Wasted Water Down the River!
The San Joaquin River restoration is a joke. There's no other way to look at it.
Oct 30, 2013
It's kind of a joke to say things are a joke. But, the San Joaquin River restoration is a joke. There's no other way to look at it. According to several articles in the Fresno Bee there is from $1-$2 billion worth of work to be done over the next decade or so to make the river ready for water. Remember, there isn't a river out there any more. It's just land where there once was a river. Until the work is done it's a waste to send water down the used-to-be river, a river that literally doesn't exist.
What kind of work? From the Fresno Bee: "But new salmon runs still will have to be guided around Mendota Dam with the bypass canal, which has not been built. Protective screens will have to be installed over other canals and sloughs to prevent fish from making the wrong turns. The course of the river also must be decided for the Valley's west side. The Bureau of Reclamation has not yet indicated whether it will retrench a largely unused section of the river or shunt the river flow into the East Side Bypass channel. Study, design and engineering for these projects can take many months, even years, officials say."
It appears water and fish are being released down the river for some kind of study. Congressman Devin Nunes has tried to send a clear message to the Bureau, at least it's clear to us: "I have news for them: They are cut off," he said. "Not a penny of additional federal dollars is going to this ill-conceived venture. They should spare the fish the suffering."
And spare us the suffering with regard to the wasted water. This is pure unadulterated bureaucracy gone amok, running on auto-pilot, brainless. There just isn't any other way to describe it.
We should also mention that $70 million has been spent on mainly doing nothing. Again, from the Bee ($70 Million Goes Down River): "Over the past four years, the money has gone in many directions, such as salaries, planning, extensive environmental studies and drilling monitoring wells near the river. There are dozens of details involved in preparing for projects across more than 150 miles of the river. But major physical changes in the river, such as a bypass to route fish around the Mendota Dam, have not yet taken place." Studies, planning, salaries? Sounds familiar.
Bottom line, this is the result of a political implementation of a legal settlement. It has not worked, and it will not. It is time the political leaders of the Valley demand appropriate changes to establish a live San Joaquin River without salmon. This simple change would restore the water to Valley users.
San Joaquin River Water Releases Will Increase
Mark Grossi/Fresno Bee
This week, San Joaquin River water started pouring out of Friant Dam a little faster than it has been. It’s part of the experimental flows in the river restoration project.
For those who don’t follow the river closely, I’ll explain a little. Water releases from Friant have been going on for decades to supply land owners immediately downstream of the dam. It’s usually just a trickle.
This week, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is ramping up to 1,050 cubic feet per second — about 2,000 acre-feet of water per day. Later this week, the release will be dropped to 700 cfs through Nov.
6. Then it will dip to 350 until the end of February.
The restoration project, which began four years ago, is supposed to reconnect the dried parts of the river with the Pacific Ocean. One goals in the project is to bring back runs of salmon that died off decades ago.
The releases over the next several days mimic nature by attracting migrating chinook salmon to move upstream for spawning, a bureau spokeswoman said. Biologists and other wildlife officials are studying the river’s reaction to the reintroduction of fish and flows.
Biologists have tagged and planted salmon in the river to follow their progress.
A big concern is seepage downstream beyond the Mendota Pool on the Valley’s west side. The flows have gotten into farm fields and caused damage, growers say.
Federal officials have installed underground water monitoring systems to detect when groundwater is rising in reaction to the extra flows.
Also local land owners have been alerted to call or email federal officials if they see seepage. Bureau leaders say they are prepared to reduce the flow if problems appear.
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