa Times

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan took a dramatic turn in the right direction Thursday, acknowledging some of the concerns of Delta farmers by re-routing the proposed massive tunnel system to affect a smaller area and stay mostly on public land.

Coalition response...Those who benefit from the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and the proposed tunnels will not only pay the construction costs, but also those costs associated with the operation and maintenance during the lifespan of the permit. The objective of BDCP is to obtain a 50-year endangered species permit that will improve the Delta through a long-term conservation strategy. These improvements should also increase the reliability of water supply deliveries to almost 4,000 farms and 25 million Californians from the Bay Area to San Diego. Consumers share farm water benefits through a variety of fresh, local and affordable fruits and vegetables at the grocery store.

Regardless of the facts, some individuals and organizations continue to argue against the BDCP and refuse to accept the benefits resulting from BDCP. In monetary terms, California's economy will receive an $84 billion boost, including the creation or protection of 1.1 million jobs over the 50-year life of the permit, including an $11 billion payroll in the first ten years from construction of the project and associated habitat components. These are real economic benefits that will help California's economy.

Water Supply

From: Paul Rogers, Contra Costa Times  
From: Paul Rogers, San Jose Mercury News

In 1805 Spanish soldiers camped here in the oak-studded valleys. California's Robin Hood, Joaquin Murrieta, hid out here during the Gold Rush. President John F. Kennedy made a visit in 1962.

There's no question the history around San Luis Reservoir is colorful. But these days, the star attraction isn't much to look at.

Colorado River 

From: Associated Press, Desert Sun

After back-to-back driest years in a century on the Colorado River, federal water managers are giving Arizona and Nevada a 50-50 chance of having water deliveries cut in 2016.

From: Craig Mackey, LA Times

On Aug. 7, the head of the Southern Nevada Water Authority called for federal disaster relief to address the consequences of water scarcity in the Colorado River system. On Friday, the Bureau of Reclamation announced it would be forced to cut the flow of water into Lake Mead in 2014 to a historic low. Dominoes may now fall from California to Washington, D.C.

From: Pete Spotts, Christian Science Monitor

Fourteen years of drought in the West and a revised rule book on allocating water along the Colorado River have prompted the US Bureau of Reclamation to make the deepest cut in water released from Lake Powell in the reservoir's 46-year history.

From: Staff, Imperial Valley Press

As part of its ongoing management of Colorado River reservoirs, the Bureau of Reclamation has determined that, based on the best available data projections of Lake Powell and Lake Mead reservoir elevations, under the 2007 Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead (2007 Interim Guidelines), a release of 7.48 million acre-feet from Lake Powell is required in water year 2014 (Oct. 1, 2013-Sept. 30, 2014).

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Maven, Maven's Notebook  

No doubt, the big story today in the papers will be regarding the changes made to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan that were announced yesterday, but here at Maven's Notebook, I am always striving to give you something a little different.

Probably the person who can best describe all the changes made to the project is the engineer at the drawing board who is making those changes, and that appears to be Gordon Enas, principal engineer for the Delta Conveyance and Habitat Conservation Program.  Here is Mr. Enas, in his own words, describing the changes made to the project.

From: Jan McCleery, Sacramento Bee

Re "Water plan may shift Delta tunnels" (Page A1, Aug. 15): When I saw the news headlines about major changes to the Peripheral Tunnels plan, I felt a wave of relief.

From: Virginia M. McClain, Sacramento Bee

Re "Water plan may shift Delta tunnels" (Page A1, Aug. 15): For the past seven years, we Delta residents have been following the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and have come to the same, sad conclusion: there is nothing in this plan for the Delta, the bay or northern California.

From: Bob Walters, Sacramento Bee

Re "Water plan may shift Delta tunnels" (Page A1, Aug. 15): While Thursday's announcement was an excellent first step in addressing issues about the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, we are still concerned about its implications to our region.

From: Cathy Hemly, Sacramento Bee 

Re "Water plan may shift Delta tunnels" (Page A1, Aug. 15): No matter what you call it: the BDCP, The Tunnels, or The Big Suck, there is no benefit for northern California in this proposal. The newest version of the BDCP changes nothing--modifying a few details won't improve a bad plan. The BDCP remains a water transfer with a horrific footprint.

From: Steve Sherman, Sacramento Bee  

Re "Water plan may shift Delta tunnels" (Page A1, Aug. 15): Instead of spending money on tunnels to send water south we should be building the Auburn Dam.


From: Editorial Staff, Marysville Appeal-Democrat

What we really need is "the science, the whole science and nothing but the science." But the plain truth is that every special interest group out there - whether it's a federal agency, a utility company, an environmental group, or a local special interest group - works to have the science considered that most supports their individual preferred outcomes.

Thankfully, U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England, Sacramento, ruled last week in favor of the Yuba County Water Agency in a lawsuit filed last January challenging the old biological opinion, which very likely would have led to some serious consideration of removal of dams.

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