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Suits of all designs

The Coalition for a Sustainable Delta, a group of Kern County growers and irrigators whose idea of a sustainable Delta is one from which they can get a large and uninterrupted supply of water, is suing the Department of Fish and Game for having game fish protection on striped bass, a non-native predator.  There’s plenty of evidence that striped bass and salmon did fine together before exports changed the habitat of the Delta.  DFG could remove protections on striped bass and there still wouldn’t be enough water for salmon at the present level of exports. On the positive side, a lawsuit that can actually do some good has been filed against DWR and the SWRCB (the Water Board) by the [...]

Can faulty assumptions result in wise conclusions?

Last week the Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) adopted an interim plan for the Delta as required by last year’s Comprehensive Water Package. This is the plan that the DSC will use to guide its actions until the Delta Plan is adopted and implemented, by January 1, 2012. There were problems with the legislation that created the DSC and called for the plan, so of course there will be problems with the plan. Legislation gave the DSC the policy objective to “Manage the Delta’s water and environmental resources and the water resources of the state over the long term.” This implies that managing the water resources of California over the long term is inextricably linked to managing the Delta’s water and [...]

Swing your partner and do-si-do

Remember that joint powers authority (JPA) that made its way into the water bond section on operational improvement (mainly dams and reservoirs)? Remember how the Legislature decided, on second thought, that this JPA was a really bad idea? It was such a bad idea that they introduced a bill – AB 2775 – to “surgically” remove it from the water bond. (See our June 23 edition click here.) What’s the problem with a JPA? We’ve seen it used before, by the Kern Water Bank, to allow private investors to profit from public infrastructure investments. In the case of the water bond, it was clear to those monitoring the push for dams and reservoirs that the people who want to build Sites Reservoir [...]

Haste makes waste, again

Back in April, Restore the Delta reported that Delta Stewardship Council Staff recommended that CH2MHill provide the primary support for developing the Delta Plan, as mandated by the legislature. CH2MHill was already heavily involved in the historic Cal-Fed process and developing the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which the Delta Stewardship Council is set to either incorporate or not incorporate into the Delta Plan. At that time, the Delta Stewardship Council recognizedthat it needed an additional independent consultant because CH2MHill was too invested in the BDCP process. Thus, the DSC hired ARCADIS, Inc. to begin reviewing the BDCP. This was a good move as the entire process was looking more and more like a game of musical chairs between CH2MHill and various [...]

Hold that line

After its impressive show of backbone in adopting the report on flow criteria, the SWRCB reverted to its usual equivocation when it was time to talk to the BDCP Steering Committee on July 29.   According to the DSC staff report, the Water Board representative told the Steering Committee that they would weigh other factors, such as economic and social considerations, in making an enforceable ruling.   All they were doing in this was case was answering the legislature’s question about “the minimum flows necessary to protect resources considered to be in the public trust.” (The answer, you may recall, was 75 percent of natural unimpeded flows.)   Restore the Delta reminds the Water Board that we will never have [...]

Communicating with the DSC

The Delta Stewardship Council wants “to hear from a variety of Californians about how best to communicate with them.” They’ve got a survey. Question #4 asks “In your opinion, what are the three most important water issues to address?”  There are plenty of boxes to choose from, but none for “conservation,” “regional water self-sufficiency,” or “public safety.” (There is a box for “flood management,” but managing floods isn’t exactly the same thing as protecting people.)   There is a box for “Other.”   The DSC would probably argue that conservation, regional water self-sufficiency, and public safety aren’t part of their job description.   We would argue that no governance body that ignores these issue can be a good steward of [...]

Communicating with Others

Restore the Delta has been asked by several supporters whether it was worth their time to participate in the dialogues on California Water and the Delta being held in the five Delta counties. RTD did not jump on covering these events as we have been stretched a bit over the last several months. Debbie Davis with the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water did attend one West Sacramento event a week ago. It seems that as with the Delta Stewardship Council survey, these events have a predetermined frame. Debbie’s report follows: There are water dialogues going on in all five of the Delta Counties. The dialogues are being hosted at public libraries by The Center for the Book, The California Water [...]

A recap of recent history on Delta levees and public safety

Five years ago at the end of August, Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on lives and property along the Gulf Coast. Almost immediately, the members of  California’s Reclamation Board voted to review all urban development plans proposed for Central Valley flood plains.  This was a rarely-used power given the Reclamation Board by state law. At the end of September 2005, the LA Times reported that Governor Schwarzenegger had fired all six members of the Reclamation Board and replaced them with seven of his own appointees, most with ties to agriculture and engineering. Click Here for the LA Times report One of the fired board members was Jeffrey Mount, who was quoted by the Times as saying “All I know is, we [...]

Corps principles

We owe today’s opening quote to Brigadier General Scott F. “Rock” Donahue, commander of the South Pacific (Pacific Southwest) Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), who was in San Joaquin County this week to be briefed on county emergency services, flood protection, and integrated regional water management. Since two-thirds of the Delta is in San Joaquin County, the Delta was on the agenda. General Donohue seasoned his address to attendees with aphorisms like “Think big, go big, go fast.”  You could argue (and RTD does argue) that thinking big about water engineering in California has created the problems the Delta faces today.  Einstein might suggest that big water engineering is not the level of thinking we need [...]

Schwarzenegger signs bills to delay water bond

Fresno Bee-8/10/10 By Robin Hindery (Associated Press) Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday completed the process of removing an $11.1 billion water bond from California’s November ballot and delaying it for two years. The governor signed two bills, one of which postponed the water bond vote until November 2012. The other delayed the terms of the nine members of the California Water Commission, which would have allocated some of the bond money. Lawmakers on Monday scrambled to secure the necessary two-thirds votes in the Assembly and Senate to pass AB1260 and AB1265. Bond supporters feared the state’s dismal economic climate would turn voters against the measure. They say the two-year delay will give them time to persuade Californians to support [...]