Lawsuit filed against LA County Approval of Massive Newhall Ranch Project

Development in Floodplain Would Devastate Wildlife Habitat, Hurt Cultural Resources



LOS ANGELES— A coalition of five public-interest groups today sued Los Angeles County in Superior Court over its approval of permits for the first phase of the sprawling Newhall Ranch development — one of the largest single residential development projects ever contemplated in California — which is proposed for 12,000 acres along the Santa Clara River in northwest L.A. County. Newhall Ranch would create a city of more than 60,000 on a six-mile stretch of the river that is currently rugged open space and farmland by channeling the county’s last mostly free-flowing river.



The construction approved by the county on Feb. 23 would require filling of the Santa Clara River’s floodplain on a large scale; channelizing over three miles of river and converting many tributary streams to concrete-lined channels; unearth and desecrate American Indian burial sites, sacred places and cultural natural resources such as the California condor; and threaten the San Fernando Valley spineflower — a species found in only one other location on the planet.



Will Westlands sell water to raise money to pay bonds?

Westlands Water District Deputy General Manager Jason Peltier recently told a state senate committee the mammoth federal water district will not be reselling irrigation water to urban interests and that the water district’s growers were not “profiteers.”  Questions have been raised because the bond rating agency Fitch recently reported that Westlands could “potentially” sell off some of its water supply, if necessary to pay off $50 million in bonds that Westlands and some adjacent water districts took out. Click on "1 attachment" below.

Who needs a cost-benefit analysis? Not Southern California

By Lloyd G. Carter

When Assembly Member Alyson Huber of El Dorado Hills failed to get an economic feasibility analysis bill on the controversial proposed peripheral canal out of committee recently, she was probably unaware that a similar challenge had been made to the finances of the State Water Project in 1960 by the late George “Elfie” Ballis, a legendary figure in Central California water and farmworker politics.

Huber’s bill (AB 550) would have required express approval of the Legislature for any “conveyance facility, an honest cost-benefit analysis of a peripheral canal or tunnel around the Delta” (which proponents claim would help the Delta) and prohibit any diminishing or negative impact on Delta water supplies, water rights, or water users. It failed to clear the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife on a 7-5 vote. But the vote was not along party lines. It was based on geography. North State legislators, including committee chairman Jared Huffman voted for it. The Southern California Committee members voted against it.  READ MORE »

Videotaped speech by newly retired federal judge Oliver Wanger at the Southern California Water Committee annual gathering

On November 17, 2011, Federal Judge Oliver Wanger gave his world view of California water politics and litigation in a  speech before a gathering of the Southern California Water Committee. You can watch the videotaped speech at http://www.socalwater.org/whats-new/100-judge-oliver-wanger-delivers-his-keynote-speech-at-scwcs-27th-annual-dinner

Santa Clara Valley Water District supports styrofoam ban

      San Jose, CA – On Tuesday, Oct. 25, the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors unanimously adopted a resolution to ban the use of district funds to purchase polystyrene foam service ware. The ban includes contractors and venders that provide food service ware at district facilities or events. The board also voted to encourage all local municipalities in Santa Clara County to reduce and ban the use of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam food service ware.

      The ban was proposed by district board member Linda LeZotte, a member of the Santa Clara County Recycling and Waste Reduction Commission, which in June, recommended that all of its members work toward a ban of EPS foam food service ware. The commission found that similar bans in San Francisco and Santa Cruz counties resulted in reductions of EPS foam litter of 36 and 61 percent, respectively. “All you have to do to be convinced that Styrofoam is a problem is look at a creek or the Bay shoreline,” said Director LeZotte. “Fighting pollution at the source is the ultimate solution to our litter problems.”  READ MORE »

U.S. Rivers and Streams Super-Saturated with Carbon Dioxide

Rivers and streams in the United States are releasing substantially more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than previously thought. These findings could change the way scientists model the movement of carbon between land, water, and the atmosphere. The findings were recently published in a Nature Geoscience article entitled “Significant efflux of carbon dioxide from streams and rivers in the United States” by David Butman and Professor Peter Raymond of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, as part of David’s Ph.D. thesis. Funding for the study was from NASA, NSF, and the USGS. The article can be found at http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo1294.html. Butman and Raymond found that a significant amount of carbon accumulated by plant growth on land is decomposed, discharged into streams and rivers, and outgassed as carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. It is estimated that streams and rivers release almost 100 million metric tons of carbon each year. This release is equal to a car burning 40 billion gallons of gasoline, enough to drive back and forth to the moon 3.4 million times. Water chemistry data from more than 4,000 rivers and streams throughout the United States were incorporated with detailed geospatial data to model the flux of carbon dioxide from water.  READ MORE »

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