Dear Friends, On Friday, the U.S. House of Representative passed the 2011 Continuing Resolution, a must pass spending bill, to keep the Federal Government funded. Language included in this base bill, however, would defund the implementation of biological decisions made for reduced Delta pumping, thereby allowing record level of water exports from the Delta to resume. While some House Representatives, like Congressman Devin Nunes (CA – 21st District), are calling it a water restoration measure, this backdoor attempt to thwart the implementation of sound Delta management principles, would bring the final death blow to several Delta fisheries which are on life support presently. The Continuing Resolution, however, must now go to the Senate and pass through the Senate before March [...]
The Delta Stewardship Council held its January meeting on the 27th and the 28th, before comments from two weeks of January scoping meetings could be compiled, condensed and processed for consumption. They have a Delta Plan to complete by January 2012. On the first day of the DSC meeting, Independent Science Board Lead Scientist Cliff Dahm made a presentation to the Council on Setting Flow Criteria for Estuaries and Rivers. He cited firsthand accounts, published scientific literature, and other data used in analyzing, quantifying, and setting flow criteria. He gave examples from Texas, Australia, South Africa, and Florida, where a 15% reduction in flow threshold has been designated as a point where “considerable harm” may be done to the ecosystem. [...]
On Day 2 of the DSC meeting, Dr. Richard Norgaard, chair of the Delta Independent Science Board, reported to the DSC about the ISB’s work on stressors. Norgaard told the council that there is no scientifically objective, agreed upon method for ranking stressors. Said Norgaard, “We’re giving you a report on addressing multiple stressors to explain that we can’t rank them, and why.” He did his best to make it clear that the ISB hadn’t promised to deliver any ranking of stressors later. The report does list drivers and stressors but does not rank them. “Drivers” are sources or creators of stress that exert pressure on the ecosystem. For example, climate change is a driver, whereas sea level rise is [...]
This week Governor Brown compared a proposed ballot measure relating to the state budget to the peripheral canal; make it bigger and you get support from those down stream, but increase the opposition at the same time – and vice versa. “The genius is in determining the size of the pipe,” he said. So far, we aren’t too confident in the geniuses advocating for the pipe.
Senator Dianne Feinstein has been named chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. The subcommittee’s jurisdiction includes the Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of the Interior water programs. Feinstein said that she is honored to chair a subcommittee “tasked with funding and oversight for some of the country’s most important infrastructure and job-creating sectors. . . . [A]gencies under the subcommittee’s jurisdiction, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers, are also vital to California. The subcommittee will continue to weigh in on important issues such as water supply, levee safety, and ecosystem restoration.” We’ll see.