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    Mar 25 2013

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    Blog round up: BDCP meeting, State Water Board flow objectives hearing, plus a new water war between LA and Phoenix, and more,

    Last Wednesday was a big day for water meetings in Sacramento, with three happening practically concurrently: The Bay Delta Conservation Plan public meeting, the State Water Board hearing on the San Joaquin River flow objectives, and the California Water Commission’s public hearing on the public benefits of water projects.  So many to choose from, it took an army of bloggers to cover them all.

    Starting with the Bay Delta Conservation Plan public meeting ….

    Maven’s Minutes coverage of the BDCP public meeting:  That was my choice.  Read my meeting summary here.

    Restore the Delta weighs in:  The meeting was indeed well attended by Delta residents and advocates; RTD gives their take on the proceedings:  “The routine for these public meetings is that Meral or a consultant will make a presentation, and then Meral will ask for questions. In other words, he isn’t interested in hearing what people in the audience think. He’s prepared for rhetorical questions and general grandstanding. Each question and comment gets a soothingly reasonable response, but only the most direct questions actually get an answer. On Wednesday, the answer was often, “That will be covered in the EIR” (the environmental documents scheduled for release this coming summer).”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  Now, now, let’s all be reasonable

    Burt Wilson calls the meeting a 5-hour venting:  ” … It appears that after 6+ years, $250-million, and three failed Effects Analysis studies–savagely trashed by the National Science Academy as “nothing more than a rationale for a conveyance,” the BDCP is, despite the tons of paperwork put out, not that far along in the vetting process. Want proof? Go to the BDCP home page and watch the tape of the meeting. … ”  Read more from Burt Wilson here:  Bay Delta Conservation Plan crashes and burns in West Sacramento meeting

    Meanwhile, in other BDCP blogs …

    It’s still complicated:  High Country News’ GOAT blog recalls how in 2009, Schwarzenegger was interviewed by 60 minutes where he referred to the Delta as a ‘complicated issue.’  It still is today:  ” … Four years later, things in the Delta are still complicated—so complicated, in fact, that current governor Jerry Brown is among those sick of the “analysis paralysis” that accompanies trying to make everyone happy and is moving forward with the centerpiece of the 50-year Bay Delta Conservation Plan: a pair of multi-billion dollar tunnels beneath the Delta that will (hopefully) help recover imperiled fish like the delta smelt and Chinook salmon, while reliably moving water south. … ”  Read more here:  Uncertain science in CA’s Bay Delta

    So how much water is used for fracking in California?  Not very much, says Richard Stapler at the BDCP blog:  ” … It’s helpful to know that only 8 acre feet of water is used every year in California for hydraulic fracturing. That’s enough water for 32 average families for a year. For additional context, the average amount of water we move through the Delta in a typical year is 4.8 million acre feet (though it varies by year). … ”  Read more from the BDCP blog here:  Oil & Water

    It’s more than 8 acre-feet, says Dan Bacher:  ” … Lynn Krug from the Stop Fracking California facebook page (www.facebook.com/StopFrackingCalifornia) said the water used by companies to extract natural gas and oil through fracking in California is much greater than Stapler or the oil industry claim it is.  “Each individual drilling of a well can use 1,000,000 to 5,000,000 gallons of water,” she said. “Each platform can have multiple drilled ‘wells’ in a 4 mile diameter, a 2 mile radius from the well platform. Each well can be fracked multiple times.” … ”  Read more from YubaNet.com here:  Water for fracking: 8 acre feet, 6,721 acre feet or much, much more?

    San Joaquin County Supervisors will consider urging the state to study the portfolio alternative, although the county remains officially opposed to isolated conveyance (tunnels), says Alex Breitler at this blog.  The meeting is set for tomorrow.  More here:  Study the ‘portfolio’

    Meanwhile, across town ….  I chose the BDCP public meeting, but apparently the fireworks were over at the State Water Board:

    State Water Board hearing likened to the Hunger Games:  “Jeff Michael at the Valley Economy blog says he watched with interest as the hearing brought out the fish versus farmers debate:  “I have worked with all these groups at one point or another (tributary farmers and cities, delta farmers and cities, and fisherman), and all of them are part of the region that we study and serve on a daily basis in our economic research center.  For me, this proceeding is pitting neighbors and family members against one another, an ugly and painful spectacle to watch. Why did it remind me of the Hunger Games?  … ”  Continue reading at the Valley Economy blog:  State Water Board Meeting Reminds Me of the Hunger Games

    It gets ugly over southern Delta salinity objectives:  Writes Restore the Delta:  “At the State Water Resources Control hearing on San Joaquin River Flows as part of the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary (Bay-Delta) Program, Phase I, John Rubin, Senior Council for the San Luis Delta-Mendota Water Authority, made a presentation to the State Water Resources Control Board that was an all out attack on the future of farming for South Delta farmers. … ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  Westside San Joaquin Valley farmers throwing South Delta farmers under the bus

    The new San Joaquin River flow objectives just fail at everything, says Restore the Delta:  “In addition to failing to rectify years of water quality violations in the San Joaquin River and South Delta, the proposed plan also fails to increase flows sufficiently to restore salmon and steelhead in the San Joaquin River. It fails to balance the public trust. It fails to provide sufficient water quality and water quantity to protect and enhance South Delta agriculture as mandated in the Delta Reform Act of 2009.  And it fails to protect all parties equally dependent on the health of the San Joaquin River, by giving priority status and protection to upstream users — all at the expense of water users on the lower San Joaquin River, Delta farmers, Delta residents, and Delta fisheries. … ”  Read more here:  And then the bus runs over the fish

    The increase to 35% is ‘meager’ and not enough says the Bay Institute’s Headwaters to Ocean blog:  ” … Why so much interest in the San Joaquin River and the water quality conditions it creates as it flows into the San Francisco Bay-Delta? Because there’s SO much at stake.  Here’s a review of what the Bay-Delta has to gain from a decision that restores more than half of the San Joaquin’s winter and spring freshwater flow (and what we will lose if the State Board acts timidly and refuses to consider more aggressive actions to save the Bay-Delta): … ”  Read more here:  The State Water Board, the Bay-Delta, and the San Joaquin River: What’s at Stake?

    And then … just down the street …

    The California Water Commission considers public benefits for water projects:  So what’s up with that meeting?  Restore the Delta writes: ” … Determining public benefits, primarily for storage (dams), was a major task assigned to the resuscitated CWC under the 2009 Delta Reform legislation. But determinations of public benefit will also affect how the Peripheral Tunnels are paid for. Resources Deputy Secretary Jerry Meral, at a pre-“workshop” briefing, told the commissioners that a bond will be needed for the public benefits portion of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). … ”  Read more here:  Calling all beneficiaries: this means YOU

    Aguanomics to Congressman McClintock:  Delusions!  David Zetland of Aguanomics takes McClintock to task with his latest speech to ACWA:  “[McClintock] Cheaper water is better than more expensive water. If we agree on this, then it naturally follows that before we employ more expensive sources of water like desalination and recycling, we should first be sure we’ve exhausted the less expensive alternatives, like surface water storage.  [Zetland response]  Well, that’s true, but not when “cheap” means selling water at “average prices” that are lower than the cost of production from some sources, i.e., the policy for pricing water throughout California. (Your host, the Association of California Water Agencies, knows this, since its head — Tim Quinn — was chief economist at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and he knows how their average cost, “postage stamp pricing” encourages sprawl.)  Read more from Aguanomics here:  Self-evident water delusions

    eWater War between LA and Phoenix lacks intelligence, says the CalWatchdog blog:  “This e-water war was provoked by William deBuys’ op-ed article in the March 14 Los Angeles Times, “Phoenix’s Too Hot Future.” The Phoenix-based Arizona Republic newspaper retorted on March 15 with an editorial, “Los Angeles More of a Water Vacuum than Phoenix.”  DeBuys is the author of the book: “A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest.” He is a Ph.D.-holding environmentalist who lives on a farm in New Mexico.  His book adds to the growing number of recent gloom-and-doom books on water that give predisposed pessimistic and fearful readers what they want to hear.  But deBuys’ provocative article is meant to set back the real progress that has been made between California and Arizona in its longstanding war over Colorado River water. … ”  Read more from the Cal Watchdog blog here:  Arid-headed water war breaks out between LA and PHX

    But DeBuys makes a good point, says Jennifer Pitt at the National Geographic’s News Watch blog:  ” … In fact both metro areas rely heavily on imports from the Colorado, moving water hundreds of miles from the river to quench their thirsts.  The canals they built are feats of engineering, and the transport of water in both cases requires significant – and expensive – energy expenditures.  But deBuys made a more important point.  Given how we manage the Colorado River today, all water users face significant risk of shortages:  … ”  Read more here:  Phoenix and LA Spar Over Colorado River Water

    Is there good news for the Colorado River Delta?  Sandra Postel at the National Geographic’s News Watch blog writes:  ” …  For Inocencia Gonzalez, now seventy-seven years old and an elder of the Cucapá, a native tribe that has lived in the Delta for at least a thousand years, the Colorado River and the Hardy that flows into it, along with the lush landscape they both sustained, were life itself.  “There were fish everywhere,” Gonzalez recalled.  “And javelina, antelope, and bobcats.  We hunted rabbits, doves, deer, and Gambel’s quail.  And we ate the heart of cattail stems. It tasted like coconut.”  But Gonzalez speaks wistfully, for these are distant memories.  … ”  But perhaps not so distant in the future.  Read more here:  Revival in the Colorado River Delta

    In other blog news, the Northern California Water Resources blog discusses Water Resources Management in the Sacramento Valley, Mark Lubell contemplates what our kids really understand about water in Climate Smart Agriculture: Lessons from a Six-Year Old Kid, Water Online takes a look at The 3 Biggest U.S. Water Challenges, and Peter Gleick checks out Water at the Movies.

    NOTE:  The blog round-up is a compilation of relevant and sometimes irrelevant commentary in the internet world of California water.  Inclusion here is not meant to be construed as an endorsement of that position, and exclusion is not meant to be construed as rejection of a position either; I simply might not have seen it. The more views represented here, the better, in my opinion.  So, if you have an item of interest that you think should be included, please email me.  –Maven

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