Friday, August 9, 2013

News articles and links from August 9, 2013

Trinity River

From: Peter Fimrite, SF Chronicle

A simmering feud over water rights boiled over Thursday when Central Valley agricultural interests sued the federal government in an attempt to stop releases into the Klamath River to protect spawning salmon.

From: Mark Grossi, Fresno Bee
From: Mark Grossi, Merced Sun-Star

West San Joaquin Valley farmers filed suit Thursday against the federal government, hoping to stop a planned release of Trinity River water aimed at protecting salmon in Northern California.

The lawsuit said the release of 109,000 acre-feet of water to the Pacific Ocean is unlawful and unthinkable as west Valley farmers face a growing water-shortage catastrophe.

From: Damon Arthur, Redding Record Searchlight

On the same day the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced it planned to increase the amount of water flowing down the Trinity River to prevent Chinook salmon from dying, two water agencies in the San Joaquin Valley filed a lawsuit to stop it.

From: Gosia Wozniacka, SF Chronicle
From: Gosia Wozniacka, Modesto Bee
From: Gosia Wozniacka, Eureka Times-Standard

Farmers in California's San Joaquin Valley are suing the federal government over the planned release of water from a Northern California reservoir to prevent a salmon kill in the lower Klamath River.

(The following comment is posted in response to the above articles.)
Coalition response...The purpose of the lawsuit is to hold the Bureau of Reclamation accountable for the water they are charged with managing.  Reclamation's proposed action would take up to 100,000 acre-feet of water that is designated for farms, homes and businesses and redirect it down the Trinity River and on to the Klamath River to protect non-endangered salmon from a disease already established in the Klamath. Reclamation had water available earlier this year that could have been used specifically for this purpose but it was squandered and now the agency is illegally taking water from CVP users for use outside of the CVP service area.

In 1988 the number of returning salmon was almost double to numbers that were present in 2002 and the flows in the rivers were identical. No supplemental water was released by Reclamation in 1988 and no salmon die-off occurred.

Federal agencies are as responsible for following the law as the rest of us. It is unfortunate that it is taking a lawsuit to accomplish that.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Staff, Stockton Record

A consultant's cost-benefit analysis of Gov. Jerry Brown's $24.5 billion pipe dream to bore two giant tunnels under the Delta is long on espousing the benefits and decidedly short on analyzing the costs.

Coalition response...This editorial is long on rhetoric and short on facts. A fact that will govern how much water will be moved through the proposed tunnels is the required adherence to Delta water quality standards established by the State Water Resources Control Board. Fears that the tunnels will take too much water from the Sacramento River are baseless.

More than a million jobs will be created during the 50-year lifespan of the Plan and many of those individuals will reside in San Joaquin County. The payroll for this workforce is expected to be over $11 billion, which means more money flowing through the county's economy.

It is important that individuals seek the facts when considering the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. The overall economic benefits to California total $84 billion, an amount that should be welcomed during these economic times.

From: Guy Carl, Napa Valley Register

A hot topic in the California Legislature these days is the "peripheral tunnel" project designed to divert water to southern California farmers and cities.

This project is strongly opposed by many salmon advocates and other environmental groups due to the further harm it would inflict on the already embattled Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta system.

Coalition response...Delivery of water that flows through the Delta has been interrupted in recent years by government regulations that require portions of the users' water to remain in the Delta for environmental purposes. A recent example is the loss of more than 800,000 acre-feet ( from December to February of this year. This was at a time when heavy flows were present in rivers and reservoirs were storing water. Since that time rain and snow has dwindled and farmers along the San Joaquin Valley Westside who receive water from the federal Central Valley Project saw their deliveries cut by 80 percent. If the tunnels had been in place, that 800,000 acre-feet of water could have been sent south of the Delta and into storage for use later in the year.

These uncertainties of knowing how much water they will receive has caused farmers to delay planting their fields and eventually leave their fields fallow, which causes farm workers to lose their jobs. The Bay Delta Conservation Plan restores that certainty of water deliveries for farmers by delivering water that they have a right to and once received before the government regulations caused the interruptions. Unfortunately, the increased diversion of water has not resulted in any proven benefits to fish or the environment.

Those who benefit from the water passing through them will pay the cost of constructing the proposed tunnels.

The author compares California's statewide salmon industry economic activity at $1.4 billion to Westlands Water District's produce sales of $1.6 billion, which misleads and grossly understates comparative economic values. Water delivered through the Delta serves almost 4,000 farms in dozens of irrigation and water districts from Patterson to Bakersfield, which is much greater in value than measuring part of the production in just one district.

A closer look at the recent economic analysis of benefits resulting from the Plan reveals that California will receive an overall benefit of $84 billion. Part of that total is the more than a million jobs that will be created during the 50-year span of the Plan and the $11 billion in wages that will be paid, which should be a welcome addition to California's economy.

From: Lester H. Lee, San Jose Mercury News

We need more water, not more pipes for it

Gov. Jerry Brown's $24 billion plan to shore up support for water is a mystery to me. Piping water from the Sacramento River to the Delta does not add any more water to the system.

Coalition response...The goal of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and its proposed twin tunnels is not to increase California's water supply but rather to restore water that was once delivered to thousands of farms and 25 million Californians. At the same time the Plan is designed to restore the Delta ecosystem. Government regulations have interrupted the water supply by taking water away from users, including those in Santa Clara County and the Eastbay, and keeping it in the Delta for environmental purposes. Unfortunately, federal agencies have been unable to prove any benefits to the environment from this action.

Water that should be delivered to farms is used to grow the food that consumers find around the corner at their local grocery stores and around the world. If water once delivered to farms is not restored on a reliable basis, then consumers should expect to find more imported food items on their grocery shelves.

Water Supply

From: Seth Nidever, Hanford Sentinel

As drought conditions worsen, arguments over Kings County's most important natural resource - water - are intensifying.

Farmers at Naval Air Station Lemoore and in surrounding areas on 90,000 acres of Westlands Water District property have the support of Gov. Jerry Brown on a proposal to build giant tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River delta to pump more water south to Kings County land.

Water Bond 

From: Ben van der Meer, Sacramento Business Journal  

Legislators are making cautious progress on crafting a state water bond to go before voters next year, said an assemblyman who's a member of the working group.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Evan Halper, Marysville Appeal-Democrat  

(This article previously appeared in the LA Times.)
Gov. Jerry Brown has shown mastery of Sacramento, but his hope for a legacy of enduring public works hinges on a different skill - the ability to work Washington.

From: Peter Z. Scheer, LA City Watch

Southern Californians get much of their fresh water from the northern part of the state and they don't seem to care that the system that supplies that water is in danger of collapse.

From: Alex Breitler, esanjoaquin  

Melinda Terry, manager of the North Delta Water Agency, has never been shy about expressing her opinion in public about the future of the Delta.


From: Ken Carlson, Modesto Bee  

A state water board is delaying action until early next year on a disputed plan for increased water releases to support salmon in the Tuolumne and Merced rivers.


From: Steve Carson, Chico Enterprise-Record

The salmon action on the Sacramento River that has been going along at a slow simmer is about to heat up a lot, reported local guide Kevin Brock.

From: Heather Hacking, Oroville Mercury-Register

Fingers are crossed that the threatened spring-run chinook salmon in Butte Creek will continue to make it through this long, dry, hot summer.

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