News in Brief


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Isleton Cajun & Blues Festival 2015 Gearing Up!

Artists & Schedule

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Temporary Delta Dam Planned

The California Department of Water Resources plans to install a temporary rock barrier in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to reduce salinity that might otherwise result from the drought, officials said Wednesday.
The $28 million dam is designed to prevent a worst-case scenario in which Delta waters become too salty for the 25 million Californians and 3 million acres of farmland that depend on it, DWR officials said. It would work by mitigating the push of salt water from San Francisco Bay into the central Delta.
Funds for the dam would come from Proposition 50, a water bond approved by voters in 2002, and from general fund dollars, officials said.
The dam would be composed of “basketball-sized” rocks across a 750-foot-wide channel on the West False River northeast of Oakley in Contra Costa County, according to a DWR statement. The department hopes to have the dam in place next month and remove it by the end of October. It will need several permits from different agencies to speed installation.
Last year, the Department of Water Resources proposed constructing three temporary dams. The agency halted the project after winter storms provided adequate runoff to avoid salinity problems. At the time, some Delta farmers expressed concern that the dams could harm their irrigation supplies by causing salty water to back up into the affected sloughs.
DWR spokeswoman Nancy Vogel said the department this year is opting to install one barrier instead of three because of concerns about potential harm to threatened and endangered fish.

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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Western Water Wars Take Aim At Delta

As California struggles with a devastating drought, huge amounts of water are mysteriously vanishing from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta — and the prime suspects are farmers whose families have tilled fertile soil there for generations.
A state investigation was launched following complaints from two large agencies that supply water to arid farmland in the Central Valley and to millions of residents as far south as San Diego.
Delta farmers don't deny using as much water as they need. But they say they're not stealing it because their history of living at the water's edge gives them that right. Still, they have been asked to report how much water they're pumping and to prove their legal rights to it.
At issue is California's century-old water rights system that has been based on self-reporting and little oversight, historically giving senior water rights holders the ability to use as much water as they need, even in drought. Gov. Jerry Brown has said that if drought continues this system built into California's legal framework will probably need to be examined.
California's Water Crisis Goes From Bad to Worse
Delta farmer Rudy Mussi says he has senior water rights, putting him in line ahead of those with lower ranking, or junior, water rights.
"If there's surplus water, hey, I don't mind sharing it," Mussi said. "I don't want anybody with junior water rights leapfrogging my senior water rights just because they have more money and more political clout."
The fight pitting farmer against farmer is playing out in the Delta, the hub of the state's water system. With no indication of the drought easing, heightened attention is being placed on dwindling water throughout the state, which produces nearly half of the fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in the U.S.
A large inland estuary east of San Francisco, the Delta is fed by rivers of freshwater flowing down from the Sierra Nevada and northern mountain ranges. Located at sea level, it consists of large tracts of farmland separated by rivers that are subject to tidal ebbs and flows.
Most of the freshwater washes out to the Pacific Ocean through the San Francisco Bay. Some is pumped — or diverted — by Delta farmers to irrigate their crops, and some is sent south though canals to Central Valley farmers and to 25 million people statewide.
The drought now in its fourth year has put Delta water under close scrutiny. Twice last year state officials feared salty bay water was backing up into the Delta, threatening water quality. There was not enough fresh water to keep out saltwater.
In June, the state released water stored for farmers and communities from Lake Oroville to combat the saltwater intrusion.
Nancy Vogel, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Water Resources, said "thousands of acre-feet of water a day for a couple of weeks" were released into the Delta. An acre-foot is roughly enough water to supply a household of four for a year.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Going Dry In California... $500 Fine If You Don't

Drought farm (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
None of this will do much good.
Let’s assume that Brown’s plan works, and California saves approximately 1.5 million acre feet of water, or 490 billion gallons of water. That barely touches the 11 trillion gallons of water California needs in order to replenish its supplies from the drought. It’s also a wild misallocation of resources.
Let’s begin with actual wastes of water in the state of California. Thanks to Environmental Protection Agency regulations as well as local state regulations aimed at protecting the three-inch Delta smelt, a fish about which Americans supposedly care deeply, California currently pumps 150 billion gallons of usable water out to sea each year. Normally, that water would go to the fields of the Central Valley, the fruit and nuts producing region of California that supplies so many of those goods to the rest of the country. Instead, the entire region has gone dry, jacking unemployment rates up to 40 percent in some areas. As the Mayor of Mendota, California, a heavily Hispanic farming community of 10,000, told me back in 2009:
President Obama needs to come out here immediately. Just the other day, 52 other mayors and I sent a letter to President Obama calling on him to visit Fresno County to see what the impact has been. We have the highest unemployment in the state of California. I don’t have a problem with endangered species, but water distribution must be looked at.
Fat chance. Instead, those communities have gone dry. Now the whole state is going dry. But at least the delta smelt are thriving.
The smelt aren’t the only fish benefitting from generous water usage by the state of California. In 2014, Congressman Tom McClintock (R-CA) explained, “last month the Bureau of Reclamation drained Folsom and other reservoirs on the American and Stanislaus rivers of more than 70,000 acre feet of water – enough to meet the annual needs of a city of half a million people – for the comfort and convenience of fish.” The goal: to push baby salmon to the Pacific Ocean, where they swim anyway, and to change the temperature of the water for their benefit. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the state of California wastes 260 billion gallons of water each year “saving salmon” and for “other conservation purposes.”
Overall, 2.6 million acre-feet of water have been washed into San Francisco Bay to help the fish.
But the biggest problem in California is that the government has refused to build the reservoirs and dams necessary to actually save water when the rain does come. As the Wall Street Journal points out, Israel has weathered droughts for years. So has Arizona. Both built infrastructure. California has not, largely because politicians like Jerry Brown stopped such construction decades ago. The Wall Street Journal points out:
Money is not the obstacle. Since 2000 voters have approved five bonds authorizing $22 billion in spending for water improvements… desalination projects have been abandoned… some areas have been slow to shift from fixed rates.
But there’s plenty of cash to go around for Brown’s $100 billion fantasy choo-choo train.
Assuming none of that will change, it is not urban populations in California using a disproportionate share of water. It is farmers. Farming represents no more than two percent of the California economy, yet represents 80 percent of its human water usage. A full 10 percent of California’s water goes to farming almonds – 1.1 trillion gallons of water. Another 100 billion gallons goes to alfalfa, which is largely shipped overseas for use in places like Japan.
Brown says that farmers aren’t just watering their lawns, but that’s the point: even if all Californians stopped watering their lawns completely, that wouldn’t solve the drought. California may lead the nation in production of vegetables (one third of all veggies in the US come from California) and fruits and nuts (two thirds from the Golden State). But so what? Heavily subsidizing farming in California is still heavily subsidizing farming in California. Subsidies boost production. That doesn’t make subsidies justifiable in a state supported almost entirely on other industries.
California’s drought is partly about weather, but it’s just as much about government mismanagement. Environmentalism trumped good policy; now, subsidies trump rational distribution via market pricing. The result: a very smelly situation.

Hope Center In Eugene Oregon In Need Of Donations For Homeless Veterans

                          Helping Veterans With Temporary Emergency To Permanent Housing 
Image result for all donations needed
Feeding Hundreds Weekly

Westside Apostolic Hope Center, a non-profit organization, would like to
 ask anyone who would like to donate sturdy paper plates, plastic forks, plastic spoons, plastic bowls, paper coffee cups, and paper
napkins...please bring them boxed up to 1161 Grant Street, Eugene, 97402.

 You can deliver them Mon-Thurs from 9am - 10am. We feed Veterans and homeless people every Friday from 9am - Noon and it would be such a blessing to have people donate to this community service. All donations are tax-deductable.

We thank you so much for helping with such a wonderful service, that we provide for our Vets and homeless, in our community. God bless! 

Call (541) 729-9167    

Image result for donate your vehicle for veterans

Temporary Emergency Shelters

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Veterans Affairs Department Asks for Better Legislation For Specialty Care

Veteran's Voice of America

The Veterans Affairs Department has asked for new legislation that would let it pay for private health care for veterans who live near a VA clinic but can't get the treatment they need because it's not offered at that location.
VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson told the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Tuesday that vets are "frustrated" with the VA Choice program, particularly the requirement that measures eligibility by a veteran's proximity to any VA health facility — even those that are not full-service medical centers.
Gibson said many veterans are excluded from the program because of this provision in the law and few have applied for waivers to the rules.
"Many veterans are frustrated with the Choice program," Gibson said. "Such confusion leads to lower use of Choice."
The VA announced earlier Tuesday that it will change another aspect of the program, the definition of the 40-mile distance rule for veterans to access the Veterans Choice program.
Instead of using an "as the crow flies" measure of 40 miles, VA will rely on actual driving distance from a VA medical facility as the qualifier to use the program.
Some lawmakers expressed skepticism that VA needs formal legislation to make the change to accommodate veterans who live within the 40-mile distance but can't get the care they need.
But lawmakers pledged to make the fix. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate committee, said his staff would work with the staff of the committee's ranking Democrat, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., to draft legislation in the next two weeks.
"The faster we act on that, the better off we are. I don't think there's any disagreement on the committee," Isakson said.
VA officials say the department distributed nearly 8 million VA Choice Cards when the program was initiated in November 2014. To date, it has approved about 46,000 requests for care and managed 44,461 appointments.
VA has a process to get patients to private care if they face undue burdens accessing VA care, but only 125 have asked for a waiver so far, Gibson said.
"It's our program, and we're working hard to improve it, to quickly overcome issues as we discover them and to ask for your assistance in areas where we need help," Gibson told the senators.
He said next month VA will send teams to facilities in some areas served by private contracts to analyze why they have long wait lists for care but few Veterans Choice referrals.
He also asked Congress to update the laws that allow VA to enter into agreements for providing care through civilian doctors.
"This change would let us streamline and speed up how we purchase care for an individual veteran," Gibson said.
Representatives of veterans' advocacy groups who testified at the hearing said they're delighted that VA decided to change the criteria for enforcing the 40-mile rule — a change that VA says will take effect in the coming weeks — but still harbor some concerns about VA's support of the Choice program.
"Seems to be a problem of following the letter of the law instead of the spirit of the law," grumbled Roscoe Butler, the American Legion's deputy director for health care.
Blumenthal also expressed concern that regardless of future legislative changes, VA might find loopholes to deny veterans care. He urged the department to act quickly in helping veterans use the program.
"This is not a threat to VA," Blumenthal said. "It's a different mode of helping serving the health care needs of veterans."

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

12 Million Salmon Take Road Trip

Image: Salmon

Image: Salmon
For the second year in a row, the California drought will cause millions of salmon to take a road trip. Around 12 million juvenile Chinook salmon could be trucked starting this week from the Coleman National Fish Hatchery in Anderson, California, down at least 180 miles to other sites on the Sacramento River. "Doing this two years in a row, it's unprecedented," Steve Martarano, a public affairs specialist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, told NBC News. Typically, the salmon are released into the nearby Battle Creek tributary, but California's long-lasting drought has made the area inhospitable to juveniles. Starting this week, many of the young fish, called smolts, will be transported in specially retrofitted trucks capable of carrying 2,800 gallons of water to Rio Vista, Mare Island and San Pablo Bay.

Image: Salmon stream
The Coleman National Fish Hatchery is sited two miles upstream from this view of Battle Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River. When the salmon aren't being trucked, they're released directly from the hatchery into these waters. Fish hatcheries in Northern California exist generally to mitigate habitat loss from the construction of dams, which flood prime breeding ground for salmon.

Officials stressed that this was a last resort. Transporting the smolts in trucks increases the chances that they will stray and never find their way back to the hatchery. "If we released them on-site, we would probably lose them all," Martarano said. "This is not something we like to do." Similar operations have taken place in the past on a smaller scale. In 2011, 1.3 million salmon were moved from the Coleman National Fish Hatchery. Last year that number jumped to 7.5 million. That was just a fraction of the 25 million salmon that were transported by truck in 2014 from five fisheries statewide.