Category Archives: Northern California

No End in Sight to Oroville Crisis As Governor Fishes for Answers | Feb 14, 2017

A race against Mother Nature as officials send water cascading out of Lake Oroville

– LA Times

 

“With more storms expected to slam Northern California later this week, officials worked frantically Monday to drain water from brimming Lake Oroville in hopes of heading off a potentially catastrophic flood.

The operators at America’s tallest dam found themselves in a precarious position Monday, with both of the spillways used to release water compromised and the reservoir still filled almost to capacity after a winter of record rain and snow. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of evacuated residents downstream of the dam still have no clear word when they can return home.

Officials sent millions of gallons of water per minute down the massive reservoir’s main spillway. Engineers said that despite a huge gash that opened in the concrete channel a week ago, it was their best option for lowering the dangerously high lake level.

They hoped this would avert further use of the emergency spillway, where damage was discovered Sunday afternoon.

“It was the lesser of two evils,” state Department of Water Resources spokesman Eric See said Monday. “We didn’t want to have more damage, but we needed to evacuate water.”

The emergency spillway suffered severe erosion the day after water cascaded down the unpaved hillside for the first time since the dam opened in 1968.

The damage occurred even though the spillway was designed to handle much more water than the amount that overflowed. Some questioned why officials didn’t heed suggestions more than a decade ago to fortify the emergency spillway.

When it appeared the erosion could quickly worsen Sunday afternoon and potentially undermine the spillway’s concrete lip  — a scenario that could unleash a massive wall of water — officials ordered more than 100,000 people to evacuate the low-lying areas along the Feather River.

Racing against Mother Nature, water resources officials Monday sent water surging down the concrete main spillway — a move that lowered the lake level by several feet but threatened to widen the gash. Erosion on the main spillway so far was manageable, See said.

“I’ve been doing these flood battles since 1978,” said state Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber). “This is the one with the greatest potential for damage of all the ones I’ve dealt with.”

Both spillways are separate from the Oroville Dam itself, which officials say is not in danger of collapsing.

Officials said they want to lower the lake 50 feet by Wednesday to avoid another overflow on the damaged emergency spillway. If the head of the spillway crumbles, a 30-foot wall of water could go crashing down the hillside into the Feather River and toward Oroville, Marysville and Yuba City.

“Obviously any rain this week is not helpful at all,” said Tom Dang, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Sacramento.

On Monday, geysers of water shot from the placid lake and down the concrete spillway, like a water slide the width of a freeway.

Helicopters flew overhead and dump trucks shuttled across the top of Oroville Dam, carrying loads of rock to fill the eroded section. Without reinforcements, water could creep beneath the lip, causing it to crumble and allowing water to gush over the side.

In a letter Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown asked the Trump administration for a federal disaster declaration, saying the problems were likely to be more than local and state officials can handle.

Brown told reporters that he spoke to a member of the president’s Cabinet on Monday, but declined to say which one. “My office has been in touch with the White House,” Brown said. “I think that will be sufficient.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, meanwhile, sent an eight-person team to the area to help California officials prepare for potential flooding.

“We are trying to plan for the worst-case scenario,” said Ahsha Tribble, acting regional administrator for FEMA’s Region 9, which includes California. “It’s not a wait-and-see game.”

……Continue reading more @ LA Times

 

Evacuees stranded with no end in sight to Lake Oroville crisis

– SF Gate

OROVILLE, Butte County — The crisis at Lake Oroville may grind on for weeks or longer — leaving the nearly 200,000 people ordered to evacuate on Sunday in nail-biting limbo as crews work to flush water out of the reservoir and shore up a badly eroded emergency spillway, officials said Monday.

State water officials have been purging nearly 100,000 cubic feet of water per second out of the reservoir’s damaged but functioning primary spillway, an effort that brought the level down below the lip of the emergency spillway Sunday night, averting catastrophe.

But they are just beginning to assess the scope of the weekend damage, a first step in developing a plan to secure the reservoir and allow residents to return to their homes.

More rain is forecast to soak Lake Oroville and the surrounding mountains beginning Wednesday night, increasing the urgency of the work being done at the reservoir.

Gov. Jerry Brown said Monday evening that there might be an indication Tuesday on when evacuees can return to their towns, but added that caution was the watchword. “Better safe than sorry,” he said.

“My message is that we’re doing everything we can to get this dam in shape so they can return and live safely,” said the governor, who declared a state of emergency Sunday to mobilize disaster resources.

Crews noticed Sunday that the hillside under the emergency spillway — also called the auxiliary spillway — had begun rapidly deteriorating, just one day after water started cascading over its ledge for the first time since the Oroville Dam was put into operation in 1968.

That deep erosion scar carved its way back to the foot of the spillway’s apron, a concrete lip perched at the top of the hill, threatening the integrity of the barrier.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea ordered an estimated 188,000 residents downstream along the Feather River to evacuate around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, when the possible breach in the spillway was detected. There was no plan for that evacuation order to be lifted, but Honea said officials were working on a “repopulation plan” for the residents.

“When it’s safe, based upon the evaluation by the Department of Water Resources and the state and federal partners, then we’ll be in a better position to decide when to lift that evacuation,” he said.

The Department of Water Resources began dropping large bags of rocks Monday afternoon via helicopters onto the eroded emergency spillway to divert water coming down the earthen hillside during future heavy rains and snowmelt. State officials did not give a timeline on how long it would take to shore up the scarred hillside.

Evacuees, meanwhile, anxiously cooled their heels in evacuation centers scattered throughout the area, without any sense of when they could return home.

Jaswinder Phagura, admitted she was “scared” as she stayed at the Sikh Temple emergency shelter in West Sacramento with family.

“How long will we be here?” said the 48-year-old Live Oak resident, who fled to the shelter with her 4-year-old daughter, sister-in-law and brother-in-law. “I hope when we go back that everything is OK there — pictures, our kids’ stuff.

“We just grabbed some stuff. It’s scary,” she said.

At the Cal Expo fairground in Sacramento, where families poured in throughout the evening, Treena Manion pointed out that many, like her, were losing income for every day they weren’t able to go to work back home — and that could quickly become a hardship. Still, she could understand the caution.

“Our lives are more important, and everything else can be replaced,” said the 43-year-old Marysville woman, who fled with her husband, daughter and five other relatives.

Among the others getting a hasty change of scenery: 579 inmates from Butte County Jail, who were evacuated in guarded buses 150 miles south to Alameda County’s Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

Officials tried to assure evacuees that it was better to endure the inconvenience than to risk death beneath a roiling wall of water. .

“We don’t want people coming back into the community, then having another incident and having to evacuate again,” said Chris Orrock, spokesman for the water resources department. “Our No. 1 priority is the safety of the community and our staff.”

Complicating matters is a series of storms set to hit the area around Lake Oroville starting late Wednesday that will accelerate inflow into the reservoir.

“The area around Lake Oroville and mountains around Lake Oroville will see 1 to 2 inches with that storm,” said Tom Dang, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Sacramento.

That system will be followed by several more soaking storms through the weekend. Weekly rain totals could be as much as 8 inches in the mountains around Lake Oroville, Dang said.

Water continued to pour into Lake Oroville at 37,000 cubic feet per second on Monday while the lake level fell from 901 feet on Sunday to about 895 feet around noon Monday. Based on the current inflow and outflow, the Department of Water Resources said the reservoir is dropping at a rate of 8 feet per day.

It wasn’t clear if the next series of storms — or any rains or snowmelt that may follow — could push the water back up and over the emergency spillway.”

…Continue reading more @ SFGate

 

Governor Brown’s Monday Press Conference  | Nearly a Full Week after the start of the crisis last Tuesday

– Youtube

– Jerry Brown sounds like someone that just got into office. He seems to know so little so he goes into his politician mode.

“We have a lot of stuff here, we have to depend on the professionals, the engineers, they tell us what we need and then we do it.”

– Apparently not, reports are that the spillway badly needed repair and the governor did nothing since for three years. Instead he went to Rome, championed fighting Global Warming and championed programs for illegal aliens.

In a rambling, disjointed press conference he held after nearly a week of major problems at the dam, he tried to put the best face on his ill-timed and ill-considered squabbles with Washington now that he was asking for help and money from DC.

“It’s very difficult,” he stammered, “uh, I don’t….it’s hard to understand how people have been able to evacuate so quickly….and it distubance…to their lives.” What?

Two hundred thousand people evacuated and displaced, no government assistance, and all he can say is trust the government that they all doing all they can, when clearly they didn’t when it really mattered.

The Governor is now mired in three serious crises on his part time watch: The deal to bury toxic, deadly nuclear waste on the beach in San Onofre, the nation’s largest gas leak at Porter Ranch which also has no end in sight and now this potentially catastrophic disaster of his own making. Perhaps the governor should have concentrated on critical state problems instead of trying to be a global climate statesman. /CJ

 

 

Oroville Dam Failure May be Jerry Brown’s Legacy | Feb 13, 2017

DONNELLY: Jerry Brown’s California Legacy is a Dam Failure

– Breitbart

“The Oroville Dam — at 770 feet, America’s tallest — is on the verge of failing. And Sacramento, which has been fiddling for decades while Rome burns, is running for cover.

This isn’t just any dam; it’s the primary storage facility located on the Feather River for the State Water Project, the state-owned conveyance system that provides drinking water to more than two-thirds of California’s population.

If the dam were to fail, it could inundate not only the city of Oroville but numerous other communities downstream, including Yuba City, Marysville and even West Sacramento.

At the moment, the emergency spillway is being used for the first time since Governor Ronald Reagan approved its construction, and almost 200,000 people have been evacuated.

What’s Governor Jerry Brown doing?

The same thing he’s been doing for decades — obstructing progress.  California has been so busy defying President Donald Trump in order to protect illegal aliens from deportation that it forgot to do the things government is supposed to do, like maintain infrastructure. Governor Brown is now going hat-in-hand to beg the Trump administration for emergency funds.

According to Breitbart News sources, the Trump administration is already closely monitoring the situation, and has dispatched personnel and made contingency plans to aid California in the event of a catastrophic dam failure.

But it’s during the seven dry years — the extended drought — that the state should have fixed its water infrastructure, like dams and canals. Brown and his merry band of Democrats had different priorities, like high-speed rail, benefits for illegal aliens, and unsustainable pensions.

The reality is that Sacramento was warned over and over again.  Just a few years back, environmentalists raised concerns that an earthquake could degrade the massive earthen rockfill dam. Sacramento just chose to ignore those concerns — and to spend the money on other priorities.”

…..Continue reading more @ Breitbart

 

The Latest: Governor has no imminent plans to visit dam site

– San Jose Mercury News

“2:45 p.m.

Gov. Jerry Brown has not announced immediate plans to visit Oroville or meet with residents who have been evacuated.

Evacuations for at least 188,000 people living below the dam were ordered Sunday after officials warned the emergency spillway was in danger of failing and unleashing uncontrolled floodwaters on towns below.”

….Continue reading more @ Mercury News

Verify: Was the Oroville spillway damaged in 2013?

– ABC10.com

“A photo of the Oroville Dam from 2013 that shows damage to the spillway and trucks on site is getting a lot of attention online — and not for good reasons.

“I put it out there not realizing how negative of a response, or kind of like an aggressive attack mode, was going to happen,” said Lois Cameron, who took the photo that October day. “It was more like information — not to accuse.”

….Continue reading more @ ABC10.com

 

How Did the Oroville Dam Crisis Get So Dire?

– The Atlantic

“Maybe the Oroville Dam was cursed from the start.

In December 1964, three years into the massive barrier’s construction, a huge flood struck the northwest, killing dozens. The dam was nearly overtopped, which could have led to its failure even before it was completed. Instead, the partially completed dam helped prevent a larger disaster by reducing the flow of the Feather River. Less than a year later, two trains working on the site collided head-on in a tunnel near the dam, killing four men in a fiery crash and damaging the tunnel, slowing down work on the project.

The dam, which sits south of Chico and north of Sacramento, was eventually completed in 1968, creating the nation’s tallest dam. It forms the head of California’s massive, byzantine State Water Project (SWP). The SWP moves water from Northern California south toward Los Angeles, an average of 3 million acre-feet per year. A drop of water that starts at Lake Oroville, above the dam, takes 10 days to move all the way to the end of the system, south of Los Angeles.

There’s some bitter irony to the problem of too much water menacing the Golden State. California has suffered through a long and severe drought, at times driving Governor Jerry Brown to institute stringent—critics say draconian—water controls. This winter has seen much more snow and rain, which is good news for the parched state, but bad news for the Oroville Dam, where huge amounts of water are collecting. The lake rose 50 feet in a matter of days. Earlier in February, as operators let water over a concrete spillway to reduce the pressure, a crater appeared in the spillway. Faced with too much water in the lake, they continued to use the spillway anyway, and the damage got worse. On Friday, the crater was 45 feet deep, 300 feet wide, and 500 feet long.

In 2005, a trio of environmental groups filed a complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, saying the emergency spillway was unsafe, The Mercury News reports. Their worry proved prophetic: The groups said in the event of heavy rain and flooding, the hillside would wash out and produce flooding downstream. They asked that the auxiliary spillway be paved with concrete, like the primary one. But the federal government rejected the request after consulting with the state and local agencies involved in the water system, which said they did not believe the upgrades were needed.

As for the primary spillway, the state did some repair work around the area of the collapse in 2013, CBS Sacramento reports. The last state inspection was in July 2015, but workers did not closely inspect the concrete, the Redding Record Searchlight notes, instead eyeing it from a distance and concluding it was safe. Officials say repairs should cost $100 million to $200 million, once it’s dry enough to begin them.’

….Continue reading @ theAtlantic.com

Lake Oroville In Danger of Collapse Evacuations Ordered | Feb 13, 2017

Update Oroville Dam Overtops, Govt Still Refuses to Order Evacuation Preparations

– Youtube  |  Adapt 2030

Question: Where is the governor? The part time guv is again missing in action. Can we afford it?

This problem at Oroville has been unresolved since 2013 while the governor clearly had other priorities. /CJ

 

Threat of Oroville spillway collapse prompts evacuation of Marysville, Yuba, Butte and Sutter counties

– Sacramento Bee

“Chico evacuation center is full; additional shelter open at Neighborhood Church

Butte County announced at 7:40 p.m. that the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds evacuation center is full. Another shelter is available at the Neighborhood Church in Chico, 2801 Notre Dame Blvd.

Sacramento hotels filling with evacuees

Evacuees are reserving hotel rooms along Hwy. 99 and Interstate 5 in Sacramento near the airport. The Homewood Suites by Hilton started getting calls around 6 p.m., said Front Desk Agent Gao Hang. Twenty reservations were made within the hour in back-to-back phone calls.

“They didn’t care about the price at all because they just need a place to go,” she said. “It’s not just us.”

Two neighboring hotels are filling up as well, she said. The Homewood Suites is about 75 percent reserved so far.

Lake levels down, but risk remains

7:15 p.m.

Oroville Lake depths are decreasing rapidly as officials release a huge amount of water from its main spillway.

Lake levels have fallen about one-half a foot in the last two hours and stand at 901.35 feet, about four-tenths of a foot above the level where water flows through the emergency spillway, state figures show.

At that pace, water should stop spilling over the emergency spillway within several hours, giving officials a chance to more fully assess erosion.

Falling depths do not mean the areas below the dam are safe. The emergency spillway is essentially part of the dam and the concern is that it will fail, something that could happen even if water stops flowing over its top.”

….Continue reading more @ SacBee with video.

 

Oroville Dam UPDATE LEAVE THIS AREA NOW

– Youtube | oldmarinevaughn

 

 

Lake Oroville Auxiliary Spillway, February 11th at 11AM  |  Drone view

– California Department of Water Resources

– From the California Department of Water Resources | Lake Oroville Auxiliary Spillway, Feb 11th at 11am.

History | Victor Hanson Davis | California’s Eerie Simularities to Antebellum South | Feb 10, 2017

California Goes Confederate

– Townhall.com | Victor Hanson Davis

“Over sixty percent of California voters went for Hillary Clinton — a margin of more than 4 million votes over Donald Trump.

Since Clinton’s defeat, the state seems to have become unhinged over Trump’s unexpected election.

“Calexit” supporters brag that they will have enough signatures to qualify for a ballot measure calling for California’s secession from the United States.

Some California officials have talked of the state not remitting its legally obligated tax dollars to the federal government. They talk of expanding its sanctuary cities into an entire sanctuary state that would nullify federal immigration law.

Californians also now talk about the value of the old Confederate idea of “states’ rights.” They whine that their state gives far too much revenue to Washington and gets too little back.

Residents boast about how their cool culture has little in common with the rest of the U.S. Some Californians claim the state could easily go it alone, divorced from the United States.

Sound a bit familiar?

In December 1860, South Carolina seceded from the Union in furor over the election of Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln did not receive 50 percent of the popular vote. He espoused values the state insisted did not reflect its own.

In eerie irony, liberal California is now mirror-imaging the arguments of reactionary South Carolina and other Southern states that vowed to go it alone in 1860 and 1861.

Like California, South Carolina insisted it could nullify federal laws within its state borders.

Like California, South Carolina promised to withhold federal revenues.

Like California, South Carolina and other Confederate states bragged that their unique economies did not need the Union.

They boasted that “King Cotton” had created the wealthiest class in the United States. Silicon Valley now often assumes that Google, Facebook, Apple and others are near-trillion-dollar companies that are a world unto their own.

Slavery and the extravagant income from cotton warped the Southern economy and culture. A wealthy plantation elite, with its millions of exploited slaves, ensured that there would be virtually no middle, working or small-business class.

Huge estates were surrounded by the impoverished shacks of servants. Hardscrabble farmers or small businessmen often fled westward to escape the shackles of wealth disparity.

The export-dependent Southern elite demanded unfettered free trade. It offered bitter resistance to Northern protectionism.

South Carolina elites were opposed to federal infrastructure projects such as the building of roads, canals, bridges and reservoirs, and other such unwelcome “progress.”

Confederates boasted that their antebellum culture was more romantic, natural, pristine, healthy and moral than was the bustle, grime and hyper-capitalism of Northern industrialism.

Southern aristocrats believed that they were culturally superior — in terms of music, art and literature — to other Americans.

Of course, this is 2017, not 1860, and California is super-liberal, not an antebellum slave-owning society.

Nonetheless, what is driving California’s current efforts to nullify federal law and the state’s vows to secede from the U.S. are some deeper — and creepy — similarities to the arrogant and blinkered Old South.

California is likewise becoming a winner-take-all society. It hosts the largest numbers of impoverished and the greatest number of rich people of any state in the country. Eager for cheap service labor, California has welcomed in nearly a quarter of the nation’s undocumented immigrants. California has more residents living in poverty than any other state. It is home to one third of all the nation’s welfare recipients.

The income of California’s wealthy seems to make them immune from the effects of the highest basket of sales, income and gas taxes in the nation. The poor look to subsidies and social services to get by. Over the last 30 years, California’s middle classes have increasingly fled the state.

“Gone With the Wind”-like wealth disparity in California is shocking to the naked eye. Mostly poor Redwood City looks like it’s on a different planet from tony nearby Atherton or Woodside.”

….Continue reading more @ Townhall.com

 

California’s Undocumented Kids—Why They Could be First to Lose Medical Care Under Trump

– KQED

 

 

“On a recent rainy morning in Los Angeles, Maria Bernal’s stove clicks to life with a bright blue flame to toast bread on a griddle for her 9-year-old son Edwin to smear with peanut butter. As she scoops papaya chunks into the blender for a smoothie, she recalls her worry during all the years when she couldn’t afford health care and he suffered painful ear infections.

The waiting six months to get an appointment for Edwin at a county facility. The nights trying to calm him as he cried in constant pain. The months-long wait for each of three surgeries to insert tubes into his ears. The fear when the medical bills arrived.

At the time, she couldn’t afford health care, and he wasn’t eligible for regular government-funded Medi-Cal coverage because she had brought Edwin to the United States illegally from Mexico when he was 1. He qualified for a local program and emergency Medi-Cal, but that didn’t provide all the care he needed. Then last year, she heard on TV that California was creating a new program under Medi-Cal to fully cover poor undocumented children. Relieved, she rushed to sign Edwin up. As a result, she says, “I can take him in whenever he needs to go.”

Now, however, the ability of Edwin and some 164,000 poor undocumented California children to see a doctor for regular medical care hangs in the balance—with several experts predicting they could be among the first to lose health coverage if the Trump administration carries out its promise to end much of Obamacare, leaving California to try to make up the difference.

To be clear, the federal government does pay limited medical costs for kids in the country illegally under the restricted-scope Medi-Cal program, which is available to anyone regardless of immigration status for emergency and prenatal services only. Last May, however, California became one of a handful of states to provide state-funded full-scope Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program. About 71 percent of the program is funded by the state, according to the state Department of Health Care Services, with 29 percent paid for out of federal funds for emergency coverage. Also of note: Because the federal government funds emergency services, the state shares enrollee information with federal health officials.

In his most recent budget proposal, Gov. Jerry Brown allocated $279.5 million to cover approximately 185,000 kids in the coming year in what the state has dubbed its Health for All Kids program—double what the program was estimated to cost when it was approved.

With the election of Donald Trump, who took office last week, some health policy experts and advocates say the fledgling program is in danger. Assuming the new administration carries out plans to change how Medicaid is funded, California could stand to lose $17 billion the federal government currently provides for the Medi-Cal expansion that California adopted under the Affordable Care Act.Such a cut would leave state leaders unable to fully make up the funding difference—and could force them to revisit a decades-old debate over whether the state has an obligation to care for sick children regardless of their immigration status, or should focus limited resources on citizens and legal residents.”

….Continue reading more @ KQED

 

 

In the Middle of a ‘Drought’ Gov Moonbeam releases more Water to the Sea | July 2016

Governor’s Delta smelt plan calls for more water flowing to sea to save extinct fish

– SacBee

jb2

“For the first time in years, Northern California’s rivers are roaring and its reservoirs are filled almost to the brim. So why isn’t more water being pumped to Southern California? The answer involves the ravaged status of three key fish species.

With Delta smelt numbers at all-time lows, state officials on Tuesday released a list of more than a dozen projects they’re hoping to undertake in the next few years in a last-ditch effort to stave off the fish’s extinction.

One of those plans is sure to be contentious. The “Delta Smelt Resiliency Strategy” released Tuesday by the California Natural Resources Agency calls for allowing between 85,000 and 200,000 acre-feet of extra water to wash out to sea this summer to bolster smelt habitat.

20150415_100546_SJM-SMELT-0416-90-01_400

That’s no small amount: 200,000 acre-feet is equal to a quarter of Folsom Lake’s capacity, though not all the amount released would come from Folsom.

Federal dam operators say the state’s plans are a tad too ambitious.

“I would call that part a little bit strongly worded,” U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Shane Hunt said Monday after reviewing the state’s proposal. “We’re fairly confident we’ll get some water, but I don’t think we’ll get anywhere close to the top end of this range that’s in this document.”

The document calls for “a variety of methods” to achieve such large outflows, including buying water from willing sellers, changing how water is exported from the Delta or releasing water stored behind Central Valley dams. The plan also calls for 250,000 acre-feet to be released to the Pacific Ocean next summer.

Agricultural groups in the San Joaquin Valley have fretted for weeks about the first-ever summertime outflows to protect the smelt.

deltsmelt2

Last month, 15 members of Congress from California sent a letter urging the Obama administration to reject such a plan out of concern it would lead to Delta pumping restrictions that would “significantly reduce the water supply available to Californians.”

Hunt said his agency has no plans to cut water deliveries for now. Instead, he said his agency is working to buy water from contractors and perhaps to secure water stored for hydroelectricity. Mark Cowin, director of the state Department of Water Resources, said his agency also has no plans to purchase water or to cut deliveries to contractors in order to bolster this summer’s flows to benefit the smelt.”

….Continue reading @ SacBee

 

More on the Delta Smelt:

California drought: Delta smelt survey finds a single fish, heightening debate over water supply

– San Jose Mercury News

deltsmelt3

BYRON — There’s only one place left on Earth where imperiled Delta smelt are thriving, where their water remains cold and clean.

In the wild, the fish is on the brink of extinction. This month, in their April trawl survey, state Fish and Wildlife scientists caught only one of the pinky-sized, politicized fish with an outsized role in California’s water wars, an alarming indication of just how few smelt are left. And the drought may inflict the final blow.
But here in this UC Davis-run hatchery, large tanks are filled with thousands of baby smelt — where, for now, they’ll stay, generation after generation — because the Delta’s warm, brackish and polluted water is too inhospitable.
The fate of this fish — wild or forever captive — throws into question the future of one of the world’s most contentious plumbing systems: the 700,000-acre Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the nexus of water moving from the state’s north to south.

In the fourth year of a historic drought, biologists are issuing desperate pleas to devote Delta water for those few wild creatures that remain — not just Delta smelt, but also longfin smelt, Sacramento splittail, Sacramento perch, river lamprey, green sturgeon, Central Valley steelhead trout and spring and winter runs of chinook salmon. It’s not just about saving a single species, they say, but about saving a precious ecosystem.

But farmers say it’s time to concede the fish is a lost cause — and to supply more of the Delta’s water to help humans.
Amid the crisis, there’s this question: Do these cultured captive fish represent a new beginning in the wild, or an experiment in futility? The future of the Delta smelt — and its impact on California’s water supply — is the latest installment of this newspaper’s series “A State of Drought.”
The fish itself is unremarkable — short-lived, tiny and so translucent it’s almost invisible. It lacks the charisma of a bald eagle, grizzly bear or bison. Until now, it’s been durable, surviving millions of years through droughts far worse than this one. It was once the most abundant fish in the Delta.

This countdown toward extinction represents the failure of what was once the largest estuary between Patagonia and Alaska.

“The policy of the people of United States is not to let any species go extinct,” said fish biologist Peter Moyle, associate director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis.

“But the situation is pretty grim,” he said. “And if it’s unfavorable for the smelt, it’s probably unfavorable for other species, as well.”

The fish exerts such force on the Delta’s waters that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulates how and when pumping can be done to protect it and other imperiled endangered species. Since the smelt is protected under the Endangered Species Act, a federal court order can — and has — reduced pumping to farmers and cities in Southern California. Yet this protection hasn’t been enough for a species that lives in the pipeline of California’s critical hydraulic system.”

…Continue reading @ Mercury-News

Humboldt County: “Never met a person here who has said they’re voting for Hillary” | July 2016

Sanders Infuriates Die-Hard Humboldt County Fans with Clinton Endorsement

– Breitbart

Bernie-Phone-bank-Eureka-Daniel-Nussbaum-Breitbart-News-640x480

“Humboldt County supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-VT) presidential campaign were left devastated after the insurgent candidate formally endorsed Hillary Clinton for president on Tuesday.

In April, Breitbart News reported that Humboldt County, which sits in California’s reliably Democrat second congressional district, was undisputed Sanders territory, and Sanders ultimately did carry the district in the state’s June 7 primary.

“I’ll put it this way,” Eureka resident Steven Buckingham told Breitbart News in April. “As a [Humboldt County] resident, I’ve never met someone in person here who has actually verbally said they’re voting for Hillary.

Sanders ultimately picked up 68,210 votes in the 2nd District, while Clinton earned 59,257. But the vote tally was substantially different in Humboldt County, where Sanders received 68 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 31 percent.

That level of enthusiasm for Sanders’s campaign in the county, where progressive politics and an outsider ethos dominate, made it especially difficult for area Democrats to stomach the Vermont senator’s formal endorsement of Clinton at a joint campaign rally on Tuesday.

“I’m pretty disappointed. This is hard for us to swallow,” Northern Humboldt for Bernie organizer Tamara McFarland told the Eureka Times-Standard. “A lot of people thought something could happen in the last few weeks; seeing that possibility end today is hard.”

Sanders supporters could be heard booing when the Vermont senator endorsed Clinton at Tuesday’s campaign event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

“This whole time we’ve been marching to the message that we’d take this campaign all the way to the convention,” McFarland told the paper. “We’re still reeling from the news.”

McFarland added that her group, Northern Humboldt for Bernie, would not necessarily support Clinton in a potential general election matchup against Donald Trump. Instead, she told the Times-Standard, the group would focus on long-term grassroots progressive outreach.”

….Continue reading @ Breitbart.com