CFS News & Announcements

Official Map of Napa County - 1895 - A Land Surveyor's Perspective08-Apr-2016

Adopted by the Board of Supervisors on January 21, 1895, the map is a compilat..

Official Map of Santa Clara County 1890 - A Land Surveyor's Perspective06-Feb-2015

Adopted by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in 1890, the map is a compilation o..

CFS Engineering is Listed in the Claims Pages under California Forensic Consultants25-Jan-2015

CFS Engineering is the North Bay California chapter of the Investigative Engineers Associa..

CFS Engineering Listed in Bar Association of San Francisco's Register of Experts and Consultants07-Jan-2015

Clark E. Stoner is listed in the Bar Association of San Francisco's Register of Expe..

CFS Engineering is a Member of the Forensic Expert Witness Association (FEWA)06-Dec-2014

An associate member since 2012, view Mr. Stoner's expert profile on the Forensic Expert Wi..

CFS Engineering Establishes the Investigative Engineers Association of the North Bay California02-Dec-2014

The Investigative Engineers Association (I-ENG-A) ( is a nationwide ..

How to Defend Against Slip Trip and Fall Claims on City Sidewalks20-Nov-2014

The Trivial Defect Doctrine - How Municipalities Can Avoid Having Their Repair Criteria Used Aga..

Land Use History Investigation Helps Settle Electrocution Case25-Jul-2014

CFS Engineering drew upon both land surveying and civil engineering expertise to reveal the histo..

Northern Nevada Flash Floods -- July 20, 2014 -- Devastation21-Jul-2014

Heavy rainfall was reported in the hills along the eastern side of the Carson Valley on th..

Official Map of San Mateo County - 1894 - A Land Surveyor's Perspective04-Mar-2014

Adopted by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors in August, 1894, the map is a compil..

California Tree Law31-Dec-2013

I receive a healthy dose of questions from clients concerning tree law. Who is responsibl..

Flood Damage and Inverse Condemnation09-Aug-2013

A must read for anybody interested in inverse condemnation issues associated with flood da..

Who Is Responsible When Uphill Storm Water Causes Downhill Damage?31-May-2013

As civil engineers and land surveyors, we do not investigate the question of "who is respo..

How is California Preparing for Impending Extreme Floods?27-May-2013

In the Fall 2012 issue of Natural Resources and Environment (

County of Santa Cruz Local Civil Engineering Consultants10-May-2013

It has been several years that CFS Engineering has been listed on Santa Cruz County's list..

Official Plat of Rancho Petaluma17-Apr-2013

Confirmed to Mariano G. Vallejo in September, 1860. Check out the following link for an in..

Official Map of Santa Cruz County - 1889 - A Land Surveyor's Perspective25-Feb-2013

Adopted by the Board of Supervisors on October 9, 1889, the map is a compilation of rancho..

Official Map of Sonoma County - 1900 - A Land Surveyor's Perspective25-Feb-2013

Adopted by the Board of Supervisors on September 7, 1900, the map is a compilation of ranc..

CFS Engineering Bolsters Forensic Practice with Focused Expert Witness Training06-Feb-2013

Due to our growing forensic engineering and land surveying practice and anticipation for b..

California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) Issued Video about the March 2011 Storms14-May-2012

The California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) recently issued a Youtube video about..

CFS Engineering Brings Civil Engineering and Land Surveying Expertise into Sonoma County30-Apr-2012

It is now official that CFS Engineering has expanded its operation into the North Bay with the o..

Capitola Village Flood: CFS Engineering Featured on ConsumerWatch CBS Channel 5 in San Francisco20-Oct-2011

The Capitola Flood is back in the news again thanks to Julie Watts, news anchor for Consum..

Buried Egyptian Pyramids and Other Archaeological Sites Found Using Satellite Imagery12-Oct-2011

Check out this report from the BBC: ..

Central Valley Flood Risk, A Nice Little Video22-Sep-2011

Have a look at the following, brought to you by our friends at Aquafornia (http://aquaforn..

CFS Engineering Joins Thumbtack30-Aug-2011

CFS Engineering has created a profile on Thumbtack. What is Thumbtack? Click the followi..


The US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the Environmental Protection Agency..

Tahoe Snowpack and Damage to Structures21-Jun-2011

An interesting article about the 2010/2011 winter snowpack in the Tahoe basin and the resu..

Los Angeles Aquaduct -- A Slideshow17-Jun-2011

Here is a nice slideshow of the Los Angeles Aquaduct from its origin in the eastern Sierra..

Capitola Flood -- Who Is Responsible?09-Jun-2011

The Santa Cruz Sentinel published an article about the Capitola Flood today entitled, "Cause o..

Capitola Flood: Owners Having Difficulty With Insurance Claims23-Apr-2011

A local article about victims struggling with their insurance companies:

Scotts Valley Landslide -- Nelson Road -- Video Footage of Slide in Action30-Mar-2011

This March 21 landslide in Scotts Valley has been all over the news. Thankfully nobody was injur..

Who Will Pay for Capitola Flood Damage Costs?29-Mar-2011

Check out this article from KGO-TV, Channel 7 in San Francisco. Click here (http://abclocal.go.c..

The Longest Home Run Ever Recorded17-Nov-2010

For those of you not quite over baseball fever this year...... Go Giants!!! Here's a little his..

State Water Project: A Brief Slideshow09-Nov-2010

Thanks to one of my favorite water related news blogs, Aquafornia, for supplying the public with ..

CFS ENGINEERING Joins Think Local First Coalition for Santa Cruz County08-Oct-2010

Think Local First! ( We have tremendous resources in our ..

Suit Filed against CA SWRCB and DWR to Protect Delta Public Trust Fisheries07-Sep-2010

This is bound to be interesting, utilizing the public trust doctrine as a strategy to force the c..

Retracing the Sonoma-Napa county line15-May-2010

An interesting article about the re-tracement survey of the Napa Sonoma County line, plus a little b..

Interesting Boundary Dispute Story28-Apr-2010

An interesting story about a 250 year old boundary dispute back east:

Nice Video Footage of a Recent Landslide in Southern California06-Apr-2010

Check out this footage of a landslide in San Dimas, California this past winter: (http://) ht..

Nice Video Footage of a Road Flooded and Washed Out06-Apr-2010

This is a nice example of a fairly large culvert flooded and resulting in the road being washed out ..

California Water/Delta Legislation Package Distilled22-Mar-2010

With all the politiacal psychobabble jamming up every imaginable viewpoint, some refreshing straight..

National Geographic Chimes In on California's Water System16-Mar-2010

Leave it to National Geographic Magazine to colorfully and concisely illustrate the state of Cal..

More Salmon Coming Back: Good News for Fish and Farms?15-Mar-2010

Check this out from ( Monday, Marc..

CH2M Hill study confirms vast scale of Cadiz aquifer system24-Feb-2010

ONTARIO, CALIF. — CH2M Hill has unveiled the findings of a comprehensive year-long study measuri..

Vote may delay water legislation23-Feb-2010

Feb 23, 2010 12:20 PM, By Forrest Laws, Farm Press Editorial Staff Many farmers and rancher..

Officials agree to remove California dam01-Feb-2010

MONTEREY COUNTY, CALIF. — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) joined stat..

The Good Fight - Check Your Facts Regarding the Delta Water Wars16-Jan-2010

By Doug Lovell Editor's note: this article is best viewed at our website, where the Internet..

Surfrider Foundation abandons lawsuit challenging Carlsbad desalination project11-Jan-2010

“San Diego, CA – Poseidon Resources today announced it has been notified by the Surfrider Founda..

Utah Governor pulling back on water deal with Southern Nevada10-Jan-2010

By Patty Henetz The Salt Lake Tribune Updated: 01/08/2010 11:10:33 PM MST ..

Groundwater mining: American experience30-Dec-2009

T. N. Narasimhan Recent geophysical studies report large-scale groundwat..

Making Way for Salmon: Fish passage barriars removed from streams30-Dec-2009

By Eileen Ecklund In 2001, a small miracle occurred in a stream south of the city of Arcata: th..

U.S. EPA Directs Bay Area Wastewater Collection Systems to Protect San Francisco Bay from Sewage Dis22-Dec-2009

SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered seven municipal sewage co..

What's to Fallow: After years of drought, the legislature’s historic water deal is just the beginni07-Dec-2009

by Rich Ehisen | December 2009 This is the final story in a four-part series on water. Th..

Smelt Suit: Water users take their case to the courts06-Dec-2009

by Joanna Corman | December 2009 For nearly three decades, Westlands Water District recei..

Credit program could be key to regaining Tahoe's clarity04-Dec-2009

By Adam Jensen, Tahoe Daily Tribune SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Alternative energy credits a..

Santa Cruz County won't see major benefits from state water package17-Nov-2009

By Kurtis Alexander, Santa Cruz Sentinal County residents will be ..

California finally passes water legislation10-Nov-2009

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. — After years of contentious debate between business, agricultural, wat..

Nevada, California Delegations Introduce Legislation to Preserve and Protect Lake Tahoe03-Nov-2009

Bill extends commitment to Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Basin November 3, 2009 Washin..

Peripheral Vision: Can state and federal officials agree on comprehensive reform before it’s too la02-Nov-2009

by Rich Ehisen | November 2009 This is the third installment in a four-part series on wate..

Spending Water Like Money: when conservation alone can’t solve the state’s water problems10-Oct-2009

by Rich Ehisen | photo by Jayson Carpenter | October 2009 This is the second installment i..

California seeks $4.5 billion for high-speed rail24-Sep-2009

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. — The California High-Speed Rail Authority unanimously approved an applicatio..

Hydrating the System: The state’s water woes and its faltering economy10-Sep-2009

by Rich Ehisen | photo by Jayson Carpenter | September 2009 Most recognized California as ..

Southern California desalination project receives final approval01-Sep-2009

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. - West Basin Municipal Water District's Ocean-Water Desalination Demonstra..

Dam Compromise: A water battle is heating up — and leaving pundits parched15-Aug-2008

by Rich Ehisen | August 2008 Few things have played as large a role in shaping California ..

Smelt Suit: Water users take their case to the courts

06-Dec-2009 by Joanna Corman  |  December 2009

For nearly three decades, Westlands Water District received almost 100 percent of its water allocation from the federal Central Valley Project. Water allocations began to decrease in 1992, thanks to environmental legislation, but there was still enough to grow crops and make a living. However, in February the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees the Central Valley Project, announced farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta would receive no water. In the end, residents received a drastically reduced amount.

Westlands, which receives all of its water from the CVP, serves about 50,000 people in western Fresno and Kings counties, most of whom depend on agriculture. In March, Westlands and the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, an organization that represents CVP water users and of which Westlands is a member, sued the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

The water agencies sued the federal government over a document the Fish and Wildlife Service released in December 2008. The biological opinion examined the effects of operating the CVP and the State Water Project, the state’s two main water systems, on Delta smelt, a threatened fish under the federal Endangered Species Act. The act requires Fish and Wildlife to produce a biological opinion if a federal project could jeopardize an endangered species’ existence.

In the biological opinion, Fish and Wildlife concluded the two projects are “likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the Delta smelt and adversely modify its critical habitat.” The agency recommended the “reasonable alternative” of restricting pumping to protect the tiny native fish. Once abundant, the Delta smelt’s numbers have dropped since 1999 to their lowest level on record in 2008, according to Fish and Game.

The two water districts sued, claiming Fish and Wildlife is not following the law or applying the best science under the Endangered Species Act. Consequently, the agency is inflicting suffering on the water districts’ customers without helping the fish, says Daniel O’Hanlon, lead attorney on the case with Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard in Sacramento. The lawsuit argues there is a “pervasive bias” in the 2008 biological opinion — that Fish and Wildlife favors restricted pumping even though that action hasn’t caused the species’ numbers to rise. The U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment, citing the pending legislation.

While the CVP eventually gave 10 percent of water to farmers south of the Delta this year, the amount was the lowest on record for that group and forced the fallowing of thousands of acres.

The plaintiffs are asking Judge Oliver Wanger to find the biological opinion invalid and force Fish and Wildlife to rewrite it, easing pumping restrictions and restoring some water to farmers. More than two thirds of Californians rely on the Delta, the heart of the state’s water supply, for some portion of their drinking water. Most of the state’s water is collected in Northern California before being pumped through the Delta to users in the Central Valley, San Francisco Bay area and Southern California. Delta exports have been curtailed for many customers this year. “The restrictiveness of these measures is way out of proportion to anything that the science would say is of material benefit to the overall population,” O’Hanlon says.

The plaintiffs agree that pumping damages Delta smelt, but according to O’Hanlon, it is a “relatively small portion.” Most of the smelt aren’t near the pumps and aren’t affected by them, he says. There are other causes for the smelts’ decline, including pollution and invasive species, the lawsuit argues. Restricting pumping has not caused the fish species numbers to rise, it says.

Sarah Woolf, spokesperson for the Westlands Water District, says her agency sued the federal government because the biological opinion didn’t consider the environmental and human impacts of not being able to farm because of a lack of water. Westlands estimates, with ongoing pumping restrictions to protect the Delta smelt, it will average 35 percent of its 1.2 million acre-feet annual allocation, an amount she says is unsustainable. The district’s roughly 700 farms fallowed 260,000 of their 600,000 acres because of this year’s water shortage, a record low.

Woolf says she doesn’t expect the pumping restrictions to be lifted entirely but hopes for some relief. “There has to be a balance between the fish that are being impacted and the … loss of employment, loss of business, loss of ability to service the needs of a population,” she says.

In court documents, the U.S. Department of Justice argues unlimited pumping will increase the number of Delta smelt caught at the pumps and “could cause irreparable harm to the species.”

The government says the farmers have failed to show that pumping restrictions — not drought and recession — are harming farmers and others on the San Joaquin Valley’s west side. Delta water exports have been reduced this year not only to protect the Delta smelt, but also because California is in its third year of a drought, the lawsuit says.

A final ruling is not expected until after March.

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