[env-trinity] Idea of ‘maximizing’ water deliveries takes a beating
klamathtrinityriver at gmail.com
Thu Jan 25 23:55:07 PST 2018
Idea of ‘maximizing’ water deliveries takes a beating
Chico >> The Bureau of Reclamation came to Chico Thursday to take input on
a proposal to maximize water deliveries from the Central Valley Project,
and for two hours a succession of speakers told them it was a bad idea.
The meeting was nominally to get comments just on what the environmental
studies for the proposal should look at, but most of the speakers objected
to the basic idea of taking more water from the north to deliver to the San
Joaquin Valley for what more than one speaker called “desert agriculture.”
Rick Switzer compared the proposal to seeing how much more could be
squeezed from an already dry sponge.
“I question the premise of what you are doing. Water’s finite; you people
don’t seem to be familiar with the concept.”
There were close to a hundred people crowded into a room at the Bell
Memorial Union on the Chico State University campus, and dozens of them
The proposal to revise the operations of the Central Valley Project — and
the State Water Project — first surfaced in December. It seems to be
fulfillment of a campaign promise then-candidate Donald Trump made in May
2016 during a speech in Fresno to deliver more water there if he was
Reclamation officials Thursday stressed the proceedings were in their
infancy and alternatives haven’t been developed, but the documents
accompanying it start with the statement that the amount of water available
for south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has decreased since the
project was built in the 1930s.
The goals laid out for the revision include maximizing water deliveries and
hydropower marketing, giving consideration to modifying environmental
regulations to do that.
Numerous people asked where the new water was going to come from. Grim
pictures of the health of the rivers were painted with accounts of
dwindling numbers of fish. Well owners talked about how groundwater levels
were already dropping.
“Our environment is already collapsing from the over allocation of water,”
said Robert Dunn of the Northern California Guides Association. “We’re
totally opposed to more water going south.”
There was no support for relaxing protections for fish to send more water
south, so farmers “can make money from it downstream,” as one speaker put
“We don’t have any more in the environment to take from,” said Lucas
RossMerz of the Sacramento River Preservation Trust. “When is the
agriculture side of this have to give something back?”
That point was also made by James Dunlap of the Yurok on the Klamath River.
The tribe has had to have an emergency declared in order to get extra water
released into the river to battle a fish disease.
“The Westlands (the largest San Joaquin irrigation district) should have to
prove a emergency to get the water instead of the tribes having to prove an
Dunlap said he’d really like to see the Central Valley Project dismantled.
Failing that, “consider what the environment was prior to the CVP and start
The meeting was the final one of three to take input on the “scope” of the
environmental impact statement to be prepared for the proposal. There was a
meeting Tuesday in Los Banos and Wednesday in Sacramento.
Ben Nelson, a natural resources specialist with the bureau, said there were
about 30 people at the Los Banos meeting, and only about three citizens
spoke. There were about 100 in Sacramento, but far fewer comments than
Comments on the scope of the EIS will be taken until the close of business
next Friday, Feb. 1.
The current plan is laid out in a Federal Register filing, which can be
viewed at http://tinyurl.com/cvp2018change.
Written comments can be mailed or hand-delivered to Katrina Harrison,
project manager, Bureau of Reclamation, Bay-Delta Office, 801 I St., Suite
140, Sacramento, CA, 95814-2536; or faxed to 1-916-414-2439; or emailed to
kharrison at usbr.gov.
The comments will be used to shape a draft EIS laying out a number of
alternatives and evaluating their impacts. That will then be opened to
another round of public comment and additional revisions before a final EIS
For additional information, contact Harrison at 1-916-414-2425 (TTY
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