1. There are two inescapable realities about the struggle over water in California. The first is that the Sacramento Delta, and its health, is the ground zero point in our water politics. The second is that everyone agrees that the Delta is in serious trouble. The problem impacting every Californian is what to do about it.

    The Delta is actually an estuary, a mixing zone where fresh water from rivers far meet salt water coming in from the Pacific Ocean. It is a nutrient-rich nursery for babies – baby salmon, baby crabs, and hundreds of other species that depend on it to be able to start their lives. It is the largest and most important estuary on the West coast of both North and South America and it is in serious jeopardy.

    The Delta is at the heart of the debate over water in California because of the increasing demands of a few very wealthy corporate agriculture interests in the Central valley. The Westlands Water District insists on taking ever-increasing amounts of water away from the Delta and they are using their powerful connections in Sacramento and Congress to get what they want. As you will see in this video, the impact on the health of the Delta has been catastrophic.

    There is nothing more important in the struggle to prevent salmon from becoming extinct than to restore the health of the Delta. The two most pressing questions are: can the powerful agriculture interests be stopped and is there still time to bring the Delta back to good health.

    # vimeo.com/9861205 Uploaded
  2. Kill the Canal (3:11)

    The march to build a system to move massive amounts of water around the Delta continues. The goal is to build a peripheral canal (also referred to as a tunnel or conveyance) so that fresh water will be available to meet the seemingly never-ending needs of big agriculture and Southern California real estate interests.

    Governor Jerry Brown, in his recent State of the State address, seemed to go out of his way to justify building a peripheral canal. He emphasized his commitment to fast-tracking its construction.

    The Governor even personalized the pitch by saying that “this is something my father worked on and then I worked on—decades ago. We know more now and are committed to the dual goals of restoring the Delta ecosystem and ensuring a reliable water supply.”

    Dan Bacher, who has been reporting on water, fish, and ecosystem issues for years, pointed out in a recent story that “ironically, the theme of (Brown’s) speech was California on the Mend.” Delta advocates oppose the construction of the peripheral canal because it will, among other things, lead to the extinction of Central Valley fish species including Sacramento River Chinook salmon and many others.

    Salmon Water Now agrees with Bacher that the canal won't “mend” imperiled Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations. It is very hard to see how it would not exacerbate the ecosystem collapse caused by record water exports from the Delta in recent years.

    But those pushing for ever more amounts of water want what they want.

    Kill the Canal, a new video from Salmon Water Now, is a three-minute look at the canal and what we believe are very good reasons to stop it from being built.

    The canal would be a massively expensive construction project at a time when California is suffering from huge budget problems. It does not seem that the current plans will help the Delta or help the people and communities who depend on having healthy runs of wild salmon. But it will help the Westlands Water District, billionaire “farmer” Stewart Resnick, and plenty of real estate developers. If they get their way, they’ll be very happy.

    A little sarcasm never hurts.

    Salmon Water Now is one of many voices that would like to put the brakes on the march to build a peripheral canal. We’d like to see a spirited discussion about this issue and there is plenty to talk about. We encourage the sharing of our Kill the Canal video as a way to stimulate a lively debate.

    # vimeo.com/32264180 Uploaded
  3. Sometimes fantasy can become reality. Although in this case we hope that is not so.

    Salmon Water Now’s new video, 3012: The Space Salmon Incident was intended to be a cautionary tale for Earth Day. A way to tell the story about salmon and water in California that is just a little bit silly, a little absurd. But in the context of political reality, this video may be useful to help people understand the dangers ahead.

    California Senator Diane Feinstein seems determined to destroy California native salmon in order to give the Westlands Water District whatever they want.

    The Golden State’s senior senator reportedly is circulating language to be attached to an appropriations bill that would dramatically alter the way water is allocated in her state. The changes would allow more water exports south of the Delta, remove protective Wild and Scenic River status for a ‘portion’ of the Merced River, and renege on promises made in 1992 under the Central Valley Project Improvement Act to balance the damages brought by the Central Valley Project, and institute water contract reforms while further relaxing water sale rules.

    There was outrage and concern over Congressman Devin Nunes’ HR-1837 when it was introduced and then actually passed by the House of Representatives. In fact, Senator Feinstein was among the loudest voices calling for it’s defeat. But now it seems that her objections have turned into a blueprint for her own re-election gift-wrapped legislation for Westlands and Big Ag.

    Here is the short list of what the Senator’s legislative proposals would mean:

    • Remove a Wild and Scenic River designation— the first time in our Nation’s history.
    • Export more water from one of the most endangered ecological communities—the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta—one of the most important estuaries containing critical habitat and spawning for California Salmon and where 20 species face extinction.
    • Facing an increase of water divisions for export, scientist predict a further ecological crash of Salmon, other fish populations and the Delta food web.
    • The impacts to the watersheds and surrounding communities from these water diversions are being ignored.

    All of these moves are a way to go around state and federal processes, that would divert and drain even more water from these critically impacted ecological treasures. It would be a travesty if it is allowed to happen. These icons in California, and one of the nation’s most important estuary that feeds and spawns salmon throughout the west, depends on river habitat to survive. It’s not just the salmon that are in danger, California is a place where millions of migratory birds along the Pacific Flyway feed on their migratory routes. They also are threatened by those powerful interests seeking federal intervention to assure they move to the head of the water bucket line.

    All this comes at a time when the prestigious National Academy of Science confirms that the system is out of balance. That too much water is being taken and that this over-allocation of water and diversion of needed flows is the basic cause for the ecosystem collapse.

    We hope you will watch and share SWN’s newest video, 3012: The Space Salmon Incident. Sure it’s got some silly stuff in it, but it is time for people to speak up about the real horrors that are pending in Congress.

    You can make a difference by forwarding this video to your friends and family and asking them to call or write their Senator to stop this end run around state and federal laws that protect our environment, water, and endangered species. Today it is California’s last remaining Wild and Scenic Rivers and North America’s most important estuary that are at stake. Tomorrow it might be the river or estuary in your neighborhood. Greed should not be allowed to take this heritage away from future generations.

    Watch, 3012: The Space Salmon Incident.

    # vimeo.com/39589121 Uploaded

Restore the Delta / Food and Water Watch PREVEW

Bruce Tokars

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