[env-trinity] Westlands Water District Hording Water
bwl3 at comcast.net
Wed Aug 19 11:46:59 PDT 2009
Westlands hordes surplus water while fish die and unemployed farm workers
beg for food and work
CSPA calls for investigation into surplus water by Westlands and others
Delta standards continue to be violated
Stockton, CA - Wednesday, August 19, 2009.
As broadcast and print media report heart-rendering stories about Westlands
Water District having to fallow fields thus putting people out of work and
placing farms in jeopardy because of a lack of water, the District has been
squirreling away surplus water it can't use. The California Sportfishing
Protection Alliance (CSPA) has discovered a Westlands' information bulletin
dated 23 July 2009 revealing that the giant irrigation district has been
hiding considerable carryover storage from last year and is adding even more
this year. CSPA is calling for an investigation into Westlands' surplus
water and possible surplus water hidden away by other water districts.
At the end of 2008, Westlands had some 233,998 acre-feet (AF) of water
stored in other facilities that it didn't need. Some 93,700 AF of that
stored water was used through June 2009. However, the export pumping
restrictions caused by the Delta Smelt Biological Opinion ended 30 June and
the State and Federal Projects have ramped up pumping. Westlands has made
firm commitments to acquire 141,522 AF of supplemental water and is
requesting additional supplies. Consequently, Westlands staff projects that
the District will end the water year with approximately 275,000 AF of water
it is unable to use.
CSPA Executive Director Bill Jennings said, "The idea that Westlands Water
District has been hording surplus water it can't use while farm workers have
been paid to hold vocal protests around the Central Valley accusing
Congressman George Miller and federal agencies of starving farmers in order
to protect Delta smelt is outrageous." "Perhaps Congressmen Devin Nunes and
Dennis Cardoza can use their influence to persuade Westlands to share some
of their stored water wealth to benefit those less fortunate," he said,
adding "clearly an investigation is needed to see who else might be hording
The bulletin also points out that the Banks pumping plant of the State Water
Project has been pumping about 1,000 AF of Central Valley Project daily. Of
course use of the "Joint Point of Diversion" (JPOD) is illegal and violates
D-1641, the State Water Resource Control Board's (State Board) order
implementing the Bay-Delta Plan. D-1641 explicitly prohibits use of JPOD
when south Delta salinity standards are being violated. Presently the
running 30-day average for electrical conductivity, the measure of salinity,
at Old River near Tracy is 1.02 umhos/cm. The water quality standard for
this period is 0.7 umhos/cm to protect Delta agriculture. South Delta
salinity standards have been continually violated the last seven months.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) and California Department of Water
Resources (DWR) have been ignoring the Cease & Deist Order issued by the
State Board in 2006 for violation of south Delta salinity standards.
Recently, they requested an extension of the compliance schedule for that
Cease & Deist Order beyond the 1 July 2009 deadline. CSPA was a party in
the June 2009 State Board evidentiary hearing regarding the DWR/USBR
request. Even though the State Board declared in 2006 they would not again
extend the compliance schedule, they are expected to shortly issue a
decision extending the schedule and excusing past violations. CSPA is
prepared to sue over the Board's continued refusal to enforce the Cease &
Desist Order. However, the prohibition against using JPOD while standards
are violated was neither raised nor discussed in that hearing.
Earlier this year, the State Board held hearings to consider a relaxation of
Delta outflow standards because they were being violated. While April rains
eliminated the need for relaxed standards the Board refused to penalize the
USBR and DWR for violating existing standards. In June, the USBR
acknowledged that Vernalis flows were only about 59% of required flow.
Again, the State Board took no action. Water quality standards in the
southern Delta have been consistently exceeded since last December.
Jennings observed that, "the State Board continues to look the other way as
virtually all of the standards protecting the Delta and its collapsing
fisheries are ignored and DWR and USBR violate the law in order to supply
Westlands with water they can't use."
CSPA remains concerned about the plight of unemployed farm workers, even as
we note that data from the California Economic Development Department and
annual reports from County Agricultural Commissioners reveal that both farm
labor employment and the value of agricultural production has increased in
the seven south-of-Delta counties over the course of the drought.
CSPA is a non-profit public benefit conservation and research organization
established in 1983 for the purpose of conserving, restoring, and enhancing
the state's water quality and fishery resources and their aquatic ecosystems
and riparian habitats. CSPA's website is: www.calsport.org.
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
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