June 2018

These fish are at the heart of California's water debate. But extinction could be close

State biologists have found hardly any Delta smelt in their sampling nets in the past two years. Consecutive surveys in late April and early May found no smelt at all.

Sacramento Bee, June 1, 2018

May 2018

California Sued Over Delta Tunnels Project Changes

Environmental organizations sued the California agency in charge of managing a massive water project Friday, saying the state illegally altered the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta management plan to favor the project over environmental restoration.

Courthouse News Service, May 25, 2018

Why a bill before Congress is such a big threat to the Delta

Backed by southern California interests, the House Appropriations Committee just unveiled the fiscal year 2019 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill. It includes language that would prohibit any judicial review of anything associated with the disastrous twin tunnels project, also known as California WaterFix, under federal or state laws.

Sacramento Bee, May 17, 2018

This one stretch of river could decide the future of Shasta Dam

Now the $1.3 billion project has returned with force. Congress in March appropriated $20 million for pre-construction planning. The appropriation, part of a massive federal budget bill signed into law by President Donald Trump, was enough to touch off a political fracas stretching from Washington to Sacramento.

Sacramento Bee, May 7, 2018

Separating water and politics isn't easy in California

The challenge of California water "is that we expect more than there is to get," said Doug Obegi, a Natural Resources Defense Council attorney who attended the hearings."Prop 1 tried to depoliticize that by making it about specific public benefits. But over and over again you saw the commission struggling with the broader implications."

Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2018

Editorial: More water storage doesn't mean build more dams

The commission -- and all Californians -- should bear in mind that water storage doesn't necessarily mean a dam with water behind it. The commission's charge is not to fund the biggest new dam but to fund projects with the greatest net benefits to California cities, farms and wildlife.

San Francisco Chronicle, May 2, 2018

California is dammed enough already

The largest river in Southern California, measured by volume and flow, is the Santa Ana, which empties into the ocean near Huntington Beach. But the second largest, again in terms of volume and flow of water, is the virtual river that flows out of the Hyperion sewage treatment plant. Hyperion is, in fact, the major component of L.A.'s sanitation system and its water is -- to put it gingerly -- dirty. But it is water, it can be cleaned, it can be stored, distributed and reused. When we have bond funding for storage projects, it makes sense to spend it where the water is, and it's increasingly in urban outflow.

Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2018

April 2018

California announces tentative funding for new giant dams

Bids to enlarge the East Bay's Los Vaqueros Reservoir and Santa Clara County's Pacheco Reservoir were deemed eligible for the highly sought Proposition 1 money. So were proposals for a new, 13-mile-long reservoir in Sites (Colusa County) and a new, 18-mile-long reservoir known as Temperance Flat near Fresno.

San Francisco Chronicle, April 19, 2018

What needs to happen for San Joaquin Valley to replenish its groundwater

The San Joaquin Valley -- where decades of unchecked pumping has depleted reserves, resulting in a long-term deficit of nearly 2 million acre-feet per year -- has about a generation to bring its groundwater use into balance to comply with the state's Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Storing more water underground through "groundwater recharge" can help, reducing the deficit by as much as a quarter.

Sacramento Bee, April 18, 2018

Don't be rushed in awarding water storage billions, California. Let's take our time

But the commission shouldn't let itself be rushed through this final phase of deliberation. All these projects deserve careful and thorough consideration. If the commission stays its course in carrying out voters' mandate to make sound investments in water storage and drought preparation, average Californians and the state's ecosystem will benefit in an enduring, sustainable manner that gives our water system more of what it needs to confront climate change.

Sacramento Bee, April 17, 2018

White House, Congress side with California growers over raising Shasta Dam

Congress and the Trump administration are pushing ahead with a plan to raise a towering symbol of dam-building's 20th century heyday to meet the water demands of 21st century California -- a project backed by San Joaquin Valley growers but opposed by state officials, defenders of a protected river and an American Indian tribe whose sacred sites would be swamped.

San Francisco Chronicle, April 14, 2018

Water agency approves $11B for California twin tunnels plan

California's largest water agency on Tuesday approved a nearly $11 billion plan to help fund two enormous tunnels, breathing new life into Gov. Jerry Brown's ambitious and controversial plan to remake the state's water system.

Sacramento Bee, April 10, 2018

Southern California water agency backs off plan to finance both Delta tunnels

That plan died suddenly on Monday, less than a week after staffers from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California presented the proposal to the agency's board of directors. The district -- the source of tap water for 75 percent of Ventura County residents -- ultimately decided the financing plan contained too many risks.

VC Star April 4, 2018

March 2018

Westlands' water rights bill is poison for taxpayers

In summary, there are no safeguards for the environment or taxpayers. This is a bad deal for California and America. Meanwhile, salt continues to accumulate under Westlands farms. Some of us remember what happened to Mesopotamia.

Fresno Bee, March 23, 2018

California doesn't want this towering water project. Trump administration may build it anyway

The Trump administration is pushing forward with a colossal public works project in Northern California -- heightening the towering Shasta Dam the equivalent of nearly two stories. The problem is that California is dead-set against the plan, and state law prohibits the 602-foot New Deal-era structure from getting any taller.

Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2018

New Report Sparks Debate: Delta Tunnels Could Help Save Fish Species

"We predicted they'd go extinct if present trends continue," he [Peter Moyle] said. "The new report is a plan to make present trends not continue." The paper -- entitled "Making the Delta a Better Place for Native Fishes" -- aims to provide lawmakers and policy directors with a framework to reverse the trends that have made the Delta such a hostile place for native fish that evolved to thrive in an estuary environment.

KQED, March 13, 2018

These Chinook almost went extinct during California's drought. Can this $100 million plan save them?

Thanks to cold springs that keep the stream flowing all summer long, Battle Creek long has been considered a possible sanctuary for the winter-run, which spawn in the blast-furnace heat of the Sacramento Valley's summers.

Sacramento Bee, March 8, 2018

Jerry Brown's grand California water solution remains in jeopardy as he prepares to exit

Opponents still don't like the so-called WaterFix plan, which despite downsizing is massive. Financing remains an open question. And backers haven't given up their dream of two 35-mile tunnels carrying high-quality Sacramento River water under the delta's levee-ringed farm islands to government pumping plants that fill southbound aqueducts.

Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2018

Los Angeles' new "Mulholland moment" for safe and adequate water: Eric Garcetti

In years past, we've taken water from the Owens Valley, the California Delta and the Colorado River. But we cannot rely solely on 20th century engineering for our 21st century water needs -- and projects like the Delta tunnels run the risk of siphoning off precious ratepayer dollars and endangering the fragile Delta ecosystem.

Los Angeles Daily News, March 3, 2018