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BDCP comments buttonFOR Posts BDCP Comments Suppressed by the Government
Bob Wright, Senior legal Counsel
Friends of the River has posted all comments made on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) Water Tunnels project on our website at: . The federal and state agencies now refuse to post any correspondence other than project proponent material touting the Water Tunnels. It is imperative that public interest organizations, public agencies, and California citizens, taxpayers and ratepayers have access to comments made as they come in to assist them in spotting issues and formulating their own comments on the 40,000 pages of advocacy--the Plan and draft EIR/EIS-- touting the BDCP Water Tunnels. The government agencies declare they will not make the comments “available to the public” until “the release of the Final EIR/EIS.” That concealment of the comments until after the public review period has ended will be of no help to the public in formulating comments during the review period. 
FOR has been demanding copies of the comments from the government agencies under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). We are posting all the comments we obtained regardless of whether the particular comment agrees or disagrees with FOR’s support for saving the Sacramento River and San Francisco Bay-Delta and opposition to the Water Tunnels. FOR is now doing what the government of a free country should be-- but is not-- doing. That is, FOR is insuring that all sides of this critical and controversial issue can be heard during this critical public review period.
Informed public debate is the hallmark of our democracy.  The modern equivalent of the venerable town hall/public park assembly is the ability to view comments from the public via the internet regarding proposed major governmental actions.  FOR will continue to post the comments on its website that it is obtaining from the government agencies with regular updates in mid - May and mid -June through the end of the public comment period, now scheduled to end June 13, 2014. Unlike the BDCP proponents, FOR and other protectors of our rivers and the San Francisco Bay-Delta are not afraid of the truth or contrary points of view.

[object Object]Temperance Flat dam is just flat unfeasible
Steve Evans, Wild & Scenic Program
An independent analysis of the government’s feasibility report for the proposed Temperance Flat dam on the San Joaquin River Gorge has found that the dam is not economically justified because its costs are at least twice as high as its benefits. The analysis of the Bureau of Reclamation’s draft feasibility report for the dam was commissioned by Friends of the River and conducted by Dr. Jeffrey Michael, Associate Professor in the Eberhardt School of Business and Director of the Business Forecasting Center at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. Read FOR’s comments, read Dr. Michaels independent analysis.
In its draft report, the Bureau concluded that the proposed dam is economically justified and financially feasible, and would return up to $1.35 for every dollar invested. But Dr. Michael’s economic analysis found that the Bureau used “extremely exaggerated” estimates for the dam’s alleged ecosystem and emergency water supply benefits. When more reasonable valuation of these benefits are used, “…it is clear that constructing the Temperance Flat dam has a benefit-cost ratio below one and is not economically justified.”
The proposed Temperance Flat dam would be located on the San Joaquin River Gorge directly upstream of the existing Millerton Reservoir and Friant dam, about 20 miles northeast of Fresno.  As currently envisioned by the Bureau, the Temperance Flat dam would be 665 feet high and store more than 1.3 million acre feet of water. Despite its size, the dam would produce only 76,000 acre-feet of water annually on for downstream farms and cities. The Bureau estimates that the dam would cost nearly $2.6 billion to build and incur annual operating costs of up to $121 million.
Boosting water supplies for thirsty cities and farms is the most common reason cited by supporters for building the Temperance Flat dam (TFD). But the Bureau’s own feasibility report admits that the dam will boost water deliveries from the Central Valley Project by a paltry 1%. The Report greatly exaggerates ecosystem and emergency water supply benefits from the TFD and overestimates the value of its agricultural water supply benefits. The Report also fails to consider cheaper but more effective alternatives for supplying ecosystem and emergency water supply benefits. And the Report overestimates the true costs of building the TFD, particularly in regard to applying reasonable values to the existing ecosystem, recreation, scenic, and cultural benefits of the San Joaquin River Gorge that would be entirely lost or degraded beneath the TFD reservoir.
The Report depends on over-inflated population and water supply projections that are out of date. The Report should use a higher discount rate given the uncertainty over TFD benefits. In addition, the Report fails to adequately assess the need to consider Wild & Scenic River protection of the San Joaquin River Gorge as a viable alternative in the environmental review, as required by the National Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. The estimated overall cost of the TFD seems vastly underestimated given the issues outlined above and in comparison to previous cost estimates of this and other similar sized projects.
San Joaquin River GorgeGiven these problems, Friends of the River recommends that Reclamation withdraw the draft Report, revise it to address these several critical issues, and re-issue the revised Report in draft form to solicit additional public comment.
To place the TFD in perspective, other existing dams of similar heights in California, including Oroville, New Bullards Bar, New Melones, and Shasta, produce far more water. The TFD’s average additional water supply contribution of 76,000 acre feet represents about 1% of what the Central Valley Project currently delivers annually on average and about 4% of the amount of water historically being over-drafted annually from San Joaquin Valley groundwater basins. A private investor would never consider building this extremely marginal dam project. It is only feasible as a public project with highly inflated and entirely speculative non-water supply benefits.

Ron StorkRiver Currents
Ron Stork, Sr. Policy Advocate  
It’s an odd world
Do you ever feel like a stranger in a strange land? Well, that’s what it’s like here in drought-panicked California. Politicians are clamoring all over each other advocating for more storage, storage, storage. If only they had more storage, there would be more water. Cheap and abundant water. Clean, cool, water.
The illusion is a powerful one, but this is an extensively plumbed state, and the spread sheets do have their own inexorable logic apart from the fantasies of politicians. Building a huge new dam on the San Joaquin River might increase the yield of the Federal Central Valley Project, the state’s largest water system, by one percent: the cost, doubling the outstanding debt of the project. So little new water, so much cost.  The law of diminishing returns in a nutshell.
Shasta Dam ConstructionThe game, of course, is to get someone else to pay the costs, something that was supposed to stop when Governors Pat Brown and Ronald Reagan implemented the state water project and President Ronald Reagan reformed federal water project financing.
Do today’s politicians remember? No, they don’t. The legislature is churning through bond proposal after bond proposal. The demand and the promise: billions of dollars of free money for storage. The Congress is more subtle, but the idea is the same.
Of course, the conversation needs to go beyond fiscal common sense. There are rivers at stake after all.
A Dalliance with Drought
When the winter rains do not show up, California is a gorgeous place. One blue-sky day after another.  However, there is a price, and we’ve been paying it. This year has been dry. So was last year. Very dry.
We’ve seen rain, there will be water in many of our state’s rivers this year. Not a lot, but some.
Most towns and cities will be fine. For many, the drought measures will be mostly window dressing. For others, more meaningful.
Cracked EarthThe great water systems of the state will deliver hardly any water to low-priority agricultural contractors this year. For them, it was always meant to be a supplemental supply. When it gets really dry, you turn on the pumps.
Of course, using groundwater can get tough if too many of your neighbors have been slurping up more than can be sustained. That has happened and continues to happen. The California dream has always been one of limitless resources here in this summer-arid and occasionally winter-arid land.
But in the end, what cannot be sustained cannot go on. We will have to adjust what we do in California to what can be sustained. The question is when will we create the institutions to ease the transition to get there.

legpage buttonFOR State Legislation Update
Chance Yager, Sacramento Semester Intern
Can you spot the difference between AB 1331 and AB 2554?  You might have to squint!  Luckily for your eyes, FOR’s State Water Legislation page is a great and easy way to get informed about bills that will have major effects on California’s rivers.  Whether they’re new water bonds or changes to the Public Resources Code, if it has to do with our rivers, you’ll find them here!

2014 CAPRA button
Become a sponsor of Friends of the River’s 2014 Capital River Awards
Eric Wesselman, Executive Director
Friends of the River (FOR) is pleased to announce our annual Sacramento event, the Capital River Awards honoring river conservation heroes throughout California will be held May 14, 2014 from 5:30 to 8:30pm at the Delta King (1000 Front Street, Sacramento, CA 95814).
Join us to celebrate the spirit and leadership that keep our rivers and watersheds protected. Along with delectable food, terrific wine and beer, this event is a wonderful opportunity to socialize with old and new friends and support ongoing efforts to protect California’s Rivers.
Money raised at this event supports FOR’s river conservation work.
Our Capital River Awards 2014 Honorees are:
Doris MatsuiRepresentative Doris Matsui has long been well known in Sacramento and has represented Sacramento in the U.S. Congress since 2005. She also served in the Clinton White House from 1993 to 1998 as Deputy Director of Public Liaison. During her Congressional career, she has fought for and helped to implement major flood-control projects for California’s capital city and the nearby region without the Auburn dam. She has been a tireless defender of the remaining riparian forests of the Central Valley threatened by the policies from Washington DC. In recent years, she has been a strong voice for north-state concerns about the potential effects of the Delta tunnels to the rivers and water supplies of the north state.
Guy SapersteinGuy Saperstein is one of America’s most influential civil rights and environmental class action lawyers. He is an avid kayaker and has been a strong Friends of the River (FOR) supporter since becoming a member in 1987. Guy was President of The Sierra Club Foundation 2004-6 and currently sits on the board of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. "The Getaway Guide to the John Muir Trail," Guy's story of backpacking the 236-mile John Muir Trail with his youngest son, won the Gold Award for Best Guidebook in 2006 from the Society of American Travel Writers. Guy has been an active and powerfully effective advocate for rivers.
Please join our growing community of sponsors for 2014! To become a sponsor now click here. (link)
Sponsorship levels for the Capital River Awards:
$2,500 - Waterfall Sponsor
  • 10 event tickets
  • Recognition - Listing on invitations and event signage as well as prominent mention on FOR's website and in our on-line newsletter, The River Advocate
$1,500 - Wild & Scenic Sponsor
  • 8 event tickets
  • Recognition - Listing on invitation and event signage as well as prominent mention on FOR's website and in our on-line newsletter, The River Advocate
$1,000 - Cascade Sponsor
  • 6 event tickets
  • Recognition - Listing on invitations and event signage as well as prominent mention on FOR's website and in our on-line newsletter, The River Advocate
$500 - Whitewater Sponsor
  • 4 event tickets
  • Recognition - Listing on invitations and event signage as well as prominent mention on FOR's website and in our on-line newsletter, The River Advocate
$250 - Tributary Sponsor
  • 2 event tickets
  • Recognition - Listing on invitations and event signage as well as prominent mention on FOR's website and in our on-line newsletter, The River Advocate
OK! You've convinced can I become a sponsor! You can become a sponsor online now or email us at  and a sponsorship form will be mailed to you. For more information about the event or if you have questions, please contact Friends of the River:  or call us at 916-442-3155.
Sponsors of the 2014 Capital River Awards
Waterfall Sponsor
Your name here! (link)
Cascade Sponsors
Bill & Robin Center/Camp Lotus
Bob* & Faith Cushman
Harriet Moss
Howard Robinson
Jann Dorman*
Jeff Depew* & Trish Hayward
John Yost*
Patty Schifferle
Whitewater Sponsors
California Wildlife Foundation/California Oaks
Corley* & Patty Phillips
Doug Stadler
Granite Bay Flycasters
Ilene Starin & Will Lichtig
Jerry & Kris Cadagan
Joe & Margrit Petrofsky
Marguerite Young*
Sue Ghilotti
Tuolumne River Outfitters
Tributary Sponsors
Adventure Connection/Nate Rangel
American River Resort/Tom Van Noord & Dave Martinez
American Whitewater
American Whitewater Expeditions
Andy Krakoff & Jeannie Sternberg
BC Rimbeaux
Becca Lawton*
Bettina Redway & Michael Picker
California Canoe & Kayak/Keith Miller
Gordon Becker*
Johnnie Carlson
Kevan Urquhart*
Kimberley Milligan
Lee Pope
Maravia Corporation
Marian Bender*
Marion Franck & Bob Lew
Mother Lode River Center
Pacific River Supply/Mike Martell
Richard Weiss*
River Rat Raft Rentals
Scott Armstrong*/All Outdoors
Soluri Meserve, A Law Corporation
South Yuba River Citizens League
Tony & Margie DeRiggi
Tributary Whitewater Tours
Vincent Nibler
Virginia & James Moose
Whitewater Connection
Whitewater Excitement

* Friends of the River Board Members

Water Managment Solutions

There are two excellent new pages up at KQED on groundwater and what an aquifer is:
Excerpt: We hear a great deal about California's reliance on its "frozen reservoir," a reference to the Sierra snowpack. We hear a lot less about the Golden State's invisible reservoir, the water that resides in underground aquifers beneath our feet. That's about to change. Read more at the link(s) below:
And of note The City of Santa Rosa takes on and educates public about storm water pollution(click the buttun to learn more).
City of SR stromwater ad campaign 

Sacramento cover photoBook Review: Sacrament: Homage to a River
Chance Yager, Sacramento Semester Intern
Sacrament: Homage to a River is a hauntingly beautiful look at the Sacramento River of today and yesterday.  Photographer Geoff Fricker supplies a selection of black-and-white images that capture the river, the lands surrounding it and the artifacts of the people who have called it theirs.  His work is supplemented by the words of river guide Rebecca Lawton, who explains the history and nature of the river, while reminding the reader how important it is that the Sacramento be preserved.
The book is divided into six sections, each with a particular theme.  Control, for example, depicts the many barriers and additions humans have made to the Sacramento, while Change shows how the river intersects with everything around it.  Lawton’s passages are brief and to-the-point, giving the reader just enough context to truly appreciate the photos.
Sacrament is ultimately neither a celebration of nor a memorial to the Sacramento River.  Lawton does not mince words when she describes the trials that lie ahead and the negative impact that Californians continue to have on the river, but she takes care to point out the progress we have made in restoring it.  Similarly, Fricker’s cold, monochrome pictures evoke a sense of loss, but they depict beauty that has not yet disappeared.  Sacrament depicts a river that still lives, but one that needs to be cared for lest one day this book become its last echo.
You can buy Sacrament: Homage to a River from the publisher at:

2009 Spring Training ClassVolunteer: Become a white water guide for Friends of the River this summer!
Greg "Truck" Ungelbach
We’re glad that you think rivers are worth protecting, and that you’d like to help save them. Becoming a whitewater guide for Friends of the River is one of most exciting ways we can think of to do it.  Want to do something fun & exciting? One great way to be a river activist is to be a river advocate and guide for Friends of the River's Volunteer Outreach Program. For 40 years Friends of the River has trained river activists and guides. Become a river guide and river educator in our exciting hands on training! Volunteer to bring the river into the hearts of the public!
Training is for private boaters or those brand new to boating—to hone skills and learn how to protect rivers. ***Now accepting applications for Summer 2014 Guide Trainings*** Visit the link below to download the 2014 application (pdf). The Volunteer Outreach Program is supported by 200+ river activists and whitewater guides who are dedicated volunteers for Friends of the River. The Volunteer Outreach Program strives to enhance public awareness about rivers and water resources, to make river running accessible and enjoyable, and to raise money to support Friends of the River's statewide river conservation and water policy reform efforts.
Friends of the River Guide Training encompasses much more than leaning how to navigate through whitewater.  It is also about teamwork, commitment and personal leadership.  Learn more at:

[object Object]Get to Your River!: Raft the SFA with FOR this summer!
Join us on river this summer! Raft the South Fork American River this summer in June, July, or August with FOR on one of our three BBQ Weekends (see dates and ticket links below)! Raft Saturday and/or Sunday; camp Friday and/or Saturday nights; or meet us at the river for just the BBQ fundraiser on Saturday’s at 6pm!
This is an entirely guide and volunteer organized event; we ask that you consider renewing your membership or joining FOR. Join or renew by visiting FOR’s website at  You can become a member as an individual or as a household.
The rafting portion of the trip is "shared cost," which means that the actual rafting expenses, i.e. transportation, food, are equally divided among the participants. Any proceeds from the BBQ are donated to FOR.
Camp Lotus does not allow pets.
Saturday Shared Cost (Breakfast, Lunch, Day use fee, Rafting & BLM fees) $53
Saturday Fundraiser BBQ Dinner $25
Sunday Shared Cost (Breakfast, Lunch, Day Use fee, Rafting & BLM fees) $53
Camping with rafting: $8 per night/per person
Camping with-out rafting: $12 per night/per person
Parking a car: $4 per day
NOTE: Camping, day use and parking fees  for Camp Lotus are to be paid to directly FOR.  Camping is $12 per night (includes $4 day use), day use is $4 per person and parking $4 per car. 
April 23, 2014
Volume 4, Number 4
The Voice of California's Rivers
Since 1973
In this issue

FOR Opens up Government: BDCP Comments Library
Temperance Flat dam is just flat unfeasible
River Currents

FOR State Legislation Page update
Become a sponsor of Friends of the
      River’s 2014 Capital River Awards  

Water Solutions: Groundwater & Stormwater
Book Review: Sacrament
Volunteer: Become a white water guide
Get to Your River: Raft the American
     with FOR this summer!

2014 CAPRA button

Drive that wreck into the riverbank - Friends of the River's Bank that is!

Friends of the River now accepts donations of cars, boats, trucks, jet skis and more! In a cooperative effort between Donation Line and FOR your vehicle can be donated to help save our rivers! You must have a clean title. Free Towing & No Hassles. Pick up ASAP.
Call 1-877-227-7487 extension 2811

The River Advocate is published by Friends of the River contact us at

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