March 2010

Stuart Leavenworth: Why can’t Corps of Engineers leave our trees be?


Three condemned prisoners are waiting to be executed by a guillotine: a priest, a lawyer and an engineer.

The priest is first in line. The warden puts the priest’s head in the guillotine and pulls the lever, but nothing happens. The warden suspects that the blade has malfunctioned because of divine intervention. So he lets the priest live.

The warden then places the lawyer’s head securely in the guillotine and pulls the lever. Again, nothing happens. The warden sees this as a sign that a beheaded lawyer will result in a costly lawsuit. So he lets the lawyer live.

Then the engineer’s head is placed in the guillotine. The warden’s about to pull the lever when the engineer interjects: “You know what, warden? I think I know how to fix your problem.”

I mention this joke about engineers (told to me by an engineer) because it illustrates a couple of points:

• Engineers often have a sense of humor.

• Some of them become so fixated on the task at hand that they miss the larger picture.

This latter group apparently occupies high offices at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. How do I know this? Because the corps continues to push policies that could lead to clearing of trees along our rivers and streams in the Central Valley.

Click here to read more on Sac Bee website

 March 22, 2010

Stunning images of some of the world’s rarest freshwater resources as seen from space. The European Space Agency produces another series of compelling photographs of Earth’s water bodies as seen from space, including the Ganges River in the Himalayas as well as the Fox Basin in the Canadian Arctic. They chart the history and flow of water on the blue planet, in many cases highlighting the intersection of climate change and water scarcity.

Click here to see the images on Circle of Blue Water News website

There is a cool graphic if you link back to the story…! – Jeremy

The world is covered in oceans, rivers and lakes, but when we look at how much actually makes it to our faucets, it only amounts to around 0.08%. When we account for what water is fresh, and in the ground table, and not being used for agriculture or industry, and not too polluted to drink, there just isn’t much left.

Knowing our water footprint – especially when it comes to the food and products we buy – has never been more important. It’s no wonder water footprint labeling and water accounting has been a topic of interest among businesses lately.

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Science panel says Delta pumping restrictions are justified in California

By Matt Weiser and Michael Doyle

A high-level science panel Friday concluded that federal rules that limit water diversions from the Delta to protect endangered fish are “scientifically justified,” dealing a blow to south state water interests that had hoped the review would punch holes in the rules.

The panel of 15 experts was appointed by the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, in response to a formal request from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and the Interior Department. They made their request at the urging of water users – particularly San Joaquin Valley farmers – who say the federal restrictions on pumping in the Delta are ruining them financially.

Called biological opinions, the federal rules regulate how much water is diverted south from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, depending on the needs of salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and Delta smelt. State and federal water pumps in the Delta suck fish to their deaths and alter their habitat. The regulations aim to limit those effects by reducing pumping at certain times of year, depending on where the fish are.

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Report on Calif. Bay-Delta Water & Environmental Management – Release March 19

The National Research Council will hold a one-hour telephone news conference Friday, March 19, to release a new report requested by Congress and the U.S. Department of the Interior that evaluates actions proposed by two federal agencies in the California Bay-Delta to protect endangered and threatened fish species.

In 2008 and 2009 respectively, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service issued “biological opinions” under the Endangered Species Act that contained Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives (RPAs) requiring actions to reduce the adverse effects of water diversions on delta smelt, Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, and green sturgeon. Those actions included restrictions on diverting water during certain periods, depending on environmental conditions.

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FLCR’s own Jim Marsh wrote the following Letter to the Editor, published in the Record on March 17, 2010


We must care for our water

The Feb. 24 Record article “Fish find spawns debate” was interesting, but I’d submit that the guiltiest among those most responsible weren’t even mentioned.

Kevin Kauffman maintaining that “the Calaveras River can’t support the type of flows (fish experts) think it needs” is probably dead-on accurate. In fact, he and the Stockton East Water District board are basically just doing the job they are mandated to do – providing a reliable source of water for east county farming interests and Stockton residents.

The majority of farmers in our county are excellent water stewards. There is much we could learn from them.

I wonder just how far short SEWD would estimate Calaveras flows fall from a level that would support ag plus residents plus fish. How much would each SEWD water user – other than ag – need to conserve to help close that gap? Were city residents educated and strongly motivated to become better water stewards, might there be a real hope of reaching a sustainable flow beneficial to all?

Eldridge Cleaver said it well: You are either part of the problem or part of the solution. And I’ll bet he’d agree – when it comes to this fish story – with Pogo Possum: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Flow a milestone for thirsty river

By Alex Breitler

Record Staff Writer

March 17, 2010 12:00 AM

The San Joaquin River is flowing from Friant Dam near Fresno to the Delta, a symbolic milestone in a process to restore the normally dry stream.

The fact that it’s news that a river runs from the mountains to the sea says something about the history of the San Joaquin.

The last time this happened was 2006, but only because officials were desperately trying to flush swollen Central Valley streams and prevent a flood.

This is the first time in more than a half-century that the river has flowed uninterrupted in a non-flood year, officials said. The river apparently connected with itself late last week at the confluence of the Merced River.

“Dead and buried rivers don’t usually come back to life. This is an important moment,” said Bill Jennings, head of Stockton-based California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.

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