Sierra Club’s Position on the Delta (Twin) Tunnels

Dear Larry,

Every so often, I’ll receive a call or email from a Sierra Club member asking what Sierra Club California’s position is on the proposed Delta tunnels.

The number of inquiries has increased lately because the tunnels have been in the news more than usual.

Let me say at the top: Sierra Club California opposes construction of the two, four-story-high, 35-mile-long underground tunnels to move water from rivers north of the San Francisco Bay Delta to farms and communities south of the Delta.

Largest estuary on the west coast of the continentThe tunnels will divert fresh water away from the 1,100-square-mile Delta, which is an essential ecosystem for hundreds of species of fish, birds and other wildlife.

You can find details about our position on our website, including a white paper produced by our water committee that outlines alternative ways to ensure Californians have clean water and a sound environment without the tunnels.

The latest developments haven’t changed our position. If anything, they have reinforced our view that the expensive (at least $17 billion) twin tunnels represent an outdated approach to solving California’s water challenges, especially in an era of climate change.

The proposal will tie the state’s water system — and ratepayer dollars — to a project that will cause significant environmental harm without delivering significant new water or solving water availability problems around the state. It won’t make our system nimble enough to adapt to the rapidly changing precipitation patterns that climate change delivers.

Following the effort to build a bloated piece of engineering to divert Delta-bound water is about as easy as keeping the characters straight in a classic Russian novel. But if you want to dive into what’s happening now, there are three key things to know.

First, in June, two federal agencies released long-awaited biological opinions about the impacts of the project construction on wildlife and approved permits for the tunnels’ construction. The agencies essentially ignored the best available science that shows that species would likely go extinct. Some of our allies immediately filed lawsuits challenging the agencies’ permit approval.

Second, in July, the California Department of Water Resources — one agency that is responsible for building the tunnels — announced that the environmental impact report required by state law was finished. That represents a significant step designed to clear the way for tunnels construction.

But the reviews didn’t adequately consider a range of issues, including alternatives to the tunnels. Watch for news of lawsuits about that.

Third, in September, the boards of key water wholesalers who have been promoting the tunnels will vote on whether to pony up at least $15 billion to pay for the project. One of those is the Westlands Water District, which represents many large farming corporations in the western San Joaquin Valley. Another is the Metropolitan Water District (MWD), which serves urban and suburban water retailers in Southern California.

The MWD vote is slated for September 26. The district staff has recommended the 38 board members — representing 26 different retail water agencies — commit to raising water rates to finance a project whose details of operation and real costs are still shrouded in mystery.

That’s kind of like asking someone already struggling with debt to take out a giant 5-year-balloon-payment loan on a 7,000-square-foot fixer-upper, sight unseen, a month before the housing market crashes. It’s not likely to have a happy ending and the ratepayers — people like you — and the environment will suffer while the agency heads walk away unscathed.

The list of recent and upcoming events doesn’t end there. But this is enough to give you a flavor of the current complexity of the public elements of the distraction known as the tunnels.

The effort to stop the tunnels and force water agencies to update their approach has been multi-layered and spread around the state. Local chapter volunteers have been heroes as they make sure the environment has a voice at local water agencies contemplating positions on the tunnels.

If you want to help fight the tunnels and become a local hero, let us know by filling out our volunteer form online. Be sure to note on the form that you’re interested in fighting the tunnels.

Sincerely,
CHP_SCC_Kathryn Phillips Signature
Kathryn Phillips
Director

Defend the Clean Water Rule

On June 27, 2017, the Trump administration officially proposed to dismantle the Clean Water Rule. This would remove protections of the Clean Water Act for half our nation’s streams, which help provide drinking water to 1 in 3 Americans.

The proposal is now officially published in the federal register. Comments must be received on or before August 28, 2017.

Stand together with other local watershed groups nationwide by signing onto this letter to oppose this rollback of protections for our waterways and our drinking water.

Help tell the story of the importance of the Clean Water Rule by contributing a story and a photo to Clean Water Network’s interactive story map. Email a submission or questions to kwilliams@environmentamerica.org

You can find more tools to take action here.

Thanks,

Kimberly

Defend the Clean Water Rule–take action here.

On June 27, 2017, the Trump administration officially proposed to dismantle the Clean Water Rule. This would remove protections of the Clean Water Act for half our nation’s streams, which help provide drinking water to 1 in 3 Americans.

The proposal is now officially published in the federal register. Comments must be received on or before August 28, 2017.

Stand together with other local watershed groups nationwide by signing onto this letter to oppose this rollback of protections for our waterways and our drinking water.

Help tell the story of the importance of the Clean Water Rule by contributing a story and a photo to Clean Water Network’s interactive story map. Email a submission or questions to kwilliams@environmentamerica.org.

You can find more tools to take action here.

Thanks,
Kimberly

Comment Period Extended by SCWRCG to Aug. 1st for Bacteria Provisions of Water Quality

To All,

Please consider commenting on the State Water Board’s plan to protect state waters from bacteria pollution. Your comment can be a simple statement of concern or as detail as you want from reading the plan below or from other sources.

You can mail it by post to the address given below or by email, info@waterboards.ca.gov

Larry

PROPOSED PART 3 OF THE WATER QUALITY CONTROL PLAN FOR INLAND SURFACE WATERS, ENCLOSED BAYS, AND ESTUARIES OF CALIFORNIA—BACTERIA PROVISIONS AND A WATER QUALITY STANDARDS VARIANCE POLICY
AND
PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO THE WATER QUALITY CONTROL PLAN FOR OCEAN WATERS OF CALIFORNIA—BACTERIA PROVISIONS AND A WATER QUALITY STANDARDS VARIANCE POLICY

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) will receive public comments on the proposed Part 3 of the Water Quality Control Plan for Inland Surface Waters, Enclosed Bays, and Estuaries of California—Bacteria Provisions and a Water Quality Standards Variance Policy and the Proposed Amendment to the Water Quality Control Plan for Ocean Waters of California—Bacteria Provisions and a Water Quality Standards Variance Policy (hereafter Bacteria Provisions), and the Draft Staff Report, including the Draft Substitute Environmental Documentation, for the Bacteria Provisions (hereafter Staff Report).

NOTICE IS ADDITIONALLY HEREBY GIVEN that State Water Board staff will hold a staff workshop to provide the public an opportunity to discuss the Bacteria Provisions and the Staff Report. Discussion of the Bacteria Provisions primary elements will assist the public with formulating written comments and assist staff in appreciating the public’s comments. A quorum of Board members may be present; however, no Board action will be taken. The staff workshop will be:

1 Notice of Filing submitted under California Code of Regulations, title 23, section 3779.

Monday, July 10, 2017

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Joe Serna Jr. – CalEPA Headquarters Bldg. Sierra Hearing Room
1001 I Street, Second Floor Sacramento, CA 95814

At the staff workshop, staff will present information related to the Bacteria Provisions.

NOTICE IS ADDITIONALLY HEREBY GIVEN that the State Water Board will hold a public hearing to receive public input and comments on the Bacteria Provisions and the Staff Report. A quorum of the State Water Board may be present; however, no Board action will be taken. The public hearing will be:

Tuesday, July 18, 2017August 1, 2017 9:30 a.m.
Joe Serna Jr. – CalEPA Headquarters Bldg. Coastal Hearing Room
1001 I Street, Second Floor Sacramento, CA 95814

Additional information on the hearing in Sacramento can be found at the State Water Board’s website at http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/board_info/calendar/.

THE BACTERIA PROVISIONS

The Bacteria Provisions, if adopted, would apply to fresh, estuarine, and marine waters; include revised indicator organisms [Escherichia coli (E. coli) and enterococci]; establish a risk protection level; and include new bacteria water quality objectives for the protection of Water Contact Recreation (REC-1). The Bacteria Provisions also include elements necessary for bacteria control implementation including reference beach and natural source exclusion approaches, high flow suspensions, seasonal suspensions, and designation of Limited Water Contact Recreation (LREC-1). In addition, the Bacteria Provisions identify an existing mechanism for adopting water quality standards variances for pollutants and waterbodies.

Beneficial Use
A beneficial use definition for Limited Water Contact Recreation (LREC-1) waters is included in the Bacteria Provisions. This beneficial use definition recognizes that body contact is limited in a waterbody due to physical conditions, such as restricted access and very low water depths.

Water Quality Objectives
New statewide bacteria water quality objectives for REC-1 waters are needed to update the current bacteria objectives in Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board) Basin Plans to be consistent with U.S. EPA’s 2012 Recreational Water Quality Criteria recommendations. The Bacteria Provisions will ensure that bacterial objectives for REC-1 waters are based on the most recent science and are consistently updated statewide.

The Program of Implementation
The Bacteria Provisions include the following implementation provisions within the context of a Total Maximum Daily Load:

  •   Reference System/Antidegradation approach.
  •   Natural Sources Exclusion approachThe Bacteria Provisions include policies supporting:
  •   High Flow Suspension of the REC-1 beneficial use.
  •   Seasonal Suspension of the REC-1 beneficial use.Water Quality Standards Variances
    The Bacteria Provisions identify the mechanism for adopting a variance to allow for additional implementation actions applicable to all pollutants and water segments consistent with 40 Code of Federal Regulations section 131.14.DOCUMENT AVAILABILITY

    The Bacteria Provisions, Staff Report, and other information will be available on the State Water Board’s website on June 26, 2017 June 30, 2017 at: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/bacterialobjectives/.

    You may request a paper copy of the proposed Bacteria Provisions by calling Stephanie Rose at (916) 341-5574 or via email at Stephanie.Rose@waterboards.ca.gov, Michael Gjerde at (916) 341-5283 or via email at Michael.Gjerde@waterboards.ca.gov, or Nick Martorano at (916) 341-5290 or via email at Nicholas.Martorano@waterboards.ca.gov.

    PROCEDURAL MATTERS

    At the July 18th public hearing, there will be no sworn testimony or cross-examination of participants. However, the State Water Board and its staff may ask clarifying questions. At the hearing, participants will be given an opportunity to summarize and supplement their written materials with oral presentations. To ensure a productive and efficient hearing in which all participants have an opportunity to participate, oral presentations may be time-limited. For other presentation recommendations go to: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/board_info/meetings/board_presentations.shtml.

    The State Water Board will schedule a meeting subsequent to the public hearing at which it will consider adopting the Provisions.

    SUBMISSION OF WRITTEN COMMENTS

    State Water Board staff will also accept input and recommendations through written comments. Written comments must be received no later than 12:00 noon on Friday, August 11, 2017 Wednesday, August 16, 2017 and addressed to:

    Jeanine Townsend, Clerk to the Board
    State Water Resources Control Board
    P.O. Box 100, Sacramento, CA 95812-2000 (mail)
    1001 I Street, 24th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814 (hand-delivery)

Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary

You are receiving this email because in the past you have expressed interest in the expansion of the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. NOAA is soliciting comment on National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine National Monuments designated or expanded since April 28, 2007, during a 30-day public comment period, which opened on Monday, June 26, 2017. NOAA is seeking comments to assist the Secretary of Commerce in his review under Section 4(b) of the Presidential Executive Order (EO) 13795 “Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy” signed April 28, 2017. There are a total of six National Marine Sanctuaries and five Marine National Monuments under review (please see the table below).

​NOAA is asking for comments on the criteria outlined in Section 4(b)(i) of Executive Order 13795:

An analysis of the acreage affected and an analysis of the budgetary impacts of the costs of managing each National Marine Sanctuary or Marine National Monument designation or expansion;
An analysis of the adequacy of any required Federal, State and tribal consultations conducted before the designations or expansions; and
The opportunity costs associated with potential energy and mineral exploration and production from the Outer Continental Shelf, in addition to any impacts on production in the adjacent region.
You may submit comments identified by docket ID NOAA-NOS-2017-0066 by one of the following methods:
Electronic submissions: Beginning Monday, June 26, the option to submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov enter NOAA-NOS-2017-0066 in the “Search” box, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
Mail: EO 13795 Review, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring Metro Campus Building 4 (SSMC4), Eleventh Floor, 1305 East West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.
​Thank you for your interest in the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. For more information, please visit the websites below or contact Willilam Douros (William.Douros@noaa.gov, 831-647-1920).
Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Website: http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/about/executive-order-13795.html
Federal Register Notice: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/06/26/2017-13308/review-of-national-marine-sanctuaries-and-marine-national-monuments-designated-or-expanded

National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine National Monuments Under Review Pursuant to EO 13795, Sec. 4(b)

Maria Brown
Superintendent

Health of California’s Streams, Rivers, and Lakes

To All,

Are our streams and rivers healthy?  Below is a link to a government site that gives general and specific information on this subject with links to specific databases on California’s streams.

http://www.mywaterquality.ca.gov/eco_health/streams/index.html

Larry

Save the date: Citizen lawsuit webinar on 6/27!

WHO: Speakers will include Heather Govern from the National Environmental Law Center and Whitey Markle from the Suwannee/St. Johns Sierra Club Group.

WHAT: An educational webinar on how to use the Clean Water Act to file and win a citizen lawsuit!

WHEN: Tentative date is Tuesday, 6/27. Time will be confirmed at a later date.

WHY: For environmental advocates to learn how to hold polluters accountable and win legal battles! The Clean Water Act has a provision that allows citizens to file lawsuits against polluters. Attend our webinar to learn how you can utilize this legal tool. The webinar will provide you with legal information, a recent example of a successful lawsuit, and the opportunity to connect with local advocate Whitey Markle.

Please feel free to share this event with your coalition members and RSVP here to receive login information for the webinar.

Response to Sapping the Well

To All,
Paso Robles has been dealing with heavy water issues also as many of you know. National Geographic is filming a great story of their area right now. Financiers/vulture capitalists have been buying up vineyards for the water rights, wine grapes are just the window dressing, and selling it back to the residents. The rush to construct vineyards there left many wells dried up and the huge vineyard owners drilled deeply which home owners could not afford to do. It caused a real estate downfall and the supervisors enacted a moratorium on irrigated vineyards for 2 years then extended for another year.

WWW (Wine & Water Watch) has this on their website, www.winewaterwatch.org.  View the video short, pretty shocking…. it could happen here in a heart beat. A few years of drought is all it takes.

Janus

Join “Enhancing Groundwater Recharge with Stormwater” May 30th

To All,

Join the California Water Boards for an engaging conversation on “Enhancing Groundwater Recharge with Stormwater” with Andrew T. Fisher, Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, UC Santa Cruz.

This event will be held on Tuesday, May 30, 2017 from 130pm to 230pm at 1001 I Street, Sacramento, CA 95814 (Klamath Room) and via webcast.

Stormwater is an under-utilized resource in California that has become increasingly important as demand for freshwater increases, land use and vegetation shifts, and precipitation becomes more intense.  The recent drought has exacerbated water management challenges in California, but has also provided rare opportunities through groundbreaking policy initiatives, such as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Professor Fisher, along with his students and colleagues, seek to investigate the potential of stormwater to address California’s water management challenges through several projects related to Managed Aquifer Recharge.

“Enhancing Groundwater Recharge with Stormwater” is part of the Water Boards’ STORMS SEMINAR SERIES and is free to attend.

Additional information is available in the attached flier.

STORMS_speaker series5-30-2017-flier2

My Comments Regarding Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Threat

To All,

I submitted these comments using the link provided in the previous posting on the threat to the Cascasde-Siskiyou National Monument.

In this time of Climate Change (many scientists would characterize this as Climate Crises and Global crises), we need to protect forests for its watersheds, fish, and air quality. This benefits agriculture and the community as well as all public trust issues. To do otherwise only benefits a narrow few with with short term profits that create downstream expense and destruction for everyone else.

Larry