8-18-08Merced Sun-StarLetter: Is Planada's Measure O illegal?...BRYANT OWENS, DAVID C. CORSER, ELIZABETH K. MILLER...Planada Community Association http://www.mercedsunstar.com/177/story/403311.htmlDear Editor: We met with Superintendent Steve Gomes on Wednesday and were told that Measure O, the Planada Elementary School District general obligation bond, would require 66 percent of the vote to pass. But the district's Tax Rate Statement, which accompanies the bond measure, explicitly states it can be approved by a 55 percent vote. The provisions of Proposition 39, passed November 2000, allow a school district to petition the voters to increase taxation beyond a maximum of 1.25 percent of the total current assessment value of homes in the district, with a 55 percent supermajority vote for passage of such a measure. However, such an election triggers the provisions of Assembly Bill 1908 which, among other things, limits the actual dollar amount an elementary school district may submit to the voters for bonded indebtedness, in any one election, to $30 per $100,000 of assessed value per year. The proponents of Measure O are requesting a bond amount well in excess of statutory limits. The Planada district projects a yearly local bond tax of approximately $58.75 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, which is nearly double the maximum allowable added tax. The bond measure as proposed violates the education code. If the district is applying for a bond issue under the provisions of Proposition 46, which requires a 66 percent vote, the $2.9 million requested far exceeds the 1.25 percent tax cap and violates the education code. Based on information from the County Auditor the maximum bond capacity for the district at this time is $2,042,279. Also, the deadline of Aug. 8 has passed. We are asking M. Steven Jones, the Merced County elections director, to remove Measure O from the Nov. 4 ballot due to the fact it is not in compliance with state law. Fresno BeeBush still has time to do more damage in officeHis latest target is endangered species protections...Editorialhttp://www.fresnobee.com/opinion/story/802571.htmlAs the sun sets on any White House, its occupants are inclined to engineer some midnight surprises. These are administrative changes the president failed to enact earlier, either because of resistance by Congress or other political considerations. President Bush is now providing a preview of the kind of environmental rollbacks that will mark his final days in office. Last week, the administration unveiled a regulatory overhaul of the Endangered Species Act that undercuts the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Under current ESA procedures, the wildlife service gets to review plans by federal agencies that could affect imperiled animals and plants. If the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation wants to build a dam or a canal, or if the Bureau of Indian Affairs wants to allow a coal-powered plant on tribal land, the wildlife service gets to conduct an initial screening. If the service finds that project could further endanger a listed species, it asks for more information. That doesn't kill the project. But it prompts the responsible agency to find ways to minimize impacts or examine alternatives. Bush wants to do away with that screening. For most federal projects, including dams and power plants, decisions on possible impacts to wildlife would be made by the federal agencies charged with building dams and power projects. That largely ensures that no impacts will be found, which apparently is the point. History has shown that this initial screening has helped flag serious threats. Last year, for instance, the Fish and Wildlife Service slowed down construction of a coal-powered plant near Farmington, N.M., that could have harmed several species, including two endangered fish. The project, to be built on Navajo land, had been approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Although administration officials are touting this change as a way to free up the Fish and Wildlife Service to focus on the most critically endangered species, there are other ways to accomplish such a goal. Get ready for other midnight surprises. The clock is ticking on Bush's presidency, and right now, it's only 11 p.m. Sacramento BeeNew research pinpoints free radicals as culprit in polluted air...Jane Liawhttp://www.sacbee.com/101/v-print/story/1164736.htmlWhile scientists have known that breathing bad air such as Sacramento sometimes experiences is harmful, they have never pinpointed what it is in fine particles that causes conditions usually associated with smoking such as lung disease. Now a piece of the pollution puzzle has snapped into place with new findings from Louisiana State University. Led by chemist H. Barry Dellinger, LSU researchers have discovered that free radicals, similar to those in cigarettes, exist in polluted air. Furthermore, they found that free radicals often persist for days or even indefinitely. Kent Pinkerton, director of the University of California, Davis, Center for Health and the Environment, said the LSU study is significant in changing scientific perceptions of free radicals as being short-lived."If certain forms of free radicals are actually persistent, that increases chances they may interact with biological cells to create damage," Pinkerton said. Even a day of air that meets federal standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency exposes people to as many harmful free radicals as smoking one cigarette, the researchers learned. But breathing heavily polluted air could expose a person to 100 cigarettes' worth of free radicals in one day, researchers said. LSU researcher Dellinger said this is the first time that free radicals have been proved to exist in fine airborne particles, and the first time that scientists have seen them persist in air for days or even indefinitely. Particles that contain metals such as copper or iron are most likely to have persistent free radicals, Dellinger said. Free radicals are atoms, molecules and ions with unpaired electrons that form during combustion and other chemical processes. Because they seek electrons, they are usually unstable and highly reactive. When they enter the body and come into contact with cell membranes, they undergo reactions and cause these membranes to become leaky, Pinkerton said... The LSU research suggests that free radicals in airborne fine particles may cause diseases like asthma and heart disease. The discovery may also help explain why nonsmokers get tobacco-related diseases such as lung cancer, Dellinger said. Sacramento is not the only place where free radicals are a concern. "There will always be some particles present in air, regardless of where you're at," Pinkerton said. Dellinger presented his team's findings Sunday at the American Chemical Society meeting... Stockton RecordDelta residents fight to be heard on peripheral canal...Alex Breitlerhttp://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080818/A_NEWS/8081...WALNUT GROVE - They packed the sweltering church social hall, where a rotating fan in the corner made little difference. Someone joked that if all of the state legislators were locked in this room, there'd be a budget in no time. But these folks weren't here for the budget. They were here on behalf of their home: the Delta. As state officials forge ahead with studies of a peripheral canal, some Delta farmers and residents feel excluded from the decision-making process, which even the highest-ranking officials admit is complex and hard to understand "There are too many processes going on, there's no question about that," Lester Snow, director of the Department of Water Resources, told the crowd at Thursday's community meeting. "For a working man or woman to keep up is extremely difficult." And yet, time is short. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's blue-ribbon task force is expected to deliver recommendations about the Delta's future by October. A proposed $9.3 billion state water bond backed by the governor could free up money to study a canal, among other strategies And a flurry of meetings designed to solicit public comment are frustrating some residents, who say the state has failed to coherently explain its plans and, therefore, there is nothing to comment on... In Manteca, longtime water watchdog Alex Hildebrand complained that a team of researchers from the Public Policy Institute of California refused to consider his advice when crafting their own report, which recommended a canal. "The production of food is not considered to be of social importance" in their analysis, Hildebrand said.Conversion of farm lands to wetlands as Delta islands flood would actually reduce the state's water supply because the latter would consume more fresh water per acre than farm fields, he argues.Those farms that remain after mass island flooding may lose viability because there is no longer enough business for companies that process their crops. And, Hildebrand said, "There is no discussion of the pros and cons of destroying agriculture in the Delta or elsewhere when we have 5 million more people to feed every 10 years" in California. Delta advocates are mobilizing for another water war. A peripheral canal was first rejected by voters in 1982, and now, some of the same old faces - water attorneys and longtime landowners - say they're ready to fight a canal once more...--------------------------------------------------Get involvedTwo upcoming Delta meetings are scheduled in Stockton: The state Department of Water Resources hosts a meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium, 525 N. Center St. Discussion includes flood protection, levees, water quality, environment and conveyance (peripheral canal). Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Delta Vision comes to Stockton from 4 to 7 p.m. Aug. 28 at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center, 33 W. Alpine Avenue. The Delta Vision task force, set to issue recommendations on the Delta's future by October, is seeking comment on its draft plan, which can be found at www.deltavision.ca.gov. New York TimesClearer Rules, Cleaner Waters...Editorial http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/18/opinion/18mon3.html?_r=1&sq=wetlands&s...The 1972 Clean Water Act was designed to protect all the waters and wetlands of the United States: large and small, navigable and seasonal. That clear mission has since been muddied by the Supreme Court, exposing thousands of miles of streams and millions of acres of wetlands to pollution and damaging development. That is why Congress needs to move quickly to approve the Clean Water Restoration Act a bill that would reaffirm the broad federal protections that it intended more than 30 years ago. There is not a lot of time left in the legislative calendar, but both chambers have held hearings, and a lot is at stake. The risks to the nations waters grow by the day. A devastating internal document, obtained by Representatives James Oberstar and Henry Waxman, revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency has dropped or delayed more than 400 cases involving suspected violations of the law illegal industrial discharges and the like. That is nearly half the agencys entire docket. The reason cited in almost every instance was that regulators did not know whether the streams and wetlands in question were still covered under the act. This jurisdictional confusion stems largely from a bizarre 2006 Supreme Court ruling in which the justices split three ways on which waters were protected under the act. A conservative foursome said that only permanent waters deserved protection. A liberal foursome said that all waters, including seasonal, intermittent streams, deserved protection. Seeking to split the difference, Justice Anthony Kennedy ruled that such streams as well as remote wetlands deserved protection if regulators could show a significant nexus to a navigable body of water somewhere downstream. This tortured middle way has effectively become the law of the land, and for various reasons including the need to conduct laborious, case-by-case investigations into hydrological linkages among water bodies it has led to regulatory paralysis. The Clean Water Restoration Act, championed by Mr. Oberstar, would cut through this mess by establishing, once and for all, that federal protections apply to all waters. That makes good hydrological sense, since few water bodies are truly isolated and nearly all are part of a larger watershed. The bill would also restore order to a regulatory system in disarray. Congress should make its passage an early order of business. Mixing Politics and Wal-Mart...Editorial...8-17-08http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/17/opinion/17sun2.html?sq=wal%20mart&st=c...It is hardly news that Wal-Mart will do whatever it takes to keep unions out of its stores, from closing down a unionized outlet to firing pro-union workers. The National Labor Relations Board has already ruled several times that Wal-Mart has violated the law by retaliating against workers for supporting a union.Facing the prospect that union-friendly Democrats could win both the White House and Congress, the retail giant is now turning its attention to this years election. Last week, several labor groups filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, accusing Wal-Mart of violating election rules. They acted after The Wall Street Journal reported that thousands of Wal-Mart store managers and department heads had been called to mandatory meetings and told that if Democrats won in November they would likely pass a law to make it easier to unionize companies. According to The Journal, Wal-Mart executives warned that could force the company to cut jobs, while workers would be forced to pay union dues and might have to go on strike. Telling workers who are paid by the hour Wal-Mart department supervisors are hourly workers how to vote is prohibited under the Federal Election Campaign Act. Wal-Mart acknowledges that it summoned employees around the country to warn them about the Employee Free Choice Act, which would allow unions to organize companies if more than half the workers signed cards agreeing to join, dispensing with the need for a secret ballot. But in a memo to managers, Bill Simon, the chief operating officer, said that any executive who might have appeared to be suggesting how to vote was acting without approval. Employees, a spokesman said, were merely told which members of Congress supported the legislation. The vast majority on that list are Democrats, including Senator Barack Obama, who co-sponsored the bill. The Federal Election Commission should investigate the allegations swiftly and aggressively. The rogue executive defense is a well-trodden excuse that should fool no one. Providing workers with a list of members of Congress who, in Wal-Marts view, support bad legislation that would worsen workers lives seems indistinguishable from telling them who to vote against. Even if the F.E.C. eventually rules against Wal-Mart, the case underscores what a paltry deterrent election law provides. According to legal experts, the rules call for fines of only a few thousand dollars per violation. Even if thousands of violations were committed, the fine would amount to pocket change for Wal-Mart. The F.E.C. needs to tighten its rules. Companies like Wal-Mart need to respect those rules and their workers. Department of Water ResourcesCalifornia Water NewsA daily compilation for DWR personnel of significant news articles and comment…August 18, 2008 1. Top Items -Feds authorize $54M for Lake Tahoe restoration - The Associated Press- 8/16/08Delta residents fight to be heard on peripheral canal - The Stockton Record- 8/18/08Farmers say they've been left off blueprint for the future - The Stockton Record- 8/17/08Carbon Farming Tested in California Delta - Environmental News Service- 8/18/08Editorial Feinstein's right on water: Democrats need to get over their antipathy toward building new dams. - The Fresno Bee- 8/17/08Editorial Delta overhaul can't undercut northern rights - Redding Record Searchlight- 8/16/08 Feds authorize $54M for Lake Tahoe restorationThe Associated Press- 8/16/08…By JULIET WILLIAMS, Associated Press Writer U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Saturday she will seek an extension of a decade-old program to preserve Lake Tahoe's cobalt blue waters, while Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne authorized another $54 million in funding for conservation projects. Feinstein said she will seek a second phase of the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act, a $1 billion program launched in 1997 that she credited with making the lake clearer, reducing sediment, restoring streams and cutting pollution. "Yet these gains are threatened by catastrophic wildfires," Feinstein, D-Calif., told more than 100 people gathered at the 12th annual Lake Tahoe Forum. California is already straining from the effects of a series of wildfires that have scorched more than 1 million acres in California alone this year and cost the state nearly $300 million to fight. The Lake Tahoe Restoration Act was funded from sales of public lands in the Las Vegas area. Feinstein said she hopes the new proposal will also be around $1 billion. The second phase would focus on reducing particulate matter and algae in the lake - two agents that can seriously harm Tahoe's legendary clarity. It also would seek to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires fueled by dense forest areas and a lack of defensible space around homes in fire-prone areas. "I shudder to think what will happen if we don't move aggressively to build those firebreaks, remove those dead and dying trees and clean out as much underbrush as possible," Feinstein said. Researchers at the University of California, Davis' Tahoe Environmental Research Center reported last week that the lake's clarity improved slightly in 2007, to a depth of 70 feet, up from 64 feet when the joint preservation efforts began in 1997. Still, it's a far cry from the 102 feet scientists reported seeing when measurements began in 1968. Feinstein and Kempthorne appeared with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons. The forum was held amid pine trees outside an historic summer home on the shore of the popular tourist destination. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was also scheduled to attend, but pulled out at the last minute to have his injured knee examined at his Los Angeles home. Kempthorne signed an order releasing another $140 million from the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act, about $54 million of it for projects around Lake Tahoe. That includes $24 million for watershed and habitat improvement, science and research and air quality; and $30 million for the Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement program. But despite the progress, researchers said global climate change continues to pose serious threats to the once-pristine wilderness. Sudeep Chandra, a scientist at the University of Nevada, Reno, said invasive species are continually introduced to the lake, often through fishermen's bait and on boats from other waterways. He urged further cooperation among agencies to tackle such problems. While California has a strong plan to address invasive species, Nevada does not, Chandra said. "This is a regional issue," he said. "It's not only a local issue." An initiative announced by Schwarzenegger's resources secretary, Mike Chrisman, aims to spur such cooperation by bringing together the myriad agencies that tackle environmental issues. The Sierra Nevada Climate Change Initiative will specifically focus on reducing the effects of greenhouse gases in the Tahoe Basin and develop a "climate change action plan" for the region within one year. Schwarzenegger and Feinstein are also seeking to set aside some of the funding in their proposed $9.3 billion water bond for restoration in the Tahoe area. But the future of the bond is uncertain, as it would require voter approval in November, and legislators have yet to take it up. The official deadline to get measures on the November ballot was Saturday, but lawmakers are hoping for an extension on other issues.#http://www.dailynews.com/breakingnews/ci_10223954 Delta residents fight to be heard on peripheral canalThe Stockton Record- 8/18/08…By Alex Breitler, Staff Writer WALNUT GROVE - They packed the sweltering church social hall, where a rotating fan in the corner made little difference. Someone joked that if all of the state legislators were locked in this room, there'd be a budget in no time. But these folks weren't here for the budget. They were here on behalf of their home: the Delta. As state officials forge ahead with studies of a peripheral canal, some Delta farmers and residents feel excluded from the decision-making process, which even the highest-ranking officials admit is complex and hard to understand. "There are too many processes going on, there's no question about that," Lester Snow, director of the Department of Water Resources, told the crowd at Thursday's community meeting. "For a working man or woman to keep up is extremely difficult." And yet, time is short. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's blue-ribbon task force is expected to deliver recommendations about the Delta's future by October. A proposed $9.3 billion state water bond backed by the governor could free up money to study a canal, among other strategies. And a flurry of meetings designed to solicit public comment are frustrating some residents, who say the state has failed to coherently explain its plans and, therefore, there is nothing to comment on. "This is a living, vibrant community, another voice that needs to be heard in this process," said Larry Emery, pastor of the Walnut Grove Community Presbyterian Church. "Sometimes, the Delta has not always been well-represented." In Manteca, longtime water watchdog Alex Hildebrand complained that a team of researchers from the Public Policy Institute of California refused to consider his advice when crafting their own report, which recommended a canal. "The production of food is not considered to be of social importance" in their analysis, Hildebrand said. Conversion of farm lands to wetlands as Delta islands flood would actually reduce the state's water supply because the latter would consume more fresh water per acre than farm fields, he argues. Those farms that remain after mass island flooding may lose viability because there is no longer enough business for companies that process their crops. And, Hildebrand said, "There is no discussion of the pros and cons of destroying agriculture in the Delta or elsewhere when we have 5 million more people to feed every 10 years" in California. Delta advocates are mobilizing for another water war. A peripheral canal was first rejected by voters in 1982, and now, some of the same old faces - water attorneys and longtime landowners - say they're ready to fight a canal once more. Delta landowner Dino Cortopassi this month bought full-page ads in two newspapers, as well as radio and television spots blasting the canal. He started working on the Delta when he was 10 years old, and remembers looking across the morning mist at Mt. Diablo rising up in the west. "I love the Delta. There is no question," he said. Others share the same love - and concern. New Delta advocacy groups are forming. The Clarksburg Community Church recently held a 12-hour prayer vigil to "seek God and his guidance and help" in the future of the little town and the Delta. State officials have said repeatedly that they want Delta residents to be involved. Two more meetings in the next two weeks in Stockton will allow public comment on a peripheral canal and other hot topics. And as for the public-policy institute's report, Ellen Hanak, the group's associate director, said a "broad and wide" range of experts were consulted for the project, including Delta levee engineers. She dismissed allegations that the report can be questioned because it was funded in part by Stephen D. Bechtel Jr. of the Bechtel Corp., a worldwide engineering and construction firm that might, critics argue, have interest in building a peripheral canal. There was no conflict, Hanak said. "Funders aren't involved in determining the conclusions of the work," she said. Tom Zuckerman, a longtime water attorney and landowner on Rindge Tract west of Stockton, said a proposed canal could cut right through his corn crop. At least, that's what one proposed alignment shows. "I think people out here are certainly adequate to understand" what's going on, he said. "We're seeing that in the response we're beginning to get at the meetings, ... the Delta is part of the fabric of our lives around here. "People have a very keen sense of what's about to happen to them - if they allow it to happen."#http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080818/A_NEWS/8081... Farmers say they've been left off blueprint for the futureThe Stockton Record- 8/17/08…By Alex Breitler, Staff Writer THE DELTA - You've probably never been to McDonald Island. A narrow bridge fords Turner Cut and winds down to farmers' fields, where a potato harvester churns the black soil and swallows up hundreds of taters in a matter of minutes. The red spuds tumble down conveyor belts and into trucks, spilling over the side. Within hours, they are washed in a giant warehouse, sorted and dumped into boxes or bags for shipment to your neighborhood grocery store - or maybe the East Coast. The hefty harvest amounts to 800,000 pounds of potatoes per day. The Zuckerman family has farmed this land for generations. Now comes word from a think tank that McDonald is one of 10 to 20 islands in the Delta that not only is likely to flood within 50 years, but may not be worth fixing once it does. The islands don't need to be fixed because they would no longer be crucial to the state's water supply. Not with a canal. The thrust of the report by the Public Policy Institute of California is that a peripheral canal should be built to carry water around the Delta. The decades-old idea has been argued to death. But the institute doesn't simply propose a canal. It envisions an entirely new Delta with a broad expanse of open water in the center and agricultural lands only on the fringes, a landscape with tidal marshes, flood plains and special wildlife areas. The timing of the new report is key. In October, a task force is expected to present recommendations on the Delta's future to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Delta farmers and other locals say a decision has already been made. "Everyone in the whole process has had an agenda to build a peripheral canal. The conclusion was foregone," said farmer Ed Zuckerman. "That canal is just a nightmare," said his assistant, Ken Jochimsen. 'Performing poorly'The public policy group argues there is little choice. The current Delta is "performing poorly from almost everyone's perspective," their report says. A quick Delta primer: Besides being a paradise for boaters and a haven for fish, the estuary is key for the water supply of much of California. Freshwater from the Sacramento River in the north is pulled through the Delta's web-like channels, past all those islands, to giant pumps near Tracy. But many view the Delta as the weakest link in this system. Islands such as McDonald have sunk well below sea level. As they sink, water in the Delta channels places more pressure on poorly-constructed levees. Earthquakes, rising sea levels and more upstream flooding may crumble those levees. The public-policy institute found that building a canal would secure the state's water delivery system while also helping fish, which are sucked by the thousands into the pumps near Tracy. There is a consequence. Once a canal is built, less fresh water may flow into the Delta. And the islands are no longer relevant to the rest of California. "We probably want to think about whether it's worth it to taxpayers" to save all those other islands, said Ellen Hanak, associate director of the San Francisco-based institute. Delta levees have failed 166 times in the past century. Over half of Delta islands have at least a 90 percent chance of flooding by mid-century, the group reported, and a catastrophic failure could cost $8 billion to $15 billion. "The risks to the levee system are much greater than folks thought even a few years ago," Hanak said. "This is going to be happening more and more. It makes sense to think about where do we really want to be putting these funds." What about the farmers?The cost of losing some central Delta islands is estimated at $81 million and 2,400 jobs, said report contributor and University of California, Davis, professor Richard Howitt. The estuary as a whole is worth about $2 billion to the economy. The most valuable crops are around the edges of the Delta and would not be affected by interior flooding, Howitt said. But back on McDonald Island, Jochimsen, the potato harvester, says the flooding of nearby islands could ruin his business. Huge amounts of pressure would be placed on the levees protecting Jochimsen's crops. Water would seep through from beneath, spoiling farmland. It happened in 2004 when the Jones Tract flooded. Within days, a couple of hundred gallons of water per minute were bubbling up on McDonald Island, forcing farmers to abandon crops for a time. "If we were surrounded on all sides by water, we wouldn't be able to farm here," Jochimsen said. Delta advocates argue that preserving freshwater flows will help farmers throughout the area. Stockton environmentalist Bill Jennings said the wiser solution to a canal would be retiring farmland in the southern San Joaquin Valley, runoff from which is tainted with selenium. This would reduce water demand. "The idea seems to be to rob the Delta of its fresh water for the economic benefit of another region," Jennings said. A first lookThe institute says its flooded-islands scenario is just a first look at what might happen. Landowners on flooded islands will have to be compensated, they say, and it's best to start planning now. Scary words for Craig Kirchhoff, who left the family farm in Nebraska nearly 15 years ago for roughly 100 acres of vineyards near Walnut Grove. His earnings put two kids through college. And earlier this spring, he bought a house in an area that he now fears may be allowed to revert to wildlife habitat. "It was kind of a shock," said Kirchhoff, 53. "I've been sitting through a lot of these meetings, trying to learn as much as I can, and what's starting to irk me is that they say the Delta is broken. It's like a catch phrase now."The Delta is not broken."#http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080817/A_NEWS/8081... Carbon Farming Tested in California DeltaEnvironmental News Service- 8/18/08 Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of California, Davis, are exploring a new style of farming in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta that produces not crops but soils that store carbon dioxide. The research team has won a three-year, $12.3 million grant from the California Department of Water Resources to test the concept on 400 acres in the Delta beginning next spring. Called carbon farming, the project involves building wetlands, which is what nature originally grew in the Delta. Following the Gold Rush, developers "reclaimed" the land for agriculture by constructing levees to drain swamplands and contain the rivers that form the estuary. Over the past 150 years, conventional farming practices have exposed fragile peat soils to wind, rain and oxygen, liberating carbon from the soil and causing subsidence, or sinking, of Delta lands. According to the USGS, most of the islands farmed in the Delta are more than 20 feet below the surface of the water. They are kept dry and intact only because of the levees. The carbon farming project aims to rebuild the rich peat soils by re-establishing wetlands. A pilot project by the USGS and state Department of Water Resources has already shown that it can work. On an island called Twitchell in the western Delta, researchers planted two seven acre test plots with cattails, tule grass and other wetlands vegetation. As the plants grew, died and decomposed, they left roots and other parts that gradually compacted into a material similar to the original peat. From 1997 to 2005, the USGS measured 10 inches of new soil. The pilot also showed that the process could sequester up to 25 metric tons of carbon dioxide per acre per year and eliminate the CO2 emissions produced by current farming practices, which cause peat to oxidize, virtually evaporating and blowing away, the USGS reported in a briefing paper. If California converted into carbon farms an area the size of all subsided lands in the Delta, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions avoided each year would be equivalent to trading all SUVs in the state for small hybrids, the agency estimated. The state is under a self-imposed deadline to scale back its greenhouse gas output by 2020 to the level emitted in 1990. As more governments tackle greenhouse gases, the concept of carbon farming is catching on. Usually, the term refers to paying farmers to plant trees and other vegetation that stores carbon for longer periods than crops; or to less frequently till the land, a practice that delivers carbon in the soil into the atmosphere. The Delta brand of carbon farming specifically involves rebuilding wetlands. The project is not without potential risks. As the USGS briefing paper notes, "Large scale efforts to manage the environment have a decidedly mixed record of success." One possibility is that the wetlands will emit methane and nitrous oxide, two greenhouse gases more potent than carbon dioxide, potentially canceling the benefit of sequestering the carbon. The USGS said measurements of methane varied widely in the pilot. The scientists did not attempt to measure nitrous oxide. Another possible drawback is that certain conditions under which carbon is captured may produce methylmercury, a neurotoxin that accumulates in the food chain, concentrating in fish. Methylmercury is highly toxic to mammals, including people, says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Eating fish high in methylmercury can permanently damage the brain, kidneys, and developing fetus. Effects on brain functioning may result in irritability, shyness, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, and memory problems. If the benefits of wetlands restoration outweigh problems, the project could accomplish three big goals: it would sequester carbon, reverse subsidence and provide a means of making a living from land in a sustainable manner, said Roger Fujii, Bay-Delta program chief for the USGS California Water Science Center. In a statement, Fujii said, "This project is an investment in California's future that could reap multiple benefits over several decades - for California, the nation and the world." #http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/aug2008/2008-08-18-094.asp Editorial Feinstein's right on water: Democrats need to get over their antipathy toward building new dams.The Fresno Bee- 8/17/08 Sen. Dianne Feinstein got a little grumpy the other day with the slow pace of work on a state water bond she and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have proposed. She singled out members of her own Democratic party for their intransigence when it comes to new surface water storage projects. Good for her. Ideological conflicts threaten to throttle any action on California's water crisis. We run the risk in California of remaining philosophically pure and politically correct while we dry up and blow away. We must increase our water supply. Demand grows with our growing population, and simultaneously our existing supplies are threatened by the pace of global climate change. When winter snowfall diminishes in the Sierra Nevada, as it has for two years now, the slowly melting supplies we once counted on are no longer available. More precipitation falls as rain, and we haven't sufficient capacity to collect it for use in cities, industries and agriculture. We have long advocated a three-part approach including new dams, increased use of underground water banking and more aggressive efforts to conserve. In addition, existing supplies that are already contaminated, or at risk of becoming so, must be cleaned up. No serious observer argues that we have enough water now, at least not the way it is distributed and used. The argument is over the manner in which we can best increase available supplies. Environmentalists and their Democratic allies in the Legislature oppose new dams, for the most part. They argue that dams are too expensive, take too long to build and do too much damage to the environment. There's no question about the expense and the lead time, but that's not a compelling argument for doing away with the idea of new dams altogether. It's rather an argument for starting right away, to bring new supplies on line as soon as possible. We'll still need those new supplies in 10 or 20 years -- maybe even more than we do now. There is no question that building dams can seriously affect local and regional environments. But we know a great deal more about engineering, the environment and the hydrology of the state than did the earlier generations that built our existing dams and conveyance systems. We can do a better job of mitigating environmental impacts. More immediate savings -- which amount to increases in supply -- can be had from conservation. We waste a great deal of water in this state, in cities such as Fresno that have only begun to install water meters for residential use, in fields where state-of-the-art irrigation techniques haven't yet been employed, in industrial processes that are relics of an age when water seemed eternally abundant. We have to do better, and right away. Underground storage is also promising, to capture supplies in wetter years than can be pumped out later in time of need. Such storage facilities also have the virtue of helping to replenish our seriously overdrafted aquifers. The $9.3 billion water bond proposed by Feinstein and Schwarzenegger isn't perfect. No measure will ever be. But it is a useful start, and we can't afford to wait for perfect solutions that will never materialize.#http://www.fresnobee.com/opinion/story/801588.html Editorial Delta overhaul can't undercut northern rightsRedding Record Searchlight- 8/16/08 Our view: Shasta County is right to speak up as the state rushes toward water fix Will the governor's push to fix the water disaster in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta cause a new disaster up north? That's the warning of a letter the Shasta County supervisors will weigh sending to the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force -- the group appointed to figure out how to fix the rickety plumbing that keeps two-thirds of Californians in drinking water. "We understand the critical need to ... save the collapsing ecosystem of the Delta, but we fear that decisions affecting water rights in our region will lead to a Delta-like catastrophe," reads the letter, which the supervisors will discuss Tuesday. What's the trouble? The Delta Vision strategic plan, released in June, puts too much emphasis on centralized management of water at the expense of local control. And it casts the discussion of water use in terms of "public trust" while playing down historic water rights and the area-of-origin rights of the north state. "This is a rehash of past Delta discussion, but this time ... they're bolder in dealing with upstream water-rights holders," said county Public Works Director Pat Minturn. The urgency down south is easy to grasp. Old peat Delta levees are collapsing. A federal judge has cut water pumping to help endangered fish. Water shortages are limiting development in Southern California. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sen. Dianne Feinstein have proposed a $9.3 billion water bond. It's badly needed to ensure safe, reliable drinking water -- but not at the north state's expense. This is a long fight that demands northern officials' attention. It's good to see the county making itself heard.#http://www.redding.com/news/2008/aug/16/delta-overhaul/ 2. Supply –Editorial It's time for this thirsty state to discover a new pronoun: 'We' - The Sacramento Bee- 8/17/08In water fight, home builders seek solutions - Antelope Valley Press- 8/17/08 Editorial It's time for this thirsty state to discover a new pronoun: 'We'The Sacramento Bee- 8/17/08…By David Holwerk, Editorial Page Editor Eight or nine years ago, when I was the editor of the newspaper in Duluth, Minn., I got myself all worked up about a proposal to ship water from Lake Superior to Southern California. That was a terrible idea, I told anyone who would listen. It made much more sense to depopulate Southern California and move the people to northeastern Minnesota. That part of the world had been losing population for more than a half-century. Housing was cheap. It had plenty of water. And an influx of people with a taste for spicy food would surely improve local dining opportunities. (Remind me sometime to tell you the story of the recipe for a "tamale" that once appeared in my newspaper.) No one paid any attention, which is probably just as well, all things considered. The water-shipping idea died a natural political death in Washington. Things went along pretty much as usual on the shores of Lake Superior. And I moved to Sacramento – a city that has one and only one thing in common with Duluth, Minnesota: Both have water supplies that other less-fortunate locales covet. So I really shouldn't have been surprised when in recent weeks, I have found myself hearing ideas similar to those I had when the idea of exporting Lake Superior's water was being discussed. The water in question here originates as snow in the Sierra and flows, via the Sacramento River, into the Delta. But the idea behind the proposed transaction is the same as it was there: Find more water for Southern California. There are variations on the precise mechanism for doing this, but the basic idea is to build a canal that would make a sort of end run around the Delta into Clifton Court Forebay, where giant pumps send enough water south every day to serve millions of households and hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland. California voters have already rejected this idea once, but it's not going away. Its most recent proponent is Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, with a bunch of Southern California water interests working busily in his formidable wake. The politics, ecology and hydrology of this proposal already have been the subject of considerable journalistic energy, and there is sure to be more to come. I'll leave such things to those more knowledgeable about these matters, because that's not what interests me most about the controversy over the Delta and its water. What interests me is how it captures something important about California. In Minnesota, you could reasonably argue that the notion of shipping Lake Superior water to Southern California involved a kind of theft: They wanted to steal our water. Here in Sacramento, you hear the same sentiment (mixed with complex arguments about the health of the Delta). I understand why people who live in the Delta feel that way. Many of them rely on the water that flows through it for their livelihoods. But when I hear somebody who lives in Sacramento voice such a view, I want to say: Hold on a minute. What do you mean they want to steal our water? We're all Californians. But as I've learned since moving here, that notion doesn't mean as much in California as it does in other states. I can't tell you whether the Sacramento Bee's editorial page will support or oppose a new canal plan, but I can tell you this: California will be better off if it could find a way to discuss the idea without making it about what they want to do to us. Somewhere in this state there has to be a space where we can talk.#http://www.sacbee.com/110/story/1161305.html In water fight, home builders seek solutionsAntelope Valley Press- 8/17/08…By Linda Lee, Special to the Valley Press Can the dream of homeownership - at least in the form of a new Antelope Valley tract home - still be a reality despite the Valley's water woes? Home builders say "yes," and insist they are part of the solution by helping build new water supply infrastructure and in bringing in water-saving technology and less-thirsty landscaping for new homes. But developers caution that turning off the spigot to new building also will turn off new jobs, shopping opportunities and other commercial and recreational amenities. "I have great concerns that next year I could go to brush my teeth or turn on the shower and not have any water come out of the tap. And so I understand when a homeowner says, 'Well you know, I need to protect mine right now and I don't think we should allow any new homes to go in,' " said Tom DiPrima, North Division President for KB Home, which has developed subdivisions for thousands of homes in the Antelope Valley over the last 20 years. "Unfortunately those are the same homeowners saying, 'Why are we not getting any more new retail and why are we not getting any new employers?' "If we get to a point where we have a moratorium on growth, that moratorium will be very broad based. It won't just be new homes. It will be on retail, it will be on commercial and valuable jobs we need," he said. Executives of companies considering opening new stores or plants in the Valley examine population growth projections, DiPrima added. "Those companies that look to invest in communities, and open a new store, they look at new rooftops. They don't look at existing rooftops," he said. Los Angeles County Waterworks District 40, which supplies much of Lancaster and west Palmdale, stopped promising water to new developments in November due to court-ordered restrictions on pumping water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta into the California Aqueduct. The restrictions are meant to protect the threatened Delta smelt, a species that indicates the health of the delta and surrounding ecosystems. "It's had a big impact on us. It's part and parcel of some of the challenges we're facing here locally in terms of trying to get our housing market back on track," said Gretchen Gutierrez, executive director of the Antelope Valley Building Industry Association. Developers have taken hits over the years when water has been short, or the infrastructure to deliver that water has been inadequate. In 1986, development was restricted in east Lancaster because of low water pressure, finally rectified after the construction of new water storage tanks and water supply lines. In August 2004, District 40 told some developers that water might not be available for their projects. The issue was resolved by the end of the year. Some Lancaster city officials have suggested that developers free up water for new projects by reducing water use in existing homes. That could mean paying homeowners to tear out lawn and replace it with drought-tolerant landscaping, or replace old appliances with more efficient ones. Scott Ehrlich, a partner with InSite Development Corp., which owns 10% of the apartment buildings in the Antelope Valley, agrees. "If you are going to use X amount of gallons of water, you need to save it. It's a net zero effect," Ehrlich said. Ehrlich said he has been able to reduce water usage in his projects through replacing lawns and landscaping with artificial turf and artificial plants, for which Los Angeles County Waterworks offers rebates. Ehrlich, who converted the former Essex House hotel in downtown Lancaster into the Arbor Court senior housing complex, said water use there has been reduced by 30% even though 100 units have been added. Senior citizens use substantially less water than hotel guests, even though hotel rooms are empty more often than apartments, he said. "We're the good guys. Not only are we doing that, we are changing all the toilets out and all the sinks and everything we can possibly do to lower the water usage. And it's a selfish reason as well: the cost of water is going up and it's something we can't control," Ehrlich said. "We can't raise rents to cover it, so we have to lower our expenses." At KB Home tracts, some homes have "smart" water controllers. KB Home executives are also looking at a variety of options for future homes, such as dual-flush toilets with a one-gallon flush and a 2½-gallon flush, as well as more efficient dishwashers and washing machines. Some of KB Home's new models feature artificial turf in the rear yard. "Most people, they walk out the door, they look around, they don't even know it's artificial turf, it's so good today," DiPrima said. "It's a way for us to try to reduce water use, and it's giving us a good pilot program to see with our severe climate in the AV with the heat and cold, how does this stuff hold up," he added. "Once we're really comfortable that it's a viable, long term program, it's something that we're going to start introducing to customers to purchase through us and install for them." KB Home also installed drought-tolerant landscaping in its eastside Martha Stewart-inspired Terreno Vista tract adjacent to the Lancaster National Soccer Center. An extra set of irrigation pipes - called "purple pipe" - for recycled sewage water was installed for future use. "Purple pipe would allow us to go to a reclaimed water system in the future," DiPrima said. DiPrima said the upfront cost is minimal, especially when compared to the cost of retrofitting, tearing all the pipe out and putting new pipe in the ground. A consensus among city and water officials, and developers, is that the biggest target for a reduction in water use is the amount of grass and other vegetation that consumes about 70% of the Valley's water use. Said DiPrima: "I think all of us have lived in a little bit of denial for many years in the Antelope Valley that this is not the desert. And it is a very dry, deserty climate. Our rainfall is very minimal, we don't have much in the way of capture and reuse, and subsequently you drive around and you would think it's downtown Oxnard with the amount of lawns and vegetation we have." Artificial turf has an advantage of staying green even in winter, when many Valley lawns turn brown, Ehrlich said. "So this is a win-win situation. Your property looks great all year round. Landscaping-wise you don't have to pay people to mow the lawns. You rake it or vacuum it off. It looks good and it saves water. I mean it doesn't get better than that," he said. The overall cost, at $1.50 per square foot, is less expensive than installing sod, he said. "The savings are just so far surpassing putting in real sod, plus it's saving water," Ehrlich said. Ehrlich prefers artificial turf to the typical water-conserving landscaping, called xeriscaping. "The problem with xeriscape landscaping is a lot of it's not great-looking. That's why the artificial turf is something we've come up with: It provides the greenness and the environment people want to live in. Now if they could come up with a really great artificial tree, I'd buy it," Ehrlich said. Building more vertical and dense projects reduces the amount of landscaping in a project, Ehrlich said. "The problem in Lancaster in general, that we don't have in the San Fernando Valley, is the amount of land that properties are built on," Ehrlich said. "In San Fernando Valley, we'll build 40 units on 20,000 feet. In Lancaster, they build it on 3 acres, so a higher percentage of the water is going toward landscaping." DiPrima and Sierra Development Group president Dan Otter, who has built shopping centers in the Antelope Valley, point to Las Vegas as a model for reducing water use. Its per capita, per day water consumption has dropped since the 1990s from 340 to 165 gallons. "This was a very difficult thing for Las Vegas to get used to when they rolled this in about five years ago, and now it's just commonplace. You go through communities that used to have sod and you just don't see it anymore," DiPrima said. "The cost of water for them has gone drastically up. The amount of water availability is always in scarcity for them so they've just made it a way of life. They understand that they're in a desert and they actually are starting to bring back the beautification of what the desert is," he said. Otter, who now lives in Nevada, said he and his family moved into a new home that featured landscape with rock and low water-use plants, plus a small grass area in the backyard for his kids to play on. His summer water bill dropped 80% from $500 to $100. "The only thing I can attribute it to is all the watering I had at my old house, so it's been a huge, huge difference," he said. Otter said his commercial projects in California and Nevada include water-conserving landscapes. "We've gone to a lot more low-water types of plantings, getting rid of all the turf, and putting in more rock, plants that can be watered on bubblers, very much in that direction," he said. "From a commercial standpoint, I think it's great. It's less maintenance cost, it's less water cost; there's long-term benefits for everybody." Otter's company also recently installed "purple pipe" at a new Riverside County commercial center. The pipe will eventually tie in to a recycled water system to irrigate the landscaping. Home builders in the past resisted installing less-thirsty landscaping, he said. "The psychological view that they had of what prospective buyers wanted to see was the curb appeal of a home, wanting to have this green beltway in the front of these brand-new homes," Otter said. "Initially some of the home builders over in the Las Vegas area had that concern, but after it became a regulation that they had to do xeriscape landscaping and it had to be the natural material in the front of housing, the marketplace accepted it." While they say they are working on reducing water use, builders warn that halting home construction would hurt the Valley's economy. "If you had any type of moratorium, whether it was driven by water, or anything else, you're going to constrict growth and you're going to constrict retailers wanting to be in that marketplace. Because they're not only building for today, they're building for tomorrow and for future growth," said Otter, whose company helped bring Trader Joe's and Circuit City to the Amargosa Commons commercial center in Palmdale. "Anything that's going to slow down residential is definitely going to impact commercial and industrial, because if you don't have affordable, available housing for people to live in, you're not going to have employees that will attract the companies to resettle to the Antelope Valley," he said. A shortage in the housing market also means people have less opportunity to upgrade. And if home values plummet due to a moratorium, it could open the door to more homes being used as rentals, DiPrima said. "I have never seen a case where a moratorium on building has made values go up unless they are in a highly desirable area, beachfront, or areas with a very pleasant climate," DiPrima said. "We are in the desert, and people have come here because they're looking for an opportunity to get into their first home, and the dream of homeownership." In addition to drawing in shopping and recreational amenities, new subdivisions also expand the Valley's water delivery systems, said Gutierrez, the Building Industry Association executive director. "Right now, people who have been in the Valley for a number of years are reaping the benefit of continued new construction, facilities, new water supply and their current (water) payments are simply through their monthly consumptive use. You're reaping the benefit of additional pipe being installed or additional water being brought down," Gutierrez said. In addition to dealing with the present reduction in water supplies through the California Aqueduct, the Valley is dealing with potential changes in water availability due to a nine-year legal battle over Antelope Valley well-pumping rights, as well as the effects of climate change and a growing California population, Gutierrez said. "If it was one issue only, you get a fairly reasonable, timely solution to it, but given the fact that there are some issues beyond local agencies, that's presenting a challenge to know how best to deal with these things," Gutierrez said. "There are a number of options that are out there that have to be looked at in order to go back to the issuance of permit activity, not just for housing, (but) for industrial buildings or commercial buildings or retail shopping. All of those things are necessary for continued economic growth of the Valley floor," she said. Builders have been advised by a number of agencies to go out into the free market on an individual or collective basis and look to acquire water on the open market, she said. "Unfortunately, given the fact that there has been a reduction in water coming from the north state to the south state, everybody is looking for water at this point in time," Gutierrez said. "So it's becoming a 'who has the largest checkbook' situation, where it's available. Of course if a water agency does have water available, they're looking to sell to another water agency. "They're not looking to sell to private industry. And we're talking the rate of dollars that could be involved are enormous. It could become a bidding war." Reliability and delivery are key issues, she said. "You could literally go out and find water. … The question is, how do you purchase it, at what price, and how do you then deliver and provide it to the customer?" If development does not move forward, the cost of future water supplies or any storage projects that are needed may fall on those already using water in the Valley, she said. "Consumers ... are going to continue to see an increase in their water bill," Gutierrez said. "I believe the water situation all over California is severe. The oil and all the resources that people are saying we're running out of, I think the No. 1 concern has got to be water," Ehrlich said. "Obviously we can't survive without water and things are drying, so I think from a statewide level, it's pretty bad right now." The slowdown in home sales means the full impact of the water situation hasn't been felt yet, builders said. "But as the market gets back more equilibrium and back into a kind of normal cycle, you're going to put the pressures again on the water infrastructure - all these problems are going to rise again. And it would behoove us to try to develop long-term solutions now while there is a break in the action of the normal growth patterns in the Antelope Valley and in Southern California," Otter said. "I have to say, wearing both hats, as a homeowner and of someone trying to build a dream of new homeownership, I worry that every time we have a problem, it's always on the back of the new guy coming in and there's no accountability for the balance of the people," DiPrima said. "We all didn't know 15 years ago that we would be in the situation we are where the smelt and some of the rulings have reduced some of our water availability, so I think that it's something that's not caused by the new construction, it's caused by some environmental issues and we all have to work together as a team to try to solve this," he said. Developers, through the Building Industry Association, came up with some additional fees years ago that new home construction has been paying to the Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency, the main supplier of California Aqueduct water in the Valley, in order to pay for future treatment plants and other water facilities, DiPrima said. "I think we're just behind on what we've got now from capacity storage and how we've reinvested that water," he said. "We can sit and point fingers; it won't resolve issues. I think what we need to do is start looking at the challenges we have together and how we work together to solve some of these things. "How do we generate funds through some of the new construction in order to get more mainline reclaimed water or this purple pipe in the ground?" he asked. More needs to be done to use recycled sewage on athletic fields and park lawns, DiPrima said. "Some schools and parks, the amount of landscaping there is greater than a couple thousand homes. So we've got to take a look at how we can get some of those things converted over to use treated water or possibly going to artificial turf, which is no water at all," he said. "There is no question that California pays some of the lowest water rates and we have no water. I've talked to some experts that have said that ultimately we could have all the water we want through desalination but the challenge with that is it's costly," DiPrima said. "At some point, it's much like we're facing with fuel: Fuel gets to a high enough standard and all of a sudden you can't order a Prius. "I think we're going to see some of the situations where somebody comes from L.A. and expects to have a lawn, they might have the ability to have that lawn but they might have to pay to have that. "I think we've got to continue to educate the entire Antelope Valley that we have water issues here and if we don't get in front off of this, you can stop housing but it's not going to stop shortage," DiPrima said.http://www.avpress.com/n/17/0817_s2.hts 3. Watersheds – Voluntary water conservation puts Lake Mendocino in shape for salmonThe Press Democrat- 8/18/08…By BOB NORBERG For the second consecutive year, water conservation efforts are paying off in the North Bay area. The Sonoma County Water Agency is meeting its goal of reducing the amount of water it takes out of the Russian River by 15 percent, allowing water to be stockpiled in Lake Mendocino for release during the fall salmon run. Officials credit conservation efforts by the agency's major customers -- the cities and water districts from Windsor to San Rafael -- and now project there will be enough water left in the reservoir for October releases. "They said they were doing a similar effort as last year, they would reduce the water by 15 percent from 2004, and that was the basis of what happened last year," said Don Seymour, principal engineer for the Water Agency. The Water Agency has been diverting less than 70 million gallons per day from the Russian River at its intake pumps at Wohler and Mirabel, near Forestville, Seymour said. Without the conservation measures, the average in past years had been about 80 million gallons per day, Seymour said. This is the second year the Water Agency has asked its customers to conserve water. By the end of January, Santa Rosa's rainfall was 3 inches above normal, good news coming off a weather year when rainfall was 30 percent below normal. But less than an inch of rain fell after March 1, resulting in the driest spring on record. The water year ended with Santa Rosa recording 24.03 inches of rain, far less than the 31.01 inches that has been the average for the past 30 years. In June, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed a statewide drought, freeing restrictions on some water delivery to hard-hit areas. But voluntary conservation measures in Sonoma and Marin counties were all that was needed. Last year, the Water Agency was under a state mandate to conserve the water after Lake Mendocino fell dangerously low at the beginning of summer. The Water Agency wants to have about 40,000 acre-feet in the lake Oct. 1, when it will begin releasing water into the Russian River for the fall migration run of chinook salmon. Lake Mendocino this past week was at about 55,300 acre-feet, according to the Water Agency. "We are projecting 42,000 to 43,000 acre-feet. We are hoping that will be sufficient for the fish," Seymour said. "We are feeling confident that we will have an adequate water supply for that migration."#http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20080818/NEWS/808180308/1350&title=... 4. Water Quality –Nothing Significant 5. Agencies, Programs, People – Rationing rears its head at district - The Imperial Valley Press- 8/17/0860,000 water customers in Sacramento County urged to cut use by 10 percent - The Sacramento Bee- 8/17/08 Issues swirl around proposed dams: If bond terms ironed out, voters could have say - The San Diego Tribune- 8/18/08Legislature takes first real step to save sea - Imperial Valley Press- 8/16/08Water agency faces possible shakeup - The Antelope Valley Press- 8/15/08 Rationing rears its head at districtThe Imperial Valley Press- 8/17/08…By MELISSA KRANZLER, Special to this NewspaperWater rationing will, again, be at the forefront of the Imperial Irrigation District’s meeting Tuesday.The 3.1 million acre-feet of water allotted to the IID from the Colo-rado River every year is just not enough. Al-though only a projection, the district is estimated to overrun its share by 112,000 acre-feet in 2008, up an additional 12,000 from the 100,000 acre-feet overrun projected last month.IID spokesman Kevin Kelley said the district has a 65 percent chance of exceeding its allotment this year. This overrun will likely cause the district to declare a supply-demand imbalance.If declared, a supply-demand imbalance will be cause to implement a water-rationing system within the Imperial Valley. The rationing system, or equitable distribution, would take effect Jan. 1, and the loss, if there is any, would have to be made up to the Colorado River by 2010.Because a rationing system has never been implemented in the district, Kelley said it would be a “learning experience.”Equitable distribution would primarily affect agricultural interests within the Imperial Valley, as the municipal and industrial sectors only use 3 percent to 4 percent of the district’s water.Equitable distribution would allot the same amount of water to each entity and, according to the plan, unused water would be reapportioned to those farmers who need it most.After the IID meeting Tuesday a third and final strategic planning workshop will be held. This workshop is open to the public and will cover water as well as energy concerns within the district. A plan to make long-term accommodations for the district’s users due to the increasingly shorter supply will take precedence.#http://www.ivpressonline.com/articles/2008/08/18/local_news/news03.txt 60,000 water customers in Sacramento County urged to cut use by 10 percentThe Sacramento Bee- 8/17/08…By Matt Weiser The Sacramento County Water Agency is urging all customers to immediately cut water consumption 10 percent, due to a reduction in surface water supplies from the American River. If customers don't achieve the 10 percent request, the agency could call for stricter measures, such as limiting landscape watering to designated days. The agency normally gets about 10 percent of its supply from the river via Folsom Lake. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation recently notified the agency, however, that this supply will be reduced 25 percent due to the drought. Because the agency had already consumed much of its allocation due to high customer demand, the result is a total halt in river deliveries. It is now relying entirely on groundwater for the remainder of the year, said Herb Niederberger, water agency division chief. The agency serves about 60,000 customers between Rancho Cordova and Elk Grove. The agency is asking them to voluntarily reduce consumption 10 percent through September, especially during peak-demand hours of 5 a.m. to 8 a.m., and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Conservation measures include asking customers to:• Reduce irrigation timers by 10 minutes per cycle.• Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.• Turn off the tap when brushing teeth.• Use a self-closing nozzle for car washing.• Use a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways, decks and sidewalks. "More than likely, we'll be able to make it through this year," said Niederberger. "We're hoping voluntary efforts will achieve our desired goals." The water agency has stepped up water-waster patrols, citing customers who abuse their supply. Customers may request a free water audit by calling the agency at (916) 772-2226.#http://www.sacbee.com/101/story/1163166.html Issues swirl around proposed dams: If bond terms ironed out, voters could have sayThe San Diego Tribune- 8/18/08…By Michael Gardner TEMPERANCE FLAT – Ron Jacobsma shifts his boat into idle, stopping to float right where he wants to see another dam rise across the San Joaquin River. “We'll see it. I just don't know if I will see it in my lifetime,” mused Jacobsma, who oversees delivering water to nearly 1 million acres of farmland in the shadow of the Eastern Sierra. That would suit Sean Lodge, whose family homesteaded near the dam site, just fine. “There is a rich history that is important to preserve,” Lodge said via e-mail from his firefighting post in the Sierra National Forest. “There are not that many places in the state that have this history that is not lost already.” Which course is set for San Joaquin River mile 274, better known as Temperance Flat, depends on whether Californians are ready to accept new dams to keep taps flowing even as growth and drought strain water supplies. Voters may be offered the opportunity to decide the issue in November, but only if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers can settle on the terms of a $9.3 billion water bond package in the coming days. The bond proposal is packed with spending for popular clean-water, conservation and Sacramento delta restoration programs. But there also is a handful of unresolved issues, any one of which could draw away enough support to keep the measure from securing the necessary two-thirds vote of lawmakers and the governor's signature before it can be placed on the ballot. Among those: a $700 million annual bill to repay the bond debt, power struggles over who would set spending priorities and suspicions that it lays the groundwork for a redrawn north-to-south aqueduct, an idea defeated when it went to voters as the Peripheral Canal in 1982. And, of course, dams. More specifically, the proposed Sites Reservoir, located 16 miles in an isolated bowl west of the Sacramento River near Colusa, and Temperance Flat, not far from Fresno, where a dam would stretch the length of several football fields across the San Joaquin River. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, lobbying state Democrats to accept a bond deal favorable to new reservoirs, said California has to own up to reality. Dry spells, increased demand and environmental restrictions on deliveries leave the state little choice, Feinstein said. “California cannot afford to not do it,” said Feinstein, a Democrat from San Francisco. “If we don't have water, everything goes. We're the largest ag state. Ag goes. We're the largest biotech community. Biotech goes. . . . You can't function if you don't have water.” Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, said Democrats are willing to give ground by allowing dam proposals to compete for a broader $3 billion account set aside in the bond for storage, including filling empty aquifers and raising existing dams. “There are some dynamics moving us closer together, but we still have a long way to go,” Huffman said. “This is the type of crisis that could break us out of our partisan divide.” Deep divisions remain. Last week, Assemblyman Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, suggested that Republicans may withhold votes over running up debt when the state is staring at a huge deficit, despite the lure of funding new reservoirs, their top water priority. “It's troubling for us,” Niello said. A dam at Temperance Flat, named after a mostly abandoned nearby mining community, would span an idyllic stretch of the river canyon slicing between golden foothills dotted with blue oak and digger pine. This would not be the first dam on the San Joaquin River, which originates in the Eastern Sierra as far back as Devils Postpile National Monument near Mammoth. “It's not plugging up a wild and scenic river,” said Jacobsma, general manager of the Friant Water Authority. Salmon disappeared long ago, although some populations survive in tributaries. To the east, about a half-dozen smaller dams built to generate hydropower block the river's natural course. Seven miles to the west rises the 319-feet tall Friant Dam, completed by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1944, which forms Millerton Lake. Millerton is the major supply source for farmers in the region, nourishing a variety of crops valued at $4 billion annually. But Friant Water Authority customers have outgrown the relatively small Millerton Lake, which can hold 520,500 acre-feet of water. Of that, about 385,000 acre-feet is available for use; the rest is flood-control space. During wet years, Millerton Lake quickly fills and is unable to store all of the melting Sierra snowpack. In 2006, 1.2 million acre-feet of flood water – enough to meet the needs of 2.4 million average households for a year – could not be captured because there was simply no more room behind Friant Dam. But that's not a seasonal occurrence, supporters concede. At best, in-flows would exceed the existing capacity at Millerton Lake about every fourth year on average, Jacobsma said. That's where a new dam comes in: to capture floodwaters. Supporters say the Temperance Flat dam would create on average 100,000 acre-feet of new water annually for Friant farmers. It also would replace another 100,000 acre-feet that the Friant Water Authority has committed every year to help restore the San Joaquin and reintroduce salmon runs to the river. The San Joaquin dries up about 40 miles downriver from Millerton Lake. “Below there, it looks like the Sahara Desert,” said Randy McFarland, a Friant consultant. But is the dam worth $2 billion or more, half of which could come out of the pockets of taxpayers? As currently drafted, the water bond would require beneficiaries, such as farms and cities, to pay half of the cost. If they don't commit to a 50 percent match, the project cannot move forward. Feasibility studies are expected to answer some of the questions over financing, environmental damage and benefits, but those reviews won't come in until long after the November election. “It's poor planning to pick out one of those options and put money aside and let voters approve it before the studies are complete,” said Chris Acree of the group Revive the San Joaquin. There are public benefits that warrant taxpayer investment, Jacobsma said. Temperance Flat would be a vital part of the interwoven web of federal, state and local water projects, he said. Through exchanges of water and other operational maneuvers, supplies from the north could be stored in Temperance Flat during wet years and as long as environmental conditions permit the juggling. Thus, Temperance Flat could act as a cushion to reduce groundwater overdraft, improve water quality for cities, help restore the Sacramento delta estuary and provide cold-water releases from Friant Dam to aid migratory fish, such as reintroducing salmon as part of the deal to restore the San Joaquin River, Jacobsma said. Importantly, water stored in Temperance Flat could be moved into the California Aqueduct, south of state and federal pumps in the delta, Jacobsma said. As a result, that water could offset pumping restrictions imposed by a federal judge to protect the rare delta smelt and potentially other fish. Those restrictions have cost Southern California about 500,000 acre-feet, or enough for 1 million households a year. Jacobsma said farm and urban water districts are weighing investments in the project but are waiting for the feasibility studies. There are other barriers beyond cost. The plan could drown two power-generating plants, potentially harm wildlife and flood out a relatively new American Indian facility, the Chawanakee Learning Center. It also would destroy about 5,000 acres of recreation land and river rapids enjoyed by white-water enthusiasts. Outside its hardcore backers, the Temperance Flat proposal has yet to rally widespread support. Urban agencies, such as the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides water to the San Diego region, are primarily focused on funding Sacramento delta restoration and a new conveyance system to avoid pumping restrictions. But the bite on taxpayers for what some view as an agriculture subsidy remains a central issue. “If they think it's so essential for their future, you'd think they would spend the money,” said Steve Evans, conservation director of the statewide Friends of the River. #http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/state/20080818-9999-1n18dam.html Legislature takes first real step to save seaImperial Valley Press- 8/16/08…By BRIANNA LUSK, Special to this NewspaperIt was expected to take another decade, but on a windy day a white dusty cloud can be seen around the Salton Sea.The restoration of the Salton Sea is expected to take billions of dollars and decades.A bill passed by the assembly this week that will begin the initial phase of restoration is being called the first real step taken by the Legislature to save the sea.State Sen. Denise Moreno Ducheny, D-San Diego, authored SB 187 and said it represents the state taking action on its responsibility of the sea.“The state is saying we’re a partner in this. It’s the opportunity to start using the resources,” Ducheny said. “It’s getting a clear commitment from the Legislature.”Introduced more than a year ago and co-authored by Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, R-Cathedral City, the bill cleared the Assembly Appropriations Committee last week.It will move to the Senate for approval and Ducheny said there should be no further holdups before it reaches the governor’s desk. The bill calls for the first phase of the restoration plan, a five-year plan with $47 million worth of projects of early habitat creation and air, sediment and water quality studies. The funds were part of Proposition 84 that was approved by voters in 2006.A more long-term restoration plan has not been decided on and the Assembly made an amendment to SB 187 that states it does not endorse the preferred alternative restoration plan.Gary Wyatt said though the bill’s progress is good news there’s still a tremendous amount of work to be done.“It is a beginning,” Wyatt, chairman of the Imperial County Board of Supervisors and member of the Salton Sea Authority, said. “This can be so important to give a signal to the federal side for them to be involved and fund some of the efforts.”As part of the 2003 Quantification Settlement Agreement that established water transfers from Imperial County to the San Diego area, the state became primarily responsible for the environmental impacts caused by the Salton Sea’s receding shoreline.Recent estimates by an Imperial Irrigation District lawyer overseeing the implementation of the QSA revealed the environmental impacts will happen much sooner than initially thought.Earlier this year, Ducheny’s bill that proposed the governance structure called the Salton Sea Restoration Council did not make it out of the Senate. Ducheny said she hopes to bring that bill back next year.“I want to try within the next two years to get on course with a long-term plan,” she said.But the Legislature needs to approach the Salton Sea with a sense of urgency, Imperial Irrigation District board President John Pierre Menvielle said.“They have definitely been dragging their feet,” Menvielle said, citing the state’s current budget crisis. “I think this shows they have to follow through on what they promised to do.”Wyatt said the state should start looking at the overall picture and coming up with a long-term solution for funding the billions of dollars needed to save the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea Authority is already starting to create public and private partnerships, he said.The legislation is still far from what is needed, Wyatt said.“The sea doesn’t have a long time. We can’t afford to wait forever,” Wyatt said. “I’m pleased the legislation is moving. I’m still cautiously reserved on what kind of impact it will have. There’s some hope with this. We hope this is the beginning and not another false start.”#http://www.ivpressonline.com/articles/2008/08/17/local_news/news02.txt Water agency faces possible shakeupThe Antelope Valley Press- 8/15/08…By Alisha Semchuck For the first time since Neal Weisenberger gained a seat on the Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency board of directors, he faces an election challenge. Lancaster resident Marlon Barnes, a 47-year-old Northrop Grumman Corp. firefighter and Air Force veteran, has put in his bid for AVEK's Division 6 seat, a post Weisenberger has occupied for 11 years. Water agency board members in 1997 appointed Weisenberger to fill the vacated seat of Duard Jackson, a retired California State University, Los Angeles professor who moved out of the area. Since being appointed to the board, Weisenberger, a 52-year-old Antelope Valley College agriculture and landscape professor from Lancaster, has run unopposed. In fact, director Dave Rizzo, also up for re-election, considered Weisenberger to be lucky in the 1998, 2000 and 2004 elections for not having to campaign. "Now he has to earn his position like everyone else," Rizzo said with a smile, adding that he was kidding. But neither Rizzo nor Weisenberger is laughing too hard. They believe a politically motivated strategy is behind an effort to unseat them and longtime board member George Lane, who has served as a board director since 1977. "I heard rumors that there were certain people looking for someone to run against me," Weisenberger said. Therefore, when Barnes filed his papers, he added, "I wasn't surprised … because of the rumors." This time around, local developer Lane, 62, must compete against Dr. James Powell, 52, a dentist and director of the Quartz Hill Water District, an AVEK customer. If Powell were to win the Division 4 seat in the Nov. 4 election, he would be required to step down from the Quartz Hill board because decisions he makes as an AVEK director could benefit the Quartz Hill agency. Carl Hunter, the longest-seated AVEK director, found himself in that situation in 1972. Russ Fuller, the water board's general manager, said Hunter had been on the Boron Community Services District board and had to step down when he joined AVEK because such a dual role could be deemed a conflict of interest since Boron buys aqueduct water from AVEK to blend with groundwater, just as Quartz Hill does. In Division 7, farm manager Rizzo, 48, must vie with R. Todd Lemen, 56, a Lockheed Martin systems manager and the president of the Evergreen Mutual Water Company board, which provides well water to 48 homes between 42nd and 47th streets east from Lancaster Boulevard north to Avenue I. Evergreen does not purchase aqueduct water from AVEK, so Fuller did not know whether Lemen would face a conflict of interest. "I think the issues that will come out (in November) are taxes, water quality and the adjudication," said Weisenberger, who has taught landscape and agriculture courses at Antelope Valley College for nearly 28 years and has been writing a gardening column for the Antelope Valley Press since December 1990. He saw the Valleywide groundwater adjudication case, which began in 1999, as a particular concern. That issue started when Diamond Farming Co. filed suit against Lancaster, the Palmdale Water District and a couple of other water purveyors about groundwater rights. Since then, hundreds of entities - government agencies, water purveyors, farmers and landowners - have joined the court battle. "I really think somebody new stepping into the adjudication process will slow it down," Weisenberger said. "I don't think it's a good time for board members to change because we've been negotiating this for so long. "Every time someone new comes into the process, we seem to take four or five steps backwards. There have been several compromises along the way. "When someone new comes in, they're not aware of what compromises have been made." Barnes, a firefighter for 28 years, the last 20 at Northrop, said he also is interested in the groundwater adjudication, but did not elaborate on the issue. "I just read that some of the people in the public tried to make comments," Barnes said. "They had the idea the board was just blowing them off. They felt pretty much overlooked." However, Barnes said he didn't have firsthand knowledge of the situation. "Until last night," Barnes said Wednesday, "I haven't attended the (AVEK) meetings. I know from a couple of people who do attend. They felt they were disregarded." As for water quality, Barnes said he worried about the decision by water board directors to switch chemicals from chlorine to chloramines - a compound of chlorine and ammonia - for disinfecting the drinking water. "It sounded like it was not going to be beneficial to the residents," he said. "I want to have a part in the decision-making of what's in our water." Barnes worried that chloramines are not "healthy for the human body." He said he has heard of a connection between chlorine and cancer and he thinks "chloramines are worse." "It's not just a matter of drinking it. Let's say you're taking a shower. The steam and vapor - now you're breathing it. I think we have some better options of how to treat water than going that route." Chloramines were not Weisenberger's first choice, either, when the Environmental Protection Agency mandated that all water purveyors using straight chlorine must switch their disinfection method in order to reduce the level of potentially cancer-causing byproducts in the treated drinking water, particles called trihalomethanes. As board members, Weisenberger said, they are duty-bound "to look at the risk (vs.) benefits of any type of treatment process." "I was not originally in favor of the chloramines. I went to several conferences to find out more about alternatives. We saw a risk study the other day that said chloramines are equivalent to riding a bicycle 30 miles in one year regarding any hazard factor. And chlorine has exactly the same risk." Weisenberger said he wasn't implying that riding a bicycle is unhealthy. But, he pointed out, bike riders risk injury from falls and getting hit by cars. Board members also must weigh the cost factor when comparing various options, Weisenberger said. He said that if AVEK went with granular-activated carbon to disinfect the drinking water rather than chloramines, that would cost consumers between $200 and $300 more per household per year. "And the carbon footprint for GAC is greater," Weisenberger said. "We're talking about activated carbon. It has to be put into furnaces at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit to reactivate it. Aside from the higher cost, it's not ecologically friendly. Part of that carbon is burned off and released into the atmosphere. So people inhale it, which is actually more toxic than any other method." Weisenberger also pointed out that the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has been treating drinking water with chloramines since 1984. "So every community south of the San Gabriel (Mountains) that gets water from Met" would have reported health problems if any existed, he said. Weisenberger's issue with taxes comes from a comment made by Powell at a recent water board meeting. Powell had asked the board to consider raising their property tax allotment in the Valley rather than increasing water rates. That would keep the water cost down for people who get their supply from AVEK, but it would cost more for all property owners regardless of who supplies their drinking water. Powell "wants the nonusers to pay for the users," Weisenberger said. "Everybody in the Antelope Valley basically pays taxes to AVEK. That's for the bond issue - what they call the DAWN Project - to bring water from Northern California through the (Sacramento-San Joaquin River) Delta to here. Part of the taxes pay for the maintenance of the facilities that bring water to the Antelope Valley. That was a vote back in the '70s." If the water board implemented Powell's idea, property owners in the Sundale Mutual Water Co., who don't receive any AVEK water, would pay more taxes to keep water rates down for AVEK customers, Weisenberger said. The same is true for people who have private wells on their property, just to keep the "rates down for Quartz Hill Water District and others using AVEK water." Barnes, a Gary, Ind., native who moved to California in 1983, said if he wins the election, he wants "to accomplish for my particular division that (the board) researches everything before we vote on it." Weisenberger, a San Joaquin Valley native whose grandfather settled there in the 1890s, said he will continue to "support water conservation" if re-elected. If not, he said, "I will continue to help the community with water conservation issues."#http://www.avpress.com/n/15/0815_s6.hts ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- DWR's California Water News is distributed to California Department of Water Resources management and staff, for information purposes, by the DWR Public Affairs Office. For reader's services, including new subscriptions, temporary cancellations and address changes, please use the online page: http://listhost2.water.ca.gov/mailman/listinfo/water_news. DWR operates and maintains the State Water Project, provides dam safety and flood control and inspection services, assists local water districts in water management and water conservation planning, and plans for future statewide water needs. Inclusion of materials is not to be construed as an endorsement of any programs, projects, or viewpoints by the Department or the State of California. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------CENTRAL VALLEY SAFE ENVIRONMENT NETWORKMISSION STATEMENTCentral Valley Safe Environment Network is a coalition of organizations and individuals throughout the San Joaquin Valley that is committed to the concept of "Eco-Justice" -- the ecological defense of the natural resources and the people. To that end it is committed to the stewardship, and protection of the resources of the greater San Joaquin Valley, including air and water quality, the preservation of agricultural land, and the protection of wildlife and its habitat. In serving as a community resource and being action-oriented, CVSEN desires to continue to assure there will be a safe food chain, efficient use of natural resources and a healthy environment. CVSEN is also committed to public education regarding these various issues and it is committed to ensuring governmental compliance with federal and state law. CVSEN is composed of farmers, ranchers, city dwellers, environmentalists, ethnic, political,and religious groups, and other stakeholders.