Blog round-up: Bloggers on H.R. 3964, the drought, groundwater, and more, plus a new BDCP infographic
There is certainly no drought of bloggers with something to say on the drought, groundwater, San Joaquin River restoration, even the Kern County water auction … ! Something for everybody in today's blog round-up.
The politics of drought relief: “This past week, 15 members of Congress sent a letter to House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-WA, noting that over half of the contiguous U.S. is in moderate to severe drought, and requesting “a bipartisan hearing on the drought impacts across the nation.” The letter expressed concern about three kinds of impacts: reduced water and power deliveries, wildfires on public lands, and harm to wildlife and fisheries. The good news is that 15 House members are concerned enough about the ongoing drought to request a hearing on it, and that they recognize fish and wildlife as major victims. The bad news is that all 15 are Democrats, so we shouldn’t expect a hearing anytime soon. House Republicans did, however, pass H.R. 3964, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act. … ” Read more from the Western River Law blog here: The politics of drought relief
Peter Gleick's five priorities for California's drought: “Droughts – especially severe droughts – are terribly damaging events. The human and ecosystem costs can be enormous, as we may relearn during the current California drought. But they are also opportunities – a chance to put in place new, innovative water policies that are not discussed or implemented during wet or normal years. In the hopes that California’s warring water warriors open their minds to policy reform, here are some of the issues that should be on the table now, in what could be the worst drought in California’s modern history. But here is what I fear, said best by John Steinbeck in East of Eden: “And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way. … ” Here are five top priorities … ” Read more here: Learning from Drought: Five Priorities for California
State and feds shipped massive amounts of water south, says Dan Bacher at the Fish Sniffer blog: “The dry bed of Folsom Lake has become an unlikely tourist attraction for visitors to the Sacramento area this year. On any given day this winter, large numbers of people can be seen wandering around the mud flats, granite boulders and rock formations of the lake bed to view ruins of Mormon Island and other communities that were inundated when the lake was formed by the construction of Folsom Dam in the 1950s. The lake is its lowest level ever, 17 percent of capacity and 32 percent of average, since the Bureau of Reclamation filled the reservoir with the clear waters of the North, Middle and South Forks of the American River that drain the Sierra Nevada Range. Because of the record low level of the lake, the cities of Sacramento, Folsom and other communities face dramatic water shortages this year. … ” Read more from the Fish Sniffer blog here: The Emptying of Northern California Reservoirs
Where did the farm water go? “That’s a major question stalking California during its record drought. The finger-pointing sure is under way. On Feb. 4, environmental writer Dan Bacher pointed at state water managers, claiming they made the California drought worse by taking water from Northern California farms and fish and sending it to Southern California cities. … A finger pointing another direction belongs to Mike Wade of the California Farm Water Coalition. He insists that more than 800,000-acre feet of federal Central Valley Project water was flushed to the ocean in 2012 to reestablish salmon runs in the San Joaquin River. … ” Read more from the Cal Watchdog blog here: Drought Wars: Where did the farm water go?
Save the Delta! Impeach the president! “With the partisan debate over H.R. 3964, it might be tempting to conclude that water is yet another Dem vs. Rep issue. Not the case. From what I’ve seen, people’s positions on water issues have more to do with geography than politics. Stockton’s Peter Ohm provides a fine example in a recent letter to Republican House Speaker John Boehner. Ohm, a Delta farmer, is a Tea Party conservative who believes President Obama is destroying the country and should be impeached. … ” Continue reading at Alex Breitler's blog here: Save the Delta! Impeach the president!
Aguanomics charts the recent Kern County water auction: Zetland notes demand was strong: ” … This auction is useful for two reasons: (1) It shows that farmers are willing to pay a lot when water is scarce (no need to go to DC to take water from the environment) and (2) markets for water can work, when they are allowed. … ” Read the full post at Aguanomics here: Now THAT’s a market!
Peter Gleick on the costs of our ‘bellwether' drought: “The simplest definition of “drought” is that there is less water than we would like to do the things we want, from watering farmers' fields to providing for urban needs to sustaining ecosystems. The costs of drought vary widely from sector to sector, and often include things that are hard or nearly impossible to measure or to quantify. As a result, it is difficult to report on drought costs in a comprehensive or consistent way. And until a drought ends, it is impossible to know the ultimate costs. California is in severe drought now. As California's “Bellwether Drought” continues, however, here are some of the things we need to pay attention to. … ” Read more from the Huffington Post here: The Costs of California’s Bellwether Drought: What Can We Expect?
Why Sacramentans should conserve water: “Wow. This is a surprisingly crappy answer to a common question in Sacramento. ‘Why conserve water when it all flows back to the river?' The answer is not gobbledy-gook about the hydrologic cycle. There are two parts to a better answer. The letter writer describes indoor water use, which he perceives as a more-or-less closed system (river, pipes to him, use by him in sinks and showers and washing maching and toilet, back into pipes to the regional sanitation plant, treatment, back into river). No conspicuous loss at any point. For residential indoor use, there are two good reasons to conserve. … ” Continue reading at On the Public Record here: You should hear what I think of Dear Prudence.
In a drought, Delta Dialogues participants discuss if there's enough water go around: “In the January Stakeholder Meeting, we switched gears and dove into an issue impacting all California water stakeholders: the current record breaking drought. We met at the Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant in Elk Grove. Heartened by some of the very smart steps they’re taking to help with the drought, we were also reminded that these type of large scale solutions take a lot of time and money, and require a high degree of agreement to put in place. Surprisingly, for such a high impact issue as the drought, there was a lot of agreement among the participants on several key points: … ” Read more from the Delta Dialogues blog here: Enough To Go Around?
When in drought, pump groundwater until you can't anymore: “Best line about water management I ever wrote: “Wet years have a way of covering up a multitude of water management sins. Drought exposes them for all to see.” It also helps to expose those sins, apparently, if you have satellites. … ” Read more from the Inkstain blog here: When there’s a drought, you pump groundwater, until you can’t
Are adjudicated groundwater basins the answer? The Water Wired blog considers the possibilities: ” … I”ve gone on (and on…and on…) about the lack of regulation and statewide oversight of California's groundwater (my two most recent posts are 24 November 2013 and 10 September 2013). I focus on the Central Valley because of its subsidence and sustainability issues. But there is some management of California groundwater by local agencies/ordinances or adjudication by court decree. Why, there is even a section on groundwater management on the DWR WWW site! What has prompted this post is my curiosity about California’s adjudicated groundwater basins. There are 22 (or 23) of them. ... ” Read more from the Water Wired blog here: California Groundwater Management: Are Adjudicated Basins the Answer?
Hydrowonk adjusts his prediction (slightly) of the final SWP Allocation: ” … On January 30, I posted that, based on a study of the historic record of final California’s State Water Project Allocations, the final allocation for California’s State Water Project in 2014 is expected to be 12%, with one-third chance that the final SWP allocation will be below the initial 5% allocation. On January 31, California’s Department of Water Resources dropped the SWP Allocation to zero “to preserve remaining supplies.” As stated in my earlier post, the analysis placed a 2% minimum SWP Allocation, which would be only 83,000 AF of SWP water allocated. I admit that DWR surprised me by going to 0%. Should have stayed with my model. ... ” Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here: What Will Be the Final Allocation for California’s State Water Project in 2014? Redux
California drought shock doctrine: “For the optimists among you, it is probably reassuring that Governor Brown is holding some sort of line when it comes to the BDCP, CEQA and the Endangered Species Act… Still I remain concerned that what we are seeing here, beneath all of the rhetoric about food security, is a massive and strategically ordered shift in wealth toward the AgriFracking landscape of the Monterrey Shale region—more or less the southern half of the state. And the Governor is no small player in this. ... ” Continue reading at the Delta National Park blog here: #cadrought Shock Doctrine history
Drought hysteria: Why do we keep doing this to ourselves? The Wholly H2O blog considers: “Yup, it’s that time of year when drought hysteria hits, and this year, as well it should during California’s driest years in the last century. But, is it time to consider drought conditions as a standard for shaping and shifting daily practices and politics of water “management”, rather than creating our seasonal and repeated drought terror? … ” Read more from Wholly H2O here: Drought Hysteria: Why Do We Do This To Ourselves 37% of the Time?
Why the BDCP calls for three intakes: Burt Wilson from the Public Water News Service blog writes: “There are a lot of reasons why the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) calls for three intake stations between Courtland and Hood that will grab water out of the Sacramento River to be pumped south. You don't know about these reasons because they don't want you to know, but I would like to share with you now some of the driving forces behind the BDCP and what the consequences of those forces portend for the future. First of all, the twin tunnels are being built to provide water not only for fracking, agriculture and Southland construction, but also for independent water transfers from reservoirs and water banks in northern California to those willing to pay for it. Many times the reservoirs in northern California have an over-supply and farmers or oil companies purchase it. … ” Read more from the Public Water News Service here: BDCP plans uncover future consequences for the Delta
Which San Joaquin River settlement are they arguing over? Families Protecting the Valley says that the partisan bickering isn't over the same settlement: ” … The original spirit and intent of the Settlement had two simple goals: 1. Try to re-establish a self-sustaining salmon run on the S.J. River that had been dried up some 60 years ago by federal legislation, and 2. to mitigate the water losses to the East Side of the S.J. Valley. These were laudable goals and every party to the Settlement agreed to try their best to accomplish them. In fact, Senator Feinstein even had the parties sign a ‘blood oath' pledging to work vigorously for these goals with integrity. Frankly, if this was the Settlement we were talking about, we do not know of anyone who would object. But, that is NOT the Settlement we are talking about today. … ” Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here: Which S.J. River Settlement Are We Talking About?
A water warrior learns to cooperate: Mark Lubell at the UC Davis Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior says veteran water warrior Pat Mulroy's exit interview is worth a closer look: ” … The Las Vegas Review-Journal posted an interesting exit interview. There are some real gems in this interview, which I think are worth further elaboration. On the drought, and relationships with CA: “The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California takes half of its water from the Bay Delta, which is from the Sierras, and half from the Colorado. We know they are going to lean heavily on the Colorado River this year. Well, I’m really happy that the relationships that we’ve forged with California and with the other partners are such that that won’t be a cause of acrimony, that we’re going to be able to work our way through it. Because the challenges are only going to get more daunting.” … ” Read more from Mark Lubell's blog here: Pat Mulroy Exit Interview: Can a Water Warrior Learn to Cooperate?
Blog honorable mentions: So many blogs, I'm on overload. Here are some others worthy of inclusion: The Postmodern Hydrologic Cycle: A Hydrosocial Cycle? (Water Wired blog), Could Stockton sell its surplus water? (Alex Breitler's blog), The Controversy over Water Pollution from Fracking Operations Continues (Hydrowonk) and It’s Not Waste, It’s An Ecosystem (Legal Planet)