Wednesday, June 21, 2006

East of the Altamont - Water

The next item in trying to figure out what is going on in San Joaquin County is to consider the question of water. Maybe there is no single question that is more important for the residents of the 11th CD. If you look around the Delta, you may come to agree with the line from Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

“Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink. .”

So, what is the thing about water in San Joaquin County?

According to a recent article in the Stockton Record, they don't do a good job of managing what flows into the river. The City of Stockton decided to contract with a private company to manage water for the City. The company, OMI/Thames had a terrible record in England and has done it again, releasing 8 million gallons of partially treated sewage into the San Joaquin River, needing 10 hours to recognize that it had a problem and then hiding the fact for 3 days before telling anyone.

I was passed a copy of a note from Sylvia Kothe, Chair of both the Concerned Citizens County of San Joaquin and the San Joaquin County Chapter, League of Women Voters. I extracted the following sentence.
CCCoS revealed publically (in two ignored Annual Evaluation Report Cards) to the City Council and the Stockton Record that there were several significant areas of the Service Contract's non-compliance that would be eventually be a contributing factor into showing that OMI/Thames should not be contractual responsible for the maintenance and operation of Stockton's water, wastewater and stormwater systems.

The point here is that the politics of water is as dirty as the water in the San Joaquin River.

Still this does not have anything to do with farming. But the following from the Stockton Record's Mike Fitzgerald does. Fitzgerald wrote his May 03, 2006 Column on the State of river dirty problem.

The ballooning cost of cleaning San Joaquin water is what drove the city to its controversial decision to unload the waterworks on a private company.

And the river is at the heart of the city's downtown and waterfront comeback. Add our responsibility to steward the river's aquatic life, and there are good reasons to get in there and fight.

For starters, take the failure of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Board to enforce the state's clean-water law.

The toothless board is proposing to give ag polluters four more years to gear up for the clean-water law. They propose extending an ag waiver.

But although that appalling idea is coming up for review, the city isn't sending anybody to thunder: "Hey. Make these farmers do their fair share to clean up the river. It's the law." Even though the city bears a tremendous burden to clean their pollutants.

Now, you begin to see where they are connected. The drain from fields carries with it pesticides and high quantities of nitrates that make it very difficult and costly to provide clean, safe drinking water for Stockton.

So, what has our Congressman been doing? Nothing. Nada. Which is just what many in agriculture want him to do.

There is also an environmental issue here. It involves Chinook Salmon and the operation of the Friant Dam. The question involves the release of additional water from Millerton Lake to maintain the flow through the San Joaquin River system. However, any water sent down stream is not water that can be used by farmers, who currently use 95% of the water captured behind Friant Dam. And, the farmers of San Joaquin County don't give a Dam about salmon.

So, Pombo and the rest of the San Joaquin Valley Congressmen want a bigger, higher Friant Dam or they want to build another Dam on the same watershed, both of which have environmental consequences.

There is probably another solution to this. It is to take the voluntary farm associations that are currently trying to monitor the water quality and have them pay for the clean up. If you make it dirty, you clean it up. But, that just makes too much sense.

This is not easy. But, unless a candidate is willing to jump into the fray and talk sensibly about the question of water...water supply for the farmers, clean water for those downstream, we will continue having these problems for a long time to come. There may be no compromise that makes fishing, environmental and agricultural interests all happy.


Blogger Delta said...

Here is a follow up, a press release just in from the Fish Sniffer himself.

Good Morning!

Here's the latest update and action alert on the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board hearing on agricultural waivers. We need a huge turnout there tomorrow!


This Thursday is the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board hearing on the issue of agriculture waivers. We now have over 100 groups opposing the proposed waiver program. We must be present to tell the Regional Board not to allow farmers to pay to pollute!

Now we need to show the Regional Board that California organizations from many different backgrounds and representing many different interests have come together, that we are adamantly opposed to Ag Waivers and adversely impacted by farm pollution.

When you get to the hearing. Look for a grey pickup, parked in front of the entrance, with the Deltakeeper banner. We'll have a sign-in sheet, talking points and comment cards ready-to-go. The press conference is at 9am--so be there by 8:30 am to help us meet critical mass.

We will have carpools going to Rancho Cordova from Stockton Thursday morning, and will be bringing signs, talking points, and refreshments. Bring extra signs and food if you can.

RSVP and call Katie for details at 209 464 5090 or, on that day, call Carrie at 916-952-2185!

Thank you! Carrie McNeil, Katie Hopkins, Dezaraye Bagalayos at Deltakeeper

Action Alert: The Regional Water Board will be voting on another waiver for irrigated agriculture which would allow 8 million acres of farmland to keep polluting our waters with pesticides and fertilizers without any accountability. We are going to the hearing in Rancho Cordova to let the Board know it is time to protect the public's interest--not just the interest of big, corporate agriculture.

We know irrigated agriculture is polluting--the Board's own studies show pesticides rampant in the Delta. We know the "waiver" program that the Board has used the last three years has been a huge failure--just as we predicted it would be.

Regulators can't tell where pollution is coming from, don't know the identities of the farmers in the system and so--nothing is done to make the bad actors change management practices...the result is continued, basically unregulated pollution. The new proposed waiver is even WEAKER.

We're bringing folks from Visalia to Redding from groups representing fishermen, health groups, labor, conservationists, environmental justice groups--many of whom are sacrificing a day's pay to be there. Let us know if you need help organzing your own members, or drafting comments for testimony.

When: Arrive by 8am so the boardmembers will pass through us on their way in. At noon, we'll break for lunch and a press conference. The hearing itself will go til at least early afternoon. If you have to leave at noon, we'll put a note on your comment card.

RSVP: to Katie, katie [at] or 209 464 5090

Your participation is crucial to impacting this nationally-significant
water quality policy. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!


Carrie McNeil and Katie Hopkins
Deltakeeper Chapter of Baykeeper

Bill Jennings, executive director
California Sportfishing Protection Alliance

John Beuttler, spokesman
Allied Fishing Groups

12:24 PM, June 21, 2006  
Anonymous Rocky Balboa said...

Yo Delta!

Rocky here. How are you doin and all dat kind of stuff? Yer OK fer a goil can you can keep up wit us guys.

Dis a good post, but I red in duh paper today dat we're gonna keep havin Dirty Waters in Stock-Town or is it Muddy Waters and I don't mean duh kind dat plays music.

You'd better get yer swimmin in sooner radder den later, cuz duh Delta is about to get doitier and doitier which is duh way friggin ButtaPombO likes it. Duh more duh Delta smells like a ButtWipe duh better fer Pombo and Team ButtWipe, cuz dats duh kinda environment dat makes all of 'em feel most comfortable.

You know what I mean?

Rocky out.

1:04 PM, June 23, 2006  

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