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DFF's Focus on Conservation with Ron Forbes

"I look into my fly box and consider all the elements I should consider in choosing the perfect fly: water temperature, what stage of development the bugs are in, what the fish are eating right now. Then I remember what a guide told me: “Ninety percent of what a trout eats is brown and fuzzy and about five eights of an inch long.” --- Allison Moir

Ammonia, Sacramento's Costly Dilemma

A number of months ago I wrote about the amount of ammonia that was being dumped into the Sacramento River by the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (SRCSD). It has been estimated that about 30,000 to 35,000 gallons of ammonia is released into the river every day from SRCSD’s treatment plant near Elk Grove. Basically there are several steps in sewage treatment: pretreatment, primary, secondary and tertiary. The purpose of the tertiary treatment is to remove both phosphorus and ammonia from the effluent before it’s discharged into the environment. In this case the SRCSD’s effluent goes directly into the Sacramento River. The issue with SRCSD’s treatment of sewage is that it does not have tertiary treatment capability.

However, last December the State’s Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (CVRWQCB) has put new discharge permit requirements on SRCSD before the effluent and be released into the river. SRCSD will now have to be able to remove both the ammonia and phosphorus from their effluent. In other words they will have to treat their sewage using tertiary treatment. There have been several articles in the Sacramento Bee recently on this issue. SRCSD does not want to comply with the new requirements. They claim it will cost the district 2 billion dollars to bring their plants up to par. They say this will triple the sewage treatment cost to each household to $60.00. However, they have not shown how they reach that figure. They also say there is not enough scientific research to show the 35,000 gallons a day of ammonia dumped into the Sacramento River is harmful. However, common sense would seem to indicate 35,000 gallons of ammonia released day in and day out over the years can’t be doing the Delta much good. At this point SRCSD is the biggest ammonia polluter of the Delta. In the last 25 years Sacramento’s urbanization has doubled and so has the sewage effluent. You have to wonder if they think this is helpful to the river or that it has no effect on the fish or environment.

This battle is being fought hard on both sides. California Sportfishing Protective Alliance (CSPA) wants SRCSD to have to comply with the permit requirements. But Bill Jennings, of CSPA, thinks the permit requirements do not go far enough. Other elements toxic to fish and the environment are not listed in the permit. These include copper and cyanide. Other products have been identified as being discharged into the Delta; these are toxic to the fish and environment. The products include such pharmaceuticals as antibiotics and estrogen. Jennings feels that the permit should list more chemicals than it does at present.

In a recent article in the Sacramento Bee, the director of the Sacramento Downtown Partnership made some comments that sum their feelings about their responsibility to the Delta and the environment. “We understand there are some improvements need to be made. But, we have enough barriers against us in this economy to not pile on another obstacle for development.” In other words to stop polluting the Delta is going to cost them money so they should be allowed to continue regardless of the fact that what they are doing is toxic to the Delta. More development without constraints means more pollution. It would seem that critical thinking is neither SRCSD’s nor the executive director of the Sacramento Downtown Partnership’s long suit. It will be interesting to see what CVRWQCB’s final decision on the permit will be.

The Steelhead and Salmon Festival

For the last several months I have been attending meetings of Friends of the Lower Calaveras River (FLCR) as they have started planning Stockton’s first Steelhead and Salmon Day. Jeremy Terhume is the Director of FLCR and The San Joaquin Valley Representative of Defenders of Wildlife and is in charge of the event. The basic idea behind the event is show the people of Stockton the degraded situation the Calaveras River and what has happened to the our salmon and steelhead. The Festival is sponsored by Friends of the Lower Calaveras, The City of Stockton and the Miracle Mile Business Association. Ann Johnson, Stockton’s mayor, has put together a proclamation declaring Sunday, May 1st Steelhead and Salmon Day. The event will be from 11a.m. to 4p.m. It will be a family orientated event and will feature educational exhibits that will focus on our local anadromous fish.

The day will start with a parade down Pacific Ave. to the site at Tuxedo Court on the Miracle Mile. Beside the educational booths there will be live music, food vendors, a fish tank (for kids) and artisans. At this point the plans include booths from the Department of Fish and Game, US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Delta Fly Fishers have been invited to have a booth or booths at the event. Jim Rich and Rick Greene will be giving exhibitions on fly casting. Herm Spalinger will display his carvings and Joe Balderston will demonstrate fly tying and possibly his Fish-in-Classroom Project. All of our members are ask to take part and make suggestion as to how we can show Stockton who we are and what we are about. It can be a good event for us to attract new members to our club. More on this later.

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