te or federal incidental take permits

 


DELTA


Captain Stan Koenigsberger

Captain Steve Smith of the Bay Area "Smith" fishing clan has been fishing Alaska's Kenai Peninsula for 24 years. 800.567.1043



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July 19, 2014    Headlines

 Summer Slump
Salmon Opens July 16th

Delta Report
By Dave Hurley
Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait said, “There weren’t any additional salmon landed on Thursday 7-17 after the one big fish was taken on Wednesday morning.” The water at 1stStreet has been muddy with the constant wind, and Lopez said, “The wind was howling today.” Few fishermen have been out in the wind with the exception of salmon fishermen. They have grass shrimp, pile worms, blood worms, and ‘everything but ghost shrimp.”
Steve Santucci of Steve Santucci’s Fly Fishing Guide Service reported the action has slowed down with the hot weather, and the best bet is to target smallmouth bass on the cooler Sacramento River.

On Friday 7-11 Captain Stan Koenigsberger of Quetzal Adventures went out with Rand Payton of Brentwood and his brother Lance and wife Diana from Waterford, Michigan for 6 stripers to 27-inches , anchoring on the San Joaquin River west of Light 28 on frozen shad. He said, “The water temperature has risen to 75.4 degrees, and there is lots of grass and vegetation on both the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers.
For largemouth bass, the persistent wind has been to the benefit of the crankbait bite, and Randy Pringle, the Fishing Instructor, reported excellent action with the ima Squaregill crankbait in either crawdad or bluegill patterns. He said,“The high tides have allowed for tossing the bait towards the shoreline and working back over the tops of the weeds,” adding, “The bass are feeding on both bluegill and crawdads.” The Berkley Chigger Craw in crawdad-patterns flipped in deeper water with current on outside weed lines is also an effective technique with the bass hitting the lure on the drop. There is a top water bite in the morning and evenings for ‘better than average fish’ with the ima Big Stick, but the larger fish are few and far between and take some effort
H and R Bait in Stockton reported striper fishing has slowed in the south Delta with bluegill on waxworms or jumbo red worms or largemouth bass on medium/large minnows are the top bets. Fresh shad made an appearance during the first weekend of July, but there is no guarantee that the shadders will continue to produce the fresh baitfish. Empire Cut, Holland Tract, Whiskey Slough Road, and access areas along Eight Mile Road remain the top locations for bluegill. Extra-large and jumbo minnows are next to impossible to obtain, and shops are limited to medium and large minnows for largemouth bass.
Ador Lopez of Angler’s Choice reported buzzbaits and Zara Spooks in the mornings or punching the weeds with Sweet Beavers with a PayCheck Skirt produced a winning limit of 17.23-pounds for Jared Litner and Nick Salvucci during a recent tournament out of Ladd’s Marina in Stockton.

The Sacramento River from the Hwy 113 Bridge near Knights Landing to the Carquinez Bridge (includes Suisun Bay, Grizzly Bay and all tributary sloughs west of Highway 160) are open to salmon from July 16th to December 16th with a limit of two Chinook salmon.

 


It's that time of year that this writer takes off to our vacation home on the Kenai peninsula. We will be gone July 13th to the 26th. This is the peak of the sockeye run and we will be putting in lots of river time chasing "reds" and of course chasing halibut, rockfish and monster lings with trips scheduled with Captain Steve Smith.
I will bring along my laptop and update reports when we are seeing major changes or "hot bites" but reports here will be sporadic at best.
Full reports will resume on July 26th. In the time being please contact our sponsors or visit their websites for current reports, information and bookings.
Until then... good fishing!
Mike Aughney


Federal judge denies motion to block water transfers
by Dan Bacher

A federal judge on July 11 denied a motion by an environmental group and fishing organization for a preliminary injunction against water transfers from northern California to San Joaquin Valley irrigators.
Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill of the U.S. District Court in Fresno rejected the motion for the preliminary injunction to stop the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from transferring water through the south Delta export pumps to the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority, which includes the Westlands Water District.
The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) and AquAlliance filed the motion, claiming that the environmental assessment was "seriously flawed" and that the transfers posed "an eminent threat to threatened Delta smelt," according to a statement from Bill Jennings, CSPA Executive Director.
CSPA and AquAlliance had pointed out that extremely low Delta outflows this year had brought Delta smelt habitat (the low salinity zone) and Delta smelt into the Delta where they were threatened with lethal water temperatures.
The judge's decision was predicated on “agency deference” and the fact that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Bureau claimed that Delta smelt were not in danger because they’re not in the Delta in summer, noted Jennings.
Jennings said, “We’re deeply disappointed in the decision and will now decide our next steps. Contrary to the decision, Delta smelt are at severe risk. The U.S. Geological Survey’s state-of-the-art flow gages of Delta outflow, confirmed by increasing salinity levels, reveal a net inflow to the Delta from the ocean."
Jennnings said the 23-26 June Delta smelt survey by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reveals that there are no Delta smelt in Suisun Bay and that 92.95% are in the Delta and exposed to high temperatures. A remnant group (7%) of Delta smelt is trapped in the Sacramento Ship Channel, but won’t likely survive August temperatures.
State fishery biologists counted only 22 smelt, once the most numerous species in the entire Delta, from June 23 to June 26. The survey included 120 trawls at 40 different locations.
"The USFWS and Bureau have escorted Delta smelt to the scaffold and the judge signed the warrant. We did all we could do to prevent disaster," emphasized Jennings.
Jennings said the state and federal governments have mismanaged northern California water so poorly that there was actually a minus 45 cubic feet per second (cfs) net outflow to the Bay this May while the Department of Water Resources and US Bureau of Reclamation were reporting a plus 3805 cfs.
“Last year, excessive water exports and low outflow drew delta smelt from Suisun Bay into the central Delta where they were butchered by lethal water temperatures," Jennings revealed. "This year, with population levels hovering at historic lows: excessive transfers and exports, relaxed flow standards, high temperatures and negligible outflows may catapult the species into the abyss of extinction. On top of these threats, we were astonished to discover that the estimates of Delta outflow that state and federal agencies have reported and regulators have relied upon for years are wrong and significantly overestimate outflow in low flow conditions."
The Net Delta Outflow Index (NDOI) used to assess compliance with required flow standards is based upon a formula of both actual and estimated data. Examination of tidally filtered outflow data from the U.S. Geological Survey’s state-of-the-art UVM flow meters on the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and Three-mile and Dutch Sloughs reveals that actual Net Delta Outflow (NDO) in low flow conditions are considerably lower, according to Jennings.
The Delta smelt, Hypomesus transpacificus, is an endangered fish from 2.0 to 2.8 inches long that is found only in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. It mainly inhabits the freshwater-saltwater mixing zone of the estuary, except during its spawning season when it migrates upstream to freshwater following winter "first flush" flow events, approximately from March to May.
The fish is an "indicator species" that demonstrates the health of the Bay-Delta Estuary, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas. Because of its one-year life cycle and relatively low fecundity, it is very susceptible to changes in the environmental conditions of its native habitat. Massive water exports out of Delta to corporate agribusiness interests have played a key role in the precipitous decline of the fish in recent years.
Note: The court decision plus an index of Delta smelt, results of the 23-26 June DFW Delta smelt survey, USGS flow data and salinity data that show Delta smelt to be at grave risk are attached.
cspa_v_bor_order_denying_pi_140711.pdfdownload PDF (393.4 KB)

 


Tony Lopez of Benicia Bait reported very slow action in the area with the exception of a few small striped bass from the shoreline on Tuesday 7-8 Few anglers are trying for sturgeon, but when the wind cooperates, an occasional diamondback is landed with the best action in Montezuma Slough with grass shrimp. The interest in the salmon opener is high with anglers calling throughout the day to confirm the regulations.

James Nguyen of Dockside Bait in Pittsburg confirmed the overall slow action in the central Delta, but there have been legal sturgeon at 45 and 47-inches landed over the weekend. The wind lay down on Sunday, and Nguyen said, “When the wind is down, the fishermen start coming out.” The mouth of Broad Slough on the Sacramento River side near Buoys 2 and 3 has been the top area for the occasional diamondback. For striped bass, small fish are the rule, and frozen shad or sardines are the top baits for linesides ranging from undersized to 26-inches.

Doug Chapman of Gotcha Bait in Antioch reported stripers have been taken from the banks along Sherman Island Road on frozen shad or mudsuckers, and catfishing has been solid near Rio Vista with fresh or frozen clams.
Johnny Tran at Freeport Bait reported plenty of shaker stripers are in the Sacramento River, but there are some larger fish holding with sardines being the top bait. Chicken liver is also working for stripers with the possibility of picking up a big catfish. The best catfish action is in the Deep Water Channel. Crawdad-patterned crankbaits are working for smallmouth bass in Steamboat Slough and the Old Sacramento River near rocky shorelines. New Romeo’s Bait in Freeport will be holding a salmon seminar on July 13th at 6:30 p.m. by Captain Mike Gravert of Intimidator Sport Fishing. There will be no sales tax on salmon tackle during the evening.
Saturday’s Free Fishing Day brought out crowds of new anglers to the Delta, and Doug Chapman of Gotcha Bait in Antioch said, “We were really busy, and the Antioch Fishing Pier was so crowded that fishermen were coming back to get advice for alternate locations.” Striper action has been best in the western portion of the San Joaquin River while bluegill and catfish are dominating the eastern and southern regions of the river.
Live mudsuckers made a brief appearance at Gotcha Bait, but they sold out in a hurry for striper fishermen anchoring near the Antioch Bridge or in Broad Slough. Chapman said, “There have been few sturgeon fishermen, but we went through 50-pounds of fresh clams in two days for catfish, so the interest in whiskerfish has increased.”

Jim Pickens of the Fishermen’s Friend in Lodi said, “Catfish still being caught on chicken liver, mackerel and clams, and bluegill fishing has taken off throughout the Delta with jumbo red worms being their favorite bait.”
Captain Stan Koenigsberger of Quetzal Adventures out of Bethel Harbor reported frozen shad has been working for numbers of stripers, but catching legal fish has been challenging. He went for a shakedown cruise on July 4thwith Tom Coss of Tom Coss’s Tackle Company for a limit of stripers to 26-inches near Marker 17 off of Sherman Island on frozen shad.

Alan Fong of the Fishermen’s Warehouse in Sacramento confirmed the excellent bass bite in the east Delta, but he using a punching technique in the floating mats with Missile Tackle’s D-Bombs on weights ranging from 1.5 to 3-ounces. On the low tide, Fong has found an excellent grade of bass in the floating hydrilla outside of the main mats with a light weight of 1-ounce.
Brandon Gallegos of H and R Bait in Stockton said, “The striped bass bite has gone belly-up, but there are bluegill throughout the south Delta with bank fishermen scoring on the access areas along Eight Mile Road, Inland Drive, Bacon Island Road, Whiskey Slough Road, and Holland Tract with jumbo red worms or wax worms.” Fresh shad is still a no-show in area bait shops, and extra-large and jumbo minnows remained scarce.


Putting some myths about California’s drought to rest
By Jay Lund, Jeffrey Mount and Ellen Hanak

As the effects of the drought worsen, two persistent water myths are complicating the search for solutions. One is that environmental regulation is causing California’s water scarcity. The other is that conservation alone can bring us into balance. Each myth has different advocates. But both hinder the development of effective policies to manage one of the state’s most important natural resources.

Let’s consider the first myth, that water shortages for farms are the result of too much water being left in streams for fish and wildlife. Claims are circulating that California’s farms have lost 4 million acre-feet annually because of environmental policies, and some have even suggested that the severe, long-term declines in groundwater levels in the San Joaquin Valley are a result of environmental cutbacks.

Since the early 1990s, efforts to improve environmental conditions have indeed reduced water supply reliability, particularly for San Joaquin Valley farmers who rely on exports from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. But blaming these efforts for today’s critical supply issues vastly overstates the role of environmental regulations.

By our calculations, restrictions on Delta exports, coupled with new restrictions on flows on the San Joaquin River, have cost San Joaquin Valley farmers no more than 1.5 million acre-feet per year in reduced water deliveries – a sizable amount, but far less than 4 million acre-feet. During the current drought emergency, environmental restrictions have been significantly relaxed to make more water available for farms and cities, with most of the remaining Delta outflows dedicated to keeping water in the Delta fresh enough for local farmers.

And while reduced surface water has likely accelerated groundwater overdraft in the Valley – especially since new Delta pumping restrictions in the late 2000s – the notion that environmental restrictions are the origin of overdraft is unfounded.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, farmers in the Valley have been mining groundwater at an average annual rate of 1.5 million acre-feet per year since long before Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act in 1972. Nothing seems to change this overall pattern, including construction of the State Water Project. Water demand in the San Joaquin Valley simply exceeds available supply. What’s more, the Valley’s water demands are likely increasing with the shift to permanent orchards and vineyards – now more than 40 percent of total irrigated farm acreage.

What about the second myth? Can conservation really create abundant “new”water? Of course, new technology and changing water use habits have yielded long-term declines in per capita water consumption in California, and this drought is likely to spur more reductions. New irrigation techniques and better crop varieties, along with rising commodity prices, have helped California’s agricultural industry steadily increase production and profits. Farmers have become more economically efficient in using their water.

Some claim that potential dramatic yields of more than 10 million acre-feet of new water – equivalent to 10 full Folsom Reservoirs – can be had from conservation measures that draw half from agricultural and half from urban users. But this is just not credible.

In fact, conservation does not always yield new water, because the water saved is often not wasted in the first place – it is already reused. This is especially true in agriculture.

Irrigation water that is not consumed by crops flows back into rivers or seeps into groundwater basins. Indeed, the single largest source of groundwater recharge in the Central Valley is irrigation. Studies from around the world consistently show that increased irrigation efficiency often does not decrease net water use. Indeed, these technologies often encourage farmers to plant more crops, worsening long-term declines in groundwater availability. The only way to generate reductions in water use on the scale imagined is to fallow several million acres of farmland.

In the urban environment, steady reductions in per capita water use since the early 1990s have allowed total urban use to remain steady at about 8.5 million acre-feet annually, despite the addition of 7 million new residents. Further savings – especially from more drought-tolerant landscapes – will be needed. But because about a third of urban water already gets reused – it also returns to rivers or groundwater basins – it’s simply not possible to achieve the level of new water that some have imagined.

The reality is that conservation is a valuable and necessary part of a portfolio of approaches to water supply management, but it will not produce vast quantities of new water for California.

As the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Californians need to make continued progress in managing our scarce water resources to get through this drought – and future droughts – while protecting the state’s economy, society and environment. This requires a common understanding of the causes of water scarcity, and practical, reasoned solutions – not blame games and wishful thinking.

Jay Lund is director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis and an adjunct fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California. Jeffrey Mount and Ellen Hanak are senior fellows at PPIC.


Big rally against the tunnels set for July 29!
by Dan Bacher
 
July 29 will be the last day for public comment on Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels.
I urge every body to join Restore the Delta at a rally marking this date and in raising the ongoing message “NO TUNNELS!”
"We are at a critical time in the BDCP twin tunnels process–we must make our opposition against the tunnels seen and heard throughout the state," according to an announcement by Restore the Delta. "We need all supporters to show up in large numbers to show how unpopular these tunnels really are. Save the date, share our event, and plan to join us."
The twin tunnels won't create one drop of new water, but they will lead to horrendous environmental degradation. The construction of the tunnels will hasten the extinction of
Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt and other fish species, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath river.
Brown' "legacy" project will destroy the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas that provides a nursery for many species. It will harm salmon, halibut, leopard shark, soupfin shark, sevengill shark, anchovy, sardine, herring, groundfish and Dungeness crab populations stretching from Southern Washington to Southern California.
The habitat "restoration" proposed under this project will greenwash this project, just like the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative's fake "marine protected areas" greenwashed fracking, pollution and other environmentally destructive activities off the California coast. In a surrealistic scenario, the BDCP will take vast tracts of Delta farmland, among the most fertile on the planet, out of production in order to irrigate toxic, drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and provide Delta water to Southern California developers and oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations in Kern County.
The tunnels are being constructed in tandem with the federal government's plan to raise Shasta Dam, a project that will flood many of the remaining sacred sites of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe that weren't inundated by Shasta Dam. There is no doubt that the tunnels and Shasta Dam raise plans constitute cultural genocide against the Winnemem Wintu and other Northern California Tribes.
I strongly urge you to attend this rally to show the Governor that you strongly oppose the environmental devastation and cultural genocide that will be caused by this plan.
Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, emphasizes the danger that the peripheral tunnels pose to California’s fish, people and rivers.
“The common people will pay for the peripheral tunnels project and a few people will make millions,” says Sisk. “It will turn a once pristine water way into a sewer pipe. It will be all bad for the fish, the ocean and the people of California.”
 
Here are all of the details:
DATE: Tuesday, July 29th
LOCATION: West Steps of State Capitol, 10th St and Capitol Street, Sacramento
TIME: 11:30 AM
Download and share our flyer. More details to come on speakers and live music.
If you are an organization interested in tabling or speaking, please e-mail Stina@RestoretheDelta.org and/or Javier@RestoretheDelta.org.
To RSVP for the bus ride from Stockton or Oakley or if you have any questions relating to event, please contact Stina@restorethedelta.org or call (209) 475-9550.
Buses will be departing at 9:30 AM. RSVP is required for bus rides and must be submitted by July 21, 2014. A $10 donation is required for bus ride, however we will not turn you away if you cannot make the donation.
BUS DEPARTING LOCATIONS
(1) OAKLEY: Lauritzen Yacht Harbor, 115 Lauritzen Ln, Oakley, CA – parking spots will also be available.
(2) STOCKTON: AG Spanos Parking Lot, 10100 Trinity Parkway, Suite 120, Stockton, CA – parking spots are available in the highlighted areas (see map).
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ALL RALLY ATTENDEES
1. Bring snacks and drinks to stay hydrated and energized.
2. Dress appropriately for hot summer weather.
3. Bring handmade signs opposing the tunnels.
4. If you have not made a public comment yet, you still have time to make one: http://restorethedelta.org/how-to-comment-on-bdcp/
For more information, go to: http://restorethedelta.org/events/

Water Interests Prime the Pump in Washington
by
Kitty Felde and Viveca Novak on

This story is the result of a collaboration between Southern California Public Radio and the Center for Responsive Politics.

Last year, as California endured one of its driest years on record, the Westlands Water District made it rain 3,000 miles away — on Capitol Hill.

The nation’s largest agricultural water district, located in the Central Valley, spent $600,000 on lobbying efforts, according to an analysis by KPCC in partnership with the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. That’s by far Westlands’ biggest annual expenditure for lobbying — about six times what it spent in 2010.
The lobbying comes as Congress and federal agencies consider how to respond to three years of drought conditions that have cut water supplies across the state and ratcheted up political pressure from the hard-hit agricultural sector, including many of Westlands’customers.
California farmers grow nearly half the nation’s fruits, vegetables and nuts. The California Farm Water Coalition, an industry group, estimates farmers — and the processors and truckers who get crops to market — could lose $5 billion this year due to the drought.
How important is this issue? Well, in recent months it’s brought President Obama, the House Speaker and the powerful House Natural Resources Committee to the Central Valley.
Congress is considering two major legislative packages — one already passed by the House, authored by freshman Republican Rep.
David Valadao of Hanford; and one introduced in the Senate by California Democrats Dianne Feinstein, with Barbara Boxer
as a co-sponsor.
The bills have the common goal of redistributing water to meet farmers’ needs, but they differ on execution and the ramifications. The House bill, which was co-sponsored by the state’s entire GOP delegation, would rewrite water contracts and in the process set aside protections, which has environmental groups up in arms.
The Senate bill would allow regulators to “provide the maximum quantity of water supplies possible” to where it’s most needed and boost existing federal drought programs by $200 million.
As is true with many issues in Washington, money is part of the fight. As Bay Area Rep.George Miller, a Democrat, says, “You can make water run uphill if you have enough money.”

The DC bucket brigade
California water politics is mostly about geography — Northern California’s watershed versus the Central Valley, which relies on that water coming south to irrigate crops, versus Southern California, with its massive and thirsty urban population. As the drought has worsened, those various interests have pushed harder for relief through campaign contributions to key members of Congress and by employing lobbyists.
The two biggest spenders on water issues are Westlands, whose customers own 600,000 acres of farmland in Fresno and Kings counties, and the owners of Kern County-based Paramount Farms, the nation’s largest grower of pistachios and almonds.
Just how serious is the quest for water? Last year, Westlands hired four different lobbying firms — even as the overall amount spent by all groups and corporations on federal lobbying has been going down since 2010.
All eight of Westlands’ officially registered lobbyists previously worked in government — including a former Republican congressman from Minnesota.
And the $600,000 Westlands spent in 2013 is only what was reported on required disclosure forms. According to an internal document obtained by Southern California Public Radio, Westlands also paid $90,000 last year to former California Democratic Rep. Tony Coelho for“Washington representation,” which was not included in Westlands’ lobbying reports.
Coelho, who did not respond to requests for an interview, is related to one of Westlands’ board members and they are partners in a dairy farm. Westlands also paid another firm nearly $1 million for an “outreach and awareness” campaign.
Democratic lawmaker Miller, who has been on Capitol Hill for more than four decades, says lobbyists keep their“A-game” going all the time, rain or shine, “because you never know when the good Lord’s going to turn off the water. So you’d better be ready.”
Money is extremely helpful in obtaining access and influence, which is crucial whenever Congress gets involved. That’s true whether the cash is in the form of spending on lobbying or campaign donations.
Paramount Farms is owned by Lynda and Stewart Resnick of Los Angeles. Their multi-billion dollar fortune comes from a diverse portfolio that includes Fiji bottled water. They have a controlling interest in the Kern Water Bank Authority, which stores underground supplies of water to irrigate Paramount’s nut trees.
The Resnicks don’t hire lobbyists at the federal level, but they’re generous campaign contributors. They and people who work for their companies have given nearly $457,000 to candidates, political action and party committees since 2011. That includes nearly $321,000 from the Resnicks themselves. (See table at end of story.)

Setting the water table
You can’t just read the House and Senate bills and point to paragraphs that directly help either Westlands or the Resnicks. But John Lawrence, a former Capitol Hill staffer who currently teaches at the University of California’s DC Center, says water bills are “very often written specifically in a vague sort of way.” Congressman Miller adds:“There’s rarely any word in a piece of water legislation that’s there accidentally.”
The bill that passed in the House would mandate an increase in pumping from the Sacramento Delta. Doug Obegi, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, says that water would primarily go to Central Valley Project contractors, including the biggest — the Westlands Water District.
The bill also extends for 40 years all existing federal water service contracts — including the one for Westlands. Lawrence says that takes away any flexibility to make water decisions for a generation. He notes that once you’ve delivered a “signed, sealed contract, let alone been directed to do it by the Congress,” you’ve taken away any chance at reviewing how future water should be allocated.
Feinstein’s Senate bill includes several provisions that would allow Delta water to be sent farther south to Kern County. Patricia Schifferle of the environmental group Pacific Advocates says, because of previous legislative amendments, the water would be made available to the groundwater bank controlled by Feinstein’s supporters — the Resnicks.
(Neither Westlands nor the Resnicks’ holding company, Roll International, responded to requests for interviews.)
Feinstein recently revised her bill. This latest version includes a provision to boost Colorado River storage in Nevada, home to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. This version could make it to the Senate floor for a vote without going through the committee process.
Horse trading on Capitol Hill isn’t new. Some of the lobbying money goes to making sure everyone gets to wet their beak. Miller notes that deals get made — trading something Midwest lawmakers want in the farm bill for something Central Valley interests need in the water bill. He says there are “a lot of chits out there that have been planted around the anticipation of a water bill coming to the floor of Congress.”
If the House bill became law, Ron Stork of Friends of the River says not only would habitat restoration be hurt, but so would two other water consumers: farmers and residential users in the northern part of the state. Delta farmers, with some of the oldest water rights in California, and the city and county of Sacramento, which contract for drinking water, would find their supply “commandeered and delivered south.”
The lobbying isn’t limited to Capitol Hill. It also takes place at the agency level. John Lawrence says private meetings are held behind closed doors at places such as the Bureau of Reclamation or the Environmental Protection Agency, where there’s “greater wiggle room” on how water policies are implemented. Those conversations are confidential, not debated openly in Congressional committee hearings.
Westlands’ reports show it lobbied the EPA, the Agriculture Department, the Interior Department (which includes the Bureau of Reclamation) and the Council on Environmental Quality, in addition to Congress and the White House. Three of the water district’s lobbyists are former high-ranking officials of the Interior Department.
There’s even a place lobbyists and campaign contributions collide: Schifferle from Pacific Advocates notes a 2012 breakfast fundraiser for Feinstein in the offices of one of Westlands’ lobbying firms, held “right around the time” of a budget amendment that gave water agencies access to federal water.
In Washington, certain wells never run dry.


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