1-3-09Badlands JournalSelfishness, greed, hypocrisy and political corruption destroy the Delta...Bill Hatchhttp://www.badlandsjournal.com/2009-01-02/00702712-22-08Merced Sun-Star editorialhttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/181/v-print/story/605701.html ...How can we judge if California is taking more water from the delta and its watershed than they can handle?Consider the evidence: Smelt are at the brink of extinction. Other species, such as salmon, are in serious peril. Federal courts are using the hammer of the Endangered Species Act to deliver a blunt message about the entire ecosystem.Dry years, when cities and farms suck more from the delta than they do during more rainy times, are especially tough for these species. During wet years, 87 percent of the water entering the delta makes it out to the San Francisco Bay. During dry years, the figure drops to 51 percent.If California is to have any hope of restoring the delta and avoiding clashes with federal judges, it must develop a water plan that reduces its dependence on this estuary and strives for greater reliability.What would this plan look like?To begin with, it must be grounded in reality. Water contracts based on dated premises must be renegotiated, and efficiency should be the law of the land.Each region of the state -- including Sacramento and the San Joaquin Valley -- must find ways to reduce what it takes from the delta and its watershed. And environmental groups must recognize that not every species will be restored to its population predating the Gold Rush...------In about a decade of listening to people in the Northern California environmental movement, I'm pretty sure I never heard anyone talking about restoring pre-Gold Rush populations of fish and wildlife species. Mostly, what I hear and what people are trying to do is to prevent extinction of entire species of fish and wildlife. Blocked by systemic corruption in federal and state resource agencies who have not enforced laws like the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Air and Clean water acts, their only recourse has been the courts, whose judges don't talk about restoring fish and wildlife populations to pre-Gold Rush era levels either. Anyone who doubts the wholesale corruption on resource agencies is recommended to read the Collected Works of Interior Department Inspector General Earl Devaney at http://www.doioig.gov/index.php?menuid=2&viewid=-1&viewtype=REPORT.This corruption can be seen as bureaucratic, legislative and in some cases judicial enabling of a subsidy to finance, insurance and real estate special interests by means to squandering the legally protected Public Trust. It was particularly prevalent in California and the state's foreclosure rate and unemployment rate is a testament to how prudently these special interests used the subsidy. By the way, this process continues with the expected infusion of massive amounts of public funds for public infrastructure projects that will further enrich the same special interests by the same means, the subsidy of the Public Trust. This time, however, taxpayers will pay twice, the first time mainly through inflation, for the privilege of the destruction of their natural resources.Watching the political, legal and bureaucratic wrangling over the Delta as it dies has been a front row seat at some of the worst corruption in the nation on environmental law and regulation. Apparently, we learn now, it was all about digging a new peripheral canal. I don't mean simply bribes or caving to special interest pressure. I mean a lack of will to do the difficult job, a laziness and sloth, a general demoralization caused by lack of any real leadership on the problem. Worst of all may be the expert posturing of scientists busily colonizing the problem for grants rather than attacking it head on with the sort of declarations the crisis has required for some time. In the end, all the King's horses and all the King's men don't really give a damn about the Delta beyond what they might be able to get out of it for themselves.If there is no public to defend the Public Trust, the Public Trust will recede back into the dust of Roman law.The State of California has demonstrated over the last 25 years that it is unable to "fix," "save" or do anything about the Delta but watch it be destroyed. It is the greatest, richest, most diverse and most imperiled ecological region in the state. Nor have federal agencies been able to do their job on the Delta. The reason is the same, and includes some of the same players: human population growth south of the Delta, in the South Bay, the San Joaquin Valley and especially in Southern California. While some sort of settlement might be reached for water use in the South Bay and the combined agricultural and residential use in the Valley, one cannot imagine a resolution is possible in the state of California as now constituted between the north and the south.However, a beginning of a solution might be found if the state split in two and the antagonistic interests met across the barrier of a state border. Perhaps interstate law, regulation and protocols would provide some legal framework for reaching a sustainable peace in our time on the issue of Delta water. The state Legislature, as presently constituted, cannot achieve it. The north needs to be politically disencumbered in order to begin to protect its riverine natural resources and the south needs to become politically responsible for its population growth. Neither of these things -- necessary policies, not "goals" -- are possible in the present political arrangement. To begin, the state is simply too big to be administered or governed well by the apparatus of one state government. The University of California president was recently burbling along about the glorious days of Gov. Pat Brown, how well our k-14 schools performed, how well UC performed (and he could have added how well the state Legislature performed). What California "leaders" are congenitally unable to say, in these flights of prelapsarian nostalgia and make-believe "historical perspective," is that the state had about half the population then as it has today, and that a lot of Pat Brown's policies established the infrastructure for the constant expansion of what he used to call "This Great Big, Number One State of Ours" to its present, gargantuan size and ruinous indebtedness to Wall Street. The State Water Project, for example, over which Brown lavished so much affection for which he gained the affection of southern water users and agribusiness, is the essence of "paper water" in one project. It was over-committed when it started and it still is.Meanwhile, in another part of California, north of the Delta, public school students, some of whose parents are commercial fishermen who had no salmon season this year, are engaged in a project that makes more sense that all the McClatchy Co. editorials and political posturing on water combined:12-23-08Eureka Times StandardSalmon program officially on track for January...John Driscollhttp://www.times-standard.com/localnews/ci_11294358After suffering a near-death experience, the renowned Salmon in the Classroom program is officially back on. The California Department of Fish and Game sent a letter to some 33 Humboldt County classrooms recently confirming that the project has been saved due to popular support. Beginning in January, some 700 students will raise steelhead in aquariums in their classrooms before releasing them into the Mad River, according to the letter from Fisheries Program Manager Steve Turek. When a position to run the decades-old program was announced by Fish and Game to have been purged in October, the news was met with angst about losing a valuable teaching tool, and anger over the perception that the department's administration of the program made it vulnerable. But concerned teachers and fisheries experts moved quickly to support Salmon in the Classroom, and worked with Fish and Game and the Humboldt County Office of Education to restore it. After a few weeks of wrangling and further support from the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Green Diamond Resource Co., the program was whipped into shape again. ”The program is rolling,” said retired teacher and biologist Jeff Self, hired as a contractor to oversee the program. “It's really exciting.” Around the end of January, classrooms will begin to set up their aquariums using water from Mad River Fish Hatchery and ensure consistent operation for at least a week. Steelhead eggs will be brought in around the beginning of February. They'll take about two to three weeks to hatch, and students will help rear them for another four to six weeks, Self said, when they'll be ready to be released below the hatchery in Blue Lake. Self hopes that veteran teachers, especially those retiring or moving to other classrooms, can help pass on their skills to other teachers, which may help expand the program in the future. Ethan Heifitz, who previously ran a salmon program while he was a fourth- and fifth-grade science teacher at Lafayette Elementary School in Eureka, will help other fourth-grade teachers get started. The reason for his efforts: He still has former students approach him to say that raising steelhead was one of their best school experiences. And it's something that can be used as a means to approach other subjects, he said. ”It's just an amazing springboard for everything else,” Heifitz said.#Merced Sun-StarVanishing farmland: Less and less of Merced County is devoted to agriculture...CAROL REITERhttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/167/v-print/story/620781.htmlAgriculture may be the No. 1 industry in Merced County -- worth more than $3 billion -- but it's being done more and more on less and less land.The USDA Economic Research Service released information in December that showed California had lost about 1,000 farms between 2006 and 2007.That trend holds true in Merced County, according to information from the California Department of Conservation. In 2006, the county had lost almost 17,000 acres of prime farmland. That's the land that has the best soil quality, growing season and moisture supply needed to supply high yields of the crops being planted on it.In addition to losing that prime land, more than 12,000 acres of grazing land were lost.Don Drysdale, spokesman for the California Department of Conservation, said preliminary numbers being crunched for the years 2004 to 2006 show that Merced has seen 1,823 acres of new urbanization."It's happening all across the state," Drysdale said. "But with the current economic climate, that may change."California as a whole lost 81,247 acres of prime farmland between 2004 and 2006, Drysdale said. Total ag land lost during that time was about 157,000 acres. The state gained more than 102,000 acres, or 160 square miles, of urban growth.The fastest-growing areas of the state are Riverside and San Bernardino counties, where more than 23,000 acres were lost to urbanization, Drysdale said.Merced County saw the number of acres converted to urbanization between 2004 and 2006 at about 3,600, Drysdale said.Some of the "loss" of farmland can be attributed to forces other than urbanization. David Robinson, agriculture commissioner for Merced County, said farms in the county have been getting bigger, merging prime farmland with some lesser-rated land."When I started in this business about 20 years ago, there were a lot of small growers," Robinson said. "It seems that they are tending to merge into bigger farms now."But Merced is still home to many small growers, making a living from land consisting of between 40 and 100 acres. Many of the county's almond orchards are located on smaller plots of land, and sweet potato farmers often own smaller acreages."One thing we've seen is that urban people will buy 40 acres of almonds, build a house and keep on farming the almonds," Robinson said.There has also been loss of grazing land in the county. Most of that land didn't go to housing, but to more lucrative crops, such as vineyards or trees.Robinson said that building houses on super-quality farmland and pushing farmers to the outer fringes of that land isn't the way the county should grow."We need to strike a balance between urban population growth and farmland," Robinson said. "Agriculture is the economic driver for this county, and we need to protect that resource."Outlook for jobs as grim as it getsAfter spate of closings and layoffs, many are desparate to find any work they can...CORINNE REILLYhttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/167/v-print/story/620765.htmlOscar Guillen is diabetic, but he doesn't take any prescription medications. He doesn't even see a doctor.Since he was laid off from his job six months ago, items such as health care have become luxuries his family can no longer afford."Everything is different now," said the 54-year-old. He had worked for 23 years at Quebecor World Inc., an international printing company with a plant in Merced. "It's a really scary feeling -- not having any security. It's really emotional, and it affects every aspect of your life."These days, Guillen's plight is anything but rare. Amid a worldwide economic downturn, companies across the United States are looking to layoffs as a means to stay afloat. Employers in Merced County are no exception. Comprehensive, countywide statistics don't exist, but it's safe to say that dozens of local employers have laid off thousands of workers as Merced's economy has slid with the rest of the nation's into recession."We haven't seen anything like this in a very long time," said Joanne Presnell, assistant director of the county's Workforce Investment Department, which provides free help for local job seekers. WID itself announced plans to lay off a handful of employees this year."A lot of people have lost their jobs," Presnell added. "And unfortunately we're seeing fewer and fewer places for them to go."Besides the closings of several big retail stores in Merced, among them Circuit City, Linens 'n Things and Mervyn's, countless smaller local businesses have shut their doors in recent months. And many more employers -- from title companies and construction businesses to manufacturers and marketing firms -- have downsized to stay open."It's so hard to tell someone they don't have a job anymore, but there's times when that's the only option," said Paul Singer, a vice president at Malibu Boats, which has shed roughly 45 employees in Merced this year, or about a sixth of its local work force. "We're like a family, so it's real tough. All you can do is hope you can hire them back when things turn around."Other employers, including Quebecor, have dropped workers in Merced for cheaper labor outside the U.S.Guillen said every day has been a struggle since the company laid him off in July. He lives in Merced with his son, daughter-in-law and seven grandchildren. His son also has been searching for a job for months, also with no success.The entire family lives on Guillen's unemployment aid. Their house is in foreclosure, they've cut back to sharing one car and their food budget is a fraction of what it used to be."At this point we're in survival mode," Guillen said.No government agencies comprehensively track layoffs in California, but the state's Employment Development Department keeps some relevant data. It tracks what it calls mass layoffs, or any layoff that involves 50 or more people dropped by one employer for at least 30 days, not including agriculture and government jobs.In the first nine months of 2008, the latest period for which the EDD could provide data, it recorded three mass layoffs that affected a total of 357 workers in Merced County.Several more mass layoffs have been announced since that period, among them the Mervyn's, Circuit City and Linens 'n Things closings."When we get everything totaled for '08, the (layoff) numbers will certainly be bigger than last year," said Patti Roberts, a spokeswoman for the EDD. In all of 2007, Merced County saw five mass layoffs affecting 503 workers.Perhaps more telling is the number of people in Merced County filing unemployment insurance claims for the first time: 4,600 in November alone, up from 3,600 in November 2007.The county's unemployment rate was 13.3 percent in November, compared with the year-ago rate of 10.1 percent.Presnell, of the county's Workforce Investment Department, said demand for all of her agency's services has skyrocketed.Besides job skills training, listings of openings, career planning and resume help, WID provides on-site "rapid response workshops" at companies that have announced layoffs. They include information about adjusting to getting a pink slip, applying for unemployment and resources for job seekers.Between July and October, the department gave more rapid response workshops than it did in all of 2007, Presnell said."Being laid off can be a really big blow," she said. "It's a huge adjustment, and not just financially. It can be very emotional."The last few months have been an especially difficult time to lose a job, Presnell added. As more and more laid-off workers have entered Merced's job market, the competition has become stiffer. What's more, she said, her agency is seeing far fewer positions posted on its job boards lately: "Even if a company has managed to avoid layoffs, that doesn't mean they're going to be hiring at all normally. A lot of them are holding off." Only a few industries, such as health care, are growing right now, she said.Marylene Riley, who also was laid off from Quebecor, has been living that reality every day since July 16, when she was given one hour's notice that she was out of a job. The 53-year-old said she's applied for at least 20 positions since then and hasn't gotten one interview."It's very frustrating," she sighed. "It's so hard to get motivated when you know the odds are so bad, especially when you're competing against the younger generations. A lot of the time I just want to give up."Guillen is in the same place. He's applied for dozens of jobs in every field he thinks might consider him, and for jobs out of state. "I get the same response every time," he said. "'We're not hiring because we're laying people off.'"I'm trying to stay hopeful, but it's hard. It's hard to think about where we might be a few months from now."Grim toll Some Merced County employers that have recently announced layoffs:Atwater Iron & MetalBlue Moon Construction Co., MercedBMC West, Merced (store closed)B & T Cabinet and Door Co., Merced (closed)Circuit City, Merced (store closed)Crescent Jewelers, Merced (store closed)County Bank, MercedFine Line Industries, MercedGreg Opinski Construction, Inc., MercedJohn B. Sanfilippo & Son, Inc., GustineLinens 'n Things, Merced (store closed)Malibu Boats, MercedMerced County Human Services AgencyMerced County Workforce Investment DepartmentMerced Farm Labor, AtwaterMerced HondaMervyn's, Merced (store closed)Ron Smith Buick Pontiac GMC, MercedStahl Metal Products, Merced (closed)Starbucks, Atwater (store closed)TransCounty Title Co., MercedQuebecor World, Inc., MercedModesto BeeDiablo Grande shows split personality...Tim Moranhttp://www.modbee.com/local/v-print/story/551590.htmlThis is a tale of two new owners of a major development in Stanislaus County.One is engaged and communicative, telling homeowners and golf club members what future plans are and what they can expect.The other is strangely silent and has not contacted Stanislaus County since buying the development, even though the county has suspended building permits until water quality problems can be resolved.The development is Diablo Grande in the hills west of Patterson, and those two owners are the same one, World International LLC, with an apparent split personality.World International acquired Diablo Grande almost three months ago in a bankruptcy court sale. The 28,500-acre development includes about 400 homes and two championship-level golf courses.Gary DiSantis, a Diablo Grande homeowner and president of the golf members association, said Wednesday that he has met with the new owners and has stayed in touch with them in phone calls and e-mails."They have been very open in their communication, with a lot of enthusiasm over what they hope to do," DiSantis said. "I haven't heard any negative comments from homeowners or members."Among the plans the new owners have discussed are improving the water quality, developing the long-promised hotel in a new location, improving the entranceway to the development and signing a longer-term contract with Sierra Golf, the company that operates the golf courses, DiSantis said."They want to solve problems and start moving ahead," he said. "I think these people are going to be really good."No word with county officialsStanislaus County officials, however, say they have yet to hear from the new owners."We simply haven't had any contact," Planning Director Kirk Ford said. "I would think if they have future plans, they would want to talk to us."County Supervisor Jim DeMartini, whose district includes Diablo Grande, said he hasn't heard anything, either."They've never talked to us, before or after the sale. It's very strange," DeMartini said. "I would think they would want to be filled in on Measure E (the county initiative to limit residential growth in unincorporated areas). They do have some vested rights, but that would be a concern if it were me."The Bee was unable to get a response from Laurus Corp., which represents World International.Water problems continue to plague the development. The water system exceeds the state's limit for trihalo- methanes, shown to cause cancer in lab animals at higher concentrations.About three weeks ago, at the urging of the California Department of Health, Stanislaus County suspended new building permits at Diablo Grande until the water problem is resolved.The state standard for tri- halomethanes in drinking water is 0.080 milligrams per liter. The most recent test results of the Diablo Grande system show 0.103 milligrams per liter, said Ken August, spokesman for the Department of Health. New test results should be available early this month.The Western Hills Water District, which runs the Diablo Grande water system, has tried a couple of filtering systems that have not solved the problem, August said.An ammonia and chlorine disinfectant system is the long-term solution, August said, and that system should be completed by the end of this year. The system will cost $250,000 to $300,000, he said. The new owners have verbally committed to subsidizing the water system, August said.The risk to homeowners in the meantime is slight, August said. "The levels of trihalo- methanes are slightly above the state standard, and there is a measure of safety built into the standard," he said. "Over a short period of time, exposure at those levels carries only a very slight increase in risk to the consumer."The suspension of building permits isn't likely to cause the new owners any problems soon, given the depressed housing market, DeMartini said.Some of the other plans described by the Diablo Grande owners will require county approval, including moving the location of the hotel to atop a hill for better views, and the entranceway improvements.The plan approved by the county almost 10 years ago includes 2,000 acres and 2,200 to 2,300 homes, along with the hotel, conference center and winery, Ford said.If the new owners want to build beyond that, they will have to go through another costly California Environmental Quality Act review, Ford said.In the meantime, county officials are waiting for some contact from the new owners."I look forward to hearing from them," Ford said.It's La Niña, baby: Forecasters say winter will be dry...Matt Weiser, The Sacramento Beehttp://www.modbee.com/local/v-print/story/551605.htmlWeather watchers fear that a cooling cycle in the Pacific Ocean will bring what California needs least: another drought year.The National Weather Service announced this week that a La Niña pattern has taken hold across the Pacific. Marked by a cooling trend in the waters of the equatorial ocean, La Niña usually diverts the jet stream into Canada, bringing dry conditions to California.La Niña was present last winter, and it brought the second dry year in a row. Rain and snowfall nearly disappeared in Northern California after January last year.This year's La Niña looks stronger and longer-lasting, said Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena."The dice are pretty loaded here against a big snowpack and a heavy rainfall," he said. "But you know, this is one of those things where I really love to be wrong."As of 4 p.m. Friday, Modesto had received 2.99 inches of rain since July 1, the start of the rain year, the Modesto Irrigation District reported. That's about two-thirds of an inch less than the same time last year and nearly 1½ inches below normal for this time of year.But December brought a week of welcome snowstorms to the Sierra Nevada, California's water bank. Snow totals for the winter exceed last year at this time but still are below normal.A "Pineapple Express" storm predicted to hit Central California on Christmas Eve, bringing heavy snow and torrential rain, did not materialize. It turns out La Niña was at least partly to blame.Though it did rain and snow over Christmas, Dave Reynolds, meteorologist in charge of the weather service's Bay Area bureau, said currents associated with La Niña pushed the heavy precipitation north of California. More of the same could be ahead."Needless to say, this pattern is not good for the water supply," Reynolds said via e-mail.El Niño is the more familiar pattern. Named after the Spanish term for "Christ child," because it usually emerges in the Pacific around Christmas, El Niño warms the equatorial Pacific and typically brings consistent wet weather to California.La Niña, or "girl child," is harder to predict. It has brought terrible droughts and terrible flooding to California.The floods have come in La Niña years because it creates better conditions for those Pineapple Express storms, if they can break through the altered jet stream.Absent such storms, odds favor dry weather."We're remaining hopeful the pattern will change enough that we begin to get some repeated storms into California that will help out our water supply," said Rob Hartman, hydrologist in charge at the weather service office in Sacramento.Fresno Bee Fears of more Valley drought growLa Niña may bring third dry year and drastic cuts in water to Valley farms...Mark GrossiRings in the sand are exposed Friday as the water level is at just 37% of capacity at Millerton Lake, about 20 miles northeast of Fresno...Darrell Wong...Photoshttp://www.fresnobee.com/local/story/1104477.htmlA bad omen is starting to appear on the equator in the Pacific Ocean -- adding to worries about a third drought year in California.It is La Niña, a vast blob of cool water that alters global storm patterns. Meteorologists say the phenomenon helped create a record dry spell last March and April in California."The fear is that the drought could get worse," said senior meteorologist Elissa Lynn with the state Department of Water Resources. "Precipitation dropped dramatically in the last several weeks of our season last year." La Niña disappeared in May, and the ocean remained at average temperatures for several months. But by late September, the cool water began reappearing.California tends to get drier and cooler during La Niña, but it's not time to panic yet, experts say. Flooding and big storms also can happen during these events. In addition, the cool-water trend hasn't been around long enough yet for scientists to confirm that La Niña is happening.But with more than half of the wet season ahead, the mention of La Niña makes people nervous. A long, dry stretch in winter or early spring might cripple agriculture and force water rationing in Los Angeles and San Francisco, which rely on snowmelt in rivers for water supply.After two below-average years, some major reservoirs are down to levels only half of normal for this time of year. Lake Shasta is 47% of average. With a capacity nine times greater than Millerton Lake, Shasta is a linchpin for the state's water system.In addition, the Sierra Nevada snowpack -- which holds about two-thirds of the state's summer water supply in a deep freeze -- is only 76% of its usual size.Water officials add that at least part of the spring runoff will be absorbed by the dry mountain landscape, meaning less water for reservoirs this summer.Many farmers are nervously awaiting the preliminary estimate of irrigation deliveries for the Central Valley Project, which delivers water to about 3 million farmland acres. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, owner of the project, will make the forecast late in January.The biggest farm customers on the project are in the San Joaquin Valley, particularly in west Fresno and Merced counties. Without more storms, the forecast could be very ugly for them, bureau officials said.Last year, the deliveries were only 40% of contractual allocations on the Valley's west side. This year, it could be much lower."It's still not quite as bad as the drought of 1977," said Lynette Wirth, acting public affairs officer in the bureau's Sacramento office. "But there's no question that allocations will be reduced if the weather stays dry."Farmer John Diener, who grows almonds, grapes, tomatoes and wheat in west Fresno County, said he already has taken 10% of his land out of production.Diener is a board member for the Westlands Water District, and he buys water from the district. Westlands gets Northern California river water from the Central Valley Project. The northern Sierra snowpack right now is only half its normal size.There is another supply problem for Westlands and other west side districts. Environmental court rulings are cutting back on irrigation deliveries to keep more river water in Northern California for the protection of threatened fish species.Diener says he has been forced to take further precautions this year, devoting 40% to 50% of his land to wheat. It's a lower-value crop that can be grown through the winter, using well water and whatever rainfall occurs.That means the drought has cost him a lot of acreage that could have been used for higher-value crops."If we don't grow high-value crops, it's just that much less money going into the California economy," he said.In contrast, there is more encouraging news on the east side of the Valley for farmers who get water from Millerton and Pine Flat. The southern Sierra snowpack is almost average for this time of year, according to state records.But watermaster Steve Haugen of the Kings River Water Association warned that nobody can predict the rest of the season's precipitation.He said that snow sensors show there are about 8 inches of water content in the snowpack. For an average year, the southern Sierra usually has more than 30 inches of water content by April 1."We need a lot more storms to get to 100% for the year," he said. "But we are about where we need to be right now." Sacramento BeeDelta panel urges California canal without legislative, voter OK...Matt Weiser http://www.sacbee.com/topstories/story/1513445.htmlA panel of state leaders is calling for California to begin building a canal to divert water around the Delta by 2011, without approval from lawmakers or voters.The final report released late Friday by the Delta Vision Committee, made up of five state Cabinet secretaries, thrusts the controversial canal into the top tier of California political battles.The canal would divert a portion of the Sacramento River around the Delta in order to protect a freshwater supply serving 25 million Californians from earthquakes, floods and sea level rise. It is a modern-day version of the peripheral canal rejected by voters in 1982. Natural Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman, chairman of the committee, asserts that the state has the authority under existing laws to build the canal. The price tag is at least $15 billion, and many water agencies that would benefit have said they would pay the bill."We think it's a reasonable goal to set," Chrisman said of the 2011 construction target. "We don't need the Legislature to do that. We already have that authority. Some members of the Legislature don't agree."Legislative leaders were engaged in budget negotiations with the governor Friday night and could not be reached for comment.The committee's 19-page report contains many other recommendations to improve habitat and water supply in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. But these are certain to be overshadowed by the controversial canal.For instance, the committee also recommends that the Department of Fish and Game develop minimum stream flows for Delta tributaries to protect fishery habitat, a long-sought goal of conservationists. But the deadline for that task is 2012 – after canal construction presumably has started.Delta residents and environmental groups fear a canal would drain the estuary of essential freshwater supplies, altering the habitat and rendering Delta islands unfit for farming."We think they're pulling the plug on the Delta way too early," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, campaign director of Restore the Delta, a coalition of environmental groups and landowners. "It's going to end up being tied up in litigation."The committee's report, released two days after a deadline set in state law, finalizes earlier recommendations by the Delta Vision Task Force. The governor-appointed task force – a larger body – met for two years. The committee was charged with reviewing the task force findings and producing final recommendations for the governor and Legislature.The Delta is the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas and California's most important water supply. In addition to serving cities from the Napa Valley to San Diego, it also irrigates nearly 3 million acres of farmland.The state and federal governments operate two massive diversion systems to move Delta water throughout the state. But those diversions have been sharply curtailed over the past two years by court and administrative rulings to protect declining fisheries.This, and two years of drought, have brought economic hardship to Delta-dependent water consumers.The Delta is also at risk from natural disasters. Recent studies estimate there is a 60 percent chance by 2030 that multiple Delta islands will fail simultaneously from earthquakes, floods or sea level rise. This could cripple water diversions.The committee proposes a so-called "dual conveyance" canal system. This involves a separate earthen canal around the Delta, with an intake somewhere south of Sacramento, and a "through Delta" canal formed by bolstering existing levees. The committee calls this the most flexible option.Phil Isenberg, a former Sacramento mayor and legislator who chaired the task force, said the state would be "performing a miracle" to start building a Delta canal by 2011.Isenberg had not seen the committee's final report. But it adopted every proposal from his task force except one.The task force recommended a new policymaking council to bring cohesion to the more than 200 agencies that manage the 740,000-acre estuary in a haphazard fashion. It viewed this as a key initial step before starting major waterworks and habitat projects.But the committee opted to delay the governance question while starting work in other areas, including canal planning."I think it's too bad they didn't make a recommendation on that," Isenberg said. "I'm not shocked, but it's too bad because everyone in the puzzle knows you can't fit the pieces together without a governance solution."The committee delegates a governance decision to a proposed Delta Policy Group, consisting of state Cabinet secretaries and one representative for the five Delta counties.This group would spend another year developing a final plan to govern the Delta. Chrisman said this would likely not result in a new governing entity as proposed by the task force, but instead would modify powers vested in existing state agencies.Next steps for the Delta depend largely on the ability of the governor and Legislature to work together on solutions.Many of the committee's recommendations require new laws. Those that don't – including, perhaps, a canal – still could be obstructed by legislators or voters through laws or lawsuits that raised financial or legal barriers. Potential Canal Routes...California Department of Water Resources…Maphttp://www.sacbee.com/topstories/story/1513445-a1513788-t46.htmlDelta Vision Committee Implementation Report...December 31, 2008http://resources.ca.gov/docs/Delta_Vision_Committee_Implementation_Report.pdfSummary Recommendation to the GovernorIn its October 2008 Delta Vision Strategic Plan, the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force drew a fundamental and significant conclusion that California’s Delta must be managed according to two coequal goals:    “Restore the Delta ecosystem and create a more reliable water supply for California.”The Delta Vision Committee agrees and recommends that this concept, as further defined herein, be incorporated into state law.The Delta Vision Committee agrees and recommends that this concept, as further defined herein, be incorporated into state law.In addition to the commendable accomplishment of achieving consensus on this level, the task force was able to take a highly politicized topic and distill rhetoric and diverse opinions and recommendations into a list of recommended actions. The Delta Vision Blue Ribbon task force’s Strategic Plan is a robust document, developed through public input under the leadership of an accomplished team, that will serve as an important guide and reference as California moves forward to make improvements in the Delta.We agree with the task force that strong action is needed to stop the continued decline of water reliability and concurrent deterioration of the Delta ecosystem. Based upon our review of the Strategic Plan document, we present here a concise summary of the Delta Vision Committee’s recommended near-term actions necessary to achieve Delta sustainability and to avoid catastrophe.The priorities that form the foundation for a sustainable Delta include the following “fundamental actions”:• A new system of dual water conveyance through and around the Delta to protect municipal, agricultural, environmental, and the other beneficial uses of water; that are compatible with Plan goals;     • An investment commitment and strategy to restore and sustain a vibrant and diverse Delta ecosystem including the protection and enhancement of agricultural lands that are compatible with Plan goals; • Additional storage to allow greater system operational flexibility that will benefit water supplies for both humans and the environment and adapt to a changing climate;• An investment plan to protect and enhance unique and important characteristics of the Delta region.• A comprehensive Delta emergency preparedness strategy and a fully integrated Delta emergency response plan;• A plan to significantly improve and provide incentives for water conservation – through both wise use and reuse – in both urban and agricultural sectors throughout the state;• Strong incentives for local and regional efforts to make better use of new sources of water such as brackish water cleanup and seawater desalination; and• An improved governance system that has reliable funding, clear authority to determine priorities and strong performance measures to ensure accountability to the new governing doctrine of the Delta: operation for the coequal goals. Completion of this fundamental action  is absolutely essential to the sustained operation and maintenance of all of these recommendations.The Delta ecosystem is experiencing a step decline. This condition, in addition to increasing seismic risk, added year-round water demand and the impacts of climate change have already caused severe reductions in the Delta-dependent water supply and in the reliability of that supply. These reductions impact our economy, our food security and our quality of life. The stakes are high, and Californians must come together now to take fundamental actions to preserve and protect the many uses of the Delta.ContextGovernor Schwarzenegger has been committed to improving California’s flood and water infrastructure since the day he took office. His support of Proposition 1E resulted in the passage of the largest one-time investment in California’s aging flood control system in the state’s history. Additionally, his support for Proposition 84 led to unprecedented levels of funding dedicated to improving water quality and fundamentally investing in ecosystem protection and restoration.In an effort to overcome the historic political paralysis surrounding water policy in California, in September 2006 Governor Schwarzenegger signed Executive Order S-17-06. This Executive Order built on the Legislature’s SB 1574, AB 1200 and AB 1803. The Executive Order launched the Delta Vision process by establishing a Blue Ribbon Task Force, a Cabinet-level Delta Vision Committee, Delta Science Advisors, and a Stakeholder Coordination Group. The independent Blue Ribbon Task Force was charged with developing both a long-term vision for the Delta and a plan to implement that vision. That same Executive Order charged a Committee of the Governor’s Cabinet Secretaries, the Delta Vision Committee, to review the completed work of the task force and to make their own implementation recommendations to both the Governor and Legislature by December 31, 2008. This report sets forth those recommendations.The Committee, in this implementation report, draws on the detailed recommendations in the task force’s Strategic Plan, and provides a summary of fundamental actions to be undertaken in the next two years. Many actions will take more than two years to complete but significant progress can be made within this time frame to ensure that infrastructure and planning improvements will be in place for the next Administration to carry on. Additionally, in this report the Committee lists a number of strategies set forth by the task force to support the fundamental actions. These are a significant part of a comprehensive approach, but require additional development and perhaps additional authority from the Legislature in order to implement.There is no time to waste and we must accelerate implementation of near-term fundamental actions. Additional delay will only compound the risk to the state and its citizens. The Committee therefore recommends, as illustrated in the following timeline, the series of fundamental actions to be taken now and a phased implementation of most of the supporting strategies from the Delta Vision Strategic Plan as detailed herein.Timeline of Proposed Delta Actions and Associated Events...2009...Stockton RecordDelta canal timeline outlinedConstruction could start in 2011 if series of goals met...Alex Breitlerhttp://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090103/A_NEWS/901030315SACRAMENTO - Ground will be broken on a peripheral canal in 2011 if a set of goals sent Friday to Gov. Arnold Schwar-zenegger can be implemented.A report from the Cabinet-level Delta Vision Committee confirms most of the findings of an earlier Delta Vision task force, which finished its 20-month analysis on the troubled estuary in November.Friday's report also provides a specific timeline. First, it proposes legislation this year for a water bond to pay for Delta fixesThen, by 2010, environmental analyses would be complete, and the state would apply for the right to divert water from the Sacramento River at Hood. That's one location where a peripheral canal could begin, carrying water around the Delta to export pumps in the south.And by 2011, construction would begin."I think that is awfully ambitious," said Terry Dermody, a former San Joaquin County counsel who is acting as a water attorney for the county. "I would be surprised. I would be very surprised if that is the case."Legal challenges are sure to come, he said, and questions remain about how to pay for a canal, which has been estimated by the state Department of Water Resources to cost $4.2 billion to $7.2 billion.San Joaquin County and many Delta advocates oppose a canal, saying that it would siphon away fresh water and turn the Delta into a stagnant swamp or, once levees fail, a vast inland sea.California Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman said the 2011 goal is realistic if environmental reviews can be completed. He said close coordination with state legislators will be necessary and acknowledged there is resistance."We're going to be working hard to meet these deadlines," Chrisman said.Friday's report differs from the previous Delta Vision task force in one key area: governance. The task force had recommended formation of a new council to adopt a Delta plan and ensure compliance by all levels of government.Chrisman's committee said another year should be spent studying governance options before a final decision is made. Dermody said the delay might be good news for the county, because it allows a greater opportunity for local officials to make their voices heard.Break out the shovels...Alex Breitler's Bloghttp://blogs.recordnet.com/sr-abreitlerFor the first time that I'm aware of (at least for this go-around), officials have put a timeline on the construction of some sort of peripheral canal, among other projects in the Delta. They plan to break out the shovels for a groundbreaking in 2011.This will doubtless be met with skepticism by many, who will 1) ask where are the billions of dollars needed to build a canal, and 2) observe that everyone and their dog has threatened to sue if a PC is pursued.in fairness, the timeline released this afternoon by the Delta Vision Committee also includes goals related to water conservation, ecosystem and historic preservation of the Delta.San Francisco ChroniclePeripheral canal, new levees urged for delta...Kelly Zitohttp://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/01/03/BAR2153322.DTL&type=printableAn influential Cabinet-level group Friday released its prescription for the sickly Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, including a 2011 goal to break ground on a new canal system - without the approval of the California Legislature.The panel backed away from creating a new governing body to oversee the delta or altering the California Constitution to say that the delta's health is as important as supplying water to 25 million Californians. That differed from another governor-appointed task force that contended that new leadership and a constitutional amendment were needed to fix a fragile ecosystem that also serves as the hub of the state's water supply.On Friday, two days after it was officially due, an implementation plan for the delta was released by the Delta Vision Committee, charged with advising Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature on future management of the delta. Many of its recommendations hewed to those made by the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, such as reducing per capita water use 20 percent by 2020. One of the most critical questions that arose from the report rested on whether the administration holds the power to start building a so-called dual conveyance system in 2011 without the approval of the Legislature. The system would include a peripheral canal that would channel water from the Sacramento River to huge pumps in the southern delta, as well as strengthened levees that would route water through a central section of the delta. A plan to build a peripheral canal was rejected by voters statewide in 1982. "The attorney general's opinion said the governor has the executive authority to go through (the Department of Water Resources) to authorize construction of a canal," Keith Coolidge, spokesman for CalFed, one of the agencies currently overseeing the delta, said in a late afternoon media conference call. "Some legislative counsel disagree, but that issue hasn't been resolved."All told, the costs for shoring up the system's infrastructure and for restoring the habitat are pegged at just under $10 billion. The plan calls for state and federal water contractors to fund the canal's construction, while money for ecological restoration would come from bonds and fees.Delta Vision Committee members acknowledge the financial difficulties facing the state - namely a $41.5 billion budget deficit in 2010, but said the delta - and therefore the state's water system - depends heavily on additional funding."We're going to have to work with Legislature," said Michael Chrisman, Delta Vision Committee chairman and secretary of resources. "Given the budget situation we're going through right now, it's going to be a challenge."Both committees argue that the delta projects will help keep California's water supply safe and reduce the stressors on the ecosystem.Endangered delta fish populations have crashed in recent years amid increased water pumping out of the delta. The situation reached a boiling point in 2007 when a federal judge ordered water exports slashed by one-third in order to protect the delta smelt, a tiny fish that smells like cucumber.Environmentalists argued that a constitutional amendment is important to ensure that human needs for water don't outweigh the needs of fish, waterfowl and rare plants.But Delta Vision Committee members said the two, co-equal goals form the foundation of the implementation plan. "It's not clear specifically how the co-equal goals could be balanced and achieved," Coolidge said.Officials with the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense, some of the most vocal supporters of the legal amendment, couldn't be reached for comment Friday evening.After 20 months of study by the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force and a mandated Dec. 31 deadline for the committee report, it seemed that the main recommendations on the delta would be firm. But Chrisman said another year was needed to examine whether the delta needs a new governing body."Instead of creating another layer of government ... we need to figure out what we have and build a structure that works under the existing authorities," he said.Coho salmon are bred for diversity, strength...Peter Fimritehttp://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/01/03/MNKJ14QS3D.DTL&type=printableThe nets that volunteers held in a remote river valley near Bodega Bay were full of the squiggling bluish fish that biologists hope will be the seed population of a new race of coho salmon.The scaly, flapping critters were carried in nets from a truck 25 yards to the banks of Salmon Creek, a western Sonoma County tributary that winds through a stunning rural valley.The 305 hatchery-raised coho were the first of their kind seen in any significant numbers in the degraded watershed since the mid-1970s, but their release last month was more than just a reintroduction. It was part of a pioneering experiment in genetic diversity, the re-creation of a missing link that could serve as a bridge toward the renewal of this gravely endangered species."We are trying to develop fish with good strong genetic makeup that will lead to a durable natural population," said Gail Seymour, an associate biologist and Salmon Creek watershed planner for the California Department of Fish and Game. "We don't know for sure that we are going to have full recovery by planting this minimal number of fish. It hasn't been that long since we've known that diverse genetics are so critical."The fish that were released are a mix of 3-year-old coho from the Russian River and Olema Creek in Marin County. The combination may not seem like a big deal to most people, but the two populations are genetically unique, much like different races of people on different continents.If they mate, as expected, the coho would repopulate the creek with an essentially new mixed race of salmon, a species of coho free from the debilitating problems that scientists are increasingly associating with hatchery inbreeding.Creating a new raceBob Coey, a senior biologist for the Department of Fish and Game, said the effort is part of a groundbreaking coho recovery effort that started in 2001 when the fish population in the Russian River hit bottom. There were once an estimated 20,000 salmon fighting their way up the Russian River, but logging, gravel mining, overgrazing, vegetation removal, and huge amounts of sedimentation associated with residential and commercial development destroyed the fish habitat.It is not an isolated problem. Coho, which are more sensitive to water temperature and quality than other salmonid species, have been dying off all along the West Coast. They were given additional protections in 2005 under the Endangered Species Act but things have gone downhill from there. Fisheries analysts reported a 73 percent decline in the already dismal number of coho returning to the creeks and tributaries along the coast of California during the 2007-08 spawning season. Coho now make up about 1 percent of their historic population. The Russian River may be hit worst of all the big rivers. The coho population in the river dropped to about 100 in the late 1990s. Coey said fewer than 10 fish returned to spawn in 2001. Capturing juvenilesThe decline is why the Russian River Coho Broodstock Program was started by Fish and Game officials. They began capturing wild juvenile coho, raising them to adulthood in the hatchery, collecting their eggs after spawning and returning the offspring into the streams.About 6,000 fish were released in 2004 and the numbers have grown ever since. About 90,000 juveniles a year are now released into the Russian River system, and experts say there are signs that things are beginning to improve.But, as in any situation where you start with a limited population, in-breeding is a problem. In the wild, natural selection weeds out the weaker fish. In a hatchery, virtually all the fish survive and many of them turn out to be related to one another, according to biologists. As with humans, incest is not a recipe for strong genes."There hasn't been enough genetic diversity, which means weaker strains develop," Seymour said. "They are more susceptible to disease, they don't have the ability to evade predators, they're not as quick or strong and they may not be bright enough."That's where the Salmon Creek watershed and the Marin County coho population come in. Salmon Creek flows through a 35-square-mile watershed surrounded by about 200 ranches and farms into the town of Bodega and out to sea. It lost its coho largely because of livestock grazing and many of the same stressors that plague the Russian River. It is the last barren creek in the area, even though about $500,000 has been spent the past 10 years on watershed restoration.It was chosen for the recovery plan because it is between the Russian River and Olema Creek, a western Marin County tributary that is part of the Lagunitas Creek watershed, home to the largest population of coho salmon in California. Geneticists say they believe the historic population that existed in Salmon Creek before they disappeared was a genetic mix of Russian River and Lagunitas fish, so Fish and Game biologists decided to try to re-create that population using surplus hatchery fish. The 305 fish selected were genetically tested to ensure none of them was related."We're trying to simulate the strain of salmon from two populations that occurred naturally in the past," Coey said. "We're releasing surplus adult Russian River and Marin County coho into the creek in the hope that these fish find each other and create a population on their own."Signs of hopeThere is reason to believe it will work. Surplus hatchery fish have been released into Walker Creek, in West Marin, for the past five years. Coey said genetic testing has verified that those fish returned to the creek, which hadn't seen coho for a couple of decades, and reproduced on their own. The 2- to 3-foot-long adult coho struggled and splashed as they hit the water, then bolted out of the nets into the deep, free for the first time in their lives. Ironically, their freedom will be short lived. They will spawn within the next month and die. Nobody will know how things worked out until their offspring return in three years to the place where they were born and lay their own eggs. "This is really exciting," Coey said, as the fish darted away up-stream, looking like underwater shadows. "Nobody has done this before."Contra Costa TimesGov's advisers recommend canal...Mike Taugher http://www.contracostatimes.com/environment/ci_11359058Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's top water policy advisers have recommended construction begin in 2011 on an aqueduct to carry water around the Delta, a version of the Peripheral Canal that California voters rejected in 1982.In a report released late Friday, the Delta Vision Committee largely embraced the broad outlines of a report from a task force in October. But the committee of mostly cabinet-level officials stopped short of embracing how the goals of protecting the environment and improving water reliability should be met.For example, the committee did not take a firm stance on the first concrete recommendation in the October report — that a constitutional amendment or other legislation be passed to ensure that the Delta environment be given equal status with the demands of water supplies."We haven't decided yet," said resources secretary Mike Chrisman, adding that the committee nevertheless endorsed the idea of "coequal" status.Chrisman and the other members of the committee also rejected the idea of creating an agency to oversee the Delta and to use a federal law that empowers the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.Many of the powers that would go to the new agency already exist in state water agencies, Chrisman said."Rather than create another layer of government, what we need to do is figure out what we have," he said.Still, the advisers generally endorsed the recommendations of the Delta Vision Task force, which found that the needs of water users frequently trump environmental considerations, and that as a result of that and other forces, the Delta is no longer sustainable as an ecosystem nor reliable as a key part of the state's water delivery system. The recommendations generally endorsed by the committee included giving special status to the Delta as a unique place deserving protection for the people who live, work and play there; restoring the ecosystem; promoting water conservation and efficiency; building new water storage and conveyance; and improving preparedness for floods and earthquakes.The most controversial of those recommendations involve whether to build dams and whether to build a canal around the Delta. Such a canal could improve water supplies from the East Bay to Southern California and prevent fish from being sucked into pump stations.But it also could reduce the flow of water into the Delta, which could cause the concentration of pollutants to rise. The committee, like the task force before it, recommended completing studies on proposed dam projects and building a "dual conveyance" system that relies on pumps near Tracy and a canal around the Delta. The advisers said the governor has the authority to build the peripheral canal, though they added that approval of legislators or voters will be needed if taxpayer funds are to be tapped. It is not entirely clear that public money will be needed because water agencies have expressed a willingness to use ratepayer funds.Los Angeles TimesMore support for a delta canal...Bettina Boxall, Greenspace      http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2009/01/more-support-fo.htmlA high-ranking state committee has endorsed the idea of building an aqueduct around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to improve water deliveries to Central and Southern California.The proposal for a new system to take water from the Northern California delta has been gaining traction as its mounting environmental problems create more pressure to curtail pumping from the southern reaches of the estuary.A blue-ribbon task force last fall made a host of recommendations to restore the delta ecosystem and change the way water is conveyed through the region. In a paper released Friday, a cabinet-level committee embraced most of those recommendations, including "dual conveyance."Under that concept, state and federal water managers would continue to move some water supplies through the delta, which is a maze of farm islands and water channels. But a new canal would be built to transport some supplies around the delta and carry them from the Sacramento River directly to the pumps. A proposal to build a more ambitious version of such a canal in the early 1980s sparked a bruising battle between the state's north and south and was voted down.The Delta Vision Committee Implementation Report also endorses proposals for new reservoirs, more statewide water conservation and stepped-up efforts to correct the delta's myriad environmental ills. The recommendations, which would require some legislation and bond money to move forward,  represent the latest in more than a decade of so-far-unsuccessful efforts to stop the environmental hemorrhaging of the delta, which supplies two-thirds of the state with urban and irrigation water.The delta suffers from rising sea level, crumbling levees, crashing fish populations, pesticide pollution and invasive species.Washington PostLessons From L.A....Roger K. Lewis. Roger K. Lewis is a practicing architect and a professor emeritus of architecture at the University of Maryland.http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/31/AR2008123102842_pf.htmlLast month, I may have glimpsed the Washington region's future -- I spent five days in sprawling, traffic-choked Los Angeles.To be sure, L.A. has wonderful museums and art collections, provocative architecture, first-class restaurants, spectacular hillside homes overlooking the city, and charming beachfront communities lining the coast. But if Los Angeles is predictive of Washington's fate, we should be worried. And we should learn the lessons it teaches.The infamous freeway congestion is more horrendous than ever, as are some of L.A.'s aggressive drivers. Except for local neighborhood trips, it routinely takes 45 minutes or more to drive anywhere. Unless you travel only between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., your average freeway speed will be in the single digits.The only good freeway news is that automobile emissions-control technology has greatly reduced the legendary smog.The vastness of greater Los Angeles, home to more than 10 million inhabitants, is hard to comprehend. It stretches nearly 40 miles along the Pacific coast and extends dozens of miles inland, across low mountain ranges and broad valleys. Close to 1,000 square miles, it's the size of some European countries and the state of Rhode Island.Los Angeles is an aggregation of counties encompassing large and small municipalities and economically diverse neighborhoods. Exclusive subdivisions cling to the sides of canyons and hills. Retail-strip boulevards and streets run between high-density, multi-use urban cores.There's a downtown with an iconic city hall and other municipal buildings; high-rise office, hotel and apartment towers; museums, theaters and concert halls; parking garages; places to shop and dine; and public parks. But greater L.A. is truly polycentric, with many downtowns scattered about its patchwork quilt of "edge cities."The freeways, plus the transit and bus lines, vainly attempt to stitch together this sprawling megalopolis. But nonstop demographic and physical expansion has far exceeded the capacity of the transportation system.Los Angeles is also an environmental paradox. Its progressively minded citizens enthusiastically embrace energy conservation and sustainability, claiming to set an example for other states and cities. Californians are genuinely concerned about climate change and about stressed and diminishing natural resources. One sees more gas-electric hybrid cars in L.A. than anywhere else.Yet one wonders why California has allowed so much growth, far in excess of what its infrastructure and ecology can support. After all, Southern California is a subtropical desert with a finite supply of water, a less-than-stable landscape naturally prone to earthquakes, flash floods and mudslides, and frequent droughts and wildfires.For example, the Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu abuts steep cliffs dotted with remnants of collapsed homes and buttressed at frequent intervals by retaining walls and tie-back structures to deter erosion and further collapse. Yet new buildings are being erected on cliff-side sites only a few feet from previous collapses. Why are nature's lessons going unlearned, and, even more surprising, why are building permits being issued for such sites?Californians could have managed growth more diligently to ensure that development and infrastructure were synchronized and, equally important, that only environmentally suitable land could be developed.Maybe we need Los Angeles to teach us what not to do, but it remains to be seen whether Washington will learn and act on the lessons.CNN MoneyRough waters for shippers 2:03With the world economy on the ropes, global trade routes point to an even tougher year for cargo transporters in 2009...Videohttp://money.cnn.com/video/