The Chronicles of the Hydraulic Brotherhood
Lloyd G. Carter, former UPI and Fresno Bee reporter, has been writing about California water issues for more than 35 years. He is President of the California Save Our Streams Council. He is also a board member of the Underground Gardens Conservancy and host of a monthly radio show on KFCF, 88.1 FM in Fresno. This is his personal blog site and contains archives of his news career as well as current articles, radio commentaries, and random thoughts.

Cowardice at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

     In my nearly 30 years covering pollution issues at National Wildlife Refuges, I have come across several courageous field level employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and a few cowards in management positions, managers who are afraid of politicians, polluters, and their own shadows.  A good example is the debacle at the Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge in the early 1980s, where toxic selenium-tainted agricultural waste water from the Westlands Water District polluted the food chain in evaporation ponds at the Merced County "refuge," a supposed haven for migratory ducks and birds, triggering deformities and reproductive failure.  There were heroes like biologist Felix Smith - who leaked the Kesterson findings to Fresno Bee reporter Deborah Blum, and there were cowards in the Portland regional office who participated in a cover-up to delay release of the Kesterson findings.  READ MORE »

Selenium contributing to honeybee die-off?

Remember how selenium ravaged the Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge in Central California nearly 30 years ago?  Selenium is a trace element that is a micronutrient but can also be lethal at slightly higher doses than needed for nutritional necessity. It is widespread in the soils of the western San Joaquin Valley but is liberated from the soil by irrigation, which acts as a solvent. Farm drainage water containing poisonous levels of selenium was funnelled to evaporation ponds at Kesterson three decades ago and quickly bio-concentrated as it moved up the food chain, nearly wiping out the Refuge's bird population and triggering grotesque deformities in bird embryos.  Now UC Davis researchers think they found a link between declines in bee populations and selenium. You can read about it here:  http://www.smh.com.au/environment/chain-reaction-toxic-soil-kills-bees-threatens-food-production-20120416-1x2we.html.  Or read the actual report here: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0034137.  READ MORE »

How the West(lands) Was Won, a two-part series - Part One

By Lloyd G. Carter

Editor’s note: Part one of this series addresses the merits of Westlands Water District’s breach of contract claim in the U.S. Claims Court in Washington, D.C. Part Two addresses the Denver law firm hired to represent Westlands and its far flung political connections.

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     In the wake of the public relations debacle over the brief hiring of former federal judge Oliver Wanger, the Westlands Water District has now hired a high-powered Denver, Colorado law firm with close ties to Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar and political tentacles reaching to the highest levels of both the Democratic and Republican parties.

     Westlands, on January 6, 2012, quietly filed a complaint in the U.S. Court of Claims in Washington, D.C. claiming the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation breached its 1963 contract with Westlands by failing for decades to build a drainage system to carry away Westlands’ toxic waste waters to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. There was no Westlands press release on the Court of Claims suit and no mainstream media picked up the story for almost a month.  READ MORE »

Will Westlands sell water to Southern California uban interests?

Go to this website to see a video on whether or not Westlands will sell water to urban interests instead of using it for farming:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgWFyhPtJTs&feature=youtu.be&hd=1

Lawsuit filed against LA County Approval of Massive Newhall Ranch Project

Development in Floodplain Would Devastate Wildlife Habitat, Hurt Cultural Resources

 

 

LOS ANGELES— A coalition of five public-interest groups today sued Los Angeles County in Superior Court over its approval of permits for the first phase of the sprawling Newhall Ranch development — one of the largest single residential development projects ever contemplated in California — which is proposed for 12,000 acres along the Santa Clara River in northwest L.A. County. Newhall Ranch would create a city of more than 60,000 on a six-mile stretch of the river that is currently rugged open space and farmland by channeling the county’s last mostly free-flowing river.

 

 

The construction approved by the county on Feb. 23 would require filling of the Santa Clara River’s floodplain on a large scale; channelizing over three miles of river and converting many tributary streams to concrete-lined channels; unearth and desecrate American Indian burial sites, sacred places and cultural natural resources such as the California condor; and threaten the San Fernando Valley spineflower — a species found in only one other location on the planet.

 

   READ MORE »

Will Westlands sell water to raise money to pay bonds?

Westlands Water District Deputy General Manager Jason Peltier recently told a state senate committee the mammoth federal water district will not be reselling irrigation water to urban interests and that the water district’s growers were not “profiteers.”  Questions have been raised because the bond rating agency Fitch recently reported that Westlands could “potentially” sell off some of its water supply, if necessary to pay off $50 million in bonds that Westlands and some adjacent water districts took out. Click on "1 attachment" below.

Gorbachev says the world must respond to global water crisis

Marseille, France - The world must urgently respond to the global water crisis to prevent conflicts, ensure fair access to this life-giving resource, and reduce unsustainable use of water and other natural resources to protect the planet, Green Cross International Founder Mikhail Gorbachev said during his address to today’s (Monday, March 12) high-level opening of the 6th World Water Forum.

 

President Gorbachev, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, said there must be a political, economic and social shift in the way we deal with water, otherwise the world will encounter devastating political and humanitarian consequences.

 

“Water is at the heart of our economies, our societies, our futures,” “Water is the basis for all development and its strategic importance has demonstrated it can serve as a vehicle for peace and also tension. The risk of competition between regions and countries may only increase if we do not find a way to protect and share water.” “On our planet Earth we do have water, but accessible resources of fresh water are limited, and water use for human needs keeps rising. Continuation of water consumption at 20th century rates is no longer possible,” President Gorbachev told the World Water Forum, being held in Marseille, France.

   READ MORE »

New York Times Article on selenium causing two-headed trout in Idaho

Well, the New York Times has released  an article on selenium poisoning in Idaho. 

To read the Times piece click here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/23/science/earth/mutated-trout-raise-new-concerns-over-selenium.html?_r=1

You may also want to check this website: http://gizmodo.com/5887630/two+headed-mutant-trouts-are-not-enough-to-stop-selenium-pollution

 

It will be interesting to see if the Times now begins following this issue and reporting on developments, particularly in California agriculture and West Virginia coal mining.  

Two-headed fish from selenium poisoning? They're here!!

The news has broken that selenium from phosphate mining in Idaho has triggered grotesque mutations in fish in Idaho creeks, notably two-headed fish.  This story was first broken by Patrick Porgans, a California State Water Resources Control Board watchdog and top notch investigator.  He had been sitting on the story for months in order to protect his sources.  Porgan's detailed report can be found at his website: www.planetarysolutionaires.org.

A Reuters News Service article on the two-headed fish, reprinted at the Scientific American magazine website, can also  be found at https://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=idaho-mine-understates-impact-on-fi  READ MORE »

Who needs a cost-benefit analysis? Not Southern California

By Lloyd G. Carter

When Assembly Member Alyson Huber of El Dorado Hills failed to get an economic feasibility analysis bill on the controversial proposed peripheral canal out of committee recently, she was probably unaware that a similar challenge had been made to the finances of the State Water Project in 1960 by the late George “Elfie” Ballis, a legendary figure in Central California water and farmworker politics.

Huber’s bill (AB 550) would have required express approval of the Legislature for any “conveyance facility, an honest cost-benefit analysis of a peripheral canal or tunnel around the Delta” (which proponents claim would help the Delta) and prohibit any diminishing or negative impact on Delta water supplies, water rights, or water users. It failed to clear the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife on a 7-5 vote. But the vote was not along party lines. It was based on geography. North State legislators, including committee chairman Jared Huffman voted for it. The Southern California Committee members voted against it.  READ MORE »

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