The Lake Tulloch Alliance
Dedicated to preserving and enhancing our natural resources
and quality of life in Sierra Foothills .
The Lake Tulloch Alliance is dedicated to protecting and enhancing Lake Tulloch and our region environmentally and economically. We are in a major crisis with the drought. Our water resources are being depleted caused by the drought and environmental policies that wastewater in pursuing misguided environmental schemes based on science and devoid of economic realities. Other government policies including land use on all levels incorporated with the impact of drought have had a detrimental impact on our economy and ecology. LTA provides background information that places our situation in context and supports sane fact based public policy that will insure future generations can live here in a viable economy while enjoying our beautiful environment. We strongly oppose those that use the environment as an excuse to advance policies that destroy our way of life in California.
LAKE TULLOCH UPDATE
New Melones Reservoir now is nearly 75% full
at 1.725 Million Acre Feet -- Fall 2015
was about 250,000 Acre Feet
Avg. Storage annual stores in March 1,494,936 AF
Check out Lake Tulloch's Schedule
Lake Tulloch Alliance Ad in Modesto Bee (12/10/2016)
Attend December 20th
California State Water Board Meeting in Modesto
to Protect Doubling of Water for fish flows
The bottomline is that if the State Water Board is able to nearly double water releases from the Stanislaus River next year and if we have a winter similar to 2015, we could see an empty Lake Tulloch next summer!
More than 500 people attended the Trip Dam meeting in Spring of 2015 thinking that everything was going to be just fine. Well it isn’t. We encourage citizens to write letters to the governor. Your property values and way of life are at stake! Let us know if you need more information. Write firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.
Water Resource Board Hearing - December 20th in Modesto - The State Water Resource Board public hearing on December 20, 2016 – 9:00 a.m. at Modesto Centre Plaza, Tuolumne River Room 1000 L Street in Modesto, CA. Please attend and bring you friends. We plan to have citizens from at least 7 counties there to make it clear this is a bad policy.
Info on the hearing is available by clicking this link.
Check out the Wall Street Journals Editorial on California
Water Crisis and Barbara Boxers rejection of change!
Lake Tulloch Alliance note state proposal will cost more that a quarter million dollars to save one fish!
Check out this new Save the Stan Announcement
Background on State Water Board Policy
For the past 18 months the Lake Tulloch Alliance and our community have been fighting the battle to reverse Federal and State Water Policy that places fish first and people second. The State Water Board issued new policies last week that would increase water releases for fish by about 50% more. This would mean nearly twice as much water would be removed from our rivers which could mean the draining or significant draw down of Lake Tulloch. Read this piece from the Calaveras Enterprise the outlines the water policies on our lake:
This policy is simply unworkable and with a potential poor winter – we could see water supplies for our area and others from Roseville extending down the state not having sufficient water for 2017. This means insufficient water throughout Northern California.
You can read the facts on this new policy in an excellent editorial in the Modesto Bee by clicking here.
Wednesday Governor Brown sent a letter to the State Water Board asking them to work with the Natural Resources Agency to explore a new comprehensive agreement. We have attached the letter the Governor sent to State Water Board. The editorial in Bee is by clicking this link.
Lake Tulloch is at risk but so our more than 1.7 million people living in this seven county region. This impacts our friends and family in agriculture plus hundreds of businesses, schools, local governments and more. Make your voice know. Email us at email@example.com and we will send you background information. We need to contact local government officials but more so the Governor and our state legislators. Get involved! Our future is at stake.
Fall 2016 Reservoir Level Schedule
The 2016 Fall Reservoir Schedule has been provided to us by Tri-Dam.
Please click here for the schedule.
The Lake Tulloch Alliance and Friends were right:
The Water Policies of the Environmental Left
The Lake Tulloch Alliance and our allies in the federal and state government argued that it was a huge waste of water to try to save fish by flushing massive amounts of water down the Stanislaus River to save fish. The evidence is in and it is a failure. Here are the facts.
Read Fish Bio's study that finds the policy to be a failure.
Watch Testimony in the US Congress
Trout Population Plummeting Despite
New Melones Water Releases
(Mother Lode.com- Sonora, CA — The trout population in the Stanislaus River was down 75% last year when comparing it to the six-year average.
Since 2009 the organization FISHBIO has conducted an annual “trout count” thanks to funding from the Oakdale and South San Joaquin county irrigation districts and Tri-Dam. Biologists physically go into the water to count Rainbow Trout along the Stanislaus River and monitor the fish’s abundance over time, and across a range of conditions.
In the summer of 2015 the group found only 5,000 fish in the river. As biologists prepare to swim out and conduct this year’s survey, the anticipation is that numbers will be down even further, because river temperatures were higher in 2015 than 2014, which is a negative for the fish. Among California’s major reservoirs, New Melones is currently among the lowest at 23% capacity and 39% of the historical average. The federal government mandates that pulse flows (water releases) be conducted in an attempt to help the salmon population. However, as New Melones gets lower, and the water temperature then increases, the pulse flows have a negative impact on the salmon.
FISHBIO President Doug Demko says, “This drought is a good reminder that sometimes saving water for later release is better for fish than releasing too much at once. We now have evidence that releasing stored water in a way that depletes cold water reserves can significantly reduce rainbow trout abundance.”
FISHBIO and the Oakdale Irrigation District have produced a 10-minute video documentary explaining more of their findings. You can view it by clicking the video box in the upper left hand corner.
The Battle for the Future of Lake Tulloch and New Melones
The future of Lake Tulloch and our region is seriously threaten by an over zealous environmental community and indifferent regulatory agencies. On April 5th leaders of the Lake Tulloch Alliance joined with our local representatives including Dennis Mills, our local CCWD elected Director to appear before a hearing by the California Water Resources Board dealing with the future of New Melones Reservoir. The Irrigation Districts had filed a Temporary Change Petition to permit a decrease in the amount of water that was to be taken from Melones this spring to enhance fisheries.
Read the full story in the Union Democrat. It is a must read and share it with friends and neighbors.
During the first two hours of a four hour "workshop", the agency bureaucrats, paid attorneys, and environmentalists discussed the future of New Melones and the ability to provide for water needs of the region almost entirely in terms of saving fish. No one other than participants from our region asked that the hearing focus on the needs of people too. The Water Resources Board chair admitted that the effort to save the fish last summer with most of the fish being killed because of the water low Melones Reservoir was too warm.
Tragically the Oakdale Irrigation District will not challenge Federal Agencies because they want their help ibn selling water. They admitted this in a meeting of district the same day of the hearing. Read this Modesto Bee story that covers this admission.
Currently New Melones is at about 645,000 acre feet and at full it is 2.4 million AF. Last fall it dropped to about 250,000 acre feet. If the Water Board fails to allow a decrease in water releases for fish and if the local agencies comply, they admitted that Melones would basically be a mud pit at just 160,000 acres feet or about 6% of its capacity. Meanwhile surrounding reservoirs are filled.
Our Winter provided major precipitation this winter. On the short run the precipitation and snow melt will reduce the impact of the drought on California in general and Sierra and Valley communities particularly. The drought has had obvious impact on our friends and neighbors in agriculture and businesses here in the Mother Lode. New Melones and other reservoirs have have risen Of course, businesses depending upon tourism have been punished too needlessly and the threats to homeowners on Lake Tulloch was appalling.
For an update read this story in the Calaveras Enterprise. Click here.
Saving the Fish: Not an Achieveable Goal
There is a growing consensus that the idea of promoting Salmon in the rivers coming from the Sierra is not a workable nor achievable goal. Fisbio issued a study in March which reports that about 80% of all Salmon and Steelhead to be saved by the water releases from New Melones died. The reason was the water was too warm. The State Water Board with the US Government failed to recognize that the water coming out of the bottom of the dams, which were about 20% full, was too warn to enhance fisheries. Therefore New Melones is now at a littlemore than 600,000 acre feet. If the reeleases had not occurred last year for fish it would be closer to one million acre feet now.
The Modesto Bee presented an important editorial in November that declared:
"It’s time that we recognize that despite our best efforts, salmon might not be a viable species on the San Joaquin River and its tributaries....Sacramento is California’s biggest river, at least four times greater than the San Joaquin. What if the “new normal” is higher temperatures and more frequent drought? If the Sacramento can’t sustain healthy salmon runs without crippling farmers, what are the prospects that the San Joaquin River – with so much less water and far higher temperatures – can support spring-run salmon again?"
The Lake Tulloch Alliance continues to make the case that while the drought has caused much or our water shortage, environmental public policy advocated by Governor Brown and politicians that don't represent rural California but our urban areas. They have placed fish enhancement over human beings. Recently the California Political Report covered impact of drought on Lake Tulloch and the $2 Million Fish! We are continuing to campaign against these bad policies.
Need for a Long Term Strategy -- The fact is that Congress and our state government must join with local agencies and agree on a strategy for 2016 and beyond. The Lake Tulloch Alliance is working with many of these agencies and our Congressional representative on such a strategy. Congressman Tom McClintock continues his hard work on behalf of our area on these critical issues. Part of this strategy may include a reserve of 100,000 acre feet of water maintained in New Melones which can be set aside administratively by the United States Department of Interior by administrative action. This would assure this community that our water supply would never be impacted by poor public policy. We will keep you informed of those developments.
Looking at Broad Issues - However, beyond Lake Tulloch we need to build more reservoirs to contain the water that now runs out of the mountains into the sea. In reality this is a state wide problem. Southern California needs to build more dams to store water instead of relying on northern California. The Los Angeles Times Impact of El Nino on the Drought published this analysis of the statewide challenges. As we pointed out during the past 8 months, California's population has grown by 42% since New Melones Reservoir, the last major one built in the state, but our water storage capacity has grown by ab out 3%. We simply need to conserve our water and store more. That is why wasteful environmental policies simply contribute to a major problem.
One sensible way to enhance fish and save water - One side bar on the effort to enhance fish --- some bureaucrat came up with the brilliant idea of trucking the fish up to the reservoirs and dumping them into the water to be captured and return to rivers beyond the dams. A Sacramento Bee story details how this policy is being initiated in Shasta Dam. The question is why didn't that happen before we wasted all of the water in failed policies to save fish! We would have the fish and the water.
Watch for more updates here at the Lake Tulloch Alliance.
Irrigation Districts and Tri Dam announce fall plan and goals for 2016
Drawdown goes to old schedule and goals is to keeping Tulloch full next year.
Lake Tulloch Draw Down Backgroumd
Tri Dam had indicated ion 2015 that the initial draining of Lake Tulloch wouldn't begin until after Labor Day. The agency and the Irrigation Districts issued a press release August 8th warning that the draw down could begin August 23rd and urging residents to begin removing boats. This ill-timed announcement had a negative impact on real estate, tourism, and more with nearly a month left before the traditionally big Labor Day Holiday. The agency inferred that there would be a major drop in lake and hence many docks were removed at great cost. The drop did not occur.
The announcement in August came at the end of a seven month period of uncertainty which began with the February 17 press release from the Oakdale Irrigation District which announced a potential draining of Lake Tulloch this past spring.
This same district this month is taking more than 20,000 acre feet of water out of the reservoirs to make more than $12 million by selling water to out of area users. This seems as not the time to take more water out of our reservoir for profit!
The release now and those in the past indicated draw downs were happening to enhance fish! There was significant press coverage of the spring announcement. The Lake Tulloch Alliance along with many residents objected to the Irrigation Districts and Tri Dam about this short sighted plan and urged that it be changed and that the districts stand up to the federal government and protect our water resources for the best interests of this community and our friends in the valley. We are thankful that they listened and the lake remained through the end of summer.
It was ironic that the irrigation districts decided to take water out of Lake Tulloch when the State Water Board issued an order reducing the demand for water releases from New Melones. See story below!
Fish First Policies Beginning to Draw More Attention
Updated August 22, 2015
The policies of state and federal placing fish over people in priority are gaining more coverage and much of it coming from Lake Tulloch. A new column is just out by Steve Greenhut who wrote about this in April. Mr. Greenhut is a columnist for the San Diego Union but his writing is distributed nationally. Read this column by clicking here.
The Merced Sun ran a story provided to LakeTulloch.org by California State Assemblyman Adam Gray highlight the fact that more and more people are objecting to water policy that puts fish first and people second. Click here for story.
The Modesto Bee has published another story about the call for the construction of a $120 million passage for fish around Don Pedro on the Tuolumne River. That cost is to be borne by farmers and the public: http://www.modbee.com/news/article30803163.html
South San Joaquin Irrigation Manager Jeff Shields got it right when he put the misguided efforts of the environmentalists and federal and state agencies: In referring to the unimpaired flow policy Mr.Shields noted. “The science doesn’t support this, so you have to question what the rationale really us.” He fears the state is diverting his region’s water to the Delta, where the governor wants to build his twin-tunnels project.
Irrigation Districts Order Lake Tulloch Draw-down to Begin
August 23, 2015
August 8, 2015
Check out new Modesto Bee Story on Lake Tulloch
The South San Joaquin and Oakdale Irrigation Districtshave ordered that Tri Dam begin lowering Lake Tulloch August 23, 2015. This is in the last segment of summer and nearly a month earlier than usual. Ordinarily the lake would not be taken down the usual 9 feet until mid October. This move will damage the real estate, business, and tourism with it coming so early.
Tri Dam issued a press release August 7, 2015 which made the announcement. Read the Tri Dam Release by clicking here.
The LTA immediately issued a press release that strong criticized the decision which effectively puts the economy and ecology of Lake Tulloch behind fish. One irrigation district official the previous week told LTA that area residents need to understand that Lake Tulloch homeowners and businesses are secondary to the ability of districts to sell water and electricity. The official also informed LTA that in no way would they oppose the federal and state fish flow mandates.
Read the LTA press release
The Calaveras Enterprise has run a story which can be read by clicking here and more stories including a major piece in the Modesto Bee will appear beginning Sunday.
It is also interesting to note the previous day the State Water Board reduced the pressure on more releases from New Melones so the action by the Irrigation Districts is premature.
State Water Board Approves Reduction in Water from New Melones August 6, 2015
The California State Water Board has approved an order to reduce the amount of water coming out of New Melones and hend, Lake Tulloch according to a story published by My Mother Lode.com .(Click here for story) The story noted that moore of New Melones’ limited water supply will remain in place, at least for now, under this new temporary urgency change order issued by the state water board.
The story reported "They reporters Subject to conditions, the order allows the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, through November 30, to lower the minimum dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration requirement for the Stanislaus River below Goodwin Dam from 7 milligrams per liter (mg/l) to 5 ml/l, which is the river basin plan’s minimum allowable standard. The move is expected to help hold critical water supplies in reserve for minimal fish protection and other supply uses for the balance of this year into the next."?
Note: This does not change the potential of the Federal Government enforcing the release of more water for the purpose of saving fish in lower rivers and pushing them into the Delta. This remains an illconcieved policy. Watch for more details here.
Bulletin August 3, 2015
New Melones looses 54,000 Acre Feet of Water in July:
Enough Water for a City of 500,000 for a year!
Melones in a drought (left)
The old Parrots Ferry Bridge (right) now visible at the bottom of Melones this weekend
New Melones Reservoir was reduced by more 50,000 acre feet (AF) of water in July. This is enough water to meet the needs of a community of 500,000 people for one year! Much of the releases are caused because of the mandate of the State Water Board to save fish in accordance with the Endangered Species Act. A May release of 30,000 AF moved nine fish down the river at a total cost in water of $21,000,000 or $2 million a fish. This is the link to the State of California website: http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/queryDaily?NML, This site provides specific data on the releases from Melones.
According to the State of California website New Melones lost 3,543 acre feet just on Friday and Saturday of this past week.
It is important to note that the Oakdale Irrigation District and the South San Joaquin Irrigation Districts have been working hard through Tri Dam to maintain Lake Tulloch over the summer while meeting the needs of agriculture. They are dealing with the public policy thrust on them by the State of California Water Board and the Bureau of Reclamation under the Endangered Species Act.
These water releases lowers the depth of Melones dangerously taking it to a point where the electrical generating turbines will have to be turned off thereby reducing the supply of electricity while California is still in a hot summer that ups consumption. Melones was at a level of about approximately 341,000 on Sunday August 2. If the releases continue the depth could be significantly lower by October. Without the fish flow requirements Melones could have as much as 1,000,000 acre feet of water.
This means that there will be nearly no water available from Melones for Agriculture and the only remaining water would be taken from Lake Tulloch and Goodwin Dam for the fish!
Calaveras Water District Stuck with $1 million Expense
Since Lake Tulloch provides the water for the 10,000 people living around the lake, the drawdown of Tulloch can have a direct impact on the water supply. The Calaveras County Water District is therefore being forced to spend $1 million for pumps to placed 100 feet lower to provide water. CCWD officials told LakeTulloch.org that the expense is only being required because of the draining of the dam to achieve the extreme goals of environmentalists to enhance the fish population. The district is seeking money from the State of California to pay for the costs which will be borne in part by customers.Remember -- those aren't free dollars from the state -- they are tax dollars paid by tax payers. No such thing as free money from the government.
Water Quality at the Bottom of Lake - One concern the Lake Tulloch Alliance has is the question of the quality and purity of water ultimately coming from the bottom of the reservoir. For more than 150 years chemical residue from mining in the area has drained into the bottoms of the rivers and creeks. The residue has been flushed into the bottom of the lake for nearly 60 years. No one knows whether water drained from the bottom of the lake won't be tainted by these runoffs over the years.
Lake Tulloch, Ag and the Impact
Lake Tulloch residents and businesses along with the farmers in the Central Valley are at serious risk if these unrestricted releases continue. The local economy and real estate has been impacted negatively as has tourism. If Lake Tulloch is drained to meet these mandated fish flows, the Lake Tulloch Alliance along with local leaders think it will take years for the economy and community to overcome this since it places the reliability of the lake level in question. The big selling point for decades here is that it was reliable. Now we know that isn't true anymore.
Despite what any local agency says -- our community is at risk and it is more important than ever to act. Write your legislators and urge them to stop the releases now! Watch for more details and news.
Californian's Public Enemy #1
Read this stunning Investor's Daily column
by Congressman Devin Nunes revealing the diabolical
plan to destroy our way of life and our communities.
June Update: Tulloch's Full and Ag Water Flowing
But the Threat Continues
Lake Tulloch is full as summer begins and farmers are getting some of the needed water. Water districts are enforcing their conservation measures, but still environmental extremists want more water for a fish policy that is a scientific fraud!
The June 6 Los Angeles Times outlined the battle in Congress with leaders like Congressmen Tom McClintock, Devin Nunes, Jeff Denham, Jim Costa, and Kevin McCarty fighting to end policies that place fish before people. The article notes: Nunes and other Republicans refer to a "man-made drought." They argue that policies designed to replenish endangered fish stocks in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta are depriving farmers, especially those with low pr riority water rights. Click here to reach the Los Angeles Times Story.
The LTA Point on the $2 million dollar Fish still relevant
The fact is that the issues that the Lake Tulloch Alliance brought to light with policies makers on the national, state and local level are more important that ever -- We are wasting billions of gallons of water to support a policy that saves fish at a cost of millions of dollars per fish.
The Modesto Bee carried an important story outlining action in Congress to deal with this. The article noted:
An issue at the heart of our water debates – whether nonnative fish prey heavily on salmon and steelhead – wriggled through Congress this week.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment proposed by Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, that would require attention to this issue in any recovery plan for salmon or steelhead under the Endangered Species Act.
Supporters see the amendment as a way to slow efforts to increase river flows for these native fish at the expense of farms and cities that divert the water. Their main target is striped bass, an introduced species that eats the young native fish we are trying to save.
“While we’re spending millions trying to save the lives of these fish, which play a huge role in the allocation of water, we must also be working to eliminate the threat that predator fish pose,” Denham said in a news release.
The complete story can be read by clicking here.
The battle will continue with dedicated enivornmental extremists and their political advocates continuing the reject economic and scientific realities. They continue to be dead to the pleadings of average people whose lives and welfare are put at risk. The LTA is continuing to work with the media and our elected officials to insure that we have sensible public policy putting people before fish.
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:
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.