[env-trinity] [SPAM?] Stockton Record May 27 on CalFed
bwl3 at comcast.net
Fri May 27 12:03:08 PDT 2005
CALFED scientist cites lack of funds, organization among reasons for leaving
Stockton Record 5/27/05
By Dana Nichols, staff writer
SACRAMENTO -- The scientist who leads the effort to understand the forces
that are killing the Delta said he's leaving the California Bay Delta
Authority partly because the agency lacks the money or organization to get
the job done.
"At this stage, it is hard for me to be effective in the role of lead
scientist," said Johnnie Moore, the geologist who came here nine months ago
to revitalize the program.
Yet Moore said he believes that it is possible for CALFED to do solid
science on the Delta and its declining fish populations, even if the answers
don't come quickly or offer simple solutions.
And he defended the agency from critics who say it fails to study the
impacts of water exports to Southern California because of the political
power of water interests.
"I haven't seen that, to be very honest," Moore said.
CALFED is a program started in 1996 in which interests ranging from local
water districts to the federal government declared a truce in various water
wars so they could cooperate to restore the Delta's environment and secure
its water supply.
The Bay-Delta Authority is a state agency created in 2003 to coordinate
CALFED's work. But critics, especially environmentalists, say the agency has
failed to balance environmental interests with the demand to increase
exports of water from the Delta to Southern California.
Two crises are now gripping the program: state lawmakers unhappy with what
they see as CALFED's lack of focus are withholding $100 million in funding,
and a sudden, catastrophic decline in Delta fish populations that scientists
are scrambling to explain.
Moore told co-workers Tuesday that he would leave CALFED and return to
Montana on July 1. On Wednesday, authority director Patrick Wright left and
was replaced with Joe Grindstaff, the state Department of Water Resources'
Grindstaff's marching orders from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are to audit
the entire program and draft a 10-year plan for the agency by Nov. 1.
Grindstaff said Thursday that the authority won't wait to replace Moore.
"The science program will move ahead as planned," he said.
But a member of the independent board that reviews CALFED's scientific work
worried that the audit and the funding cuts will shut down research.
"What you are looking at is a major break in CALFED activities, in my view,"
said Jeffrey Mount, a geologist at the University of California, Davis, and
a member of the science review board.
"But I am very pragmatic about the political realities in CALFED and realize
that is probably what is going to happen," Mount said.
The studies now in limbo include an effort to understand how to reverse low
oxygen levels in the Stockton Deep Water Channel, which can block migrating
shad, steelhead and salmon.
G. Fred Lee, who once applied for Moore's job, is a chemist who formerly
advised CALFED on water-quality issues.
Lee said the agency is dominated by water agencies and is incapable of doing
the necessary research to discover the cause of the fish decline.
"I concluded long ago that we are not going to get adequate water-quality
monitoring through CALFED," Lee said. "It gets squashed by the politics."
Mount said it is naïve to think water research could be free of politics.
"You are studying a highly altered system which has a continuous overtone of
politics on it," he said. "The solutions will always ultimately be
political, not scientific."
Mount said CALFED needs to narrow its focus and quit trying to be all things
to all people.
Moore agreed, saying a new lead scientist is part of that.
"Someone with a bit closer tie to California politics and systems would do a
little better job than I would do at that as the organization changes," he
Chair, Friends of Trinity River
Consultant, California Trout, Inc.
PO Box 2327
Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327
415 383 4810 ph
415 383 9562 fx
bwl3 at comcast.net
bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org (secondary)
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