Judge Wanger Affirms Flows to Protect Central Valley Salmon

By Dan Bacher

Environmentalists, fishermen and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe scored a legal victory on March 31 when a federal judge affirmed restrictions on Delta pumping to protect imperiled Central Valley salmon populations.

In a rebuke to junior water rights holders, Judge Oliver Wanger of the Eastern District of California refused to grant the Westlands Water District and its co-plaintiffs a temporary restraining order on the biological opinion of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The opinion includes seasonal water flows required to protect Sacramento River endangered spring-run Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead in the California Delta, according to the Planning and Conservation League (PCL).

Snow Water Content 107% of Normal - But the "Drought" Continues?

By Dan Bacher

The snow survey conducted by the State Department of Water Resources (DWR) on March 3 indicated that water content in California’s mountain snowpack is 107 percent of normal for the date, making the state water supply outlook much better this year than it was last season. By contrast, water content statewide was 80 percent of normal at this time last year.

Amazingly, DWR is still promoting the false concept of a drought this year. "California may face a fourth year of serious drought in 2010," DWR proclaims on its "drought" page:

Groups Blast Westlands Attempt to Use Aqueduct As Sewer

By Dan Bacher

Every time that you think that corporate agribusiness can't stoop any lower than they have already in their campaign to destroy imperiled fish populations and fishing jobs, they always manage to reach a new low in their race to the bottom.

In the latest surrealistic episode in the California water wars, Westlands Water District, the "Darth Vader" of California water politics, is now seeking a permit to pollute the drinking water supply for millions of Californians, according to a coalition of environmental, fishing and tribal groups.

"Westlands has proposed a project to discharge up to 100,000 acre feet of groundwater into the State Water Project California Aqueduct, a drinking water supply for approximately 20 million people," revealed Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.

The Resnicks Manipulate Water Policy with Big Campaign Contributions

By Dan Bacher

Stewart Resnick, the Beverly Hills agribusiness tycoon who owns 115,000 acres of farmland in Kern County, appears to be putting his bets on Jerry Brown as the winner of the gubernatorial race in the November election - even though Brown hasn't officially declared himself as a candidate.

On November 11, 2009, Resnick and his wife, Lynda, the co-owner of the giant Paramount Farms and Roll Corporation, wrote four checks totalling $50,000 for the Brown campaign.

The donations that the Resnicks made to Brown to date exemplify the enormous political influence of Resnick and other water barons exert over California water politics. The Resnicks are the largest tree fruit growers in the world.

Judge Upholds Pumping Limits to Protect Delta Smelt

By Dan Bacher

Federal Judge Oliver Wanger on Wednesday denied the request by Westlands Water District and other water agencies for a temporary restraining order (TRO) on Delta pumping restrictions necessary to protect Delta smelt.

Attorneys from Earthjustice and NRDC successfully argued that a temporary restraining order (TRO) of Old and Middle River (OMR) flow restrictions would imperil the endangered Delta smelt, found only in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. OMR flows are a measure of whether the San Joaquin River is flowing towards the sea or towards the Delta pumps, where thousands and thousands of Delta smelt, longfin smelt, chinook salmon, steelhead, striped bass, threadfin shad and other fish species are killed every year.

Fresno Judge Halts Protection Plan For Winter Run Chinook

By Dan Bacher

(Fresno) Federal Judge Oliver Wanger on Friday afternoon put a temporary hold on a federal plan (biological opinion) protecting salmon from the fish-killing California Delta pumps that deliver water to corporate agribusiness and southern California.

The ruling, in place for 14 days, allows for unlimited pumping, at least unless the projects hit "take" limits for salmon killed at the pumps or until Delta smelt protections are triggered in the Delta. The ruling can be extended by the judge for 14 more days.

Westlands Water District, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) and other water districts requested the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) so that water exports from the Delta could be increased. The pumping restrictions are designed to protect migrating juvenile winter-run Chinook salmon from being killed in the massive federal and state project pumps.

Surprise: DWR Promotes Peripheral Canal As Snow Survey Results Announced

By Dan Bacher

The water content in California’s mountain snowpack is 115 percent of normal for the date statewide, contrasting with snow water content only 61 percent of normal last year at the same time, according to the snow survey conducted on Friday, January 29 by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).

Electronic sensor readings show northern Sierra snow water equivalents at 129 percent of normal for this date, central Sierra at 101 percent, and southern Sierra at 119 percent. The sensor readings are posted at

You would think that the Schwarzenegger administration would be happy with this news, but DWR used the release of the data to perpetuate the myth that California is still in a "big drought" and to campaign for the construction of the peripheral canal and new dams.

Salmon Water Now Exposes Big Ag's Manipulation of Delta Water Policy

By Dan Bacher

Salmon Water Now, a collaboration between fishermen and media professionals, has released a superb new video, “The Water Pirates,” describing how agribusiness maintains a dangerous stranglehold on water management policy in California, according to Larry Collins, commercial salmon fisherman.

Anybody who is interested in seeing how Democratic and Republican Party politicians have both manipulated California water politics to benefit big agriculture's corporate welfare recipients should watch this video, produced by Bruce Tokars, and urge their friends and co-workers to do so also.

You can watch the Video at: YouTube or Vimeo

Anticipating the Light Brown Apple Moth Eradication Program

By Jane Kelly and Lynn Elliott-Harding, RN

Any day now, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) will release the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on how the CDFA proposes to deal with the Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM).  

Concerned citizens who opposed the CDFA’s original plans to aerially spray the Bay Area counties with pesticides are assuming that the CDFA will attempt to expand its “eradication” program throughout the state and are gearing up to oppose it.

Governor Can Help North Coast by Suspending Marine Life Protection Act Process

by Dan Bacher

On January 10, Melissa Miller-Henson from the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative sent a message to the "north coast community" regarding the magnitude 6.5 earthquake that struck the Eureka area Saturday. The quake damaged homes and businesses, toppled chimneys, knocked out traffic signals, snapped power lines and left a trail of broken windows, dishes and bottles.

"The MLPA Initiative staff would like to extend our deepest and most heartfelt wishes to those living in the Eureka area," the MLPA I-Team stated. "It has been a relief to hear from news reports that there were no fatalities and, overall, the region fared relatively well given the magnitude of the earthquake. May you and yours be safe and out of harms way."