Thanks to Rep. Garamendi for action on appropriations bill

We applaud Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA-3) for his attempt to amend HR 6147, the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2019. Unfortunately, this bill doesn’t just fund various federal agencies, it also contains sections that prohibit lawsuits that seek to stop the Delta Tunnels and could also prohibit groups from bringing suit to stop other damaging water infrastructure projects.

Rep. Garamendi’s bid to amend was ruled out of order, or, as he wrote in an email to constituents, “political speak for ‘we don’t like your idea, so we’re not going to give it a vote.'”

As he writes, “If H.R. 6147 were to become law, it would prohibit lawsuits against nearly all major California water projects, including the twin tunnels.” The bill would empower the California Department of Water Resources to do what they like to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, and denying a day in court to more than 90 parties with lawsuits challenging various aspects of the tunnels, including local governments, water districts, and conservation groups. Other attempts to protect water, such as fighting the raising of the Shasta Dam, would also be imperiled.

You can read Rep Garamendi’s press release here.

Today, Sept. 20, and tomorrow: Two Run4Salmon events

Support the Winnemem Wintu Tribe at the Run4Salmon, “a 300-mile trek that follows the historical journey of the salmon from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the Winnemem (McCloud River) to raise awareness about the policies threatening our waters, our fish, and indigenous lifeways. It’s a dire time in California for wild chinook salmon (Nur) – climate change, giant dam projects and draining rivers for Big Ag irrigation threaten the survival of the keystone keepers of our waters.”

Join the movement to save the Delta and protect the people who depend on it! Restore the Delta plans to participate in the Communities and Issues forum today and the Benefit Concert Wednesday.

Event: When Salmon Speak | Communities and Issues Forum
Date: Tuesday, September 20, 4:00pm-9:00pm
Location: Washington Neighborhood Ctr, 400 16th St., Sacramento
Admission: Free, donations appreciated
More details/Facebook event page

Event: Run4Salmon Benefit Concert
Date: Wednesday, September 21, 6:00pm-11:00pm
Location: Crest Theater, 1013 K St., Sacramento
Admission: Pre-sale $15, At the door $20
More details/Facebook event page

More about the Run4Salmon, visit their website here.

Water releases from Shasta Dam could lead to trouble for salmon

As this story details, this year’s average Sierra snowpack is melting early, raising concerns about the effect of water releases from Shasta Dam on endangered fish.

Farm interests lobbied for water releases in June, which began this week, but will enough extra water be available later in the year to ensure that winter-run salmon can make it up the Sacramento River in the deeper, cooler water they need to survive? Another year of die-offs might mean the extinction of winter run Chinook as a wild species.

Jon Rosenfield, a conservation biologist at the nonprofit Bay Institute of San Francisco, noted that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has confidently increased water releases from Shasta in prior years, only to later fail to hold temperatures down, leading to the loss of nearly all the juvenile Chinook.

“I’m dubious that they actually know they have enough water,” Rosenfield said. “It’s an irreversible thing – once the water is released, it can’t be put back. The damage done to the fish is irreversible, particularly if they go extinct.”

Read the entire story at http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article84891802.html.

Feds give away fish water to same growers suing over Trinity releases

Post by by Dan Bacher cross-posted from fishsniffer.com. Over 60 members of the Hoopa Valley Tribe rallied in front of the federal courthouse in Fresno on August 21 as U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill held a hearing regarding the temporary restraining order obtained.  by Westlands Water District and the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority to block a plan to increase flows on the Trinity River.

They and members of the Klamath Justice Coalition held signs proclaiming, “Westlands Sucks the Trinity Dry,” “Remember the Fish Kill 2002,” “Save the Trinity,” Save the Fish – Release the Dam Water,” and “Un Dam the Klamath.” Wearing bright green shirts stating, “Save the Trinity River,” the Tribal members traced chalk outlines of salmon and people on the pavement showing what would happen to fish and people if the flows aren’t released.

“When the fish are gone, we will be gone too,” explained Dania Rose Colegrove, Klamath Justice Coalition organizer and member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe. Continue reading

Public Shows Overwhelming Opposition to Shasta Dam Raise at Workshop

By Dan Bacher. Crossposted from DailyKos

One thing became became clear from the public workshop regarding the proposed Shasta Dam raise held at the Holiday Inn in Redding on July 16 –  the vast majority of people, ranging from Winnemem Wintu Tribe members to local business owners, oppose the raising of the dam.

When one woman in the crowd asked for a show of hands of those who oppose the dam raise and those who support it, the overwhelming majority of the 250 people in the audience raised their hands in opposition. Only a small number of hands went up in support of the controversial plan. Continue reading

Environmental assessment reveals true costs of Shasta Dam raise

A Water Resources Investigation Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SLWRI DEIS) released by the United States Bureau of Reclamation can not hide the destructive impacts of the proposed increase in the height of the Shasta Dam, argues Friends of the River in a recent briefing. These include the threats it poses to the Winnemem Wintu Homeland for a second time.

The Bureau claims that spending more than a billion dollars to raise Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet will provide additional water that will be used to provide cold water downstream for threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead.

The report ignores the history of the Sacramento River salmon that only began their downward spiral towards extinction when Shasta Dam was completed in 1945, thereby blocking the river’s historic spawning grounds for salmon and steelhead.

It is also contradicted by research, referenced in the DEIS, by a report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that states unequivocally that raising the dam will have negligible benefits for endangered fish. According to the USFWS, the raised dam will provide no fishery benefits 90% of the time. That’s because dams don’t produce water, they simply capture it when rain falls from the sky and flows downhill. If the rain doesn’t fall (as often happens during California’s chronic drought periods), there will be little or no additional water stored behind the raised dam to benefit salmon.

Friends of the River also note that the report reveals the real reason for the dam raise – “every extra drop of water stored behind the raised dam will be sold to federal water contractors downstream, with 77% of the water sold for export south of the Delta.” Which means the Shasta Dam raise is directly tied the proposal by water contractors and Governor Jerry Brown to build enormous twin tunnels under the Delta, which will divert large amounts of fresh water from the Sacramento River (much of it stored upstream behind Shasta Dam) for export to large corporate farms in the San Joaquin Valley and Tulare Basin.

The Winnemem Wintu tribe lost both their villages and many sacred sites when the Shasta Dam was erected. A dam raise of about 18-feet would permanently or seasonally flood an estimated 39 sacred sites along the McCloud River, including Puberty Rock, and would essentially end their ability to practice their culture and religion.