This Is Pure Insanity!
So, 170,000 acre feet literally down the drain while farmers are cut another 42,500 acre feet. You can't make this stuff up.
May 16, 2013
Insanity is all around us. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has reduced the water allocation to east San Joaquin Valley farmers from 50% to 45%. That's 5% of the 850,000 acre feet they would get if it were 100%. 5% of 850,000 is 42,500 acre feet. They say there isn't enough snowpack for farmers to get their water, yet they are releasing 1800 acre feet a day for river restoration. We will lose 170,000 acre feet down the river to restore a river that isn't yet ready to be restored. That's according to several Fresno Bee stories saying we need 1-2 billion dollars for restoration which we don't have. So, 170,000 acre feet literally down the drain while farmers are cut another 42,500 acre feet. You can't make this stuff up.
Meanwhile, while all this is going on, according to the Manteca Bulletin "federal authorities are intentionally flooding low land along the Stanislaus River in a test to see whether it will help increase the chances of salmon fingerlings making it to the Delta."
To pour salt in the farmer's wounds at this point is unacceptable, yet the article goes on to say that "the ultimate result of the study could imperil surface drinking water supplies for Manteca, Lathrop, Ripon and Tracy as well as irrigation water for the SSJID and OID."
How much can farmers be expected to take from water bureaucrats? How much water must they give up for the salmon, salmon that are mostly being eaten by striped bass anyway? And for river restoration that isn't restoring anything?
The inmates are clearly running the asylum!
Federal authorities are intentionally flooding low land along the Stanislaus River in a test to see whether it will help increase the chances of salmon fingerlings making it to the Delta.
It is a study that the South San Joaquin Irrigation District and Oakdale Irrigation District have been critical of as they contend the real problem on the Stanislaus River when it comes to salmon survival are non-native predatory stripped bass intentionally planted by the state starting in the early 1900s.
Currently, 96 percent of the salmon fingerlings at Knights Ferry do not make it to Vernalis south of Manteca where the Stanislaus River joins the San Joaquin River.
“With a 4 percent survival rate at that point, you can only imagine how many get through the Delta (to the Pacific Ocean),” noted SSJID General Manager Jeff Shields.
The Bureau of Reclamation and National Fisheries want to find out if increased flows above normal releases for a typical wet year will be enough to make the water murky and give the salmon fingerlings the chance to get pushed into backwater areas along the river where they’d have an improved chance to gain size - and the ability to elude predators - on their journey to the ocean.
Depending upon what the data shows and how the federal government draws its conclusions, the ultimate result of the study could imperil surface drinking water supplies for Manteca, Lathrop, Ripon and Tracy as well as irrigation water for the SSJID and OID.
That’s because the National Fisheries has pushed a management plan that calls for significantly increasing water releases from New Melones. To do that, it would require tapping into the 300,000 acre feet of superior water rights that the SSJID and OID have on the watershed during dry years. Historical data indicates that in severe or critical stretches of drought it would require the virtual draining of New Melones to make the theory work.
A number of biologists are working along the river currently checking sensors placed as far as 300 feet from the normal river’s edge to measure seepage and track the fingerlings
The OID and SSJID commissioned an independent research focusing on keeping the non-native fish population that preys on the salmon fingerlings in check. Such a strategy would require less water diverted during the April-May salmon migration period.
High water is usually the norm this time of year on the Stanislaus River due to releases for the salmon migration. It isn’t normal, however for a critical dry year that California finds itself facing for the second straight year. Instead it replicates a heavy spring run-off scenario.
Typically increased flows for the salmon migration on the Stanislaus are from April 1 to May 31. This year the Bureau compressed the flows into a period starting April 12 and ending May 21.
After May 21, water flows will start returning to normal.
The high flows in recent weeks have posed problems not just for landowners but also rafters and boaters who have been caught unprepared in the usually swift water.
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