[env-trinity] [FOTR] CALIFORNIA WATER NEWS 12/16/10

Smith, Jimmy R. JRSmith at co.humboldt.ca.us
Thu Dec 16 14:17:11 PST 2010

Thank you for keeping me informed, they are incessant     jimmy



From: fotr-bounces+jrsmith=co.humboldt.ca.us at velocipede.dcn.davis.ca.us
[mailto:fotr-bounces+jrsmith=co.humboldt.ca.us at velocipede.dcn.davis.ca.u
s] On Behalf Of Moira Burke
Sent: Thursday, December 16, 2010 11:40 AM
To: Byron Leydecker
Cc: FOTR List; Trinity List
Subject: Re: [FOTR] [env-trinity] CALIFORNIA WATER NEWS 12/16/10


This is disastrous.  Does Obama understand what this means?


M o i r a  B u r k e

tel 707 678 3591  


On Dec 16, 2010, at 11:11 AM, Byron Leydecker wrote:

December 16, 2010


Underground tunnels proposed for Calif. water woes

L.A. Daily News


California urges tunnel system for delta

L.A. Times


Delta plan gets a nod from federal government

Contra Costa Times


California $13 Billion Water Tunnel Gets Federal, State Support

S.F. Chronicle


Californians Who Rely on Delta at "Severe Risk"



State faces pivotal point in water future

Sacramento Bee






Underground tunnels proposed for Calif. water woes

L.A. Daily News (Associated Press)-12/15/10


Federal and state officials threw their support Wednesday behind the
construction of two underground tunnels as the best option for restoring
California's freshwater delta and meeting the needs of farmers and
Southern California cities.


The diversion of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to
croplands and urban areas has furthered the decline of the largest
estuary in the West. Officials are trying to find a solution that would
reduce the ecological stress on the delta without harming the state's
agricultural economy.


Under the plan, two tunnels that are 33-feet in diameter and 150 feet
below the surface would deliver water from north of the delta to the
south. Water users would pay the tab, an estimated $13 billion. The
tunnels would take about 10 years to construct.


The plan drew immediate protests from environmental groups, who said it
doesn't include specific goals that would measure success in protecting
salmon and other endangered species. They also said it failed to contain
measures that would lead people to conserve water.


The delta, where the state's major rivers drain from the northern and
central Sierra Nevada, is the hub of California's water supply. Both the
state and federal government run massive pumps that siphon drinking and
irrigation water to more than 25 million Californians and the Central
Valley farms that grow much of the nation's fruits and vegetables.


The Bay Delta Conservation Plan is a federal and state initiative that
would determine a framework for dealing with the declining health of the
delta, as well as the increasing demand for its water. One of the
leading players in the negotiations, the Westlands Water District,
pulled out of negotiations a few weeks ago.

The announcement seemed designed to give stakeholders and the public a
sense of progress.


"The status quo is not acceptable. The status quo will only result in a
continuing and endless cycle of conflict, litigation and paralysis,"
Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar said during a conference call
summarizing the plan to reporters.


Salazar and other officials also said they still considered Westlands a
part of the planning process.


"This is the only game in town, and we're hopeful they'll be full and
robust participants as we move forward," Salazar said.


Officials said the key elements to the plan were restoring tens of
thousands of acres of marshland and floodplains, and developing a new
system of moving water around the delta.


In recent years, court decisions aimed at protecting endangered fish
have restricted water deliveries from the delta and have spelled major
losses for growers in the state's farm belt who rely on the delta's
water to irrigate their crops.


The Kern County Water Agency called the plan an important development in
coming up with a strategy for restoring the delta.


Agency officials, however, said they were concerned that the proposal
leaves open the amount of water supply that the tunnels could provide.


State officials only said that modeling suggests that annual water
exports would be more reliable and greater than current exports.#





California urges tunnel system for delta

L.A. Times-12/16/10

By Bettina Boxall


State officials Wednesday recommended construction of a $13-billion
tunnel system that would carry water under the troubled Sacramento-San
Joaquin River Delta to southbound aqueducts, a project that would
replumb a perpetual bottleneck in California's vast water delivery


The proposal is far from final. It faces a new administration, lengthy
environmental reviews and controversy over how much water should be
exported from the Northern California estuary system that serves as a
conduit for water shipments to Southern California and the San Joaquin
Valley. The earliest completion date would be 2022.


The tunnel plan is a variation of an idea that has been around for
decades. Voters in 1982 killed a proposal to route water around the
delta in a canal. But talk of a bypass has resurfaced as endangered
species protections in recent years have forced cutbacks in pumping from
the south delta.


Some water would still be pumped from the south under the new proposal,
but the bulk would be drawn from the Sacramento River as it enters the
north delta. The water would then be carried by two huge tunnels, 150
feet deep, to the federal and state aqueducts.


Some delta advocates remain staunchly opposed to the concept. But there
is growing agreement that changing diversion points could lessen the
environmental impacts of pumping and that a tunnel would not be as
vulnerable to earthquake damage as a canal bypass or the existing
pumping operations.


The project, which would be accompanied by $3.3-billion worth of habitat
restoration over 50 years, is part of an ambitious multi-agency program
intended to resolve the conflict that has enveloped the delta for


Reaction to the state recommendations, which the Obama administration
generally endorsed, underscored how difficult it may be to achieve a
delta truce. Environmental groups assailed the planning report as
"flawed, incomplete and disappointing." And the largest irrigation
district in California already pulled its support of the plan,
suspecting that it would not restore its water supplies.


Of particular contention to environmentalists are the size of the tunnel
system and the operating rules that would determine the volume of


California Natural Resources Secretary Lester Snow said Wednesday that
annual delta exports under the project could average 5.4 to 5.9 million
acre-feet, more than allowed under current environmental restrictions -
and considerably more than environmentalists and some fish biologists
say the delta ecosystem can withstand if it is to make any sort of


Critics said there were too many unsettled issues to make such a
projection, and they accused federal and state officials of pandering to
the agricultural and urban water agencies that would pay for the tunnel


Officials "know the assertions that they're making aren't true," said
Gary Bobker of the Bay Institute, one of the environmental groups
participating in the delta program. "They know that the amount of water
that we're going to be able to export from the delta in the future is
probably not going to be the kind of numbers the [plan] is talking


Last month, the giant Westlands Water District said it was pulling out
of the delta program because it didn't think the project would live up
to its promise of restoring delta exports, which had reached record
levels before the recent drought and endangered species cutbacks of the
last two years.


"We cannot justify the expenditure of billions of dollars for a program
that is unlikely to restore our water supply," Westlands General Manager
Tom Birmingham said Wednesday.


He added that the state plans and statements by the U.S. Interior
Department that the project could increase deliveries were a good sign.


"What Interior said today is encouraging. But whether Westlands reverses
its position or decision is going to be determined by what Interior
does, as opposed to what it says."#





Delta plan gets a nod from federal government

Contra Costa Times-12/15/10

By Mike Taugher


The Obama administration said Wednesday that it supports plans to build
a new aqueduct to deliver Sacramento River water to the south, marking
the first time the federal government has endorsed a proposal that has
simmered in California for decades.


However, federal officials stopped short of endorsing a massive set of
intakes and tunnels that state officials want to build.


With support fraying for an ambitious Delta water supply and ecosystem
restoration plan, state and federal officials issued a pair of reports
Wednesday intended to shore up support for the beleaguered Bay-Delta
Conservation Plan.


"This is the last best hope to deal with these issues in the San
Francisco Bay-Delta," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. "This is the
only game in town."


The state report, issued by the Resources Agency, calls for five intakes
and two huge tunnels to carry Sacramento River water from the north
Delta to south Delta pumps, a project that is estimated to cost $13
billion. The tunnels would replace earlier plans to build a peripheral
canal around the Delta, a plan that was rejected by voters in 1982 after
it was authorized by once and future Gov. Jerry Brown.


The federal report, issued by six federal water supply and environmental
regulatory agencies, was less specific and more cautious in assessing
what the plan could deliver. However, it said a new water delivery
system would help stabilize water supplies and restore the failing Delta


The incoming Brown administration, which will inherit the politically
tricky Delta problems, had no comment, spokesman Evan Westrup said.


The fact that two reports were issued instead of one shows that the
Obama and Schwarzenegger administrations are not in full agreement on
the plan's details.


During a joint conference call with media members, state and federal
officials were equally emphatic that the answers to the Delta's problems
lie in the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan, which is still an incomplete


"This is the time to build a long-term strategy," Salazar said. "The
status quo is unacceptable."


Four years and $140 million in the making, the Bay-Delta Conservation
Plan would include two 33-foot tunnels to deliver water and a large
wetlands restoration program in the Delta that supporters say would
boost fish populations and eliminate the uncertainty surrounding water
supplies that comes when fish are near extinction.


The plan faces a series of challenges. Last month, the Westlands Water
District, the nation's largest irrigation district, withdrew support
because it said federal regulators were making demands that would
decrease the amount of water they could receive.


Although many observers and participants contend that Westlands is
likely to rejoin, another major water district with an extensive farm
sector said Wednesday that it also would consider withdrawing support if
it does not think enough water will be available.


"We need to know that the yield of the project that is going to be
proposed is at a level that is cost-effective for us," said Jim Beck,
general manager for the Kern County Water Agency.


Environmentalists, meanwhile, say state and federal officials appear to
be bowing to pressure from water agencies and threaten to knock the plan


"For them to step out and take positions on issues that are far from
resolved could be detrimental to the process. They could slow it down
and cause delays," said Ann Hayden, a water policy analyst at the
Environmental Defense Fund and a member of the steering committee that
is writing the plan.


The estimates put forward so far likely are too high in part because
planners have not established goals for recovering fish populations,
Hayden said. Dwindling fish populations will likely need more water
flowing into San Francisco Bay to recover, she said.


Still, the state report suggested that water districts in the Bay Area,
San Joaquin Valley and Southern California could receive 5.4 million to
5.9 million acre-feet a year on average under the plan. The federal
report said it appeared that the plan could result in more than 5.2
million acre-feet a year.


That's an improvement over the 4.7 million acre-feet that can be
delivered on average with new restrictions in the Delta but less than
the 6 million acre-feet a year delivered from 2000 to 2007.


"If it's under 5.9 "... it will require our water users to re-evaluate
whether BDCP meets their water supply objectives," Beck said.


The next several months could determine the plan's fate.


"Certainly there's a risk of failure," said Tim Quinn, the executive
director of the Association of California Water Agencies and strong
supporter of the plan. "What I'm hoping is everybody on both sides is
asking themselves the hard question: What happens if we don't find a





California $13 Billion Water Tunnel Gets Federal, State Support

S.F. Chronicle (Bloomberg)-12/16/10


California is one step closer to getting a $13 billion "conveyance
system" that would carry water from the northern part of the state to a
region that grows half the nation's fresh produce, Interior Secretary
Kenneth Salazar said.


Salazar's office today released a status report that he said was
designed to end years of "conflict, litigation and paralysis" and bring
consensus to a project debated for four decades.


The state of California today also issued a report, outlining how a
tunnel or canal would bring water from the northern end of San Francisco
Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the south where it would provide
irrigation for farmers and drinking water to residents.


"After years of drought, growing stress on water supplies, and with the
Bay-Delta in full environmental collapse, it has become clear to
everyone that the status quo for California's water infrastructure is no
longer an option," Salazar said in a statement.


The Delta is a 738,000-acre (298,700-hectare) maze of islands and canals
south of Sacramento created by the confluence of two large rivers,
according to the state Department of Water Resources. Runoff from the
Sierra Nevada Mountains provides water to 25 million Californians,
according to the state's report.


Maximizing the water flow for consumers while protecting wildlife
habitats has been an issue unresolved for four decades, according to
California Secretary of Natural Resources Lester Snow. The state's
report summarizes 3,000 pages of research, identifies key issues and
makes them easier for citizens to understand, Snow said in a press
conference today.


"This is a significant milestone," he said. "We are for the first time
within striking distance of a balanced approach."


A tunnel would provide a direct route to Southern California consumers
while minimizing interference with the wildlife on the ground, said Pete
Lucero, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.


Completion of a tunnel, estimated in the state report to cost $13
billion, may take 10 to 15 years, Mark Cowin, director of the state
Department of Water Resources, said at the press conference.


U.S. District Court Judge Oliver Wanger in Fresno ruled on Dec. 14 that
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would have to rewrite its plans to
protect the Delta smelt, an endangered fish, according to the Fresno


"This is one court decision," Salazar said in the press conference in
response to a question about the case. "If everyone gets wrapped up in
litigation there will never be a decision."#







Californians Who Rely on Delta at "Severe Risk"


by Gretchen Weber


Here's a shocker: Yes, action is necessary on the San Francisco Bay


State and federal authorities provided an update Wednesday on the Bay
Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), which is tasked with restoring the
damaged ecosystems of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and safeguarding
California's water supply.


"The 25 million Californians who rely on the Delta for clean drinking
water are at severe risk," said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar,
on a call with reporters.


It's well established that the current system of water delivery that
shuttles water from north to south through the Delta causes damage to
wetlands and threatens native species, as well as leaving the water
supply vulnerable to earthquakes and pollution.


"There is now a clear consensus that the status quo is unsustainable,"
said Senator Dianne Feinstein, in a written statement.


The report released Wednesday focuses on three key elements, which
Deputy Secretary David Hayes outlined on the call:


1. Improve water quality and restore the ecosystems

2. Rather than just pumping water through the Delta, water should also
be moved around the Delta through an underground tunnel

3. Create a monitoring and adaptive management plan for the Delta, that
would allow for flexibility


The 92-page "highlights" report is not a final plan, nor even a draft
plan, which is not expected until next year.  Instead it is a "status
report on the condition of the BDCP" and a "transition document" from
the Schwarzenegger-to-Brown administrations, said Lester Snow, head of
the California Natural Resources Agency.


Despite its preliminary nature, however, the report has sparked
criticism from environmental groups such as the Environmental Defense
Fund, The Bay Institute, and the Natural Resources Defense Council,
which cite its lack of endangered species protections and a water
conservation strategy, among other concerns.


"This plan is not ready for prime time," said Gary Bobker, Program
Director at the Bay Institute.  "Whether it's the quality of the
analysis, or paying attention to the best available scientific
information, or facing up to some hard policy choices about the future,
the plan simply does not pass the laugh test."#





State faces pivotal point in water future

Sacramento Bee-12/16/10

By Ken Salazar and David J. Hayes



California's water hub - the San Francisco Bay-Delta - can no longer do
it all. Years of drought, worsening water pollution, rising water
demands and the disappearance of wildlife and habitat have left the
Bay-Delta in a state of environmental collapse. As a result, a
multibillion-dollar agricultural economy, coastal fishing fleets and the
25 million Californians who rely on the Delta for clean drinking water
are at severe risk.


This is the deciding moment for California's water future. We can either
complete the much-needed long-term California Bay-Delta Conservation
Plan on which the Obama administration, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger,
water users and other partners have made significant progress, or fall
back into an endless cycle of conflict, litigation and paralysis.


While the conservation plan is still a work in progress, its essential
elements are simple.


First, scientists and policymakers alike have concluded that
California's economic and environmental health can no longer tolerate
exclusive reliance on a 50-year-old system of pumping water directly
through the Delta - a system that reverses river flows, causes direct
harm to fisheries, leads to unreliable water supplies and leaves many
Californians at risk of losing clean water supplies if there were an


Therefore, rather than simply pumping water from north to south through
the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, there is an emerging consensus that we
should reduce pressure on the system by also moving water around the
Delta through a water conveyance system, such as a canal or a tunnel.


Second, to help improve water quality and restore the ecosystem to
health, the conservation plan calls for the restoration of tens of
thousands of acres of marshes, floodplains and riparian habitats in the


Third, the conservation plan would establish a detailed monitoring and
adaptive management plan for the Delta that would allow us to use the
most up-to-date science to guide the management of water and
environmental resources. We need to be able to adjust the implementation
of the plan over time to make the most efficient and effective use of
water resources and management tools.


These three essential elements of the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan are
the foundation for a long-term water strategy that meets the dual goals
of restoring the Bay-Delta ecosystem and securing more reliable water


Early scientific analysis of the conservation plan offers cause to be
optimistic. Preliminary modeling suggests that a new north-south water
conveyance facility - as contemplated by the conservation plan - could
be operated in a manner that would generate annual water exports over
the long term that are more reliable, and greater, than the average
annual exports achievable under current conditions.


This is good news for California's economy and environment because it
means that with science-based operating criteria and other measures to
address fish and habitat needs, a north-south water conveyance facility
could be a major step forward in meeting the dual goals of ecosystem
restoration and water supply reliability.


Of course, there is much more work to do. Our experts are working in
partnership with the state and stakeholders to develop a plan proposal
that will meet California's objectives.


Also, at our request, the scientists at the National Academy of Sciences
are providing input on what additional scientific analysis needs to
occur to ensure the success of the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan.


As we move forward with the next steps, it is vital that we carry
forward the momentum that Schwarzenegger, the California Legislature,
Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the California congressional delegation and
many stakeholders have built for the conservation plan over the past two


We can't afford to lose sight of long-term or near-term solutions that
benefit all Californians.


To that end, the Obama administration will continue to work closely with
all parties to advance the conservation plan, and we will also
aggressively pursue immediate actions to make water supplies more


In 2011, for example, we will continue the innovative water augmentation
strategies we initiated in 2010 as an additional assurance that adequate
supplies will be available from the Central Valley Project. These
activities, developed cooperatively with the state and other
stakeholders, include more integrated operations with the State Water
Project, source shifting with SWP contractors, and additional types of
water transfers within the CVP and SWP service areas.


Federal agencies are also working together with state authorities in an
unprecedented way to conserve water, improve water quality, address
invasive species issues and improve levee integrity.


Taken together, the progress we have made in the last year and the
opportunities that lie ahead present an opportunity for California's
water future we can't afford to miss. This is the moment - decades in
the making - to transform a crisis into a lasting legacy of water
security and conservation for the state of California.#


Ken Salazar is the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
David J. Hayes is the deputy secretary of the Department of the















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