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East Bay reps seek quick action in Delta protection projects

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Tuesday, November 25th, 2008 at 6:01 pm in Congress, Environment.

Four East Bay members of Congress urged California Department of Water Resources Director Lester Snow to move quickly on several pilot projects that could help severely declining fish populations in the Delta.

Reps George Miller of Martinez, Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton, Ellen Tauscher of Alamo and Mike Thompson of St. Helena signed a letter today recommending swift action — by summer 2009 — on the two-gate fish protection demonstration project near Franks Tract and positive barrier fish screens at Clifton Court Forebay. The projects are included in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Strategic Growth Plan for the Delta.

“We recognize the experimental nature of the pilot projects but they appear to be innovative approaches to benefit the Delta ecosystem and improve water supply reliability for the 25 million Californians who rely on the Delta,” they wrote.

The four pledged to help expedite the federal permitting process and asked Snow to place the projects on the “fast track so we can see results this coming year when Delta operations, water supplies and fisheries will be critically impacted.”

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  • http://www.arnesimonsen.com Arne Simonsen

    They need to “deep six” the proposal to blockade Three Mile Slough, which is where the western portion of the San Joaquin River (and Antioch) gets its water!!

    The proposals for Franks Tract are going to cause havoc for boating. One of the proposals is to put in a “loch”, which would be like going through the Panama Canal – long delays.

    Somehow the proposal for Franks Tract requires these lochs to be manned 24-hours a day. Who is going to be paying for that?

    At my Delta Protection Commission meeting held in Stockton last week, it was a representative from the Metropolitan Water District (Southern California) and CCWD’s Deputy Director who made the presentation to the Commission.

    The Metro representative didn’t say a thing and CCWD did all the talking.

    Now why would CCWD be the spokesman for the Franks Tract “demonstration project”? Could it be that it benefits CCWD with their intake being relocated to Old River at State taxpayers’ expense (funding is coming from Props 84 & 1E)?

    The fish screens far from the State and Federal pumps makes sense. I agree that their installation should be expedited.

    However, the Franks Tract proposal could have serious impacts to boating, fishing and increased salinity levels in the western Delta.

  • No time for nonsense

    MWD and CCWD are involved because they need the diversion gates as a setup to more water exports. The Delta is teetering on the edge of destruction and these clowns are moving ahead full stem with a two prong attack to grab more water from NorCal.

    There is the dual conveyance project aka Peripheral Canal Part II, and there is a series of pipes and diversion dams such as these that both lead to the same endpoint. The ability to draw higher quality water from further up in the Delta than the current Byron pumps.

    What the politicians aren’t telling you is the Delta levee system is a catastrophe waiting to happen and they simply don’t have the money to properly fix it. Estimates range from $10B on up. In a worst case scenario with the inevitable major earthquake of sufficient magnitude, you could have massive levee failures due to liquification flooding from 10-20 of the current islands in the Delta. It would make the Jones Tract mess look like a simple kitchen faucet leak in comparison. If the “wrong” levees fail and water quality is severely hampered at the Byron pumps, pumping could be shut down IMMEDIATELY and INDEFINITELY. You don’t think some MWD people have nightmares about that playing out, find one with some honesty, pose the question and wait for the ashen look on their face.

    If the water interests are able to get a new Peripheral Canal that picks up on the Sacramento river closer to Sacto, then all bets are off for any real interest or effort at revitalizing the levees. In the event of major failures, the cost of recovery will be prohibitive and the Department of Water Resources has already said they will simply abandon some of them rather than attempt salvage. Just think if Sherman island were taken out tomorrow and you lost Hwy 160 across the bridge and Hwy 12 or Hwy 4 running east. Think some folks would be inconvenienced?

    These politicians need to get out of their comfy offices and actually get on the water with people who use the Delta regularly and have seen it’s accelerating demise. So much water is now being drawn from Old River and Middle River that the flows to the bay are NET NEGATIVE(DWR admits this in their own docs) and it shows in the choking vegetation that is taking over both. There isn’t the natural flushing with fresh water there once was and it’s obvious. Just expand that picture Delta wide and in a few short years if these people have their way you’ll be looking at essentially a dead zone for aquatic life.

    You think drinking water quality is an issue now, just let the brackish water intrusion get deeper into the Delta and we’ll all be paying for degrading water quality here so the SoCal and Central Valley Ag interests can have all the higher quality water they want.