What’s on tap — week of April 14 and beyond

I’ll be out, and so will this blog, until April 21. In the meantime, there’s plenty of stuff to do around here. Events associated with Earth Day are highlighted in green.

Saturday, April 12: BugFest at Oak Grove Regional Park. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Live insect displays, bug safaris, creepy-crawly cuisine, crafts, games and more. Free, but parking at Oak Grove costs $5. More details here.

Saturday, April 12: San Joaquin Master Gardeners presentation on how to “garden into your golden years.” 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., City of Stockton Delta Water Supply Project, 11373 N. Lower Sacramento Road. Call (209) 953-6100 to RSVP. The same class will be held on Saturday, April 19 at 10:30 a.m. at the Manteca Library, 320 W. Center St.

Saturday, April 12: Electronic waste collection event, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Boyd Service Center in Tracy. Free.

Saturday, April 12: Electronic waste collection event, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lodi Transfer Station, 1333 E. Turner Road. Free.

Saturday, April 12-Sunday, April 13: Woodbridge Wilderness Area open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The area is typically open the first three weekends of each month. Explore a quarter-mile of Mokelumne River frontage. Free. More details here.

Thursday, April 17: Redwood School, under the San Joaquin County Office of Education, hosts an Earth Day plant sale fundraiser from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Proceeds will be used to help pay for a greenhouse and for solar panels. 3555 Wilmarth Road. Information: (209) 931-4047.

Saturday, April 19: City of Manteca hosts free event with paper shredding, free compost and electronic waste recycling. Open to Manteca residents only. 8:30 a.m. to noon at 210 E. Wetmore St.

Saturday, April 19: San Joaquin Master Gardeners program, “What’s Bugging You?” Learn about common garden pests and how to control them. 10 a.m. to noon, Delta Tree Farm, 2900 Lower Sacramento Road.

Saturday, April 19-Sunday, April 20: Free admission at Yosemite National Park. A number of other events are planned for the course of the week, but had not yet been announced at the time of this posting. Check here in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, April 22: University of the Pacific’s ”Spring Seed Swap” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Ted and Chris Robb Garden, near the psychology-communication building. People are encouraged to bring seeds, seedlings, transplants and garden goodies. The same evening, a food and hunger presentation is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Vereschagin Alumni House.

Friday, April 25: University of the Pacific “Green Fashion Show” from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the DeRosa University Center ballroom.

Tuesday, April 29: Presentation, “Bike Maintenance Basics.” 7 p.m., Stockton REI. Learn how to prolong the life of your bicycle. More detailshere.

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Twin tunnels comments made available

Frustrated that public comments on the governor’s twin tunnels plan are not being made immediately available, an environmental group filed a public records request and is now publishing the comments on its website.

“We are doing what the government of a free country should be doing, insuring that all points of view get heard on the water tunnels issue,” said Bob Wright, an attorney for Friends of the River in Sacramento.

Wright said this morning that his organization has collected and posted 560 comments so far. The public comment period for the Delta tunnels project began in December and extends until June.

State officials have said that all comments will be available after the public comment period ends, once a final version of the plan is published. They have said that method is consistent with state and federal law, and with agency policy.

To read the comments Friends of the River collected through its Freedom of Information Act request, click here.

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Lincoln Village: How I crunched the numbers

Anton Croos/WikiCommons

A letter writer says my Sunday story examining per-capita water usage in San Joaquin County was “all wet.”

Specifically, he didn’t like my “claim” that Lincoln Villagers guzzle at least 50 percent more water than their neighbors.

It’s true that calculating water usage can be tricky, especially in the case of Lincoln Village. Larger water providers are required to report such information to the state based on specific methodologies. I had to figure out Lincoln Village on my own.

But I was very careful and conservative. If anything, the difference is even greater than I reported.

So, in the interest of transparency, here goes:

While there are no meters in Lincoln Village to track how much water any one customer uses, we do know how much water is going into the neighborhood as a whole. In the past 20 years that total has varied from about 450 million gallons per year to about 550 million gallons per year, according to data provided by San Joaquin County.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 4,381 people lived in Lincoln  Village in 2010.

So if we divide the total volume of water by the number of people, and then divide again by 365 days in a year, we come up with a rough range of 281 gallons per person per day to about 344 gallons per person per day over the past two decades.

For comparison, in 2010 the California Water Service Co. in Stockton calculated a baseline water usage of 182 gpd, and the city of Stockton calculated a baseline water usage of 195 gpd.

Of course, it’s not that simple. You really can’t look at just one year and get a good idea of any district’s water usage. Drought and economic distress can create aberrations in the numbers.

So I attempted to calculate Lincoln Village’s water use the same way other cities did: using 10-year averages.

Stockton came up with its 195-gpd baseline by averaging the years 1999 through 2008. When I do the same math for Lincoln Village, I get 324 gpd. That’s a 66 percent increase over neighbors within city limits.

Cal Water came up with its 182-gpd baseline by averaging the years 1996 through 2005. When I do the same math for Lincoln Village, I get 316 gpd. That’s a 73 percent increase over neighbors in central Stockton.

Lodi came up with its relatively high per-capita figure of 248 gpd by averaging the years 1997 through 2006. When I do the same math for Lincoln Village, I get 317 gpd. That’s a 28 percent increase.

Let’s really give Lincoln Village the benefit of the doubt and look at the 10 years from 1990 to 1999, which includes the tail end of a major drought when water usage dropped significantly and abnormally. When I do the math for Lincoln Village, I get 289 gpd. That’s still by far the higher than the other cities, which based their analyses on non-drought years.

Finally, let’s look at just one year — 2010. This is the year Lincoln Village saw its lowest water usage in the past decade. Its per capita rate? Still 307 gpd. That’s 57 percent higher than Stockton and 68 percent higher than Cal Water the same year.

The only thing I didn’t factor into the analysis were population changes prior to 2010. But Lincoln Village is an established area that likely did not grow much in the preceding years. And even if its population 10 or 15 years ago was smaller than it is today, that would make the per-capita water usage numbers look better, not worse.

Just about any way you cut the numbers, Lincoln Village does indeed have a higher rate of water use per capita. And most often, the difference is, indeed, greater than 50 percent.

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Boaters ‘greatly concerned’

Recreational Boaters of California says it is “greatly concerned” about the state’s plan to install drought barriers in the Delta this summer.

The barriers would block key waterways during prime boating season, the group says, adding there has not been “direct and serious engagement” with boaters about the impacts.

Read the boaters’ letter here.

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Ready? Set? Plug in!

New electric vehicle charging stations were announced last week in two locations — in the city of Tracy, and at New Melones Lake.

Not that those places have anything to do with each other. But the separate announcements show how progress is being made, albeit slowly, forming a network of charging stations across the region.

The New Melones stations (there are two of them) are the first to be made available at any U.S. Bureau of Reclamation facilities, the bureau said. The stations are at the Glory Hole Recreation Area’s Ironhorse Campground, and at the Tuttletown Recreation Area’s Lupine Day Use Area.

You have to pay a user fee like anyone else who visits these areas, but aside from that, the charging stations are free. What’s more, they’ll charge at the fastest of three levels (480 volts), meaning you can “fill ‘er up” in about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, the Tracy Press reports that a new charging station is available at the Tracy Transit Station, 50 E. Sixth St. It’s a Level 2 charger, so it’s not quite as powerful as the New Melones station. Still, it should allow people to plug in while visiting downtown stores and restaurants.

Of course, the San Joaquin County Office of Education installed public chargers in south Stockton a couple of years ago.

There’s still an awful lot of empty space out there, if you own an electric vehicle. (Search for “Stockton” on this website, and you’ll see what I mean.)

But slowly, it seems, things are picking up speed. The more charging stations there are, the less range anxiety EV pioneers experience on our roadways.

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What’s on tap — Earth Day edition

Earth Day comes early this year! Stockton hosts its annual Earth Day Festival on Sunday, and various other events are scheduled throughout the month of April. I’ve highlighted those in green.

Sunday, April 6: Stockton Earth Day Festival. Theme: “Living Water Wise.” 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Victory Park. More details here.

Saturday, April 5-Sunday, April 6: Woodbridge Wilderness Area open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The area is typically open the first three weekends of each month. Explore a quarter-mile of Mokelumne River frontage. Free. More details here.

Monday, April 7: Campaign for Common Ground meeting. Guest speaker Steve Chase, director of Stockton’s Community Development Department. More details here.

Tuesday, April 8: Audubon Society meeting. Presentation: “Bird Feathers and Bird Bones.” Writer and naturalist David Lukas will talk about bird bones, feather and muscles, and how they work together to help a bird fly and live in its environment. 7:30 p.m., Central United Methodist Church, Stockton.

Thursday, April 10: Presentation on the Bank of Stockton’s photo collection of Lodi Lake and the Mokelumne River. Bill Maxwell, archive manager of the bank’s collection of photographs, will present. 7 p.m., Lodi Police Department Community Room, 215 W. Elm St.

Saturday, April 12: BugFest at Oak Grove Regional Park. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Live insect displays, bug safaris, creepy-crawly cuisine, crafts, games and more. Free, but parking at Oak Grove costs $5. More details here.

Saturday, April 12:Electronic waste collection event, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Boyd Service Center in Tracy. Free.

Saturday, April 12: Electronic waste collection event, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lodi Transfer Station, 1333 E. Turner Road. Free.

Thursday, April 17: Redwood School, under the San Joaquin County Office of Education, hosts an Earth Day plant sale fundraiser from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Proceeds will be used to help pay for a greenhouse and for solar panels. 3555 Wilmarth Road. Information: (209) 931-4047.

Saturday, April 19: City of Manteca hosts free event with paper shredding, free compost and electronic waste recycling. Open to Manteca residents only. 8:30 a.m. to noon at 210 E. Wetmore St.

Saturday, April 19-Sunday, April 20: Free admission at Yosemite National Park. A number of other events are planned for the course of the week, but had not yet been announced at the time of this posting. Check here in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, April 22: University of the Pacific’s “Spring Seed Swap” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Ted and Chris Robb Garden, near the psychology-communication building. People are encouraged to bring seeds, seedlings, transplants and garden goodies. The same evening, a food and hunger presentation is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Vereschagin Alumni House.

Friday, April 25: University of the Pacific “Green Fashion Show” from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the DeRosa University Center ballroom.

Tuesday, April 29: Presentation, “Bike Maintenance Basics.” 7 p.m., Stockton REI. Learn how to prolong the life of your bicycle. More detailshere.

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Calaveras fish habitat plan a no-show

Steelhead. Photo by the U.S. Department of Agriculture

At today’s State of Our Rivers Symposium in Stockton, fish biologist Stacy Sherman brought up the long-delayed habitat conservation plan that is supposed to improve conditions for fish migrating up the Calaveras River.

“This started in 2000, I believe, and here it is 2014 and we do not have a habitat conservation plan,” Sherman told the audience.

“Every time I hear an update, it’s like, ‘It’s coming… in the next couple of months,’” she said. “It’s been a very long, drawn-out process… I understand there are a lot of other priorities, but 14 years is a bit excessive.”

Here’s a 2004 story in which federal officials are quoted as saying they hoped the plan would be out in another six months.

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‘It’s not regulation’

You hear a lot these days about environmental regulations curtailing water exports from the Delta.

But the primary reason for the widely reported shortages?

Drought.

Mercury News reporter Paul Rogers asked the Department of Water Resources’ Mark Cowin on a conference call today to place in context what percent of the pumping restrictions this year have been based on the lack of rain, and what percent have been based on environmental regulations to protect fish.

Cowin couldn’t put a precise number on it — not yet.

But, he said: “The great majority of water shortage this year is purely a basis of drought. It’s not regulation. Even without regulations, we would have very dry conditions this year.”

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The power of prayer

Gene Beley attends too many water meetings. I know this, because I also attend too many water meetings.

But Beley tells me that Saturday’s drought forum, hosted by the Catholic Charities Diocese of Stockton’s Environmental Justice Project, was “refreshing” and “different.”

The meeting was “complete with prayers about water that seemed to produce some results as it started raining at the end of the final prayer,” Beley said in an email.

Maybe we should get the diocese to host a faith-based water meeting every weekend.

Read Gene’s report here.

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Missing mist

During a drought, the lack of rain is obvious.

But have you also noticed the lack of fog?

The National Weather Service station at the Stockton Metropolitan Airport reported just 12 days of dense fog from October through March. The previous four years had 31, 30, 34 and 39 days respectively.

Fog won’t form without moisture. No rain, no fog.

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    Alex Breitler

    A native of Benicia, he lives in Stockton with his wife, Ann (a Record copyeditor who fixes all of his mistakes). He has been writing mostly about natural resources since 2003, first in Redding and now in Stockton. He is on the lookout for a giant ... Read Full
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