Water Policy

Governor Brown Announces Appointments To California Regional Water Boards

Governor Jerry Brown just announced the following new appointments:

Henry Abarbanel, 68, of Del Mar, has been appointed to the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board. He has been a professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego and a research physicist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography since 1983. Abarbanel served on the Del Mar City Council from 1992 to 1996 and 2000 to 2008. He was chair of the San Diego Metro Wastewater Commission from 2005 to 2008. Abarbanel received his doctorate in physics at Princeton University. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Abarbanel is a Democrat.

Smelt Survive Water Exporters Appeal To U.S. Supreme Court, Wolk Says Delta Next

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

On Sunday the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a federal appeals court decision that upheld the use of the Endangered Species Act in protecting the near-extinct Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Smelt. 

Environmentalists rejoiced over the news the high court had declined to hear the appeal of three Central Valley Farms that sought to limit the law’s reach in protecting the 2 ½” long Delta fish from extinction. 

The rebuff marks the sixth time the nation’s highest court has refused to question the Endangered Species Act, according to Greg Stohr at Bloomberg.com.

Good Government Takes the Scare Away From Mad Scientists and Lawyers

By Kate Poole
Natural Resources Defense Council

It’s shaping up to be a happy Halloween for California’s fishermen, boaters, birdwatchers, and drinkers of water – in other words, all of us who rely on a healthy Delta ecosystem.

First, the Supreme Court yesterday denied the Pacific Legal Foundation’s request to hear PLF’s argument that fish who don’t manage to swim across state lines don’t deserve our protection.  PLF’s argument was mad lawyering at its best. Every single court to hear their claim has denied it.

Hetch Hetchy Could Drown Feinstein in 2012

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

If qualified, a local ballot measure in San Francisco calling for the restoration of the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park could play a decisive role in next year’s U.S. Senate race where the Democrat incumbent, Dianne Feinstein, already faces troubling poll numbers, a campaign finance debacle and a potential Republican opponent with a venerable California pedigree.

The expected 2012 ballot measure will ask San Francisco’s environment-leaning, progressive voters to right what has been called the greatest environmental wrong in the nation’s history by returning the Hetch Hetchy Valley to the National Park Service for the 8 mile long valley’s eventual restoration.  

Feinstein has long opposed the proposition of restoring the valley famed naturalist John Muir himself fought to save. Muir described Hetch Hetchy as “one of nature’s rarest and most precious mountain temples,” and even today visitors instantly recognize the Hetch Hetchy as Yosemite Valley’s twin.  

California Representatives Call on Interior to Rescind Bay-Delta Agreement

By Dan Bacher

Five Northern California Representatives demanded answers today on the current state of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) process - and called on the Interior Department to rescind a “flawed” Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that they say "was developed behind closed doors."

The Members of Congress accused the memorandum of giving water export agencies south of the Delta and in Southern California "unprecedented influence" over an important public process concerning California’s fresh water supplies.

Reps, Residents and Ranchers Worry About Water Exporters Control Over Delta Plan

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

At an oversight hearing in Sacramento last week, Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), chairman of the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, voiced concern that water exporters will have unprecedented control over the content and focus of a plan that would steer the state’s water policies for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for next fifty years.

The hearing on the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) was the fifth held by Huffman, whose district stretches from the Delta, the largest wetlands estuary west of the Mississippi, to coastal communities north of the Golden Gate - many of which are dependent on commercial fishing of the endangered Delta Salmon.

Delta Fish Rebound Endangers Already Troubled Water Bond, Claim Opponents

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

The Department of Fish and Game’s announcement this month of a remarkable turnaround in the populations of the Bay-Delta estuary’s endangered Smelt and Salmon species spelled more trouble for proponents of the state’s 2012 water bond measure.

Delta legislators and environmentalists were delighted by news of the recovering populations within the Delta but, assured an epic election battle where they expect to be heavily outspent by water interest groups, continue to promote science, conservation and regional sustainability over what they claim is a monolithic funding measure that's bloated with unnecessarily expensive statewide solutions to what amount to regional water woes.

Delta Fish Populations Rebound, Vindicating Department of Interior Scientists

By Doug Obegi

“Just add water.” For several years, fishermen, conservationists, and scientists have argued that if we provide adequate freshwater flows to the Bay-Delta, native fish populations would begin to rebound. In 2007, a federal court required pumping restrictions to protect native fisheries in the Delta, and this year, the CVP and SWP provided sufficient flows in September and October to restore habitat for delta smelt (what’s known as the Fall X2 action). Not surprisingly, it worked – fish populations rebounded. 

Delta Gates Will Close For 10 Days to Help Mokelumne Salmon

By Dan Bacher

The Golden Gate Salmon Association, Water for Fish and conservation groups won a big victory for the future of Central Valley chinook salmon populations with Thursday's announcement of a 10-day closure of the Delta cross channel gates that connect the Sacramento and Mokelumne rivers.

The Bureau will close the Cross Channel Gates on October 4, 2011 at approximately 10:00 am and will reopen the gates on October 14, 2011 at approximately 10:00 am for the Mokelumne River "salmon fish attraction experiment," according to Thuy Washburn, Chief Operations Manager at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

"During this closure, the salmon will be able to find their way to the main stem Mokelumne River," said Dick Pool, Secretary Treasurer of the Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA) and Administrator of Water for Fish. "The river and hatchery will almost assuredly reach capacity."

Safe, Affordable Water: A Right or a Privilege? What Will Your Children be Drinking Tonight?

By Debbie Davis
Environmental Justice Coalition for Water

At first glance, you’d think the Human Right to Water bill package—now on Gov. Brown’s desk—makes all the self-evident sense in the world.

This package will help communities across California in their fight to have clean, affordable, and accessible water—for drinking, cooking, and sanitary purposes.

Sounds great, but didn’t we take care of that clean drinking water thing a long time ago?

Well, it depends on where you live.  For the 2 million Californians statewide, primarily in rural communities, who depend on groundwater wells for their drinking water, this package will begin to reverse decades of discrimination and neglect by making provision of safe, affordable water a statewide priority.

It’s time to give all Californians a fair deal when it comes to water, our most basic of needs, and ensure that everyone has access, no matter their color or income level.