South Delta Improvements Program

Public Scoping Meetings Summary

 

October 2002

 

A series of public scoping meetings was held to solicit and receive public input on alternatives, concerns, and issues to be addressed in the environmental impact report/environmental impact statement (EIR/EIS) for the South Delta Improvements Program (SDIP).  The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) intend to prepare an EIR/EIS for implementing the SDIP.  The purpose of the SDIP is to increase the diversion capability of the State Water Project Delta export facility to meet California water supply demands in a manner which does not adversely impact Bay-Delta fish species or other currently permitted beneficial uses of water in the South Delta.

 

The meeting began with an open house, where attendees could review meeting materials and view display boards, followed by a presentation and a comment period.  A series of display boards were prepared to illustrate the project area, project elements and issues.  The open house provided the opportunity for attendees to review the display boards and speak with DWR and Reclamation staff.  The presentation allowed the project managers from DWR and Reclamation to provide detailed information on the project background, description, and purpose.  Individuals responded with verbal comments during the meeting or handed in written comments before or after the meeting.

 

Handouts were also available at the meeting and included an agenda, comment card, SDIP fact sheet, a hard copy of the presentation, and informational brochures on DWR and Reclamation. 

 

Meeting Dates/Locations:

 


Monday, October 7, 2002

1:30 PM to 4:00 PM

Resources Building Auditorium

1416 Ninth Street

Sacramento, CA  95814

 

Wednesday, October 9, 2002

6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Brentwood Community Center Multipurpose Room

730 Third Street


Thursday, October 10, 2002

6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Room 1-405

700 North Alameda Street

Los Angeles, CA  90012

 

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Fresno Convention and Conference Center, Meeting Room 2017

700 M Street

Fresno, CA  93721


Thursday, October 17, 2002

6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Roberts Union Farm Center

4925 West Howard Road

Stockton, CA  95206

 


 

Meeting Introductions

 

The meeting facilitator began each scoping meeting by explaining that the purpose of the meeting was to introduce the public to the SDIP, solicit and receive their comments, inform them of the preparation of an environmental document under the California Environmental Quality Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, and introduce them to the agency and consultant team representatives for the project.  The agency team representatives introduced were: Paul Marshall, SDIP project manager on behalf of DWR; Dan Meier, project manager on behalf of Reclamation; Sam Cervantes from Reclamation; Alan Oto from Reclamation (at Los Angeles) and Mike Ford from DWR (at Sacramento).  The Jones & Stokes consultant team representatives were Tanya Matson, Claire Bromund (at Sacramento, Brentwood, Fresno, Stockton), Janet Barbieri (at Sacramento and Stockton), and Kristin Warren (at Brentwood, Los Angeles, Fresno). 

 

Project Presentation

 

Mr. Marshall described the purpose, setting, and background of the SDIP, its relationship to the CALFED Bay-Delta Program (CALFED), and the current Temporary Barriers Program.  He noted that the purpose of the SDIP is to increase the diversion capability of the State Water Project while providing adequate water quantity and quality to local agricultural users in the South Delta and improving conditions for San Joaquin River salmon. The project is addressing water reliability, water quality, and fisheries issues.  SDIP has been under consideration for many years and has been designed to improve water delivery, local water quality, and conditions for San Joaquin River salmon.  The expected benefits from the project include protection of salmon in the San Joaquin river, improved water quality for fish and other water users in the South Delta, increased water stage for agricultural diversions in the South Delta, and increased flexibility for recreation boaters.  SDIP is a component of CALFED, and the environmental document for SDIP will tier from the CALFED Programmatic EIR/EIS.  Mr. Meier continued the presentation by outlining the potential components of the SDIP, including barrier options and diversion options.  There are currently three barrier options being considered; each with some element of channel dredging involved.  The first barrier option would include permanent hydraulic barriers at Middle River and Old River, and a fish control structure at the Head of Old River.  The second barrier option would be comprised of the above-mentioned barriers with the addition of a permanent hydraulic barrier in Grant Line Canal.  The two diversion options could include an increased diversion capability during preset months, or increased diversion capability year round.  Each of these options could potentially be combined to form an alternative.  However, alternative formulation is ongoing and there are currently no final alternatives for the project. 

 

The facilitator concluded the formal presentation portion of the meeting by outlining the schedule, public input process, and next steps.  The formal presentation is available in PowerPoint format at http://sdelta.water.ca.gov/. 

 

Public Comment/Input

 

The meetings were opened to public comment.  As outlined below, parties at each meeting made oral comments and asked questions: 

 

Sacramento, California (October 7, 2002)

    ( For all available written comments, click here )

 

n        Bobbie Landers of the Old River Homeowners Association commented that the barriers are actually dams.  Referencing the presentation graphic that showed an “example barrier” in place at Suisun Marsh, but which was cited as being larger and more complex than the proposed SDIP barriers, Ms. Landers wanted to know what the barriers will really look like. In light of proposed development along Old River (Mountain House) and discharges by Calpine Energy into Old River, what effects could the SDIP have on water quality?  What water quality standards are being used?  Are they being updated?  Because the Delta is used so much for recreation, there is a need to maintain and, if possible, improve water quality.  Moving the Grant Line Canal barrier from its current temporary location may increase siltation; would there be a permanent schedule for dredging and, if so, what would the criteria be?

 

n           John Mills of the Regional Council of Rural Counties asked for clarification of the end of the scoping comment period.  The Notice of Preparation (NOP) cited October 18 as the end date, while the end date was presented as October 31.  It was clarified that the comment period had been extended and will end on October 31.  Mr. Mills also asked whether the SDIP EIR/EIS is being tiered off the CALFED Programmatic EIS/EIR or whether it is a stand-alone document.  It was clarified that the SDIP EIR/EIS will tier off the CALFED Programmatic EIS/EIR.

 

n           Terry Flowers of the Tracy Oasis Marina said that he had heard no comments about impacts on recreation and wondered what DWR and Reclamation would be doing about it.  The marina, which is downstream of the temporary Grant Line barrier, has suffered business losses for the last 6–7 years as a result of the barriers [i.e., those under the Temporary Barriers Program].  Recreational fishing is a strong industry, but the marina would lose 90% of its business with SDIP barriers closed, possibly forcing it to close.

 

n           Chris Neudeck of KSN Inc., representing Reclamation District 800 (Byron Tract), questioned whether dredging of Old River should be part of the SDIP for purposes of conveying 8,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water.  His understanding was that there would be no such dredging.  Also, would current sounding data be used in any analyses, as the rate of siltation is high?

 

Mr. Marshall responded that preliminary modeling between Coney Island and Clifton Court Forebay shows that, with flow of 8,500 cfs, it is likely that only West Canal may need dredging.  There are more recent soundings data and these are being incorporated into the modeling to determine the actual amount of dredging that may or may not be necessary.

 

n           Suzanne Womack, representing her father who is a farmer at Clifton Court Forebay, stated that when the barriers are put in place, the cost of pumping to the farmers increases significantly; she asked how DWR and Reclamation propose to repay farmers for these increased costs.  Who would be responsible for levee maintenance and compensating farmers for pump repairs/replacement?  Increased pumping would make a big difference for farmers.  Lastly, she expressed concern about potential mercury content in the silt and asked where the dredge material is dumped.

 

n           Gary Bobker of The Bay Institute expressed concerns about the impacts of an increase to 8,500 cfs of water on endangered fish.  There would be greater impacts on fish than there have been historically.  The current water quality regulations assume current export levels and therefore would be undermined by an increase in the diversion level.  A thorough analysis is needed and an alternative mitigating the greater impacts should be considered.  Also suggested was improving export timing to avoid conflicts with endangered species without increasing the level of exports.  He also noted that there are certain baseline assumptions to consider; specifically, the changes in Delta operations assume that the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA), Environmental Water Account (EWA), and Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP) are fully funded and operational.  What if these programs are not fully funded and functional, but the SDIP is in place?

 

n           Jill Cooper of PaleoResource Consultants asked about impacts on paleontological resources and whether these would be analyzed.  Mr. Marshall stressed that paleontological resources are protected under CEQA and therefore, any potential impacts would be analyzed. 

 

n           Robert Clark of the Central Valley Flood Control Association said that when converting from temporary to permanent barriers, an analysis is needed of potential flood impacts, with the 1997 flood as the baseline.

 

n           David Fullerton of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California expressed support for the SDIP.  Over the last 10 years increased flexibility in operations has been very important.  Conveying 8,500 cfs of water is key to increasing flexibility and water supply reliability. The SDIP represents a major test of CALFED’s credibility since its provisions are mentioned in the CALFED Record of Decision (ROD), and it represents a first step toward generating water supply reliability.

 

n           Dan Hinrichs of DJH Engineering and the Steering Committee for Stockton Deep Water Ship Channel Dissolved Oxygen TMDL, noted the proposed Head of Old River barrier (at Old River and the San Joaquin River). For periods of time in the late summer and early fall, the level of dissolved oxygen (DO) in the Stockton Deep Water Ship Channel is below U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Regional Water Quality Control Board levels for fish.  The DO should therefore be a major consideration in the SDIP EIR/EIS.

 

n           Ken Fairbrother of Save The Bay asked whether the increased diversion of water would affect the tidal prism going into San Francisco Bay.

 

n           J.D. Wikert of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wanted to know how conditions would be improved for salmon, as stated in the NOP and SDIP fact sheet.  Mr. Marshall replied that the Head of Old River fish barrier could be closed readily in the spring and keep salmon smolts in the San Joaquin River away from the diversion.  In the fall, with increasing flow into the San Joaquin River, the barrier could improve aeration, thus improving conditions for fish; however, this is not a complete solution. 

 

n           Terry Erlewine of the State Water Contractors voiced support for the SDIP, noting that the CALFED ROD identified through-Delta conveyance as the preferred means of conveyance.  Use of the Delta should be optimized for the state and federal projects.  He expressed concern that CALFED has made water supply reliability take a back seat to the ERP and other programs.

 

Brentwood, California (October 9, 2002)

     ( For all available written comments, click here )

 

n        Doug Lovell of the Federation of Fly Fishers had questions regarding the schedule and wanted to confirm that the public scoping comment period had been extended to October 31, 2002.  He also noted that the estimated release date for the draft EIR/EIS of Summer 2003 is less than one hydrologic cycle away.  The baseline studies would not be for a full hydrologic year.  Mr. Marshall replied that there has been continual monitoring of the Delta by a number of agencies including data from almost two decades of operation and that the EIR/EIS would use data from this monitoring as well as the baseline used in the CALFED Programmatic EIR/EIS.

 

n           Bill Johnston of the Modesto Irrigation District noted that there appeared to be a discrepancy between the EIR/EIS completion and the project completion.  He noted that the deadline dates in the CALFED ROD will not be met.  It appears from the schedule for the SDIP environmental documentation (Summer 2003 to release a draft) that completion of the project in accordance with the ROD dates should be feasible.  Mr. Marshall explained that the final project design would be completed after the EIR/EIS was final.  It would take 18 months to two years to complete the design, two years for initial construction, and construction of the barriers would have to be staggered.  Therefore, complete construction of all the barriers would not be possible within the timeframe outlined in the ROD. 

 

n           Ed Krohn, an area farmer, commented that current discharges from Tracy, Mountain House and others already impact water quality, especially with the barrier on Old River. How will water quality be maintained with 8,500 cfs being drawn from the Delta?  Mr. Marshall responded that limited dredging and a dredging maintenance program would be in place, as well as operable barriers that would be able to be open for one half of each day, would improve water circulation and therefore water quality in the Delta.

 

n           JoAnne Frudden of Old River Homeowners Association and a property owner on Hammer Island, questioned why the proposed permanent location of the Grant Line Canal barrier is different than that of the temporary barrier.  Mr. Marshall responded that the location is not final, but did mention that there are agricultural diversions between the temporary barrier location and the west end of the canal and that relocating the barrier would protect more of those diversions.  Ms. Frudden also noted that siltation around the Old River barrier is a big problem.  Previous dredging was helpful, but regular maintenance is needed.  A maintenance dredging agreement in writing was requested.  Also, when the Old River barrier is closed, the water in front of her property is a stagnant pond.  Mr. Marshall responded that the permanent barriers would have operational flexibility, allowing greater flexibility for opening and closing of the barriers which will lead to better circulation of water. 

 

n           Ron Robinson, of Rivers End Marina, and a Livermore Yacht Club homeowner mentioned a siltation problem caused by the Old River barrier.  There is an 18-inch water depth at low tide at his marina.  There are problems with the public believing waterways are restricted or that the marina will be closed as a result of the project; these problems are affecting marina business.  Also, siltation is an issue; fast water brings in the silt and the slow water drops it out. 

 

n           Virgil Koehne, General Manager of the Town of Discovery Bay asked if the main reason for the diversions is Los Angeles.  Mr. Marshall answered that the increase from 6,680 cfs to 8,500 cfs, and ultimately to 10,300 cfs, of water will allow DWR to take advantage of available Delta water earlier in the spring when there are fewer sensitive species to be concerned about, while reducing diversions at other times to protect salmon and smelt.  This will enable operational flexibility that will allow DWR to meet the needs of its contractors. Also, some extra water could be used for environmental purposes.

 

Mr. Koehne then mentioned that the proposed expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir could be up to 1 million acre feet.  Water is drawn in the spring, causing heavy undercurrent, pulling silt to the South Delta.  This should be considered in the EIR/EIS.  Mr. Marshall agreed that it would need to be considered and that coordination with CALFED would be done and the CALFED programmatic assumptions would be used.

 

Mr. Koehne then asked what the estimated depth and width of proposed dredging in Old River would be and asked whether there would be faster water movement.  Mr. Marshall answered that the agencies did not yet have those details, but that not much dredging in Old River is proposed.  Most of the dredging could be in West Canal near the Clifton Court Forebay.

 

Mr. Koehne asked if there were studies that show whether development is now taking water rights from the farmers, and whether we are demanding more water for development and farmers or are sending extra water to Los Angeles.  Mr. Marshall was not aware of any such studies.

 

n           Bill Middleton of Middleton Island asked how far into the future the project is considering population growth and water demands.  Mr. Marshall responded that the 2002 water plan looks ahead to 2030.  Mr. Middleton asked about projections to 2050.  Mr. Marshall responded that the project cannot reasonably look that far ahead.

 

n           Dianne Shoff, also representing Al Bruno, a land owner of the island between Coney and Union, mentioned that silt inhibits navigation and that siltation will be worse with increased flow.  What studies have been done?  Mr. Marshall responded that siltation studies have occurred since 1999, and scour studies have been conducted since 1995.  Ms. Shoff then asked about a peripheral canal.  She does not want the Delta used as a pipe and would like to see something else done.  Mr. Marshall said that would be a question for CALFED.

 

n           Arnold Lenk, Widdows Island property owner, mentioned that these issues have been discussed for the past 15 or more years.  Information was requested on the depth and width of dredging, velocity increases, and spot dredging.  Spot dredging at Widdows and Eucalyptus islands is not shown on the maps.  Mr. Lenk expressed concern regarding dredging undermining levees.  In the past, assurances have been made that siltation will be solved and rip rap would be placed, and there would be no impacts to private properties; yet, at this time, these issues are still unresolved.  Mr. Marshall responded that there is a need for a structured maintenance and levee integrity program.  There is dedicated funding to these activities through CALFED and other agencies, although the funds are minimal this year due to general fund deficits.

 

n           Doug Lovell stated that the peripheral canal is the better ecological choice and questioned why it was not proposed.  The existing plan violates public trust and that the SDIP is not in accordance with the CALFED ROD.

 

n           Bob Groves of Kings Island noted that has been a Kings Island homeowner for 20 years.  He questioned why there was not much dredging proposed in Old River.  Why was dredging concentrated on West Canal and how would the project carry water through the area without dredging twice as deep as the current level?  The EIR should be specific as to the depth and width of dredging.  Also, Victoria and Coney Island setbacks should be added to the EIR analysis.

 

n           John Banks of the California Striped Bass Association asked what water is being diverted. There is an ever-decreasing supply of water, and Reclamation and DWR have already claimed 95% of the San Joaquin River flow. The San Joaquin River has essentially become a canal for federal and state water fed by the Tuolumne, Stanislaus, and Kings Rivers, and others.  He requested that the federal and state agencies provide assurances that the additional diversion will not affect other water users. 

 

n           Guy Votaro, an area farmer asked how much water is being diverted now.  The project would be creating a peripheral canal, and there are no plans for Old River.  Since the flood, the river has filled with silt.

 

n           Ed Krohn asked why dredging is only proposed between Coney Island and Clifton Court Forebay and not Old River, West Canal, and Middle River.  If the barriers were not in place, these areas would be like mud flats.  Mr. Marshall responded that DWR could look into splitting the flows between West Canal and Old River.

 

n           Whitey Rasmussen of the California Striped Bass Association asked how the project will benefit salmon as currently proposed.  When the pumps are going, the homing mechanism of fish is distorted, causing them to get pulled all throughout the Delta.  Salmon are declining now.  Water flows from Sacramento River through Old River.  With the Head of Old River barrier, San Joaquin River water will flow around Turner Cut and back to Clifton Court Forebay, which will not provide protection to fish.  The lower foothill runoff is the only fresh water the Delta receives.  He suggested a relay system of reservoirs further south connecting high mountain water through the system to deliver to Los Angeles and relieve the Delta.  Silt is the worst thing for the environment and fish.  These siltation problems stress salmon and make them susceptible to predators, of which striped bass are not the worst offenders.

 

n           Rue Ohlendorf, commented that between the two Old River barriers there are no flows, the water is dirty, and the pumps are out of the water.  She commented about spot dredging and suggested that dredging occur between Old River and Head of Old River barriers.

 

n           Mike McConnell, representing the Tracy Wildlife Association, commented that on Old River between the barriers there is less and less flow each year, and no flow this year at all.  Several fish die-offs have recently occurred.  Plant life is filling in and less flow means more silt.  It would be beneficial to send flow through Old River.  It was explained that having operable barriers would allow for more flow than the temporary barriers.  Mr. McConnell also suggested that emergency dredging should occur.

 

n           Larry McClure, a Eucalyptus Island landowner, commented that during the discussion, dredging Old River in front of his island, including the placement of spoils on Victoria Island, was mentioned.  His island was offered as a dredging spoil site.  Mr. Marshall responded that clamshell dredging is a possibility and that landowners can be contacted regarding placement of dredging spoils.

 

n           Mr. Sibly commented that along Old River, farms and golf courses are experiencing problems with salt impacting crops.  There is an increase in the percentage of salt when the barriers are installed.  He expressed concern about how much water from the San Joaquin River will flow into Old River when the Head of Old River barrier is closed.  An increase in water diversion and closure of the barrier will reduce the amount of water in the Old River.

 

n           Ron Leachman, of Old River Committee Inc., commented that public recreation access to Old River is a concern because there is currently little to no access.  In addition, the 10-foot depth in some of the waterways only allows access for kayaks and canoes.  A gateway parcel is available and that a regional park or a set of parkways should be considered in the scope of this project.

 

n           Whitey Rasmussen commented about the water quality effects on salmon.  An appropriate flow of water should remain in the San Joaquin River.  All water users (farming, ecosystem, recreational sports) need water.  A review and consideration of the problems experienced in the Stockton Channel was suggested.

 

n           Al Borba, of the Tracy Wildlife Association, asked whether data from monitoring upriver of the (agricultural) barriers indicated that there has been a reduction in water quality.  It was confirmed that data did show a reduction in water quality and he believed it was due to the inflexibility of the current barrier program. 

 

Mr. Borba suggested that the agencies consider that the Delta has nearly been pumped dry. 

He then asked what possible changes the project would cause to water quality and silt.  It was explained that dredging is limited for environmental reasons by fish agencies, but more could be done.

 

n           Samantha Salvia of Contra Costa Water Agency, commented that the project would cause water impacts for Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) users as well as others.  The EIR/EIS should include detailed water quality modeling using a daily tidal cycle.  Ms. Salvia noted that she would be providing written comments.  Mr. Marshall responded that there are new and improved DSM2 studies and modeling using 16 years of real tide data.

 

n           Ron Robinson commented that expensive dredging was attempted at Riverside Marina, Tracy Oasis, and other locations but that some dredging could not occur because shallow water habitat had been created that now had to be protected.  Rapid dredging must occur now before more habitat changes.

 

n           Doug Lovell noted that the comment process is insufficient and that a stakeholder group should be formed to conduct studies and develop baseline.  However, he has been told that this is not planned or possible.  He requested that the formation of a stakeholder group be submitted to CALFED for consideration.

 

n           JoAnne Frudden asked about the progress on the modern fish screens at Tracy, noting that there are not many fish.  Mr. Marshall responded that the design is almost complete.  The project is awaiting federal funds and is therefore approximately 1–2 years behind schedule.

 

n           Arnold Lenk of Widdows Island mentioned that his property was considered as a spoils depository 7 or 8 years ago and that a marina alternative had been considered.  He asked if there was progress on this idea.

 

n           Guy Votaro asked whether there would be a guarantee of no contamination of soil for the landowners.  Mr. Marshall responded that existing laws regarding spoils would be complied with.

 

n           Arnold Lenk mentioned that streams do not actually tie back to the Old River as shown on the project maps displayed.  The agencies have 100% control of the water.  He asked if it was legal to charge for water to farmers who have existing water rights.  Mr. Marshall responded that South Delta water users have senior riparian water rights and have rights before the state and federal agencies. 

 

Los Angeles, California (October 10, 2002)

     (For all available written comments, click here )

 

n           David Pettijohn, with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LAWP), commented that the City of Los Angeles has lost water historically stored in aqueducts and therefore has placed a strong reliance on the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) for water supplies.  LAWP is concerned about water supply reliability due to the strong dependence on Delta diversions to serve the needs of the city.  Approximately 60 percent of water in dry years is purchased from MWD.  Additional deliveries should occur during wet years when environmental impacts are lower.  A failure to implement this project would seriously jeopardize Southern California; therefore, LAWP supports the proposed SDIP. 

n           Randall Neudeck of the Metropolitan Water District indicated that MWD supports increasing the pumping capability at Banks Pumping Plan for water supply reliability.  Implementation of the project is the key to the CALFED water supply reliability and environmental balance.  The flexibility derived from increased pumping would be the greatest benefit of the project.  Analysis of two alternatives was suggested: (1) an alternative that considers unconstrained pumping of 8,500 cfs of water; and (2) the alternative that the 8,500 cfs Stakeholder Group recommends.  In each case, a thorough investigation of water quality for both local and exports projects should be completed.  In addition, the project should take into account the investments made to date in the CALFED process.

n           Thom Coughran of the Metropolitan Water District commented that the completion of CALFED projects should be tracked.  In implementing the SDIP, we should consider the accountability to the ROD and not make changes to projects during the implementation process.  Costs associated with each project should also be considered.  

n           David Nesmith of the Environmental Water Caucus stated that he recognizes the ROD is a living document; however, the ROD assumes certain environmental conditions in order for pumping to be increased to 8,500 cfs.  One of those assumptions is that the EWA is operating at full capacity, which it currently is not.  Fish screens have been postponed, although listed in the ROD, and increased pumping should not occur without fish screens in place.  Coordination with other projects was suggested, such as CALFED’s land retirement program, because additional water should not go to lands with salinity problems.  Mr. Nesmith suggested two alternatives: (1) an alternative that increases water quality with increase in pumping; and (2) an alternative that does not increase pumping.

 

Fresno, California (October 15, 2002)

      (For all available written comments, click here )
 

n        Lloyd Fryer of Kern County Water Agency noted and inquired about Slide 8 of the presentation which described that agricultural and urban water demands are increasing.  Demands on the system are increasing, but agricultural demands have actually been reduced.  Increasing demands from other sectors’ users has increased competition for each user to get the needed water. 

n        Orvil McKinnis of the Westlands Water District suggested that the 2020 CALSIM2 calibration problems should be addressed.  Mr. Marshall responded that there were problems with June.  Also, a daily model is in the works, but monthly is what is currently used.

n           Lloyd Fryer asked for a definition of increased diversion capability.  Mr. Marshall responded that the hardware to divert 10,300 cfs of water is in place.  However, the current Section 10 permit does not allow for the diversion of 10,300 cfs.  Therefore, the project is proposing to increase the diversion capability.

Mr. Fryer added that implementation of the SDIP is one of the necessary steps to increase water supply reliability; therefore the purpose and need should clearly state that the project purpose is to increase yield. 

Mr. Fryer then asked if the EWA would be factored into whatever diversion option is chosen.  Mr. Marshall responded that there are EWA scenarios for adequate protection but those may not provide enough protection in wet years.

n           Dale Melville of Provost & Pritshard Engineers asked if all of the alternatives look at increased yield. Mr. Marshall responded, yes.

n           Lloyd Fryer asked if potential changes in biological opinions (BOs) were expected and whether that was being coordinated with the fish agencies.  Are there up front comments from them?  Mr. Marshall responded that the Action Specific Implementation Plan (ASIP) serves as a biological assessment (BA) and molds the project description and mitigation measures into one document from which the agencies can prepare a biological opinion.  The agencies participate in the ASIP process, however DWR and Reclamation write the ASIP.  The 8,500 cfs Stakeholder Group was formed to help with determining the operations and that the ASIP and 8,500 cfs Stakeholder groups have overlapping participants.

n           Kane Toteke suggested that the project get agreement from the wildlife agencies as to the project area so that impact area is not extended beyond the Delta.  Mr. Marshall noted that mitigation could occur outside the south Delta and away from the impact area.

n           Lloyd Fryer noted that mitigation should take into account benefits of the barriers.

n           Dale Melville asked what “new” impacts were expected.  Mr. Marshall responded that impacts are not known yet, the teams have not begun their analysis.

Mr. Melville asked why the 10,300-cfs-option, noted in the ROD, was not being evaluated at the same time.  He suggested that 10,300-cfs-option be evaluated, even if it is eliminated at this time.  Mr. Marshall responded that the 10,300-cfs-option was analyzed in the 1996 EIR/EIS and 10,300 cfs is often used in modeling for dredging and levee setbacks.  Fish resource agencies want the fish screens in place and tested prior to increasing to 10,300 cfs.  The Tracy test facility is years out in terms of construction and testing.  There are also some questions about the screen providing benefit for smelt; therefore, increasing to 10,300 cfs has been delayed.

n           Orvil McKinnis asked whether there would be any benefit connected to TMDL and dissolved O2 issues in the Stockton Deep Water Ship Channel.  Mr. Marshall responded that the project would not have any direct benefit connection; however, the head of Old River barrier would slightly increase velocity and could slightly improve aeration, but quantitatively measuring benefit would be difficult.

nMr. McKinnis asked whether dredging would occur below 3 meters.  Mr. Marshall responded that dredging below 3 meters would probably occur in certain places to keep velocities low and prevent scour.

Mr. McKinnis then commented that the San Luis unit of the Central Valley Project is in contract negotiations.  He asked whether the increased yield of this project would affect these negotiations.  Mr. Marshall responded that the fisheries agencies would like to analyze the effects of SDIP and OCAP renewals at the same time, therefore, the biological opinion for SDIP is being coordinated with the renewal of OCAP contracts.  

 

n           Lloyd Fryer commented that the purpose and need of the project should emphasize the CALFED balanced approach and include additional water yield for all water users.  There has been a lot of money spent on ecosystem restoration to date and benefit has been derived from those investments.  It is now time to increase water supply reliability and yield.  There should be no loss of additional yield to mitigation.  Failure to increase yield could lead to the collapse of CALFED.

n           Orville McKinnis stated that dissolved O2, other water quality concerns, the Corps comprehensive study, Friant/NRDC restoration plan, and increased storage; all these should be considered along with the SDIP as a whole and as to how they relate to or impact each other.

n           Kane Toteke asked whether the cost of mitigation measures was dependent on Proposition 50 funds.  If not, how will they be paid for?  Who will provide cost management oversight?  Who makes sure mitigation measures are not more costly than the project itself?  Mr. Marshall responded that the mitigation measures will come to light through the ASIP process.  The project is not entirely funded by Proposition 13 (The 2000 Water Bond).  The project cost for the barriers is estimated at approximately $70 million and the mitigation costs are still unknown.  The cost of the barriers will be split 1/3 to each:  federal, state, local.  A funding plan should be in place by January 2003 if mitigation is known by then and it is not anticipated these funding dollars would be tied to Proposition 50.

 

Stockton, California (October 17, 2002)

     (For all available written comments, click here )
 

n        Alex Hildebrand of South Delta Water Agency (SDWA) mentioned the need to restore and protect in-channel water supply as part of a DWR agreement.  He noted that the current temporary barriers program is inadequate.  Fish and water exports push aside protection for south Delta water users.  The SDWA submitted a plan that would fully protect the South Delta from 8,500 cfs diversions.  While some believe dredging should occur, it would not help water quality and would drain upstream areas.  

n        Dante John Nomellini representing the Central Delta Water Agency (CDWA) expressed concerned about increasing pumping to 8,500 cfs of water when problems under the current pumping regime have not been resolved.  One of the alternatives should address resolving the current problems with the current pumping at 6,680 cfs, and a separate alternative should analyze increasing the diversion to 8,500 cfs.  Barriers help upstream areas but aggravate downstream.  He noted that the CDWA service area, such as Victoria Island, and Contra Costa areas, should be included in the project area, not just the boundary of South Delta Water Agency.  Any dredging should be associated with conveyance, bearing in mind that some seepage problems can occur with dredging.  Any dredging should include Old River, Middle River, Victoria Canal, and near Coney Island. The barriers should not cause flooding and any changes in sedimentation patterns as a result of their construction should be analyzed.  The environmental document should address impacts as a result of where the water is going.  Using additional water on the west side of the valley causes salinity problems for CDWA; for example salinity increases at Vernalis.  Any increased pumping may make this problem worse.  Also, a portion of any additional water as a result of increased pumping should be utilized to restore the San Joaquin River by direct pumping or exchange.  Further, using State Water Resources Control Board standards for determining water quality impacts is not appropriate.  CDWA does not agree with the standards set by the SWRCB and any degradation of water quality should be considered an impact.  The same is true of any water level changes.

n        Guy Votaro commented that the 10,300-cfs diversion was not mentioned in the alternatives.  Where would the additional water come from?  It appears that the barriers are serving as a peripheral canal and water from the Delta is only going south. 

n        Mike Larkin of the Tracy Water Agency asked when the barrier options would be chosen.  Mr. Marshall responded that the decision would be made after the analysis.  Mr. Larkin asked if the chosen barrier option would be in the draft document.  Mr. Marshall responded that all alternatives would be in the draft, and that the draft would probably indicate a preferred alternative.

Mr. Larkin then asked who provides the final licensing.  Mr. Marshall responded there are a number of different permits that could be required from various resources and agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Act Section 7 permit, the California Department of Fish and Game Section 1601 permit, the Caltrans bridge permit for activities near Highway 4, the Rivers and Harbors Act Section 10 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality certification from the Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Mr. Larkin then asked how much water is being diverted now.  Mr. Marshall responded: 6,680 cfs.  Mr. Larkin asked if the diversions were year-round.  Mr. Marshall responded that the Vernalis Adaptive Management Period limits pumping to about 10% between approximately April 15 and May 15.

n        Jerry Robinson, Reclamation District 544 Director, mentioned that at the Head of Old River barrier, rock on the sides and bottom of the channel has restricted flood flows because the barrier rock is not completely removed.  The barrier construction is conducted from the Roberts Island side of the river where there is no public access.  Construction should occur on the opposite side of the Old River where there is public access. Dredging should be included as ongoing maintenance.  Channels fill with sediment and there is not adequate flow to move the sediment out.  He questioned where additional water would come from to enable 8,500 and 10,300 cfs diversions.  Modeling of salt, water quality, and elevation can be inadequate; therefore, real time monitoring of these should occur before the permanent barriers are installed.  There have recently been salt spikes at the east end of Grant Line Canal.

n        John Herrick of South Delta Water Agency also commented regarding salt.  He noted that it is difficult to model the effects of more pumping if we do not know the source of current problems.  He questioned what baseline would be used for determining salinity.  The existing situation should be remedied before pumping is increased. 

Mr. Marshall, responding to the previous speakers, mentioned that maintenance dredging would be considered in conjunction with the SDIP in order to maintain water levels.  A sedimentation monitoring program and a scour monitoring program near the export facilities would also be in place.  Mr. Marshall indicated that extension of some siphons is being considered so that barriers would not have to be operated as often, which would benefit water circulation and quality. 

n        Alex Hildebrand added that low Vernalis flow, as a result of fish protection, occurs more often.  In these situations, high tide water is needed for agricultural uses; however, additional exports will shorten the high tide.  SDWA suggests a low head pump to pump from downstream to upstream to maintain water levels under these conditions.  In the past, levels have been so low that water was stagnant.

n        Peter Ohm of Roberts Island mentioned that San Joaquin River water is very poor quality during the summer.  The discharge coming from the City of Stockton is a primary cause.  He stated that 8,500 cfs diversion would dry the San Joaquin River

n        Jacquelyn Cordes, landowner on the north side of the head of Old River on Roberts Island, stated that she is opposed to construction staging and activities occurring on the north side of Old River.  Stewart Tract, on the opposite side, is not considered prime agricultural land, has plans for development, and has a county road in place.  Staging and construction from the south side of the river where there are better access roads and land that is not considered prime agricultural land would be more appropriate.  There is no public access on Roberts Island, with the only access road to the site running along the levee.  The roads on Roberts Island are not adequate for construction equipment and the barrier construction disrupts ranching activities and leads to trespassing.

n        Irvin Mullo, a Roberts Island land owner, commented that about every 5 years, new staff comes along to start over on a plan.  He requested that the project continue moving and avoid any further delays. 

n        Frank Alegre, a San Joaquin River property owner, indicated that it appeared Grant Line Canal, Old River, and Middle River were the only channels within the project; however, the biggest problem begins upriver on the San Joaquin.  In the summer, water elevation is so low and siltation is so high that he can walk across the river.  Silt also fills the canals, but the San Joaquin River should be dredged.  Sand trap dredging should be conducted on an ongoing basis upriver because it settles out in the tidal area.

n        Phil Balmat mentioned that there is an increase in exports from the Delta, but there has been no mention of what increase of yield into the Delta will satisfy the increase in exports. 

n        A commentor noted that dredging used to occur on a regular basis but does not any longer.  If dredging were to occur on a more regular basis, the barriers would not be necessary.  There have been complaints of flooding, but still there is no dredging. 

n        Louis Galli commented that in August, there is no water on either side of the Old River at Tracy and Grant Line barriers.  Other water districts are beginning to sell water to urban users and this project will sell water to urban users also.  Farm water should be kept for farmers; if farmers do not use the water, it should be utilized to restore rivers.

n        Rogene Reynolds, a resident of Roberts Island, commented that the EIR needs to consider future diversions.  The City of Tracy is expanding its capacity.  How will water quality be affected by this project and those urban projects (i.e., Mountain House and Lathrop)? Also, damage to soil from salt should be analyzed.

n        Waldo Holt of the San Joaquin Audobon Society mentioned that future urban impacts should be considered.  There has been monitoring only for salinity, but San Joaquin River and Old River are impaired waterbodies for many pollutants. The EIR should monitor for other pollutants (i.e., heavy metals) in a full monitoring program, not just at one location.  The ROD calls for improved fish screens.  These should be added to the project.  The fish barrier at the head of Old River is intended to stop outward migrating smolts, but they get pulled in further downstream at Turner Cut.  Increased diversion does exacerbate existing problems.  The project is taxpayer-funded and must address taxpayer issues:  water quality and quantity.  Mr. Marshall responded that effects to water quality and quantity will be analyzed in the environmental document.

n        Harry Moore read aloud his article titled “We’re Losing Our Delta,” written in April of 2002.

n        A commentor asked if anyone at the meeting attended the recent Byron energy plant meeting.  She said that energy plants for Alameda County are going to be using large amounts of water, which this project should consider.  In addition, the existing levees are not sound, and the area needs future protection. 

n        Bob Ferguson of the Delta Protection Commission, and a Union Island land owner, asked two questions: 1) Will the EIR modeling be just for 8,500 cfs or will it be for the maximum diversion and on high and low tides?  2) From the maximum capacity, what percentage is from the Sacramento River and what percentage is from the San Joaquin River (with both CVP and SWP pumps)?  Mr. Marshall responded that modeling of flow splits will show the percentage, and real tide monitoring (16 years) is now available to use in the modeling.

n        Phil Balmat asked whether dredging would occur in the entire channels or only near barrier locations and marinas.  Mr. Marshall responded that dredging would not just be around marinas, but also near siphons and pumps and possibly some other locations.

n        Al Borba noted that from 6,680 cfs to 10,300 cfs is doubling the diversion.  Are there statistics reflecting that need?  He also mentioned that farmers can now produce more for less.  Where is the water going?  Mr. Marshall responded that the State Water Project does serve the Bay Area and southern California.  On the federal side, the Central Valley Project has lost 800,000 acre feet through the Central Valley Project Improvement Act.  The Bureau would like to recover some of that water which was dedicated to environmental needs.

Mr. Borba then asked if the public was wasting too much water.  Mr. Marshall responded the Water Use Efficiency program through CALFED is trying to address water efficiency issues throughout the state. 

n        Rogene Reynolds asked for a definition of the term "stranded water" used by Paul Marshall during the question/answer period.  Mr. Marshall responded that state and federal reservoirs in northern portions of the state capture water, but cannot release to the pumps in the Delta due to regulations.  So it stays stored behind dams or is used for power. 

n        Jerry Robinson mentioned that dredging causes high spots in the river that makes problems worse.

 

Each meeting was adjourned when no further attendees expressed a desire to make oral comments.  The facilitator noted that DWR, Bureau, and consultant staff would remain after the meeting and be available to speak with any attendee that may have additional questions or comments.