Reclamation will hold public meeting in Chico on plan to increase Delta water exports

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Responding to a phone call and email campaign by AquaAlliance, the Bureau of Reclamation has decided to hold a public meeting on the Trump administration plan to increase water exports from the Delta to “maximize water deliveries” on January 25 from 6 pm to 8 pm at Bell Memorial Union, CSU Chico, CA.

Bureau of Reclamation’s project coordinator, Katrina Harrison, announced:

“In response to your comment, Reclamation has scheduled a scoping meeting in Chico, California regarding the Revisions to the Coordinated Long-Term Operation of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project, and Related Facilities. 

What: Public Input on the Revisions to the Coordinated Long-term Operation of the CVP and SWP and Related Facilities
Where: Room 210, Bell Memorial Union, CSU Chico, West 2nd St, between Hazel and Chestnut
When: Thursday, January 25, 6pm to 8pm
Why: To inform the alternatives and topics to be addressed in this programmatic Environmental Impact Statement”

On December 29, the Bureau of Reclamation announced it will conduct an environmental analysis of potential modifications to the operation of the Central Valley Project (CVP), in coordination with California’s State Water Project, to “maximize water deliveries” and “optimize marketable power generation.”

In other words, the Trump administration wants to increase water exports to San Joaquin Valley agribusiness interests at a time when the Delta smelt are near extinction and winter-run and spring-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species are struggling to survive after decades of massive water deliveries.

“The CVP is a major water source for agricultural, municipal and industrial, and fish and wildlife demands in California,” according to Reclamation. “State and federal regulatory actions and other agreements have significantly reduced the water available for delivery south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. This project will evaluate alternatives to restore water supply in consideration of all of the authorized purposes of the CVP.”

The proposal to export more water to corporate agribusiness interests couldn’t occur at a worse time, with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reporting the lowest ever number of Delta smelt ever counted during its fall 2017 midwater trawl survey.

Only two Delta smelt were collected at Delta index stations in October. One was from Suisun Bay and the other from the confluence of Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, reported James White, California Department of Fish and Wildlife environmental scientist, in a memo.

The Delta smelt is an indicator species that demonstrates the health of the ecosystem. If the Delta can no longer support the Delta smelt in the wild, Chinook salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and other fish species will also disappear.

Reclamation, headed by Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman, is the lead federal agency and will request other agencies to participate as cooperating agencies. Reclamation is seeking comments by Feb. 1, 2018, that will be used to develop alternatives to the proposed action. Public scoping meetings will be scheduled for mid-January.

Here is the information on the two public meetings that Reclamation has scheduled to receive oral or written comments:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 16, from 6-8 p.m. at the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, 842 Sixth St. in Los Banos
  • Tuesday, Jan. 23, from 2-4 p.m. at the Stanford Room, 650 Capitol Mall in Sacramento

Written comments are due by close of business, Feb. 1, 2018, by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to Katrina Harrison, project manager, Bureau of Reclamation, Bay-Delta Office, 801 I Street, Suite 140, Sacramento, CA 95814-2536; fax 916-414-2439; or email [email protected]. For additional information, please contact Harrison at 916-414-2425 (TTY 800-877-8339).

A Notice of Intent to prepare an environmental impact statement in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), “Revisions to the Coordinated Long-term Operation of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project, and Related Facilities” was published in the Federal Register, Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 and can be accessed at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/current#reclamation-bureau.

For more information on the collapse of Delta smelt and other fish species, go to: www.dailykos.com/…