Listeners to Bay Area radio stations frequently hear advertisements for a massive Lathrop residential project called “River Islands.” The advertisements tout home construction by a group of award-winning homebuilders on secluded islands in the San Joaquin River Delta. The ads go on to boast six restaurants to serve residents, one new fire station and a new police station, as well as a plethora of recreational activities. Ads rarely live up to […]
Bob Hackamack — “Godfather of the Tuolumne”
Known variously as “The Godfather of the Tuolumne” and “Mr. Tuolumne,” legendary Sierra Club member and activist Bob Hackamack passed away last week. An avid rock climber, canoeist and kayaker, Hackamack was one of the earliest conservationists to realize the ecological value of San Joaquin Valley watersheds. His training as a Chemical and Systems Engineer enabled him to provide meticulously detailed criticisms of proposals that would have weakened the Tuolumne […]
“We are in compliance,” says Conagra about alleged Stanislaus River Pollution
In an email dated March 29, a Conagra spokesperson wrote, “Conagra has the proper permits from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and we are in compliance with the regulatory requirements as specified in the permits. This includes managing the flow of water from our facility, proper monitoring and completing reporting procedures.” Don Hare, Conagra’s director for “Communications and External Relations,” was responding to our inquiry about possible pollution […]
Did ConAgra Wastewater Pollute the Stanislaus River?
Last October, we received a report from an anonymous whistle blower that wastewater from the ConAgra food-processing plant in Oakdale was being dumped into the Stanislaus River. The anonymous tipster provided water samples taken from a drain channel that flows indirectly to the river that showed high levels of pollutants. The report was persuasive enough that we sent a letter of inquiry to ConAgra asking for details about claims their […]
Are Valley Foothills the Water Bank of the Future?
Among several pieces of encouraging news Peter Drekmeier brought the Stanislaus County Water Advisory Committee during his October 26 visit to Modesto was the scientific consensus that it’s still going to rain in the northern San Joaquin Valley. In fact, said Drekmeier, according to the best science we have, it’s probably going to rain just as much as it always has. The catch is that the realities of climate change […]
More on Mapes Ranch Water Sales
July 25, attorneys for “Lyons Land Management and Mapes Ranch” issued a strong rebuttal to a letter to the Modesto Irrigation District (MID) from its former General Counsel that raised questions about Mapes Ranch’s use of MID water. The rebuttal argued the letter, “contains false accusations and incorrect information.” We summarized portions of the letter from Ronda Lucas on July 19. Lucas, who served as MID’s General Counsel from early […]
Mapes’ Water Sales May Roil Irrigation District
Longtime Modesto Irrigation District Board member John Mensinger announced recently he would be stepping down from the board. Thus far, the only declared candidate for his position is Frank Damrell, former Senior District Representative to Cathleen Galgiani when she was a State Senator. Mensinger’s term was stormy, with board members disagreeing about water sales, electricity rates and lawsuits. In one recent lawsuit, female members of the district’s legal department accused […]
New Home Projects Add to Homeless Problem
Logically, new home construction should help reduce homelessness in Stanislaus County. This is not what is happening. With few exceptions, lower income people in Stanislaus County have been priced out of housing and rental markets. When new single-family homes sell for over $400,000 and apartments are not being built, the majority of new home buyers in Stanislaus County most likely will come from the Bay Area. Given higher housing prices there, Modesto’s new […]
Why is Climate Change Different Now?
Sometimes the Valley’s science-deniers get to be too much for Dr. Richard Anderson, a retired Professor of Biology formerly at Modesto Junior College. With a PhD in plant cell structure and a master’s degree in in marine biology, along with decades of further study, Anderson offers clear explanations of climate change basics. Like all great teachers, he has a special gift for making complex issues clear. Here’s his response to […]
Merrill Goodall: Water Monopolies and the Public Interest
“The lands have no value without water. If the water rights fall into the hands of irrigating companies and … individual owners, … eventually the monopoly of water rights will be an intolerable burden to the people…. The question for legislators to solve is to devise some practical means by which water rights may be distributed among individual farmers and water monopolies prevented.” John Wesley Powell, Report on the Arid […]