The pumps are on, so why all the fuss?

September 21, 2009

There is a lot of talk right now about the pumps in the Delta being on and that farms south of the Delta are not being truthful about water conditions in the state.  Here are some facts that may be of interest:

The Department of Interior recently issued a press release regarding the California water crisis.  The release contends that the Delta pumps are on and the water problems south of the Delta are more related to drought than pumping restrictions.  Here is a response from a water analyst who sees things a little differently than DOI:

“I have highlighted some detail from USBR websites to show that the press release from Interior is highly flawed.  Yes, the CVP Jones Pumping plant has been running.   However, if they thought this was a crisis, the Obama administration could have asked to use the unused capacity at the State Water Project’s Banks Pumping plant.  Since the SWP hasn’t been able to use Banks due to the valve failure at Oroville, the CVP could have moved 339,000 acre feet south of the delta and into San Luis Reservoir from Lake Shasta and other northern reservoirs.  That’s a calculation of the wasted capacity just since July 31st.

This is one of the last remaining times of the year that large amounts of water could have been moved without Delta Smelt Biological Opinion issues preventing it.

USBR would say something like don’t worry and that they will be able to move all their water later this year.  That is only because Department of Commerce’s National Marine Fisheries Service won’t let USBR release additional water from northern reservoirs.  The bottom line is that there is 339,000 acre feet less south of the Delta than there could be today (even with the Delta Smelt pumping restrictions – which aren’t in place right now).  That number is growing by about 9,500 acre feet per day.  Each day that capacity isn’t used to move water from Shasta (other than is on the NMFS plan), that 9,500 acre feet would be enough to put 5 ½ square miles of farm ground back into production next year.  You can see on the attached graph that there is plenty of water in Shasta to do this.

We all spent $80,000,000 for the temperature control device completed in 1997 at Lake Shasta so the lake wouldn’t need to be kept as full and still be able to make cold water available for Salmon.  Now National Marine Fisheries Service won’t let that device allow for the release of water so it can to move the water when pumping capacity happens to be available.  What a waste.

Thus, don’t hesitate to say with confidence: Release the Water and Turn on the Pumps!”

Northern Sierra rainfall

San Joaquin Valley rainfall

Shasta conditions