Every culture has its sacred texts. Chinese, the Sumerians, Indians, Persians, Hebrews, Greeks, Romans, Arabs -- and on and on. You name the culture and we'll name the sacred text -- from the I Ching to the Koran and beyond. It is the world's greatest literature,
the true treasury of the deepest human values and highest human visions.
In California, we have the water news. Because we are so young, dynamic and full of the belief that economic growth equals population growth, the notion that natural resources, especially water, may have limits, has created a theological crisis here in California.
The very idea there might not be enough water to support unlimited population growth has had an impact in California nearly the equivalent of the Black Plague of the 14th century. But as all the traditions teach, crisis is an opportunity for personal spiritual growth. Selah!
Scribes among us, working in austere newsrooms in the state and living in poverty worthy of midieval monks and nuns, compose the daily sacred chronicle of our anxiety about the horrors of drought, growth slow-down, and global warming, illuminated with photo illustrations of water demonstrations and even moving pictures (http://abclocal.go.com/kfsn/video?id=6872749) of shoving matches: Paul Rodriguez, a Mexican-American LA comic who fronts the Latino Water Coalition and his Dinuba goon squad v. an Azorean dairyman from Merced named Corvelo. It was Rodriguez and goons in three on points, according to Fresno ABC Channel 30 -- Action News indeed. And what's Corvelo complaining about? What did Rodriguez promise small Valley dairymen facing the worst milk prices in memory?
Most of the high priests however are engineers, politicians, bureaucrats and public relations executives. If you receive your spiritual messages best from those who speak in tongues, we recommend Rep. Devin Nunes, whose discourses can be witnessed at http://www.youtube.com/user/RepDevinNunes
The California daily water chronicles are full of incident, dispute, passion plays in front of city halls, pronouncement, political posturing, slogans, rage, raving, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse -- all the stuff of great theological drama. As all later theological works, they draw upon earlier traditions. South of the San Joaquin River,
they specialize in Armaggedon rhetoric straight out of the Book of Revelations. North of the San Joaquin, water logicians of the rank of the great nominalist, William of Ockham, hold sway on the floors of the state Capitol, slicing and dicing with the the glinting razors of their highly polished minds.
As is true with all real religious phenomena, the California water chronicles defy simple synopsis. Within them lie the turbulent currents of the real society, including religious schism. See below, just two weeks' worth of the naked face of the human spirit of California grappling with the existential issue of economic growth and water. All this, in digest form, is collected for you by Badlands Journal editorial board from a portion of the collected works of the heroic genius of reporters laboring in the economic collapse occasioned by their publishers' debts, based on assumptions of 30-percent profits for newspapers. Bearing down upon the editors who guide humble reporters seeking the truth are huge forces of feudal orthodoxy, Westlands Water District, Friant Water Users Authority, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the Hun, our governor and his doo-wop group, the Delta Visionaires, the combined authority of finance, insurance and real estate, a quartet of gibbering congressmen (Cardoza, Costa, Nunes and Radanovich) orchestrated by a massive international public relations firm we prefer to call by its simple, accurate acronym, BM. Yet from out of the desert, as so often happened in history, come the cries of the Truth Tellers, who have slowly, with steady determination and unflagging courage, revealed every utterance of the feudal orthodoxy for what they are – Big Lies. Don’t miss the chapters written by Carter, Bacher, Jennings,. Gleich, and Haze. We include in full a short introductory text by Lydia Miller, submitted to the Secretary of the Interior in Fresno on June 28.
When reading sacred texts, the spiritual seeker is, of course, advised not to focus completely on any one detail. If one reads properly and in the correct sitting position, the seeker will automatically achieve the desired ocular attitude, eyes slightly crossed. As all spiritual schools teach, it is necessary NOT TO ATTACH. Badlands Journal editorial board has made it as easy as possible NOT TO ATTACH by including only the headline, the lead and the link to all but a very few stories in the last two weeks. For further study, it will be necessary to contact Badlands water guru, Aguananda Baba. However, we note Baba’s invarariable advice is, “Don’t worry. You can’t afford me.”
Meanwhile, go with the flow and be happy.
Badlands Journal editorial board
Statement at Salazar Town Hall Meeting, June 28, 2009...Badlands Journal editorial board
My name is Lydia Miller. I live in Merced. I am president of the San Joaquin Raptor Wildlife Rescue Center. I am here today representing the Center, Protect Our Water, Central Valley Safe Environment Network, and South California Endangered Species Habitat Alliance.
The Raptor Center was a petitioner on the 22-year-old San Joaquin River Settlement.
We would like to thank Secretary Salazar and Valley congressmen for convening this meeting. We thank congressmen Cardoza and Costa for their recent plea in Congress to declare Cardoza's district an economic disaster area. Merced County, despite receiving 100 percent of its irrigation water, has a higher unemployment rate than the counties where Westlands operates. So does Stanislaus, also in Cardoza's district. We take this opportunity to applaud Congressman Cardoza for his belated recognition that his pro-growth policy during the speculative housing bubble has led to immense misery in his district, which has the highest foreclosure rate in the nation. We regret the congressman has moved his family to Annapolis Maryland. His wife, a physician, was badly needed in our community.
There are six other CA counties that have higher unemployment rates than Fresno, Kings or Kern. Farm labor employment in Westlands counties has gained during the drought. This unemployment propaganda is just another grower argument for depressing wages.
The meeting today is about two sources of surface water: the San Joaquin River and the San Joaquin Delta and west side groundwater, full of heavy metals and salts, which for 60 years has turned the 100-mile-long western reach of the San Joaquin River into a toxic drainage ditch. Last year, a federal court decision restricted some pumping from the Delta to protect endangered species.
Westlands use of water jeopardizes the public trust in water, fish and wildlife in the Central Valley. It jeopardizes small farmers from here to Trinity County. It jeopardizes cattle land. All of this came to bear at the Kesterson Wildlife Refuge in Merced County, where toxic agricultural drainage from Westlands poisoned and deformed migratory birds protected by international treaty, poisoned cattle and created a human cancer cluster. Westlands has created other cancer clusters on the west side of the Valley, in McFarland, for example. Its "economies of scale" have driven countless small farmers off the land.
We thank Westlands for making this an environmental justice issue by tying it to unemployment rates, at least in Mendota, and by extension to health and safety issues their farmworker employees have lived with since the beginning of Westlands. We regret that because of a series of special-interest deals by the federal government, it is impossible to openly discuss farm labor in our communities today. However, we will say that the largest beneficiaries of these deals have been agribusiness and the greatest victims, in addition to farmworkers, have been the Valley's natural resources, its wildlife, the public health and safety of all Valley citizens.
Westlands Water District has been a bad neighbor since it first began receiving Delta water. This current propaganda campaign is in league with outside urban interests intent on gaining a peripheral canal on the Delta. Westlands should be taken off the table of the Delta debate. It should receive no more surface water to irrigate its alkali flats at the expense of the Public Trust.
Mr. Secretary, we won’t tolerate any more Julie MacDonalds in California.
Julie A. MacDonald (born July 14, 1955) was a deputy assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the United States Department of the Interior appointed by former Secretary of the Interior. MacDonald was appointed by Gale Norton on 3 May 2004 and resigned on 1 May, 2007 after an internal investigation found that she had violated the Code of Federal Regulations under Use of Nonpublic Information and Basic Obligation of Public Service, Appearance of Preferential Treatment, although the investigation found no evidence of illegal activity….
MacDonald graduated from University of California, Davis in 1978 with a degree in civil engineering. She joined the Department of the Interior in 1979 as a hydraulic engineer with the Bureau of Reclamation. Starting in 1987, MacDonald worked as a government administrator, including at the California Resources Agency. MacDonald returned to the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2002 as an aide to the assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, the official who oversees the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Parks Service, two of the eight bureaus in the Department of the Interior. On 3 May 2004, Interior Secretary Gale Norton promoted MacDonald to be deputy assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks in the Department of the Interior.
…Events leading to resignation
On 30 October, 2006, the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit group that advocates scientific integrity, alleged that McDonald had "personally reversed scientific findings, changed scientific conclusions to prevent endangered species from receiving protection, removed relevant information from a scientific document, and ordered the Fish and Wildlife Service to adopt her edits."
That year, the Department of the Interior Inspector General Earl E. Devaney undertook an investigation into the allegations against MacDonald. In March 2007, Devaney issued his report of that investigation, leveling charges of misconduct against MacDonald. The two chief conclusions were that MacDonald had repeatedly violated the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.), Use of Nonpublic Information and Basic Obligation of Public Service, Appearance of Preferential Treatment by giving nonpublic, internal government documents to oil industry and property rights groups, and that MacDonald had manipulated and undermined scientific findings in order to favor the George W. Bush administration's policy goals and assist land developers. According to the Inspector General, "MacDonald has been heavily involved with editing, commenting on, and reshaping the Endangered Species Program's scientific reports from the field."
MacDonald resigned on 1 May, 2007, one week before a House congressional oversight committee was to hold a hearing on the Inspector General's findings. MacDonald was not given an opportunity to respond to the Inspector General's report until after it was leaked to media. MacDonald commented that she resigned due to public pressure. In November 2007, a followup report by the Inspector General found that MacDonald could have benefited financially from a decision to remove the Sacramento splittail fish from the federal endangered species list.
The Washington Post called the events leading to MacDonald's resignation "the latest in a series of controversies in which government officials and outside scientists have accused the Bush administration of overriding or setting aside scientific findings that clashed with its political agenda." In the aftermath of her departure, many endangered species decisions issued during her tenure were reversed.
The Inspector General's findings led the Fish and Wildlife Service to reopen endangered species decisions made under MacDonald's supervision. The agency's director H. Dale Hall, formerly a wildlife biologist, called MacDonald's conduct "a blemish on the scientific integrity of the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of the Interior." Hall reopened the agency's assessment of the southwest willow flycatcher after alleging that MacDonald had told field personnel to reduce the bird's natural nesting range from 2.1 miles to 1.8 miles. Hall also told the inspector general that MacDonald had altered range estimates for the willow flycatcher because a critical habitat designation might impact family property in California. However, MacDonald maintained that the property is nearly 300 miles from flycatcher habitat, and that her alteration of the bird’s range was approved by agency experts, including Hall.
Eight other endangered species decisions were reopened, including the white-tailed prairie dog, Preble's meadow jumping mouse, arroyo toad, California red-legged frog, and the Canada lynx. In November 2007, the FWS announced that of the eight species reviewed, seven had been returned to endangered status after finding that their prior reviews had been "tainted by political pressure". In December 2007, the US District Court for the District of Idaho overturned the FWS rejection of a petition to list the sage grouse as threatened and endangered, citing misconduct by MacDonald. In its decision, the court wrote that "The FWS decision was tainted by the inexcusable conduct of one of its own executives...who was neither a scientist nor a sage-grouse expert, had a well-documented history of intervening in the listing process."
In September 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to more than triple the habitat of the California red-legged frog. The 2008 decision ignored that which was reached under MacDonald, due to "the involvement of Department of Interior personnel which may have inappropriately influenced the extent and locations of critical habitat". According to the LA Times, "The agency revisited the original habitat designation, citing scientific miscalculations and political manipulation by a former Interior Department official, Julie MacDonald."
A December 2008 report by Inspector General Devaney found that MacDonald had interfered with 13 of the 20 endangered species rulings that were reevaluated. In a letter to U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests, Devaney said, "MacDonald injected herself personally and profoundly in a number of ESA decisions. We determined that MacDonald's management style was abrupt and abrasive, if not abusive, and that her conduct demoralized and frustrated her staff as well as her subordinate managers." Wyden, who commissioned the report, said "This report makes it crystal clear how one person’s contempt for the public trust can infect an entire agency...[MacDonald caused] significant harm to the integrity of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and...untold waste of hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' dollars."
- ^ a b MacDonald Named Deputy Assistant Secretary
- ^ a b Matthew Daly (May 1, 2007). "Embattled Interior official resigns post". Associated Press. http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2007/05/01/interior_official_quits_ahead_of_hearing/.
- ^ a b c Investigative Report of the Endangered Species Act and the Conflict Between Science and Policy Redacted
- ^ "Report Says Interior Official Overrode Work of Scientists". New York Times. March 29, 2007. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/29/washington/29environ.html.
- ^ a b REPORT OF INVESTIGATION: Julie MacDonald, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Fish, Wildlife and Parks
- ^ "Systematic Interference with Science at Interior Department Exposed Emails and Edited Documents Show Evidence of Inappropriate Manipulation". Union of Concerned Scientists. October 30, 2006. http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/systematic-interference-with.html.
- ^ Report: Interior official blasted for twisting environmental data
- ^ a b "More to Julie MacDonald case than meets the eye". September 6, 2007. http://www.gazette.com/opinion/MacDonald_26957___article.html/report_esa.html.
- ^ U.S. Endangered Species Program Burdened by Political Meddling
- ^ "Bush Appointee Said to Reject Advice on Endangered Species". Washington Post. October 30, 2006. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/29/AR2006102900776_2.html.
- ^ Broder, John M (2007-07-21). "U.S. Agency May Reverse 8 Decisions on Wildlife". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/21/washington/21interior.html?_r=1&ref=us&oref=slogin.
- ^ "Report Faults Interior Appointee; Landowner Issues Trumped Animal Protections, Inspector General Says". Washington Post. March 30, 2007. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/29/AR2007032902003.html?nav=rss_nation.
- ^ Lewis, Paul (2007-07-20). "Agency to review species decisions". Washington Post. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003799211_endangered21.html.
- ^ Heilprin, John (2007-07-23). "Endangered Species Rulings Under Review". Philly.com. http://www.philly.com/philly/wires/ap/news/nation/washington/cabinet/8636542.html.
- ^ "Agency reverses endangered species ruling". CNN. 2007-11-28. http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/science/11/28/endangered.species.ap/index.html.
- ^ "Western Watersheds Project v. US Fish and Wildlife Service, Case No. CV-06-277-E-BLW" (PDF). December 4, 2007. http://www.westernwatersheds.org/legal/07/sagegrouse/greater_sage-grouse_sj_decision.pdf.
- ^ "Service Proposes 300% Increase In California Red-legged Frog Critical Habitat; Comment Period Opens for Proposal Based on Entirely New Analysis". September 16, 2008. http://www.fws.gov/news/newsreleases/showNews.cfm?newsId=6C023432-D700-0E3C-FB101DD28AA17E4A.
- ^ A California frog may be about to get room to stretch its red legs
- ^ New Report Finds More Than a Dozen Endangered Species Rulings Compromised by Former Interior Department Political Appointee
- ^ Wyden-Requested IG Report on Interior Corruption Uncovers "Contempt for the Public Trust" and "Untold Waste" - Senator praises Devaney's investigation into political interference in ESA decisions.
- ^ Report Finds Meddling in Interior Dept. Actions
Tulare Lake Restoration – Fiction or Fact?...Steve Haze
Did you know that at one time the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi used to be right here in the San Joaquin Valley, just down Highway 41 heading from Fresno past Lemoore over to Kettleman City and Interstate 5? And, would you believe that at one time this lake covered over 500 square miles and contained almost as much fresh water as is now stored in all of the reservoirs in California today?
Politicians can't get dam thing done...Editorial
The politicians are scrambling for political cover as California's water crisis gets more serious because of a drought in its third year and because of environmental restrictions on how much water can flow in the Golden State.
McNerney criticized for Delta vote
Congressman says he supports restoring estuary...Alex Breitler
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney said this week that he is committed to restoring the Delta, despite an earlier vote to remove funding for new protections for salmon and steelhead.
The vote - which temporarily aligned McNerney with thirsty south and Central Valley lawmakers - failed by a narrow margin.
Los Angeles Times
Many underwater homeowners are deliberately walking away from mortgages
A study finds that 26% of the defaults across the country are calculated economic decisions to bail out of loans by borrowers who could afford to make the monthly payments...Kenneth R. Harney. Distributed by the Washington Post Writers Group.
Reporting from Washington — Would you, under any circumstances, default on your home mortgage, even if you could afford to make the monthly payments?
That's a trickier question than you might assume, according to new research from the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business and Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.
Cantaloupe crop likely to match last year's supply...Robert Rodriguez
Despite water shortages in Fresno County, one of the state's top melon growing regions, cantaloupe production is expected to match last year's supply.
DAVID HOPELAIN: No water, no future for Valley...David Hopelain
The fate of the San Joaquin Valley is "on the line." Water, the principle raw material of the region's $25 billion agricultural economy, is being removed.
Budget's impact on levees
A failure in Delta system would put entire state's water system at risk...Editorial
Massive program cuts, state worker salary reductions and IOUs aren't the only consequences of California's budget stalemate. The deadlock is also preventing the state from selling bonds needed to fund initiatives that have already been approved by voters.
Golden State exports plunge, but rice sales remain strong...Mark Glover
Reflecting the depressed state of the worldwide economy, the quantity of goods flowing in and out of California ports continued to slow in May…One bright spot: Exports of rice from the Central Valley were strong and expected to remain so due to factors that have reduced the supply coming from other nations.
Residents, community boards see no allowance for drought in plans for high density residential and commercial projects...GARY WALKER
Water may be in short supply, but there seems to be no shortage of development projects in the planning stages throughout Los Angeles.
University chief proposes furloughs to cut costs...TERENCE CHEA, Associated Press Writer. Italic...Merced Sun-Star
OAKLAND, Calif. Tens of thousands of University of California employees would be forced to take furloughs and lose pay under a plan proposed Friday to offset deep funding cuts to the 10-campus system.
Our View: Profs' letter means little to UC execs
UC Merced won't be boarded up to save paychecks at other campuses, Kang assures.
Now that we've had a couple days to comment and blog on the front page story Thursday, "Profs target UC Merced," let's put this into perspective.
In a letter that 23 UC San Diego professors wrote to the UC Office of the President and the Board of Regents, the third of their suggestions to save money was shuttering either UC Merced, UC Santa Cruz or UC Riverside.
Mortgage defaults spread as even 'safe' borrowers falter...Jim Wasserman
The mortgage default crisis has an ominous new face. It's your neighbor with a traditional fixed-rate loan.
No longer is the real estate bust simply the result of exotic, subprime loans that doubled payments and blew up in homeowners' faces. As the Sacramento economy buckles, even the safest mortgages have become part of a new wave of loan defaults, experts say.
Bullet train funds still on track...Zachary K. Johnson
Despite the state's economic troubles, early funding for the California bullet train is on target, Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani said Friday in a meeting with The Record's editorial board.
San Francisco Chronicle
UC chief lays out 'draconian' budget cut plan...Nanette Asimov
Facing a loss of $813 million from the state, University of California President Mark Yudof is proposing widespread cuts for UC, including imposing unpaid days off on employees, eliminating jobs and killing out courses.
Delta Groups Rally Against The Panama Canal North
“The exporting of more water out of the Delta not only dooms agriculture in the Delta, but also dooms one of the largest estuaries on the North American West Coast,” stated Rudy Mussi, Central Delta farmer and Member of the Central Delta Water Agency...Dan Bacher
Legislators and hundreds of Delta advocates held a rally at the State Capitol in Sacramento on Tuesday to oppose the peripheral canal, a budget-busting and environmentally destructive project that would approximate the Panama Canal in width and length.
Los Angeles Times
U.S. plans to boost 'critical habitat' acreage to help rare shrew...Louis Sahagun
Chalk one up for the Buena Vista Lake ornate shrew.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed today to review and redesignate habitat crucial to the survival of the tiny, nocturnal insect eater with beady eyes and long snout found in only
four places along a 70-mile stretch of the western edge of Kern County, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
Modesto puts off annexing islands...Adam Ashton
Modesto this week chose to look outside its borders for growth that could bring new commercial and industrial development over the next decade.
Bad loans are only one part of the problem; disastrous investments and risky funding sources have also helped to bring about the latest batch of bank failures...David Ellis
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- On just about every Friday afternoon, bank regulators announce the latest batch of bank failures...they've shuttered 52 so far this year and the pace could well pick up.
Behind these causalities is a dangerous mix of risky funding techniques and loans to local businesses that simply went bad.
Our View: Facts, fiction about water
Challenges abound for experts, but the main problem facing the Valley is years of drought.
Faced with a pitchfork rebellion in the San Joaquin Valley, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last month appointed a "water czar" to deliver extra water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to farmers in certain districts south of the delta.
That prompts a question: Will the Obama administration also appoint a "salmon czar" to help bring relief to the North Coast fishing industry, which is dependent on healthy flows in the delta so salmon can migrate and spawn?
Status quo for farm bill 2010
$124 billion funding legislation is loaded with earmarks...Michael Doyle, Bee Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- The House of Representatives has written a $123.8 billion farm-spending bill that's loaded with congressional earmarks.
Brushing off conservative criticism, lawmakers are steering funds toward California pest detection, wine-grape research and "asparagus production technologies," among other targeted projects.
More broadly, the funding bill largely retains the farm-policy status quo some had hoped to change.
The bill -- set for approval late Wednesday or early today -- funds the Agriculture Department and related agencies for fiscal 2010. It closely resembles past appropriations bills, passed under both Democratic- and Republican-controlled Congresses.
Project pumps water hopes
‘Two Gates’ proposal authors say project won’t solve Delta’s problems...Wes Sander
As the proposed "Two Gates" project gains popularity in California water discussions, the plan's authors caution against expectations that it will significantly increase deliveries from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The project, much talked-about at recent water gatherings in the Central Valley, would include two temporary, mechanically operated gates that could help restore some of the Delta pumping recently lost because of biological opinions to protect fish. But they would together function as only one tool among many that could allow for successful Delta management in the future, water managers say.
Peripheral Canal, crux of state water wars, draws fire...Kevin Hefner
Legislators backed by farmers, fisherman, environmentalists, and community activists rallied at the Capitol this week against the proposed Peripheral Canal, which would shift Northern California water to the south around the Delta.
Protesters feared the canal would damage the heart of the Delta, through which most of California’s drinking water flows. The canal has not been officially approved, but there are persistent rumors in the Capitol that the project is gaining new traction.
Wolk, farmers call for Delta input...Reporter Staff
State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Solano, and a broad coalition of Delta farmers, fisherman, community advocates, environmentalists, state and local elected representatives converged on the steps of the State Capitol Tuesday to demand that the voice of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta community be heard as plans are written and carried out to restore the Delta. "You can't fix the Delta without the people of the Delta as your partners," said Wolk, chair of Senate Select Committee on Delta Stewardship and Sustainability. "Nobody is more concerned about the decline of the Delta than those who live in the Delta, the people who work, farm, fish, and recreate here. We know the Delta is not a blank slate. We love the Delta's many facets, not just the water that flows through it. We love the Delta for the place that it is and the people who live, work, and play here, and we are committed to preserving and protecting it."
Delta supporters rally at Capitol's doorstep...Alex Breitler
SACRAMENTO - It seems all the attention has gone to the south San Joaquin Valley, where marches, public demonstrations and news conferences have highlighted the cry for water there.
Tuesday it was the Delta's turn.
More than 200 farmers, fishers and Delta residents turned out for a rally at the steps of the Capitol, inside of which negotiations on a series of water bills continue even while the budget takes center stage.
State dragging feet on crucial water transfer to help keep crops alive...Dennis Wyatt
The San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority that serves 2.1 million acres is in a world of hurt due to lack of water.
The South San Joaquin Irrigation District wants to help by selling them 25,000 acre feet of water that district farmers have helped them conserve through prudent water practices.
The only problem is the State of California is holding up the transaction.
Delta Advocates Rally Against the Canal at State Capitol...Dan Bacher
Jerry Neuburger, webmaster for the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, has written a good report on the rally against the peripheral canal at the State Capitol yesterday. To check out video clips of speakers and photos of the event, go to: http://www.calsport.org/7-7-09.htm.
The Delta Press Conference...Jerry Neuburger...July 7, 2009
July 7, 2009 -- Over 250 fishermen, farmers, businessmen and conservationists gathered at the north steps of the capital to listen to Senator Lois Wolk, Lt. Governor John Garimendi, other legislators, and citizens speak in opposition to a series of bills moving through the legislature designed to fund a peripheral canal and two additional dams.
CSPA was well represented at the conference with Executive Director Bill Jennings, President Jim Crenshaw, Conservation Director John Beuttler, Director and Attorney Michael Jackson, Webmaster Jerry Neuburger and Advisory member John Ryzanych, who also represented the Allied Fishing Groups.
A state bank for California?...Badlands Journal editorial board
Since 1919 North Dakota has had a state bank, one the state government owns. North Dakota and neighboring Montana are the only two states in the nation this year that don't have budget deficits.
Merced County Times
HUD Secretary tours subdivision which has become Ground Zero in the foreclosure crisis...Beverly Barela
On July 2nd, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Representative Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced) walked grimly through the empty lots and vacant, foreclosed homes that make up the Sierra Vista subdivision in southeastern Merced (near N. Coffee Road and E. Childs Avenue).
The tour was one of two in Merced which Congressman Cardoza arranged that day so that HUD Secretary Donovan could see firsthand the economic devastation suffered by residents of his district, California’s 18th Congressional District, due to the tough economy….According to Congressman Cardoza’s two-page report, RealtyTrac listed Merced as having the second highest foreclosure rate in the country at the end of the first quarter of 2009, with 4.2% of properties in foreclosure (seven times the national rate) and 13% of mortgages in foreclosure. From December 2005 to December 2008, home values in Merced dropped 70%! In 2008 alone, the home values in Merced plummeted 42%, although the national average was 8.2%.
At the same time, Merced’s unemployment rate is 18.3% or higher, the third highest in the country.
California counties see property revenue fall...Robert Lewis
For the first time since the taxpayers' revolt of the 1970s, the total assessed value of properties is dropping in Sacramento and across California.
The property tax roll in Sacramento County is down 6.4 percent from last year – to $131.6 billion; in Contra Costa County it's down 7 percent; and in Merced County it's down almost 13 percent.
Developer Skidmore files for bankruptcy...Dale Kasler
Sacramento developer and builder Kip Skidmore, a founder and former chairman of Greater Sacramento Bancorp, has filed for bankruptcy after running up millions in construction-related debts.
San Francisco Chronicle
Condor science group opposes Tejon development...Wednesday, July 8, 2009
(07-08) 13:47 PDT Los Angeles, CA (AP) -- A group of California condor experts is opposing the proposed development of the sprawling Tejon Ranch north of Los Angeles, fearing harm to the endangered bird.
The group, which includes former members of a federal condor recovery team, says the plan will reduce natural food supplies for the giant bird species. The scientists' opposition was announced Wednesday by the Center for Biological Diversity. Both groups submitted comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is considering Tejon's conservation plan.
Los Angeles Times
Building a new UC -- in cyberspace
Online instruction would allow an institution faced with budget pressures to do more with less...Christopher Edley Jr. Christopher Edley Jr. is dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law...7-1-09
It is time for an 11th University of California campus: a cyber-campus devoted to awarding online degrees to UC-eligible students.
No budgetary alchemy will allow us to educate the state's future university students in the same way we do now but with less money. The budget cuts caused by the state economic crisis are real and huge, leaving two choices. Educators can do less with less, or we can explore new ways of providing value to California and the nation by doing more -- albeit differently -- with less.
Merced Irrigation District general manager quits after a year on the job...JONAH OWEN LAMB
After a year on the job, Merced Irrigation District's general manager abruptly resigned Tuesday.
Thousands more in Merced County behind on their home loans...SCOTT JASON
Merced's already bleak housing market may worsen this year, two reports released Tuesday forecast.
Merced's foreclosure rate for May grew by 2.4 percentage points from the previous month. The rate is almost double the state's average and close to triple the nation's level, according to a study by First American CoreLogic.
Livingston passes water rate increase
Bills will go up an average of 40 percent in August...DANIELLE GAINES
LIVINGSTON -- Most city residents can expect to see a higher water bill next month, after the City Council voted to pass a resolution increasing water rates by an average of 40 percent.
Residents who use less water will have less severe increases under the plan, which passed the council by a 3-2 vote.
'Peripheral canal' opponents stage their own protest
Foes fear the project is a water grab by Valley and SoCal...E.J. SCHULTZ, The Fresno Bee
SACRAMENTO -- In a counter punch to recent Valley water rallies, environmentalists and fishermen gathered at the Capitol on Tuesday to protest a proposed canal to divert water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The "peripheral canal" is an old idea that's enjoyed new life as state water planners search for ways to stabilize supplies for San Joaquin Valley farmers and Southern California cities. The plan got a boost last year with an endorsement by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Delta Vision Task Force.
The canal would siphon Sacramento River water upstream of the delta and send it to the pumps near Tracy, bypassing the delta.
Boost for tribe's water quest...MICHAEL DOYLE, SUN-STAR Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- The Tule River Indian Tribe's long quest for a reliable water supply got a boost Tuesday as the House authorized a $3 million study of a potential new Porterville-area reservoir.
The study will examine the prospects for a 5,000-acre reservoir somewhere along the south fork of the Tule River. The proposed reservoir would ease a problem that dates back to the 19th century, but its construction is still far from assured.
Fresno Co. seeks federal disaster declaration...Cyndee Fontana
The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday redoubled efforts to have Fresno County declared a federal disaster area due to water shortages and related unemployment.
Tenants move in at Fresno State's Campus Pointe...Sanford Nax
The first residents are moving into the Campus Pointe project on the Fresno State campus, even as construction continues and a legal challenge awaits a ruling.
Lawsuit filed over federal energy corridors...SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, Associated Press Writer
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- More than a dozen conservation groups filed suit Tuesday alleging that the federal government skirted several laws when designating thousands of miles of energy corridors in New Mexico and other Western states.
Inside Bay Area
Future of controversial Northern California power line project in doubt...Jeanine Benca, Valley Times
LIVERMORE — The future of a massive power line project that would cut through the Livermore Valley to deliver renewable energy to Santa Clara and other parts of Northern California is in doubt after the withdrawal of its biggest investor.
State requires Lodi to revisit wastewater permit...Maggie Creamer
More questions surround Lodi's wastewater permit after the state's water board required a re-evaluation of the city's wastewater practices on Tuesday.
The State Water Resources Control Board reviewed the permit after the California Sportsfishing Alliance brought up concerns about the levels of pollutants in groundwater near the White Slough wastewater plant. The city uses wastewater to irrigate 790 acres of crops and stores some of it in 49 acres of unlined storage ponds.
Contra Costa Times
Dry forecast shapes plan for new water storage sites...Julia Scott, San Mateo County Times
SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is pursuing a plan to store water underground that can be pumped out in time to supply customers in a drought, given the uncertainty of California's water future.
San Francisco Chronicle
Hundreds of top UC scientists slam planned cuts...David Perlman
More than 300 of the nation's most noted scientists from all 10 University of California campuses have warned Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that proposed cuts in the UC budget would endanger the future of science and technology in California and threaten the state's economy.
Los Angeles Times
Shipping industry in deep water
Worldwide container traffic is expected to drop more than 10% this year...Ronald D. White
Trade at international ports is on track to drop more than 10% this year, one of the steepest declines ever, according to a new maritime industry report.
Merced River has a vital role
Re-licensing of Merced Irrigation District's dams could have far-reaching consequences...JONAH OWEN LAMB
The Merced River is not often thought of as ground zero in the state's water wars.
Most think of it as just one of many dammed-up rivers that make their way from the Sierra to the Valley floor and feed the San Joaquin River's path north.
Lawyer again plumbs depths of state water issues...Michael Doyle, Bee Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — David J. Hayes is once again No. 2 at the Interior Department and No. 1 for California water.
Call it political déjà vu.
After an eight-year absence, the Stanford-trained environmental lawyer has reclaimed both the California water portfolio and the title as deputy secretary of the Interior. The high-profile, high-risk assignment puts him back in the middle of the Central Valley’s interminable fish-vs.-farm water disputes.
“I expect I’ll have to pay taxes in California, I’ll be spending so much time out there,” Hayes said, half-jokingly.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar introduced Hayes as his department’s go-to California water guy at a Fresno town hall meeting a week ago. Beyond serving as what he calls the “chief operating officer” of the $10 billion-a-year Interior Department, Hayes will coordinate the Obama administration’s role in California water use.
Environment News Service
Dry California Sucks Up Federal Water Recycling Dollars
SACRAMENTO, California, July 6, 2009 (ENS) - Drought-stricken California is receiving 98 percent of the Recovery Act funding announced nationally for water recycling projects, according to federal and state water officials.
New America Media
California's Disappearing Towns -- Huron may not be here a year from now...Viji Sundaram
HURON, Calif. -– As you drive down Highway 198 toward the tiny Central Valley city of Huron, yellow-and-black signs poke out from parched fields with a message that harkens back to the days of the Great Depression: “Congress Created Dustbowls.”
The signs, believed to be the handiwork of the Central Valley’s agricultural industry, reflect a collective cry of desperation from a community of about 7,300 Mexican immigrants, who have made this Fresno County town their home, with hopes of realizing the American dream.
Goodwin Dam got water rolling for SSJID users...Dennis Wyatt
Nestled in the rustic Stanislaus River canyon below the western horizon from busy Highway 108-120 in the bottomland of Tuolumne County is arguably the most critical chunk of concrete ever poured when it comes to powering the Manteca economy.
It is here, some 35 miles to the northeast of Manteca, you’ll find Goodwin Dam. The 400-foot high dam was completed in December of 1912 primary as a storage and diversion point for the South San Joaquin Irrigation District and its century-old partner – the Oakdale Irrigation District.
EPA Takes New Steps To Improve Water Quality...SOURCE: U.S. EPA
Washington — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has made available comprehensive reports and data on water enforcement in all 50 states. This is part of Administrator Lisa P. Jackson's larger effort by to enhance transparency, promote the public's right to know about water quality and provide information on EPA's actions to protect water under the Clean Water Act.
Study: No increased fire threat in owl habitat...JEFF BARNARD, AP Environmental Writer
GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- A new study challenges a basic justification about the threat of wildfires that the Bush administration used to make room for more logging in old growth forests that are home to the northern spotted owl.
Water officials fear Calif. Aqueduct could sink...TRACIE CONE, Associated Press Writer
FRESNO, Calif. - Fearing the main canal carrying drinking water to millions of Southern Californians is sinking again, water officials are monitoring the effects of incessant agricultural pumping from the aquifer that runs under the aqueduct.
LLOYD G. CARTER: Russian roulette with water
While cutbacks in Delta irrigation water for 600 growers in the Westlands Water District continue to dominate the California water wars, a bigger problem as old as civilization itself -- salt -- will force the state Water Resources Control Board this week to decide whether to protect the long-term health of critical drinking water aquifers or to permit the continued use of aquifers and rivers as public toilets.
Delta gates proposal builds support, but environmental impact remains murky...Matt Weiser
A plan to build gates across two Delta channels has strong support from state and federal leaders, though little is known about how the project would affect the environment.
The so-called "two gates" project would build moveable gates across Old River and Connection Slough in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The channels bracket Bacon Island in the heart of the estuary. They are key passages for water and aquatic life moving between San Francisco Bay and the south Delta, where powerful state and federal water export pumps divert water to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.
Water officials argue that blocking those channels at key times could prevent threatened Delta smelt from being sucked to their deaths in the pumps. This might allow water diversions to continue even when smelt migrate into the central Delta in winter. Pumping is often reduced now to protect fish, contributing to statewide water shortages.
You'd think water would be a basic right...Peter Asmus
In the slums of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya, about 1 million poor people pay up to 30 times more for water of dubious quality brought to them in old tanker trucks than middle-class citizens pay for clean and safe water provided by the local public water utility via standard household connections.
Some may be shocked by these disturbing disparities in the developing world, but a lack of access to safe, affordable and clean water is also an issue in California, particularly in the Central Valley and along the Central Coast. In these communities, more than 90 percent of drinking water is sucked from contaminated groundwater sources. All told, more than 150,000 California residents lack safe water for drinking, bathing and washing dishes; even more have water service disconnected because they cannot afford to pay their bill.
Napa Valley Register
Where’s the water?
County launches study of aquifers from Angwin to American Canyon...MIKE TRELEVEN
Napa County wants to find out what it knows and what it doesn’t about its underground aquifers, and is drilling through the data to get a clear assessment of the water supply under the heart of the valley.
The Budget-Busting Peripheral Canal and the Three Big Lies...Dan Bacher
The campaign by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Legislators to build a peripheral canal is based on "The Three Big Lies."
The proposal to build a peripheral canal around the California Delta, overwhelmingly defeated by the voters in 1982, has been resurrected many times since then by politicians trying to curry favor with corporate agribusiness. In June 2007 Governor Schwarzenegger unveiled a new water bond proposal for a peripheral canal and more dams – and has been relentlessly campaigning for it ever since.
The current incarnation of the canal, the "dual conveyance" backed by the Governor, Senator Diane Feinstein and Legislators from both sides of the political aisle, is cynically being touted to serve the “co-equal”goals of water supply and “ecosystem restoration."
Los Angeles Times
Despair flows as fields go dry and unemployment rises
San Joaquin Valley farms are laying off workers and letting fields lie fallow as their water ration falls...Alana Semuels
Reporting from Mendota, Calif. — Water built the semi-arid San Joaquin Valley into an agricultural powerhouse. Drought and irrigation battles now threaten to turn huge swaths of it into a dust bowl.
Farmers have idled half a million acres of once-productive ground and are laying off legions of farmhands. That's sending joblessness soaring in a region already plagued by chronic poverty.
Saving the Columbia and Snake river salmon
A judge overseeing endangered salmon on the Columbia and Snake rivers is raising the possibility of dam removal. If politics trumps science this time, how can we hope to deal with climate change?...Paul VanDevelder. Paul VanDevelder is the author of "Savages and Scoundrels: The Untold Story of America's Road to Empire Through Indian Territory."
If ever there were a story that foreshadowed the political and legal Waterloos that loom in seeking solutions to climate change, surely that cautionary tale is the one about the Columbia and Snake rivers' salmon and their imminent extinction. And like most stories about endangered species or environmental threats, this one is not only about fish and rivers -- it's about us.
AP analysis: Economic stress up in much of nation...JEANNINE AVERSA and MIKE SCHNEIDER, The Associated Press. Associated Press Writer Evelyn Nieves in San Francisco contributed to this report
-- California, Michigan and South Carolina suffered the most financial pain in May as unemployment, home foreclosures and bankruptcies rose, according to The Associated Press' monthly analysis of economic stress in more than 3,100 U.S. counties.
Fresno ranked greenest in Valley...Mark Grossi
Out of 100 Central Valley cities, Fresno has the greenest ideas for growth over the next three decades, says a groundbreaking study by the University of California at Davis.
But Fresno still may not be able to protect land, water and air from explosive growth, says lead author Mark Lubell. He doubts other cities will have much luck either. Green policies still could be pushed aside for pollution-causing sprawl that earns more money for city treasuries.
Canal plan upsets delta farmers...Mike Taugher, Contra Costa Times
CLARKSBURG -- Chuck Baker grows pears on land his family has worked since 1851 and has a farmer's sensitivity to the plagues of modern agriculture -- pesticide regulations, the intrusive hand of federal regulators, the threat to private property posed by wetlands restoration -- and, most of all, the need for water.
So, he sympathizes with San Joaquin Valley farmers who are short of water this year, but he also has little patience for the argument being trumpeted by Valley politicians: that the problems confronted by Valley farmers can be reduced to the simple equation of "fish versus farmers."
California water plan aims to save Puget Sound orcas...LES BLUMENTHAL, McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON - A plan to restore salmon runs on California's Sacramento River also could help revive killer whale populations 700 miles to the north in Puget Sound, as federal scientists struggle to protect endangered species in a complex ecosystem that stretches along the Pacific coast from California to Alaska.
San Francisco Chronicle
Bay-Delta litigation, by species...Sunday Insight
The war is over water, but California's native fish are deployed on the front lines…
Take a good look at costly water bills - the ones in Sacramento
Traci Sheehan Van Thull, George Biagi. Traci Sheehan Van Thull is executive director of the Planning and Conservation League. George Biagi is a farmer and is president of the Central Delta Water Agency.
While still not resolving the $26.3 billion budget crisis, the California Legislature is on the verge of considering an extensive and costly restructuring of California's water laws and water infrastructure. Does the right hand know what the left hand is doing?
New threat emerges to tiger salamander...David Perlman
As if it isn't enough that the California tiger salamander and other amphibian pond-dwellers are forced to fight for survival against overdevelopment and pollution in the state, along comes a predatory half-breed salamander to present another serious threat.
As the delta goes, so go our salmon...Zeke Grader. Zeke Grader is the executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman's Associations, which represents 14 commercial fishing groups.
California is without its salmon for a second year. Prospects for the reopening of the season next year are encouraging, but the future of this iconic fish beyond that is uncertain.
Pacific salmon - born in free-flowing streams, reared in rivers before going to sea and then returning to their natal streams to spawn and die - face innumerable threats. These include predators - larger fish, birds, marine mammals and man - and the whims of nature.
Water use must change whether fish live or die...Cynthia Koehler. Cynthia Koehler is a consulting attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund, a national nonprofit organization.
Why should anyone care if California salmon, or local fishermen, go the way of the dodo?
Can't we just buy fish from Alaska? And what's wrong with the farmed stuff, anyway? Because of economic suffering in the Central Valley, some are calling for an end to environmental protections for California's once-mighty salmon runs.
Limit agribusiness - for salmon's sake...Paul Johnson. Paul Johnson is president of Monterey Fish Market of San Francisco and Berkeley and the author of "Fish Forever" (Wiley, 2007).
When I look at a salmon, I don't just see a silver fish, I see California.
Salmon fishing is part of our heritage, a way of life that has been passed down for generations, deeply connected to the community and tradition. The forests, streams and wildlife of California depend on the return of the salmon for food and nutrients.
THERE'S ANOTHER THREATENED SPECIES - HUMANS...R. William Robinson. Ralph E. Shaffer. R. William Robinson is an elected director of the Upper San Gabriel Valley Water District; Ralph E. Shaffer is professor emeritus of history at California State Polytechnic University at Pomona.
For Californians south of Tracy's water delivery pumps, U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger's recent ruling on the delta smelt has transformed 2009 into both the best of times and the worst of times.
Despite what some view as a victory for 20 million residents dependent upon delta water, Wanger's decision to delay imposition of permanent pumping restrictions merely lengthens litigation and threatens further damage to the state's once-vibrant economy.
Warning on trout hatcheries could force changes...Peter Fimrite
Hatchery-raised steelhead trout pass on genetic defects that hamper survival of even their wild-born offspring, according to a study that biologists say could lead to a radical shift in the way salmon breeding programs operate on the West Coast.
ON PROPOSAL TO ELIMINATE BCDC AS A STATE AGENCY
It takes a watchdog to preserve the bay...Editorial
The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) has protected San Francisco Bay for the past four decades. The state agency regulates all filling and dredging, protects eco-sensitive marshland, and tries to minimize development pressures around the bay's edges. In short, it's one of the Bay Area's top partners when it comes to protecting, preserving, and yes, saving the bay.
Now the commission needs our help. In his May revisions to the state budget, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called for eliminating it as a state department and realigning it as a "regional entity" by the year 2010. Schwarzenegger's staff says the change is about "good government" and "improving efficiency." Because most land-use decisions are made at the local level, they told us, it would make sense to offer local governments more "local oversight" of the bay.
States digging deep to monitor water...DAVID TIRRELL-WYSOCKI, Associated Press Writer
About a quarter mile into dense woods, geologists watch as a drilling rig twists a shaft deep into the granite bedrock of southeastern New Hampshire. They are searching for water ? not to drink ? but to watch.
State and federal agencies have been watching, or monitoring, lakes and rivers for more than a century, but less attention has gone to vast amounts of water in cracks and rock fissures deep underground, leaving a void in understanding a resource growing in importance as demands for water increase and surface water sources are being used to the fullest in many areas.
Hagerty: 600 miles of blight from Lassen to the Bay...Dick Hagerty
How do you spell "blight?"
Out here in Oakdale we spell it TANC.
Much has been written recently about the planned invasion of Northern California by the juggernaut known as the Transmission Agency of Northern California.
Lawmakers anxious to move fast on delta project...Mark Grossi
FRESNO -- A bold experiment in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta could protect threatened fish and ease California's water crisis. But it faces steep challenges.
The idea is to submerge massive barriers in river channels to prevent the delta smelt from swimming toward certain death at water pumps in the delta.
The experiment, called the Two Gates project, comes up at water rallies and political strategy sessions among San Joaquin Valley lawmakers who support the idea. They hope it will bring more water to 25 million residents and millions of acres of farmland.
Fisherman, advocate has deep ties to Delta...Alex Breitler
"Jolly Jay" Sorensen has already paid to have his ashes scattered over the Delta, his playground for the past six decades.
How jolly is that?
But Sorensen's plans don't stop with his death:
"I'm gonna be reincarnated as a 231-pound striper," he said with a straight face.
Our Voice: McCloskey is must-see TV...The Editorial Board
•“Pete McCloskey: Leading from the Front,” airs at 6 p.m. Sunday on KQED Public Television (Channel 9). Narrated by the late Paul Newman, this program tells the colorful and inspirational life story of Pete McCloskey, a war veteran, lawyer and former Republican congressman.
A new documentary, “Pete McCloskey: Leading from the Front,” airs this holiday weekend on KQED Public Television after eight years in the making.
It takes us back to 2005 when the former congressman came to town to find someone — anyone — to unseat Tracy’s own rancher-Rep. Richard Pombo, a seven-term U.S. congressman who’d cut his teeth on the Tracy City Council. At the time, McCloskey was a 78-year-old Republican, a decorated military veteran and retired attorney living on his farm in Yolo County and looking for a Republican in the 11th Congressional District to take on Pombo in the primary.
San Francisco Chronicle
TV review: 'McCloskey: Leading From the Front'...David Wiegand
McCloskey: Leading From the Front: A "Truly CA" documentary. Narrated by Paul Newman, produced and directed by Robert Caughlan. 6 p.m. Sunday on KQED, with encore broadcasts.
Even those who agree with former Rep. Pete McCloskey on every issue may find the new film "McCloskey: Leading From the Art" a bit of a valentine.
Then again, producer-director Robert Caughlan makes his case that if there's anyone in American politics who deserves a whole box of valentines, it's the former Peninsula congressman who was able to balance his Republican beliefs about government's role in our lives with outspoken opposition to the Vietnam War, support for abortion rights and the need for vigilant environmental conversation.
Contra Costa Times
Divisive Delta canal now on the fast track
Fears loom that moving water south could devastate, contaminate supply...Mike Taugher
CLARKSBURG — Chuck Baker grows pears on land his family has worked since 1851 and has a farmer's sensitivity to the plagues of modern agriculture — pesticide regulations, the intrusive hand of federal regulators, the threat to private property posed by wetlands restoration — and, most of all, the need for water.
So, he sympathizes with San Joaquin Valley farmers who are short of water this year, but he also has little patience for the argument being trumpeted by valley politicians: that the problems confronted by valley farmers can be reduced to the simple equation of "fish versus farmers."
How it works: The Bay Delta Conservation Plan...Mike Taugher
In early 2005, state biologists began sharing some alarming new information: The populations of an entire suite of Delta fish species had begun a nose dive three years earlier.
Since one of those fish was protected under endangered species laws, the findings meant Delta pumps surely would be more tightly regulated.
This confronted big water agencies with two basic problems: First, they already knew the channels that convey water to the southern Delta pumps were becoming increasingly unreliable. Second, endangered species laws were now threatening to restrict their access to Delta water.
Los Angeles Times
Another wave of foreclosures is poised to strike
Mortgage defaults have surged to record levels amid rising unemployment and falling home prices. Lenders are expected to move quickly to clear up backlogs as moratoriums on foreclosures expire...Don Lee
Reporting from Washington — Just as the nation's housing market has begun showing signs of stabilizing, another wave of foreclosures is poised to strike, possibly as early as this summer, inflicting new punishment on families, communities and the still-troubled national economy.
New York Times
10 Years, 430 Dams...Editorial
Ten years have gone by since a modest but important moment in American environmental history: the dismantling of the 917-foot-wide Edwards Dam on Maine’s Kennebec River.
The Edwards Dam was the first privately owned hydroelectric dam torn down for environmental reasons (and against the owner’s wishes) by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Bruce Babbitt, the interior secretary at the time, showed up at the demolition ceremony to promote what had become a personal crusade against obsolete dams. The publicity generated a national discussion about dams and the potential environmental benefits — to water quality and fish species — of removing them.
It certainly helped the Kennebec and its fish, and dams have been falling ever since. According to American Rivers, an advocacy group and a major player in the Edwards Dam campaign, about 430 outdated dams (some of them small hydropower dams like Edwards) have been removed with both public and private funding. In one case, the removal of a small, 50-foot dam on Oregon’s Sandy River was paid for entirely by the electric utility that owned it in order to improve salmon runs.
Calif. bullet train hits criticism on SF Peninsula...STEVE LAWRENCE, Associated Press Writer
MENLO PARK, Calif. Last November, more than 60 percent of voters on the San Francisco Peninsula supported a $9.9 billion bond measure to help pay for a high-speed rail line between San Francisco and the Los Angeles area.
HUD secretary announces possible help for homeowners in trouble...SCOTT JASON
U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan stood Thursday in front of two foreclosed houses on Saddleback Court to reiterate his plan to offer more help to the nation's distressed homeowners.
As he did Wednesday in Las Vegas, Donovan announced that more homeowners will be eligible to modify their loans under the Obama administration's Making Home Affordable program, which targets people who have mortgages owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
SMUD pullout dims hopes for big power project...Ed Fletcher
One of the largest public works projects in the West – 600 miles of high-voltage power lines through Northern California – is on life support after its biggest player abruptly pulled the plug.
A magnet for opposition from both owners of properties the transmission lines would cross and environmental activists, the project was promoted as vital to the region's clean-energy future.
Project pullout leaves SMUD scrambling to fill power needs...Jim Downing
The Sacramento Municipal Utility District's withdrawal this week from a major Northern California power-transmission project complicates its transition to renewable energy.
SMUD planners foresaw using the new high-voltage lines to carry power to Sacramento from new wind, solar and geothermal energy projects envisioned for Lassen County and northwestern Nevada. SMUD cited financial uncertainties for the pullout.
State budget crisis scuttles Delta levee hazard detection, repairs...Matt Weiser
Politicians across the state are demanding major water projects in the Delta, but basic repairs on its vast network of levees have come to a standstill.
State reimbursement for levee projects completed as far back as 2007 has been stalled by the budget crisis. This means flood-control districts in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta have not been able to pay back loans they took out for those projects or to finance new projects.
SoCal-to-Vegas route wins federal designation...KATHLEEN HENNESSEY, Associated Press Writer
LAS VEGAS -- The clogged tourist travel route between Southern California and Las Vegas has been designated a federal high-speed rail corridor, in a move that officials hope would signal increased cooperation between the regions on building speedier train travel.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Thursday that the route is now considered part of the federally designated California high-speed rail corridor.
Delta advocates plan Capitol rally
Peripheral canal looms large in estuary debate...Alex Breitler
SACRAMENTO - Hundreds of Delta advocates plan to rally next week at the state Capitol, fearing that behind-the-scenes negotiations by legislators over the future of the estuary will shut them out of the debate until it is too late.
San Francisco Chronicle
Wake up: Here is what a real water crisis looks like...Dr. Peter Gleick, President, Pacific Institute
California is in the midst of an ugly debate about water--uglier than normal--because of a confluence of events, including a "hydrologic" drought caused by nature, a longer-term trend to restore some water back to failing ecosystems, and the gross mismanagement of the state's water, which has been going on for a century, but is affecting us now more than ever.
But despite all of the rhetoric, news stories, name-calling, yelling, and screaming, Californians have very little clue about what a real water crisis looks like. It looks like what's happening in Australia. Today's Water Number:
Water Number: 18,000 tons of rice. That is the total rice production from all of Australia last year, compared to the long-term average from 1970 of over 720,000 tons, and the high (in 2000) of over 1.6 million tons. Effectively, Australian rice production has dropped to zero because there is not enough water. And that is only one measure of the severity of their water crisis.
Transit chief backs waterways for moving cargo...Rachel Gordon
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made a brief stop at the Oakland waterfront Thursday to talk up support for "marine highways" - a program to move more cargo over the nation's waterways to reduce truck traffic and air pollution.
U.S. Foreclosures to Peak in Late 2010, Meyer Says (Update1)...Kathleen M. Howley
July 2 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. foreclosures will peak in the second half of 2010 and home prices will continue to decline through the end of that year, according to Barclays Capital.
And once again we approach the topic of leadership...Badlands Journal editorial board
In May, Merced County official unemployment rate fell to 17.3 percent. – Badlands…
Merced: Ghost Town, USA
Some cities, such as Merced, Calif., are struggling more with the housing crisis than others. The housing crisis is creating ghost towns of once-bustling communities like Merced. In largely abandoned neighborhoods, paved sidewalks and driveways lead to empty lots strewn with utility coils. Unfinished frames with rotting rafters and rusted hinges sit alongside occupied homes. Roughly 40% of the homes in Merced are considered distressed, meaning owners are behind on their mortgage payments or can't make them at all. The toll is expected to rise, even though California extended its moratorium on foreclosures for another 90 days.
Congressman Dennis Cardoza
18th Congressional District of California
Financial Services Committee commits to assist with Valley economic devastation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Mike Jensen
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank and several other Committee members pledged their support to work with Congressman Cardoza to address the economic devastation facing the San Joaquin Valley.
Water pumping restrictions to protect Delta smelt end...Matt Weiser
Federal officials on Tuesday ended seasonal water pumping restrictions intended to protect the threatened Delta smelt.
GOP ads link Dems to Valley water crisis
Radio spots attack Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa...Michael Doyle
WASHINGTON -- Republican strategists are now roughing up San Joaquin Valley congressional Democrats with radio ads linking them to the region's water woes.
In an aggressive new tack, the National Republican Congressional Committee on Wednesday began running a 60-second radio ad attacking Reps. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, and Jim Costa, D-Fresno. The ad running throughout the week links the two Democrats to systemic irrigation-water shortages.
"Cardoza and Costa can't persuade Democrat leaders to change radical environmental laws," the ad intones. "So while the congressmen fail ... the Valley goes dry."
Rally for water rights hits downtown Fresno...Robert Rodriguez
Ron Schafer and Alice Powlick aren't farmers or farmworkers. They are middle-school teachers who came to Wednesday's water rally in downtown Fresno on behalf of their students.
The teachers joined several thousand who jammed the front of City Hall to plead with the state and federal governments to provide the Valley with more irrigation water. Mike Lukens, city of Fresno spokesman, estimated the crowd at between 3,500 to 4,000 at its peak.
Obama plan expanded to help more in Valley...Sandy Nax, News Blog
Mortgage counselors in the central San Joaquin Valley say many more at-risk homeowners in the Fresno area could get help through an expansion of President Obama's Home Affordable Refinance Program, which was announced today.
467K jobs cut in June; jobless rate at 9.5 percent...JEANNINE AVERSA, AP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON Employers cut a larger-than-expected 467,000 jobs in June and the unemployment rate climbed to a 26-year high of 9.5 percent. Workers also saw weekly wages fall, suggesting Americans will have little appetite to spend and the economy's road to recovery will be bumpy.
Council Delays Racetrack Agreement...Julie Fernandez
Tulare - Developer Bud Long failed to get City Council approval for a much-needed agreement Tuesday after he told Councilman Richard Ortega that the Tulare Motor Sports Complex limited partnership “cannot or will not” repay within two weeks the $1 million it owns the city.
Pumps bring water, but for how long?
Efforts to protect Delta smelt cut water by 660,000 acre feet last year...Cecilia Parsons
FRESNO - Federal government pumps in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta started moving much-needed irrigation water to farms Wednesday, July 1, but questions remain about how long those pumps will continue running.
U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told the audience of a town hall meeting in Fresno Sunday, June 28, that the Central Valley Project pumps would run through the end of the year, facilitating 70 approved water transfers totaling 245,000 acre feet. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Mike Connor, who also spoke at the town hall meeting, said the agency is working to make the most of this year's water supplies.
However, there was some skepticism.
West side farmer Bob Diedrich said growers already knew the pumps would resume moving water south on July 1, but questioned how long they would remain on considering the latest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency biological opinion on salmon recovery.
San Francisco Chronicle
Thousands rally to protest water cuts in Fresno...Tracie Cone, Associated Press Writer
Fresno -- Thousands of farmers, farmworkers and their supporters rallied at City Hall on Wednesday, calling on federal officials to ease regulations that have cut water supplies to the nation's most prolific growing region.
"Water makes the difference between the Garden of Eden and Death Valley," said comedian Paul Rodriguez, who acts as a spokesman for the Latino Water Coalition, a group lobbying for changes in water delivery policy regarding the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
Save the Mokelumne River from a New Dam...Dan Bacher
During a time of fish collapses and severe economic crisis, the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) is proposing to build a new 400-foot dam on the Mokelumne River as part of its 2040 water plan. "The dam will be yet another nail in the coffin of the Delta and our crashing salmon and steelhead fisheries," according to Katherine K. Evatt, President of the Foothill Conservancy. Here is the action alert from Evatt, a tireless defender of the Mokelumne and its fish.
Urgent Action Alert:
The East Bay Municipal Utility District is proposing to build a new 400-foot dam on the Mokelumne River as part of its 2040 water plan. The dam will be yet another nail in the coffin of the Delta and our crashing salmon and steelhead fisheries. We need to increase freshwater inflow to the lower Mokelumne River for fish and the Delta, not divert more water upstream.
Money train: The cost of high-speed rail
The president is pledging $13 billion for a high speed rail system, but some experts fear it will never cover its own costs...Aaron Smith
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- President Obama is pouring $13 billion into an ambitious high-speed rail project. Some say it will never make money. Some say it will. And still others say profit is not even the point.
Obama's plan is "to jump-start a potential world-class passenger rail" in 10 major corridors, linking cities within the Northeast, California, Florida and other regions with "bullet trains" that exceed 110 miles per hour. State governments are in the process of applying for the federal funds.
The PR Firm from Hell, Part 1...Lloyd Carter
THE PR FIRM FROM HELL
As published in the June 30th, 2009 edition of the Fresno Community Alliance newspaper
(First of two parts)
By Lloyd G. Carter
Cesar Chavez knew the power of a good march. He led by example and he never stopped trying until he found a way.
And this is exactly what we are going to do. We never will stop until we find a way, find a way together here, because
this is the right thing to do, because we need water, we need water, we need water, we need water [chanting with crowd]. --
Gov. Schwarzenegger, on April 17, at the San Luis Reservoir, following a four-day grower-funded march in which non-union farmworkers were paid to walk 50 miles from Mendota. Chavez’ United Farm Workers union did not participate. UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta called it shameless exploitation of the late labor leader’s legacy.
State says shopping center shouldn't have chopped down trees...JONAH OWEN LAMB
ATWATER -- When the owners of the Applegate Ranch Shopping Center cleared away the trees and shrubs near their property running along Highway 99, they may not have known how much it could cost them in the end.
That's because the vegetation was owned by the state of California.
Now the Golden State is suing the owners of the shopping center, Regency Centers Corp., for allegedly trespassing on state property near Applegate Road and for the malicious destruction of state property.
Our View: More action needed on water issues
Salazar offers relief, but it is really up to the Legislature to fix state's problems.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar offered some federal assistance to ease the California water crisis, and that at least shows the Obama administration finally has put this emergency on its radar screen.
But this problem is too complex for quick fixes, and it will take state and federal action to resolve it.
So far, lawmakers in California have not offered a comprehensive water solution and that's another failing of the state Legislature.
Construction spending falls more than expected...MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON -- Construction spending fell more than expected in May, a sign the problems facing the nation's builders are far from over.
The Commerce Department said Wednesday that construction spending dropped 0.9 percent in May, nearly double the 0.5 percent decline that economists expected. Adding to the signs of weakness, activity in the past two months was revised lower.
Construction rose 0.6 percent in April, down from the 0.8 percent increase originally reported. A March increase of 0.4 percent was replaced with a decline of the same amount. That left the April gain as the only increase in the past eight months.
Pending home sales up 4th straight month in May...last updated: July 01, 2009 07:10:27 AM
WASHINGTON -- A private group says pending home sales rose in May for the fourth straight month, fresh evidence that the housing sector may be recovering.
Modesto-area rainfall was far below average for 2008-09 season...John Holland
It's a new year for water watchers, one they hope will be wetter than the past three in California.
The 2008-09 rainfall year ended Tuesday with 8.78 inches recorded by the Modesto Irrigation District at its downtown headquarters. That was 72 percent of the historical average of 12.17 inches.
DAVE COGDILL: Two Gates can help Valley...Dave Cogdill
As if the water crisis weren't exacerbated enough by a system built a half century ago meant to serve a fraction of our current population, the federal government and the courts continue to act in the best interest of fish rather than people.
As I drive through the Valley, it pains me to see crops dying on the vine, causing thousands in our communities to lose jobs because we lack a reliable water supply. It's unacceptable that the farmers and workers who feed the world are going hungry because of the drought.
Places Left Behind...David Mas Masumoto...6-28-09
I drive country roads, past farms and houses that look and feel old.
Abandoned peach orchards dot the landscape. Branches droop low, bent over, straining under the pressure of neglect. Their fate is sealed, only a matter of time before they die. Piles of dead grapevines sit ready to be burned; no rush to clear the land because the field has been vacant for years without plans for what will be next.
A brown, wood sided farmhouse -- more like a shack -- sits unoccupied, the untreated slats have weathered the decades and numerous recessions and depressions but is now doomed. The nearby barn lists badly to one side.
I've watched this structure over the years gradually deteriorate, wondering when the roof would cave in and the sides tumble down. The structure could trap someone inside as it tumbles to the earth and create a huge liability. I realize that the farmer had passed away years ago, the heirs left the land decades before and have no inclination of the pending collapse.
Dutch expert offers advice on saving Delta...Matt Weiser
Tropical islands and mountain glaciers get all the attention. But the planet's river deltas are the real front lines of climate change.
Sharing that message is a goal of the Delta Alliance, a new effort by officials in the Netherlands to unite people around the world struggling to manage river delta regions. This includes Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Nigeria – and California.
Scientists have advised California to prepare for 55 inches of sea level rise in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta by 2100. Protecting communities and the Delta freshwater supply, which serves 23 million Californians, will be a complicated and pricey task.
The Dutch have lived below sea level for hundreds of years. They've survived by building massive levees that are the envy of the world.
Last week, a delegation from the Netherlands visited San Francisco and the Delta. One result is a planned September symposium in California on common challenges.
On Thursday, The Bee interviewed Bart Parmet, director of the Deltateam for the Netherlands Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, during the delegation's stop in Sacramento.
Why did you form the Delta Alliance?
Already 50 percent of the population in the world lives in delta areas, and this will grow up to 80 percent maybe. The problems with the deltas, with rising sea level and changes in river discharges, are similar. That was the background to say, "Hey, why not make an alliance of places to exchange knowledge, do research together and be prepared for this rise in sea level."
We are a nation that is curious. We have a good name in water. We are a nation that doesn't mind selling things. We'd like to combine helping, and if we can benefit from it, too, it's OK.
Does the public understand that deltas may be more vulnerable to climate change than other areas?
Yes, at least in the Netherlands, that's for sure. And I think here, now, growing awareness in California as well. Maybe the Delta Alliance would help to raise awareness of this problem. Because as I understood during our visit, it's not common knowledge with Joe America.
How are deltas more vulnerable to climate change?
Because they are there where the river enters the sea. So with a rise in sea level, they are the first victims, so to say. But they are attractive areas to live in, and that's because there is fertile ground, there is water from the river, there is fish, there is everything you need.
You toured the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta today. Tell me what you thought.
I heard about the large subsidence of the soils, and that was very clear to see. And I asked myself, where will this end? How will this end?
What I saw, and what I tried to imagine, is the complex government structure you have here. In the Netherlands, all major levees are owned by the government. So it is very clear who is responsible. Here I heard that levees are privately owned. And if the state would improve them, or the Army Corps, they are liable. So: I'm a farmer, I get help from the state, they improve my levee, and after that I can even sue them if things go wrong.
Well, that's strange. So I try to imagine how to work in such a complex situation, which seems very difficult.
What did you think of the levees you saw?
These levees have a quality that would not meet Dutch standards. Although there are also levees built by the Army Corps which do, there are a lot of levees which are old levees on peat soils and those are not the most, let's say, strong levees. It would be huge work to improve them, but if you want to you can.
How do you deal with people who aren't concerned about sea level rise?
We faced the same problem. And we have one advantage, where I think you have also an advantage. If the Netherlands would not be protected at the moment, about two-thirds would be flooded now and then – without sea level rise.
What you have is not only sea level rise. There are more problems. For example, an earthquake, or a storm surge, or a maximum river flow. You already have problems that can cause inundation. You don't need the sea level rise for that. That could help to make the sense of urgency very clear.
Do you have any thoughts about what we should do?
To me, this complex situation of conflicting interests, that's something that really needs to be tackled. In the Netherlands, we are used to doing things together. If we don't do it together, we drown together. So that's simple.
In the Netherlands, there will be a delta fund that will be fed by at least 1 billion euros (about $1.4 billion) per year (from income taxes). It's not a luxury, it's a necessity. And 1 billion euros is a real bargain to protect our country. Because the public was involved, it makes it easier for Parliament (to approve this).
So my advice, modest advice for California, would be to think about a delta fund, so you don't have to argue in the political arena about funds every year. Second: Try one water act or delta act in which you combine all the things you have on water and your delta. That will be a major task.
Sit together, talk about it. Confront people if they don't want to look into interests of other stakeholders. You really have to work together because it's too big an issue to think you can tackle it in the Delta alone or in the Bay Area alone. It's an issue of all California.
Otter population falls as humans pollute ocean...Jane Kay, Chronicle Environment Writer
Sea otters along the California coast are dying off faster than at any time since the late 1990s, a disturbing trend that experts say is partially due to human-caused water pollution, the U.S. Geological Survey reported Tuesday.
A spring census of the threatened otters found only 2,654 otters along 375 miles of coast, a 3.8 percent drop from the year before.
Forest Service must reinstate tougher guidelines...Peter Fimrite
A federal judge in San Francisco Tuesday struck down national forest management rules devised by the Bush administration that environmentalists had denounced as a thinly veiled sop for timber companies.
Bay Area coastal projects to get $18 million...Kelly Zito
Coastal habitat restoration projects in the Bay Area will receive nearly $18 million in federal stimulus money, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office said Tuesday.
Peripheral Canal: Panama Canal North?
Proposed Government Boondoggle Would Be the Width of a 100 Lane Freeway!
The peripheral canal proposed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and corporate agribusiness will appoximate the size of the Panama Canal, according to Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo)...Dan Bacher
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senator Dianne Feinstein, corporate agribusiness and other supporters of the peripheral canal around the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta have carefully avoided discussing what an actual canal would look like, as well as its enormous environmental impacts and budget-busting cost to the taxpayers.
Los Angeles Times
EPA targets nitrogen dioxide emissions near freeways...Amy Littlefield, Greenspace
The rest of the country may be catching up to California when it comes to limiting emissions of the air toxin nitrogen dioxide.
EPA approves California pollution rule...H. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON -- The Environmental Protection Agency has given the go-ahead for California to impose stringent regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.
'Two Gates' project could ease water crisis...Mark Grossi
A bold experiment in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta could protect threatened fish and ease California's water crisis. But it faces steep challenges.
Water activists to rally in Fresno
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, expected...Robert Rodriguez
Organizers of a second Rally for Water are expecting several hundred, if not thousands, to descend on downtown Fresno on Wednesday as they continue their fight for more water.
Farmers, workers and elected officials have been invited to attend the noon rally in front of City Hall. A march around the downtown area will follow.
PLF Launches “Save Our Water” Petition to Obama and Schwarzenegger
Federal “God Squad’s” Help Sought for California’s Crisis...Published online on Monday, Jun. 29, 2009
SACRAMENTO, Calif. Pacific Legal Foundation today launched an emergency “Save our Water” petition campaign, urging President Barack Obama and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to act to convene a special federal panel, nicknamed the “God Squad,” to address California’s water emergency caused by harsh federal environmental restrictions.
PLF’s petition is online at www.pacificlegal.org. It allows members of the general public to ask President Obama and Governor Schwarzenegger to act to convene the “God Squad.”
Clovis OKs document on Wal-Mart shopping center...Marc Benjamin
The Clovis City Council approved certification of an environmental document Monday night for a 490,000-square-foot shopping center that includes a Wal-Mart Supercenter.
Salazar doesn't quench farm thirst for water in California...Cecilia Parsons...6-29-09
FRESNO, Calif. - A who's-who of San Joaquin Valley agriculture was part of the crowd that packed a Fresno State student union on a blistering Sunday afternoon, June 28, to hear what they hoped would be good news from Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
Salazar, dressed in boots and jeans, didn't deliver any immediate relief to their water woes. Instead, he announced plans for some short-term and long-term fixes for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta so more water could be delivered to farms and communities to the south.
San Francisco Chronicle
Truth drought: California's real shortfall...Dr. Peter Gleick, President, Pacific Institute
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar came to California on Sunday to hear firsthand about California's drought. Unfortunately, some of what he heard was misleading or false. Certainly farms and farmers are suffering, so are fish and ecosystems. But so is the truth. Here are three oft-repeated falsehoods.
Inside Bay Area
Report sums up Peninsula's high-speed rail concerns...Mike Rosenberg, San Mateo County Times
State high-speed rail officials released a report Monday that caps a tumultuous public outreach period in which a staggering number of issues were raised over the local section of the proposed bullet train.