[env-trinity] CSPA Advisory: Governors Staff Drops The Ball on Delta Fish!

Daniel Bacher danielbacher at hotmail.com
Mon Aug 29 11:09:21 PDT 2005

CSPA Advisory:

Governor’s Staff Drops The Ball!

The South Delta Improvement Project (SDIP) - Moving Forward!

[Or, if you build it, they will come? -  “Field of Dreams”)

The campaign to stop the SDIP and additional water exports from the Delta 
until the estuary’s foodweb and fisheries are restored has made an impact. 
The fishing and environmental community have put on enough pressure to delay 
the decision to export more water out of the Delta, but if we want to win 
the battle, then all the people who SHOULD HAVE emailed the Governor need to 
engage now!

Our last advisory contained a copy of the letter we sent to the Governor on 
behalf of the “Allied Fishing Groups.” In this letter we carefully explained 
why we opposed any additional Delta exports. We asked for no more than what 
the government promised the public when they completed the CALFED Bay-Delta 
Program. This wasn’t the first time the government promised to restore our 
fisheries. If they had honored the Central Valley Project Improvement Act 
passed by Congress in1992, the anadromous fisheries of the Central Valley 
would have been doubled and maintained at viable levels by 2002.

The response to our letter from the Governor’s staff failed to address the 
crucial issues we raised! Instead they thanked us for “supporting additional 
funding for CALFED,” the very program that has failed to achieve the 
restoration promises made to the public! Given the magnitude of what is at 
stake, if the giant holes in the food web are not self correcting, we will 
surely see more parts of the food web collapse and additional declines of 
Central Valley salmon, steelhead, striped bass and American shad. If losing 
the productivity of the Delta is not bad enough, this could result in 
additional closures in salmon and steelhead fisheries.

Below you will find the Governor’s contact information and a copy of a 
letter his staff sent to many of those who emailed him asking for his help. 
That letter basically says it is OK for the SDIP to move forward, build the 
SDIP infrastructure and re-engineer the southern Delta. Once complete, then 
the government would decide if they want to increase exports from 6,680 cfs 
to 8,500 cfs, with other possible increases up to 10,500 cfs down the road.

They are going to do this while they try to scientifically determine the 
causes for the food web and fishery declines. If such a determination is 
possible it will probably take years of research. It makes little economic 
or policy sense to build additional export capacity and then find out it is 
the amount of water being exported that is driving the estuary into 

The handwriting is on the wall! When the government spends millions of 
dollars on a project, they intend to put it to use and that’s exactly what 
is likely to happen if they build more of the “Through Delta” facility 
infrastructure. While they couch this in terms that sound good, one must 
remember that “spin masters” abound in government and they would love you to 
be spun around by concepts like “reducing the straying of San Joaquin salmon 
into the south Delta.”

What their email fails to note is that the salmon “stray” into the southern 
Delta because the water projects pumps suck them out of the lower San 
Joaquin River channels in the Delta into those of the water projects. They 
want to build permanent barriers to “reduce” the very impact they have 
created! It’s unfortunate the letter from our government could not manage to 
put this project element in the proper perspective!

The angling and commercial fishing groups have opposed building any part of 
this project until the problems with the estuary’s foodweb have been 
corrected and our fishery resources re-established at viable, 
self-sustaining levels. If and when the governments long unfulfilled promise 
is kept, then other considerations could be discussed that were not counter 
productive to the management and protection of the Delta’s aquatic 

Unfortunately, our groups may take all the public policy positions we like, 
but that does not mean the government will seriously consider our 
perspective. You “collectively“ have the power to make them listen!

Now is the time to let the Governor know that you are taking a stand for the 
estuary and its fisheries while there is still a reasonable opportunity to 
restore them! The best way to stop the SDIP is to contact Governor Arnold 

You can email the Governor by going to http://www.govmail.ca.gov where you 
can fill out the email form and send it to his office. Or you can send a 
letter or card to him at:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

You can also call (916-445-2841) or fax (916-445-4633) his office. The 
message is simple. Ask the Governor to stop the plans of the Department of 
Water Resources to implement the South Delta Improvement Project and the 
export of any additional water out of Delta until our estuary and its 
fisheries are restored. Tell him that we’ve had a decade of broken promises 
that these public resources would be restored. Given the collapse of the 
Delta food web, now is the time to restore the estuary and our fisheries 
before any more water is exported out of the estuary!

You can mention that DWR’s recently released Bulletin 160 clearly 
demonstrates that the state's water needs will be met for at least the next 
decade with the existing water infrastructure. There is no water crisis that 
would justify the destruction of the Delta! It is time to raise our 
collective voice. The estuary is truly at stake!

For those who would like to see how the Governor’s staff is dealing with 
this situation, below I have provided a copy of the email from the 
Governor’s Office of Constituent Affairs. This document has been received by 
a number of our members and fishing groups in response to their email urging 
the Governor to put a halt to the SDIP.

John Beuttler

Email Communication
Sent 8-19-05
Re: Delta Fisheries

Thank you for your email expressing your opposition to increased water 
pumping from the San Francisco Bay-Delta. The work to ensure that California 
has enough water to support its growing population and economy, as well as 
to restore and maintain its ecological treasures, is both difficult and 

As you know, the CALFED Bay-Delta Program plays an important role in meeting 
California's future water needs and it must be part of the long-term water 
resource investment strategy for the state. Governor Schwarzenegger has 
directed Resources Agency Secretary Chrisman to work with the Secretaries 
for Food and Agriculture, Environmental Protection and the Chair of the 
California Bay-Delta Authority to develop just such a long-term strategy for 
stable water resources investment funding. This long-term funding strategy 
will ensure that we continue to improve water supply reliability, protect 
water quality and restore our ecosystems to support California's needs.

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) recently announced plans to release 
a draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/S) 
for the South Delta Improvements Program (SDIP). Objectives of the SDIP 
program include reducing the straying of San Joaquin salmon into the south 
Delta, maintaining adequate water levels and quality for local farmers and 
improving the State Water Project's delivery capability.

The proposed plan will be staged in two parts. The first stage involves 
physical components and would be accomplished by installing permanent 
operable gates, performing limited dredging and extending some agricultural 
diversions in the south

The second stage, involving changes to increase the maximum rate at which 
the State Water Project is permitted to pump water from the Delta beginning 
in 2009, can be accomplished with no new construction. It is important to 
emphasize that while stage two planning will be underway during 
implementation of stage one, no action regarding increased pumping will take 
place until a decision is made on stage one.

The current water export limit is 6,680 cubic feet per second (except in the 
winter when the volume may be higher.) The proposed increase would bring the 
new pumping volume up to 8,500 cubic feet per second. Although this appears 
to be an increase of 27%, environmental constraints and hydrologic 
conditions would only allow the annual amount of water pumped to increase by 
less than 1% to 3%, depending on the alternate evaluated by the SDIP.

Recently, there have been declines in the population of several Delta fish 
species. Although the exact reason is not yet known, some theories include 
pesticides, invasive species and changes in State and Federal water 
operations. The Interagency Ecological Program has begun an aggressive $1.7 
million augmentation of existing studies to look at the possible causes.

As this study proceeds, the DWR plans to release the draft EIR/S for the 
SDIP. This will give the public an opportunity to thoroughly review the plan 
and provide comments on the proposals. DWR officials will hold a series of 
workshops throughout the State to provide information, respond to questions 
and concerns and solicit recommendations. This public participation is vital 
to the decision-making process and the eventual implementation of any water 
use plan.

Again, thank you for your email. In California, we are faced with the 
difficult task of regulating a limited water supply so as to guarantee 
adequate resources for farming, industry, neighborhoods and wildlife. 
Together, we can meet the challenge.


James Hicks
Office of Constituent Affairs

CSPA is a non-profit - public benefit organization dedicated to restoring 
fisheries and their habitat. We engage in variety of aquatic efforts and 
issues to ensure our fisheries have habitat they need to be self sustaining 
and to stay that way. You can support our conservation efforts by becoming a 
member.  Donations are tax-deductible, greatly needed and most appreciated. 
Send checks to CSPA at1360 Neilson Street, Berkeley, CA 94702-1116. 
Membership starts a $25. If you are a member, then you know of the good work 
we do, so sign up a friend and help us restore our fisheries!

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