Water, Water, Everywhere – But is it enough? The debate over how to meet Marin’s water needs

Is a desalination plant the answer to Marin’s long-term water needs? The issue has been the center of a contentious debate for more than two decades. Last August, it finally seemed settled when the Marin Municipal Water District approved construction of a $105 million desalination plant near the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge.

But like a Hollywood script under constant rewrite, the story has yet another twist. In April, after a previous year in which residents cut water use by 8.5 percent and a winter of heavy rains overfilled local reservoirs, the district shelved the desalination project—at least for now.

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Dan Bacher: Groups Blast Farm Bureau for ‘Scorched Earth’ Policy on Shasta, Scott Rivers

Shasta River

The water wars really heated up this week in both the Klamath River and Sacramento River watersheds as agribusiness interests continued their campaign to squeeze every drop of water they could out of two systems where native salmon populations are on the verge of extinction.

On Thursday, May 27, a broad coalition of conservationists, California Indian Tribes and commercial fishing groups slammed a California Farm Bureau attempt to block resource agency requests that irrigators report water use and potentially obtain permits to withdraw water from the Shasta and Scott rivers, two of the Klamath River’s major tributaries.

“The Farm Bureau seems to have adopted a scorched-earth policy here,” said Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), representing commercial fishermen devastated by recent salmon fishing closures. “Water is a public resource that also supports California’s valuable salmon fisheries and all the jobs those salmon support. It only makes sense for a public agency to keep track of the public’s water, and to take steps to minimize the impacts of water diversions on fisheries and other public resources.”

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Frost control regulations still pending

By JUSTINE FREDERIKSEN The Daily Journal

Updated: 05/28/2010 09:27:09 AM PDT

State official says water storage measures are key to preventing future problems with river level

Growers can battle frost on their crops and help prevent future salmon kills in the Russian River by building water storage ponds on their property, said Sean White of the Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District.

“When it freezes, everybody needs water, and the only way to deal with that is to not have everybody on the same source at the same time,” White told a group gathered at a May 25 water rights workshop sponsored by the Mendocino Winegrape and Wine Commission, Mendocino Farm Bureau and the University of California Cooperative Extension.

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Dan Bacher: MLPA Initiative Violates American Indian Religious Freedom Act, UN Declaration

Pomo girl, 1924

by Dan Bacher  

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative has brazenly violated the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, passed by the UN General Assembly in September 2007.   

Passed by both houses of Congress, AIRFA became law on August 11, 1978, spurred by the American Indian Movement’s Longest Walk from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. that year. The act recognized the “inherent right” of American citizens to religious freedom; admitted that in the past the U.S. government had not protected the religious freedom of American Indians; proclaimed the “indispensable and irreplaceable” role of religion “as an integral part of Indian life”; and called upon governmental agencies to “protect and preserve” for American Indians their inherent right to practice their traditional religions….

The MLPA process has violated this historic law by banning the Kashia Pomo Tribe from practicing their religion by gathering seaweed and shellfish and conducting ceremonies at their sacred site, Danaka, in northern Sonoma County. In the Kashia Pomo’s creation story, Danaka (Stewarts Point) is the place where the tribe first walked on land.  

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Fishermen Fear Delta Pump Ruling May Decimate Fall Salmon Run

San Francisco — West Coast fishermen, shut out of fishing for the past two years altogether and granted a 2010 commercial fishery so tiny that most will simply sit it out, fear that a Tuesday night ruling by Fresno-based judge Oliver Wanger could be a serious disaster for the Sacramento River’s fall-run chinook (‘king’) salmon resource.

Sacramento River fall run chinook are the backbone of California’s 150-year-old salmon fishery and a large contributor to Oregon and Washington ocean fisheries as well. Strong runs of Sacramento River fall-run chinooks returned to the Central Valley earlier in this decade – 768,000 adult fish up to 50 pounds each found their way back to Valley streams in 2002.

By 2009 that number had crashed to 39,530 fish, driven down in large part by heavy increases in State Water Project pumping in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

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California (Illegally?) Weakens State Law Protections for Endangered Salmon

Doug Obegi’s Blog

As the Sacramento Bee reported today, the California Department of Fish and Game yesterday issued a determination under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) to allow the State Water Project to kill more threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead.  The request came from the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) on May 24th, even before DWR obtained a federal court injunction against Endangered Species Act protections for these fish through June 15, 2010.  (That’s right – for those who were unaware, the State of California, through DWR, has joined Westlands Water District as plaintiffs suing to overturn environmental protections for salmon and steelhead in California.)

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More water for California

01:26 PM PDT on Friday, May 28, 2010

By JANET ZIMMERMAN
The Press-Enterprise

The state will almost quadruple its take of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta today after a judge temporarily lifted pumping limits, a move that could ease restrictions on Inland residents later this year, officials said.

The state Department of Water Resources is diverting 5,800 cubic feet per second, said Carl Torgersen, chief of operations and maintenance.

That’s up from 1,500 cubic feet per second before the judge’s decision Tuesday; the increase is in effect for three weeks.

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