[env-trinity] Sac Bee 10 03 10

Ara Azhderian ara.azhderian at sldmwa.org
Mon Oct 4 10:02:36 PDT 2010


WOW... you would think that someone with such a position would be at
least partially aware of the facts.  For example, Westlands doesn't
discharge any drainage.

 

Obfuscating the facts doesn't benefit anyone.   Sad.

 

Ara Azhderian

Water Policy Adminstrator

San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority

 

From: env-trinity-bounces at velocipede.dcn.davis.ca.us
[mailto:env-trinity-bounces at velocipede.dcn.davis.ca.us] On Behalf Of
Byron Leydecker
Sent: Monday, October 04, 2010 9:24 AM
To: FOTR List; Trinity List
Subject: [env-trinity] Sac Bee 10 03 10

 

Irrigators may get new free pass to pollute

Sacramento Bee-10/3/10

By Jim Metropulos

Opinion

 

Longtime residents of California may recall those 1984 pictures of birds
with twisted beaks, deformed heads and the limp, dead chicks. These
birds died by the hundreds in Kesterson Wildlife Refuge near Los Banos -
one of the state's worst wildlife disasters. 

 

In the decades that followed, state water officials have looked the
other way and refused to enforce the state's tough discharge selenium
standards. Kesterson Reservoir became a wake-up call. 

 

But no one at the State Water Resources Control Board woke up. Toxic,
selenium-contaminated agricultural drainage water still flows through
the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and into the San Joaquin River. 

 

And the State Water Resources Control Board is about to approve another
10-year waiver for its selenium discharge standards. That means another
10 years of toxic water headed toward the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta -
and our drinking water. 

 

For west-side irrigators, this is business as usual. And the state water
board plans to keep it that way. 

 

Some may view this as a blast from the past. In Kesterson, follow-up
studies documented that selenium-laced runoff from Westlands Water
District lands and other west-side irrigators produced the selenium
wastewater that caused the Kesterson disaster. Now, the state water
board is about to allow one of the state's biggest drainage polluters to
keep loading selenium into our waterways. 

 

Of course, the west-side irrigators will tell you things have changed.
They may quote their new slogan: "Dilution is Grasslands' and Westlands
Water District's solution." 

 

But these giant west-side agricultural powerhouses' "solution" falls far
short of fixing the problem. Selenium builds up in the bodies of plants
and animals. So while the levels of selenium vary with dilution, this
toxin builds up in the food chain and has caused bird deformities,
reproduction problems and death in wildlife. It can even threaten human
health and is known to cause symptoms as varied as hair loss,
nervous-system effects, and digestive harm. 

 

Let's follow the water. Bearing levels of selenium high enough to deform
wildlife and threaten drinking water, the drainage swirls past signs
posted along Mud Slough and parts of the San Joaquin River. The signs
warn would-be anglers not to eat fish caught in the toxic brew, to
prevent potential birth defects. Seeping its toxic cargo into
groundwater all the way, the water finally flows to the Merced River and
empties into the Delta. 

 

Westlands and the other west-side irrigators are simply too politically
powerful. Westlands and these other irrigators are some of the state's
foremost proponents of a proposed peripheral canal. The federal
government has documented that the continued use of federally subsidized
irrigation for about 400,000 acres of selenium-rich soils along the west
side of the valley are causing the selenium contamination of groundwater
and surface waters spreading out from Westlands Water District and the
other west-side irrigators.

 

For years, these polluters have received a free pass as they dumped
toxic selenium into our drinking water, and harmed our fisheries and the
Pacific Flyway. The State Water Resources Control Board should deny
approval of the proposed amendment to the San Joaquin Basin Plan that
would give Westlands and these water users another decade to avoid
enforcement of selenium water-quality standards and aquatic life
protections. 

 

These west-side irrigators need to wake up and follow the rules. 

Jim Metropulos represents the Sierra Club on statewide water and energy
issues.

 

 

Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land/fax

415 519 4810 mobile

bwl3 at comcast.net

bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org (secondary)

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

 

 

 

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