559-286-7795
facebook twitter you tube
 

Newsletter

 

There's Something You Can Do Right Now!

All we are asking is that we be given a 1-year SJ River Restoratiion moratorium to use the water in a useful way, for farms and jobs.

Dec 19, 2013

Congressmen, state legislators and water officials have all joined to "request that President Barack Obama and Governor Jerry Brown take immediate action to address the catastrophic effects of what is shaping up to be another dry water-year for the State." These people are finally starting to 'get it' when it comes to the immediate water crisis. The state and federal officials have all been wrapped up in long-term solutions like the Bay Delta Conservation Plan's Twin Tunnels project, or the water bond, or Temperance Flat Dam, all worthy debates to have, but none addressing the 'right now' crisis. What can we do right now? There is something we can all do. It's not a total solution, but it's a partial solution and it can be done right now.

What we need is some strong local leadership from city councils, mayors, boards of supervisors to put pressure on state and federal elected officials and bureaucrats to give us a 1-year moratorium on the San Joaquin River Restoration. We need these councils and boards to at least pass resolutions that we in the Central Valley are all in agreement that the SJ River restoration is a project not ready for prime time. In modern-day jargon, it's not shovel-ready.

There is between $1B-$2B worth of work that needs to be done to make the riverbed ready for salmon restoration, and according to the Fresno Bee, "major physical changes in the river, such as a bypass to route fish around the Mendota Dam, have not yet taken place." Republicans still control the House and Congressman Devin Nunes says, ""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." So, they don't have the money and they're not going to get it.

All we are asking is that we be given a 1-year moratorium to use the water in a useful way, for farms and jobs. Environmentalists don't seem to care that the water will be wasted, or that farms won't be able to use it. We need to send them a message that everyone in the Valley is united on this. Please, if you are a councilperson, mayor, supervisor anywhere in the Valley, urge your colleagues to write and pass a resolution demanding a 1-year moratorium on SJ River Restoration. If you are not an elected official, please call your council or mayor or supervisor and ask them to support a 1-year moratorium. It can and should be done. It's the right thing to do.

If you need any help writing a resolution, we'd be glad to help.


 

San Joaquin restoration: $70 million goes down river

River is far from ready for salmon.

By Mark Grossi

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/03/05/2748599/san-joaquin-restoration-70m-goes.html#storylink=cpy


A new federal analysis reveals $70 million has been invested in the San Joaquin River restoration since 2007, but no major projects have been completed.


And as a Dec. 31 deadline nears to restart salmon runs on the previously dry river, riverside farmers say it's time to talk about a delay. They fear property damage from high flows, and they also worry about federal fines if protected fish stray into their irrigation canals.


"There's no shame in adjusting the timetable," said farmer Cannon Michael, who owns land near the river on the Valley's west side. "What's the point of starting if the river is not ready?"


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.


The financial accounting adds another layer to the controversy already swirling around the river restoration.


Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, has stirred debate with ambitious water legislation that includes downsizing the restoration and focusing on warm-water fish, instead of salmon.


Warm-water fish would require less water, leaving more for farmers. The bill passed the House last week, but faces an uncertain future in the Senate.


Nunes weighed in on the restoration spending analysis by the federal Bureau of Reclamation, saying it is a good reason to stop sending money to the Interior Department for the current plan.
"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."


The restoration ranks among the largest in the country with a cost estimate ranging from $250 million to more than $1 billion over the next dozen years. The river has not flowed naturally since Friant Dam was finished in the late 1940s and salmon runs died off.


Federal officials plan to build one major project this year for the restoration. It's a fish screen to prevent salmon from swimming into Arroyo Canal, a major diversion for west-side irrigation water. The project will include a new fish ladder at Sack Dam to help salmon get beyond the dam.


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. A new hatchery will be needed to raise salmon.


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.


Since fall 2009, the federal government has been learning how the river reacts when water fills previously dry sections. As part of the experimentation last year, a small number of salmon were released into the river.


"The river is substantially different than it was four years ago," said Alicia Forsythe, restoration program manager for the Bureau of Reclamation.


But west-side farmers say the major hurdles remain.


Farmer Michael said he and other west-side farmers fear the restoration will be underfunded. They say a half-completed project would expose them to too much risk for property damage.
"I think we should have an honest dialogue," he said. "Maybe the schedule is a little too aggressive."


The Bureau of Reclamation is discussing the Dec. 31 salmon deadline with environmentalists and east-side farmers, who signed the 2006 restoration agreement.


The west-siders were not involved in the 18-year lawsuit over the river, so they are not included in the settlement.


Forsythe said tough questions are being asked among the stakeholders about the upcoming deadline. Is the timing right? Can a self-sustaining salmon run really be restarted at this point?


She said young salmon will continue to be released into the river for study, but nothing beyond that has been decided.

Valid RSS FeedGet the 10 most recent items from our RSS feed.

helpdonate
helpdonate