Water Policy


Salmon Fishermen Need San Joaquin Fish: They Belong in That River

Larry CollinsBy Larry Collins


San Francisco Community Fishing Association

Sixty years ago, when state and federal agencies built the dams that dewatered the second largest river in California, it might have seemed like a good idea. Now we know better. It was a disaster for salmon and salmon fishermen. Nearly 95 percent of San Joaquin’s flow was diverted. Sixty miles of river ran dry and the salmon – one of California’s most productive runs – was wiped out.

Since then, salmon fishermen have nearly been wiped out as well.

"Avalanche" of Lawsuits Hit DSC Over Bay Delta Plan

Dan BacherBy Dan Bacher

The North Coast Rivers Alliance, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, San Francisco Crab Boat Owners Associations and Winnemem Wintu (McCloud River) Tribe on Friday, June 14, filed a lawsuit against the Delta Plan approved recently by the Delta Stewardship Council.

Attorney Stephan C. Volker filed the litigation in the Sacramento County Superior Court, charging that the Delta Plan violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Reform Act of 2009 and the Public Trust Doctrine.

Members of Congress Slam Brown's Peripheral Tunnel Plan

Dan BacherBy Dan Bacher

On the banks of the Sacramento River less than a mile from the State Capitol on May 30, five Members of Congress from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta region held a press conference to blast the current Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels and the lack of input afforded their constituents.

As the Representatives spoke, adult spring run Chinook salmon and American shad, fish whose very existence is threatened by the peripheral tunnels, migrated up the system to their spawning grounds. Meanwhile, juvenile fall run Chinook salmon, including 3 million released into the river by the Nimbus Fish Hatchery in May, made their way downriver to the ocean.

California Fracking Oversight Agencies Lack Inspectors, Knowledge, Says EPA

Dan AielloBy Dan Aiello

As more than 100 environmental groups launched a massive anti-fracking campaign yesterday in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento, California Progress Report's review of the agencies charged with oil industry oversight and protecting the state's groundwater supplies has found troubling signs that California is woefully unprepared to manage a proliferation of fracking wells anticipated to tap into the newly discovered Monterey Shale Deposit.

The deposit, stretching along the Golden State's ecologically fragile coastline from Los Angeles to San Francisco and through some of the most densely-populated regions, is said to contain up to 15.4 billion barrels of oil some 11,000 feet deep, and oil companies are keen to exploit the huge deposit in the only state that lacks any kind of oil severance tax.

California Anti-Fracking Bills Move Forward, Now Face Appropriations Vote

By Dan Bacher

Despite intense political pressure by the oil industry, the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on April 29 approved three bills proposing to halt fracking (hydraulic fracturing), a controversial method of oil and natural gas extraction, in California.

Fracking opponents fear that increased water diversions destined for the peripheral tunnels proposed under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) will be used for expanding fracking in Monterey Shale deposits in the San Joaquin Valley and coastal areas. The construction of the tunnels is expected to hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta smelt and other fish species.

California Farmer Warns: "Don't Trust Oil Industry, State or Courts" to Protect Water

By Dan Aiello

Kern County almond farmer, Fred Starrh, is an unlikely darling of the anti-fracking movement in California.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is an environmentally risky oil production method of pumping under pressure large volumes of water, sand and chemicals underground to bubble to the surface heavy tar-like oil left in depleted oil wells and to reach deep deposits of oil and natural gas.

Fracking is the method oil companies seek to employ to proliferate drilling in California where the discovered Monterey Shale Deposit is estimated to contain as many as 15.4 billion barrels of crude 11,000 feet deep.

Delta Stewardship Council Adopts Plan Despite Massive Opposition

By Dan Bacher

In spite of overwhelming opposition from environmentalists, fishermen, family farmers, elected officials and the majority of Californians, the Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) on Thursday, May 16 unanimously adopted what it described as a "comprehensive management plan" for the Delta.

The Council also certified the final Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (PEIR), despite opposition to the report from every single person who spoke during the public comment period, ranging from Delta farmers to a representative of the Metropolitan Water District. In addition, the Council adopted regulations that will implement the policies of the Delta Plan.

Proposed "Water Tunnels" a Death Sentence for the Bay Delta

By Bill Jennings

For over a quarter of a century I've labored in the trenches of the water rights and water quality processes trying to protect it. We have a broad suite of laws protecting the Bay Delta - among them: the state constitution; water code; public trust doctrine; state and federal endangered species, water quality and environmental review acts; fish and wildlife code; and the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) to mention a few. Yet the biological tapestry of this estuary is collapsing. And the agencies that have violated and failed to enforce these laws over three decades are now bringing you the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).

Brown Administration Official Claims "Delta Can't Be Saved"

By Dan Bacher

Recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, Indian tribal leaders, family farmers, environmentalists, Delta residents and many elected officials strongly oppose the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build peripheral tunnels diverting water out of the Delta, because they say it will lead to the extinction of Central Valley salmon, steelhead and other fish species. Natural Resources Secretary John Laird and Governor Jerry Brown have constantly portrayed the BDCP as a visionary effort based on "science" to accomplish the "co-equal goals" of "ecosystem restoration" and "water supply reliability."

"Science has and will continue to drive a holistic resolution securing our water supply and substantially restoring the Delta's lost habitat," said Laird on March 28.

However, a Brown administration official recently admitted that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan has nothing to do with saving the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the estuary that salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, Delta smelt, striped bass and a host of other species depend on for survival.

Resources Secretary Uses Snow Survey to Rush Corporate Water Grab

By Dan Bacher

Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird cynically used the release of the latest Sierra Nevada snow survey on March 28 to campaign for the construction of the peripheral tunnels through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, just as he has done every spring since being appointed by Governor Jerry Brown.

Snow surveyors reported Thursday that water content in California's snowpack is only 52 percent of normal, with the spring melt season already under way, according to the Department of Water Resources. After a record dry January and February in much of the state, DWR has decreased its water delivery estimate from 40 to 35 percent of requested amounts from the State Water Project (SWP).