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Monday, September 10, 2018

As excerpted from: The Modesto Bee

Currently, the water board acts as prosecutor and judge in any dispute. Staff creates plans (like increasing flows to save salmon) then the board blesses them. If you don’t like the plan, you can appeal – to the board that just blessed it. Seems pointless.

Last year, Assemblyman Adam Gray wrote a bill to create an independent review panel for water disputes. Improbably, Gray’s bill passed but Gov. Brown vetoed it.

This year, Anna Caballero pushed through a similar bill, AB 747, which passed 69-5 and now awaits Gov. Brown’s signature. Though it was similar to his bill, Gray took a knee.

“It didn’t go far enough,” Gray said. The hearing panel would be within the water board structure, not independent.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Friday, August 24, 2018

BY MIKE DUNBAR

mdunbar@modbee.com

August 24, 2018 01:27 PM

Dear Editor of The Los Angeles Times:

We know opinion journalists often draw different conclusions from the same facts. But we have some problems with both the conclusions you’ve drawn and the “facts” you cited in your editorial, “Letting California’s rivers run isn’t a ‘water grab’.

After chiding San Francisco over insufficient environmental karma, you turned your pious gaze on us Valley yokels. You chastised us for being unwilling to save the rivers that have nourished us – and you, through our vegetables, melons, wines, nuts, cheese, tree fruit, etc. You portrayed us as part of a villainous “agribusiness,” perhaps not realizing the average farm size in Stanislaus County is 175 acres, and three quarters of all farms here are under 100 acres. For that matter, why is “big ag” any greedier than big movies, big bio-tech or big banking, some of your big industries?

Relying on your great knowledge of farming economics, you advised us to grow “less thirsty” crops – a cheap shot at all the almonds we grow. Did you realize that two crops of corn (the norm) requires more water than a single crop of almonds? That it takes more water to produce your $100 jeans than it does to fill a bag of almonds of the same weight?

Then you blame diversions from the Tuolumne for crippling “the state’s once great ocean fishing fleets and seafood processors.” That’s my favorite. Usually, your writers accompany such statements by citing a study that said commercial salmon fishing was a $1.4 billion per year business. That number came from a company specializing in studies for environmental groups. In the year cited, California commercial fishers caught 1,032,000 pounds of salmon. You think a pound of salmon generates $1,400 in economic activity?

Apparently, you take everything said by the State Water Resources Control Board as gospel. Chairwoman Felicia Marcus is smart, quick-witted and was once one of your city’s bureaucrats before going to work for the oh-so-altruistic Natural Resources Defense Council (never mind allegations of sue-and-settle tactics and a $50 million payroll). She and former water board staffer Tam Doduc wouldn’t possibly color the facts, leave out pertinent data, discard valid peer-reviewed science and link one arm with professional environmentalists and the other with Beverly Hills farmers and developers to move water south.

Then you bow your head and admit Los Angeles once sinned against nature, draining Owens Valley and the Mono basin. You don’t mention that you’ve only recently been forced to stop taking more than your share of the Colorado River.

Is that why you want more from the Delta? You said as much in April when you insisted Gov. Jerry Brown’s tunnels be built. By portraying some of California’s poorest and hardest-laboring people as greedy fish-killers, do you figure you’ll use the water more wisely?

If you really, truly want to help the Delta and save salmon, you can. All you have to do is turn off those Delta pumps once in awhile.

Instead, you complain that our rivers are sometimes reduced “to a mere trickle.” Did you bother to check? At the height of summer, the “mere trickle” coming out of Tulloch Reservoir on the Stanislaus was 1,642 cubic feet (12,282 gallons) per second on Thursday; it was 1,891 cfs (14,441 gallons) on the Tuolumne, and 1,696 cfs on the Merced. Some of that is going for irrigation, but most is staying in the rivers.

If we increased the instream flows by 60 percent tomorrow, only around 2,100 cubic feet per second of additional water would enter the Delta. Sounds like a lot, until you compare it to the amount leaving the Delta.

Since 1991, your giant pumps have been sending up to 15,000 cubic feet per second down two man-made rivers toward Los Angeles. That’s when the Delta started getting saltier. By 2009, the National Marine Fisheries Services was blaming water exports for killing the fish.

By the way, how’s the fishing in that cement ditch you call the Los Angeles River?

We are restoring our riversusing wastewater for farming and vastly improving irrigation techniques. We don’t mind reasonably increasing flows, but that alone won’t work.

Just ask renowned scientist Peter Moyle, who blogged in the midst of the water board hearings, “increased flows are not likely to increase (salmon) survival.”

Or ask equally renowned scientist Jay Lund, who said relying on flows to fix any river’s problems is “scientifically lazy.”

Read the peer-reviewed study that found salmon prefer mid-range, not massive, river flows.

Check the irrigation districts who built restoration projects on the Stanislaus that already have resulted in a three-fold increase in salmon without additional flows.

Or ask the state regulators who want to control our rivers how they managed to kill thousands of salmon on the Sacramento River in 2014 and trout on the Stanislaus in 2016.

Next time you set about burnishing your green cred by attacking us, check the facts. They’re fascinating.

Mike Dunbar is editorial page editor of The Modesto Bee and Merced Sun-Star. 209-578-2325mdunbar@modbee.com.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Assemblymember Gray Leads Rally to “Stop the State’s Water Grab” (Sacramento) - Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced), along with hundreds of farmers, laborers, students, and concerned citizens, rallied at the State Capitol to protest the State Water Board’s proposal to divert water from the San Joaquin Valley to the Bay Delta. Assemblymember Gray says the Water Board’s proposal will devastate farming communities, cost thousands of jobs and endanger drinking water, while still failing to improve water conditions in the Bay-Delta.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

ASSEMBLYMEMBER ADAM C. GRAY
21ST ASSEMBLY DISTRICT

For Immediate Release: August 15, 2018
Contact: Megan Belair – (209) 726-5465

 

500+ Rally to “Stop the State Water Grab”

Ahead of Pivotal Water Board Decision
Drinking Water, Farms, and Food at Risk

 

SACRAMENTO, CA – More than 500 farmers, laborers, students, and citizens opposed to a state plan to disrupt the water supply of more than three million northern Californians will demonstrate on the North Steps of the State Capitol on Monday, August 20, starting at Noon.

 

The Stop the State Water Grab Rally comes just days ahead of the State Water Resources Control Board’s hearing to consider a plan to sharply curtail water flows to nearly 3 million people from the North San Joaquin Valley to the Bay Area. Besides threatening drinking water supplies, the plan would jeopardize a multibillion-dollar farming industry, while providing little proof of environmental benefit.

 

The Water Board’s plan would initially divert 40 percent of flows from the Tuolumne, Merced, and Stanislaus rivers despite dozens of scientific studies showing there are alternatives that would do more to help native fish populations. State regulators have ignored the research and the voice of the people who depend on this water to survive.

 

Families, businesses owners, water officials and other Californians will head to the State Capitol to highlight the far-reaching and devastating impacts of this misguided State Water Grab and urge the state Board to reject the proposal as currently written.

 

WHAT:            Stop the State Water Grab Rally

DATE:              August 20, 2018

TIME:               12 Noon

LOCATION:     State Capitol, North Steps

VISUALS:         500+people, signs, banners, marching band

 

For more information, contact the office of California Assemblyman Adam Gray at (209) 726-5465.

 

Stop the State Water Grab Media Advisory.pdf

 

Friday, July 6, 2018

ASSEMBLYMEMBER ADAM C. GRAY
21ST ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
For Immediate Release: July 6, 2018
Contact: Adam Capper
Phone: (916) 319-2021

The Next Chapter of California’s Water Wars Has Begun

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) released the following statement condemning today’s announcement from the State Water Resources Control Board to ignore decade’s worth of science and public opinion by adopting radical new requirements to seize and waste critically needed San Joaquin Valley water supplies.

“The State Water Resources Control Board’s decision today is the first shot fired in the next chapter of California’s water wars. The board has chosen to create, in their own words, ‘a permanent regulatory drought’ and shrugged off our concerns as ‘significant but unavoidable’.

This is what theft looks like. A small group of special interests have spent years plotting one of the largest water takes in our state’s history. They attempted and failed to change the law and win in court, so instead they have infiltrated government itself. They positioned their allies to influence the process from within and spent hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money to prop up their house of cards. Despite entire agencies at their disposal and seemingly unlimited funds, no amount of trickery can obscure the truth – their fish first philosophy will decimate our region, poison our drinking water, and provide no environmental benefit what-so-ever.

These special interests are desperate to claim the moral high ground and demonize our entire region. They speak about the people of the San Joaquin Valley as if we are parasites on the land and demand we apologize for our very existence.

They do this because without the zealous drumbeat of environmentalism on their side, the truth would have an opportunity to surface. People would begin to question the wisdom of poisoning the drinking water of poor immigrant communities or the sense in decimating the farms that feed the nation and fields that make California’s farm-to-fork movement possible. People would question why the proponents of a plan designed to save fish cannot demonstrate any meaningful benefit to those very fish or why the questions and concerns of a million people do not deserve even a halfhearted response. People might even question whether it is really environmentally friendly to sacrifice the health of one environment for the health of another.

They have left us no alternative. We will continue to negotiate with the best interests of the Valley at heart, but, if the state continues to violate the principles of good faith, a decades worth of lawsuits are about to begin.

The final public comment period is now open until July 27th with final adoption scheduled for August 21st. Please submit your comments to tell the State Water Board exactly how their plan will impact your community. They have made the comment period short to try to keep us quiet. Let’s not let them.”

Thursday, July 5, 2018

As published in: The Modesto Bee

$1 million from state will help Stanislaus County train people for well-paying jobs

BY KEN CARLSON

kcarlson@modbee.com

Updated July 03, 2018 06:00 PM

The VOLT Institute in Modesto has received a jolt from the state budget in the form of $1 million in funding.

It should create opportunity for training younger adults to work in industrial electronics, automation and equipment maintenance for large employers in Stanislaus County. On average, those higher-skilled jobs pay $27.80 an hour.

The state funds will expand a job-training partnership involving Modesto Junior College, Opportunity Stanislaus and the Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE). The VOLT Institute, a private-sector-driven program launched in October, recently graduated a 30-member class of maintenance mechanics to work in local industries.

MJC will receive the state funding and purchase equipment for a broader array of training programs at SCOE’s trade school in the former Modesto Bee building. The money will be used to leverage federal dollars for training up to 200 students a year.

The community college has its own vocational training in industrial electronics, automation, manufacturing, welding and agricultural mechanics. While investing in training equipment and new programs at VOLT, the college also will continue with vocational training at its west campus.

What's driving the workforce training initiative is the need among employers in Stanislaus County for skilled workers to maintain equipment and troubleshoot problems in manufacturing systems.

“Regional programs that offer specific, technical training are in high demand,” said Scott Kuykendall, assistant superintendent for SCOE. “By delivering skilled training, VOLT is simultaneously meeting the needs of job seekers and industry.”

Chancellor Henry Yong of the Yosemite Community College District said the workforce training promises a brighter future for families, contributes to the local economy and will expand the tax base for supporting public services.

Partners in the VOLT Institute plan to tailor training programs for skills in demand in the labor market. The center could branch into "mechatronics" or training workers to maintain automated machinery. MJC is looking to offer training in the building trades at the VOLT center, including a program to construct tiny houses for the homeless.

Dave White, chief executive officer of Opportunity Stanislaus, said the state money will be used as matching dollars for a $2 million federal grant for expansion of MJC vocational training and the VOLT Institute.

White ran point to help Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, to get the funding into the state budget signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last week.