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And on to the serious science

In the afternoon, Dr. Michael Johnson, recently retired Director of the Aquatic Ecosystems Analysis Laboratory at UC Davis, gave a presentation on “Contaminants in the Delta and their Potential Role in Shaping Biological Communities.” He said that there was insufficient data to conclude that contaminants were partially or wholly responsible for the pelagic organism decline (POD) from 2000-2008. Effects must be from the trophic structure (which relates to energy in levels in the food chain). Dr. Johnson found that there were major fish kills even before the POD. In a list of contaminants, it was interesting to see that from 1986-2008, by far the highest contaminant count was for selenium, with boron in second place. Selenium, though, is not a [...]

New lawsuit considers groundwater and the public trust

The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA) and the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) have filed a lawsuit against the State Water Resources Control Board and Siskiyou County based on the idea of using the public trust doctrine to regulate groundwater.   Since 1980, the State Board has regulated pumping of groundwater within 500 feet of the Scott River, where the Legislature had found geology and hydrology to be uniquely interconnected (Water Code Section 2500.5 (b).  PCFFA and ELF assert that failure to regulate more distant pumping has depleted surface flows and hastened the decline of the coho salmon.   See “Should the public trust doctrine be extended to groundwater?” at http://baydelta.wordpress.com/

It sounded like a good idea to us

The Delta Stewardship Council couldn’t wait to get started on the part of the Interim Plan that involves “review and approval of Proposition 1E expenditures for selected projects.” When voters approved 1E in 2006, that approval included $35 million “to reinforce those sections of the levees that have the highest potential to suffer breaches or failure and cause harm to municipal and industrial water supply aqueducts that cross the Delta and which are vulnerable to flood damage.” EBMUD partnered with Delta reclamation districts to propose a Delta Levees Special Flood Control Project that would protect the District’s Mokelumne Aqueducts, Kinder Morgan petroleum pipeline, Burlington Northern Santa Fe raid line, and other Delta infrastructure, including State Highway 4. The FloodSAFE Environmental [...]

We’re dancing as fast as we can

As Delta farmers struggle to file water use reports by July 2 to comply with last year’s legislation changing reporting requirements, the Senate will be voting this week on SB 565 (Pavley). This bill would establish several new penalty and investigative powers at the State Water Resources Control Board dealing with water rights, while reducing or eliminating existing due process and property rights protections for California water rights holders. SB 565 Allows the State Water Board to review and revise any water right without cause, giving this agency new invasive power to inspect private property for vaguely defined purposes to ascertain whether the beneficial purposes of water use are being met. Shifts the burden of proving forfeiture of a water [...]