Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Schwarzenegger’s Delta Vision: Canals and Dams

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force will release the final “strategic plan” for the California Delta today at its meeting in West Sacramento. Unfortunately, the supposedly “independent” body is recommending a new version of a bad old idea – the peripheral canal that California voters broadly defeated in 1982.

The task force is recommending “dual conveyance” facilities that will result in the destruction of the California Delta as an estuary – and seal the doom of Central Valley fall run chinook salmon and Delta smelt, longfin smelt, threadfin shad, striped bass and other fish populations. This plan will have catastrophic consequences up and down the West Coast, since the Delta is the largest and most significant estuary on the Pacific Coast. The San Francisco Bay-San Joaquin Delta is a nursery, spawning ground and migratory corridor for an array of species, including fall, spring and winter run chinook salmon, steelhead, white sturgeon, green sturgeon, striped bass, delta smelt, longfin smelt, threadfin shad, Sacramento splittail, Dungeness crab and herring.

Salmon fishing in ocean waters off the California and Oregon is closed this year, due to the collapse of Central Valley fall run chinook populations spurred by record water exports out of the Delta and other factors. The closure has caused economic devastation in coastal communities up and down the coast.

The strategic plan’s latest draft contains seven broad goals and dozens of objectives to reach these goals. One of the goals is to “build facilities to improve the existing water conveyance system and expand statewide storage, and operate both to achieve the co-equal goal.”

“Over the next decade or two, the state must have new water storage, above and below ground, and must also build new Delta water conveyance facilities,” said Phil Isenberg, the task force chair, in an editorial in Thursday’s Sacramento Bee. “The task force prefers the ‘dual conveyance’ approach, where water is transported both through and around the Delta.”

Unfortunately, the task force recommendations, although including some “restoration” language in an attempt to make it more palatable to environmental and fishing groups, are essentially doing the same thing that Schwarzenegger and Senator Diane Feinstein are doing in campaigning for their water bond proposal – pushing for the building of more dams and a peripheral canal.

Advocating the building of more reservoirs and a canal around the delta is premised on the “need” for more water exports from the Delta – when what we really need, in order to restore imperiled fisheries, is to export less water out of the Delta by taking drainage impaired land in the San Joaquin Valley out of production. After all, 80 to 85 percent of water exported from the Delta by the federal and state projects is used for agribusiness.

A recently published report by the Pacific Institute,”More with Less: Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency in California,” concluded that efficient technologies and management practices and implementing feasible policy changes can maintain a strong agricultural economy while reducing the need for Delta exports. These measures could save 3.4 million acre feet or more of water. The report also noted that recent court decisions from lawsuits filed by Earthjustice, Friends of the River, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, NRDC and others and scientific assessments all recognize that Delta exports must be reduced.

Gary Mulcahy, Governmental Liaison of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe and a member of the task force stakeholders group, strongly criticized the inclusion of “dual conveyance” in the plan. “The Tribe has opposed, now opposes and will continue to oppose any plan that includes a peripheral canal,” he said. “Whether you call the canal a peripheral canal or dual conveyance, any plan that removes water from the system before getting to the Delta is stupid and ridiculous because it will greatly impact the Delta ecosystem and food chain.”

After being a member of the stakeholders group for two years, Mulcahy said he was frustrated how the dual conveyance proposal appeared to be a foregone conclusion of the task force. “Over half the stakeholders supported an in-Delta conveyance proposal that would build gates on Old and Middle Rivers, but the task force apparently threw this out,” he said.

“From the very beginning there was a stong preference by the task force for dual conveyance as an end point,” Mulcahy emphasized. “In every revision and draft of notes from our meetings, it was apparent that dual conveyance was being promoted by the people doing the documentation – the Center for Collaborative Policy and a contractor from U.C. Berkeley. The task force had a real opportunity to do something good and right and they discarded it for a predetermined target. I think we wasted two years of hard work.”

Roger Mammon, recreational angler and board member of Restore the Delta, emphasized that the decline of the California Delta ecosystem can easily be traced. “All one has to do is compare fishery abundance prior to the state and federal water projects and then compare the decline of fisheries next to charts showing how exports were increased over the past 50 years,” stated Mammon. “Yet our tax dollars are paying for scientists who tell us there is no evidence that water exports have harmed the fisheries and ecosystem.”

“The Strategic Plan does nothing but insure clean water exports south at the expense and unltimate demise of the largest tidal estuary on the West Coast of the Americas,” Mammon concluded. “It is a crime against nature.”

Isenberg and other task force members will unveil their plan at the task force meeting and in a press conference scheduled today at 2:30 p.m. “A comprehensive set of recommendations designed to ensure long-term sustainable management of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the plan sets forth a strategy to secure a reliable water supply for California, and protect the Delta’s extraordinary environment,” according to the press advisory.

Members of the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, including Isenberg, Monica Florian, Richard Frank, Thomas McKernan, Sunne Wright McPeak, William Reilly, Raymond Seed, Ph.D., and John Kirlin, Executive Director, will all attend the news conference.

After the panel releases its final plan during its two-day meeting, the two-volume document will be sent to a committee of four state cabinet members and the president of the California Public Utilities Commission. That committee is expected to make recommendations to Schwarzenegger by December 31 of this year.

Everybody who cares about the future of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its precious and imperiled fish populations should challenge the task force recommendations. The task force’s “new” proposals are nothing other than tired, old plans, masked in deceiving “eco-friendly” language, to bail out corporate agribusiness from decades of unsustainable use of selenium-laced soil that should have never been irrigated!

As Steve Evans, conservation director of Friends of the River, says, “New dams and the Peripheral Canal truly represent a 19th century solution to a 21st century problem.”

For more information about the battle to save California fisheries, go to www.calsport.org.

DAN BACHER can be reached at: Danielbacher@fishsniffer.com

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento. He can be reached at: Dan Bacher danielbacher@fishsniffer.com.

October 22, 2018
Henry Giroux
Neoliberalism in the Age of Pedagogical Terrorism
Melvin Goodman
Washington’s Latest Cold War Maneuver: Pulling Out of the INF
David Mattson
Basket of Deplorables Revisited: Grizzly Bears at the Mercy of Wyoming
Michelle Renee Matisons
Hurricane War Zone Further Immiserates Florida Panhandle, Panama City
Tom Gill
A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It
Christopher Brauchli
The Liars’ Bench
Gary Leupp
Will Trump Split the World by Endorsing a Bold-Faced Lie?
Michael Howard
The New York Times’ Animal Cruelty Fetish
Alice Slater
Time Out for Nukes!
Geoff Dutton
Yes, Virginia, There are Conspiracies—I Think
Daniel Warner
Davos in the Desert: To Attend or Not, That is Not the Question
Priti Gulati Cox – Stan Cox
Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End
Manuel E. Yepe
Pence v. China: Cold War 2.0 May Have Just Begun
Raouf Halaby
Of Pith Helmets and Sartorial Colonialism
Dan Carey
Aspirational Goals  
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail