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Related Categories: California | Environment & Forest Defense | Government & Elections
Trump shows his ignorance of CA water - and contempt for West Coast fisheries, Delta
by Dan Bacher
Monday Aug 6th, 2018 5:29 PM
Actually, the water in the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and their tributaries isn’t “being diverted into the Pacific Ocean,” as Trump claims. In fact, the water flows naturally into the Delta, Suisun Bay, San Francisco Bay and then the ocean outside of the Golden Gate.
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In a tweet today, Donald Trump showed his ignorance of California water and geography while advocating for increased diversions of Northern California water to his corporate agribusiness backers in the San Joaquin Valley.

Trump stated, “Governor Jerry Brown must allow the Free Flow of the vast amounts of water coming from the North and foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean.”

Actually, the water in the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and their tributaries isn’t “being diverted into the Pacific Ocean,” as Trump claims. In fact, the water flows naturally into the Delta, Suisun Bay, San Francisco Bay and then the ocean outside of the Golden Gate.

The water is not “wasted,” as agribusiness promoters of the Delta Tunnels, Trump and their allies in Congress contend. In fact, the mixing of freshwater flows and saltwater creates the basis for a rich web of life that since time immemorial has nurtured West Coast Chinook salmon, steelhead, green and white sturgeon, California halibut, crab, anchovy, herring, sevengill shark, sixgill shark, leopard shark, brown smoothhound shark, lingcod, rockfish and many other fish and invertebrate populations.

The estuary is also essential as a residence, spawning ground, nursery and migratory corridor for Delta and longfin smelt, striped bass, largemouth and smallmouth bass, channel and white catfish and other fish species. The estuary’s marshes also sustain a vast array of migratory birdlife, including sandhill cranes, ducks, geese and other species.

Trump, showing even more ignorance about California water, claims that the water "can be used for fires, farming and everything else." 

Actually, vast amounts of water every year are diverted through the state and federal pumps in the South Delta through the California Aqueduct and the federal Delta Mendota Canal to corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, oil companies conducting fracking and other extreme extraction methods and Southern California water agencies. 

In fact it was Governor Jerry Brown, who Trump addresses in the tweet, who presided over record water exports out of the Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas, in 2011. The annual export total was 6,678,000 acre-feet of water in 2011, 208,000 acre-feet more than the previous record of 6,470,000 acre-feet set under the Arnold Schwarzenegger administration in 2005.

The total includes 4.003 million acre-feet through the Banks Pumping Plant of the State Water Project (SWP), 2.570 million acre-feet through the Jones Pumping Plant of the Central Valley Project (CVP), 69 thousand acre-feet through the Contra Costa Canal (CVP) and 37 thousand acre-feet through the North Bay Aqueduct (SWP).

During California’s record drought, massive water diversions continued under Jerry Brown, President Obama and then President Trump to meet corporate agribusiness’s massive expansion of almonds and other export crops in drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. To read about California’s expansion of almond acreage during the drought, read my 2015 piece in the East Bay Express: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/

With the increased water diversions, Delta smelt, Chinook salmon and other fish species. have collapsed to record low population levels. For example, between 1967 and 2016, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Fall Midwater Trawl (FMWT) abundance indices (combined September, October, November and December surveys) for striped bass, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, American shad, splittail and threadfin shad have declined by 99.4, 98.0, 99.9, 90.9, 100.0 and 94.8 percent, respectively, according to Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, in his testimony before the State Water Resources Control Boat (CSPA 231) this March: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/...

“Taken as five-year averages (1967-1971 vs. 2012-2016), the declines for striped bass, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, American shad, splittail and threadfin shad are 99.2, 98.1, 99.8, 86.3, 98.0 and 94.5 percent, respectively,” said Jennings.

Trump’s absurd statement, “ Think of California with plenty of Water — Nice! Fast govt. approvals,” is in stark relief to the actual on-the-ground reality. In reality, California salmon, Delta smelt and other fish populations have declined dramatically over the five decades because of increasing water exports out of the Delta. “Plenty of water” — millions of acre feet — is being diverted out of the Delta and Northern California rivers, including the Trinity-Klamath River system, to sate the insatiable green of corporate water contractors.

Economically valuable salmon populations, including fall, late fall, winter and spring-run Chinook salmon populations have also collapsed, due to water exports, combined with declining water quality and poor management of upstream dams and reservoirs by the state and federal governments.

Only 1,123 adult winter Chinook salmon, once one of the biggest salmon runs on the Sacramento River and its tributaries, returned to the Sacramento Valley in 2017, according to a report sent to the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). This is the second lowest number of returning adult winter run salmon since modern counting techniques were implemented in 2003, undercut only by the 824 that returned in 2011, according to he Golden Gate Salmon Association.

The estimated run back in 1969 was 117,000, but had plummeted to around 200 fish by the late 1980s.

During a public comment period before the State Water Board this February, Pennie Opal Plant of Idle No More SF Bay urged the board to reject the petition required to build the California WaterFix, a massive water grab being promoted by Governor Jerry Brown in collaboration with the Trump administration. She eloquently stated the real impact that the Delta Tunnels will have on the Delta and web of life.

“I am a signatory to the Indigenous Women of the Americas – Defenders of Mother Earth Treaty Compact 2015. We can’t live without water and neither can our non-human relatives. The WaterFix is a water theft. You cannot approve the WaterFix,” urged Plant.

”From my heart to yours, especially to the women, our babies swim in the seas of our wombs. Please protect this water and the life that lives inside of our bellies. Please protect this sacred system of life that swims in the Delta. If we don’t protect the Delta now, it’s going to be damaged beyond the capability to maintain human and non-human life. It’s up to us,” she stated.

The bottom line: Trump is promoting water policies that will result in the destruction of West Coast fisheries, the San Francisco Bay and Delta, Delta farms and businesses, California tribal water rights, environmental justice communities and the public trust.

Trump needs to sit down and read a few of my articles and those of other investigative journalists to leave the world of fantasy and to see what is really going on in California water and the environment.