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Conservation

by Ron Forbes

"I don’t lie about the size of fish I catch, I just remember them bigger." ---
Alan De Soma

The Coalition for a Sustainable Delta Vs. DFG, a roll over-settlement

There’s been a settlement reached in the lawsuit between Fish & Game (DFG) and the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta (CSD). This started in 2008 but the final results are still pending. The current settlement hasn’t gone in our favor. It requires DFG to lower the size and increase the bag limits on Stripers, to allow more fish to be caught. The settlement now must go before U.S. District Court Judge Oliver Wanger for its final settlement.

It’s important to note who CSD is and why they have brought this lawsuit. They sound like an environmental group. However, they are anything but a group interested in the Delta’s well-being. It’s comprised of a group of wealthy San Joaquin Valley agribusiness men who belong to irrigation districts. These districts are in the southern San Joaquin Valley and Kern County, not from the Delta. We shall continue to see actions brought against both Federal and State governments, from groups like CSD. Their interests are basically to divert the public’s attention away from the real problems in the Delta, the loss of our Delta’s ecosystem at the expense their diversion of water for use in the south valley. The protection of the Delta is the very last concern of CSD. It’s just another step in their attempt to insure more subsidized water for their subsidized crops. In an article in the Sacramento Bee, Michael Boccadoro of CSD said “We think this is a great settlement to begin to address the issue”. The last thing Boccadoro wants is to have the real issue addressed. Incidentally, it’s estimated that CSD has spent $5 million on this action so far. It’s interesting that a group from Kern County would claim to be interested in Delta fish. Their concern is, of course transparent. Their real interest is getting rid of the Stripers, thereby getting rid of the fishermen. Get rid of the fisherman and to get rid of a source of protection for the fish. CSD and others will have less opposition in their demand for more water from the Delta. Boccadoro’s concern is hardly as noble as he would have us to believe.

As you would expect, Bill Jennings of California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) disagrees with CSD position in this suit. In the same article his comments are that if the Stripers decline, other predators will fill the gap and the results would possibly be far worse on the salmon population than the Stripers. If you want to see what the best scientific opinion is on Striper predation, I suggest you Google Dr. Peter Moyle’s letter to California’s Fish and Game Commission. It’s probably the best science on the subject so far rather than the misinformation that groups like CSD keep claiming to be fact.

FYI: When you read articles in newspapers on the Delta or other articles concerning fish, wildlife and water, don’t take them as fact by rather with a grain of salt. Case in point, the Sacramento Bee article by Matt Weiser. He basically has taken CSR’s position as fact. His article leaves you with the idea that the Stripers are destroying the Salmon population. It shows a lack of research and understanding of Weisner’s on the issues. He also misquoted a Delta guide. After a 15 minute interview with the guide all he quoted was that,” Stripers annihilate salmon.” The guide pointed out that the two species has coexisted for over a hundred years. He also talked about the history of salmon runs, about the crash, DFG’s efforts to restore the salmon populations, etc. But Weiser’s comments were reduced to three words, and he was off 180 ̊.

The next step in the battle over the Striper’s survival, rests in Judge Wanger’s court. Hopefully his decision won’t insure their eradication in the Delta.

The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) does it Again! First, thank you Bruce Rollans for bringing this story to my attention. The cities of Davis and Woodland have received permission from the SWRCB to take 45,000 acre feet per year from the Sacramento River. Up to this point Woodland and Davis have relied on ground water for their water supply. But now, some of the wells can’t be used because they’re tainted. So they’ve turned to the Sacramento River as their water source. The use permit will allow the water to be used for the approximately 120,000 people in the area. The SWRCD permit uses the allocation of 1 acre foot pre 2 families.

In the US, an acre foot is usually defined the amount of water contained in an volume 1 ft. deep, by 66 ft. by 660 ft. or 325,851 US gallons. Another way of looking at the situation is that under the terms of the permit issued to Davis - Woodland each of 120,000 people in those cities area will be allowed 122,194 gallons of water to be drawn from the Sacramento River.

Even though most considered the Sacramento River overdrawn at present, the SWRCB has issued the permit. Due to political pressure they just don’t have the courage to say no. Their action has been described as business as usual by Chris Shutes of CSPA. With all the contracts for water issued by the State to date, the volume of water in those contracts is 8 1/2 times the amount of water available in the State in an average year.
In 2010 the Board released a report which stated the water flow or “Flow Criteria” through the Delta necessary to maintain the health of the estuary. This means the amount of water that isn’t diverted and flows through the Delta to maintain the eco-system in a healthy state. Their report maintains, the flow should be double the present amount available. Unfortunately that report is not binding and is not being followed.

This permit will be the first real litmus test on issues of this nature. It should be noted that all of the Board members were appointed by then Gov. Schwarzenegger with no representation from the Delta. The DWR and SWRCB have historically been very weak in enforcing environmental protection laws. Rather than enforcement of environmental laws and protection of our fisheries they have just looked the other way or given in to the demands. The Board claims the permit won’t harm the environment because Davis-Woodland will have to abide by TERM 91. Under Term 91, the cities will have to find other water sources in dry years, other then the Sacramento River. If the cities can’t use their groundwater and can’t use the Sacramento River, will the Board enforce Term 91? It’s beginning to look like another Delta smelt issue; the only difference being cities taking water for urban use as opposed to south San Joaquin Valley irrigation districts taking water for agribusiness’s interest. However the results will be the same.

Ron Forbes

Conservation

 

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