PHOTO: Oni Rose Orcutt 4 yo. Hoopa Tri
Member and fishergirl by Vivienna Orcutt
Connecting California’s North Coast Rivers with the thirsty
Ron Stork, Senior Policy Advocate
It’s been a dry year, and there’s trouble brewing along the
Klamath River, a river affected by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath
Irrigation Project and choked by PacifiCorp’s hydroelectric dams. There isn’t
much water in the river downstream, it’s too warm, and the water quality isn’t
good---and there’s a big salmon run coming from the ocean and beginning to
enter the river.
In response, Reclamation is proposing to open the valve at
Trinity Dam to release a little extra water from California’s third largest
reservoir into the Trinity River to cool the water at the mouth of the Klamath.
Unfortunately, the biggest heavyweight among Reclamation’s
customers (the Westlands Water District) has filed a lawsuit claiming injury
and seeking to block the release. You
can read more on their suit here.
The Trinity Dam was the only major Reclamation Central
Valley Project (CVP) dam constructed on California’s north coast rivers before
more were blocked by their inclusion into the state and federal wild &
scenic river systems. It feeds Reclamation’s CVP through a tunnel bored through
the Coast Range so that the Trinity can feed the Sacramento River and the
diverters that use it. But the dam can also allow the waters of the Trinity to
continue to flow downstream and feed the Klamath and the fisheries of both
Whatever the merits of the Westlands lawsuit, it certainly
demonstrates that once even the geographically distant north coast wild &
scenic rivers are hooked up to customers in the Central Valley, the fate of the
river is in question.
Certainly the Westlands lawsuit against Reclamation is a
powerful reminder that it considers the Trinity to be its waters and they will
fight to keep it that way.
And Rep. McClintock’s (R-Elk Grove) effort to remove wild
& scenic river protection from a portion of the Merced River and the
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s legislative agenda to
change state law so that a portion of the McCloud River can be inundated by an
enlarged Shasta Reservoir is another indication that even protected rivers are
under active threat.
As the twin tunnels move forward, proposed to be built to
ease the passage of northern California waters through the Delta to the thirsty
south, it’s worth pondering what will happen to the rivers of California’s
north. Who will be their champion and how strong will their champions be?
Ron Stork, Senior Policy Advocate
Auburn Dam Council Auburn Dam Forum
Earlier this year, the Auburn Dam Council held a Forum as
kind of a pep rally for the Auburn dam.
The last time they did this was shortly after then Rep. John
Doolittle (R-Rocklin) had assumed the chairmanship of the Subcommittee on Water
and Power of the House Natural Resources Committee in 1995. Friends of the
River, of course, attended since we knew that the Congressman would give quite
a stem-winder of a speech.
We weren’t disappointed, and the event proved to be the
kick-off for Rep. Doolittle’s Congressional campaign from a position of power
to get Auburn dam authorized (or reauthorized) and to initiate a “great new
dam-building era” for our country.
Chilling, but we did manage to get some Auburn dam coffee
cups that showed the American River canyons disappearing behind Auburn dam and
reservoir when you added hot water to the cup. Pretty cool.
Well, this time the Auburn Dam Council was more selective
about whom they let in, so we weren’t able to hear dam-builders talk among
themselves and to hear Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove), the new heir to the
Subcommittee chairmanship, give his stem-winder of a speech.
But amazingly, the Auburn Dam Council has its own YouTube
channel now---and they put the Forum on YouTube. So here it is.
And they have refurbished their website too.
If you have quite a few hours to view the videos and browse
the website, you should, but here are some highlights from the video:
Here are some gems from Rep. Tom McClintock’s stem-winder:
- "Self-evident truth" begins with "more water is better than less water."
- Water conservation is bad, abundance is good. Water conservation does not add to the water supply. Storage is good, it does.
- Auburn dam has been obstructed by the wacky environmental left.
- Taking down the Klamath River dams is ludicrous. Fish hatcheries should replace natural river reproduction based on the "principle of rational abundance."
- Auburn dam would pay for itself and should be paid for by the beneficiaries.
- The State Water Resources Control Board's water-revocation decision was "its most infamous act."
- There would be no seismic risk at Auburn dam.
- Auburn dam provides 400-year protection for the Delta.
- We need a future of affordable abundance. That's what Auburn dam is for.
In the Q & A:
- Water projects pay for themselves.
- The Pat Brown big-construction era was a halcyon era, and the water projects were paid for by the users.
- "If [water projects] need to be financed by the taxpayers, maybe that's nature's way of telling us they're not a good idea."
- We've all got to get on our blogs and tell people about all these truths.
Well. That’s quite a speech.
It’s nice rhetoric but the premises were developed in a
fact-free zone. The most obvious question is if the federal water contractors
complain about the pain of paying off the remaining $2 billion of the capital
cost of the Central Valley Project (Friant, Shasta, Trinity, and New Melones
Dams) for seven million acre-feet of water per year, then how much would they
enjoy paying $10 billion dollars for only a couple hundred thousand acre-feet
per year from Auburn dam too. The principle of diminishing returns is a
self-evident economic principle too. And I'm not inclined to rely on the good
Congressman for geology and earthquake expertise. And since when can Auburn
dam, located on one fork of a river that only controls ten percent of the
Sacramento River's watershed, provide 400-year protection for a San
Joaquin/Sacramento River Delta that has its water stages (at least on the
Sacramento side) primarily controlled by sea level?
I think, though, Rep McClintock’s admonition at the end is a
good one. We, too, should be out in the
court of public opinion telling our fellow citizens and decision makers some
self-evident truths as well.
Westlands on dams, tunnels, and canals
The Westlands Water District is the largest Bureau of
Reclamation water contractor, farming the salty, selenium-poisoned, and poorly
drained lands on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley west of Fresno. And
yes, it is politically well connected.
Jason Peltier, its deputy director general manager,
reflected on the District’s priorities. First, build the twin tunnels so that
northern California rivers can be easily diverted into the District’s fields
and California’s thirsty southlands. Only then projects like raising Shasta Dam
(and the Auburn dam) will begin to get their real attention.
Son of SOFAR?
Robert Shibitani has long been a consultant for Sierra
Nevada water districts like the El Dorado Water District, the proponent of the
South Fork American River Project (SOFAR).
He was quite excited to discuss the creation of two hundred
thousand acre feet of “storage” at Kyburz on the American River---and the
Bureau of Reclamation’s support for funding the studies to build it.
What’s up with that? That part of SOFAR died in the 1980s,
and a lot of people were glad it did.
I’m not sure how close to realization Shibitani’s ideas are,
but it does show that the ideas and engineering drawings of the 1940s, 50s, and
60s to put every inch of California’s rivers into reservoirs and penstocks
still remain the aspiration of many of California’s water buffalos.
Get to your river! American River Music Festival, September
The 7th annual American River Music Festival, September
13~14~15, will present over 30 live music performances and by nationally
renowned musicians in 10 locations throughout the friendly river community of
Coloma. Join us for the finest in roots
music in Northern California. You’ll
listen to vintage rock, blues, new and old grass, sweet jam and the finest of
Here’s what folks had to say:
“..what a great vibe at the festival.” – Auburn Journal
“Friendly, Unforgettable” - Mountain Democrat
“Music and Moving Water together in perfect harmony”
“Best Choice for Fun things to do”- Sacramento Bee
This year’s performers include the David Grisman Bluegrass
Experience, Paul Thorn, Sean Hayes, Hot Buttered Rum, Ray Wylie Hubbard, New
Monsoon, Poor Man’s Poison, Trevor Green, Nell Robinson and Jim Nunally, Dead
Winter Carpenters, Evie Ladin Band, Melody Walker, Andra Suchy, Poor Old Shine,
Achilles Wheel Duo, Willie Ames and many more.
The festival offers something for all ages with riverfront
camping, a whitewater river trip, a guided riverfront hike, great kid’s
activities, “live” art, a fun market, jams, dance, join-in-shops, excellent
food and beverages and the famous showcase night.
For tickets, camping info, performer’s bios, the complete
schedule and information about this “celebration of music and moving water” go
to www.americanrivermusic.org or call 530 622-6044.
The festival is the project of American River Music, Inc., a
charitable organization, based in Lotus, with a mission, “to teach, inspire and
enjoy music”. Thanks for supporting live
VOLUNTEER: Participate in the Great American River Cleanup
on September 21st with FOR in Sacramento!
Friends of the Riuver has adopted a one mile segment of the southbank of the lower American River. Join us form 9am to 1pm for a little work pickin up trash and a whole lot of fun. If you are inteested email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|RIVER IN THE SPOTLIGHT: South Fork Tuolumne River
The South Fork Tuolumne River flows from Yosemite National
Park into the Sierra National Forest. After meeting Highway 120, the river
drops more than 3,800 feet through a short but spectacular canyon. Here, the
river forms a series of pools, rapids, cascades, and waterfalls, eventually to
meet the Tuolumne Wild & Scenic River.
Although much of the truly wild canyon of the South Fork is
inaccessible, the upstream and downstream segments offer outstanding recreation.
Rainbow Pool, just upstream of Highway 120 is a popular picnic and swimming
area for day use visitors and the City of Berkeley Family Camp located
upstream. The pool was also the location of an historic stagecoach stop and
At the confluence of the Tuolumne and South Fork are the
popular Lumsden and South Fork campgrounds, which are accessed via the visually
bracing and not-for-the-driving-challenged Lumsden Road. This area is also the
put-in for the Tuolumne’s world famous class IV whitewater run.
The Rim of World Vista on Highway 120 provides outstanding
views of the South Fork’s precipitous drop all the way down to the main stem of
The California Wild Heritage Act proposes to add 3.2 miles
of the South Fork Tuolumne River to the National Wild & Scenic Rivers
|50 WAYS TO SAVE YOUR RIVER: Buy and Reuse a daily water
Buy a reusable water bottle and use it every day. The
production of 1 bottle for water uses 6.74 kilograms of water. This is the
equivalent of 15 pounds of water, which is close to 2 gallons! Imagine if you
drink a bottle every day (way below the recommended amount) that would be 365
days x 2 gallons per bottle= 730 gallons of water a year wasted just in
Visit FOR’s website to learn more about the 50 Ways…to Save
August 23, 2013
Volume 3, Number 8
The Voice of California's Rivers
In this issue
A Thirsty Southland
River Currents by Ron Stork
Get to your river: AR Music Festival
Volunteer: River Clean-up 9/21/2013
River in the spotlight: SF Tuolumne River
50 Ways to Save Your River: H2O Bottle