Protecting the Delta

The latest plan for the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta, The Bay Delta Conservation Plan, a collaboration between State Federal and Local water agencies, envisions building a peripheral canal or other water conveyance system and is expected to be adopted by the state.

I just read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled U.S. panel blasts delta plan over missing elements. See:

According to this article The Natural Research Council issued a report to assess the scientific progress on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. The council concluded that some portions of the plan’s data analysis were sound but overall they “deemed the plan disjointed unclear and incomplete – omitting key information on the amount of delta water to be diverted, for example, climate change projections and the delta’s connection to San Francisco Bay.”

The plan seems geared specifically toward building a canal or tunnel circumventing the delta. “As envisioned, the multibillion-dollar structure would siphon water from the Sacramento River at a rate of 15,000 cubic feet per second and send it around the central delta to pumps in the south.”

“Estimates for building a canal around the delta range as high as $9 billion, while an underground pipeline/tunnel could cost as much as $11.7 billion, according to the state Department of Water Resources.” See:

According to the projects proponents, “It provides a continuous source of water to urban and rural users and removes the huge intake pumps that entrain and kill young fish in the central delta.” But there are fears that the tunnel will shunt almost all of Sacramento’s fresh water away from the delta allowing salty bay water to wash inland further jeopardizing fish and plant life in the delta.

You think…This is clearly a water grab. I don’t know about the fish, but I suspect that this diversion will have a greater impact on the delta than off road recreation at Carnegie. A stream bed that is dry ten to twelve months a year and sinks into a flood plain after it trickles through Carnegie when it is running would seem to have zero impact. Meanwhile the water diversion plan is in the works. “The political forces are in place and after spending $150 million for a draft plan nobody thinks that it will be shelved.”

This reminds me that I recently got an e-mail from Representative, George Miller that I have reproduced in part below.

“Comment Thank you for contacting me to express your support for H.R. 1581, the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act…

I am strongly opposed to this attack on wilderness protections in California and around the country. This proposal would lead to the degradation of thousands of acres of wild land currently enjoyed by countless hunters, fishers, hikers and other wildlife recreationists. This bill would also remove protections for some of our last and best fisheries, including trout streams and some of the last available spawning habitat for endangered wild salmon. Major outdoor industry groups, conservationists, hunting, fishing, and wildlife organizations all support wilderness study areas and wilderness designations, which support recreation, wildlife, and clean water as well.”

Do you see the connection? The wilderness act as designed by congress equates all off road vehicle activity with the most destructive practices of timber, mining and development. The logical conclusion of Mr. Miller’s letter is that not only does our sport degrade thousands of acres of wild land, but it destroys trout streams and the last remaining spawning habitats of wild salmon. Jeez the fish get no respect. Just think about it for a minute– our knobby tires kill fish – not the fishermen who claim to be protecting the fish.

All this ignores the fact that the OHV community is the only user group in California that has a self- funded trust to maintain and conserve our trails to environmental standards.

I wonder how Mr. Miller feels about the peripheral canal. He certainly cares about water, and during the Schwarzenegger administration criticized the Bay Delta Conservation Plan for its impact on the delta. I don’t know whether to expect to see any political connect today. It is easy to blast the politically weak off-roaders, but is another thing to oppose strong political forces in this state whose agenda is to “both revive collapsing fish species and ensure stable water supplies”.

Screw the fish in the delta. Shut down Carnegie to protect the fish coming out of faucets in southern California. God bless them.

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  1. John Greenley says:

    Recently Gov. Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced their support for a massive twin-tunnel system to carry water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to vast farmlands and thirsty cities.

    Construction is estimated at around $14 billion and would be covered by water users. Taxpayers would bear an additional $10 billion for the cost of habitat restoration involving the creation of 100,000 acres in floodplains and other improvements. A water bond that could provide some money for restoration is set to appear on the November 2014 ballot.

    Farmers and urban water users have long called for a new water system, but Brown faced stiff opposition in 1982 when he proposed a peripheral canal during his previous time as governor. Voters rejected that plan, branding it a water grab by Southern California cities.

    The current proposal would have the capacity to divert about 67,500 gallons of water a second, a pace that would fill six Olympic-sized swimming pools every minute. Officials want to build it even larger using three tunnels to help water move by force of gravity, reducing energy use, but did say how much water will be diverted through the tunnels each year.

    Once water reaches a pumping station in Tracy, it would be ferried through existing canals to farms in the Central Valley and cities such as Los Angeles and San Diego.

    Environmentalists remain influential with legislative Democrats, the majority party and there is a lot of opposition to Governor Brown’s plan where they say the tunnels could severely damage the delta ecosystem and agriculture-based economy.

    The diversion with its additional requirements for restoration would put additional burdens on us and it is possible that the environmentalists will use it as a tool to add further regulations on OHV recreation in Northern California.

    Also, Brown has announced his support for CEQA exemptions. This announcement came during a news conference at which he discussed his plan to build tunnels to move water out of the Delta to southern farmlands and cities. Although he has not specifically tied his support to CEQA exemptions to the tunnel project, it is believed that he is backing CEQA exceptions to speed along both the tunnel project and his high speed rail project.

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