Archive for the ‘Delta & Environment’ Category

Supervisors promote solar energy development in rural areas, parking lots, freeway cloverleafs

Saturday, December 22nd, 2018

Forgive $5.8 million in library book late fees dating back to 1995; Honor Choice in Aging’s Debbie Toth who serves Antioch’s Bedford Center as Board Chair Recipient

By Daniel Borsuk

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors flashed the green light for Contra Costa County Development and Conservation Department (DCD) officials to conduct additional studies on how solar power can be expanded, especially in the Far East environmentally sensitive Delta areas of Bethel Island and Jersey Island.

Supervisors also allowed county planners to study the feasibility of identifying underutilized parking lots countywide that could be used as solar farms in partnership with MCE, the main electricity provider for unincorporated Contra Costa County and the cities of Concord, Danville, Martinez, Oakley, Pinole, Pittsburg, and San Ramon.

Freeway cloverleafs are also on the DCD’s list of potential new sites for renewable energy.

“Fifty to eighty percent of the county could be used for renewable energy,” Jody London, a DCD official, told supervisors.  London said solar energy represents 85 percent of the renewable energy that could be developed on rural land.  The remaining 15 percent would be energy generated from wind power or biomass.

London said the county could also expand solar energy by issuing more permits to homeowners to install solar panels on roofs.

The house rooftop option drew the support of District 3 Supervisor Dianne Burgis of Brentwood, whose district also covers Bethel Island and Jersey Island.  “I’d be open to option one,” she said.  “We have so many rooftops in Contra Costa County.  I’d like to work with MCE.”

Board chair Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill cautioned DCD staff that she was uncertain the DCD recommendation concerning 450-acre Jersey Island as a potential solar power farm might run into opposition from the island’s owner, the Ironhouse Sanitary District.

London said she would look into that issue.

“We support development of solar energy on brownfield sites, parking lots and infill areas such as freeway cloverleafs,” Bill Chilson of the Mount Diablo Audubon Society wrote in a letter to the supervisors.  The environmental organization opposes wind and solar development in the Delta agricultural and wildlife areas, Chilson wrote.

Juan Pablo Galwan, Save Mt. Diablo Land Use Manager, criticized the plan, writing:

“Advances in solar technology may increase the frequency of collocation or allow an area of land to concurrently be farmed and produce solar energy without negatively impacting or perhaps even increasing crop productivity.  However, currently the most likely scenario is that solar development removes land from most or all ties of agricultural production for the duration of lease which may last several decades.  Therefore, the county renewable energy policies should not encourage solar development on viable agricultural land.”

A $47,000 grant from the California Strategic Growth Council developed the energy study for the County.

Supervisors Approve $362,505 State Grant for 2020 Census

The county is getting ready for the 2020 census and took its first step when supervisors unanimously accepted a $362,505 County-Option Outreach Agreement grant from the state.

The grant will aid the county in developing communications and outreach strategies that will target both geographic and demographic populations who are least likely to respond to the 2020 census.

Barbara Rivera of the Contra Costa County Administrators Office said the upcoming census will be the first one where Californians can respond by going online, but this raised cyber security issues from Julia Marks of the Asian Law Caucus.  “There is a lot fear over confidentiality,” said Marks.

Choice in Aging’s Debbie Toth Honored as Board Chair Recipient

Debbie Toth, the Chief Executive Officer of Choice in Aging, was honored by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Chair Karen Mitchoff, as Board Chair Recipient for 2018.

Mitchoff, of Pleasant Hill, selected Toth, who was named CEO of Choice in Aging in 2012 that serves 600 senior citizens in residential facilities at the Bedford Center in Antioch and the Mt. Diablo Center in Pleasant Hill, for being an advocate for senior access to housing, health and transit.

Mitchoff, who was re-elected to the District 3 supervisorial seat in June, cited her personal experience with her mother as a key factor in nominating the CIA’s Chief Executive Officer for the award.

After Tuesday’s meeting, it is expected District 1 Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond will be elected as Chair of the Board   when supervisors reconvene at their next regular meeting slated for January 15, 2019.

Supervisors Forgive $5.8 Million in Library Book Late Fees Dating Back to 1995

A week after the Board of Supervisors made the historic move to eliminate the practice of collecting overdue book and material fees, they approved on a 5-0 vote to discharge about $5,800,100 from public library patron accounts.

The agenda consent item did not attract public comment.

The bookkeeping item covers uncollected fees dating back to 1995 to the present, County Librarian Melinda Cervantes wrote in a report to the Board.  “Of this amount, 73 percent is the value of materials, not cash outstanding.”  There is no financial impact on the county general fund.

Last week supervisors adopted the library commission’s recommendation to cease the collection of overdue book fines beginning Jan. 1, 2019 based on the recommendations in a policy titled Project Equitable Access with the goal of ensuring everyone has access to library materials.

To view the entire meeting agenda, click here.

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34th Annual Coastal Cleanup needs volunteers in Antioch Friday and Saturday

Wednesday, September 12th, 2018

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2018, 9 AM – NOON

The 34th Annual California Coastal Cleanup Day, the state’s largest volunteer event, is going to take place on Saturday, September 15th, 2018. The Kayak trip will be on Friday, 14th September 2018. The event is expected to draw more than 70,000 volunteers who will combat marine debris at over 800 locations throughout the state by removing the trash that has accumulated on California’s beaches and inland shorelines over the past year. Get out there, join the effort in Antioch. There are two locations to choose from: Antioch Marina and Prewett Park. Select your location when you complete your registration, here.

The 5th Annual Kayak Cleanup will be held on Friday, September 14 – click here for more information.

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Body found on Delta levee Saturday identified as missing boater from Daly City

Monday, May 7th, 2018

One fisherman was rescued from the river near the Antioch bridge by Contra Costa Sheriff’s Marine Patrol, Saturday, April 28, 2017. Screenshot from NBC Bay Area.

By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff

On Saturday, May 5, 2018, at approximately 2:11 PM, Contra Costa County Marine Patrol Deputy Sheriffs responded to a report of a body on the levee at False River near the San Joaquin River. Deputies arrived on scene a short time later and recovered the body.

The Coroner’s Division took custody of the male body. He was later positively identified as 39-year-old Johnson Ng of Daly City. Ng is the missing boater who fell from a vessel on April 28, 2018.

According to an ABC7 news report, “Initial reports from deputies said two men were on a boat trying to set an anchor to start fishing when a wake came along. The wake hit the boat, the men fell off and they did not have life jackets on, according to sheriff’s officials. A passing boat rescued one of the men.”

An autopsy will be held to determine the cause of death.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Supervisor Glover wants investigation into possible radioactive materials deposited at Keller Canyon Landfill in Pittsburg

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

Keller Canyon Landfill. Photo courtesy of Comanco.

Matter to be heard at next Tuesday’s Board meeting

Supervisor Federal Glover has directed Contra Costa County Staff at next Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting to provide the Board with an update concerning the allegations of malfeasance by Tetra Tech EC Inc. at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. The allegations concern possible radioactive materials being deposited at landfills across the state including possible contaminated material that might have been sent to the Keller Canyon Landfill.
“I am very concerned about these allegations and want a full report from staff on this issue,” Glover stated.  Healso said that he expects County staff to follow up with further review of the issue after the Board meeting next Tuesday.

“I want staff to thoroughly investigate these allegations and determine whether or not the Keller Landfill was sent contaminated material,” Glover continued. “I want to make sure the residents of Contra Costa County are protected and that this matter is fully addressed.”

He said that the matter will be heard in front of the Board of Supervisors during its regularly scheduled session starting at 9:30 AM on May 1, 2018 in the Board Chambers at 651 Pine St., Martinez.

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Contra Costa Public Works hosts Earth Day event at Upper Sand Creek in Antioch April 21

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

Contra Costa County Public Works and Supervisor Diane Burgis will host an Earth Day event at Upper Sand Creek on Saturday, April 21 from 9am – Noon.  The event will take place at 6600 Deer Valley road in Antioch.  Antioch High School, Friends of Marsh Creek Watershed, Contra Costa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District and Earth Team interns will also participate.

“I’m excited to see so many people come out to celebrate Earth Day by putting their hands in the dirt, clean up, and then learn about our watershed,” stated Supervisor Burgis.

Spend the morning in the beautiful Upper Sand Creek watershed, exploring an area that is usually closed to the public. In 2013, the Flood Control District held the first planting event to celebrate the completion of the detention basin. Come see for yourself how much the basin has changed!

The students will be showing off the skills they’ve learned over the year they spent interning with Earth Team.

Activities will include:

  • Trash Talking Showdown – Join a team to see who can pickup and properly identify, the most trash.
  • Help remove invasive species and plant the volunteer nursery with oaks – Since the initial planting in 2013, a lot has changed with the volunteer nursery, but we still need your help to keep it going!
  • Learn about your local creeks and why it is important to keep them clean!

You can sign up for this event at uscb2018.eventbrite.com.  Earth Day is celebrated around the world. It is a day celebrating environmental protection and raising awareness of how our actions affect the environment.

About Contra Costa County Public Works Department:

Contra Costa County Public Works Department (CCCPWD) maintains over 660 miles of roads, 150 miles of streams, channels and other drainage and over 200 County buildings throughout Contra Costa County.   CCCPWD provides services such as Parks and Recreation, Sand Bag Distribution and Flood Control throughout unincorporated areas of Contra Costa County.  For more information about CCCPWD, please visit us here.

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Frazier not happy So Cal water district voted to fund Delta twin tunnels plan

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

California WaterFix Delta bypass twin tunnels route map. From californiawaterfix.com.

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay) issued the following statement on Wednesday, April 11 after the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Board of Directors voted to finance the majority of the proposed $11 billion Delta twin tunnels plan,  known as the California WaterFix:

“Californians deserve comprehensive 21st century water management solutions in light of climate change and more frequent and devastating droughts, not a decades old plan that creates no benefit and picks the pockets of hard-working people.

The vote by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California shows that proponents of this project have been deceitful the whole time. There’s never been a “statewide” approach as they’ve claimed. It’s never been about sustainability but a foolhardy plan to overdraw the Delta to sell a limited and precious natural resource to the highest bidder.

This boondoggle uses antiquated methods for water delivery to degrade the water quality for all Californians and places greater burdens farmers in the Delta and Central Valley.

Just like the Colorado River Compact, this project is built on false pretenses of water availability. Met has already proven they are bad actors by overcharging San Diego for water many times. Given this history, my concern is Met may try to overcharge Central Valley farmers too.”

A press release issued Tuesday explaining their action, it stated, the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California voted today to provide the additional financing necessary to allow for the construction of the full California WaterFix project.

The board authorized $10.8 billion for the project to modernize the state’s aging water delivery system, making Metropolitan the primary investor in the project and more than doubling the agency’s initially planned investment to ensure the project is completed as originally proposed and studied.  “For decades, we have sought a solution to the problems of the Bay Delta, problems that put Southern California’s water supply at risk,” Metropolitan board Chairman Randy Record said. “We finally have that solution, California WaterFix. We simply could not jeopardize the opportunity to move this long-sought and much-needed project forward.”

WaterFix will be paid for by the people and businesses that use the water it helps deliver via the retail water agencies and cities that serve those customers. Metropolitan’s financing of the full project is expected to cost households on average up to $4.80 a month, though that average cost would be reduced as Metropolitan recoups some of its investments from the agricultural sector. Metropolitan will be selling or leasing capacity in the tunnels to allow water deliveries or exchanges for other parties.

About 30 percent of the water that flows out of taps in Southern California comes from Northern California via the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. But the Delta’s delivery system is badly outdated, its ecosystem is in decline and its 1,100-mile levee system is increasingly vulnerable to earthquakes, flooding, saltwater intrusion, sea level rise and environmental degradation.

Attempts to help the Delta have led to regulatory restrictions that have reduced water exports from the region. California WaterFix would modernize the state’s water delivery system by building three new water intakes in the northern Delta and two tunnels to carry the water under the Delta to the existing aqueduct systems in the southern Delta that deliver water to cities and farms.

In October 2017, Metropolitan’s board initially voted to participate in WaterFix and contribute up to 26 percent of its $17 billion cost, or about $4.3 billion.  But the majority of federal agricultural contractors who also import supplies via the Delta have yet to commit to investing in the project, leaving part of the project’s costs unfunded. In February, the state proposed building the project in stages instead–starting with two intakes and one tunnel, with a capacity of 6,000 cubic feet per second. An additional intake and tunnel would be added when funding allowed.

In today’s action, Metropolitan’s board chose between supporting this staged construction of the project or helping finance the full 9,000 cfs project all at once, with the hope of recouping the investment from agricultural interests once the project is completed. Staging the project also would result in potential permitting delays associated with the change in approach.

Under the staged approach, the cost of building one tunnel would be about $11.1 billion, with Metropolitan’s share of those capital costs coming in at $5.2 billion. The board ultimately voted to support building the full project all at once at an estimated cost of $16.7 billion, with Metropolitan’s investment at about  $10.8 billion in today’s dollars.

“Two tunnels better accomplishes WaterFix’s co-equal goals of improving the environment and securing supply reliability,” said Metropolitan General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger. “With them, we’re better able to capture the high flows of big storms that climate change is expected to bring. We’ll better address the reverse flows that disrupt the Delta’s ecology. And we’ll have more flexibility to operate the water delivery system.”

Kightlinger added that investing in WaterFix does not change Metropolitan’s commitment to local supply development and conservation.

“This investment is just one part of ensuring Southern California and its $1.3 trillion economy has a reliable water supply in the age of climate change,” he said. “We need a diverse portfolio, including water recycling, storm-water capture, and increased conservation. We will continue to work hard and invest in those projects.”

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a state-established cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving nearly 19 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other resource-management programs.

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Call for Applications: San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, Independent Citizens Oversight Committee

Thursday, April 5th, 2018

Deadline Extended – Due April 18, 2018

Measure AA is expected to generate $25 million annually for San Francisco Bay restoration over the next 20 years. Funding from this voter-approved measure will allow for the restoration of thousands of acres of natural habitat for wildlife, support our local economy, improve access to public lands, address flooding issues, and create thousands of new jobs.

The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority’s Governing Board seeks six individuals to serve on the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee. The Committee has three main roles:

  1. Annually review the Authority’s conformance with Measure AA.
  2. Review the Authority’s audits and expenditure and financial reports.
  3. Publish an annual report of its findings, which will be posted on the Authority’s website.

The Board seeks committee members from all four Bay Area regions (North Bay, East Bay, South Bay and West Bay) with special subject matter expertise. Each member of the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee must possess expertise in one or more of the following:

  • Water quality
  • Pollution reduction
  • Habitat restoration
  • Flood protection
  • Improvement of public access to the San Francisco Bay
  • Financing of these objectives.

Ineligibility Factors for Membership

No person may serve on the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee who:

  • Is an elected official or government employee;
  • Has had or could have a financial interest in a decision of the Authority; or
  • Is affiliated with an organization associated with a member of the Governing Board.

Apply to serve on the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee by April 18, 2018.

Application Submittal, Materials, and Deadline

Send your application to karen.mcdowell@sfestuary.org by April 18, 2018. Electronic signatures and scanned signatures will be accepted.

For more information, visit the SF Bay Restoration Authority’s website or contact Karen McDowell, Project Manager, SF Bay Restoration Authority or 415-778-6685.

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Frazier: One Delta tunnel is a deception

Sunday, February 11th, 2018

California WaterFix (i.e. Delta Twin Tunnels) route. From californiawaterfix.com

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Jim Frazier, D-Discovery Bay, issued a statement on Thursday, after the Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced it is significantly altering the proposed WaterFix project to construct one larger tunnel first and build a second tunnel later.

Assemblyman Jim Frazier

On Wednesday, the DWR sent a memo to the local public water agencies participating in the development and construction of California WaterFix and issued the following statement from DWR Director Karla Nemeth.

“WaterFix is a long-overdue infrastructure upgrade that will maintain a reliable water supply for 25 million Californians while also protecting the Delta ecosystem. With the current stated support of the participating public water agencies, the state is proposing to pursue WaterFix as planned, but also explore an option to implement construction in stages. This prudent approach aligns the urgent statewide need for action with the project’s current support. We are eager to move forward with WaterFix to protect the Delta and water supplies.”

The memo further states “The option for a first stage includes two intakes…one tunnel, one intermediate forebay, and one pumping station.”

Frazier responded with the following statement:

“The Department of Water Resources is trying to sell its latest WaterFix revision as a one-tunnel plan, but that is smoke and mirrors,” Frazier stated. “Their plan still calls for two tunnels. The new plan still poses the same threat to the Delta’s environment, agricultural economy and way of life. There still is no cost-benefit analysis or economic justification for the project.  The project still does not create a single ounce of new water.

DWR has shape-shifted the size of the tunnels. This is now an entirely new project. The process must start over from the beginning, with an entirely new Environmental Impact Report.  The proposed new and even larger tunnel will have even greater ecological and economic impacts on the Delta.

DWR can’t just amend the EIR and biological opinions and pass it off as legitimate. The size and scope of a project this size demands a thorough process and the ability for the people of the Delta to voice their concerns.

DWR’s method for estimating the cost of its revised plan is also curious. Instead of doing a comprehensive cost analysis for the revised proposal, they gave us lazy math. They just took $16.3 billion cost estimate they have been using and chopped it into thirds.

When I was a construction contractor, I couldn’t just change my building plans without bringing it back for review. DWR and the Administration should not be exempt from process that all building projects are subject to in California, especially on one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the state’s history.”

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