Newsletter

News from Restore the Delta: 3/17/14

“We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” – Benjamin Franklin at the signing of the Declaration of Independence Articles The view from behind the eight ball From barriers to tunnels Getting by with a lot of help from our friends The view from behind the eight ball U. S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was at the C. W. “Bill” Jones Pumping Plant last week to hear from the San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority and Resources Secretary John Laird about how bad things are for exporters as a result of the drought, and by the end of the day, she was supporting the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. Ten people from the Delta – in addition [...]

News from Restore the Delta: 2/19/2014

“Go not for every grief to the physician, nor for every quarrel to the lawyer, nor for every thirst to the pot.” – George Herbert So much has happened in the first six weeks of 2014 that anyone may be forgiven for feeling dazed and confused. To help you sort out one thread of events, we’re providing a chronology of drought-related developments, with some details about what is in the various declarations and bills. We’ll leave it to you to see some of the interesting connections. The Bay Delta Conservation Plan has been pushing forward with tightly-structured open houses around the state. Smiling acolytes display glossy foam boards and shiny brochures full of errors, and if you want to make [...]

Delta Flows: January 30, 2014

“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” – Milan Kundera Taking advantage of a crisis Most people except some overwrought San Joaquin Valley congressmen and the Speaker of the US House of Representatives realize by now that there’s no water for farming right now because THERE’S NO WATER. Even if we had twin tunnels today, there would be no water to put in them. Reservoirs serving agricultural users were in good shape earlier this year (and those serving Southern California urban users still are). But the Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation pumped a lot of water out of reservoirs north of the Tehachapis this past summer, gambling that we would [...]

Delta Flows: December 19, 2013

“In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot.” – Czeslaw Milosz Articles [—ATOC—] [—TAG:h2—]Water pokerWithout at all minimizing the hardships that many Californians may experience if drought projections for 2014 are borne out, we want to note that as of December 18, 2013, Southern California’s Castaic Lake reservoir is at 88% of capacity, and Southern California’s Pyramid Lake reservoir is at 97% of capacity.Central Valley reservoirs, by contrast – those serving California’s agricultural heartland – are alarmingly low. Most of these reservoirs lie behind dams built on rivers that used to sustain a complex natural environment, rivers on which fish have relied from time immemorial. And aquifers, the [...]

Delta Flows: December 16, 2013

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold . . . “  – William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming” Dr. Meral moves on In Sunday’s Sacramento Bee, reporter David Siders announced that Resources Deputy Secretary Dr. Jerry Meral will retire at the end of the month.  Of course, we are speculating about whom Governor Brown will find to replace Dr. Meral.  But what we know for sure is that the Governor will not have any difficulty finding someone else willing to push his Peripheral Tunnels agenda.  After all, we’re talking here about the heady cocktail of California water and political power. It is also worth remembering that Governor Brown is responsible ultimately for pushing the BDCP boondoggle onto Californians, as part [...]

Delta Flows: December 3, 2013

“All fantasy should have a solid base in reality.” – Max Beerbohm The Pole Barn and other earthquake fantasies Those of you who listened to the entire November 18 presentation to the Redding City Council by Dr. Jerry Meral will have heard about the Pole Barn with the Floating Poles. Aha! you may have said to yourself. Proof of liquefaction after all! Dr. Meral said . . . The truth is . . . There are thousands of miles of levees protecting Delta islands. According to the Delta Protection Commission’s Economic Sustainability Plan, there are fewer than a thousand miles of Delta levees currently being maintained. “Unfortunately, those levees are built on a very poor foundation.,They are built on,peat soils, and [...]

Delta Flows: November 26, 2013

“Much of this is based on engineering science rather than experience.” – Dr. Jerry Meral on the subject of earthquakes in the Delta Boring financial details The Department of Water Resources (DWR) told Westlands Water District that it would need $162 million from them over the next three years for pre-construction planning for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) Peripheral Tunnels, according to an 11/21/13 posting on Lloyd Carter’s blog, Chronicles of the Hydraulic Brotherhood. BDCP planners have admitted that the engineering design for this massive boondoggle is only 10% complete, after over six years and close to $200 million dollars.  DWR Director Mark Cowin put total pre-construction planning costs at $500 million over the next three years.  DWR wants [...]

Delta Flows: November 5, 2013

The best-laid schemes o’ mice and men Gang aft a-gley. (Often go wrong.) – Robert Burns Playing favorites at the Water Board? The Central Delta Water Agency (CDWA) is calling on the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to enforce the same water quality standards against the State and federal water projects as it would against other diverters of Delta water. At issue is the SWRCB decision this year to relax water quality standards in the Delta for exporters while holding extra water at Shasta Dam for later cold water releases to benefit migrating fish. The SWRCB “rebalanced” exports in anticipation of a critically dry year. But the CDWA notes that under Water Right Decision 1641 (D-1641), the agreement that [...]

Delta Flows: October 17, 2013

History is a distillation of rumor. – Thomas Carlyle California Water 101: Flaws in the curriculum Those of use who have been following the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) process are waiting with interest to see whether, and for how long, the federal government shutdown may have delayed release of the environmental documents for the plan, scheduled for November 15. (We are waiting to hear.) Meanwhile, a lot of Californians who never heard of the Delta are getting various courses in California Water 101, frequently from the media or from different interests groups, some of them well-meaning. Lots more people in the state are beginning to notice that decisions about the Delta will affect them. Unfortunately, the dominant narrative of [...]

Delta Flows: September 18, 2013

“Endless money forms the sinews of war.”             – Marcus Tullius CiceroMixing oil and waterThe end-of-session approval by the legislature of SB 4, Senator Pavley’s watered-down (sorry) attempt to regulate fracking that is now going to the Governor for his promised signature, made us curious about the connection between water exported from the Delta and gas/oil extraction.This is particularly interesting because all that irrigated arid land in the southern San Joaquin Valley is sitting on top of a vast basin of potential fuel, including the Monterey Shale that oil producers have their eyes on.In 2011, the online magazine Orion explored this subject in an article titled “The Colonization of Kern County,” by Jeremy Miller. Although this article is several years old, [...]