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Browsing the archives for the California Rivers category.

LaMalfa, Garamendi introduce bill boosting Sites Reservoir

California Rivers, California water, Doug LaMalfa Congressman CA

LaMalfa, Garamendi introduce bill boosting Sites Reservoir

Chico Enterprise-Record

Two north state congressmen have introduced joint legislation to help get Sites Reservoir built. The proposed reservoir west of Maxwell in Colusa and Glenn counties has been under review for decades, and could get some state funding under Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion water bond approved by voters in 2014.

But the status of necessary federal and state approvals will determine which projects actually get funds. The bill announced Friday by Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, and John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, would accelerate the federal review of Sites Reservoir and improve its chances.

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Modesto Bee Editorial: What are we supposed to do with all this water?

Air, Climate & Weather, California Rivers, California water

EDITORIAL: What are we supposed to do with all this water?

Modesto Bee

Danger could be headed our way. Again. Those living near the San Joaquin and Tuolumne rivers west of Modesto have already seen high water, and they’re going to see much more. A week of higher temperatures in the mountains could turn snow into runoff. That would be nice if we had some place to put the water, but we don’t. The state is dragging out the process of spending the $2.5 billion voters approved in 2014 for more storage.

Our reservoirs are full, or close to it. That’s especially true of Don Pedro on the Tuolumne River. Built to hold 2,030,000 acre-feet, it had 1,980,360 as of Friday – leaving a 2 percent cushion. Knowing there’s 17 feet of snow in Tuolumne Meadows and an estimated 2 million acre-feet of frozen water in the watershed, dam managers would like to increase flows now to avoid an emergency later.

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Riverbanks collapse after Oroville Dam spillway shut off

Air, Climate & Weather, California Rivers, Dams other than Klamath

Riverbanks collapse after Oroville Dam spillway shut off

San Francisco Chronicle

When state water officials scaled back their mass dumping of water from the damaged Oroville Dam this week, they knew the riverbed below would dry up enough to allow the removal of vast piles of debris from the fractured main spillway.

But they apparently did not anticipate a side effect of their decision to stop feeding the gushing Feather River — a rapid drop in river level that, according to downstream landowners, caused miles of embankment to come crashing down.

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Water, water everywhere in California – and not enough reservoir space to store it

Air, Climate & Weather, California Rivers, California water

PNP comment: This article does not take on the political question of “Why isn’t there more storage available?” It missed the mark touted by the headline, but there is good info about water levels. — Editor Liz Bowen

 Feb. 2, 2017

After five years of drought, could California really have so much rain and snow there’s no room to store all the water?

The answer – as the state’s water picture careens from bust to boom – is yes.

One month into an exceptionally stormy 2017, river flows though the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta have been so powerful that the massive pumps that ship north-state water to Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley have roared at full throttle for weeks. The federal and state pumping stations near Tracy delivered more water in January than in any month in the last 12 years, according to a Sacramento Bee review of data supplied by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

With more rain and snow in the forecast, the pumps could stay at capacity for the next week or two. But pump operators probably will have to dial back because they’re starting to run out of space in key reservoirs south of the Delta, said John Leahigh, who oversees day-to-day water management for the State Water Project, which delivers supplies to water agencies throughout California.

“This is definitely a 180 that we’ve done in terms of water supply,” Leahigh said.

Read more here:


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Obama signs California’s massive water bill

Agriculture - California, California Rivers, California water, Federal gov & land grabs

Obama signs California’s massive water bill, but Trump will determine its future

McClatchy DC

President Barack Obama on Friday quietly signed and bequeathed to President-elect Donald Trump a massive infrastructure bill designed to control floods, fund dams and deliver more water to farmers in California’s Central Valley.

While attempting to mollify critics’ concerns over potential harm to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, Obama signed the $12 billion bill in a distinctly low-key act. The still-controversial California provisions were wrapped inside a package stuffed with politically popular projects, ranging from Sacramento-area levees to clean-water aid for beleaguered Flint, Michigan.

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Opinion: State’s water grab will devastate jobs, economy in Merced

Agriculture - California, California Rivers, California water, State gov

OPINION: State’s water grab will devastate jobs, economy in Merced

Merced Sun-Star

Our community’s way of life is under direct attack by Sacramento’s plan to take our water and send it to the Bay-Delta for the benefit of others.

The State Water Resources Control Board’s own document describes the resulting damage to our community as an “unavoidable impact.” This is narrow and unacceptable thinking. The Merced Irrigation District is fully prepared to protect and defend our community and water rights on the Merced River. But we believe there is a better way.

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Mike Dunbar: Would Times like some facts with that Kool-Aid?

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, California Rivers, California water, CORRUPTION, Salmon and fish, Water, Resources & Quality

PNP comment: Wow, this is a great article and parallels the same knowledge we here in Siskiyou have been touting — and being ignored by the Greenies and guvmunt agency bureaucrats. Worth the read, it is! — Editor Liz Bowen

Modesto Bee

December 2, 2016

In reading a recent editorial in the Los Angeles Times, we just about choked on our Cheerios.

One of our nation’s truly great newspapers, with inspiring editorial writers, the Times noted that California is more than merely lines on a map. Invoking the “California condor, the giant sequoia, the golden trout,” the writer implied that farmers in Stanislaus, Merced and San Joaquin counties have lost sight of what it means to be Californians. Since we’re all in this state together, folks living around here should be happy to give up more of the water that flows through our communities to save salmon.

If we get rid of all those lines, how can anyone justify pumping billions of gallons of water hundreds of miles from the rivers where it once flowed, away from the ocean to which it was headed, through deserts, over mountains, and into giant tubs for the future use of people who’ve never heard of the Tuolumne River?

What the editorial didn’t mention was wading into the Tuolumne to count spawning salmon carcasses; visiting the hatchery where millions come to life on the Merced; spending millions of dollars pushing around gravel in the Stanislaus to make rock beds suitable for salmon eggs. Don’t know how the Times missed that.

So where did the Times’ editorial writers get their information? We’re guessing from trusted sources in the environmental community. That’s fine; we talk to them, too. We just recognize they’ve got a point of view and an agenda.

If the Times had talked to anyone here – including the scientists who work most closely with the thousands of salmon that swim up our rivers each year – they might have gotten a different story. They might have learned that the salmon here are no different genetically from the 720 million tons of salmon harvested each year. That the number of salmon native to our rivers is actually zero. That any salmon you find on the San Joaquin or its tributaries was born in a hatchery. The fish the environmentalists are trying to save are already extinct.

Like so many others, the Times decried the harm farming does to the state’s “$1 billion fishing industry.” But according to the state, the best commercial salmon catch in this century was worth $15 million – less than half the value of the crab fishery.

There’s more. The Times blamed the drought and agriculture for catastrophically low salmon counts – disregarding the role played by state officials, who released too much cold water from Lake Shasta at the wrong time last year, dooming thousands of salmon and trout. Or the federal officials who insisted on releasing 35,000 acre-feet of cold water from New Melones to push juvenile salmon and steelhead to the ocean; but the fish refused to go, waiting until it actually rained to swim out.

The Times has millions of readers; here’s part of what it told them: “In this sixth year of drought, the agriculture industry and its supporters have pushed hard for diverting every scarce drop of water flowing down streams and rivers to orchards and field crops instead of, as they often describe it, allowing good water to be flushed downriver, through the Delta, into the San Francisco Bay and out to sea.”

Except that’s not true. First, virtually every resident of this area wants to see vibrant, beautiful rivers flowing through our communities. Hundreds volunteer to clean the riverbanks, plant trees, clear floodplains and many make donations. Second, our irrigation districts, county officials and local legislators quietly negotiated a deal to provide an additional 300,000 acre-feet of water for environmental purposes on top of the 20 to 30 percent already flowing to the ocean. But that offer – a year in the making – was ignored as it moved up the ladder.

Now our region is in a life-and-death struggle with the state over a plan that will double the water flowing away from one of California’s poorest regions – all for roughly 1,100 additional salmon. Did the Times’ environmental sources mention any of that?

As much as we admire the Times’ prize-winning editorial writers, they shouldn’t allow themselves to be spoon-fed by anyone.

The Public Policy Institute of California’s water experts offered an interesting idea Friday through The Sacramento Bee. Instead of building twin tunnels to carry the Sacramento River beneath the Delta, Gov. Jerry Brown should build just one. Two 40-foot-wide tunnels can siphon off virtually all of the Sacramento River; just one can’t. Skeptics have long noted that the Sacramento provides 80 percent of the Delta’s water, and it’s impossible to provide more reliable water deliveries south and simultaneously save the Delta. Eliminate one tunnel, the PPIC says, and eliminate that skepticism.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla of Restore the Delta liked the idea. But in her enthusiasm, she took aim at the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers – echoing the state’s demand for 50 percent flows. She didn’t mention that 95 percent of the Delta has been channelized, leading to the demise of the Delta smelt. Not a word about tearing down levees to allow sinking islands to flood and create more habitat. Nothing about getting rid of striped bass that feast on smelt and juvenile salmon.

Apparently it’s less about restoring the Delta than about getting more water. It always is.

Read it here: http://www.modbee.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/mike-dunbar/article118612498.html#storylink=cpy

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Shasta water release plan has no cutbacks to farmers – for now

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, California Rivers, California water, Dams other than Klamath


June 29, 2016 3:51 PM


Decision a victory for Central Valley growers

Federal fisheries officials reverse their stance

Compromise still expected to save Chinook salmon

 After weeks of uncertainty and pressure from members of Congress, federal officials on Wednesday announced a plan for managing water releases from California’s largest reservoir this summer in a manner that will not involve cutbacks in farm water deliveries – at least if all goes as hoped.

For more than a month, federal agencies have battled behind the scenes over how to balance the needs of California farms and two endangered fish species whose populations have been decimated by years of drought and environmental decline.

Federal fisheries officials – who hold considerable sway over how the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation operates Shasta Dam and other federal reservoirs – had been weighing whether to hold back substantial volumes of water at Shasta Lake into the summer to protect juvenile winter-run Chinook salmon. A companion proposal called for letting more water flow to the Pacific Ocean through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta during summer, in hopes of bolstering survival rates for another species teetering on the brink of extinction, the Delta smelt.

Both plans met with forceful opposition from Central Valley farmers, who rely heavily on Shasta water deliveries for irrigation. The proposals would have meant another year of curtailed deliveries during key portions of the growing season.

Instead, the Shasta plan released Wednesday marked a victory for farm interests and a significant about-face for fisheries officials. Rather than the more drastic proposal under discussion, the National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reverted to a model for operating Shasta Dam that stays the course for giving farmers more water deliveries than in recent years.

Agency officials said their compromise plan should still result in ample cool water to keep endangered winter-run Chinook from dying in the Sacramento River. The bureau will be required to closely monitor temperatures in Shasta Lake to ensure that cold-water releases are possible through summer and fall. If they determine that Shasta is too warm, they will cut back releases to ensure there is enough cool water for later in the year.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article86742377.html#emlnl=Morning_Newsletter#storylink=cpy

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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‘Waters’ rule affects many Yolo County farmers

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, California Rivers, California water, Clean Water ACT - EPA, Federal gov & land grabs, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

Daily Democrat

California farmers and ranchers face much uncertainty about the new Clean Water Act rule by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers that became effective in recent months.

The uncertainty grew, after a federal judge in North Dakota granted an injunction sought by 13 states to prevent the rule from taking effect, and as specialists finalized work on a map that shows as much as 95 percent of California’s land area might fall under the rule’s jurisdiction.

Known alternately as the Waters of the U.S. Rule or the Clean Water Rule, the provision aims to regulate small streams, tributaries and wetlands. Opponents of the rule say it greatly expands federal jurisdiction over many landscape features found on private lands — including farm, ranch and forest lands — and may ultimately require additional permits and increase areas that would be placed under restricted use.

Kari Fisher, California Farm Bureau Federation associate counsel, said that soon after the federal court injunction was granted, the EPA released a statement saying the injunction applies only to those 13 states involved in the North Dakota litigation. While some have interpreted the injunction as applying to all states, Fisher said the rule remains in effect for the 37 states not involved in the litigation, including California.

“For California, EPA’s position is that the rule is effective and enforceable,” Fisher said. “Farmers and ranchers need to be aware of the rule’s potential impacts to their farming operations.”

San Joaquin County winegrape grower Brad Goehring said the waters of the U.S. rule is damaging to agriculture.

“Most everything is now considered a water of the U.S., and permitting for farmers will be too costly. This is basically criminalizing farming,” Goehring said. “I think it is the biggest violation of private property rights in the history of the United States, because the rule is so broad and it encompasses everything.”

The new rule has the potential to qualify up to 97 percent of Yolo County’s 653,450 acres, according to the Yolo County Farm Bureau. Some 60,896 acres is winthin a 100-foot buffer, while an additional 527,697 acres lies within a 1,500-foot buffer. That makes 631,094 acres which could potentially be affected.



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Feds scramble to avoid another mass salmon die-off in Sacramento River

Biologists for hire, California Rivers, California water, CORRUPTION, Dams other than Klamath, Federal gov & land grabs, Salmon and fish

PNP comment: We in Siskiyou County have exposed fraud and flat-out lies to bureaucrats in both state and federal agencies. Using incorrect models and creating the science needed to support new regulations is now standard operating procedure for many government agencies. How to stop it? We haven’t figured that out yet! — Editor Liz Bowen

A year ago, California lost nearly an entire generation of endangered salmon because the water releases from Shasta Dam flowed out warmer than federal models had predicted. Thousands of salmon eggs and newly hatched fry baked to death in a narrow stretch of the Sacramento River near Redding that for decades has served as the primary spawning ground for winter-run Chinook salmon.

Earlier this year, federal scientists believed they had modeled a new strategy to avoid a similar die-off, only to realize their temperature monitoring equipment had failed and Shasta’s waters once again were warming faster than anticipated.

In the months since, in what is essentially an emergency workaround, they’ve revised course, sharply curtailing flows out of Shasta. The hope is that they reserve enough of the reservoir’s deep, cold water pool to sustain this year’s juvenile winter-run Chinook. But it’s meant sacrificing water deliveries to hundreds of Central Valley farmers who planted crops in expectation of bigger releases; and draining Folsom reservoir – the source of drinking water for much of suburban Sacramento – to near-historic lows to keep salt water from intruding on the Delta downstream.

In spite of all this, another generation of wild winter-run Chinook salmon could very well die.

For all the focus on fallowed farm fields and withered lawns in California’s protracted drought, native fish have suffered the most dire consequences. The lack of snowmelt, warmer temperatures and persistent demand for limited freshwater supplies have left many of the state’s reservoirs – and, by extension, its streams and rivers – hotter than normal. The changing river conditions have threatened the existence of 18 native species of fish, the winter-run Chinook among them.

Chinook are called king salmon by anglers for a reason. They can grow to more than 3 feet in length, and the biggest can top more than 50 pounds. Decades ago, before dams were built blocking their traditional spawning habitat, vast schools of these silver-sided fish with blue-green backs migrated from the ocean to spawn and die in the tributaries that feed the Sacramento River in runs timed with the seasons.

The largest run that remains in the Sacramento River system is the fall run, which survives almost entirely due to hatchery breeding programs below the Shasta, Oroville and Folsom dams. The winter run, in contrast, is still largely reared in the wild, laying its eggs in the gravel beds below Shasta’s concrete walls. Their numbers have dwindled in the face of predators and deteriorating river conditions. The federal government declared the run endangered in 1994, and it has flirted with extinction ever since.

Following last year’s failed federal efforts, only about 5 percent of the winter-run Chinook survived long enough to begin to migrate out to sea. The species has a three-year spawning cycle, meaning that three consecutive fish kills could lead to the end of the winter run as a wild species. One hatchery below Lake Shasta breeds winter-run Chinook in captivity.

Officials with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates both Shasta and Folsom dams, say they believe their emergency efforts at Shasta are working and they anticipate “some” winter-run Chinook will survive this year.

“We believe that we are on track,” said bureau spokesman Shane Hunt. “We are sitting in a much better place today than we were a year ago today.”

Several biologists interviewed remain dubious. They note that preserving more cold water in Shasta has meant many stretches of the Sacramento River are warmer than they were last year. They worry that salmon eggs and fry will still die – only gradually instead of suddenly.

“We stand a pretty good chance of losing the wild cohort again this year, like we did last year,” said Peter Moyle, a UC Davis researcher and one of the nation’s leading fisheries biologists. “If we get lucky some of those fish will survive. We’re definitely pushing the population to its limits.”

Agricultural leaders, meanwhile, say there’s good reason to suspect the government models will again prove flawed and the fish will die despite the sacrifices farmers have made.

Rep. Jim Costa, a Democrat and third-generation farmer who represents a wide swath of the San Joaquin Valley, is among those who think there’s a good chance farmers have been punished for no benefit to the fish.

“That begs the question: What are we accomplishing?” Costa said. “We are in extreme drought conditions. … The water districts that I represent in the San Joaquin Valley have had a zero – zero – water allocation. … Over half a million acres have been fallowed … It just seems to defy common sense and logic.”

Some members of California’s fisheries industry also have lost confidence in the bureau, arguing the government has badly mismanaged its rivers. Beyond the very existence of a wild population of fish, they say, the government is risking millions of dollars for California’s economy and hundreds of fishing jobs – and a key source of locally caught seafood for markets and restaurants.

Two consecutive fish kills involving an endangered species could lead to more stringent regulation of commercial and recreational fishing. It’s a real possibility, state and federal fisheries regulators said, that salmon fishing could be severely restricted along much of California’s central coast and in the Sacramento River system next year.

Larry Collins, a commercial fisherman operating out of Pier 45 in San Francisco, said that in the fight over water, the fishing industry – and wild fish – lack the political clout compared with municipal and agricultural interests.

“I’ve been around a long time, and I’ve fought the battle for a long time, and I’ve watched the water stolen from the fish,” he said. “The fish are in tough shape because their water is growing almonds down in the valley. To me, it’s just outright theft of the people’s resource for the self-aggrandizement of a few, you know?”

“You got money you can buy anything,” he added. “You can buy extinction.”

Federal models prove faulty

On paper, the requirements for salvaging the winter-run Chinook seem fairly basic. The winter-run Chinook spawn from April to August. Juvenile fish swim downriver from July to March. If the water in the Sacramento River is too hot as the fry emerge from their eggs, they die. Warm water also makes it more difficult for the juveniles to survive their swim downstream to the ocean.

But in practice, there are broad variables to keeping the river cool, involving snowmelt, heat waves, water depths and the temperatures of the tributaries entering the reservoir, as well as conditions in the river downstream.

A year ago, federal and state officials had a plan to keep temperatures in key portions of the Sacramento River below 56 degrees; temperatures above 56 can trigger a die-off. The models built by the Bureau of Reclamation indicated operators could release large amounts of water from Lake Shasta while still maintaining a cool temperature, easing the pressure on farms and cities. According to their calculations, the water would be cold enough at key points in the Sacramento River to ensure survival of 30 percent of the salmon run.

But the models were wrong. The Bureau of Reclamation essentially ran out of cold water reserves in Lake Shasta, limiting its ability to control temperatures in the Sacramento River. Average daily river temperatures rose well above levels needed by salmon to survive. The 5 percent that did transition from eggs to fry were left to navigate to the ocean in tough conditions.

“That 5 percent – I guarantee you they didn’t make it down through the Delta,” said Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.

Fast forward to this year, and another plan gone awry.

During the spring, government officials again said they would keep winter-run Chinook alive by maintaining water temperatures below 56 degrees. The State Water Resources Control Board signed off on their plan in mid-May.

Only weeks later, Bureau of Reclamation officials told the state that their temperature monitoring equipment wasn’t working. In fact, they said, temperatures in Shasta were warmer than anticipated – and dramatic intervention would be needed to keep winter-run Chinook alive. They asked the board to consider a new plan and immediately restricted flows from Shasta.

The state water board took up the issue at a meeting on June 16. Members of the board bemoaned their lack of good choices and later adopted a plan that left no one happy. Water releases would be curtailed out of Lake Shasta. Folsom Lake would be drawn to historic lows. Deliveries to farmers would be reduced.

And, despite those measures, the average daily temperature in the Sacramento River would rise to 57 degrees on most days and 58 degrees on some days, according to the government models. That’s too high a temperature for all winter-run Chinook to survive, but the Bureau of Reclamation, in documents supporting the change, said its modeling predicted roughly 20 percent of the fish would survive to early adulthood. That would be lower than a typical year – but not a disaster.

But are this year’s models more accurate? Already this summer, average daily temperatures at a key point in the Sacramento River have risen above 58 degrees on seven separate occasions, including several times in late August, state data show.

Federal officials said their models anticipated some temperature spikes, and noted that on each occasion so far, they were able to release cold water into the river and bring temperatures back down.

“It can have an effect” on fish, said Hunt, the bureau spokesman, of river temperatures above 58 degrees. But, he added, “That temperature is not a lethal temperature immediately.”

Jon Rosenfield, a biologist with the Bay Institute, disagreed, saying that many winter-run salmon likely were doomed by the temperature spikes. He offered the analogy of a chicken egg: “If you take an egg and dip it in boiling water, you are jeopardizing its ability to develop into a chick,” he said. “The longer you do that and the hotter the temperatures, the less likely it is to develop.”

Another concern is whether there is still enough cold water in Shasta to keep river temperatures low into the fall. Hunt says yes – that the government projects that Shasta will contain 350,000 acre-feet of cold water, below 56 degrees, at month’s end, far more than in 2014.

Rosenfield expressed doubts that the bureau is in position to do detailed calculations on its cold water supply. “They are way behind in anything using modern technology in measuring how much cold water they have,” Rosenfield said.

Scientists won’t know whether this year’s plan worked until fish surveys are completed in the winter. In a worst-case scenario, the government could rely even more heavily on its hatchery to sustain winter-run Chinook. Rosenfield called that option a “Band-Aid,” noting it would not preclude the loss of the fish as a wild species. Hatchery fish, he said, tend to come from a limited gene pool and may also have difficulty surviving in warm water.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article34197762.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article34197762.html#storylink=cpy

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