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Updated 2/16/2015 & 3/8/2015 & 3/17/2015 & 4/3/2015 & 5/6/2015

No barriers for Steamboat Slough or Sutter Slough according to DWR, but the False River barrier started being installed on 5/5/15 and will make access to Franks Track from the North Delta a bit longer boat ride along the San Joaquin River.

Barriers in the Delta are part of a plan initiated by MWD in 2002-2005 to divert more fresh water from the Sacramento River into the SoCal export pumps, and similar to one of the "building blocks" of DRMS Phase 2. According to the DWR documents, there won't be any real impacts to our area of the Delta.  Apparently the drafters of the DWR documents don't understand the difference between use of fresh water and salty water for humans, freshwater fish, crop irrigation, landscape and historic natural environments.  On 4/1/2015 Governor Brown posted at the state website an unsigned executive order that has many directives related to "Drought Response".  Several of the directives relate to barriers somewhere in California, to keep water in the reservoirs, but the Governor is not specific about what he means.  Most likely, he is talking about the proposed barriers for Steamboat Slough, Sutter Slough and False River, but the barriers could be installed anywhere based on the governor's statement.
In any case, here are my comments and the attachments, and below are maps and references and links to additional pages of information for those that may be interested in this topic:


Attachment A & B AttachmentA.pdf  AttachmentB.pdf
Letter to USACE:  USACEcomments-barriers.pdf  and AttachmentA-usace.pdf and
The long term impacts to the prime Delta farm lands and aquatic environment may be substantially negatively impacted if saltwater intrudes into the west, central and North Delta.  Simply put, the proposed barriers function to force Sacramento River water to flow into Georgiana Slough and/or the Delta Cross Channel Gates so the water can be sucked down to the export pumps in the South Delta.  The barriers provide more fresh water for other areas of the state at the expense and damage to Delta prime farm lands and riparian water rights.  Some anti-fracking activists indicate the water is really intended to replace the water being used by the oil and gas exploration companies that are putting in new oil/gas/geothermal wells or reworking older wells all over the Central Valley-the Delta included.  PDF of presentation looking at the history of who has proposed barriers in different places in the Delta: Historical review of proposed Barriers.pdf     BARRIERStimelinelinks.pdf          Link to the documents, agencies and plans for barrier design to create a freshwater pathway through the Delta to export more Sacramento River elsewhere, noting the Delta supplies 37% of the drinking water for SoCal:    2015 Barriers and Gates info

On Steamboat Slough and lower Sacramento River the water could change from fresh to brackish at high tides if insufficient fresh water outflow is left on the lower Sacramento River.  Even if the water stays fresh, the water temperatures will rise which could be very bad for native fish species like salmon.  Also, at low tides the water levels in Steamboat Slough could be lower than ever before because as the tide goes out there will be very little inflow of fresh water into Steamboat Slough to replace the receeding tides.  USBR/DWR conducted experiments on Steamboat Slough (we believe) in March 2014 where our water levels went down unusually fast.  Some of our dock ramps were very steep during the time of the very low tides.  But people could still boat and fish, so our hope is that excessive low tides and very steep boat ramps for periods during the low tides will be the strongest impacts.  it remains to be seen what DWR says the impacts to irrigation and drinking water quality will be.  Meeting is February 12 at 6 PM in Clarksburg at the Community Church/center.
      The 350+ pages of CEQA documents and attachments did NOT address the specific questions we brought to DWR last year, such as what will be the peak or high salinity levels in the water?  How low will low tides go?  Why can't there be a proposed "one barrier" at the lower end of Steamboat Slough with a boat lock and then the North Delta prime farmlands are better protected?  How much freshwater flow is actually saved by taking it away from Steamboat and Sutter Sloughs?  Why are the water quality rights of the North Delta land owners being sacraficed to give more water to lower Central Valley corporate agricultural families who will just resale the water to energy exploration companies at huge profits?  The number of new gas wells in California, Delta included, has doubled in the last 10 years or so.  That represents freshwater new use.  Why not ban all new well fracking until such time as the drought ends?  Millions of acre feet per year is flowing into Georgian Slough in April but not showing up at the gage at the terminous of Georgiana Slough at the Mokelumne River-who is taking that missing water flow, how and for what purpose?

Historical review of proposed Barriers.pdf
unaccountedforwater.pdf    georgianamissingwater2014.pdf

Lots of documents and reports about barriers and gates: and
about In-Delta water storage:   and
Delta fracking timeline:
2014 and previous "Barriers" documents posted
6/25/14  Several of us on the water have noticed that there is already an obstruction across part of our waterway, just east of the Steamboat Slough bridge.  It does NOT hinder boating navigation at all, but seems to make the entrance into the head of Steamboat Slough be 10 feet deep instead of 19 feet deep like it was in the past.  We surmise the purpose of this clearly defined in-water berm or obstruction was created by some agency associated with the fish migration studies, as the FUNCTION of the in-water struction hinders or discourages salmon migration through this waterway, where historically salmon always migrated.  The other FUNCTION of the in-water structure or berm is to block at least half of the fresh water flow that would have gone into Steamboat Slough to instead continue down the Sacramento River and into Georgian Slough for export to other areas of the state.  Paul Marshall from DWR acknowledged in an email that the "obstruction" exists but said it is naturally occuring.  That doesn't explain the observed rocks at side of obstruction nor the clear solid shear wall shown in the sonar.  Mr. Marshall provided me with screen shots of bathymetry soundings for several years for comparison.  It looks like the rocks may have been place in the waterway in 2008 but the shear structure perhaps later.  From the data provided by Mr. Marshall of DWR, a 3D model of the obstruction and channel was made, and you can view the graphics for the 3D model and/or the short video as you boat through the obstruction and channel.   Go to this page to see photos of the sonar/fish screen and for links to the 4 short videos explaining what was found and where.  Map is from an August update by DWR.  So is the salinity caused by all the new fracking wells in the Yolo Bypass area or by saltwater encroachment due to diversion of ALL of the Sacramento River water away from Steamboat and Sutter Sloughs?  Something to ask if they bring back this proposal for 2015, don't you think?
5/02/14  We received several emails from different agency people that the barriers will NOT be installed this summer but "may" be installed in winder.  However, DWR told about 100 of us in Walnut Grove that the barriers would have to be removed by November of each year to avoid flooding the islands, so it does not make sense that barriers would ever be installed at all.  In the meantime, using water depth gage and electronic fish finders, we discovered there is already an in-water berm on the Sacramento River going across the head or eastern opening of Steamboat Slough about 20-30 feet east of the Steamboat Slough bridge.  Even the local farmers do not know exactly when this in-water flow barrier was installed, but no doubt it was at night during the time of the "improvements" to the Steamboat Slough bridge of the last several winters.  The in-water berm has the effect of diverting part of the freshwater flow that would have gone into Steamboat Slough to instead keep flowing down river and into Georgiana Slough and the export pumps.  Or perhaps the in-water berm was created to manipulate the outcome of the salmon migration pathway studies of the last several years.  In any case, the BDCP flow split assumptions of DSM2 and RMA are clearly wrong!  Which means the impact assessments are also wrong, and salinity encroachment could be much worse than admitted by DWR.

4/22/2014:  DWR has called off the proposed barriers across Steamboat and Sutter Sloughs for now, but the FACT is that the permitting process is still going forward.  DWR has not called off its permit requests with the water quality rights board or  USACE. 

DWR spokespersons say they want to have the permits in hand to put in the barriers without need of more hearings "if circumstances change" without defining what those changed circumstances might be.  This is DWR's way of deflecting the attention of the fishing associations, boating association, landowners, water rights associations, and others who have realized just how damaging the barriers could be to the North Delta farmers, recreation facilities and aquatic/native fish environment.  Consider the FUNCTION of the barriers, which is to split the North Delta east to west.  East side would retain the freshwater of the Sacramento River for export to other areas of the state.  West side of the barriers would be used for the experimental "restoration" sites, creating brackish environments in areas that formerly were the freshwater forrested areas of the North Delta.  The plan was proposed by Metropolitian Water District (MET or MWD of SoCal) and has continued to be promoted under various names but it all has the same long term FUNCTION, that is to divert Sacramento River away from the North Delta for use elsewhere.  If allowed, the result can be violation of the North Delta landowner water quality rights, damage to the prime farm lands of the Delta, physical risk to humans in the area incase of late spring or early fall storm while the barriers are still in place, and much more damage to the native species of this area of the Delta.  Don't be fooled by the news media.  See summary of the barriers plan presentation: barriersupdate2.pdf  barriersupdate1.pdf
Or go to many of the barriers plans and maps over the years, click here.
Comments mailed to Mr. Biondi of SWRCB on 4/15/14:
images-2014/news/barriers/Oscar Biondi.pdf
attachments: images-2014/news/barriers/cdecdatagaps.pdf

and including:
Notice to USACE:   Attachments created to go along with my comments:  please click on each
pdf to copy and save it to be added to my comments submitted by email today and last week
My comments and/or questions related to impacts and purpose of barriers:
attachments to comments, incorporated by reference:
USACE has posted a notice and is accepting public comment for the next 10 days.  You can ask for a hearing:  I already did.  Here is the info:
SUBMITTING COMMENTS: Written comments, referencing Public Notice SPK-2014-00187 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before April 16, 2014.
Bill Guthrie, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
1325 J Street, Room 1350
Sacramento, California 95814-2922
The Corps is particularly interested in receiving comments related to the proposal's probable impacts on the affected aquatic environment and the secondary and cumulative effects. Anyone may request, in writing, that a public hearing be held to consider this application. Requests shall specifically state, with particularity, the reason(s) for holding a public hearing. If the Corps determines that the information received in response to this notice is inadequate for thorough evaluation, a public hearing may be warranted. If a public hearing is warranted, interested parties will be notified of the time, date, and location. Please note that all comment letters received are subject to release to the public through the Freedom of Information Act. If you have questions or need additional information please contact the applicant or the Corps' project manager Bill Guthrie, 916-557-5269,

Please first see the
BARRIER TIMELINE to understand the bigger picture of which agencies propose the barriers and for what reasons.  If you are interested in knowing more information. as documents become available they will be posted on this page and/or below the barriers timeline graphic as needed.  You can click on graphics to see larger, readable versions.  You might want to go to the following DWR website to see the DRMS Phase 2 plan that utilizes barriers: and

Go ahead and drive around the Delta to see what is already built.
4/2/14:  North Delta Water Agency has notified DWR of intent to file for an injunction or other legal relief due to the projected damage from salinity encroachment if the barriers on Steamboat AND Sutter are installed.  DWR provided computer modeling that looks at salinity and water levels effects and for the lower end of Steamboat Slough one salinity measurement (EC) will go from below 200 to above 800 by the end of July.  DWR does not provide impact information for Rio Vista or for impact to the waterways of the Sacramento River.  The further towards the bay one is located, it is safe to assume the salinity encroachment at least in the lower water collums will be even more salty.
3/28/14:  We received notice of proposed actions by USACE and DWR related to the proposed barriers for Steamboat and Sutter Sloughs.  Please open and SAVE the pdf onto your computer so you can read when you have the time.  We just got this information this morning and will review and post more info here.  In the meantime, here are a few screen prints and the notice documents and links.  For the USACE notice about levee work:  and

To read specifically about the plans for Steamboat and Sutter Sloughs, go to:


 Meeting notes from 3/18/14   
State agency DWR proposes to block off the north end of Steamboat Slough and Sutter Slough to better divert the fresh water into Georgiana Slough so it will get to the export pumps.  In the Delta, we're being told the measure is supposed to protect OUR water quality, which is totally false.  If the barriers are installed, there is the potential to destroy North Delta water quality due to saltwater encroachment.  Meeting on March 18, 2014  At the same time, DWR held meetings in other areas of the Delta, also about barriers and gates, and also went to the water quality control board to get permission to pump MORE water to other areas of the state even though they told Delta residents there is not enough water to protect the Delta.  Staggering and flagrant deceit by the DWR representatives.  Burt put it in words best:

When the DWR came on yesterday they were positioning "salinity" as the villain--the "problem." Salinity is NOT the problem. Salinity is a RESULT of the problem of the flow of the Sacramento River which is under control of the DWR. The DWR is the problem.

That State Water Board told me that the river must flow past Chipps Island at a rate of at lease 11,400 cfs. Anything less means the river's natural flushing action is not in force and salinity is then able to creep into the Delta.

Even though we are in a drought, it's being overplayed by the DWR in order to beef up the Delta tunnels. That fact is that the DWR over-pumped the Delta by 800,000 acre feet last year. That water should have gone down the river to help keep salinity out.

Historically, releasing water from reservoirs has been the DWR's plan to keep the Sacramento River flow up. But this year flows were manipulated in order to send more water south. Thus is is the DWR's management of flows that is the real villain, not salinity.

As long as they can position salinity as the problem they can deflect the real responsibility from their doorstep--which is their tactic.


Click on the maps to see a larger version of the planning URS/MWD in 2007 which was based on 2004 preliminary plans.  The barrier plan maps and design are labeled "MWD-Bay Delta Services" by the Walnut Creek engineering firm that has designed the barriers.  MWD stands for Metropolitian Water District most likely.  They control the water for the LA area.  MWD funded URS to do the planning or paperwork for DRMS Phase 2, which includes barriers for flood protection which later was revised to simply "emergency barriers".  The stated purpose according to MWD documents is for their water supply and quality protection.  How this might affect lower Steamboat Slough has not yet been disclosed by Dept of Water Resources, other than lower water levels which actually does not make sense given water flows into the sloughs on incoming tides.  The location of the barrier on Sutter Slough does not make sense either.  DWR in 2009 made a draft proposal to do this in case of "drought".  Metropolitian Water District (MWD) has apparently paid for the engineered barrier plans.  Note that as early as 2003 MWD was promoting the "Drought Emergency Barriers" - and several other names for the same thing.  How did they know in 2009 that the governor would issue a "drought emergency order" in 2014? 
My comments on the proposal: images-2014/news/comment-barriers.pdf    Updated to 3/26/14   PRESENTATION3-26-14.pdf

dwr_emergency_presentation.pdf    deltamonitors.pdf    deltabarriers.pdf    2005_temp_barriers_project.pdf
MWDbarriers_03_majors.pdf    mwd-funding2014.pdf



images-2014/news/ryer_history-June 1995.pdf  images-2014/news/MWDbarriers_03_majors.pdf  images-2014/news/1986-gasmap.pdf  
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