Young salmon hitching rides down Sacramento River

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A massive drive is underway to truck baby salmon from hatcheries to the mouth of the Sacramento River, which is running unusually low and warm due to the drought. About 400,000 juvenile salmon were hauled more than 150 miles in climate-controlled tanker trucks yesterday and deposited in floating pens in the Sacramento River mouth at Rio Vista, near the northeastern end of San Francisco Bay. By the time it’s complete, the unprecedented operation will have moved 30 million Chinook fingerlings to the river. The National Marine Fisheries Services says that without the trucking operation, the state could lose an entire year’s worth of young salmon.

deltaMeanwhile, an $8 billion water bond measure has cleared a hurdle in the state legislature, passing the Senate’s Natural Resources and Water Committee. Backers say it has the best chance of replacing what they call a flawed $11 billion fall ballot measure. The bill would spend $1 billion on groundwater cleanup and another $1 billion restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Money would also go toward storm water conservation and infrastructure upgrades. Critics are already taking aim at the proposal, however. They want more funding for dam projects and conservation efforts. The proposal has plenty of competition. There are now eight versions of a water bond bill under consideration in the Capitol.

A judge appears ready to clear the way for City Controller Ron Galperin’s office to conduct an audit of a pair of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power union trusts that have spent $40 million in ratepayer money. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18 tried to block subpoenas requiring the trusts to hand over financial information. IBEW Chief Brian D’Arcy argued that the City Controller’s office does not have the authority to issue the subpoenas, because the trusts are not public agencies. The judge rejected that argument. His decision is expected to become final April 22nd. D’Arcy would then have 10 days to hand over the information.

atmCalifornia’s poorest residents paid nearly $40 million in ATM fees to banks over the past two years to get access to their welfare benefits. The state welfare system allows people who receive assistance to make four free withdrawals each month at ATMs run by a company associated with U.S. Bank. But a new report says that welfare recipients are more likely to use ATMs owned by Wells Fargo, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase – which charge $3 a pop. The State Department of Social Services is trying to educate welfare recipients about how to avoid ATM fees – and to save more of their money for necessities, like food and rent.

FIREFIGHTERHANDCUFFEDA Southern California firefighter who was handcuffed by a California Highway Patrol Officer when he refused to move his truck at the scene of a freeway crash has filed a damage claim against the CHP. A lawyer for Chula Vista firefighter Jacob Gregoire says he’s willing to settle his claim without any compensation: But first he wants the CHP to end what he calls a “long-standing problem” of CHP officers obstructing or delaying firefighters at accident scenes. The incident occurred in February during a rollover crash on Interstate 805. Gregoire says his vehicle was serving as a protective barrier for an ambulance and emergency responders.