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.

Sally Jewell takes over at Department of Interior

  Editor's Note:  Sally Jewell was sworn in last Friday (April 12, 2013) as the 51st Secretary of Interior.  Let us hope she turns her attention to California water matters, particularly the Bay-Delta estuary and the never-ending selenium/agricultural drainage pollution that now spews into the lower San Joaquin River.  What follows is the unedited news release of Jewell's new job:
 
Sally Jewell Gets to Work as Secretary of the Interior 
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Assuming her responsibilities as the 51st Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell is spending her first full day in the office meeting some of the Department's more than 70,000 employees. She also began to hold meetings on important issues before the Department, including energy development, conservation, Indian Affairs and youth engagement.

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Westlands Exagerrating Water Cutback Impacts

  Dr. Jeffrey Michael says the Westlands Water District and Rep. Jim Costa are exagaretting the impacts of water cutbacks to the nation's largest federal water district.  Westlands may only receive 20 percent of its requested amount of water this year and claims it will be impacted worse than 2009, when Westlands supplies were held to just 10 percent.  Dr. Michael is director of the Business Forecasting Center at the University of Pacific in Stockton.  You can read his blog here: http://valleyecon.blogspot.com/

  Jim Costa, a Democrat, represents the Westlands area and wrote a letter to U.S. Bureau of Reclamation commissioner Michael Connor on March 3, claiming the cutbacks, due to dry year conditions and court ordered protections for Delta fish, including smelt and salmon, will cost his region's economy $2.2 billion.   Thomas Birmingham, general manager of Westlands, estimated economy losses of "more than $1 billion", in a March 22 press release,  more than a billion less than Costa's prediction.  Neither Costa or Birmingham revealed the source of their numbers or how they define "region."    READ MORE »

California Department of Water Resources quietly backs away from asserting that the BDCP will increase water supply reliability

By Deirdre Des Jardins

California Water Research

   

 

In August, 2012, California Water Research released a report, Incorporating Drought Risk Into California Water Resources Planning.  Since that time we have been waging a quiet campaign for the Department of Water Resources to recognize that their climate modelling for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan has significant limitations and inconsistencies.  READ MORE »

Prominent Westlands Water District Grower Mark Borba calls President Obama "Blackie" and also slams Sen. Dianne Feinstein

 The Fresno Bee reported today (April 9, 2013) that prominent Westlands Water District grower Mark Borba was removed as chairman of the board of directors of Community Medical Centers because of his use of a racial slur about President Barack Obama in an email exchange with Westlands general manager Thomas Birmingham.  The Bee reported Borba called President Obama "Blackie" in an obscenity-laced email (The Bee called it a "rant") about Westlands' water supply problems.  The Bee story can be read at http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/04/08/3249151/community-medical-centers-board.html.

 Borba, who declined to be interviewed by the Bee, recently sent an email to the original email recipients and hospital board members and officers, expressing regrets for his slur of President Obama and his use of obscenities. Birmingham was not quoted in the Bee article.

"The language I used was hurtful to many people and it embarrassed my friends and colleagues. My language was inexcusable and I am greatly embarrassed by it myself," Borba wrote in the email, according to the Bee.  However, hospital officials concluded he could not stay on the board.  READ MORE »

Kesterson Whistleblower Felix Smith's letter to the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service goes unanswered

Editor's Note: Felix Smith, who suffered political harassment from his superiors during his 34-year federal career, was the federal biologist who in 1983 leaked to the news media that deformities in birds nesting at the Kesterson National Refuge had been poisoned by selenium-tainted, toxic drainwater from the Westlands Water District.

    The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, for several months, kept secret the Kesterson bird deformities until Smith leaked the story to Fresno Bee reporter Deborah Blum.  Smith took early retirement in 1990, tired of the harassment.

     Smith wrote the following letter to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe four months ago.  Ashe has not answered Smith.  USA Today environmental columnist Dan Vergano wrote an article on April 6, 2013, which indicated federal biologists continue to be intimidated by their superiors in speaking out about selenium pollution from phosphate and coal mines in several states. 

 

December 17, 2012   READ MORE »

USA Today environmental columnist Dan Vergano writes about selenium problems and muzzling of government scientists

USA Today environmental columnist Dan Vergano ran an article in the nationwide newspaper on Saturday (2013/04/06) about the harassment of federal biologist Joe Skorupa who wrote a critical report about selenium impacts at an Idaho phosphate mine, including two-headed fish.  He mentioned my website and the previous coverage I did of the harassment of Skorupa, who, in the late 1980s, confirmed selenium impacts on wildlife using farm wasterwater evaporation ponds in the Tulare Basin of the Southern San Joaquin Valley.  Vergano's article can be read here:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/vergano/2013/04/06/hansen-federal-scientists-communication/2053077/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+usatoday-TechTopStories+(Tech+-+Top+Stories)

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The Sacramento Bee plays dumb on real Delta issues

 

The Sacramento Bee plays dumb on real Delta issues  READ MORE »

In Memoriam: Bruce Tokars

 

 Salmon advocate and water warrior Bruce Tokars died this week of an apparent heart attack.  He was 64.  Bruce was known for his viral videos attacking industrial agriculture in the western San Joaquin Valley for its water grab and threat to the Delta.  Bruce's website, www.salmonwaternow.org, has many of his memorable five to 10-minute videos which weaved in clips from the news, old movies, commercials, cartoons, etc. that delighted and informed viewers.  He was a dear friend.  His brother-in-law was salmon fishing industry advocate Larry Collins.  Following are some quotes from the many people in California's environmental community who were saddened on learning of Bruce's passing.  I have left off the authors' names because I did not have time to contact them for approval although I feel certain they would gladly make their comments publicly known.  Here is a sample:  READ MORE »

EPA Survey Finds More Than Half of the Nation’s River and Stream Miles in Poor Condition



WASHINGTON — Today (March 26), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the results of the first comprehensive survey looking at the health of thousands of stream and river miles across the country, finding that more than half – 55 percent – are in poor condition for aquatic life.

“The health of our Nation’s rivers, lakes, bays and coastal waters depends on the vast network of streams where they begin, and this new science shows that America’s streams and rivers are under significant pressure,” said Office of Water Acting Assistant Administrator Nancy Stoner. “We must continue to invest in protecting and restoring our nation’s streams and rivers as they are vital sources of our drinking water, provide many recreational opportunities, and play a critical role in the economy.” 
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Westlands' $20,000-a-month lawyer/lobbyist runs into new troubles

 

By Lloyd G. Carter

               Nearly a year ago  I blogged on this website about the Westlands Water District hiring Washington powerhouse lawyer/lobbyist Norman Brownstein, dubbed the "101st Senator" by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.  That two-part article was titled "How the West(lands) Was Won."  Just use the website search engine with the keyword "Brownstein" to find it.

              That series detailed the rise of the Denver, Colo. law firm of Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber and Schreck, a major lobbying firm in Colorado and Washington, D.C., as well as a powerhouse law firm with branch offices in several states, including California.

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