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Oni Rose Orcutt Hoopa Tri Member and fishergirl

PHOTO: Oni Rose Orcutt 4 yo. Hoopa Tri Member and fishergirl by Vivienna Orcutt  

Connecting California’s North Coast Rivers with the thirsty south

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.
South Fork TrinityThe 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 rivers.
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
River Currents
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.
Auburn Dam sketchChilling, 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.
Auburn Dam $10 BillionIn 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?
For a more learned discussion on the economic principles of expanding freshwater supply, the Pacific Institute's paper on "peak water" is a better picture of reality. And you may wish to review Friends of the River’s history of Auburn dam too. Stories based on reality are more meaningful.
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.
delta 1-2013Westlands 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?
capra coloma snowRobert 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.

armftwlghtGet to your river! American River Music Festival, September 13~14~15
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 folk.
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” -Submerge Magazine
“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 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 music!!!

Sacramento River CleanupVOLUNTEER: 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

T4RIVER 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 former resort.
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 Tuolumne.
The California Wild Heritage Act proposes to add 3.2 miles of the South Fork Tuolumne River to the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System.
Sink drain50 WAYS TO SAVE YOUR RIVER: Buy and Reuse a daily water bottle.
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 production.
Visit FOR’s website to learn more about the 50 Ways…to Save Your River!

   August 23, 2013
Volume 3, Number 8
The Voice of California's Rivers
Since 1973
In this issue

A Thirsty Southland
River Currents by Ron Stork 

Get to your river: AR Music Festival
: River Clean-up 9/21/2013
River in the spotlight: SF Tuolumne River
50 Ways to Save Your River: H2O Bottle

CRA 2013 Homepge

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