Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Court to set aside Delta Plan



File photo of a gavel. (Getty Images)
A judge clarified late Thursday that a sweeping 21st century plan for the Delta is "invalid," a decision applauded by Delta advocates who had argued the plan didn't go far enough to protect the fragile estuary from massive water exports.
Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny issued his initial ruling in the case one month ago, saying that certain elements of the plan were inadequate.
Now, however, he has said the plan itself must be set aside until changes are made.
Most notably, the judge found that the plan failed to include quantifiable targets for California to reduce its reliance on the Delta for drinking water, as required by law.
That’s an important finding, said Bill Jennings, head of the Stockton-based California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, one of many litigants in the case.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed twin tunnels have been described as allowing exporters to take roughly the same amount of Delta water as they take today. “This will force the state and federal contractors to reassess whether they wish to expend tens of billions of dollars for a project that will supply less water from the Delta,” Jennings said.
The Delta Stewardship Council — the state agency that wrote the Delta Plan — said it would likely appeal.
The judge's initial ruling in May had been interpreted in very different ways. Delta advocates declared victory back then, but in essence, so did the Stewardship Council, pointing out that the judge had upheld most aspects of the heavily litigated plan.
However, this week council officials said they were "disappointed" with the judge's clarification. Invalidating the entire plan, when the judge found fault with only a few of its provisions, means that even the noncontroversial policies within the Delta Plan cannot be enforced, the council warned.
“The Delta remains in crisis, and now isn’t the time to set aside the state’s only comprehensive management plan,” executive officer Jessica Pearson said in a prepared statement.
The plan had been challenged by players on multiple sides of California's water battles: environmentalists, southland water users, and even the city of Stockton. The water exporters argued that the plan failed to give them a more reliable supply of water — a goal which is codified in state law, as is reducing reliance on the Delta — but that argument was rejected.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Court Delays Delta Land Buy

Court Delays Delta Land Buy By Southern California Water Utility

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) – Southern California’s largest water supplier was temporarily blocked from buying sprawling farmland that could be used tohelp build twin tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a court ruled Tuesday.
The state’s 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento granted a temporary restraining order the day before escrow was set to close on Metropolitan Water District’s $175 million deal for 20,000 acres.
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The ruling delays the district’s purchase by no more than a few weeks, Metropolitan attorney Catherine Stites said.
“We don’t believe it’s a substantive decision,” she said, adding that the court probably needs more time to review hundreds of pages ofdocuments filed in the case.
Metropolitan will ultimately be cleared to buy the land at the hub of California’s water system east of San Francisco and more than 300 miles north of Los Angeles, Stites said.
San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties filed suit against Metropolitan, a major backer of Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to build the tunnels to send water south. The counties, which oppose the tunnels, contend that Metropolitan failed to study how the deal may harm the fragile delta before buying the land from a Swiss investment group.
Metropolitan officials say the lawsuit is premature because it has not formally decided how it will use the land. The district says it may use it to store earth from the tunnel project or for habitat restoration to ensure a reliable supply of delta water to its customers.
The $15.7 billion tunnels plan awaits regulatory approval before work can begin.
Also Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board dropped a historic $1.4 million fine against the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District, accused of illegally taking river water at the height of drought last summer. The board found that its enforcement officers could not prove their case against Byron-Bethany and a second district, West Side Irrigation, which was ordered to stop taking water but not fined.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

"Blood Alley" Hwy 12 Claims 3 Women, 2 Toddler's Lives



ISLETON -- Three women and two toddlers died in a head-on collision Saturday afternoon along Highway 12 in Isleton in Sacramento County.
The accident happened about 5:40 p.m. near Jackson Slough Road and backed up traffic for at least one mile, the station said.
California Highway Patrol Officer Michael Bradley told the Associated Press that the two children were both girls aged about two or three. One died at the scene along with the three women; the second died later at a hospital.
Bradley says all the dead were in a Honda Civic that collided with a Chevy Silverado near Rio Vista about 40 miles southwest of Sacramento.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this story.

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The four people in the Silverado were also taken to a hospital, but they had only minor injuries.
Bradley says the Civic was passing other vehicles on the two-way highway and lost control as it tried to get back over in time. The Silverado then slammed into it. .
California Highway safety for this dangerous stretch of Hwy 12 must,at the very least, post warning signs of the lives lost due to its disrepair which has caused so many wrecks over the years. Missouri has reduced fatalities by their sign warning project on their at rick stretches of dangerous roads.  


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

SEXY B4 DAWN presents SOULFUL SATURDAYS At Graciano's Chicago Deep Dish Pizza & Speakeasy




By Steven Masone


It was open mic night with Sexy B4 Dawn Presents "Soulful Saturday's A Place Where a Musician can be a Musician and a Fan Of Live Music can feel at Home. An old country tune sings about "the women all get better looking at closing time" brought to mind a possible play on words for Sexy Before Dawn. but then it dawned on me perhaps it is a reference to the 'Twilight Vampire' series and all night party people. I’ll have to ask where the name originated.

The band however, made sexy music before 10 pm and throughout the night with guitar, bass/synthesizer, drums, and keyboards. The talent that showed up was excellent, and the cover charge is well worth it, if it was just the band! The show was actually concert style seating which was refreshing, and then the crowd was great. Supportive, and enthusiastic.



The showroom was separate from the bar, and "teetotalers" were welcome as well as those who enjoyed a cocktail from the professional bartenders taking care of the packed house.With Latin Music events, Jazz, and much more, if the caliber of other shows are as good as Sexy B4 Dawn Party Promomotions,
I look forward to catching them all in the near future.

The sound engineer for this even was, Shawn Raiford,  and he did a great job. (I will add names and websites soon) I had just eaten so I did not review the Italian fare. I spoke with the friendly owner, Ken Harris, with an invitation from him to return soon to do a review on the cuisine. I did watch the many dishes coming out of the kitchen for some time, and if the food is as good as the presentation and aroma, I will be a happy Italian customer...they all looked great!

This venue is not your typical Old Sacramento tourist trap and mediocre joint. It is both a first-class family style restaurant, and  entertainment destination.
 
see their websites for events, menus and more....


https://www.facebook.com/sexyb4dawn/   


Also email stevemasone@gmail.com for Masone & Associates Talent Agency  website:   http://masoneassociates.blogspot.com/








Delta Tunnel Project Downsizing

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

A dog trotted down the middle of a levee road as red-winged blackbirds darted in and out of the reeds. A few fishermen dangled their baited lines into the muddy brown water.
Only a close look at the Middle River revealed anything amiss in this part of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Instead of flowing north toward San Francisco Bay, as nature intended, the Middle was headed south. On the other side of Bacon Island, the Old River was doing the same thing.
The backward flow of these two obscure channels is at the core of a proposal to build California's biggest water project in decades: a $15-billion diversion and tunnel system in the delta, the ecologically failing hub of the state's waterworks.
The long-planned project would draw directly from the Sacramento River as it enters the north delta and send water to enormous pumping plants that now pull supplies entirely from the south delta. The intensive pumping that now takes place causes the environmentally harmful reverse flows that have triggered increasingly tight limits on water deliveries to San Joaquin Valley growers and Southern California cities.
In news releases and tweets, tunnel backers have lamented the "lost" and "wasted" water from the Sacramento River that could have been pumped south during this year's winter storms if only the delta had a "modern delivery system." About 486,000 acre-feet — or enough water to serve 3.6 million people for a year — could have been captured, theproject website proclaims in big, bold numbers.
But scroll down on the website, below those impressive figures, and you now find a cautionary note: "The project on average over time is not expected to provide a significant increase in water deliveries from the Delta."
The language reflects a major scaling back of the project's once lofty ambitions.
The San Joaquin Valley irrigation districts and Southland water agencies that would pay for the project originally envisioned it as a grand delta fix that would push water exports back to — or even above — their peak in the early 2000s of an average 5.3 million acre-feet a year.
But as the project has gone through a protracted environmental review by skeptical federal fishery agencies, reality has set in. Instead of cranking open the pumps, the tunnels will, at best, do little more than maintain the status quo.
"This idea that it's all going to be resolved is fiction," said state Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin, whose agency is overseeing the proposal along with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
The tunnels would lessen the damaging reverse flows. But they would not cure the delta's other ecological ailments, many of which stem from the exports and upstream diversions that have profoundly altered delta hydrology and robbed the ecosystem of about half its natural flow to the bay.
Nor would the project escape the regulations concerning endangered species and water quality that will probably grow tougher in response to the delta's cascading environmental woes.
If the tunnels are built, state modeling indicates future delta exports to the valley's thirsty fields and Southern California's faucets would average 4.9 million acre-feet a year — only a small improvement over recent averages.
Without the project, however, Cowin warns that number could fall by 1 million acre-feet — to roughly 1970s levels.
Officially named the California WaterFix, the project has become less a fix than a multibillion-dollar tourniquet.
::
The Old and Middle rivers are in the south end of the delta. There, the state and federal pumping plants draw water to fill the highway-size California Aqueduct and the Delta-Mendota Canal that carry supplies south.
The harder the enormous pumps work, the stronger their wrong-way pull on south delta channels and native fish. Migrating chinook salmon and steelhead wander off course into the mouths of predators or to the dead-end of the pumps.
The finger-size delta smelt — declared a threatened species by the federal government — follow the unnatural flows away from good spawning habitat, edging ever closer to extinction.
Two in three fish drawn into the south delta by the pumping perish, according to government biologists.
Under WaterFix, the new water diversion point on the Sacramento River in the north delta would feed two massive 35-mile tunnels supplying the pumps. Thus, less water would be drawn directly from the south delta, reducing the problematic reverse flows.
It is a variation of an old idea. Decades before the Endangered Species Act was enacted, when delta smelt were so plentiful they were used as bait, water managers foresaw problems with using the delta as a water pipeline for the south.
By the 1960s, government planners were pushing plans for a peripheral canal to carry supplies from California's biggest river, the Sacramento, around the delta to existing federal pumps and the soon-to-be built State Water Project pumping plant.
Among the benefits cited in a 1966 state document: Improvements in the quality of exported water and a halt to "damage to the delta fishery."
But it was cheaper to use the delta. The canal wasn't built. The proposal resurfaced again years later, only to be killed by voters in a 1982 statewide referendum that played on California's perennial north-south water tensions.
This time, opposition is centered in the delta, where the landscape of levee-ringed farm islands and curling water channels hasn't changed much in a century.
"Save the delta. Stop the tunnels," signs are staked next to delta roads. Local growers don't want a mammoth, years-long construction project mucking up islands in the eastern delta. And most of all, they don't want the tunnels sucking up good-quality Sacramento River water before it gets to their irrigation ditches.
Environmentalists worry about salmon losses at the three big river intakes that would be built near Hood, Calif. And state assurances to the contrary, they are convinced the tunnels will inevitably be used to suck more water from the delta watershed.
::
The nerve center of the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project is housed in a nameless building in a Sacramento suburb, where managers in the Joint Operations Center monitor data around the clock and relay orders to the field offices that move water supplies around California.
Crucial to that movement are delta conditions, which are religiously measured, recorded and scrutinized.
How much water is being released from upstream reservoirs in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river watersheds? How much fresh water is flowing into the delta? How much is going out to San Francisco Bay? What are the salinity levels? How muddy is the water? How many protected fish have been collected at the pumps? How strong are the reverse flows in the Old and Middle rivers?
The reverse flow is measured in negative numbers on either side of Bacon Island and plays such a dominant role in exports that Cowin said he can recite it any minute of the day.
It is by no means, however, the only limit on delta pumping.
In the final months of last year and the early days of January the pumps were turned down to meet water quality and other state standards. If not enough fresh water flows out of the delta to the bay, salty water can intrude, tainting delta supplies.
Then it started raining and "we were meeting the outflow, no problem," recalled state water operations chief John Leahigh. Exports bumped up, though they were still capped to protect out-migrating salmon.
By mid-January, storm runoff had driven up the turbidity levels that trigger delta smelt movement. Daily sampling surveys found some of the translucent little fish near the mouths of the Old and Middle.
To avoid drawing smelt to the pumps, the pumping rate limit was tightened and exports dipped. When smelt were caught at the pumps Jan. 21, the exports were further restricted, only to rise again when turbidity levels dropped during February's dry spell.
On a late February afternoon, the drone of 100,000 horsepower of pumping muscle filled the federal C.W. "Bill" Jones Pumping Plant not far from the walled subdivisions of Tracy, Calif.
Four of the plant's six pumps were discharging delta water into the head of the 117-mile-long Delta-Mendota Canal for a trip to the San Joaquin Valley.
At the nearby diversion point on the Old River, a network of screens guided fish into pipes that carried them to large collection tanks. There they were held until tank trucks transported them to the western delta for release.
As part of a routine check for protected species, a worker hoisted a cone-shaped bucket out of one of the holding tanks and emptied it into a rectangular sorting tray.
Biologist Rene Reyes dipped a net into the water, scooping up a baby catfish. Next came a couple of bluegills and six silversides. "All introduced species, very hardy," he said.
No smelt. No salmon. It was a good day for water exports.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Review: "Graciano's Chicago Deep Dish Pizza & Speakeasy-Sexy B4 Dawn?"



























By Steven Masone


Back in Sacramento, looking for signs of nightlife in Old Sacramento, I wandered into Graciano's Chicago Deep Dish Pizza and Speakeasy- Cocktail Lounge . It was open mic night with Sexy B4 Dawn Presents "Soulful Saturday's A Place Where a Musician can be a Musician and a Fan Of Live Music can feel at Home. An old country tune sings about "the women all get better looking at closing time" brought to mind a possible play on words for Sexy Before Dawn. but then it dawned on me perhaps it is a reference to the 'Twilight Vampire' series and all night party people. I’ll have to ask where the name originated.


The band however, made sexy music before 10 pm with guitar, bass/synthesizer, drums, and keyboards. The talent that showed up was excellent, and the cover charge is well worth it, if it was just the band! The show was actually concert style seating which was refreshing, and then the crowd was great. Supportive, and enthusiastic.




The showroom was separate from the bar, and "teetotalers" were welcome as well as those who enjoyed a cocktail from the professional bartenders taking care of the packed house.With Latin Music events, Jazz, and much more, if the caliber of other shows are as good as Sexy B4 Dawn Party Promomotions,
I look forward to catching them all in the near future.


The sound engineer for this even was, Shawn Raiford,  and he did a great job. (I will add names and websites soon) I had just eaten so I did not review the Italian fare. I spoke with the friendly owner, Ken Harris, with an invitation from him to return soon to do a review on the cuisine. I did watch the many dishes coming out of the kitchen for some time, and if the food is as good as the presentation and aroma, I will be a happy Italian customer...they all looked great!


This venue is not your typical Old Sacramento tourist trap and mediocre joint. It is both a first-class family style restaurant, and  entertainment destination.

see their websites for events, menus and more....



https://www.facebook.com/sexyb4dawn/   

Also email stevemasone@gmail.com for Masone & Associates Talent Agency  website:   http://masoneassociates.blogspot.com/