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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: California | Central Valley | Environment & Forest Defense | Government & Elections
Folsom Lake and American River threatened by twin tunnels plan
Folsom Lake hosts a naturally spawning king salmon population, as well as abundant populations of spotted, largemouth and smallmouth bass, rainbow trout and channel catfish. The American River below the dam hosts a unique urban fishery for king salmon, steelhead, striped bass, American shad and other species that would be devastated if the peripheral tunnels are built.
The American River is the crown jewel of the Sacramento metropolitan region. Sammy Yoro, Jr. of Watsonville holds up two winter-run steelhead typical of those that ascend the American River every year. Photo by Dan Bacher.
Folsom Lake and American River threatened by twin tunnels plan
by Dan Bacher
Monday, November 4 was a big day for opponents of Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels.
Placer County officials held a press conference on the bed of Folsom Lake criticizing the unpopular plan at the same time that nine elected leaders, a top economist, and water experts told "The Real Delta Story" at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, addressing the impacts of the proposed water export tunnels on the region.
Also on the same day, Nimbus Fish Hatchery officials opened the fish ladder so the first batch of fall run Chinook salmon on the American River could enter the facility to be spawned.
The Placer County leaders criticized the current BDCP and urged state leaders to modify it so it "doesn’t just benefit one part of the state," according to Placer County on-line. (http://placercountyonline.com/2013/placer-leaders-highlight-dangers-bay-delta-conservation-plan-sacramento-region/)
Officials fear the plan will result in the export of more Folsom Lake water to corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, leaving the Sacramento area with a virtually empty Folsom Lake.
“We need a strategy for the entire state, a plan that benefits everyone so that all Californians can prosper,” said Assemblywoman Beth Gaines, R-Rocklin at the press conference.
“Unfortunately the reliable water supplies our region has come to know are in jeopardy," noted Gaines. “In its current form, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan shows no plan to address how the state will prevent Folsom Lake from reaching extreme low levels.”
Roseville Mayor Susan Rohan, Placer County Supervisor Kirk Uhler, Roseville Vice Mayor Carol Garcia, Placer County Water Agency Directors Gray Allen and Robert Dugan and officials from the San Juan Water District joined Gaines in criticizing the tunnel plan.
For the “Sake of the Lake” is a regional effort co‐founded by the City of Roseville and San Juan Water District, organized through the partnership dubbed “Protect Our Folsom Water,” to “bring to light the importance of Folsom Lake to the region.”
The news conference kicked off a week of outreach efforts by the group including: partnerships with local school districts, educational programs and afterschool centers to educate children about the importance of the lake; electronic and social media outreach to target regional water users, and; support from business owners who rely on water supplies for the success of their businesses.
The state's most recent draft of the BDCP shows the lake will drop to ”dead pool, a virtual dry lake to water providers and at least once every ten years due to climate change,” the group said.
A depleted Folsom Lake will also threaten American River king salmon and steelhead populations that need abundant, cold water from Folsom Lake to survive.
“What the BDCP doesn't show, however, is how the state will work to prevent this from happening - something they say they'll address,” according to the group.
"We need state leaders to address this issue with a sound operational plan that provides water supply reliability for the entire state," noted Roseville Mayor Susan Rohan. "We cannot stay silent on this issue until we have solid assurances that our region's water supply will not be compromised. We are eager to work with the Governor and state officials to develop solutions to these complex water challenges and provide certainty that the water supply needs of all Californians will be met."
"Folsom Lake directly supplies water to over half‐a‐million people and serves another half‐million people as its water supplies travel down the American River," according to ProtectOurFolsomWater.com. "It's a recreational beacon to the region and the second most visited park in the state parks system. The lake is also a driver of the Sacramento economy. Without its reliable water supplies development, existing industries and businesses will be crippled."
Folsom Lake hosts a naturally spawning king salmon fishery, as well as abundant populations of spotted, largemouth and smallmouth bass, rainbow trout and channel catfish. The American River below the dam features a unique urban fishery for king salmon, steelhead, striped bass, American shad and other species that would be devastated if the peripheral tunnels are built.
Organizations signing letters or resolutions of support for the effort to prevent more Folsom Lake water from being exported south include the County of Sacramento, Sacramento Suburban Water District, Sacramento Metro Chamber, Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Regional Water Authority.
"This isn't just about the BDCP," added Gaines. "This is about a smart solution to a problem that is all too familiar to our state: getting water to those who need it without hurting those who have it. All of California deserves reliable access to water supplies. But the state has to develop a plan to make sure one region won't suffer to benefit another."
The State Water Contractors disagreed with Gaines and other officials that the BDCP will deplete Folsom Lake's water level.
"The results show that BDCP actions do NOT have any material effect on future upstream reservoir levels," the association claimed. "However, the analysis does show that potential changes in climate would have an effect on upstream reservoir levels. That is a concern for us all, but to suggest that BDCP is putting Folsom Lake in jeopardy is simply not true." (http://www.swc.org/in-the-news/delta-doozy)
Yet the association and other BDCP advocates have failed to point out one single example, in U.S. or world, history of where the construction of a major diversion tunnel or canal hasn't resulted in the diversion of more water out of an ecosystem and the destruction of that ecosystem.
To learn more, visit ProtectOurFolsomWater.com and sign up to take the pledge to protect Folsom Lake and American River water supplies from the construction of the twin tunnels.
Coalition Members Tell The 'Real Delta Story'
On the same day, nine elected leaders, a top economist, and water experts told "The Real Delta Story" at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, addressing the impacts of the proposed water export tunnels on the region.
A little more than a month before the Brown Administration releases its water export plan, the experts addressed its impacts on water quality, agriculture, fisheries, farming and the ecosystem of the Delta.
Speakers included John Herrick, attorney and water expert; Dr. Jeff Michael, University of the Pacific Economist; Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, Restore the Delta Executive Director; Larry Ruhstaller, San Joaquin County Supervisor (District 2) and Chair of the Delta Protection Commission; Ken Vogel, San Joaquin County Supervisor (District 4) and Chair of the Delta Conservancy; Rogene Reynolds, Farmer in the South Delta.
Stockton City Councilmember Kathy Miller (District 2) moderated a panel of legislators who represent the heart of the Delta including: State Senator Lois Wolk (District 3); Senator Cathleen Galgiani (District 5); Assembly Member Susan Eggman (District 13); Assembly Member Jim L. Frazier, Jr. (District 11); Assembly Member Kristin M. Olsen (District 12); Assembly Member Mariko Yamada (District 4).
"We certainly have the science and the facts on our side," said state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, one of the state Legislature's most outspoken Delta defenders, according to the Stockton Record. "We have the cost and financing and economics on our side. What we're really going to need to do is form alliances and reach out and persuade others. Our success will be dependent on that." (http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20131105/A_NEWS/311050320)
The Brown administration continues to push the $54.1 billion peripheral tunnel boondoggle even when all of the science indicates that the construction of the tunnels would hasten the extinction of the Central Valley Chinook salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other species while imperiling salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers. The tunnel will deliver massive quantities of water to corporate agribusiness interests irrigating drainage-impaired, selenium-laced land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.
For more information and action alerts, go to http://www.restorethedelta.com