Blog round-up: Delta smelt cutbacks, smaller tunnels, the BDCP, and the water bond, plus jobs!

Off again, on again:  The big news last week was Tuesday’s press conference that had agency officials announcing that restrictions put in place to protect the Delta smelt had caused 700,000 acre-feet to flow out to the ocean instead of down the aqueducts, only to quietly turn the pumps back on later that day.The Delta National Park blog catches on, though, and says the SacBee article has a quote only the Kafka could love:  “From the USFWS, on why pumping restrictions were reduced by 60% – not days after they were put in effect:  “No Delta smelt have been reported as salvaged since February 6, 2013, suggesting this year’s unusual … event may be over,” the agency wrote in a determination letter posted online.  This is so obviously a result of political pressure and/or policy loophole as to be laughable.”  Read more here:  The poor smelt don’t know which way to flow

In-depth coverage:  Alex Breitler covers the press conference in near Maven’s Minutes-like detail here: The game gets tougher.

The press conference and the announcment of the loss of water was an opportunity to push for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, and water agency interests picked up the torch, with ACWA’s Tim Quinn writing “It is abundantly clear that unless we move to a 21st century conveyance system, we are destined to see conflicts year after year at great cost to our water supplies and with little hope of improving conditions for Delta smelt.  We have the wrong infrastructure in the Delta, and it’s been apparent for decades. The Bay Delta Conservation Plan process offers the best opportunity we have to change that. For the past six years, water users have been working with state and federal agencies to identify conveyance improvements that, coupled with habitat restoration and other measures to address Delta stressors, can get us out of this cycle of conflict and on the road to a water system that works for the economy and the environment.”  Read more from Tim Quinn here: Once Again, Water Supply Cutbacks Show Need for New Approach

Time to show your support for the BDCP, says Charles Wilson of the Southern California Water Committee:  “Regional and statewide leaders need to weigh in strongly to promote a thoughtful dialogue, ensure a careful review of the science, alternatives and costs, and ultimately adopt and put forward a balanced approach. But if history tells us anything, we know that all interests – whether located in Northern, Central or Southern California – will need to raise their voices and lean forward.  What does that mean? It means promoting BDCP within your organization, distributing supportive press releases, publishing informational newsletters, penning letters of support, lobbying your elected officials, and much more.”  Read more here: California Water Agencies Face Major Water Supply Cuts in 2013

Restore the Delta decries ‘rush’ to build tunnels:  The tunnels are mainly to benefit mega-growers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, and not fish, says Barbara Barrigan-Parilla in a press release:  ““For state officials to say that changing the diversion point is to protect Delta smelt, and not simply to provide more water for export, is disingenuous. The water-takers have failed for decades to install fish screens that work. Why would we believe their new Peripheral Tunnels would properly screen fish? The technology for the fish screens to be placed at the new diversion point has not yet been developed. How can the Administration advocate that changing the diversion point with new intakes is the silver bullet to help Delta smelt, when they don’t know if it will work?  In addition, they don’t know if fish can recover and survive when passing three large intakes.”  Read more here:  Restore the Delta Responds to Brown Administration’s Rush to Build Peripheral Tunnels Around the Delta

The unpopular peripheral thingie:  To say the peripheral ‘thingie’ is unpopular in Northern California is an understatement, says the Inkstain blog, who notes a little fun piece of peripheral history here:  On the unpopularity of peripheral thingies in northern California

Meanwhile, new effort called “Delta Tunnels Boondoggle” launched, aimed aimed at Southern California:  The website calls the BDCP “A fantasy cure-all water transport costing taxpayers billions that benefits a few speculators and industrial agri-businesses” and promising to inform southland ratepayers about the costs and false promises of the tunnel plan.  Backed by The Southern California Watershed Alliance, there is also a series of videos.  More here:

Jerry Meral pushes back against the smaller tunnel alternative:  The smaller tunnel alternative suggests that by building a smaller, less expensive facility, the savings could be applied to water conservation and other projects, but the savings on construction costs wouldn’t be that much, Meral writes:  ” … The proponents of a smaller facility may not know that it would actually cost 60 percent as much as the larger one, but could move only a third of the water.  Also, the smaller facility would provide insufficient protection against a superstorm, earthquake, or sea-level rise, all of which could lead to permanent inundation of most of the Delta that is below sea level. When that happens, a smaller facility could only supply a small fraction of the Delta water currently used in the Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. This would cause tens of billions of dollars in economic damage and a huge loss of jobs.”  Read more here:  BDCP: Based on Science, Environmental Research, and Economic Realities

The State Water Contractors echoed the sentiment, issue comparison between the BDCP and the smaller tunnel alternative: ““There is no business case for the alternative proposal—it would mean spending billions of ratepayer dollars on a project that is riddled with reliability issues and would result in 33 percent less water,” said Terry Erlewine, general manager of the State Water Contractors. “Re-plumbing our state water system and protecting endangered species is imperative. It’s going to be a big investment, and we need to do it right the first time.””  They’ve issued a fact sheet comparing the two projects:  State Water Contractors: Delta Water Tunnels: Build It Once, Build It Right

Congressional representatives call for the BDCP’s Benefit-Cost Analysis to study more alternatives: Back to that Benefit-Cost Analysis, McNerney and other reps sent a letter to federal officials, saying Analyzing only the state’s preferred alternative, which is estimated to cost upwards of $18 billion and affect water reliability for the entire state, is irresponsible and further illustrates yet again that the broader concerns and needs of the Bay-Delta region are being left out of the discussion.”  Read the letter at Alex Breitler’s blog: Study the alternatives, reps say

And speaking of the BDCP’s Benefit Cost Analysis, public comments now posted online:  You can read ’em all by clicking here.  (Note: Click on the 2013 arrow to access the documents.)

The Cal Watchdog blog wonders if the third time is the charm for the water bond: The bond is advertised to restore the ecology of the Sacramento Delta and possibly fund the construction of two new reservoirs — provided the reservoir projects are not killed by environmental lawsuits.  But what is to guarantee the funds won’t be turned into slush funds for NIMBY (not in my back yard) greenscaping projects, as happened to the last five water bonds in California?”  All you need to do is put the words “clean water,” “safe neighborhoods,” “parks,” or “coastal protection” in the title and the ‘NIMBY’ voters will vote for it, says the Cal Watchdog blog.  Read more here:  $11.1 billion water bond for 2014 stuck in muddy waters

California Water Commission stealthily on the move:  I had better start checking out those California Water Commission meetings, if this blog is any indication. According to the Silent Partners Strategies blog, the Commission is ‘aggressively’ asserting authority over water policy, project funding and infrastructure priorities.  Among other things, the Commission is vowing to demand legislative support for filling a growing number of DWR technical position vacancies, and has scheduled workshops in March on the water bond:  “The board acknowledged the re-opening of bond negotiations for the first time, and intends that its new regulations define for all future water bonds the terms of eligibility, public trust benefits, ecosystem services and general priorities.”  A state agency is aggressively asserting, vowing, demanding, ‘defining for all’?  What have I been missing?  The Silent Partner Strategies blog has all the details on the meeting here:  California Water Commission Ponders Bond Funding Critera & Policy Expansions

Perhaps it’s not earthquakes but floods we should be more concerned about:  The FishBIO blog writes: “Scientists have learned that every two centuries, giant currents of vapor in the sky, known as atmospheric rivers, bring pounding rainstorms strong enough to inundate much of the state. The time interval is long enough to wipe these destructive events from collective memory, as California’s last massive flooding disaster is all but forgottenOn Christmas Eve 1861, torrential rains started–and didn’t stop for 43 days. Rivers from Sacramento to Los Angeles swelled and overflowed.”  There was devastating damage and many deaths, but a repeat performance now would be much more catastrophic.  Read more from the FishBIO blog:  The coming megastorm

A lot of jobs in sustainable water, the Pacific Institute finds:  Peter Gleick blogs about the latest Pacific Institute Report that found plenty of jobs in sustainable water industries:  “The study identifies 136 different kinds of jobs at all levels of skill: from plumbers to landscapers, from technology specialists and engineers to irrigation experts. Thirty-seven of these job types are also projected to have high growth in the overall economy, with each offering more than 100,000 job openings across the country by 2020. That’s millions of new jobs.”  A substantial number of them do not require advanced degrees.  Find out more from Peter Gleick here:  Smart Water; New Jobs

Water Wired’s Aquadoc ‘fesses up: Integrated Regional Water Management is really a nefarious plot to take over the waters of the USA:  Blogger Deborah Coffey exposes the sinister plot:  “The Sept. 12, 2008 Federal Register states that Sec. 2031 of Water Resources Development Act of 2007 requires that the Corps use the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).  And “There are many definitions of IWRM.  One of the most accepted is that of the Global Water Partnership.  IWRM is the (planning) process which promotes the co-ordinated development and management of water, land and related resources, in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.”  “Equitable”for whom?  Who would benefit from this “economic and social welfare?”  Could “related resources” be your property?”  Hmmm, sounds pretty suspicious to me.  Find out more details of Campana’s plot to establish a new world order for the USA’s water here:  The AWRA-UNESCO-World Bank-USACE-GWP-IWR Conspiracy: Using IWRM to Control the USA’s Water!

And lastly … I think this floating bridge slideshow is pretty cool: Building the World’s Longest — And Smartest — Floating Bridge

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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