Response to Sapping the Well

To All,
Paso Robles has been dealing with heavy water issues also as many of you know. National Geographic is filming a great story of their area right now. Financiers/vulture capitalists have been buying up vineyards for the water rights, wine grapes are just the window dressing, and selling it back to the residents. The rush to construct vineyards there left many wells dried up and the huge vineyard owners drilled deeply which home owners could not afford to do. It caused a real estate downfall and the supervisors enacted a moratorium on irrigated vineyards for 2 years then extended for another year.

WWW (Wine & Water Watch) has this on their website,  View the video short, pretty shocking…. it could happen here in a heart beat. A few years of drought is all it takes.


Join “Enhancing Groundwater Recharge with Stormwater” May 30th

To All,

Join the California Water Boards for an engaging conversation on “Enhancing Groundwater Recharge with Stormwater” with Andrew T. Fisher, Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, UC Santa Cruz.

This event will be held on Tuesday, May 30, 2017 from 130pm to 230pm at 1001 I Street, Sacramento, CA 95814 (Klamath Room) and via webcast.

Stormwater is an under-utilized resource in California that has become increasingly important as demand for freshwater increases, land use and vegetation shifts, and precipitation becomes more intense.  The recent drought has exacerbated water management challenges in California, but has also provided rare opportunities through groundbreaking policy initiatives, such as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Professor Fisher, along with his students and colleagues, seek to investigate the potential of stormwater to address California’s water management challenges through several projects related to Managed Aquifer Recharge.

“Enhancing Groundwater Recharge with Stormwater” is part of the Water Boards’ STORMS SEMINAR SERIES and is free to attend.

Additional information is available in the attached flier.

STORMS_speaker series5-30-2017-flier2

My Comments Regarding Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Threat

To All,

I submitted these comments using the link provided in the previous posting on the threat to the Cascasde-Siskiyou National Monument.

In this time of Climate Change (many scientists would characterize this as Climate Crises and Global crises), we need to protect forests for its watersheds, fish, and air quality. This benefits agriculture and the community as well as all public trust issues. To do otherwise only benefits a narrow few with with short term profits that create downstream expense and destruction for everyone else.


Russian River Estuary/Low Flow Meeting, May 15, Monte Rio

Hi River Lovers!

There is a very important meeting this Monday night (May 15th) on the Estuary Project at the Monte Rio Community Center from 6 pm to 7:30.  Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) will give updates on their studies.  Supervisor Hopkins will also be there and the meeting will include time for public comment.  We hope you will attend; showing community interest is critical.

While the meeting is supposedly about the Estuary Project (maintenance of a sand bar to retain a closed mouth) it is ultimately about low flow also.  In order to try to sustain a closed mouth, low flow is the management tool to make it happen.  (The theory is the less water at the mouth, the less pressure there is for the sand bar to break open.)  The Water Agency has also claimed to be concerned about flooding properties in the Estuary that could force them to breach the river mouth.  The Estuary Project is only in effect between May 15 and October 15 and here are project facts not presented in local media and SCWA publicity:

• In the seven years of attempting this project, it has worked only once for one week (June 2010): for this we have paid with seven years of summer low flow.
• SCWA breaching and closure events (July-August only) are as follows:
• No July-August closures or breaches in years: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014, and 2015.
• No August closures or breaches in years: 1999, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2016.  (Single August closure between 2001 and 2016 was in 2004.)
• SCWA breached the mouth in August only 3 times in 1995 and 1997 and none after that.
• July closures took place in 2004, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2016 for a total of 44 days over 16 years (average of 2.75 per year). Of those years, only breach by SCWA was in 2008.
• Numerous times when flows were low (August, 2009 for instance) but mouth did not close.  Closures are usually a result of ocean conditions, not river conditions.

Some Biological Opinion (BO) assumptions about mouth activity may have been valid many years ago, but for the last 15-20 years, conditions appear to have changed and many of the BO assumptions are turning out to no longer be valid.  Yet they are invested in this low flow plan to our detriment.  We don’t know how this will end up, but we suggest you ask the Water Agency questions about July/August mouth closures, breachings, and flows.  Also ask what buildings have flooded in July/August in the last 20 years (We think the number is NONE!)

Finally, the Estuary Project DEIR clearly stated that SCWA can do the Estuary Project WITHOUT low flow.

Hope you can attend.  If you can’t go and want to send a note about your concerns and/or questions: contact Ann Dubay at   or me at email address below.

Hope to see you Monday night!   PLEASE PASS THE WORD!


Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Threat and Action

Greetings to All,

Just hours ago, the Trump Administration formally started their process to gut protection for the spectacular Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

Help us protect the Monument! For this Monument and every other of the 27 monuments under attack by Trump, please take action now.

The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is a gem of biodiversity at the intersection of the Cascades, Siskiyous, and Klamath Mountains. The richness in species is without equal. It is a recreational haven for wildlife viewing and hiking, including a stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail. It is an important study area for scientists and students alike. For communities like Ashland and Talent, residents marvel at the lovely green mountains that surround our valley.

It is NOT a place for more industrial logging, mining, or drilling.

The Trump Administration claims there has been little local support the Monument. Hardly! Hundreds of residents turned out at multiple public meetings, and more than 4,000 sent in letters of support to the Department of Interior.

We need you to speak up for the Cascade-Siskiyou.

There’s a 60-day comment period to hear from supporters like you who want the Monument to remain protected.

The timber industry and their lobbyists are pushing to gut the Monument’s protection. The Trump Administration needs to hear from you, as someone who supports protecting public lands.

This is Trump’s first attack on the Klamath-Siskiyou. Let’s show him we can fight back, because we love where we live and will defend what we love. Please submit your comment letters and share this alert on social media.

We refuse to lose our Monument.

For the Wild,

Joseph Vaile, Executive Director
Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center

Re: Drought to Deluge

To All,

The “tunnel transportation solution” is simply another promotion for transporting more water from Norther California to Southern California. Jerry Brown is from Southern CA and the primary political clout in CA seems to reside in Southern CA.

Personally, I think it was a big mistake to reverse the water conservation measures that the State had imposed during the most recent drought period.

Before I moved out of San Jose, at least 75% of the neighbors on our street (and the adjoining streets in our neighborhood) let their lawns die and they converted to drought-tolerant plantings with drip irrigation.During my visits to LA I have not seen the same efforts to reduce their water consumption.

My opinion is that, in general, Southern CA thinks there is an unlimited bank of water from Northern CA that they are entitled to use since we are all part of CA.


Some folks like the tunnel transportation solution.  I’m not nearly so enthusiastic as some folks in the southland.


It is time to learn a lesson from these folks:  Every crisis is an opportunity.  Now is the moment to holler loud and clear “It is not the dam (damn) infrastructure, it is the transportation infrastructure that must be changed to avoid carbon dioxide pollution.”

Notice “California water officials have been discussing how warming will affect the state’s water system. Now some officials believe they will have to change the infrastructure — such as building or raising dams and constructing two giant tunnels underneath the confluence of the state’s two largest rivers — to deal with more precipitation falling as rain and snow melting more quickly.”

They never give up, do they?


California Water Commission Launches DPR Grants

The California Water Commission is now accepting applications for the Water Storage Investment Program. The application period will be open from March 14, 2017 to August 14, 2017.

The Commission recently launched an Application Resources page which contains a link to the Department of Water Resources submittal site GRanTS, a web-based tool for managing funding applications and related documents, as well as documents that will provide applicants with program requirements and important information.

The Application Instructions and “From Concept to Application – Considerations for Applicants” documents have been attached above.

To further assist potential applicants, the Commission has scheduled an application assistance workshop on March 30, 2017, at 9:30 a.m., in the Klamath hearing room on the second floor of the California Environmental Protection Agency located at 1001 I Street, Sacramento. The Commission will schedule additional webinars, targeting specific application elements, to further assist applicants.

For more information about the California Water Commission, please visit our website at:

Clean Water Act Protections

The Waters of the United States rule affects every tributary of every stream related to an external drainage system, including wetlands, in the whole US. 
I don’t see how EPA can roll it back — at least not without submitting the proposal to review it to public comment! 
The rule was created by EPA AND the Army Corpse after the Supreme Court Rapanos decision, which required a full definition of the “Waters of the United States” to include the doctrine of “significant nexus,” which means that a water body had to have some relationship to a navigable water system. The drafts of this rule were openly circulated and reviewed and commented on from 2013 to 2015, and it should not be re-reviewed or rewritten until it has a chance to be fully tested – 5 years at least. The rule does not apply to ditches, and it does not do away with the system of permits that farmers can apply for under a wide range of circumstances, for disposal of some runoff types. I listened to one of the online seminars, which fielded hostile questions from farmers, which were driven by the attitude that “nobody in government should be able to tell me what to do on my land”… even if it could damage other waters or downstream lands.  
We have to weigh in on this, because it is certainly needed to address the huge volume of pollution that drains from central-states farms into the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, and create dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico. It will certainly bear on water quality in California streams, lakes, and wetlands, and any coastal waters and lands that they drain into.
I wrote a comment letter on this for SCWC in 2014, and am happy that one of the issues we raised (see the 3rd bullet below) did get enough support to be included. I did not like the limitation of the significant nexus rule, which makes sumps out of internal drainages (of which the western states have many), but protects many important wetlands in areas that have nexus to external drainages. This includes the Laguna de Santa Rosa
Sonoma County groups need to quickly prepare a letter defending this rule (and Clean Water rules in general), to try to derail this attempt to muddy the waters once again. Literally.
From the EPA website:
What the Clean Water Rule Does

EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finalized the Clean Water Rule to clearly protect the streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources. Protection for many of the nation’s streams and wetlands has been confusing, complex, and time-consuming as the result of Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006. The Clean Water Rule ensures that waters protected under the Clean Water Act are more precisely defined, more predictably determined, and easier for businesses and industry to understand. Specifically, the Clean Water Rule:

  • Clearly defines and protects tributaries that impact the health of downstream waters. The Clean Water Act protects navigable waterways and their tributaries. The rule says that a tributary must show physical features of flowing water – a bed, bank, and ordinary high water mark – to warrant protection. The rule provides protection for headwaters that have these features and science shows can have a significant connection to downstream waters.
  • Provides certainty in how far safeguards extend to nearby waters. The rule protects waters that are next to rivers and lakes and their tributaries because science shows that they impact downstream waters. The rule sets boundaries on covering nearby waters for the first time that are physical and measurable.
  • Protects the nation’s regional water treasures. Science shows that specific water features can function like a system and impact the health of downstream waters. The rule protects prairie potholes, Carolina and Delmarva bays, pocosins, western vernal pools in California, and Texas coastal prairie wetlands when they impact downstream waters.
  • Focuses on streams, not ditches. The rule limits protection to ditches that are constructed out of streams or function like streams and can carry pollution downstream. So ditches that are not constructed in streams and that flow only when it rains are not covered.
  • Maintains the status of waters within Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems. The rule does not change how those waters are treated and encourages the use of green infrastructure.
  • Reduces the use of case-specific analysis of waters. Previously, almost any water could be put through a lengthy  case-specific analysis, even if it would not be subject to the Clean Water Act. The rule significantly limits the use of case-specific analysis by creating clarity and certainty on protected waters and limiting the number of similarly situated water features.

California should take lead on wetlands protections

From SF Chonicle March 12, 2017

Botanist, Rhiannon Korhummel, (left) and Biologist Stephanie Freed, with WRA Environmental Consultants assess the quality of the wetlands habitat neat the Sears Point Restoration site on the edge of San Pablo Bay in Novato, California on Tues. April 19, 2016. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

Botanist, Rhiannon Korhummel, (left) and Biologist Stephanie Freed, with WRA Environmental Consultants assess the quality of the wetlands habitat neat the Sears Point Restoration site on the edge of San Pablo Bay in Novato, California on Tues. April 19, 2016.

When the president made good on a key campaign promise Tuesday to roll back federal environmental rules on wetlands, cheers went up across farmlands. The acronym meant little to city dwellers, but the promise to “repeal WOTUS” — a staple at Trump rallies — had secured much of the rural vote for Trump. Fearing rollbacks would weaken environmental protections for a state that has led the nation in environmental protections, Democratic legislators in Sacramento preemptively introduced a suite of legislation to “preserve” California.

WOTUS, or “waters of the U.S.,” refers to a rule intended to clarify the scope of the 1972 federal Clean Water Act, which tries to keep pollutants out of drinking water and wetlands wet. The rule was developed after years of public comment and a lawsuit that went to the Supreme Court. In 2015, the Obama administration finalized the rule, which defined the extent of federal jurisdiction over small streams and tributaries.

The rule is particularly tricky to interpret in California because many streams and wetlands are ephemeral — they flow or are wet only immediately after it rains. Think arroyos in Southern California and vernal pools — seasonal ponds in small depressions with distinct plant and animal life — that dot the Central Valley.

Farmers and ranchers, of course, are not against clean water. But they object to rules that they say are impossible to interpret and that interfere with agricultural practices. The California Farm Bureau stepped in and has led the charge to roll back the rule.

The rhetoric on both sides has been escalating since long before the final rule was issued, particularly on the opposed side, after San Joaquin Valley farmer John Duarte was accused in 2012 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of damaging vernal pools when he plowed to plant wheat.

To fight the promised Trump rollback, California Democrats borrowed a move straight from the playbook of Scott Pruitt, who had sued the U.S. EPA 13 times and called for its destruction before Trump named him EPA administrator. State Senate Democratic leader Kevin de León of Los Angeles has introduced Senate Bill 49, which would use existing federal environmental law as the baseline for state law “so we can preserve the state we know and love, regardless of what happens in Washington.”

The California Farm Bureau welcomed the president’s executive order Wednesday as a rollback of confusing federal rules.

The chest bumping is good political theater, but California has the power to exert its authority over wetlands. The state already uses federal environmental law as a template for state law. And federal law largely leaves authority to the state.

The state needs to invest in institutional muscle at the State Water Resources Control Board to enforce rules that protect the environment from those who would fill wetlands and dump pollutants into streams or seasonal streambeds.

Californians know the value of wetlands in flood control and wildlife habitat. We all want clean water. If these are the priority state leaders say they are, the state should step up.