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More Delta Pumping Already Started

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http://www.sacbee.com/2010/05/27/277...#ixzz0p8tK0cOt

 

Cities and farmers quickly started pulling more water from the Delta following a controversial court ruling, prompting concern that more young salmon would be killed in the pumps.

 

The ruling Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger invalidated some of the rules imposed by the National Marine Fisheries Service to protect endangered salmon. The victors are a host of farm and urban water agencies who say the resulting water shortages caused economic harm.

 

The rules limited diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to 1,500 cubic feet per second to protect juvenile salmon migrating to the sea.

 

On Wednesday, the California Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation wasted no time boosting water diversions. They planned to reach 2,800 cfs Wednesday, 4,200 today and 5,800 by Friday, said Carl Torgersen, chief of operations and maintenance at DWR.

 

Water agencies estimated the increased pumping will deliver about 200,000 acre-feet of additional water, enough to serve about 400,000 homes for a year. Recipients include both farms in the San Joaquin Valley and cities from San Jose to San Diego.

 

But the action raises risks that more salmon will be killed by the pumps, which have already claimed nearly 2,500 fish this month. It also poses new legal risks for the state.

 

The Department of Water Resources must obtain permission under both the state and federal Endangered Species Acts for its water diversions. State law requires full restoration of an affected species, not just mitigation of harmful effects.

 

DWR has operated for years without a state Endangered Species Act permit from the Department of Fish and Game. Rather, it has relied on a "consistency determination" from the department, which concludes that federal rules satisfy the state law.

 

Environmental groups and some state lawmakers have long questioned this strategy.

 

"If they had been fully mitigating, we wouldn't have had a crash of the Delta fishes," said Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.

 

Tuesday's court ruling essentially left nothing for state law to be consistent with.

 

Anticipating this, DWR on Monday asked Fish and Game for a new consistency determination, and it was issued Wednesday, said Jerry Johns, DWR deputy director. It concludes that what's left of the federal protections still "fully mitigate" harm to salmon, and finds that a separate state permit is not needed.

 

"This is just kind of temporary to cover the time period of the (court) injunction," Johns said.

 

Jennings was awed by the speed of the action, and noted that the former boss of DWR, Lester Snow, now oversees the state Natural Resources Agency, which also oversees Fish and Game.

 

"We'll be going over it with a magnifying glass," he said.

 

The National Marine Fisheries Service said it will monitor the increased pumping.

 

"We will take immediate action, including seeking emergency relief from the court order," if the fish kill increases, said Howard Brown, acting regional supervisor.

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Found this, this morning too.

 

Area of Origin Protection: A Promise that has been Broken

 

 

By Felix E. Smith

May 27, 2010 -- A promise was made to Northern Californians in the 1920's and1930's when the federal and state water projects were being proposed to protect area of origin rights and interests. That promise was that only water which was surplus or excess to the needs of Northern California watersheds, communities and water users would be exported. This essentially means if you export water "do no harm" to Central and Northern California communities and the fisheries. This promise was embodied in California law as a condition on the State Water Project and the Federal Central Valley Project.

 

This promise has been broken again and again by the operators of the State Water Project and the Federal Central Valley Project. The needs of Central and Northern California watersheds, the fisheries of the Delta, tributary rivers and streams sheds are frequently not being met. Those needs include protecting our water and fisheries, associated public trust uses and ecological values. The harm has been so great that the numbers of Chinook salmon and Steelhead and other fish species and their habitats have been greatly reduced to where the people have sought protection for these species under the Federal and California Endangered Species Acts. Pushing Northern and Central California Chinook salmon and Steelhead numbers so low to require protection under the Endangered Species Acts, doesn't equate to "do no harm". Water quality of the Delta and some tributaries is poor and not healthy for fish and wildlife.

 

Westside San Joaquin Valley corporate farms and Southern California water interests are now trying to gut the limited protection of Central and Northern California fisheries and associated public trust interests, so that water exports pumped from the Delta can be increased to a guaranteed amount per year in any given year. The Westside farmers have contracts, not water rights. The Bureau of Reclamation is supposed to determine the amount of water each contractor receives based on the water available and the terms of the contracts. These same interests want the Bureau to ignore its obligations and to ignore the past promises to take only water that is surplus or excess to the needs of the areas where the water originates.

 

This is not a" fish versus people" thing. It is a people and people thing. The harvesting and consumption of salmon serves as many, if not more human and small business needs than does the harvesting and consumption of land grown crops, and it does so without poisoning the land or polluting the aquatic environment.

 

The promise that only water surplus or excess to the needs of Central and Northern California would be taken has been broken. That promise must be kept. The people must be ready to go to court, if the State Board fails or is non-responsive to the issues surrounding Watershed and Area of Origin protection and the limitation imposed by Water Code 11460 and 11463.

 

If we do not protect our "Area of Origin" and "Watershed Protection" resources, uses, and values for people, we fail to protect and safe guard our salmonid fishes and we then fail in our public trust responsibilities for everyone's children. Our Grandchildren's resources and opportunities are at stake.

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Other news that Mr. Striper hasn't posted includes the dismissal of a University of Maryland ecologist that produced a report blaming the Delta's fish collapse on the ammonia coming from the Sacramento Regional water treatment facility. The ecologist was dismissed from her position on the blue ribbon commission addressing the Delta's woes. A southern California water purveyor was so outraged by her dismissal, he immediately resigned. (Why would that happen? So Cal is anxious to blame the Delta's woes on pollutants in the water not the water exports themselves.)

 

What does it all mean? First off, So Cal's population has grown so much that they will simply be able to outvote the "water rich" northerners - that is a fact coming to a ballot box near you. Add in the weakening of the endangered species act (constant pressure historically brought by republicans but that flag is carried by many democrats now - how about that Diane Feinstein!). How do politicians get elected? Money, and developers aren't shy about providing the money. Nor are they shy about characterizing the water issues as a fish vrs. people issue. If the ESA is weakened, there will be no recourse in court for the ballot box results.

 

What is the problem? It probably will come down to a combination of issues, poor ocean conditions, excessive water exports, commercialization and overfishing (don't get me started on guides), and pollution of the Sacramento River and other water bodies by wastewater and agricultural discharges.

 

What is the solution? Money (isn't that always the solution?). Sac Regional does not provide a high level of wastewater treatment - so called secondary treatment without nitrogen removal. Sac Regional has estimated it would cost $1,000,000,000 (a billion dollars) to improve the treatment. That estimate seems high, but the ratepayers will bear the cost. Sac Regional has battled the issue all the way, but if they lose, expect your sewer bill to increase. People are funny, they'll support something until it starts to cost them money, then all bets are off. Our sewer bills are low in the Sacramento area, keep that in mind if you have to pay a little extra to bring salmon back to the Central Valley.

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Other news that Mr. Striper hasn't posted includes

 

I didn't start this thread buddy. And a lot of that happened latter in the same day.

The water waist issue hit the news 4 days ago.

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