The Lake Tulloch Alliance
Dedicated to preserving and enhancing Lake Tulloch
and its vital relationship with the Sierra Foothills and the Valley
The Lake Tulloch Alliance is dedicated to protecting and enhancing Lake Tulloch and our region.
However, we realize that it is impossible to divorce our community from the big picture.
We are in a major crisis with the drought. Our water resources are being depleted. The
drought is causing much of this depletion so are environmental policies that waste
water in pursuing objectives with bad science. LTA provides background information
that places our situation in context. For starters learn more about
California's water system by watching this video by
Bulletin: Deal Reached to Save Tulloch for 2015
and Water for Farmers
(April 10, 2015) The California Water Board finally agreed to support the proposal by the Oakdale and South San Joaquin Irrigation Districts that will provide water for farmers while maintaining Lake Tulloch at its usual capacity through the middle of September.
This agreement happened for three reasons.
Leadership - First and most importantly because of the courage of the leadership of the two irrigation districts to stand up to the United States Government and the California Water Board on behalf of all of us and for a correct policy.
The Public and the Media - The second factor was the public and the publicity. Citizens stood up against environmental extremists and the press took notice. We have provided readers of laketulloch.org with many of the stories but certainly not all of them. The pressure of 100's of people from the Lake Tulloch area plus areas throughout the community was responsible. Also, journalists and their news organizations spent the resources to cover this story with depth and analysis. Too often people criticize the press -- the did a great job!
Our Elected Officials - Finally, our region is fortunate to have outstanding elected representatives who stood by us notably, Congressmen Tom McClintock and Jeff Denham, Assembly Republican Leader Kristen Olsen, Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, Assemblyman Adam Gray, and Senator Tom Berryhill. also Tuolumne County Supervisor Karl Rodefer. They were all closely involved in this effort.
We also want to thank Ron Berry, Manager of Tri Dam and Susan Larson, The Lake Tulloch Manager, for their assistance and support. Finally, we are happy that the Lake Tulloch Alliance could help coordinate much of this and thank all of those involved in the community who provided the leadership.
One last point: the battle is not over. A Modesto Bee Editorial made this same point
The bottomline is that literally billions of gallons of precious water to save fish will still continue to be wastee.. More than 30,000 acre feet of water valued at more than $20 million will be flushed down the river to move 9 fish. That's $2 million a fish! That is still a stupid policy and we need to continue our efforts to end it.
Irrigation Districts refuse to send any more water
down river for fish: Decision Today we hope!
Cost of Saving 9 Trout: $2,000,000 a Fish!
The Latest News
Check out LTA Press Release on the Cost of Fishflows
Steve Moore/nvestors Daily on Tulloch and the Fish Flows
Union Democrat Editorial on the $2 million Fish
(April 8, 2015) The Oakdale Irrigation and South San Joaquin Irrigation Districts refused to send any more water down the Stanislaus River to save fish after the State Water Board indicated they would not accept an agreement that would provide farmers adequate water and kill the idea of draining Lake Tulloch. At three pm today, April 10th, a conference call will be held of all local, state and federal agencies to resolve the problem. Tom Howard, the Manager of the California Water Board has been inflexible and dogmatic about the continuing and even expandingthe amount of water going down rivers to move fish.
The Lake Tulloch Alliance with the help of FishBio has calculated that the flows will effectively only "save" 9 Steelhead Fish at a cost of about $2 million per fish with 30,000 acre foot release valued at $750 per acre foot. Yes -- we are talking about sending down enough water for a city of 250K people for a year to save nine fish. Check out these stories relating the latest news on the fish flows. Watch for more.
Steve Greenhuts Column for the San Diego Union
Union Democrat Story - Manteca Bulletin Story -
The irrigation districts stored the water in Lake Tulloch and Goodwin Reservoirs instead of sending the water down the Stanislaus River for fish. The Lake Tulloch Alliance strongly applauds the Irrigation Districts for breathing some sense into environmental policy in California. The idea of wasting water for questionable environmental goals while California is in a drought is ridiculous.
We hope that Governor Brown will support the districts to curtail the use of any more water to "save fish" while the needs of the public and agriculture at risk.
This action will occur because the California Water Resources Board has apparently rejected a petiton from the Irrigation Districts to change the delivery plans. This change would provide water for farmers and maintain Lake Tulloch through the end of the year. It is important to note that farmers would receive less water than they need. Tom Howard, chairman of the State Water Board, received more than 90 emails just from residents at Lake Tulloch but ignored all of them with no response except to indicate he will reject a plan that could save our community and agriculture. He is responsible for this mess! We applaud our Congressman and State Legislators who support sensible public policy.
NEW - NEW - March 28th Water Crisis Forum Video
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Sonora Union Democrat
Water Releases from Melones have begun
Sonora Union Democrat
New: Lake Tulloch Water Crisis on CBS-Sacramento TV
US Government Begins Draining New Melones
this week - KXTX TV Sacramento
Check out News Coverage of Water Crisis
The Water Crisis Forum
Forum Big Success with Hundreds Attending
Lake Tulloch is still at risk of being drained
Read Sonora Union Democrat Story on the forum Click Here
Read Mother Lode.com/KVML Coverage
Calaveras Enterprise Story
(March 28, 2015) Hundreds of public and private sector leaders and citizens met together Saturday, March 28, 2015, in Copperopolis for The Water Crisis Forum. The forum brought together the key leaders working on the impact of the drought and Federal and State policies which are requiring the draining of millions of gallons of water from California reservoirs to alledgely enhance salmon in the lower rivers.
The leaders including United States Congressman Tom McClintock, California State Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, Tuolumne County Supervisor Karl Rodefer and Jeff Shields, Manager South San Joaquin Irrigation District. Congressman McClintock serves as the Chairman of the Federal Lands Subcommittee of the Natural Resources Committee, and is a member of the Natural Resources Committee and of the Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans.
The leaders agreed that the "fish flows" should be stopped while the state is in the midst of a drought. The experts noted that without the water releases for fish over the past four years, New Melones Dam could have 1 million acre feet in it by the end of summer. Instead it could be as low as 118,000 acre feet. To put this in context that is enough water to take care of the city of Sacramento for two years.
The Draining of Lake Tulloch Still Possible 2015 Without Agreement
They also also concurred it critically important that the California State Water Board approved a petition from Oakdale and South San Joaquin Irrigation Districts to reduce and change some of the "fish flows" between now and September in order to avoid draining Lake Tulloch. If the petition from the districts with support from Bureau of Reclamation is not granted, New Melones would be brought down to a point that it would only have 2% of the capacity level of the reservoir. (Click here for information on Water Board Action and how to make your voice known)
Lake Tulloch Chair Jack Cox noted " Tri Dam has done an excellent job managing Lake Tulloch and trying to insure its furture. Unfortunately the drought combined with policies that waste water on fish flows makes their job difficult. If anyone living at Lake Tulloch believes that the lake is still not threaten with being drained this summer, they better wake up. We must continue to contact elected officials and the Water Board urging them to take short term and long term actionDouglas Demko, President and CEO, Fishbio, presented an excellent scientific overview of the biology of using pulse flows from the bottom of dams to grow more salmon. Demko, an internationally recognized expert and an expert on the Stanislaus and Tuolumne Rivers, make these key points:
Most of the fish effected by the flows aren't native but hatchery fish.
The environmental goal is create 20,000 more salmon in the Stanislaus but the habitat can only support 5,000
The flows don't work on the rivers because the habitat does not support fish laying more eggs.
Only about 3% of the Delta has any habitat anymore with the rest being rock levies.
Other programs such as dredging areas down stream and replacing habitat can enhance salmon populations.
Predator fish such as Bass, planted by state and federal agencies years ago, are responsible now for eating baby salmon before they ever grow to be adults.
Watch for a full reporter on the forum with video and text shortly.
Previous News on LakeTulloch.Org
Stopping the Fish Flows:
Key to Sound Water Planning for
2015 and Beyond
The only way Lake Tulloch and other Sierra reservoirs can remain full or as high as possible, is if the fish flows planned to begin in April are halted. If they are not -- New Melones will be at 62,000 acre (capacity is 2.5 af) and Lake Tulloch will be about 8,000 af (capacity is 67,000 af). If that happens there is no water in reserve for 2015-2016. If the drought continues there will little to no water for the foothills and the valley.
Stanford University Scholar Victor Davis Hanson provides this interesting perspective in this week's NEWSWEEK:
"The state and federal water projects were envisioned as many things—flood control, hydroelectric generation, irrigation and recreation. One agenda was not fish restoration. Perhaps it should have been. But our forefathers never envisioned building dams and reservoirs to store water to ensure year-round fish runs in our rivers—a mechanism to improve on the boom-and-bust cycle of nature, in which 19th century massive spring flooding was naturally followed by low, muddy, or dry valley rivers in August and September."
Dr. Hanson, a native of the Central Valley, is absolutely right. Read his full article by clicking here.
The Lake Tulloch Alliance and citizens throughout are region are joining together to support the efforts of Valley and foothill legislators to end the flows and keep water for people, agriculture and our own ecology! Attend the Water Crisis Forum
Lake Tulloch Basin
(Copperopolis, March 7, 2015) Nearly 500 citizens in the Lake Tulloch region attended an information meeting todaysponsored by the Tri Dam Authority. Ron Berry, Director of Tri Dams operations and Susan Larson, the manager for Lake Tulloch for Tri Dam, outlined the history and challenges ahead in maintaining Lake Tulloch. Also attending the meeting were members of both Tuolumne and Calaveras County's Board of Supervisors plus representatives of Congressman Tom McClintock and Assemblyman Frank Bigelow. Also present were Frank Clark, a Tri Dam Board member along with leadership of the Calaveras Water District
Berry reported that it appears that Lake Tulloch will on its standard schedule through mid September when the depth of the lake will be brought down. He noted the agency could bring it down to the usual five year low which is set for repair of the dam during the winter months. If the region has adequate snow fall and rain in 2015-16 winter, then there would be no problems in the next year of rain.
However, if the drought continues, then 2016 could be a very tough year for not only Lake Tulloch but the entire region according to the Tri Dam officials.
Lake Tulloch Alliance (LTA) members told the audience that much of the problem now is caused by the release of water to deal with fish issues under the Endangered Species Act. If this flows were eliminated much of the current problem could be averted. LTA also urged attendees to contact their elected officials and act.
Citizen Action Key to
Protecting our lake, foothills
and the valley
We need citizen involvement. Please contact your Congressman and state legislator. Tell they to end the fish flows during a drought. We need drinking water for people and irrigation water for agriculture. Fish are just not a priority over these vital purposes.
Send an email or letter today and/or call your representatives. This is vital!
Please check out the links on the menu bar on the edge of this site to background material and thelist of all elected officials. Also you access more information from the Tri Dam Site by clicking here
Misguided Public Policy
Threatens the Future of
An Overview from the Lake Tulloch Alliance
The proposal to drain Lake Tulloch to save fish is complicated but an example of why conservation policy must be changed putting people first.Our Congressman -- Tom McClintock -- made this vital point in a speech on the floor of Congress. Click this link to read this important speech.
The following is background on the issue.
Saving Fish: The “Big” Idea
The United States government through the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Bureau of Reclamation have undertaken a conservation strategy that is failing and could levy a huge cost on the residents of northern California foothill communities. The goal of the federal government is to supposedly increase the number of Salmon by flushing them from upstream areas with cold water from the bottom of dams and effectively blowing the fish past predators.
Policy Fails to Achieve Goal
Independent analysis finds this policy has failed to achieve its goal. According to Congressman Tom McClintock more than 200 billion gallons of water has been wasted by flowing it into the oceans from primarily New Melones and a small amount from Folsom Dam. There have been independent studies conducted where fish have been tagged to determine if they actually reach lower waters. One test funded by the Oakdale Irrigation District found that 50,000 small fish were pushed downstream and perhaps 2,000 ever got into the lower waters.
Old timers Calaveras and Tuolumne Counties reflect that before the dams were constructed the rivers could dry up or be very low in dry years but in seasons with more rain and snow pack they were filled with fish.
This current misguided policy is the result of the pressure of extreme environmental groups like Earth First. They are now pushing for a 50% increase this year in outflow above those now planned. Today too many public policy decisions on the environment have increasing been made because a vocal group of environmental activists demand them and have effectively made their case with elected officials. Too often environmental or conservation is made in a vacuum with little consideration of the economic and social costs.
The costs to local homeowners and businesses in the Lake Tulloch basin would be huge. This comes at a time that the economy here is very fragile.
TriDam and the Irrigation Districts
Agencies such as Tri Dam and the Irrigation Districts are called upon to enforce regulations to deal with a host of environmental and/or conservation regulations. Obviously in times of severe drought this is misguided public policy because ultimately it drains reservoirs of needed water with no consideration of its impact on people. If this is all about Salmon -- the vast majority of Salmon comes from the Northwest any way.
On Tuesday OID issued a press release declared that there is a consideration of draining 40-50,000 acre feet from Lake Tulloch which would remove about 75% of the water in the lake. It is not the desire of the irrigation districts or Tri Dam to implement this policy. Lake Tulloch has about 67,000 acre feet and Melones, when full, would have 2.5 million acre feet.
Six Reasons Why Draining Lake Tulloch is a Bad Idea
o First – that water in Lake Tulloch provides the water for the thousands of people that live in the Lake Tulloch Basin/Copperopolis area. The Calaveras County Water District is opposed such an action.
o Second, it removes a valuable reserve of water that would be simply gone in the case of a severe emergency.
o Third – it will destroy the habitat in Lake Tulloch that the FERC Lake Tulloch Shoreline Management Agreement mandates.
o Fourth- it would effectively destroy our already fragile economy. People have invested their life savings in small business and their homes. This one act would deliver a devastating blow to them. In reality, the release of this story has already had a negative impact. (Note: See below photo taken of Bald Eagle February 14, 2015 on Lake Tulloch.)
o Five -- It would end summer tourism which feeds the economy.
o Six and most importantly – it wastes water and will not achieve the goal of saving fish.
The time has come for citizens to join with organizations like TriDam that serve our community and end this ridiculous policy which doesn’t even achieve its intended conservation goal but destroys lives and our area and wastes precious water.
We support Congressman McClintock and others in Congress who want to immediately either stop or significantly reduce any more releases in this severe drought. We support the creation of a Bipartisan Task Force of Congressman including Representatives such Jim Costa, Jeff Denham, and John Garamendi to save this community and others throughout rural northern California faced with the same problem.
We also need state legislators from both parties to urge Governor Brown to order state agencies to support efforts to place a moratorium on further water releases until the drought it over. Already Senator Tom Berryhill and Assemblymaan Frank Bigelow have taken action to deal with this important problem.
The Lake Tulloch Alliance will be working with citizens to expand our collective impact to end this policy. We will post more information and news.
Finally, while the crisis right involved the Lake Tulloch Basin, these are challenges for communities throughout the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Central Valley. It is important for public policy to enhance the environment but that policy should put people first.
Bald Eagle on Lake Tulloch
Part of the Beauty and Habitat of Lake Tulloch