Archive for the ‘Delta & Environment’ Category

Guest Commentary: Single tunnel option not a quick fix for the Delta

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

By Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore The Delta

These are not good times for Governor Brown’s Delta Tunnels (WaterFix) proposal.

The twin 40-foot-diameter, 30-mile-long tunnels would harvest Sacramento River water before it flows through the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary. A vast majority of this water would be sent to Big Ag operations like The Wonderful Company in the Southern San Joaquin Valley. It will destroy the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas.

But as the San Francisco Chronicle recently editorialized, “The tunnel project, now marketed to Californians as WaterFix, lacks community trust and political will and is saddled with a $16 billion (and growing) price tag that appears much larger than water agencies are willing to pay.

“Water districts, rural users, and entire cities like San Diego and Santa Monica are starting to question the wisdom or affordability of such a big project that does not deliver one new drop of new water.
“This November, a coalition of conservation and public interest organizations sent a letter to the Obama administration asking them to terminate the proposal so his legacy isn’t dragged down by a financial and environmental nightmare. The groups explain how the next administration will blame the boondoggle on Obama. They will say:
“We inherited the WaterFix from the previous administration and presumed that they knew what they were doing and had fully evaluated the project in good faith when they determined it should go forward.”
As environmental and financial obstacles continue to mount for the proposal, California water policy wonks are now scrambling for a viable Plan B.

The influential Public Policy Institute of California recently took a step back from support for the Twin Tunnels and offered a scaled back, Plan B. In an op-ed for the Sacramento Bee they offer, A Grand Compromise for the Delta.
PPIC now proposes a smaller plan they believe can settle the water wars over the Bay-Delta. Their proposal includes one-tunnel, managing water flows for entire ecosystems not just specific species, strengthening Delta levees, and letting communities tap into tunnel water supplies where local water is salty.

Restore the Delta is certainly encouraged the Public Policy Institute of California has backed down from support for the highly destructive Twin Delta Tunnels proposal. But the scaled-back project the PPIC now proposes is a completely different and new project. Before it can be analyzed, we still need to figure out how much water the Delta needs to maintain ecological health for the communities who live there and the species who depend on a healthy estuary.

The State Water Board’s flow hearings for the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers must be completed before any project can be analyzed.

Independent fishery experts now say that the San Joaquin River needs at least 50 percent unimpaired flows to stop extinction and achieve legally required doubling goals for salmon.

Any new tunnel proposal would, we hope, include a more comprehensive public scoping process so as to include Delta environmental justice communities, made up of hundreds of thousands of residents. We would also hope for a more transparent environmental and economic review process with better science and better public debate than what was put forth for the current Delta Tunnels proposal. CA WaterFix touts hundreds of meetings over the last ten years, but most were never properly noticed to Delta communities for meaningful participation.

If, indeed, support for the Big Twin Tunnels project is fading, let’s kill that proposal once and for all. Californians who voted in 1982 against the Peripheral Canal assumed we had made that decision long ago.
In an era of climate change and shrinking snowpack in the Sierra, less snowmelt means that by the time the expensive Twin Tunnels project would be finished, it may sit empty most of the time. The same may be true for one tunnel.  We don’t know yet.

Instead, we should invest in California’s water future. Southern California already taking the lead on the cutting edge of a water technology. Stormwater harvesting, conservation, water recycling, and groundwater recharging are reducing the need for imported water to the Southland. Many of these ideas can be found in a report titled A Sustainable Water Plan for California by the Environmental Water Caucus.

The Delta Tunnels, even a scaled back version, may not be the best use of limited funds. Let’s kill off the big Delta Tunnels plan once and for all. Then we can redirect those funds to create local jobs that build water sustainability by adding new water into the system. That is the path to provide real security for California’s future.

Originally published by KCET, December 19, 2016. Republished with permission. Commentaries are the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of KCETLink.

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Delta tunnels opponents asked to speak out at Dec. 16th State Water Board meeting in Stockton

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

speak-up-against-delta-tunnelsRestore the Delta, the organization fighting to stop the Delta tunnels is asking citizens also opposed to the tunnels, to speak out at the State Water Resources Control Board meeting on what’s now known as the California WaterFix. The meeting will be held in Stockton at the Civic Auditorium, 925 N. Center Street beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, December 16th. The meeting could run until 8:00 p.m. — as long as there are comments from the public, the Board will hear them.

The opposition group issued the following call to action, last month:

Earlier this year, thousands of Restore the Delta supporters signed a petition urging the State Water Resources Control Board to update outdated water quality standards for the Bay-Delta region. Now we need your action in person.

This outdated 20-year-old Water Quality Control Plan allows more than half the water needed for the delta’s ecological health to be diverted away for unsustainable Big Agriculture on the west and south San Joaquin Valley.

The State Water Resources Control Board is currently in Phase I of updating the plan. We need to make sure that the State Water Board gets it right and is not influenced by special interests. New water quality standards that truly protect communities and species is a proactive step that helps ensure reliable water supplies for all water users of the Bay-Delta. Learn more about water quality here.

We need you to make your comments. The public comment process ends January 17, 2017, and all hearings conclude January 3, 2017. Please limit your oral public comment to three minutes in length.

Here are some important points to make:

1) A permanent reduction of exports must happen to protect the Delta. What is the true efficacy of this update to SJ flow standards if water exports from the Delta are not going to be dealt with? The San Joaquin River must reach Chipps Island in order to restore, protect, and preserve the entire estuary. If unsustainable water exports are not dealt with, we worry that water quality and quantity objectives for the Delta will never be met.

2) We do not want to see a weakening of salinity standards in the South Delta. Water quality standards must be protected for agriculture, drinking water, municipal discharge, fisheries, and ground water recharge.

3) The State Water Board must consider environmental justice communities in terms of drinking water and domestic use. Phase 1 Recirculated Draft SED fails to consider environmental justice communities in chapters 5 and 9 (hydrology/water quality and groundwater).

For other dates and locations, click here to see the State Water Board’s notice.

If you cannot make any of the dates, you can make a written comment by following these instructions:


The State Water Board will accept both written and oral comments on the proposed Plan Amendment and the SED. Written comments must be received no later than 12:00 noon on January 17, 2017, and addressed and submitted to:

Jeanine Townsend, Clerk to the Board
State Water Resources Control Board
1001 I Street, 24th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814-0100

Comment letters may be submitted electronically, in pdf text format (if less than 15 megabytes in total size) to the Clerk to the Board via e-mail at Please indicate in the subject line: “Comment Letter – 2016 Bay-Delta Plan Amendment & SED.” You may also submit your comments by fax at (916) 341-5620. Electronic submission is preferred, but not required.

Couriers delivering comment letters must check in with lobby security personnel, who can contact Jeanine Townsend at (916) 341-5600.

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Frazier opposes Delta tunnels in letter to California WaterFix

Saturday, November 5th, 2016

Assemblymember Jim Frazier, whose 11th Assembly District includes much of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, has called upon a state board to reject a change in water rights as proposed by proponents of the Delta twin tunnels project.

“My constituents expect to be protected by the State of California,” Frazier said in a six-page letter to the State Water Resources Control Board, which is considering a petition to divert water from the Sacramento River into the tunnels that would be built by the California WaterFix Project. frazier-waterfix-letter-nov-2016

The project requires a change in water rights. A petition for that change was filed this summer by the state Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which want to ship water to Central and Southern California by going around the Delta via twin tunnels.

With public hearings on the petition continuing this month and into the new year, Assemblymember Frazier denounced the proposed diversions, saying they would “devastate Delta communities that rely on a healthy Delta environment to ensure a thriving local economy.”

Frazier asserted that the WaterFix Project does not meet the requirements of the 2009 Delta Reform Act, which established the co-equal goals of providing a reliable water supply while protecting, restoring and enhancing the Delta – “in a manner that protects and enhances the unique cultural, recreational, natural resource and agricultural values of the Delta.”

“This language was not just provided as an idle consideration for the administration, but represents a high-level declaration of policy that must be satisfied,” he wrote.

Frazier criticized the WaterFix Project, stating that it does nothing to increase or ensure a reliable water supply, nor does it take into consideration that the water it proposes to take is needed by those who live and work in and around the Delta. The diversions, he said, will endanger the livelihoods of those who depend on Delta farming, fishing and tourism, as well as the millions of Californians who get their drinking water directly from the Delta.

And a proposal to backfill the diversion by taking water from farmers and communities in other parts of the state is also unacceptable, he said.

“I urge the administration not to take water from farmers and communities around the state to give it to the Delta just so that the administration can turn around and justify shipping approximately the same volume of water to Southern California,” Frazier added.

To contact Assemblymember Jim Frazier please visit his website at or call his District Offices at 707-399-3011 or 925-513-0411. Follow Assemblymember Jim Frazier on Facebook and “Like” him for updates on events and happenings in the 11th AD.

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Delta Flood Safety Fair mixes family fun with flood readiness in Isleton on Saturday, Oct. 22

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

delta protection commission-logoISLETON, CA – In concert with California Flood Preparedness Week, the Delta Protection Commission declares a week in October to be the annual Delta Flood Preparedness Week. In 2016, Delta Flood Preparedness Week will run from Monday, October 17 through Saturday, October 22.

Due to the unique conditions of life in the Delta, flood risk is dramatically different than in other regions of the state. In the Delta, drought conditions do NOT reduce flood risk, because Delta levees hold back water 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – not just when the rivers run high. These unique conditions are addressed at the Delta Flood Safety Fair, a fun and informative day at the Delta Farmers’ Market on Highway 12 west of the Rio Vista Bridge. In its third year, the event is sponsored by the Delta Protection Commission and the Discover the Delta Foundation, and is scheduled for Saturday, October 22nd from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

This year’s participants include perennial favorites River Delta Fire, offering photo ops for the kids with their ladder truck, Solano Office of Emergency Services (OES) giving tours of their Mobile Command Center, the Sacramento County Marine Patrol exhibiting their specialized watercraft, and the specially trained rescue dogs of Sacramento County Search and Rescue. Other participants include the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine addressing livestock and pet safety, the US Coast Guard, CalRecycle, the Department of Water Resources’ Division of Flood Management (DWR), the Diving Accident Rescue Team (DART), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Red Cross, the Delta Science Center and DCC Engineering.

The event also includes food vendors, Delta wine tasting, children’s activities and live music.

WHAT: Delta Flood Safety Fair

WHEN: Saturday, October 22, 2016 – 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM

WHERE: Delta Farmers’ Market, Highway 12 at Highway 160, just west of the Rio Vista Bridge.

PHONE: (916) 375-4886

WHO: CalRecycle, Central California Valley Flood Control Association, DART, DCC Engineering, Delta Protection Commission, Delta Science Center, DWR, Discover the Delta Foundation, Dutra Museum of Dredging, FEMA, Red Cross, River Delta Fire, Sacramento County Marine Patrol, Sacramento Search and Rescue, Solano County OES, UC Davis, US Coast Guard

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Reuse Roundup at Babe Ruth Fields in Antioch, Saturday

Thursday, October 6th, 2016



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Register now for free 2017 youth conference on clean air

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Youth for Environment and Sustainability Conference to be held February 25 in San Francisco

The annual Youth for Environment and Sustainability, or YES, Conference, returns to the Bay Area at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 25, 2017, at the new Bay Area Metro Center at 375 Beale Street in San Francisco.

The free day-long regional conference will bring together middle and high school students from the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties to discuss topics ranging from climate change and public health to transportation and air pollution. The Bay Area Air Quality Management Districtand the Metropolitan Transportation Commission sponsor the annual conference.

“The YES Conference is an awesome regional gathering that jumpstarts student-led climate action in our schools and local communities,” said Noah Preute, a student from St. Vincent de Paul High School in Santa Rosa and a member of the student planning committee for the YES Conference. “I’m excited to help plan the conference and inform my generation on the serious consequences climate change and air pollution have on our lives and the planet.”

Registration for the event is now open at Teachers or youth development coordinators who register their studentsbefore October 30, 2016, will be entered into a drawing for a $250 grant for classroom youth leadership activities involving science, technology, engineering, art and math curriculum and sustainability.

A call for presentation proposals invites pioneering students, youth-leaders, teachers or youth advisors to present at the annual YES Conference. The deadline to submit a proposal is Wednesday, January 3, 2017. The online proposal submittal form is available now at

Attending students will have the opportunity to learn directly from their peers’ efforts by discussing advocacy, communication, leadership development and skill building. The program will include interactive presentations led by students and youth leaders from various schools and cities in the region. The 2017YES conference will be the fourth year of bringing youth together to share information to address climate change. The conference was awarded the 2014 Breathe California Award in the public awareness category.

There is no cost to attend the conference and breakfast and lunch will be provided for participants. Parents and teachers are also welcome. Students are required to have their parents’ permission to attend. For complete conference details, visit

The goal of the Spare the Air Youth program is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and driving by increasing walking and biking as a transportation mode among youths and their familiesthereby improving air quality in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Air District is the regional agency responsible for protecting air quality in the nine-county Bay Area.MTC is the transportation planning, coordinating and financing agency for the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties.

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Park District purchases 76-acre property in Marsh Creek Watershed south of Antioch

Saturday, October 1st, 2016
A view of Mt. Diablo from the former Hanson Ranch property. photo by Scott Hein

A view of Mt. Diablo from the former Hanson Ranch property. photo by Scott Hein

Location map, courtesy of Save Mt. Diablo

Location map. courtesy of Save Mt. Diablo

Expands future Deer Valley Regional Preserve

The 76-acre Hanson Hills property on the eastern slopes of Mt. Diablo, will become part of the future Deer Valley Regional Preserve, extending the park’s southern boundary to Marsh Creek Road. The East Bay Regional Park District purchased the former ranch land, located south of Antioch and west of Brentwood, from Save Mount Diablo for $730,000, its appraised fair market value. East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy contributed $547,500 toward the cost and funds from Measure WW covered the remainder.

“This beautiful property will be a tremendous asset for generations of East Bay residents,” said Park District Board Member Diane Burgis, whose ward includes the Hanson Hills property. “It’s also a critical part of the Marsh Creek watershed. We’re thrilled to be able to protect this ecologically sensitive area forever.”

The property encompasses canyons and ridges covered with blue-oak forests and native grasslands, as well as a seasonal stream that drains to Marsh Creek. The ridgetops provide panoramic views of Mt. Diablo, the Marsh Creek corridor and Morgan Territory Regional Preserve. It’s also home to eagles, hawks, coyotes, mountain lions, deer, foxes and other species. The acquisition secures important land links that provide habitat for a number of special status species including the California red-legged frog and Alameda whipsnake.

Eastern view from the former Hanson Ranch property. photo by Scott Hein

Eastern view from the former Hanson Ranch property. photo by Scott Hein

The acquisition represents an important piece in long-term efforts to preserve land around Mount Diablo. Save Mount Diablo acquired the property from the Hanson Family in April, 2014. The Hanson children, now all in their 80’s, remember fishing for steelhead with their grandfather in Marsh Creek, just across the road, and camping out on warm nights atop the tallest hill. It was important to the family that the land they love so dearly be protected forever.

Ted Clement, executive director of Save Mount Diablo, spoke to the importance of partnerships in conserving land in the region.

“We are thrilled to help ensure the permanent protection of 76-acre Hanson Hills through our partnerships with the East Bay Regional Park District and the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy,” Clement said.  “With this transaction not only have we preserved essential wildlife habitat and ensured the protection of a strategic parcel that can later support outdoor public recreation and education, but we have also generated funds to protect more lands around Mount Diablo.”

“This acquisition is another positive step for conservation in east Contra Costa County,” said Pittsburg Councilman Salvatore Evola, chair of the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy board. “It is valuable to have a local land trust, the East Bay Regional Park District and the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy working together to conserve valuable landscapes for species while also providing park and recreation opportunities for the growing population.”

The land will remain closed to the public (“land banked”) until the Deer Valley Regional Park Land Use Plan is completed.

Save Mount Diablo is a non-profit 501(c)(3) conservation organization, which has been preserving lands on and around Mount Diablo and educating the public to the mountain’s natural values since 1971. Preserved lands have increased from 6,788 acres in one park to more than 110,000 acres in more than 40 parks and preserves. Save Mount Diablo continues to preserve, defend and restore the remainder of the mountain for people and wildlife to enjoy. Contact: Save Mount Diablo, telephone: (925) 947-3535, fax: (925) 947-0642, 1901 Olympic Blvd., Suite 320, Walnut Creek, CA 94596;

The East Bay Regional Park District is a system of beautiful public parks and trails in Alameda and Contra Costa counties east of San Francisco Bay, established in 1934. The system comprises 120,700 acres in 65 parks including over 1,250 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature learning.

For information, please contact East Bay Regional Park District public information supervisor Carolyn Jones at (510) 544-2217,

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Enjoy kayaking the Antioch waterfront, take a sunset paddle tour during Delta Thunder, Oct. 1st and 2nd

Monday, September 26th, 2016


Delta Kayak Adventures will be at the Antioch Marina, October 1st and 2nd offering kayak rentals from 10am-4pm and FREE Standup paddleboard demos within the marina. We also will have a guided sunset paddle at 5pm on both Saturday and Sunday. There will be lots of other activities for families to enjoy too. The Delta Thunder VII boat show and exhibition and Rivertown Jamboree will be going on at the same time.

Save $5 per person on the sunset paddle if you click book now and book online. Enter save5 for promo.

Delta Kayak Adventures offers tours, rentals and classes throughout the Delta region. Book a custom tour or class with 2 or more paddlers. Contact us at or call 925-642-5764 for more information.

To learn more about Delta Kayak Adventures, visit or

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