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The single most important man in California

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Posted: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:18 am, Tue Aug 14, 2012.

As the Galt District Chamber of Commerce's new executive director, I try to do my best to protect and serve the Galt business and surrounding farming community.

The Delta is in serious trouble, but I am not qualified to fix it.

I grew up on a vineyard in Lodi that benefits from the cool evening Delta breeze. My background is 20 years in law enforcement.

I do not have a Ph.D. in civil engineering, with a major in geotechnical engineering, along with minors in rock mechanics and environmental planning. I was never a staff engineer engaged in design and construction of a major earth-and-rock fill dam and trunk water supply pipelines. I never did a Ph.D. thesis on settlement and liquefaction of sands during earthquakes. Nor was I ever a senior engineer on a variety of projects including nuclear power plants, earth dams, pipelines, harbor facilities and offshore platforms. I have never been responsible for analyzing the behavior of foundations and earth structures subjected to wave and earthquake loadings.

I am not an expert in addressing geotechnical, earthquake and water resource engineering problems with over 40 years of globally recognized experience. Problem is, neither is Gov. Jerry Brown.

Last Sunday morning, I drove to Walnut Creek to meet with someone who is, Dr. Robert Pyke.

Dr. Pyke, who prefers to be called "Bob," humbly refers to himself as someone who "fixes stuff." Over brunch, Bob told me that the best way to become an expert is to study a bunch of things that do not work.

Bob was born and raised in the Murray-Darling basin in Australia. He referred to his homeland as the "poster child for poor water management." According to Bob, in his gentle Aussie accent, "California can either learn from Australia's mistakes, or be doomed to repeat them."

Bob's Western Delta Intakes Concept includes both water storage and improving the integrity of the levees. No need to pay for massive underground tunnels from the town of Hood to near Antioch, as Bob's plan allows the water to just flow there naturally instead.

Bob blames increased water diversions from the Delta as being the major cause of invasive species overtaking native species. He said only plans that ensure that natural flows will be restored to the maximum practical extent should be considered.

Like Australia, California's precipitation is extremely variable. Bob suggests that more water should be extracted at periods of high flows and much less or zero water should be extracted at periods of low flows.

The WDIC is self-regulating. Future attempts to take more water than would be safe would result in the "contractors" receiving salt water.

Adhering to these principles, coupled with appropriate pumping and temporary storage facilities, will allow for the simultaneous recovery of the Delta ecosystem and provide our neighbors to the south reliable water exports at existing levels of consumption.

According to Bob, none of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan's 15 different "conveyance alternatives" address the fundamental principles required.

"I think BDCP should have both the word 'conservation' and 'plan' removed from its name," said one angry Delta farmer who preferred to remain anonymous.

Assemblyman and local farmer Bill Berryhill recently authored AB 2422, which would have made sure that the Western Delta Intakes Concept be given the serious consideration that it deserves. Mr. Berryhill's bill failed, as opponents complained studying it would "delay progress."

Highly unfortunate, since the WDIC would double the benefits obtained at around half the cost of the BDCP, which means the WDIC offers a four times greater benefit to cost ratio, while at the same time saving the Delta. Unfortunately Bob is only an engineer that "fixes stuff," rather than being a polished orator or salesman.

Bob shared with me two letters he sent to Gov. Brown in July that outline the benefits of the WDIC. Bob is not sure if the governor received or read them.

I therefore invite Jerry and Bob to the Velvet Grill in Galt. We can chat over real California ice cream and freshly made Delta organic pear pie. Bob said he would prefer an hour with the governor, but can explain the WDIC in 10 minutes if necessary.

The governor really needs to carefully consider Dr. Robert "Bob" Pyke's proposal. Failure to do so will be a serious delay in progress.

Frank Gayaldo can be reached at gayaldofarms@aol.com or 209-327-0759.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 3:00 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Mr Curry stated...They need water too, and why should the "northern areas be considered first

    What? Mr Curry cannot be serious... Delta water is a natural resource of northern California, not Southern. Why in the world shouldn't an area have first rights to the resource available where people decide to buy land, live, work and pay taxes.

    In addition, northern California is taking 100% of the risk of LA takes the water. If environmental damages result from this process, Southern California will not suffer, we will.

  • Ted Lauchland posted at 12:13 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    Ted Lauchland Posts: 261

    I will agree with the too many people statement to start. It takes cheaper water to farm to put cheaper produce on the store shelves. Efficiencies in production costs in todays markets put food in our mouths. Central Valley Farmers are only fooling themselves if they think they will enjoy accessing cheap water if any water at all because of the southern California demand.
    It happens in Lodi with EBMUD. We have the water here and need the water here but is shipped downstream for a higher need/price. Lodi's groundwater has been it's reservor. It's draining.
    Fish and wildlife are not even included in this conversation. How expensive do you think it should be to put a slab of salmon on your plate if the fish doesn't exist - like that makes any sense. Fish farms are all that would be left if at all.
    The water is generated here and should be stored here before it goes to the ocean . More water should be stored down south as well so they can use it when it is needed. Bottom line is farming or living in a desert region demands water from some place else. Please do not make this area into a desolate region to support a region like that at our expense. Share - yes - but at what cost ?- No


  • Fred Curry posted at 10:23 pm on Wed, Aug 15, 2012.

    waterguy Posts: 1

    But Ted's complaints are exactly the same as central valley farmers and Southern Californians would make. They need water too, and why should the "northern areas be considered first?" Too many people, too little water. The state needs to allocate water to maximize the overall welfare. If that means shipping cleaner water south, it should.

    Of course if it just means giving more cheap water to Westlands, that is another story.

  • Ted Lauchland posted at 1:32 pm on Wed, Aug 15, 2012.

    Ted Lauchland Posts: 261

    Exactly right, Mr. Gayaldo.

    The aquaduct was originally built with the idea to use excess water from the Delta. Southern California have just been waiting to take more when they thought the time was right. It wasn't right in "82" and it is not right now. The tunnels would not be reservors controlling and providing the extra water during dry years. They would only take fresh water anytime to satisfy Southern California's thirst. We would suffer in those dry years even more than we do now. More water storage to prepare for those years is necessary to provide for those needs.

    Lodi's flooding stopped when Camanche Dam was put in but it's natural groundwater recharge was severely handicapped because of it. Bottomland ag also added to the problem in removing potential recharge reservour locations. EBMUD took more rights to our water that further inhibited recharge. Lodi Lake helps but does nothing for east of the city. Lack of reliable surface water has all but thrown out the existance of North County Water District abilities to shuttle water to customers on a consistant basis. - Can't do it. Sound familiar? - The south wants the same consistancies.

    A Galt farmer faces upstream water reservour charges for doing what the state should be doing by putting water in storage for later use - unfortunately illegally- according to a recent article in this paper . Water wars have been here forever.

    Ag has been cleaning up their act for cleaner water downstream and with the use of drip irrigation for water conservation . This doesn't put air back in the water though nor does it make stagnant water cooler for fish spawning or other details that fresh water provides for all. Reserving flood waters for later use does.

    Pressure on levies are slowly getting worse because of islands dropping and river bottoms raising. Dregging has always been necessary to maintain them. Reenforcing levies has been necessary ever since they have been built.
    Taking water from further upstream -as the tunnels would - draws saltwater further inland making Lodi , Delta areas and other towns effectively down stream of southern California . Not acceptable thank you. Inland ports are also at risk.

    All of California should grab the water when it is available ,for use later, and the northern areas need to be considered first. Ag takes water to exist and the towns built around the water in NC also exist because of it. The tunnels would be about as short sighted as you can get and would only serve as a battleground and not a solution.


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