Thursday, August 31, 2006

American Indians to be Part of Hetch Hetchy Talks

Considering the importance the valley had to the Indians and the way in which it was lost to them, this is the absolutely right thing to do.

An excerpt

American Indians now included
Published: August 25, 2006


Native Americans once used the Hetch Hetchy Valley as a trading spot between tribes and as a place to collect rare plants that were used in sacred ceremonies.

The valley now sits below 117 billion gallons of water at the bottom of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.

Not only did Native Americans have no say in the construction of O'Shaughnessy Dam, "they weren't even considered United States citizens until a year after the dam was built (in 1923)," said Sonny Hendricks, an elder with the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians.

But natives' voices are being heard now that talk has turned to removing the dam, said Ron Good, executive director of Restore Hetch Hetchy, the Sonora-based group leading the effort to drain the reservoir.

"It's very important to us that the Native American point of view be included in this discussion," he said.

In its Hetch Hetchy Restoration Study released last month, the California Department of Water Resources lists the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk as a stakeholder in the valley's future.

"We do have a deep interest because native tribes have used this area for thousands of years," Hendricks said.

Last year, state officials met with about 20 Native American representatives, including Hendricks, at the Tuolumne Rancheria.

Those at the meeting were adamant that tribes should be involved in the decision to drain and manage the land. Opinions ranged from returning full tribal ownership of the land to maintaining the valley as a national wilderness area open to the public, the state's report says.

According to the report, seven prehistoric archaeological sites were recorded around the edge of the reservoir in 1951 by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

Forty years later, an additional 10 sites were recorded by National Park Service archaeologists when the reservoir's water level fell to its lowest level since it was flooded.

Greenland Warming

Greenland is one place enjoying global warming as it returns to their shores from the days of Eric the Red, discoverer and the one who named it Greenland.

An excerpt.

Arctic Harvest Global Warming a Boon for Greenland's Farmers
By Gerald Traufetter

Known for its massive ice sheets, Greenland is feeling the effects of global warming as rising temperatures have expanded the island's growing season and crops are flourishing. For the first time in hundreds of years, it has become possible to raise cattle and start dairy farms.

Ferdinand Egede would be a perfectly normal farmer if it weren't for that loud cracking noise. Wearing a plaid lumberjack shirt and overalls, he hurries through the precise rows of his potato field, beads of sweat running down his forehead.

Egede, 49, occasionally picks up a handful of earth and rubs it between his solid fingers, but he isn't at all satisfied with the results. "It's much too dry," he says. "If I don't get the irrigation going, I'll lose my harvest."

The cracking noise has turned into a roar. What's happening in the sea below Egede's fields doesn't square well with what one would normally associate with rural life. The sound is that of an iceberg breaking apart, with pieces of it tumbling into the foaming sea.

Egede, a Greenland potato farmer, has little time to admire the view. He spends most of his days working in the fields and looking at the dramatically steep table mountains at the end of the fjord and the blue and white icebergs in the bay. But today he's more concerned about a broken water pipe. "The plants need a lot of water," he says, explaining that the soil here is very sandy, a result of glacier activity.

But he could still have a decent harvest. He pulled 20 tons of potatoes from the earth last summer, and his harvests have been growing larger each year. "It's already staying warm until November now," says Egede. And if this is what faraway scientists call the greenhouse effect, it's certainly a welcome phenomenon, as far as Egede as concerned.

Egede is a pioneer and exactly the kind of man Greenland's government, which has launched an ambitious program to develop agriculture on the island, likes to see working the land. Sheep and reindeer farmers have already been grazing their herds in southern Greenland for many years.

As part of the new program, cattle will be added to the mix on the island's rocky meadows, part of a new dairy industry officials envision for Greenland. One day in the near future, the island's farmers could even be growing broccoli and Chinese cabbage.

There are many reasons for this agricultural boom, the most important being a rise in temperature. For most people on earth, global warming still consists of little more than computer models and a number that seems neither concrete nor threatening: an increase of about 4.5°C (8.1°F) in the average temperature worldwide by the year 2100. But what this will mean for Greenland is already becoming apparent today. In Qaqortoq, for example, the average temperature increased from 0.63°C to 1.93°C in the last 30 years. This, in turn, has added two weeks to the growing season, which now amounts to 120 days. With up to 20 hours of daylight in the summer, those two weeks make a huge difference…

… When he saw the island for the first time, explorer Eric the Red called it "Greenland," partly to entice settlers to board 25 ships and emigrate there. His advertising slogan was certainly justified. In excavations on Greenland, archaeologists have found ample evidence of rustic banquets where beef and mutton were consumed. Eric the Red owned stables that housed up to 100 cattle each.

Large sections of the northern hemisphere enjoyed a period of unusually mild weather at the time, possibly caused by changes in Atlantic Ocean currents. But the settlers' meteorological good fortune was short-lived. Climate models based on data from ice cores show that temperatures plunged quite abruptly in the 14th century, triggering a minor ice age and probably driving the Vikings from Greenland. The last known records, handed down over generations, document a wedding in the church of Hvalsøy on Sept. 16, 1408. Today, all that remains of the Vikings' rural life on Greenland are the foundations of their houses.

But now the mild temperatures of the early Middle Ages have not only returned, but are even warmer than in the days of Eric the Red. "Just a few years ago there was ice where we are now standing," says Stefan Magnusson, as he sits on his horse and looks down at a stream gushing from the glacier in front of him.

Natural Flood Protection Report

This new report from the national organization, American Rivers, promoting natural flood protection over structural protection like dams and levees, is very informative, providing insight into a way of thinking favored by many

The case studies of natural flood protection they present are good, but designed for either small towns with the capability to move everyone somewhere else, or small rivers or creeks that are relatively easy to work with; and the standard level of flood protection they have reached is only 200 year level, far below the gold standard of 500 year level.

An excerpt.

New Katrina Report: Unnatural Disasters, Natural Solutions.
Thursday, August 24, 2006 By: Brad DeVries

Unnatural Disasters, Natural Solutions: Lessons from the Flooding of New Orleans
New Report Details Steps For Avoiding Future Unnatural Flood Disasters
Contact: Brad DeVries 202-243-7023

WASHINGTON American Rivers today released a detailed review of the causes of the post-Hurricane Katrina flooding of New Orleans and provided recommendations for changing the nation’s failed approach to reducing flood damage to communities.

The report recommends key changes in the nation’s approach to flood protection that will address the root causes of the flooding of New Orleans and protect communities nationwide:
modernizing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency with primary responsibility for the nation’s flood protection; adopting natural flood protection as the first line of defense against flooding; and abandoning the nation’s over-reliance on structural protections that have repeatedly failed to protect communities in the past.

The report includes eight case studies of communities that chose natural flood protection to reduce the danger to people and property. These case studies demonstrate that restoring rivers, floodplains, and wetlands can yield tremendous benefits in reducing and preventing damage to communities from flooding.

“The bottom line is that natural flood protection saves lives. Communities are safer when they work with rivers instead of trying to straitjacket them in ways that are certain to fail,” said Andrew Fahlund, vice president for conservation policy at American Rivers. “A functioning river system is a community’s ally, not its enemy.”

Unnatural Disasters, Natural Solutions includes detailed information on the role of the Corps of Engineers in the flooding of New Orleans, discussing the Corps’ tragically flawed levee design, the intentional and unintentional destruction of New Orleans’ natural flood protection Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, and engineering fiascos like the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet shipping channel that amplified Katrina’s storm surge. The report discusses the Corps’ long history of project planning problems, and the efforts led by Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and John McCain (R-AZ) to reform the agency.

“The Corps of Engineers played a huge role in the flooding of New Orleans” said Melissa Samet, senior director of water resources at American Rivers. “The Corps was supposed to protect New Orleans, but instead planned projects that laid the foundation for the city’s ruin. Congress must take charge of this agency and change the way it does business” Samet said.

August 2006 Report (PDF)
Unnatural Disasters, Natural Solutions:
Lessons from the Flooding of New Orleans (2mb)

Greenhouse Gas Bill

This teapot in a tempest bill keeps moving along.

An excerpt.

State on Verge of Greenhouse Gas Restrictions
The Senate votes to slash emissions 25%, the first such action in the nation. Business groups are angry, but the governor is on board.
By Marc Lifsher and Jordan RauTimes Staff Writers August 31, 2006

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders agreed Wednesday on a plan to cut by 25% the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from California electric power plants, refineries and other sources by the year 2020.

Later, the agreement was approved by the Senate 23 to 14 with Democrats supporting it and Republicans opposed. It then went to the Assembly, where final approval was expected.

It would make California the first state in the nation to fight global warming by slapping caps on carbon dioxide and other emissions.

Wednesday's compromise followed weeks of intense lobbying by environmentalists, who supported tough standards, and business groups, which labeled the bill a top "job killer" of the legislative session set to end today.

The governor was pleased. "The success of our system will be an example for other states and nations to follow as the fight against climate change continues," he said in a statement released just after top Democratic lawmakers announced the agreement.

The deal was also seen as a rebuke to the Bush administration, which favors voluntary efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-Los Angeles) praised the compromise as "a huge opportunity to champion not just on the national level but the international level a significant piece of environmental legislation."

Business interests, especially oil companies, were irate and said they felt abandoned by the Republican governor, who had pledged to work for a bill they could support. They accused Schwarzenegger and Democrats of cobbling together behind closed doors a haphazard bill that could create unintended economic chaos."

We remain very concerned about the long-term impact of this legislation on jobs, the economy and our industry's ability to continue meeting increasing demand for gasoline and diesel fuels," said Tupper Hull, a spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Assn.

Environmental activists were satisfied with the compromise, although they had sought more stringent controls. They called the greenhouse gas reduction plan proposed for California more sweeping than a more limited effort by a group of Northeastern states to curb emissions from electric power plants."

For years, the world has been waiting for the United States to step up to the plate and do something about global warming. This bill is basically the first step," said Bernadette Del Chiaro, an advocate for Environment California.

They also expressed hope that the victory in Sacramento would be a signal to the Bush administration to take more forceful action.

The compromise immediately positioned Schwarzenegger as a national leader in the burgeoning movement to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

It also allows him to burnish his credentials as a political centrist in blue-state California during the final 10 weeks of his reelection campaign against the Democratic state treasurer.

Schwarzenegger pushed himself into the international spotlight last month by signing a cooperative agreement on greenhouse gases with British Prime Minister Tony Blair."

It takes another issue away from Phil Angelides," said Jack Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College. "

It isn't the top issue, but for Schwarzenegger it raises the comfort level of Democrats and independents. Signing this bill makes the political climate more hospitable to the governor."

The compromise bill, AB 32, was sponsored by Nuñez and Assemblywoman Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills). In 2002, Pavley was author of a law limiting carbon emissions from motor vehicles that is being challenged by the auto industry.

The latest bill authorizes the California Air Resources Board to begin a process of measuring the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases coming from every major pollution source, including electric power plants, oil refineries and cement kilns.

Once a tally is taken, regulators would set limits for each facility and industry that would take effect beginning in 2012. Emissions would be reduced gradually, dropping to 1990 levels in eight years.

Most major business groups don't like the caps and contend that placing limits on California industry alone will not curb greenhouse gases globally.

Instead, they said, the caps on emissions will only drive up the cost of California's already expensive electricity and force many large employers to flee to other states with more permissive regulatory climates.

What's more, "the authority given to regulatory agencies is vast," warned Dorothy Rothrock, vice president of the California Manufacturers & Technology Assn.

Letters Compare Arena & Flood Control

Several letters to the Bee today, as in the past few weeks, have contrasted the spending of tax money on the arena versus for flood control.

Some excerpts.

Letters: Flood control and a new arena
Published 12:01 am PDT Thursday, August 31, 2006

1) Official priorities are backwards
The Bee had two important front- page headlines about our community on Aug. 27, "Arena adversaries prepare for battle" and "Can we handle a big flood?"

To me, levees are essential, and building another arena should take second seat. Why is it that our elected officials have this concept backward? I'd rather be taxed to protect our community from a flood than build another arena.

2) An arena for flood control
Re "Still awash in doubt," Aug. 28: Some politicians suggest that building an arena distracts from the more important issue of flood control. Reflecting on the first anniversary of Katrina, we need to acknowledge that it is not a question of whether Sacramento will be flooded, but a question of when and how badly. We now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to design the arena so that it can be rapidly converted into an emergency evacuation and treatment facility.

3) Increase sales tax for levees
Your flood articles have been very informative. Thank you. How about advocating an increased sales tax for increased levee protection? It makes better sense (cents) than another sports arena at this time.

Parkway Body Mystery

The mystery has deepened considerably.

An excerpt.

Homicide mystifies investigators
Officials are trying to determine how a Tehama County man's body ended up at river parkway.
By Ryan Lillis -- Bee Staff Writer Published 12:01 am PDT Thursday, August 31, 2006

About all that's known regarding Rondal Raimer's death is that he was found in a patch of blackberry bushes wearing a new pair of cowboy boots.

Beyond that, how the 62-year-old man from a farming town two hours north of Sacramento wound up under a freeway overpass in the American River Parkway is a mystery. Also puzzling investigators is how his 1995 Chrysler Concorde ended up in flames on the side of Highway 99 in south Sacramento, less than 24 hours after his body was found by a transient Monday afternoon.

Police said Wednesday that Raimer's death was a homicide after the Coroner's Office reported he died from "multiple blunt force injuries." Raimer's family said his wallet was missing when his body was found.

"It's really tough not knowing what happened," said Dick Wolf, who is married to Raimer's twin sister, Kay.

A former commercial truck driver known by his friends as Ray, Raimer spent many of his weekends in Sacramento, Wolf said. Around 3 p.m. on Fridays, Raimer would leave the walnut farm he shared with his sister and Wolf outside Los Molinos and return in time for dinner Sunday evenings. Wolf said he knew little about what Raimer did in Sacramento.

"He had a bunch of lady friends down there," Wolf said. "He was quite the lady's man."

Police are having a difficult time determining where Raimer was before he died, said Sgt. Terrell Marshall, a Sacramento Police Department spokesman. Marshall said police "believe he died a day or two" before he was found. Wolf said police told the family Raimer probably died Friday night or Saturday morning.

Wolf said he doesn't believe Raimer was into illicit behavior in Sacramento.

"He was just a single guy," he said. "He'd never tell us where he was going or where he'd be."

Most of the time his trips took him to Sacramento, but often Raimer would visit friends in Redding or Oroville, Wolf said. Once in a while he'd bring a friend home, but "didn't have anybody special," Wolf said.

Investigators would not say whether they believe Raimer died where he was found -- near a bike path that runs parallel to Del Paso Boulevard and beneath Highway 160 -- or if he died somewhere else and was dumped there. His apparel -- cowboy boots and pants -- leads park rangers to believe he wasn't exercising.

"We don't want recreationists thinking they don't want to go there," said Dave Lydick, chief ranger for Sacramento County. "We're fairly certain this wasn't a person who was recreating there."

Lydick said Raimer was not one of the 30 or so homeless campers who spend time in the Parkway.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Delta Water Blues

Pretty good analysis on the issues the Delta (water quality and fish abundance) is facing this year and for years to come.

Increasing surface water storage to have more fresh water to flow through might help, but so far the state legislature isn't considering that option.

Other suggestions include growing more algae for fish food.

An excerpt.

Delta still ailing despite wetter year
August 30, 2006

Despite an unusually wet year, the Delta's health continued its decline with the population of young striped bass hitting a new low, records show.

Taken with survey results released in early July that showed Delta smelt also at extremely low levels, the final summer figures show that the Delta is not responding to favorable weather patterns.

The Delta's faltering health is alarming environmentalists and anglers and threatens water supplies from the Bay Area to Southern California because of conflict between the state's dependence on Delta water and environmental needs.

With the cause of the four-year-old crisis still unclear, the state has ideas but no plan to reverse the decline.

Instead, state water officials are preparing a report for release Oct. 1 that is expected to suggest steps that could be taken.

Among the proposals that might be included are growing more algae to boost the Delta food supply, raising fish in hatcheries or temporarily increasing the flow of water through the Delta.

None of those ideas appears likely to do much, and critics are growing impatient.

"I'm extremely concerned about (the summer survey numbers), but I'm much more concerned about the lack of action on the (Schwarzenegger) administration's part," said Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, D-Davis, who is chairwoman of the assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife. "The Delta is in crisis and there doesn't seem to be any sense of crisis on their part."

Since about 2002, the open-water fish species of the Delta have been in severe decline. The crash was discovered last year by scientists who, three years into it, had enough data to confirm the trend and rule out known explanations.

With abundant rain this spring, some water officials held out hope that summer fish surveys would bring a glimmer of good news. They did not.

"They're very discouraging," said Barbara McDonnell, chief of the Department of Water Resources environmental services division. "We had hoped with a good water year that we would have seen some kind of improvement."

Golden Necklace, Delta to Bay Connection

Great California Delta Trail's bill information from the commission overseeing it.

An excerpt.

Delta Protection Commission
DPC Holding Focused Meetings on Delta Trails Concept

Senator Tom Torlakson is sponsoring a bill – SB 1556 (The Great California Delta Trail) – which would require the Delta Protection Commission to facilitate establishment of a continuous recreation corridor, including bicycle and hiking trails, around the perimeter of the Delta, utilizing existing funds from local transportation planning agencies.

The legislation authorizes the local transportation planning entities that allocate funds to cities and counties with jurisdiction or a sphere of influence in the Delta to allocate funds to the Delta Protection Commission for the development of a system of trails around the Delta. The Delta Trail system would be linked to the existing San Francisco Bay Trails system.In the past, the Commission in cooperation with other recreation planning entities and consultants has conducted surveys, the results of which indicate that among other unmet recreational needs in the Delta is a system of pedestrian and bicycle trails. It is believed that the establishment of a trails system in the Delta will aid in connecting people with this unique natural resource, provide exceptional recreational opportunities to surrounding urban areas, and serve to help alleviate the growing problem of obesity among the State’s citizens.

Sewage Treatment

Phew….wonderful things to do with sewage…read on…

An excerpt.

Strange and wonderful things to do with sewage
Carolyn Heiman,Times Columnist
Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The story was intended as light banter -- really no more than a joke. The man who shoulders much of the responsibility for ensuring that the Capital Regional District politicians have the information they need to move forward on sewage treatment, recounted visiting a Chinese city where residential toilets had conversion systems resulted in the owner's house getting a gas supply for their kitchen stove.

Imagine, said Dwayne Kalynchuk, the general manager of environmental services, every Victorian having a fuel connection between their toilet and barbecue.

Imagine indeed. After taking a moment to get over the yuk factor, I recognized that I have my own indoctrinated notions of sewage being something ideally pushed not only from mind, but disposed as far away from source as possible. A toilet-to-kitchen connection seemed too close. But is it really something to be so squeamish about? Perhaps like politicians and regional bureaucrats now forced to deal head on with the topic of sewage, I needed to open my mind to possibilities that might exist beyond putting it in a football field-sized pond in someone else's neighbourhood.

Those possibilities are endless if you listen to Stephen Salter, a professional engineer involved with Victoria Sewage Alliance, an organization that has been agitating for sewage treatment in the region.

Salter has nearly made a career of looking at alternative methods of treatment. He has binder full of approaches that have been tried in other places, and in October he's travelling to Kristianstad, Sweden, to check out their sewage innovations. In particular, he's lobbying for the region to have a design competition that could showcase treatments not contemplated to date. They're the kind of treatments that would convert sewage into biogas used to fuel buses and cars and heat homes. It's done in other jurisdictions, so why not in the capital region, Salter suggests.

From California to Switzerland he has found examples of cities that use sewage as a resource, not a waste. These are places that have taken sewage and all of its components -- fat, grease, organic material, sludge, minerals, water -- to make fuel, fertilizer, water for irrigation and even ash containing metals and minerals that is rerouted to a mine and blended with ore.

Naysayers are quick to dump on Salter's ideas, saying they are too expensive or impractical for the region. But this may be old-style thinking at work.

Joe Van Belleghem, of Windmill Developments, recently recounted his reaction to a cost estimate to have the Dockside Green residential development have its own in-house sewage treatment.

"My jaw nearly dropped," said Van Belleghem. Idealism might have been stomped out by economic assumptions if Van Belleghem didn't continue to challenge the premise the estimates were made on.

He didn't try to make the sewage treatment cheaper. Instead, he factored in costs he'd save with the system. How much would he save if he didn't have to connect to the city's sewage system? Did the estimate take into account that that Dockside Green residents would require less treatment because of the water-saving appliances and devices that would be installed? What about the value of the treated water that will be used for irrigation?

Tallied up, the high cost of in-house treatment not only made sense, Van Belleghem figures its operation will make money.

If all of this sounds a little implausible, just cast back 20 years or so. Did we ever think we'd be wearing cosy jackets made from recycled plastic pop bottles? At some point it would have sounded crazy to suggest that we'd supply 1,600 homes with electricity from garbage at Hartland landfill. We're told the 2010 Olympic Village will get its heating from its sewage. This year The Economist reported on a San Francisco project to make valuable methane out of dog feces diverted out of the landfill by pet owners. The city figured that pet waste coming from its 120,000 canine residents accounted for four per cent of household refuse. All of these are strange, but true examples. No joking.

Water Meters, El Dorado

Continuation of a series of stories on water from the El Dorado Telegraph’s perspective.

An excerpt.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Water meters: Conservation tool
By: Philip Wood

Editor's Note: This is the third in a four-part series.

Though last winter brought a staggering amount of rain, global warming means water shortages for California residents, according to a report released by the California Department of Water Resources in July.

The average water delivery for agriculture and city needs from federal and state water sources could shrink to over 10 percent, the report forecast.

Because of the growing demand for what is quickly becoming looked at as "liquid gold," conservation is on the minds of water officials.

One the primary means of conservation is through metering.

While statewide, all new water service connections have been metered since 1992, a state law was signed in 2004 that required all water suppliers to install water meters by 2025.

Folsom will be fully onboard by 2013, with some metering that started at the beginning of the year in the Ashland area, which is north of the American River.

El Dorado Hills residents and businesses have been metered since 1985.

"There have been studies that show that water use goes down when meters are implemented," said Don Smith, Folsom's water management coordinator. "I

n metered places like Las Vegas, the average house uses 307 gallons a day."By comparison, he said that the average house in Folsom uses 875 gallons of water per day."

(With meters) people will be able to see what they're using, and without a meter, people have no way of knowing what they're using," Smith said.

El Dorado Irrigation District officials echoed Smith's remarks about residents being unaware of the quantity of water they use without a meter.

EID Water Efficiency Specialist Cari DeWolf said that 40 percent of household water gets used for indoors purposes and the remainder is used on the landscaping.

While metering can be an effective tool for conservation, the water bill can spike because residents may not know about leaks in the water line.

Flood Bills

Just about pegs it…but again, much of the struggle comes from the non-inclusion of any dams for flood protection and water storage, which some Central Valley legislators want.

An excerpt.

Editorial: Flood tide of inaction
Is flood bill still alive? Maybe, just barely
Published 12:01 am PDT Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Televised images of flooded-out houses, ruined neighborhoods and displaced lives are back in the public eye with the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The media are again reminding California of what could happen if a winter storm overwhelmed levees in Sacramento, Stockton or other parts of the Central Valley.

Arguably, the public has never been so aware of flood dangers and so demanding of action. Yet it remains to be seen if Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata and other lawmakers can cobble together legislation that actually might reduce the Valley's flood risks. A hybrid bill is taking shape, but it may just be an effort by Perata to save face instead of a sincere attempt to improve flood protection.

The political intrigue is about as thick as bayou muck.

About eight bills are in play, including ones to improve flood mapping, make flood risks a part of a city's general plan and finance upgrades for Delta levees. These are all fine measures, but they don't deal with the reality that cities and counties are building new homes in basins that lack adequate levee protection, with no plan for improvements.

Assembly Bill 1899, by Lois Wolk of Davis, would attack this syndrome by requiring local governments to demonstrate safety before putting more families in floodplains. For a while it appeared Perata and other key senators supported it. Then Perata mysteriously shelved Wolk's bill and others, claiming he didn't want the governor to "cherry-pick" and veto certain bills.

Then we found out that the California Building Industry Association -- the major opponent to Wolk's bill -- had provided Perata's bond campaign committee with a $500,000 donation.
Stung by the bad publicity, Perata held a meeting with lawmakers Monday night. The meeting was a farce. Wolk didn't get a chance to present possible amendments to her bill. Instead, Sen. Mike Machado, D-Linden, dominated the session, claiming her bill would hurt his Stockton district.

Parkway Body Identified

The body found in the Parkway’s Lower Reach has been identified.

The notice.

Body found on parkway is identified
By Ryan Lillis -- Bee Staff Writer Published 12:01 am PDT Wednesday, August 30, 2006

SACRAMENTO -- A body found Monday afternoon in bushes along the American River Parkway has been identified as that of a 62-year-old Los Molinos resident, police said.

Rondal Raimer was found about 3 p.m. Monday along Del Paso Boulevard near the Highway 160 overpass, police said.

Raimer was found without a shirt, police said.

The cause of death has not been determined, although police described the case as suspicious.
There were no immediate signs of foul play, according to spokesman Sgt. Terrell Marshall.

Police found a black 1995 Chrysler, which may have belonged to Raimer, along Highway 99 near Fruitridge Road on Tuesday, Marshall said.

The car had not been reported stolen.

Walters on Warming

Good analysis of this strange bill.

An excerpt.

Dan Walters: Global warming bill is political symbolism with consequences
By Dan Walters -- Bee ColumnistPublished 12:01 am PDT Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Politicians -- especially those seeking re-election -- love symbolic acts that send attractive messages without, or so they hope, any political or financial cost.

Assembly Bill 32 is, in the main, a symbolic act by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his newly found friends in the Legislature's Democratic leadership that aligns California with the cause of fighting global warming -- in effect ratifying the Kyoto greenhouse gas treaty that the Bush administration has shunned.

AB 32 is, however, a symbolic act with potentially major economic and social consequences, which puts it in a different category and explains why it has become the most contentious issue of the legislative session's final week.

The guts of the bill, rolling back California's carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, implicitly would require California industry to make immense investments in equipment -- if they choose to remain in the state rather than move to Nevada or some other state without carbon emission controls. Schwarzenegger and other advocates contend that the carbon-reducing transition can be made without adversely impacting the state's economy. Business critics call it a "job killer."

Let's assume that global warming is a fact, that it represents a real threat to humankind's future and that it's essentially a human-caused phenomenon. If so, a global commitment to carbon emission reduction would be urgently required, but while many words have been spoken, the commitment so far exists mostly on paper. The huge, rapidly developing industrial economies of India and China, for example, are exempted from the Kyoto treaty's emission standards -- as if Mother Nature would somehow distinguish between Chinese carbon and California carbon.

The lack of a true global commitment is what makes AB 32 an essentially symbolic act. Even if the state's carbon emissions were reduced to 1990 levels as decreed, it would mean nothing if other major economies didn't join the effort.

Perhaps California should join the global warming crusade, or perhaps not. But even if it should, what's the big rush? We're talking, after all, about standards that wouldn't kick in until sometime in the next decade, so why is there this frantic effort with all sorts of last-minute amendments aimed at making the measure a little more palatable?

Flood Bill Politics


An excerpt.

State flood bills get second chance
100-year protection measure fought by developers is stalled.
By Jim Sanders -- Bee Capitol Bureau Published 12:01 am PDT Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Lawmakers breathed new life Tuesday into various flood-control bills touted as a way to reduce risk in California's Central Valley -- but a proposal strongly opposed by development interests remained shelved.

Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, one week after announcing that he had derailed a package of eight flood-control bills, switched gears Tuesday and said he would create one omnibus bill to meld some of the proposals.

Perata, D-Oakland, said he was focusing on measures for which there appeared to be consensus.
"What we want to do is, as much as possible, get something that matters now, matters to the community -- and where there's some agreement," he said.

Perata said the new bill will include provisions requiring cities and counties to share financial liability with the state in areas protected by new levee projects, and to require the mapping and assessment of flood risks along the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers.

Another Look at Infrastructure Politics

A good analysis of the infrastructure bond we will be asked to vote on in November.

An excerpt.

Schwarzenegger Gives Up His effort to reform Sacramento? Terminated.
BY SHIKHA DALMIA Tuesday, August 29, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

Arnold Schwarzenegger is following the wrong script. After taking over as governor in 2003, he was expected to vanquish business-as-usual politicians in Sacramento--and pull California from the brink of fiscal ruin. Instead, he has decided to put his own political future ahead of the economic survival of his beloved Golden State. How else to interpret his recent move to join ranks with his opponents in Sacramento to put a pork-heavy $37 billion bond infrastructure proposal on the November ballot?

Mr. Schwarzenegger's move officially marks the end of his grand plans to reform Sacramento, earning him kudos from many California Democrats. Sen. Don Perata, the most influential Democrat in the state Legislature, and Senate Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez have praised Mr. Schwarzenegger's leadership and pledged to campaign with him this fall to promote the initiative. Making joint appearances with prominent Democrats while he is campaigning for re-election will help cement Mr. Schwarzenegger's image as a political moderate, something he has been trying hard to cultivate in this bluest of blue states since last year. That's when the state's public unions accused him of right-wing partisanship, and defeated the bold reform initiatives he put on the ballot to curtail their influence on state government and politics.

The real issue, however, is what this bond measure will do to California. Few doubt the need for California to invest in its crumbling infrastructure. But this is an infrastructure bond in name only. The four big-ticket items in the bond--which is two times bigger than the biggest bond in the state's history--are $2.6 billion for housing, $10.4 billion for K-12 schools and universities, $3.1 billion for levee repairs and $19.2 billion for transportation.

The housing bond is simply welfare masquerading as a capital project. A bulk of its money won't fund general infrastructure--an acceptable use of general-obligation bonds like these--but such things as cheap multifamily dwellings for low-income families, and down-payment assistance for first-time home buyers.

The education bond is equally misguided, given that 40% of the state's $94 billion general-fund revenues are already constitutionally earmarked for education. Moreover, California voters approved a total of $25 billion for school-construction bonds in 2002 and 2004 to reduce overcrowding. If there is still not enough money for new schools, it is not because of lack of state spending, but abject waste by individual districts. If anything, this handout will encourage more waste by undercutting districts' need to explore the kind of public-private partnership responsible for Inderkum High School in Sacramento being completed a month early and $2.5 million under budget. ( ) In this case, a private developer built the school and district authorities used their public dollars to lease the facility from him.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Body Found in Parkways’ Lower Reach: More News

A follow-up report from Fox News on the body found in the Parkway, in the crime-ridden Lower Reach area.

See our 2005 report on the Lower Reach at

An Excerpt.

Body Found
August 28, 2006

SACRAMENTO — A man's body was found lying in the bushes near a popular bike path in North Sacramento. Police have ruled out natural causes in his death.

The body was found on Del Paso Boulevard near Highway 160 at three o'clock Monday afternoon by a man walking on the overpass above.

He called for help, and Crime Scene Investigators quickly joined other officers in closing off the area. But what happened to the man isn't clear. It appears his death happened within the last 24 hours or so. But his body is in such poor shape, its hard to determine whether or not he was killed.

The body was found only feet from a busy bike path filled with families. But at night locals say it can get dangerous here. Brett Holdaway frequents the bike path and said, "I've been jumped several times in this vicinity."

In the past, Holdaway said he's been surrounded by thugs and, "The next thing you know you're cut off, they'll direct you off the trail, and ask to empty your pockets."

Sometimes they get violent. He worries the victim may have not suffered a natural death, "that concerns me thats still going on. I try to look out for other people, we have a buddy system."

The coroner will have to take a closer look at the body to see if there are clearer signs of murder. Although police do add, bodies have been found in this area of thick vegetation before.

Over 6 Million Salmon in the American

According to a draft report (figures could change) from the Department of Fish & Game.

Juvenile Salmonid Emigration Program Update of August 10, 2006:

“Sampling at the Lower American River site officially ended the sampling season on 30 June 2006. Overall, a total of 84,259 fall-run-sized and 765 late-fall-run-sized juvenile salmon were collected (race determined by size-at-time criteria) from 27 January to 30 June 2006. In addition, 142 juvenile steelhead were collected from 5 April to 28 June 2006. The mean trap efficiency has been 1.3%^. The number of collected salmon divided by the mean efficiency gives us a rough estimate of 6,540,307 emigrating salmon.”

Katrina Politics

An excellent overview, one year later.

An excerpt.

The Tragedy of New Orleans
Katrina spending is five times larger than past disasters.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

"New Orleans has suffered from the trauma of three crises," says Louisiana Congressman Bobby Jindal. "First was the hurricane, second was the levees breaking and third has been the widespread incompetence of the federal, state and local government response. This has been a one-year case study in bureaucracy and red tape at its very worst."

Congressman Jindal's aptly stated charge of incompetence across all levels of government is the gentle assessment. Here, on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, are the views of prominent Democrats:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, touring New Orleans: "What is needed in New Orleans is public works projects." Senator Hillary Clinton, from a church in Harlem: "Our leadership has turned its back on those people who still need us."

Turned its back? As the chart nearby indicates, Congress has approved $122.5 billion for the Gulf Region, a figure incomprehensible in size to anyone but, well, a politician. The real wonder is that anyone is surprised, much less feigning surprise, that things are going poorly.

New Orleans' plight is not the result of federal underspending. Uncle Sam has spent some five times more on Katrina relief than any other natural disaster in the past 50 years. Both parties in Congress and the White House opted for the status quo by relying on federal bureaucracies to oversee the rebuilding effort. If Uncle Sam were deliberately trying to waste these funds, it is hard to imagine a better way than to funnel the money through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Small Business Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Both HUD and the SBA have been on the chopping block back to the early Reagan years….

… Given the famously ingrained culture of political corruption in New Orleans--a system designed to siphon public money of any sort away from its intended purpose--President Bush was right to call on Congress to convert New Orleans into a massive "enterprise zone." That included tax breaks for new business investment, health savings accounts for those without medical insurance, school vouchers for families located where schools have been ruined and a reappraisal of all regulations…

… For all the finger-pointing this week, Congress hasn't spent much more than a dime to clear away the debris of corruption, patronage, welfare dependency, high taxes and racial division of decimated neighborhoods. What is still lacking in the life of New Orleans is the vital architecture of local capitalism.

New Reservoir in Davis

A good example of public/private partnership, increasing the water supply, and advancing environmental goals in Davis.

A good thing all around.

An excerpt.

Land purchase may lead to new reservoir
By Beth Curda/Enterprise staff writer , 8/27/06

Two organizations have purchased 320 acres in the Dunnigan Hills northwest of Woodland in the hopes of creating a reservoir and habitat area.

Tim O'Halloran, general manager of the Yolo County Flood Control and Water Quality District, said the reservoir could help with the quality of the water in nearby canals, the level of water used by the Cache Creek commercial rafting industry and flood control around County Road 95, where water collects during winter storms.

Those uses of the land would be in addition to providing storage space for an estimated 8,000 acre-feet of water, and a habitat area for birds and other species, O'Halloran said. The land, which the district and the California Conservation Fund bought for about $1 million, is in the Dunnigan Hills northwest of Woodland.

The district normally moves about 150,000-acre-feet of water through its system annually, he said.

In helping with water quality in nearby canals, the reservoir could act as a settling basin for water that normally rushes through, along with sediment. The project could slow the flow of the water and allow sediment to drop into the basin.

On weekends, the project could help with the water level for rafting and take advantage of water that otherwise would just run through the district's system, O'Halloran said. Other ideas could emerge in the future, such as helping area communities with water supply.

Body Found in Parkway’s Lower Reach

This is the most crime-ridden area of the Parkway, where many bodies have been found over the years.

See our report about the Lower Reach on our website,

An excerpt.

Body found by American River Parkway
By Kim Minugh -- Bee Staff Writer Published 12:01 am PDT Tuesday, August 29, 2006

SACRAMENTO -- A man's body was found Monday afternoon in some bushes along the American River Parkway, according to police.

A transient man found the body before 3 p.m. on Del Paso Boulevard, under the Highway 160 overpass and west of the bike trail, said police spokesman Sgt. Terrell Marshall. The man called the Fire Department, who then contacted police.

Methane Gas on the Ocean Floor

A very interesting new theory, from UCD, on climate change acceleration related to methane gas stored on the ocean floor.

An excerpt.

A new climate bomb ticking?
Researcher: Warming might free methane on seafloor that could accelerate the crisis
By Matt Weiser -- Bee Staff Writer Published 12:01 am PDT Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Research on ocean sediments near Santa Barbara suggests that climate change could be accelerated by methane gas stored in oil deposits on the seafloor.

The work by Tessa Hill, an assistant professor of geology at UC Davis, documents a new source of methane gas that has not yet been factored into previous analyses of historic climate change.

The findings are potentially troubling because methane is at least 20 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, so it has the potential to make the planet hotter faster if released to the atmosphere.

Hill is the lead author of the research, published online Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed journal.

She cautioned, however, that more study is needed before her findings can be applied globally.

For instance, it isn't clear how the methane would be released during climate change, and it is far from certain that similar methane stores worldwide would be freed up as sea temperatures rise.

"We need to learn more about this process, about how globally widespread it is," said Hill, who did the research for her doctoral dissertation at UC Santa Barbara. "But I think we can certainly say this methane seepage out of this source clearly responds to climate warming."

Climate researchers have long been concerned about methane hydrate, a form of frozen methane widespread on the seafloor. If ocean temperatures rise enough to thaw this methane, it could have devastating effects on the climate. But methane stored as a gas in natural offshore petroleum deposits has not yet been figured into climate change.

Hill theorizes that melting methane hydrate could free up the second supply of methane in oil deposits by causing underwater landslides and sinkholes as it melts. But she said this theory requires more research.

Disaster Kits

Getting help when the disaster hits is life saving, but even more so is seeking the optimal solution to prevent the disaster from occurring in the first place; and with every story about disaster preparedness we should also be hearing what public leadership has done to ensure the disaster doesn’t strike.

In the case of flooding in Sacramento, that is 500 year flood protection, only available from the Auburn Dam.

An excerpt.

Getting everyone out safely
Groups' disaster kits will help the vulnerable if a flood hits
By Phillip Reese -- Bee Staff WriterPublished 12:01 am PDT Tuesday, August 29, 2006

In the year since Hurricane Katrina left tens of thousands of residents -- mostly the elderly, poor and disabled -- stranded in the drenched city of New Orleans, Sacramento County officials have warned they likely could not evacuate everyone who would need help if a large flood hit here.

Concerned, the local American Red Cross chapter and a new group called Citizen Voice went to work, and the results will be announced today: a kit to help the vulnerable get out of their homes in a disaster.

Items in the kit include a waterproof paper doorknob hanger that says "Safely Out" on one side and "Need Help" on the other -- to signal emergency officials whether residents need assistance.
Also included is a refrigerator magnet to remind the disabled residents, or anyone assisting them, of three or four people who have agreed to help them leave their home.

That magnet is necessary, officials say, because it's not safe to count entirely on the government during a disaster.

A Bee analysis in January of census data and state flood maps found that more than 150,000 poor, elderly and disabled Sacramento residents live in areas prone to flooding. A Sacramento County grand jury report a few months later faulted local officials for lacking an adequate plan to get those residents out and called for such a plan to be completed by this month.

But it's not done.

County Emergency Operations Coordinator Rick Martinez said that while his agency is working on a plan, it was delayed by emergency demands during the recent heat wave. Martinez said it should be ready this fall.

Michael Dunne, an advocate with Resources for Independent Living, a local nonprofit group that works with the poor, elderly and disabled, isn't holding his breath.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Delta’s Sea Level Concerns

The Sacramento Delta is very susceptible to slight rises in sea level, and the problems the salt water would cause for much of the state’s fresh drinking water, which flows through the Delta.

This was the motive for the Peripheral Canal, part of the Central Valley Project of the Bureau of Reclamation and still the best solution.

You can read a nice history of it at

And did you know that the Delta is one of the world’s great wind surfing destinations?

An excerpt.

Still awash in doubt
Delta residents fear storms -- and now climate change, too
By Matt Weiser -- Bee Staff WriterPublished 12:01 am PDT Monday, August 28, 2006

SHERMAN ISLAND -- On New Year's weekend, Barbara Flores went three days without sleep, and not because she was partying.

Flores and other anxious residents of Sherman Island, on the western edge of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, spent the opening days of 2006 battling one of the biggest storms they'd ever seen.

Waters rose to the crest of the island's levees. Wind-whipped spray from crashing waves blew over the levee in a stinging fusillade, threatening to flood the island.

"We came close. Real close," said Flores, manager of Sherman Lake Resort on the island's western tip. "The only reason it didn't flood is because the wind stopped."

The Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers converge at Sherman Island, putting Flores in the cross hairs of the Delta's biggest wind and waves. This makes Sherman Lake Resort, humble and weather-worn though it is, one of the world's top windsurfing destinations.

But the resort has another distinction: It would be highly vulnerable to a rise in sea level from global warming.

The resort sits at one of the lowest levee points in a flood-control system that protects the Delta as a freshwater supply for 23 million Californians -- from computer wizards in Silicon Valley to financial gurus of Los Angeles.

If these critical levees on the Delta's front line failed, seawater would rush into the Delta, poisoning the estuary with ocean salts and forcing water export pumps and canals to be shut down.

This is a big enough threat in the conventional 100-year storm that flood managers plan against.
But new research suggests climate change makes this troubling scenario even more likely.
Warmer temperatures could cause a 1-foot sea level rise in the Delta by 2050, according to a new report by the state Department of Water Resources.

Added to severe winter storm conditions, the report finds, this would likely overtop not just Sherman Island, but also Webb Tract and Jersey Island, nearby islands also considered vital to Delta water quality.

Global warming is also expected to reduce the Sierra snowpack. This would mean less water stored for summer runoff but would boost winter river flows, putting additional strain on levees throughout the Central Valley, including Sacramento's.

And that's not all. Climate scientists estimate sea levels could go up another 16 inches by 2100.

"We are not, at this point, doing anything about it -- at our peril," said Jeffrey Mount, a geology professor at UC Davis who has documented additional threats to the Delta from earthquakes and weak levees. "There is little doubt the situation is changing, and changing very rapidly, and we have got to come up with a strategy to adapt."

There is broad agreement among scientists that these effects will come to pass. Sea levels are trending upward, rising 8 inches in the past century. But uncertainty lingers about how fast change will come, and how big it will be.

At first, swollen rivers would pose a bigger threat than a rising sea level, said Dan Cayan, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.

"Later on, what happens is that sea level rises so much that you hardly even need a storm to create an event that is kind of exceptional," said Cayan, who studied the issue for the California Climate Change Center. "They're potentially bad events and they could overtop structures."

County Funding, Part One

The issue here, as it is with all of the proposed incorporations being studied (Arden Arcade and Fair Oaks/Carmichael), is the reduction of county funding that will result and the subsequent reduction of funds for the parkway.

This trend, among others surrounding effective management issues, are why we have called for a nonprofit organization to assume management (and fund development) for the Parkway, as the Sacramento Zoological Society has done so successfully with the Zoo, taking over management from the City of Sacramento many years ago.

An excerpt.

Panhandle boundary crucial for cityhood
Officials say Rio Linda and Elverta will need a local business hub's taxes to incorporate.
By Dirk Werkman -- Bee Staff WriterPublished 12:01 am PDT Monday, August 28, 2006

Incorporation for Rio Linda and Elverta may be feasible if a 1,430-acre piece of county land called the Panhandle is included within the proposed 31-square-mile city, according to a study to be made public this week.

Without the sales tax revenue generated by businesses in the Panhandle, a drive toward cityhood for the area is "not feasible," concludes a fiscal feasibility study prepared by an Oakland-based firm that specializes in local government finances.

The board of the Rio Linda-Elverta Recreation and Park District, whose boundaries would serve as the boundaries for the proposed city of approximately 28,000 residents, is scheduled to hold a meeting Wednesday to receive the $30,000 MuniFinancial study on incorporation. The district is serving as the lead agency in the incorporation drive.

Charlea Moore, member of the park board and the community's incorporation committee, said she is confident that if the park district can get an incorporation application in before the city tries to annex the property, "We will be able to retain the Panhandle."

County Funding, Part Two

Many observers feel one of the biggest problems with the county’s shrinking funding base is that it is exacerbated by the continuing spiraling upward of overly generous salary and pension packages and while we don’t begrudge hard-working people a fair salary and retirement plan, it is another issue adding to county funding problems (along with the incorporations) eventually impacting the Parkway.

An except.

County revises offer to unions
Move intended to avert a strike by thousands of public workers scheduled for next week.
By Ed Fletcher -- Bee Staff WriterPublished 12:01 am PDT Monday, August 28, 2006

Sacramento County labor negotiators are pushing hard to avert a walkout threatened by thousands of county employees Sept. 5.

The job action is expected to mobilize a range of county employees, from social workers to assistant district attorneys.

But there appears to be some movement.

A new county offer prompted labor leaders representing the county's nurses to take the proposal to the membership.

"We think it's an excellent contract," said Steve Lakich, the county's chief negotiator. He declined to spell out the details of the contract, but said it would keep salaries and benefits "competitive" with the labor market. The membership is expected to approve or reject the contract Tuesday.

Union officials did not return calls for comment Friday.

To help fill vacant jobs and slow the high turnover rate among the nursing ranks, the county at one point had offered an equity raise approaching 20 percent over the life of a five-year contract. It's not clear if that offer has changed.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Auburn Dam Only Option for 500 Year Protection

Auburn Dam provides the gold standard of 500 year protection, but, as that will take 15 to 20 years to build, we do need to proceed with the raising of Folsom and strengthening of the levees to achieve 200 year level protection till then; a necessary step on the way to gold.

Sacramento deserves the gold standard of protection.

An excerpt.

Can we handle a big flood?
Region should be set for a 500-year event, experts say. It isn't.
By Deb Kollars -- Bee Staff Writer Published 12:01 am PDT Sunday, August 27, 2006

A year after the haunting images of Hurricane Katrina, Sacramento remains at serious risk for a similar disaster.

It is hard to fathom, especially on summer days like these when Sacramento's two rivers, the American and the Sacramento, appear as sparkling ribbons flowing between levees covered in grasses and cottonwood trees.

But the dangers are grave, and solutions elusive.

With the one-year anniversary of Katrina approaching, The Bee asked state and federal hydrologists last week to describe what the water flows and river heights would be if floods of certain magnitudes arrived in Sacramento. It was a departure from the more common practice of talking about floods in terms of their likelihood, such as 100-year events (those with a 1-in-100 chance of happening in any given year.)

The estimates, which engineers dug out of recent and complex hydrological models by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, are chilling.

During a 100-year flood, river heights on the American River at Watt Avenue, for example, would reach 49 feet and remain running within the existing 54-foot levees, the models showed.

But the river's height, known as "flood stage," could not even be accurately calculated for larger 200-year events and beyond because the water flows would be so swift and voluminous they would break out levees and gush over the tops, said Dan Tibbitts, a hydraulic engineer with the corps.

"Unfortunately Sacramento is not prepared for these big events," said Arthur Hinojosa, chief of the state Department of Water Resources hydrology branch.

For urban areas, 100-year flood protection is considered the federal government's minimal safety standard. To most flood control experts, it is an inadequate threshold.

It also doesn't exist yet in some of Sacramento's heavily populated areas, including Natomas and the Greenhaven-Pocket neighborhood. Current levee work in Greenhaven-Pocket should provide 100-year protection levels later this winter.

According to the nation's top flood experts, cities such as Sacramento that are vulnerable to flooding should have at least 500-year protection.

If cities settle for less, they may squeak by without consequence for years, decades or longer, said Gerald Galloway, a professor of water resources management at the University of Maryland and one of the nation's pre-eminent flooding authorities.

But rare as they are, a monster flood in Sacramento remains firmly in the realm of possibility, he and others said.

"It's not a question of if. It's a question of when," said Larry Larson, executive director of the American Association of State Floodplain Managers in Madison, Wis.

To reach the 500-year gold standard, Sacramento likely would need to build a dam upstream on the American River, such as the controversial one that has been proposed for years at Auburn, as well as invest billions in other improvements.

Green Slime in Klamath, Natural Causes?

It turns out the green slime up there may be due more to natural causes than man-made ones…the discussion continues.

An excerpt.

Another view: Water use on Klamath not so simple
By Greg Addington
-- Klamath Water User's Association,
Special to The BeePublished 12:01 am PDT Sunday, August 27, 2006

The editorial was irresponsible. Residents of the Upper Klamath Basin are becoming numb to agenda-driven rhetoric. However, this latest accusation directed at Klamath Basin farmers deserves a response.

The editorial attempts to connect Klamath project agriculture to the toxic algae blooms behind hydroelectric reservoirs on the Klamath River. It alleges, "In the Klamath, fertilizers from farms on the Oregon-California border flow downstream." The Bee is making claims that it cannot substantiate.

Upper Klamath Lake is, and has long been, a naturally eutrophic body of water. Webster's dictionary defines eutrophic as "a body of water characterized by a high level of plant nutrients, with correspondingly high primary productivity."

The naturally warm and shallow lake is in this state prior to one drop of water being diverted for the production of food and fiber within the reclamation project. Upper Klamath Lake's water quality problems are a major issue for the entire Klamath River Basin, but they are not caused by irrigation in the Klamath project.

In 1995, a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation provided funding for a UC Davis study, "An Assessment of the Effects of Agriculture on Water Quality in the Tulelake Region of California."

The study analyzed the effects of agriculture on water quality in the Klamath Basin. It noted that the irrigation water from Upper Klamath Lake is naturally rich in phosphorus (a factor in algae blooms) and that it was unlikely that irrigated agriculture contributes phosphorus loads in amounts that would alter the natural state of the river.

Global Warming, Happened Before?

Water 75 degrees warm in the Artic Sea, nice…

An excerpt.

Fired up over ancient hot spell
Global warming debate may intensify with new evidence of prehistoric disaster
By Robert S. Boyd -- McClatchy Washington BureauPublished 12:01 am PDT Sunday, August 27, 2006

WASHINGTON -- It was one of the greatest calamities of all time: Something turned up the Earth's thermostat, touching off a monstrous heat wave that killed many animals and drove others far from their homes to seek cooler climes.

This catastrophe occurred 55 million years ago, after the age of the dinosaurs and long before humans appeared. But scientists warn that today's global warming means that it could be happening again.

The ancient hot spell, which lasted 50,000 to 100,000 years, goes by the unwieldy name of Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM. It was caused by a sudden -- in geological terms -- doubling or tripling of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Climate scientists say the result was a massive increase of 10 to 12 degrees Fahrenheit above the prevailing temperature -- even higher near the poles.

New Orleans Tragedy

What is happening, still, in New Orleans is a tragedy, one from which Sacramento needs to learn the value of achieving 500 year flood protection and settling for nothing less, except as a step in the process of achieving it.

An excerpt

Hurricane Katrina: One year later: Recovery slow, painful
Gulf Coast stirs, but the task ahead is staggering
By Chris Adams, Jack Douglas Jr. and Sharon Schmickle -- McClatchy Newspapers Published 12:01 am PDT Sunday, August 27, 2006

NEW ORLEANS -- A year ago, Hurricane Katrina wiped away Clement Richardson's apartment in New Orleans East. Today, he lives 11 miles away in a gleaming white government trailer in his parents' front yard. He's in a different neighborhood, but one equally devastated by the hurricane.

He's all alone in a place once teeming with people. His parents, 67 and 70 years old, aren't coming back. They're in Baton Rouge, sick of hurricanes, and his siblings are now in Nashville, Tenn. Richardson still plans to renovate the family house in the historic Holy Cross neighborhood in hopes that his daughter may live there someday.

On a sweltering morning in August, he pointed to the solitary street light that works on his block. "It's like an old Western town," he said. "No stores, no restaurants, no gas, no washeterias, nothing on this side of the bridge. Everything you know -- your job, your house, your school, your friends -- changes. Everything is gone. Everything."

Hundreds of thousands of lives are on hold throughout New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. One year after Katrina devastated the area on Aug. 29, 2005, huge swaths of the region are barely beyond the basic cleanup stage.

In neighborhood after neighborhood in New Orleans and adjoining St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes, a few houses on a typical block may be gutted, the rancid furnishings and carpeting and walls dumped onto the curb as it's stripped to the studs and, perhaps, rebuilt.

But the majority of the estimated 78,000 New Orleans homes and apartments that were destroyed or severely damaged sit silent, their owners waiting for rebuilding money -- or trying to decide whether they even want to rebuild. Progress in St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes also is grim.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Golden Necklace Grows

Added to the regional dream of our golden necklace, a trail from the confluence to Coloma, could be this wonderful vision, from the Delta to the Bay.

An excerpt.

A freewheeling dream
If approved, a Delta bike trail could link Bay Area with Sacramento
By Judy Lin -- Bee Capitol BureauPublished 12:01 am PDT Saturday, August 26, 2006

Life on six acres by the Sacramento River affords Dave Storm many amenities: pastoral quiet, serene water and crisp air.

Yet, the 67-year-old dedicated bicyclist can't help but lament the absence of a bike trail along the Delta -- one of nature's more scenic and challenging playgrounds.

"I've been wondering for a long time why there's not a bike trail," Storm said as he pumped the rear tire on his Trek road bike in preparation for a 25-mile ride with the Sacramento Wheelmen Bicycling Club.

Luckily for Storm, someone is working on it.

Sen. Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, has a bill moving through the Legislature that would direct the state to start planning a Great California Delta Trail, linking the Bay Area, Sacramento and Stockton.

If the Legislature passes the bill before it adjourns Thursday and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs it, the measure could lay the groundwork for a multiuse paved trail linking the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta's 1,000 miles of levee waterfront, historical towns, wineries, parks and recreational areas.

"It's very exciting," said Yolo County Supervisor Helen Thomson, a board member of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments. "It's important because we're laying out the vision of what this will be in the future."

The idea of a Delta trail was inspired by the San Francisco Bay Trail, which covers more than 450 miles of bayfront. Through a network of locally planned routes, the Delta trail would link San Francisco with San Jose, Sacramento and Stockton.

When all the trails are combined, the region could have more than 1,500 miles of trail.
"About two years ago, I thought we should just think big and go all the way," Torlakson said.

The measure, Senate Bill 1556, already is getting support from bicycling clubs, preservation groups and local governments for its breadth and vision.

But the obstacles are even bigger.

The bill doesn't allocate any state money, nor does it dictate a route. The project would take years, if not decades, to achieve.

Many levees have been deemed unstable, and local planners can expect contentious battles with private landowners fearful of trespassers.

There are also the physical challenges of building a trail through wetlands. Because the Delta contains islands, planners would have to connect the trail using bridges and boats.

Torlakson, however, isn't discouraged.

As population swells in the Bay Area and the Central Valley, the senator said, there's growing demand for recreational opportunities in the Delta, whether biking and hiking or water sports and wildlife education.

"What I find especially attractive about a Delta trail concept is the idea of getting close to the water," said Torlakson, a triathlete who rode 75 miles from Antioch to the Capitol for this year's Ride to Work Day. "There's a yearning of Californians to get close to the beach, the bay, the river."

Currently, the Delta is undergoing a sort of management reorganization as the state decides how to proceed on maintaining the natural resource while meeting the state's ever-growing demand for water and development.

Linda Fiack, executive director of the Delta Protection Commission, said the idea of a bike trail is consistent with the state's plans. The bill would direct the commission to lead the planning process.

"Timing is ideal for this because the commission has gone through a major transition," Fiack said. "The Delta encompasses five counties, three councils of government and multiple cities, so we need to bring more regionalism to a strategic plan.

"We feel the trail would fit perfectly with those efforts to be better land stewards."

Flood Politics

They flow onward.

An excerpt.

Questions on donation timing
Critics of flood bills give $500,000 after legislation is pulled.
By Jim Sanders -- Bee Capitol BureauPublished 12:01 am PDT Saturday, August 26, 2006

A campaign committee controlled by Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata accepted a half-million dollars from a builders' trade group Thursday, just two days after the Oakland Democrat killed flood legislation opposed by the group.

The $500,000 donation was made by the California Building Industry Association to Rebuilding California, a committee formed by Perata to promote school, housing transportation and flood-control bonds on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Bob Stern, former general counsel to the Fair Political Practices Commission, said there is nothing illegal about the builders' contribution but that the timing "looks bad."

"You can't say there was an agreement," said Stern, now president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles. "But it plays into people's perceptions that decisions are not being made on the merits."

The builders' group, known as CBIA, has led a fierce fight against two flood-control measures -- Assembly Bills 1899 and 1528 -- that were linchpins in an eight-bill package of legislation killed Tuesday by Perata.

Perata and committees he controls have long-standing ties to development interests, which have donated about $1 million in the past two years -- including $50,000 from Sacramentan Angelo K. Tsakopoulos, who did not return calls for comment Friday.

Perata earlier this week said there was no connection between special-interest contributions and his killing of the flood bills.

Perata said that last-minute amendments by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger weakened AB 1899 and that it made little sense to hurry negotiations in an effort to reach agreement before next Thursday, when the legislative session adjourns.

Possible American River Drowning

Another tragic reminder of the power of the river, even during the end of summer; let’s hope he turns up safe.

An excerpt.

Man feared drowned in river rapids
By Kim Minugh -- Bee Staff WriterPublished 12:01 am PDT Saturday, August 26, 2006

RANCHO CORDOVA -- A five-hour search for a man feared to have drowned in the American River was called off Friday night before a body was found, officials said.

The man, who was in his 20s, had just gone through the San Juan rapids on a rubber raft with a friend when he fell into the water about 2 p.m., said Christian Pebbles, spokesman for the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District.

The man then tossed his lifejacket, which did not fit well, to his friend in the raft and began swimming toward shore when he went under the water, Pebbles said.

Officials searched with water, air and land resources, including the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department's Drowning Accident Rescue Team, before calling off the effort about 7 p.m., Pebbles said.

Park Killing, Tragic Back Story

The tragedy, and the rest of the story, behind the killing in Fair Oaks Park begins to emerge.

An excerpt.

Man shot by deputy sought 'suicide by cop,' family says
By Ryan Lillis -- Bee Staff Writer Published 12:01 am PDT Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Elk Grove man shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy Thursday was distraught and intended to commit "suicide by cop," but was "treated off his criminal record," the man's family said.

However, sheriff's officials said Friday that Michael Douglas Riley was a parolee and that officers summoned to Fair Oaks Park were told by a dispatcher that he should be considered armed and dangerous.

Riley, 33, a father of two who was recently divorced from his wife of 12 years, was shot inside the park after police said he approached a deputy while carrying a weapon. Sgt. Tim Curran, a department spokesman, refused to identify the weapon because "we don't want to influence witness statements."

The deputy, a 10-year veteran of the department, is on paid administrative leave at least through Wednesday, which is the earliest the department will identify him, Curran said.

Deputies were called to Fair Oaks Park around 10:15 a.m. by Riley's mother, Lynn, who said her son was acting "crazy," police said. In the 911 call, Riley's mother said her son had mentioned committing "suicide by cop" and said she "thought" she had wrestled a knife away from him, Curran said.

Friday, August 25, 2006

China’s Water Issues

With the population China has and the relative dryness of its environment, ongoing water problems would seem to be a reality; but one hopes they are successful in addressing them.

The Three Gorges Dam (world’s largest dam) recently completed, was a good project and more like it need to be considered. As much as the sea needs fresh water we would rather see it falling in rain than from run-off from land and people that need it.

An excerpt.

Alarm bells sound as China goes dry
Beijing, Aug 23

China's worst drought in half a century is putting the spotlight on a far larger problem: its water is running out. The 1.3 billion people of the world's most populous country have at their disposal only a quarter of the water per person that is available on average around the world.

Through its surging economic growth, industrial pollution and widespread waste, China long ago saw itself sink into a serious and sustained water crisis.

Professor He Shaoling, a researcher with the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, said the water shortage had developed into 'a threat to national security'.

Of China's more than 600 cities, 400 are short of water, the water resources ministry said. In Beijing and about 100 other cities, there are 'extreme shortages,' and in the Olympic year 2008, the Chinese capital and host city is to find itself short of up to 1.1 billion cubic metres of water, the ministry predicted.

Despite the danger, automatic sprinkler systems are installed there to water lawns and flowers every day at its quickly rising industrial and residential complexes.

But the water problem could threaten the very economic miracle that made those complexes possible. Today China requires 10 times more water as Japan and six times more than South Korea for its economy to produce one unit of gross domestic product, said Zhai Haohui, vice minister for water resources.

He warned that the problem threatens China's food security as well. A persistent drought has left 18 million Chinese in 15 provinces thirsty and is causing crops to whither in the fields.

The fall harvest was certain to be poor and was expected to lead to food shortages in some areas.

'While a decade of near double-digit economic growth has increased people's income and living standards, it simultaneously has put a serious strain on natural resources and, in some cases, pushed them to breaking point,' He said. 'The most notable of these is fresh water.'

In addition to the shortages, water is also unevenly distributed in China. The northern plains, with more than 45 percent of the country's population and 58 percent of its agricultural land, have a mere 19 percent of the country's fresh water reserves.

The Yellow river, a prime water gauge for northern China, regularly dries up. Hundreds of thousands of wells have gone dry, and the groundwater table under the North China Plain, where half of China's wheat is grown, is 90 metres below the surface and falling by three to six metres per year as farmers pump water out of it to irrigate their wilting crops, He said.

According to the government, more than 300 million Chinese in rural areas lack clean drinking water. The water resources ministry estimated that pollution has left about 40 percent of the water in the nation's 1,300 rivers fit only for agricultural or industrial production.

Although the wealthy southern coastal cities have better water resources, they have also found that they cannot escape the crisis, He said.

'Chemical spills, rampant pollution and poor stewardship of the land have tainted much of the area's water supply.'

Ma Jun, the author of a book on China's water crisis, said government officials must change their thinking.

'Local officials should be judged not just by how fast their local economies grow but also by how well they protect the environment,' he said in an appeal published across China.

Ma said a $62.5 billion project by the central government to divert water from the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River to the north would not solve the water crisis. He said priority needs to be given to conservation and more efficient use of water.

Green Nuclear Power?

Yes, according to this interesting new technology built on thorium instead of uranium..

An excerpt.

New age nuclear
by Tim Dean
Cosmos Magazine April 2006

Nuclear energy produces no greenhouse gases, but it has many drawbacks. Now a radical new technology based on thorium promises what uranium never delivered: abundant, safe and clean energy - and a way to burn up old radioactive waste.

What if we could build a nuclear reactor that offered no possibility of a meltdown, generated its power inexpensively, created no weapons-grade by-products, and burnt up existing high-level waste as well as old nuclear weapon stockpiles? And what if the waste produced by such a reactor was radioactive for a mere few hundred years rather than tens of thousands? It may sound too good to be true, but such a reactor is indeed possible, and a number of teams around the world are now working to make it a reality. What makes this incredible reactor so different is its fuel source: thorium.

Named after Thor, the warlike Norse god of thunder, thorium could ironically prove a potent instrument of peace as well as a tool to soothe the world's changing climate. With the demand for energy on the increase around the world, and the implications of climate change beginning to strike home, governments are increasingly considering nuclear power as a possible alternative to burning fossil fuels.

But nuclear power comes with its own challenges. Public concerns over the risk of meltdown, disposal of long-lived and highly toxic radioactive waste, the generation of weapons grade by-products, and their corresponding proliferation risks, all can make nuclear power a big vote-loser.

A thorium reactor is different. And, on paper at least, this radical new technology could be the key to unlocking a new generation of clean and safe nuclear power. It could prove the circuit-breaker to the two most intractable problems of the 21st century: our insatiable thirst for energy, and the warming of the world's climate.

State Global Warming Bill Simmers

The politics on this one keep rolling along.

An excerpt.

Editorial: Highly climactic
Sides need to give on global warming bill
Published 12:01 am PDT Friday, August 25, 2006

A few days ago, legislation to make California a leader in curbing global warming emissions seemed to be sailing smoothly toward the governor's desk. Now this historic bill appears stalled because of concerns over environmental justice and emergency exemptions.

The differences between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and supporters of Assembly Bill 32, the global warming measure, are so small as to be laughable. Still, as we've seen this session, the slightest dispute gives enemies of good legislation the opportunity to kill it. Right now, lots of opponents -- especially oil companies and rapacious users of fossil fuels -- want to kill the bill. Legislators should not let them.

Alcohol Abuse on Boats Enforced

This is how Sacramento County should have considered handling holiday drinking rather than banning it entirely.

Law enforcement, with the proper tools and support, can do a lot more to protect recreational assets without ruining a part of what makes them enjoyable, than outright bans; which often create other problems worse than the one being dealt with.

The notice.

Boaters to be checked for impairment
Bee Metro Staff Published 12:01 am PDT Friday, August 25, 2006

WALNUT GROVE -- The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department will conduct a BUI -- boating under the influence -- checkpoint Sunday on the Sacramento River, according to a news release from the department.

The checkpoint, near the Walnut Grove public dock, will operate from 3 to 7 p.m. in cooperation with the Amador, San Joaquin, Sutter, Placer, Merced, Nevada, Orange and Yolo county sheriffs' departments, the U.S. Coast Guard and California State Parks rangers.

Boaters will be stopped and questioned briefly. Operators who show signs of intoxication or alcohol use may be subjected to further testing.

Anyone with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher may be subject to arrest.

Builders Fined for Runoff

Good laws to protect runoff and good arguments against their size make for a tangle state water regulators have to work out.

An excerpt.

Runoff fines hit builders
By Jennifer K. Morita -- Bee Staff Writer Published 12:01 am PDT Friday, August 25, 2006

State water-quality regulators have issued $1.5 million in fines against two Roseville home builders for allowing sediment to flow into environmentally sensitive creeks and vernal pools.

The latest civil liability fine -- issued last week by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board against Fiddyment Ranch developers for $600,000 -- is the third to hit west Roseville developers since April.

Fiddyment Ranch is a 1,678-acre master-planned community being built by development company Signature Properties. Sediment-laden runoff can carry pollutants into creeks and tributaries, poisoning wildlife such as insects, fish and birds.

"We've had some problems in the Roseville area," said Bill Marshall, the board's water program manager. "There's just a tremendous amount of construction going on there and some very large projects, which makes it harder to control the stormwater runoff and makes (the fine) more expensive."

A heftier fine of $900,000 was levied on PL Roseville LLC last month. PL Roseville, developers of the 1,484-acre WestPark community just south of Fiddyment Ranch, includes home builders Pulte Del Webb, Centex and Lennar.

In April, the water board issued a $500,000 fine against a third developer, JMC Homes, for failing to control stormwater runoff from its Longmeadow construction site along Woodcreek Oaks Boulevard. Marshall said he's still working with JMC officials to resolve the issue.

The developers contend the amount of recent fines exceeds the actual damage to the environment and contributes to rising home prices.

Fiddyment Ranch spokesman John Bayless said his company has spent $3 million over the past two years to prevent discharges into creeks. Some measures included fiber rolls and blankets and a pond system with pumps manned 24 hours a day. Bayless said Signature also treated water with chemicals that cause sediment particles to cling together and settle, allowing only clear water to flow into creeks.

Bayless said, "We've done our best to comply with the regulations. … It was an extreme winter with back-to-back storm events. There were very high creek flows and very turbid water."

Park Killing

The parks in our community seem to be getting more dangerous, and in this case, it appears good that the police were called when they were, by the dead man’s (a parolee) mother.

It is tragic when someone dies as there is often a back story belying the apparent facts.

An excerpt.

Deputy kills man at Fair Oaks Park
By Kim Minugh -- Bee Staff Writer Published 12:01 am PDT Friday, August 25, 2006

A 33-year-old man was fatally shot at Fair Oaks Park on Thursday morning by a Sacramento County sheriff's deputy who authorities said was threatened and feared for his life.

Michael Douglas Riley, of Elk Grove, died shortly after being transported to Mercy San Juan Medical Center, sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Tim Curran said.

Curran did not identify the deputy involved but said he is a 10-year veteran of the department and a Problem-Oriented-Policing officer stationed at the sheriff's Fair Oaks community center.

Deputies were called to the park by Riley's mother, who had called 911 at about 10:15 a.m.
saying her son -- a parolee -- was acting "crazy." In the emergency call, she said Riley had mentioned suicide-by-cop, Curran said. She also told authorities she "thought" she had earlier wrestled a knife from her son, he said.

When two deputies arrived at the park, Riley ran and was chased by one of the deputies. He then turned and began "rapidly walking" toward the deputy with his arm raised, holding what the deputy believed was a weapon, Curran said.

The deputy drew his gun and ordered Riley to stop, but he kept advancing, Curran said. Fearing for his life, the deputy fired multiple shots at the man. He was hit an unknown number of times, Curran said.

Riley fell in the park's parking lot, south of the Fair Oaks Library.

Curran said a weapon later was recovered from the scene but declined to identify it.

Many people were at the park when the shooting occurred, but Curran said nobody was in danger.

Flood Bills

Based on the lack of money for dams in the flood protection plan, riling many Central Valley legislators, it might not be a bad idea to drop inadequate legislation for this year; as bad as that is concerning the urgency of the problem.

Halfway measures, as we saw in New Orleans and what we have been limping by on for decades, really isn’t much good anymore.

Public leadership needs to look at optimal solutions and then work to make those happen.

An excerpt.

Builders' clout cited as flood bills stall
By Jim Sanders -- Bee Capitol Bureau Published 12:01 am PDT Friday, August 25, 2006

When Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata shelved a package of bills touted as a way to reduce Central Valley flood risk, a well-heeled special interest could breathe a little easier this week.

The California Building Industry Association and other development interests had fought hard against Assembly Bill 1899, which became the lightning rod in Perata's decision to kill the entire eight-bill package.

Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, said the building industry has become increasingly powerful since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took office.

"Let me put it this way: The governor is the tractor, and they're working the gears," Florez said. "And you can quote me."

Perata, in explaining his decision to shelve the flood package, cited last-minute amendments by Schwarzenegger to AB 1899 that he said would weaken the bill, favored developers and were unacceptable.

"We're not going to go through all this (wrangling) and not have a tough-enough law," he said.

Rather than try to rush through negotiations before the Legislature adjourns next Thursday, Perata said it would be better to kill the entire package and start over when lawmakers return next year.

"I've been here long enough to know that we usually don't do things well when we do things rushed," Perata said.