It may look like just a sleepy little slough 30 miles from California’s capitol, but the Steamboat area in Courtland is really a hotbed of worry – all about water and how salty it may become in the intensifying drought.
“I think there’s going to be a degradation to the whole Delta area,” said longtime resident and business owner Brad Pappalardo.
Pappalardo runs Steamboat Resort and Marina just upstream from where the state Department of Water Resources is proposing placement of one of three rock barriers.
They would block salt flowing into the area from the San Francisco Bay from reaching the Sacramento River.
The barriers could re-direct the boat traffic he counts on.
“I think it’s related to the BDCP (Bay Delta Conservation Plan), the tunnels and I think they’re more worried about getting the water to Southern California than they are about the farmers,” he said.
Pappalardo’s concerns….echoed loudly at a community meeting hosted by North Delta C.A.R.E.S. to try and get some clarity from the DWR.
When that clarity didn’t come, there was anger.
“Why are you still doing a negative declaration instead rather than a full blown environmental impact report. the negative declaration is basically a side-step around that,” said queried Anthony Berzinas with the Bethel Island Municipal Improvement District.
“You don’t know how many pumps are gonna be affected,” challenged another man in the crowd.
There was also frustrated laughter when reps from the DWR said they would use universal boat trailers to get watercraft around the barriers.
Folks at the meeting argued such a faulty ‘solution’ again shows the DWR’s lack of understanding about area needs.
They feel that’s unacceptable with a two-year-old proposal.
“I just can’t stress emphasize more how much the state really doesn’t want to get to this level of activity,” said Paul Marshall with the Department of Water Resources.
With one or two more good storms, Marshall also says the salt problem could completely dissolve from the community.
In microsiemens, a measure of water conductivity as influenced by salt, the DWR pointed out 1,400 would be unacceptable and 900 would mean the waters were severely compromised but still safe.
Current levels are at 200.
But with no specific trigger points outlined in the plan, land owners want to know why this is the plan at all.
This is a beautiful area, one of the most beautiful places in all of California, and I think that it needs to be preserved,” said Pappalardo.
The community has secured at least one victory in its fight against the barriers.
The state has granted the public 10 extra days to formally comment on the proposal.
Now all public comments are due by March 6.