Author Archives: Alex Breitler


I’ve been writing about water for 10 years in one of the state’s most flood-prone cities. And I’ve never had to write about a substantial flood. I’ve written countless stories about planning for future floods, about the quality of our levees and the need for new flood control infrastructure. But an actual, honest-to-goodness flood? Never [...]

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Strange times as Delta rivers flow downstream

You know it’s a flood in the Delta when all of its rivers are actually flowing toward the ocean. Earlier this week, the Old and Middle rivers, which normally run backward as they feel the influence of the powerful state and federal export pumps, began flowing downstream instead. Evidently there is so much water coming [...]

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Weird times in California water

Not sure I’ve ever seen a more perfect juxtaposition of California water issues than on Wednesday. While Department of Water Resources engineers were inspecting a giant gash in the Oroville spillway, with the reservoir rising rapidly and a critical need to dump water downstream, the same state agency simultaneously announced a new report showing that [...]

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A full tank of water tower nostalgia

It’s been fun monitoring reaction on social media to my news over the weekend that a half dozen of Stockton’s largest and oldest water towers will give up the ghost over the next few years. A sampling from the Facebook groups Stockton History and Memories of Stockton: –”I’m 58 and that tower has been there [...]

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Water warrior steps down

Bill Loyko, one of Stockton’s original water watchdogs, is stepping out of the water. Kind of. Loyko was a leading force in the Concerned Citizens Coalition lawsuit that successfully challenged privatization of Stockton’s waterworks in the 2000s. The lawsuit also brought a new level of transparency to the city’s Municipal Utilities Department, with the formation [...]

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A shot I could never get

This photo is why reporters with smart phones can never replace photojournalists. At least, not if you want spectacular photos. Record photog Calixtro Romias was cruising around last week when he happened to spot Phil Lee practicing his Kung Fu in front of an uprooted tree in Stockton’s Oak Park. I’m not awful taking photos [...]

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Buildings vanishing!

Shocking news: It’s been snowing in the Sierra. A lot. The Carson Pass Information Station at the apex of Highway 88 has all but vanished, as you can see. The statewide snowpack is 180 percent as of this morning. It’s already larger than the average April 1 snowpack, which is something, considering the fact that [...]

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Postscript on the ‘tunnel tree’

Last word on the demise of the Pioneer Cabin Tree: Amid all of the tears, and the anger directed toward the crude capitalists who carved a hole in her trunk and hastened her destruction, it’s worth pointing out that the magnificent tree had already been placed in a weakened state — at the hands of [...]

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Moyle on latest smelt numbers

Update: Fixed typo below. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates 13,000 smelt are in the Delta, not 1,300. Belatedly, here are some observations from native fish guru Peter Moyle about the latest Delta smelt surveys and the lack of a rebound last year, despite more water flowing through the system. The bottom line: The [...]

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RIP to the ‘tunnel tree’

Calaveras Big Trees’ famous tunnel tree, more formally known as the Pioneer Cabin Tree, was toppled in today’s storm. Park volunteer Jim Allday of Arnold discovered the sad scene and took these photos.     Word spread quickly tonight. Some expressed anger. It seems logical, after all, that the tree’s demise may have been hastened [...]

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    Alex Breitler

    A native of Benicia, he lives in Stockton with his wife, Ann, who forces him to go backpacking in the Sierra Nevada or Trinity Alps at every opportunity. He has been writing mostly about natural resources since 2003, first in Redding and now in ... Read Full
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