RBOC is greatly concerned about the negative impacts the emergency drought barriers being planned for three sloughs in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will have on the boating community and economy, and is urging the US Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a public hearing on the proposal prior to its approval.
A public hearing would provide an essential opportunity to discuss concerns as soon as possible and prior to the announced construction in early May of this year.
The emergency drought barriers would be three rock dams constructed across Steamboat Slough, Sutter Slough and False River. RBOC’s concerns are that:
· There has not been a direct and serious engagement with the boating community in advance of a decision to proceed with the three barriers
· The three barriers would block key Delta waterways that are popular with boaters, during the prime boating season of May through December.
· The plan to accommodate boaters with boat ramps on the Steamboat Slough barrier is insufficient, as many boats navigating the slough exceed the under-twenty-two-foot limitation for the ramp and boat portage.
· The drought conditions have diminished significantly since the period of time when the plan was developed to proceed with the emergency drought barriers, calling into question the need for emergency barriers.
· There is no commitment to remove the barriers in November of 2014 as announced.
· If the state plans to retain the barriers, it is critical that operable boat locks be installed as an integral design component to provide boaters with the uninhibited ability to navigate in those waterways.
RBOC respectfully requests that an opportunity be provided for a meaningful dialogue with the boating community through a public hearing to discuss the plan, its impacts, and actions that can be taken to preserve free navigation.