Friday, April 4, 2014

As the Fallout Continues... Will the Wars of the Future Be Over Water?

Not a lot of beaver news to talk about today, some news got us a little depressed at southland beaver... but ultimately we need stories like these to galvanize us.

This Just In... State and Federal Officials Announce Increased Delta Pumping to Occur to Capture Runoff from Recent Storms c/o Maven's Blog

Mark Cowin, Director of the Department of Water resources:

"Before we get into this specific action, just a couple of words on where we stand this year in terms of water supply.  Water conditions in general, as you know, today is the day of our April 1st snow survey.  I haven’t got all the information back from that survey yet, but suffice it to say that February and March storms have probably kept us from breaking records for historic drought this year, but they certainly haven’t rescued us from the drought.  We’re probably tracking somewhere in the range of the sixth, seventh or eighth driest year on record...."

"This latest action we wanted to brief you on today is the result of the extensive discussion among the Department of Water Resources, US Bureau of Reclamation, National Marine Fisheries Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife over the course of the last week or so.  Yesterday we took action to take advantage of the water runoff we’re seeing from recent storms, and DWR and Reclamation asked the NMFS to adjust one of its measures within the set of rules that come from the Endangered Species Act known as the biological opinion that would have gone into effect on April 1."

(this is not an April Fool's joke btw)

"So in an exchange of emails yesterday, NMFS officials concurred that this temporary adjustment to the inflow/export ratio won’t jeopardize listed salmonids and is consistent with the federal Endangered Species Act.  And during this period of time when this adjustment is in effect, another flow requirement that restricts the level of reverse flows in the Old and Middle River channels in the Delta, it’s called OMR, those restrictions will govern pumping levels over the course of the coming days and provide minimum protections for all fish species currently making their way through the Delta."

An exchange of emails, this is where we are at with the Endgangered Species Act these days. Water management- fast and loose.

Chuck Bonham, Director of the California Department of Fish and Game

"After a few quick thoughts of mine, we’ll turn to Q&A.  I’ve said to some of you before that in my opinion, we’re going to make it through this period because we’re working together, and if you are keeping track, since about the end of January, the five agencies, the two federal fish and wildlife agencies, and my department as well as the two water supply agencies have collaborated to manage at least half a dozen changes which allow us to achieve additional flexibility while still remaining within the boundaries of the existing and applicable laws and regulations.
On the state front, under the state Endangered Species Act, typically what happens is the DWR will consult with my department; my department has the benefit of the NMFS or USFWS findings about the proposed changes pursuant to the federal biological opinions and our department will review and then concurs that the findings are consistent with coverage under the California Endangered Species Act. We know right now that we’ve got most of our major fish species in or about the reach the Delta, and at the same time that we know these are our last likely major rainstorm events which matter a lot for water supply.
To be blunt about it, on every decision we’re making here, some constituents will believe we did not go far enough and other constituents will believe we went too far, and I think that’s a reflection of the challenge and the circumstances we’re in.
So with that …"

I am just going to leave it at that. That republican guy who hosted a Delta Smelt BBQ is probably happy but probably still wants a little more water. For his chia pet.

Who turned off the water? 180 steelhead left to dry and die in Hilton Creek...

Geez well that is kind of a bummer, I was just up there on the Santa Ynez. Hilton creek is sort of the tribute creek given over the steelhead because Lake Cachuma swallows up all the previous good habitat for the fish upstream. And so to compensate for that loss Hilton creek is pumped with enough water to provide year round cool flows furnishing supposedly up to 1000 fish. That is all fine and dandy except when the pump either breaks or PG&E shuts off the power.

Cachuma managers have gone to considerable expense and trouble to make Hilton Creek a perpetual Deltopia where steelhead can get hot and bothered all the time. They say their efforts have paid off, claiming 1,000 steelhead call Hilton Creek home. So they’re not buying the Bureau of Reclamation’s “accidents happen” defense. That’s in part because there have been eight, the first taking place October 25, 2012, the most recent, last Wednesday morning. To get steelhead in the mood, the Bureau of Reclamation pumps just enough water down a half-mile stretch of Hilton Creek to make their pheromones dance. The Bureau is supposed to have two pumps, just to make sure there are no problems. Turns out the backup pump doesn’t work at all and the main pump works only most of the time. But on eight occasions, the pump malfunctioned, the water stopped flowing, and the steelhead were stranded in mud. A couple of instances involved planned power outages that PG&E has announced in advance. In other instances, the pump just shut down. It’s twitchy and temperamental, it turns out, and only needs an uneven surge of power to shut down. (Nick Welsh, Santa Barbara Independent)

Sheesh. Face Palm. Double Face Palm.

One Big Ol' Steelie (Northern CA or Oregon likely)

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