Friday, April 17, 2015

California water officials cancel plan to construct emergency drought barriers in North Delta

Contact person: For additional information email Patrick Porgans at
17 April 2915

Steamboat Slough and Sutter Slough have been removed as sites for two of three barriers, which came under strong public opposition from members of C.A.R.E.S, Delta farmers and others.

Planetary Solutionaries, one of a number of opponents of the emergency drought barriers anywhere in the Delta, was informed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has decided not to dam up Steamboat Slough and Sutter Slough; however, DWR officials plan to go ahead with the one proposed for West False River. The barrier would be essentially a pile of basketball-size rocks across a 750-foot-wide channel that still allows water flow upstream and downstream, depending on the tides. DWR, operator of the State Water Project, is seeking multiple permits from various agencies to accelerate installation. For additional information from DWR officials, contact Nancy Vogel, Public Affairs Director, (916) 651-7512

According to documentation submitted to the Corps, by the Department, the Emergency Drought Barriers project, proposed for Sutter Slough, Steamboat Slough, and False River would result in permanent impacts to waters of the United States. Temporary fill would be installed starting May and removed in November. Critics claimed that there are no funds earmarked to remove the barriers and that they could cause irreparable damage to Delta farmlands, caused by an increase in saltier water. Planetary Solutionaries raised concerns about the need and justification for the barriers, and the impacts that they present to threatened salmonid and pelagic aquatic species already listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Department officials claim that the overall project purpose is to prevent the intrusion of saltwater into the Delta. They believe there is a need to reduce the water supply risk for delta and upstream users.
The Department applied for a permit from the Corps, which stated that water quality conditions in the Delta are declining due to the severe drought conditions and have already approached human health criteria at many locations in the South Delta and as far south as the State Water Project and Central Valley Project intake pumps that export millions of acre-feet of water from the Delta. (One acre-foot of water is enough water to cover on acre of land in one foot of water.)
The Corps is preparing to issue a new Public Notice apprising interested parties of the Department’s decision and the site of the new proposed location of the emergency drought barrier. The process will be subject to federal ESA and Clean Water Act review. #
Additional information can be obtained from the Corps Public Information Office (916) 557-5100, refer to Project SPK-2014-00187, Emergency Drought Barriers, the applicant is the Department of Water Resources.