NEWS WORTH NOTING: Food & Water Watch statement on Metropolitan Delta tunnel revote; Coalition sends letter to AG Becerra to stop rider banning Delta tunnels litigation; Don Portz to lead San Joaquin River Restoration Program; Water and climate report

Metropolitan Water District to Retake Tunnel Vote after Food & Water Watch Calls Out Board Members on Legal Violation

From Food & Water Watch:

The Metropolitan Water District announced today that it will retake a vote on the Delta Tunnels project after a letter from Food & Water Watch and the First Amendment Coalition accused board members of violating the Brown Act. The act was designed ensure that local government agencies conduct business openly and publicly, and that the public has an opportunity to meaningfully engage in the decision of the legislative body. The new vote is set for July 10.

Statement by Brenna Norton, senior organizer, Food & Water Watch 

“Metropolitan’s revote is a tacit admission that they violated the law by making this $11-billion-dollar water deal behind closed doors. After other water agencies refused to invest in the project, Metropolitan, with help from Governor Brown, engaged in back room wheeling and dealing to pressure MWD board members to finance the entire tunnels project, forcing Southern California families to pay nearly double the amount for no additional water. The public and, apparently, those agencies opposed to MWD were locked out of this last-minute discussion.”

Environmental Coalition Sends Letter Asking Attorney General Becerra to Stop Rider that Would Ban Delta Tunnels Litigation

From Restore the Delta:

This morning, an environmental coalition of ten groups sent a letter to Attorney General Xavier Becerra requesting that Mr. Becerra take action to stop a rider that would exempt the CA WaterFix project from judicial review.

The letter was signed by groups including Friends of the River, Restore the Delta, the Center for Biological Diversity, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, the Planning and Conservation League, Sierra Club California, Aqualliance, Environmental Water Caucus, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, and California Water Impact Network.

The rider, written by Congressman Ken Calvert (R-Corona), was included in the draft Interior, Environment, and Appropriations spending budget for Fiscal Year 2019. Yesterday, the bill was approved by the full Interior committee and will head to the House floor at a later, undetermined date.

Yet, the bill will enter the House with a significant change—Representative David Valadao (R-Hanford) added a second rider to the spending bill that would exempt the Central Valley Project and State Water Project from judicial review as well.

Senior Attorney at Friends of the River, Bob Wright said,
“Supporters of the CA WaterFix claim that the project will be good for the environment and improve the San Francisco Bay-Delta. If that were true, there wouldn’t be a legislative effort to undo legal review of this controversial project. The hypocrisy of the Interior committee’s actions shows that this project was not crafted to benefit the environment or the public, but to benefit a margin of our country’s financial and powerful elite.”

“The elimination of judicial review foreshadows a regressive slide from a government controlled by laws to a government controlled by rulers.”

Executive Director of Restore the Delta, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla added,
“Delta communities and the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary deserve equal protection under the law. These blatant attempts to thwart those protections are unconstitutional and immoral.”

Don Portz to lead San Joaquin River Restoration Program for Reclamation

From the Bureau of Reclamation:

The Bureau of Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific Region announced Thursday the selection of Don Portz as the San Joaquin River Restoration Program manager. Portz has been involved with the SJRRP since 2010 and has served as its lead fish biologist since 2015.

“Dr. Portz has extensive experience with the San Joaquin River Restoration Program and many of the stakeholders and partners we work with to accomplish its goals,” said Deputy Regional Director Federico Barajas. “He is the right person to lead the Program at this critical time, as we implement the new framework and the upcoming construction actions expected to begin in 2019.”

Portz began his federal career with Reclamation in 2000 as a fisheries biologist for the Technical Service Center in Denver. In that role, he worked to address fisheries issues throughout the Western United States with a focus on California’s Central Valley. In 2010, he began performing fisheries studies for the SJRRP and collaborating with stakeholders.

Portz has contributed greatly to fisheries research and survival of Chinook salmon at the Tracy Fish Collection Facility, and has been instrumental in the effort to reintroduce spring-run Chinook salmon in the San Joaquin River, where they had been absent for over 60 years

Portz holds a doctorate in fish ecophysiology from the University of California, Davis, a master’s in aquatic biology/fish ecology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a bachelor’s in biology from the State University of New York at Albany.

The SJRRP is a comprehensive, long-term effort to restore flows to the San Joaquin River from Friant Dam to the confluence of the Merced River and restore self-sustaining Chinook salmon populations in the river while reducing or avoiding adverse water supply impacts from those flows.

For more information on the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, please visit www.restoresjr.net.

Water and climate report: Extreme high and low streamflows during May

From the USDA:

The Natural Resources Conservation Service produces this weekly report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S.

Streamflow map of the WestAbundant snowpack, which has persisted all year, combined with very warm temperatures, led to rapid and intense snowmelt in the northern areas of the West during the month of May. Streamflows in this area — including Wyoming, Montana, northern Idaho, most of Washington, and on into southcentral British Columbia — were at very high, often record, levels. This is reflected in the map, where the dark blue points represent the 100th percentile, meaning that this May is the highest flow in the historical record. This extensive and rapid snowmelt led to flooding on several rivers. It also has been a much earlier melt than usual in this region, so that now most of the snowpack is gone, and rivers are receding rapidly. Meanwhile, in the southern parts of the West, May streamflows are at record low levels due to the lack of snowpack throughout the winter.

Click here to read this report.

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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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