News Worth Noting: State legislators push for increased water flows; Public meeting on proposed closure of part of Sacramento River; Corps to place water against auxiliary spillway control structure; New PPIC briefing on water

Bipartisan Coalition of Legislators Join Vidak’s Push for Increased Water Flows

Stop Flushing Millions of Gallons of Storm Water out to Sea

From the website of Senator Andy Vidak:

vidak“Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford), and a bipartisan coalition of state legislators, sent the following letter to the state and federal water agencies expressing the critical need for increased water flows, rather than wasting millions of gallons of storm water:

January 25, 2016

The Honorable David Murillo, Regional Director
Bureau of Reclamation
2800 Cottage Way
Sacramento CA 95825-1898

The Honorable Felicia Marcus, Chair
State Water Resources Control Board
1001 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Director Murillo and Chairwoman Marcus,

We write today regarding the recent determination by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service which ultimately resulted in the curtailment of water exports from the Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta.  This decision will only leave us in a position where we must watch millions of gallons of additional storm water rush out to the ocean every minute since we are not able to capture any portion of it under this order.

Last year the State Board worked with the Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources to temporarily allow for increased pumping from the delta following times of high inflow into the delta following a storm.  This approach allowed for us to capture water runoff associated with winter storms while maintaining the delta ecosystem.

While recent storms have helped to partially and temporarily ease the drought conditions facing our state, California is nowhere near the amount of snowfall and rain that we would need to end the drought.  To help prepare us for the dry summer months we request that the Bureau of Reclamation and State Board work towards enacting a policy that would allow for increased exports from the Delta during periods of high Delta inflow due to recent storms.

While such flexibility will not solve the drought, any additional water will help to stretch the amount of water that we have available in our reservoirs for the times of the year when those resources are truly needed.  We stand committed to working with your agencies to address this issue.”

For a copy of the signed letter, click here.

Public Meeting to be Held on Proposed Closure of Part of Sacramento River

From the Department of Fish and Wildlife:

dfw logo“The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is holding a public meeting to solicit comments on a proposed emergency fishing closure of 5.5 miles of the Sacramento River above the Highway 44 Bridge in Redding to the Keswick Dam. CDFW has determined this closure is necessary to protect endangered winter-run Chinook salmon. The anticipated dates of closure are April 1 through July 31.

The meeting will be held Friday, Jan. 29, from 4-5:30 p.m. at the Redding Public Library, 1100 Parkview Ave., Redding (96001).

“Because of the drought, we had to close the river last year to save as many of these fish as possible,” said Lt. Richard Wharton, CDFW Law Enforcement supervisor in Redding. “The great news is we had widespread cooperation from Shasta County anglers, who clearly demonstrated they care about this dwindling species.”

CDFW is proposing a complete fishing closure in this critical holding and spawning area to ensure added protection for the federal and state endangered winter-run Chinook, which face high risk of extinction. Given the gravity of the current situation, it is imperative that each and every adult fish be given maximum protection. Current regulations do not allow fishing for Chinook, but incidental catch by anglers who are targeting trout could occur.

An additional measure taken was an agreement with the city of Redding to reduce the amount of artificial light from the Sundial Bridge during the critical stages of salmon migration. The bright lights were causing the fish to stop their journey at the bridge; by dimming the lights, city officials removed the deterrent while still sufficiently illuminating the bridge for tourists.

“We appreciate the city stepping up to help conservation efforts by lowering the lights on one of the city’s most popular attractions,” said Neil Manji, CDFW Northern Region Manager. “In our studies we found that once the light levels came down, the fish immediately swam under the bridge on their way to the sea.”

This reach is the principal winter-run Chinook spawning area during these extraordinary drought conditions. An estimated 98 percent of 2014 and 2015 in-river spawning occurred in the 5.5 mile stretch under consideration for closure. This section represents only 10 percent of the waters currently open to fishing upstream of the Red Bluff Diversion Dam.

In 2014 and 2015, approximately 95 percent of eggs and young winter-run Chinook were lost due to elevated river temperatures. Given current drought conditions, it is likely the 2016-year eggs and young salmon will again be subject to extremely trying conditions.

CDFW is tasked by the Governor to work with the California Fish and Game Commission to determine whether fishing restrictions in certain areas are necessary and prudent as drought conditions persist. The proposed closure is also in accordance with the state and federal Endangered Species Acts.”

Corps to place water against auxiliary spillway control structure

From the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

Army Corps Logo“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its contractor Kiewit Co. are moving forward with the next milestone at the Folsom Dam auxiliary spillway project in Folsom, California, by placing water against the auxiliary spillway control structure.

The process, known as impoundment, is expected to begin Wednesday morning and will continue until lake water reaches equal elevation on both sides of the temporary construction cofferdam, which is expected to take about 24 hours.

Eight pumps will push water from the reservoir into the approach channel and against the control structure through two 24-inch pipes, each capable of pumping up to 16,000 gallons per minute.

This first fill against the auxiliary spillway control structure is a significant milestone for the project, indicating the auxiliary spillway is much closer to becoming operational.

Kiewit reinforced the temporary construction cofferdam last week following the discovery of a leak that partially filled the approach channel construction area. Stabilizing the leak allowed crews to safely remove construction machinery and materials that were abandoned upon discovery of increased seepage. The Corps and Kiewit continue to constantly monitor the temporary construction cofferdam to ensure personnel safety.

The temporary construction cofferdam was put in place to help conduct construction activities under dry conditions rather than in-the-wet. Removal of the temporary structure was expected to occur by Feb. 8, 2016; however, it was decided to begin the impoundment process and remove it sooner.

The auxiliary spillway project, or Joint Federal Project, is being constructed in partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation under the Corps’ Folsom Dam Modification Project, to implement dam safety and flood risk reduction features at Folsom Dam and associated facilities to help prevent catastrophic flooding in the Sacramento region. The auxiliary spillway is on track for completion, within budget, in October 2017.”

New PPIC publication:  California’s Future: Water

From the Public Policy Institute of California:

PPIC logo good“California is pursuing major reforms on many fronts, including health care, corrections, and K–12 education. But the state faces a wide array of challenges, from housing costs, to climate change and water management, to higher education funding. Policymakers—including California’s voters—need more and better information about the future consequences of policy choices made today. This multi-topic publication highlights the state’s most pressing long-term policy challenges in several key areas. …

California has made progress on water management. Population growth and climate change are likely to intensify the challenges, and solutions will require difficult and sometimes costly tradeoffs.

Click here to read the report on water.  Click here for the full briefing.


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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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