Posted on Categories WaterTags , , ,

The Russian River: Everybody wants some, but…  

The Russian River, as we know it today, arises in the pine-studded hills surrounding Potter Valley, with an overwhelming infusion of Eel River water helping it on its way as it tumbles down into the Lake Mendocino reservoir. The river’s western fork trickles out of the fir-laden hills north of Redwood Valley, in the vicinity of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery: an outpost of the Ukranian Greek-Catholic Church.
The two forks come together at the precise location of the Mendocino Forests Products (aka Mendocino Redwood Company) mill in northern Ukiah, which draws on an annual water right of about 90 acre-feet in the course of annually producing more than 45 million board feet of lumber. As it leaves Mendocino County, the river cuts through a spectacular serpentine canyon best known as the location of Frog Woman Rock and drops into the Alexander Valley, where it is fed by water that drops from the world’s second largest geothermal power plant, and from Mount St. Helena: the highest point in the Mayacamas mountain range.
Perhaps the real clincher occurs about 10 miles upstream of Guerneville, where five Sonoma County Water Agency radial wells — collectors that extract water from an aquifer with direct connection to a surface water source, in this case the Russian River — receive water filtered through 60 to 90 feet of naturally deposited sand and gravel. The Water Agency then pumps the water into a lengthy aqueduct system, which supplies ever growing Sonoma County to the south, including two cities that are in altogether different drainage basins: Petaluma and Sonoma.
The water doesn’t stop there. Some of these liquid resources reach northern Marin County — particularly Novato, which receives 75% of its water from the Russian – and some ends up all the way in southern Marin County. Among those that receive the Sonoma County Water Agency’s deliveries are the working-class Bay Area suburb of Marin City, teenage home of legendary hip-hop martyr Tupac Shakur, and Sausalito, the upper-crust town on the North Bay’s fringes that practically bumps right up against the Golden Gate Bridge.
From the perspective of many contemporary Mendocino County leaders, the original sin that created this far-flung arrangement, and put Sonoma County in the position to profit from all these water sales, was the late-1950s deal that financed Coyote Valley Dam and Lake Mendocino. In the mid-20th century, Sonoma County was determined to acquire rights to the upper Russian River’s water, and also to provide flood protection on behalf of the bustling river-centric recreation and hospitality industries on the lower river reaches in Guerneville and Monte Rio.
Read more at: The Russian River: Everybody Wants Some, But… | Anderson Valley Advertiser

Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , , Leave a comment on California delta smelt survey turns up only 1 fish

California delta smelt survey turns up only 1 fish

Associated Press, SFGATE
California’s drought appears to be taking a toll on a threatened fish species.
State officials found one delta smelt during a survey earlier this month of 40 sites in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, The Record of Stockton reported over the weekend ( The survey by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife typically turns up dozens of smelt, and found 143 three years ago. It was conducted over four days.
The finger-long fish’s numbers, which have been in decline, are considered a measure of conditions in the delta. Experts say this year’s results were sad but not unexpected.
Less water in the delta because of the state’s ongoing drought creates saltier conditions. Delta smelt prefer fresher water to breed, and to find it, they tend to move farther east into areas where they are more likely to be killed by predators or water pumps or become exposed to pollution, The Record reported.
"The main hope now for the smelt is that some of these remaining fish spawned successfully and the young will survive for a year despite unfavorable conditions," Peter Moyle, an expert on California’s native fish, told The Record.
The smelt has been the subject of numerous lawsuits over water distribution from the delta. Officials and water contractors say a proposed $25 billion twin-tunnel water project would reverse the decline of smelt and salmon by taking water in the north of the delta, on the Sacramento River. That would prevent the fish from traveling toward and getting caught up in the pumps in the south as they do today, they say.
Some environmentalists and delta activists counter the project will lead to further fish declines by syphoning even more water out of the estuary.
via California delta smelt survey turns up only 1 fish – SFGate.

Posted on Categories Sustainable Living, WaterTags , , , , , Leave a comment on Pacific Institute report provides insights on California’s Proposition 1: The Water Bond

Pacific Institute report provides insights on California’s Proposition 1: The Water Bond

With the state facing serious and deepening water challenges, voters on November 4th will be asked whether to approve Proposition 1, the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014. The ballot measure would raise $7.12 billion in new general obligation bonds along with reallocating an additional $425 million of previously authorized, but unissued, bonds to fund a wide range of water-related actions and infrastructures. When the full costs of the bond are assessed, including interest payments, Proposition 1 will cost over $14 billion and be the fourth largest water bond in California history.
The Pacific Institute, an internationally-renowned independent think tank focused on water issues, has released a report that helps voters untangle the complexities of the water bond measure. The Pacific Institute is taking no formal position for or against Proposition 1.
The report, Insights into Proposition 1: The 2014 California Water Bond, and its executive summary, notes that California’s pressing water troubles require expanded investment, changes in policy and institutions, and in some cases fundamentally new technologies, policies, laws, and behavior. The water bond is only one solution – and perhaps an imperfect one at that – when many are needed.
“California voters are faced with a difficult decision on the water bond,” says Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute. “Our new report looks at the subtleties along with the complexities of the bond measure to help voters make wise decisions at the polls.”
With the goal of informing voters, the report analyzes the bond’s key provisions and their potential impacts. The report explains how funds would be allocated, including how the water storage funds may be divided among competing projects. It also describes how the bond addresses the needs of disadvantaged communities and ecosystems.
via New Report Provides Insights on California’s Proposition 1 – Pacific Institute.

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, Sustainable Living, Water, WildlifeTags , , , , , , , , Leave a comment on Opinion: Prop. 1 – One more shovel of dirt on the grave of our fisheries

Opinion: Prop. 1 – One more shovel of dirt on the grave of our fisheries

The next time you crack open a crab, or are served a plate of our delicious salmon, think about the near-extinction of these fantastic seafoods due to overpumping our rivers and the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary to water desert mega-farms.
The salmon and crab that are essential to Northern California diet and culture, and the $1.4 billion this fishing industry contributes to our economy, will eventually disappear from our dinner plates if Proposition 1 passes in the November election.
Proposition 1 is one more shovel of dirt on the grave of our salmon, crab and other Pacific fisheries.
Proposition 1’s biggest spending is to build more dams to hold water we don’t have.
That’s misplaced spending and harms the businesses, families and communities that depend upon our salmon, crab and other fisheries.

Our water shortage is not an engineering problem Proposition 1 can solve with billions of dollars of concrete. The 1 percent of additional water that may come from Proposition 1’s dam-building has already been spoken for 5 to 7 times over.

That’s how much water has been promised beyond what we have available each year. We don’t have enough water to fill our existing reservoirs, so what good is Proposition 1’s spending to enlarge them?

Read more via Marin voice: Prop. 1 – One more shovel of dirt on the grave of our fisheries – Marin Independent Journal.

Posted on Categories WaterTags , , Leave a comment on Big oil company donates $250,000 to Yes on Prop. 1 campaign

Big oil company donates $250,000 to Yes on Prop. 1 campaign


Billionaires and corporate agribusiness fund Water Bond campaign

The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) revealed on October 17 that Aera Energy LLC, a company jointly owned by affiliates of Shell and ExxonMobil, has contributed $250,000 to the Yes on Proposition 1 and 2 campaign.
The total of money donated by top contributors for Governor Brown Prop. 1 and 2 campaign has risen to $8,026,015 to date, according to the FPPC.
Aera Energy LLC is one of California’s largest oil and gas producers, accounting for nearly 25 percent of the state’s production, according to the company’s website.
“Formed in June 1997 and jointly owned by affiliates of Shell and ExxonMobil, we are operated as a stand-alone company through our own board of managers,” the website stated.
“We are industry leaders that specialize in tapping heavy oil and other unconventional light reservoirs. With headquarters in Bakersfield, most of our production is centered in the San Joaquin Valley. We also have oil field operations in Ventura and Monterey counties. Aera produces about 131,000 barrels of oil and 36 million cubic feet of natural gas each day and has proved oil and gas reserves equivalent to approximately 712 million barrels of oil,” the website said.
Opponents of Proposition 1 say Governor Jerry Brown’s $7.5 billion water bond is an expensive and unfair taxpayer giveaway to special interests, including Big Oil and Big Ag, that won’t solve the drought or help secure California’s water future. They see the latest contribution as one of many by powerful corporate interests to pay for slick campaign ads to trick the voters into approving the controversial measure.
The Con argument in the California Progressive Voter Guide states: “It allocates over $3.6 billion, without oversight by the legislature, to build dams and pay for water transfers for corporate agribusiness. Prop 1 with interest will cost CA taxpayers $14.4 billion or $360 million per year for 40 years out of our State’s general fund, money that could be used for other needs like education and healthcare.”
Read more via Big Oil Company Donates $250,000 to Yes on Prop. 1 campaign.

Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , , , , Leave a comment on Environmental protections waived for emergency drought measures

Environmental protections waived for emergency drought measures


Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed a sweeping new emergency drought proclamation, cutting red tape for a variety of government functions to help water agencies find new supplies, and to press the public to use water carefully.

“I call on every city, every community, every Californian to conserve water in every way possible,” Brown said in a statement.

The governor first proclaimed a drought emergency Jan. 17. This second proclamation goes further by waiving compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act and the state water code for a number of actions, including water transfers, wastewater treatment projects, habitat improvements for winter-run Chinook salmon imperiled by the drought and curtailment of water rights.

via Gov. Brown orders more emergency drought measures – Delta – The Sacramento Bee.