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Comments on RR Low Flow, Dams, and Conservation

Brian (et al):

My message was designed to raise questions (of which I still have many) and get folks to go look at the policy – web link provided.

I still have concerns and will insert them into your text in CAPS:

Cumulative effects – I *strongly* disagree that the recommendations do not account for cumulative effects for large, small, or medium size projects. Very Strongly. The recommendations provide a much more rigorous and scientifically sound cumulative effects analysis than, for example, the Joint Guidelines (where most projects get stuck without a scientific framework to evaluate cumulative effects). Bill and I can discuss this at the meeting.

CUMULATIVE EFFECTS ANALYSIS: YOU ARE CORRECT THE JOINT GUIDELINES HAVE NONE. THE JOINT GUIDELINES DO MANDATE ACTIONS TO PROTECT MINIMUM FLOWS (WITHOUT CUMULATIVE EFFECTS ANALYSIS). MY HISTORY WITH CUMULATIVE EFFECTS ANALYSIS IS THAT: 1) THEY USUALLY ARE MESSAGED, BY HIRED PRIVATE CONSULTANTS,  TO BE MEANINGLESS OR TO SUPPORT INACTION OR THE WRONG ACTION. THIS IS DONE BY A COMBINATION OF OMISSION AND FACT TWISTING, 2) CUMULATIVE EFFECTS ANALYSIS IS LIKELY TO BE INCORRECT DUE TO UNRELIABLE DATA, 3) DOES THE DRAFT POLICY FAIL TO CONSIDER SMALL IMPOUNDMENTS ABOVE ANADROMY LIMITS?  OR, FAIL TO INCLUDE ALL LICENSED AND AND UN-LICENSED USE (INCLUDING PRE – 1914 RIPARIAN USE)?  UNLESS ALL USES ARE CONSIDERED IN CUMULATIVE EFFECTS ANALYSIS – FINDINGS WILL NOT BE CORRECT. 3) THEN THERE IS THE TIME AND MONEY USED TO DERIVE A QUESTIONABLE PRODUCT – LIKE HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE – YEARS (I AM SURE THEY WILL DRAG IT OUT)?  4) MY PREFERENCE WOULD BE TO IMPOSE A POLICY, WITH DEFAULT REGS, NOW.  SET THE MINIMUM FLOWS NEEDED, ENFORCE THE MAINTENANCE OF THOSE FLOWS, AND REMOVE ILLEGAL STREAM BLOCKERS – NOW.

Onstream dams – our joint recommendations have focused on the flow standards and we do not have joint recommendations for the location of onstream dams. But that does not mean that the policy will not address it. TU agrees strongly with you that this is a critical component of the policy, as we explained in our comments. For what it’s worth, I think the final version will look a lot like the draft. Compared to other parts of the policy this section is less controversial.

ON STREAM DAMS ARE A HUGE PROBLEM. BOTH WATER CODE POLICY AND DFG CODE POLICY SHOULD DEAL WITH THIS ISSUE – IMMEDIATELY.  I DO NOT SEE THIS A  PRIME COMPONANT OF THE DRAFT POLICY

Speed of implementation, enforcement – for a whole lot of reasons, I think the recommendations can be implemented more quickly and definitively, and enforced more effectively, than the Joint Guidelines or the current water right system. Enforcement remains a problem because of resource constraints and political culture, and we should discuss ways that our comments going forward can help fix this problem.

YOU MIGHT BE CORRECT FOR YOUR STATEMENT ON IMPLEMENTATION UNDER THE CURRENT WATER RIGHTS SYSTEM. THE SYSTEM IS BROKE AND NOT BEING ENFORCED.  THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT IT CORRECT OR LEGAL. IN ADDITION, YOU CAN SAY THE SAME THING ABOUT DFG 1600 PERMITTING CODE – DFG IS LOOKING THE  OTHER WAY.  WITH ENFORCEMENT LAGS AND FOOT DRAGGING ON ENVIRONMENTAL ANALYSIS, I SEE MORE YEARS FOR ANY STEPS TO IMPLEMENTATION. AND THEN – WHO IS MONITORING COMPLIANCE – HOW WILL THAT WORK?

Group analysis, public involvement, appeal process, reliance on consultants etc. – all of these subjects are governed more by the Water Code and CEQA than by the policy. For example, group analysis is allowed under the water code (and preferred under CEQA) as well as our draft recommendations. However, water right permits are individual rights, and will be enforced individually, whether under the existing rules, the Joint Guidelines, or our recommendations. Public involvement is governed mainly by the Water Code and CEQA, and not subject to change through the policy. Our recommendations include a demand that protestants be brought into the permitting process earlier and more effectively, but in general, there isn’t a whole lot the policy could do to restrict public involvement relative to the status quo.

Group analysis, public involvement, appeal process, reliance on consultants etc. – ALL OF THESE ISSUES WILL BOG THE PROCESS DOWN. THAT IS WHAT THEY WANT. I AM NOT SAYING PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT SHOULD BE DROPPED. I AM SAYING THAT THERE ARE HOLES IN THE PROPOSED PROCESS THAT WILL MAKE THINGS DRAG ON  FOR SIGNIFICANT PERIODS OF TIME. IN THE MEAN TIME IT IS BUSINESS AS USUAL – WITH FAILURE TO CONSERVE AND DRY OR INTERUPTED STREAMS.

IN ADDITION:  WHAT IS UP WITH THE SALMON COALITION REQUEST FOR CONSULTATION WITH THE BOARD CHAIR ?  SEE MY E-MAIL BELOW – AND – DAVID KELLER’S SYNOPSIS OF OTHER LARGE PROBLEMS RELATED TO FLOW ISSUES – BELOW THAT.

SENT TO MICHAEL LAUFFER – SWRCB COUNSEL – BELOW

Michael:

At the request of Jonathan Birdsong, I and several other water quality concerned parties have been participating in noticed meetings of the so called “Salmon Coalition”.

Initially, I was reluctant to sit a this table. The reason for this is that on the face of published papers and directives of the “Salmon Coalition” their basic intent was to avoid the regulatory authority of the federal and State Endangered Species Act, and the authority of the State Water Resources Control Board.

Many members of the “Salmon Coalition” are currently stealing waters of the State and engage in practices that compromise beneficial uses.  You do not have to take my word on this. You can review the Trout Unlimited Petition to the SWRCB (Exhibit of existing illegal diversions) and the NMFS sponsored assessment of watersheds that the “Salmon Coalition” represents.  The “Salmon Coalition” seeks regulatory relief (from the SWRCB they want group diversion permitting)  while offering little or nothing in the form of conservation.

The “Salmon Coalition” is also concerned with the regulatory import of the pending Russian River TMDL.

At the point of my participation, just by meeting attendance and putting ideas on the table, “Salmon Coalition” deliberations have gone to sub-groups where I and other water quality concerned parties (including regulators – DFG, RB staff, and NMFS) are not invited.  There is no reporting back to the body of the “Salmon Coalition” minutes or findings of the sub-groups. Nor, is there minutes or reporting of discussion or actions taken by the “Salmon Coalition” as a whole. After years of meetings, the one instance of meeting  minutes actually being distributed to attendees, significant errors and misrepresentations were discovered by myself and NMFS. These errors in the record were never addressed or corrected. Thus, the activity of the “Salmon Coalition” can not be described as an above board, or open, operation.  Nor, has any good faith effort to improve flows or stream conditions been demonstrated. In fact, if there were indications and actions of movement towards protection and recovery of water quality values, Coast Action Group’s (and others) concerns would cease to exist.

In addition; a major moving force in the ” Salmon Coalition” is Bob Anderson  and members of United Winegrowers. You will note that United Winegrowers and members of United Winegrowers have comments in on this group permitting diversion process being considered by the SWRCB in north coast stream flow maintenance policy development.

As you know Mr. Anderson is highly involved in Basin Plan writing, flows issues, Sonoma County Stormwater NPDES issues,  and possibly Russian River TMDL issues.

It has come to my attention that members of the “Salmon Coalition” have asked for a meeting with the Board Chair and/or Board Members. The advent of meetings with Board members should consider the above information in relationship to any possible conflicts with issues now before the Board or that will become issues before the Board.

It should be pointed out that on the issue of SWRCB policy development for the maintenance of instream flows, all members of the “Salmon Coalition” have had access and opportunity for comment on said policy in Workshops attended by Board Members and Division of Water Rights staff. Their position is well represented.

Coast Action Group requests reporting of discussions and outcomes regarding any such meetings.

Alan

Dry season: Mandatory water restriction in Santa Cruz could be approved on Tuesday

By GENEVIEVE BOOKWALTER
Posted: 04/26/2009 01:30:19 AM PDT

SANTA CRUZ — About 90,000 residents likely will have to curb their water use soon or face $500 fines as city leaders on Tuesday are expected to approve mandatory restrictions for Santa Cruz Water Department customers.

The Santa Cruz Water Department’s proposed conservation measures would take effect Friday for residents from the North Coast to Capitola. The cuts come as the San Lorenzo River, from which the department pulls most of its water, flows at only 40 percent of normal and the Central Coast endures its third dry year in a row.

The river “looks more like it does in July than what it should be at the end of April,” said Toby Goddard, the department’s water conservation manager. He called the pending restrictions “a very real reminder of how vulnerable the city water system is.”

If approved, Water Department customers will not be allowed to fill home pools, hose off driveways or water backyard grass for five days of the week. Diners must ask for a glass of water when eating out, and hotels must offer guests the chance to reuse their towels and sheets without having them washed every day. The measures are expected to cut water use by about 15 percent.

Those who don’t comply could face fines up to $500 and have flow restrictors installed on their waterline, which would cut supply to those customers by 90 percent. The department will patrol neighborhoods looking for violators of the restrictions.

Some exceptions will be made, though.

One thought on “Comments on RR Low Flow, Dams, and Conservation

  1. There are new highly efficient products for bathrooms these days, The latest is a 1.5 gpm showerhead that I am using. It is made by High Sierra Showerheads. It works so much better than the cheap “low flow” showerheads that the water districts and cities give away.

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