A Superior Court Judge ruled in early April that the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) failed to fully analyze the potential impacts on the Mokelumne River of the District’s water supply plan and Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The Judge ordered the district to reanalyze its plan to more fully identify the potential impacts of the plan’s proposed enlargement of the existing Pardee Reservoir, which threatens to drown a portion of the Mokelumne River recommended for Wild & Scenic River protection.
The lawsuit was filed by Friends of the River, Foothill Conservancy, and the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. The conservation groups were concerned that Pardee enlargement would harm the Mokelumne’s Wild & Scenic values and drown popular kayak runs and recreation access facilities on the river, including the Middle Bar Bridge. In addition, expansion of the reservoir threatened Miwok Indian cultural sites and since reservoir expansion requires removal of the Middle Bar Bridge, the plan also blocked an existing wildfire emergency evacuation route needed by local residents.
Judge Timothy Frawley agreed with the conservation plaintiffs that EBMUD’s EIR “failed in a number of respects to adequately analyze the potential impacts of, and alternatives to” Pardee expansion. Judge Frawley declared the Middle Bar kayak run to be a “significant recreational resource” that Pardee expansion would eliminate. According to the judge, the EBMUD EIR “failed to acknowledge this potentially significant impact.”
The conservation groups also argued that EBMUD failed to fully consider viable water supply alternatives to the Pardee expansion, including joining in the Contra Costa Water District’s proposed expansion of the existing Los Vaqueros offstream storage reservoir. Judge Frawley agreed that the EBMUD “EIR's alternatives analysis is deficient because it eliminated the Los Vaqueros Reservoir project and failed to consider a reasonable range of alternatives.”
Unfortunately, the court ruling is simply a procedural victory. EBMUD may, and in fact, was directed by the Court to address the EIR failings by preparing and re-circulating a new EIR for public comment. Friends of the River and the other conservation groups hope to convince EBMUD to simply drop the Pardee expansion from its future water supply portfolio. In addition, Friends of the River and its allies intend to redouble lobbying efforts to secure federal Wild & Scenic River status for the Mokelumne, which would permanently protect this magnificent river for current and future generations.
In-River Gold Mining Rush Rejected By Senate Committee
A key policy committee in the California Legislature rejected an attempt in April by Senator Ted Gaines to repeal the current moratorium on destructive suction dredge mining on California rivers. The Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee voted 5-2 to reject the bill, which also proposed to delay completion of a court-mandated environmental analysis of suction dredging until January 2012.
Friends of the River and other conservation groups argued that repealing the moratorium would allow suction dredge mining to disrupt critical habitat for endangered salmon and other fish and wildlife, as well as contribute to the decline of commercial and sport fishing jobs. In addition, suction dredging mobilizes poisonous mercury left in the riverbed from past mining activities, threatening downstream water quality and human health.
Friends of the River and other groups secured the legislative moratorium on this polluting mining technique in 2009, when it became clear that the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) was delinquent in developing new regulations intended to protect fish and wildlife, water quality, and human health.
In the meantime, DFG is still seeking public comments in response to its draft suction dredge mining regulations and updated Supplement Environmental Impact Report (SEIR). The comment period on the draft regulations and SEIR has been extended to May 10, 2011. A number of public hearings held around the state have been heavily attended by miners, complaining vociferously about the perceived infringement on their mining rights.
Californians who appreciate clean rivers and healthy fish need to urge DFG to prohibit suction dredge mining on rivers that provide critical habitat and potential restoration segments for threatened and endangered fish and wildlife species. Mercury-impaired rivers or rivers that feed into mercury-impaired water supply reservoirs should also be closed to suction dredging. In addition, suction dredging should be prohibited on Wild & Scenic Rivers and Wild Trout Streams, and in State and National Parks.
If you haven’t already submitted your comments on the suction dredge regulations and SEIR, you may do so by <clicking here>.
Visit Your River
See The Magnificent San Joaquin River Gorge Before They Drown It
Former Sierra Club Executive Director David Brower called Glen Canyon on the Colorado River "The Place No One Knew" because it was buried under the Glen Canyon Reservoir before few people had the chance to explore it. Don't let the San Joaquin River Gorge suffer the same fate from the proposed Temperance Flat Dam and Reservoir!
Come explore this beautiful and wild river canyon and learn how you can help prevent its destruction in a car camping and hiking trip on May 7 and 8, 2011, jointly sponsored by Friends of the River and the Sierra Club California/Nevada Wilderness Committee. Enjoy the long, mild, flowery days of early May in the lower Sierra Nevada to explore the site of a proposed (totally unnecessary) dam on the San Joaquin River – the infamous and intemperate Temperance Flat Dam. Participants will car camp in the BLM's San Joaquin River Gorge Recreation Area and hike down into the gorge on Saturday and Sunday. Participants should bring their own camping and hiking gear. The San Joaquin River Gorge is about 45 minutes northeast of Fresno in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Space is limited so to reserve your space today, call or email Steve Evans at Friends of the River; (916) 442-3155 x221, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The proposed Temperance Flat Dam will drown the scenic San Joaquin River Gorge under a stagnant reservoir. The dam is one of the surface storage projects that could be funded by the passage of the $11 billion water bond on the November 2012 ballot. The project is currently under study by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which estimates that the dam could cost as much as $3 billion. Depending on the size and location of the dam, its reservoir would drown thousands of acres of public lands in the Gorge, along with two existing PG&E power plants, which makes this project a net power loser. Ironically, the proposed dam’s contribution to the state’s water supply will be miniscule, making the dam an expensive and ineffective solution to the state’s water needs.
Help us save YOUR river and meet our online goal for April! Our April goal is $12,000 - we have raised $7,950 so far! Your help today can get us over the top and make the difference for the river you love.
ALL WELCOME! Friends of the River would like to cordially invite you to participate in our annual river Conservation Leadership Workshop. These workshops are open to anyone who is interested in exploring how you can help your River! Rivers are facing serious threats from new dams, diversions, and more. Now is the time to get involved to keep our rivers free flowing for all to enjoy and thrive. Questions? Please email Jonathan at email@example.com. RSVP is required - click on either date to sign up.
From its sources in the Sierra's Mokelumne and Carson-Iceberg Wilderness areas, the North Fork Mokelumne flows into Salt Springs reservoir. Below Salt Springs dam, the North Fork flows past scenic Calaveras Dome and several popular campgrounds. Here, the river canyon is studded with impressive granite rock formations and building-size boulders. This mid-elevation river segment is a popular destination for campers, swimmers, rock climbers, and anglers.
Beyond its confluence with the Bear River, the North Fork enters a truly wild canyon dominated by the brooding prominence of Devils Nose Peak. This virtually trackless river canyon is noted for its old growth forests, mid-elevation oak and riparian woodland, great natural bio-diversity, and wild trout fishery. When Salt Springs dam overflows during high water years, this segment of the North Fork also offers a class III-V wilderness whitewater boating experience that is unparalleled in the central Sierra.
A water leak can seem like such a little thing, little and annoying, but is that leak really no big deal? A small leak adds up quickly - a leak as small as 1/16 inch in diameter wastes over 800 gallons a day. A large leak (1/4 inch in diameter) up to 13,000 gallon a day or 1.18 million gallons in just three months. If you have a water meter, you can determine if you may have a leak pretty easily. First pick a 2-hour window when you know you won't be using water, check the reading on your water meter at the start and at the end of that two hour period. If the meter shows no change - your set, no leaks - however if the meter shows a different number - you have a leak!
If you do have a leak - check your faucets and taps first (inside and outside) sometimes just a new washer will stop the drips. After the taps, check your sprinkler system (if you have one), toilet (put food coloring in the tank and see if you get color in the bowl), and then if the leak can't be easily found contact a plumber for professional assistance. Water leaks not only waste our rivers - they cost you money if you pay a metered water rate or not.
To Visit FOR's River Action Center - click below.
Save a River
Build FOR's American River pages and online presence!
FOR needs help building content and gathering photos for our American River pages on our website. We are looking for pictures of people enjoying the American as well as great nature shots. On the content side, we are looking for more details such as suggested hikes, fishing spots, etcetera… On the presence side - we need volunteers to claim and build social networking pages for FOR. To volunteer contact Johnnie at firstname.lastname@example.org
PHOTO: Sunset in the upper Mokelumne watershed.
Got a photo to share? We need your help to get the word out about rivers...we want local photos, writers, and news items. To submit stories, photos, river outings, or river saving tips for the River Advocate email us at: email@example.com