Until recently, a sixty mile span of the San Joaquin River ran dry every year, no matter how wet or dry the year. Chinook Salmon and Steelhead Trout populations declined precipitously. But because people got informed and involved, a more natural flow cycle has been restored for fish and fisheries. Salmon and Steelhead are returning to the river. Over eighty percent of the water from the Tuolumne River has […]
Are Bee Editors and MID Directors Equally Clueless About Future Water Supplies?
Sunday, July 22, the Modesto Bee’s big story was on the declining use of irrigation water by local farmers. The story was accompanied by a large photograph of Don Pedro Reservoir, full almost to the point of overflowing. Most of the story seemed to support the Modesto Irrigation District’s (MID) water sale by assuring Bee readers that the District has plenty of water. As is often the case in […]
The Godfather Speaks: Bob Hackamack on the Tuolumne River
Bob Hackamack is already immortalized with a portion of the Tuolumne River named for him—Hackamack’s Hole, a Class IV rapid. Fortunately for the river, Hackamack, a Control Systems and Chemical Engineer, is as adept with a slide rule as he is with a canoe or kayak paddle. Many of those who know best about protecting rivers credit Hackamack with the unique mix of passion and scientific expertise it took […]
River Wars, Episode III: End of the River?
When the Modesto Irrigation District (MID) assures its customers there is enough Tuolumne River water to sell 2,000 acre feet per year to the city of San Francisco, knowledgeable citizens can only assume there’s a hidden back story. For one thing, many local farmers have been informed of reduced water allotments. Since their water comes from the Tuolumne River, they can’t help wondering how the claim of excess water […]
River Wars, Episode II: The King of California and Imperial San Francisco
Marc Reisner’s, Cadillac Desert, is still the primary text for those who would understand water use in the arid American west, but the recent flap over the proposed sale of Tuolumne River water to the city of San Francisco by the Modesto Irrigation District (MID) is best illuminated by Mark Arax’s, The King of California, and Gray Brechin’s, Imperial San Francisco. In The King of California, Arax and Rick Wartzman […]
Specter of Fish Haunts MID Water Sale
Shortly after John Mensinger and Larry Byrd blew the wheels off the Modesto Irrigation District (MID) water sale bandwagon and the City of Modesto looked likely to sue to assure its water rights, the Modesto Bee opined that, given the intense controversy surrounding the water sale, it couldn’t hurt to form a citizens’ advisory committee of agricultural and urban customers to help steer the water sale controversy to a reasonable […]
Valley Leaders and Media AWOL on MID Water Sale
The more you look at the proposed Modesto Irrigation District (MID) water sale to San Francisco, the more apparent it becomes that MID manager Allen Short and his allies on the Board of Directors are engaging in a dangerous game of sleight of hand. The fundamental premise of the sale—that MID has water to sell—is so patently false as to make one wonder why the MID has dared voice it. […]
Will MID Directors Be Fleeced In the New Gold Rush?
There’s not much of a mystery why the Modesto Irrigation District (MID) Board of Directors wants to sell water to San Francisco. Faced with a water treatment plant that has become an embarrassing money pit and having failed to raise rates enough to maintain infrastructure, they need the money. San Francisco’s demand for water, on the other hand, is at first glance a bit puzzling. As recently as November 17, […]