[env-trinity] Sac Bee 10 03 10

Emelia Berol ema.berol at yahoo.com
Thu Oct 7 06:52:17 PDT 2010


I thought that Jim's opinion piece was well written and accurate. Whether 
Westlands is directly discharging into the San Joaquin or whether the selenium 
is finding its way into the river through leaching is not the issue. The fact 
is, drainage from the Westlands is polluting the river, and what I have trouble 
understanding is how state and federal agencies can choose to keep ignoring, or 
downplaying the seriousness of the problem, especially given the USGS reports 
that came out in the 90's. The costs to the public are outrageous. My view of 
the situation is that the damages and losses far outweigh the benefits of 
farming on the westside. If they want to keep farming, it should not be done 
with subsidized water, which is a public resource. 

It's not really about farming, anyway, is it? Last I heard, Lemore Naval Air 
Base and LAMWD are Westlands WD biggest customers. 

Emelia Berol
Arcata, California



________________________________
From: Jim Metropulos <jim.metropulos at sierraclub.org>
To: Ara Azhderian <ara.azhderian at sldmwa.org>
Cc: FOTR List <fotr at mailman.dcn.org>; Trinity List <env-trinity at mailman.dcn.org>
Sent: Mon, October 4, 2010 10:30:22 AM
Subject: Re: [env-trinity] Sac Bee 10 03 10

Ara:



We know that Westlands has plugged their drains. In theory the Grassland 
Drainers are the only ones discharging directly into the San Joaquin River via 
the San Luis Drain.

However, the Central Valley Regional Water Board staff testified that Westlands 
Water District selenium pollution, which is is not regulated by waste discharge 
requirements, is migrating to surrounding farms and to the San Joaquin River. 
Because there is no publicly available monitoring of the contaminated 
groundwater at Westlands or field edge monitoring, ones does not know for 
certain if Westlands is discharging directly in the San Joaquin River.

I can respect that you have a different opinion on this issue but what's sad is 
your knee-jerk characterization that the op-ed is "obfuscating the facts."

Regardless, have a good day.

Jim Metropulos
Sierra Club California
jim.metropulos at sierraclub.org
www.twitter.com/SierraClubCA


The Regional Board staff testified that Westlands Water District selenium 
pollution, which is not regulated by waste discharge requirements etc, is 
migrating to surrounding farms and to the San Joaquin River.  Because there is 
no publicly available monitoring of the contaminated groundwater at Westlands or 
field edge monitoring, one does not know for certain if Westlands is 
discharging directly into the San Joaquin River. 

On Oct 4, 2010, at 10:02 AM, Ara Azhderian wrote:

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://fotr.org/
> 
> 
> 
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