[env-trinity] Sacramento Bee July 27, 2009

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Jul 27 16:50:56 PDT 2009

'Million boat' protest planned over Delta canal

Sacramento Bee - 7/27/09

By Matt Weiser

Drilling soil samples in  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Delta./> Delta river
bottoms is expected in September as California begins planning a
controversial water diversion canal - a canal that also has a fleet of
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Delta./> Delta boaters planning to weigh anchor in

 <http://topics.sacbee.com/Oakley+City+Councilman+Bruce+Connelley/> Oakley
City Councilman Bruce Connelley launched the "Million Boat Float" idea, to
protest drilling and what he calls a consistent exclusion of local residents
from the canal planning process.

"The state government involved in this  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Delta./>
Delta plan has not listened to the people," he said. "There is no choice
other than a public display." 

The proposed canal has been endorsed by Gov.
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Arnold+Schwarzenegger/> Arnold Schwarzenegger and
a task force he assembled to study the issue. The task force said a canal
could help restore the  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Delta./> Delta's strained

The canal is a centerpiece of the Bay  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Delta./>
Delta Conservation Plan - the BDCP - which includes state and federal
agencies, water users and environmental groups. Its goal is to obtain
approval for the canal, and habitat protection projects, under the
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Endangered+Species+Act/> Endangered Species Act.

The group's steering committee, however, has no local government
representatives. Its meetings are public, but its outreach has been limited.

Karla Nemeth, state liaison to the BDCP, said a number of community
workshops are planned in the  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Delta./> Delta this

"The loud and clear message we heard was that folks needed more detail," she

Nonetheless, Connelley's protest is set to begin Sunday, Aug. 16. He expects
to see thousands of boaters cruising upriver to
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Sacramento/> Sacramento for an overnight stay. On
Monday, Aug. 17, the  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Legislature/> Legislature
will reconvene after a recess, and the boaters will take their protest to
the Capitol steps.

Connelley's goal is a million boats, but he acknowledged he probably won't
get there.

"You ever seen a million boats on the
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Sacramento+River/> Sacramento River before? I
don't think we ever will, but it ought to be pretty impressive."

The protest is not likely to stall state
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Department+of+Water+Resources/> Department of
Water Resources plans to drill in the  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Delta./>
Delta in September.

That work involves taking soil samples as deep as 200 feet in the
<http://topics.sacbee.com/river+bottom/> river bottom at 16 locations, from
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Sacramento/> Sacramento's Pocket neighborhood and
the town of  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Walnut+Grove/> Walnut Grove on the
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Sacramento/> Sacramento River, to remote sloughs
near  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Bethel+Island/> Bethel Island and
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Stockton/> Stockton.

With land-based sampling already under way, testing is estimated to cost
$4.5 million, paid for by water contractors that depend on the
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Delta/> Delta.

A yet-to-be-hired contractor will work from either a barge or a ship. In
addition to drilling, the crew will test soil density by using a hammer-like
device to pound into the  <http://topics.sacbee.com/river+bottom/> river
bottom, said  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Mark+Pagenkopp/> Mark Pagenkopp, a
DWR senior engineering geologist overseeing the project.

The goal is to test suitability of soils for construction of a canal and its
intakes, tunnels and siphons.

"This data will help in determining which alignment would be the best
alignment to do," Pagenkopp said.

He said work is likely to start near  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Sacramento/>
Sacramento's Pocket neighborhood, and then move south. The aim is to finish
by the end of September, but it could stretch into 2010.

The canal would divert a portion of the
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Sacramento/> Sacramento River's flow directly to
the  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Delta./> Delta's state and federal water
export pumps near Tracy.

Isolating freshwater in a canal would prevent the pumps from killing fish,
and would protect the water from floods and earthquakes.

A canal would also end the need to maintain the
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Delta./> Delta as a freshwater environment to
serve water diverters. Biologists say the
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Delta./> Delta should have more frequent pulses of
<http://topics.sacbee.com/salt+water/> salt water, an idea that worries
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Delta./> Delta residents.

What's envisioned are actually two canals: a completely contained canal
skirting one edge of the  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Delta/> Delta, and a
"through- <http://topics.sacbee.com/Delta/> Delta" canal assembled from
existing levees running down the estuary.

Each canal would be enormous - at least 1,000 feet wide and 40 miles long -
with potential environmental effects that remain unknown.

The project is similar to the ill-fated Peripheral Canal rejected by
<http://topics.sacbee.com/California+voters/> California voters in 1982.
This time, the Schwarzenegger administration claims it doesn't need voter
approval to build the canal, which is likely to cost $10 billion.

Many  <http://topics.sacbee.com/property+owners/> property owners are
protesting DWR's demand for access to conduct land-based soil sampling.
About 35 lawsuits are pending as a result.

Dante Nomellini Sr., a lawyer representing some
<http://topics.sacbee.com/property+owners/> property owners, said the
drilling is likely to draw more lawsuits.

Connelley said his "Million Boat Float" will be civil. Participating boats
will fly unique flags to identify them as part of the flotilla.

"There's no intent to do anything radical that would hurt, harm or demean
anybody," he said. "Our focus is to bring this to national attention."


Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land

415 519 4810 cell

 <mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net

 <mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org

 <http://fotr.org/> http://www.fotr.org 




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