[env-trinity] Sac Bee 10 03 10

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Mon Oct 4 10:21:18 PDT 2010


I disagree with you on the issue of Westlands discharging to the San Joaquin River.  During the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board's May 27, 2010 hearing on the selenium Basin Plan Amendment, the need for an investigation of other sources of selenium pollution to the Grasslands Drainage Area, specifically from Westlands Water District (WWD), was discussed.  Rudy Schnagl, Senior Scientist for the Central Valley Regional Board explained that surface and subsurface drainage discharges from WWD flow northeast toward Mud Slough, to other tributaries and to the San Joaquin River. Because of this flow pattern, some of the water that Grassland Area Farmers manage actually originates in WWD.  See the Partial Transcript of Proceeding, Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, Agenda Item No. 10, (May 27th, 2010) pp. 89, excerpted below.

Tom Stokely
Water Policy Analyst/Media Contact
California Water Impact Network
V/FAX 530-926-9727
Cell 530-524-0315
tstokely at att.net





            1               MS. CREEDON:  Ms. Hart, if I could ask Rudy


            2   to address a couple of issues?


            3               MS. HART:  Rudy?


            4               MS. CREEDON:  There was a lot of discussion


            5   about upslope and offsite discharges onto the grasslands


            6   project or contributing -- can you elaborate for the


            7   board so that they understand what other programs may be


            8   in place or will be in place to take care of those


            9   issues that are not related to this project, so they


           10   know we're just not ignoring it?


           11               MR. SCHNAGL:  Of course.  There were


           12   mentions of two types of inflows to the grasslands area


           13   that are related to this project.  First, the


           14   groundwater from the Westlands Water District is moving


           15   from that area to the northeast, as I mentioned earlier,


           16   and that would flow under the project area.  And so that


           17   is of concern and -- to the commenters and from our


           18   standpoint, any of that water that's captured by the


           19   Grassland Bypass Project farmers has to be managed by


           20   them and be discharged within their load limits.


           21               So they're responsible if they collect it in


           22   their subsurface drainage systems and discharge it.  So


           23   that puts the responsibility on this project for any


           24   groundwater that enters their area.

 ----- Original Message ----- 

  From: Ara Azhderian 
  To: Byron Leydecker ; FOTR List ; Trinity List 
  Sent: Monday, October 04, 2010 10:02 AM
  Subject: Re: [env-trinity] Sac Bee 10 03 10

  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



  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)






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