Blog round-up: More on the smaller tunnels, Arkstorms, toxic farmland, San Joaquin River flow objectives and more

Welcome to Monday!  Here’s the blog round-up:

An odd alignment:  Alex Breitler notes the rare chord of agreement between Restore the Delta and Jerry Meral: ” … Neither likes the Peripheral Canal Lite.  The proposal for a single tunnel with one-third the capacity of the existing twin tunnels proposal is getting criticized from both ends of the spectrum. … ”  Read more here from Alex Breitler’s blog: A rare alignment

Smaller tunnel is an even worse economic deal, says Restore the Delta: Barbara Barrigan-Parilla says in a press release:  ““The water contractors cannot afford to pay for the proposed twin tunnels unless they pass the exorbitant costs on to urban water rate payers. San Joaquin Valley farmers cannot afford to farm with water that will cost up to $2000 per acre-foot. And Southern California urban water users would be expected to pay thousands of dollars more per household without receiving an extra drop of water.  The proposed single tunnel project, at half the cost for a third of the water, pencils out to be an even worse deal economically for urban rate payers and San Joaquin Valley agribusiness. … ” Read more from Restore the Delta here: Restore the Delta Responds to State Water Contractors Comparison of Proposed Tunnels

Smaller tunnel would mean less water for more money:  Richard Atwater seemingly agrees with Barbara B-P’s assessement, writing in the SCWC blog: “Would you pay more, for less? Probably not. Recently, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and others proposed a plan that would result in a 33% reduction in water supplies for Californians. But it would still cost public water agencies, and ratepayers, billions of dollars.  … ”  Read more from the Southern California Water Committee here: Smaller Delta Tunnel Would Cut State’s Water Supply By Third

Meral and Arkstorms: Jerry Meral mentioned the possibility of Arkstorms in his recent blog post and brought it up again at the recent Delta Stewardship Council meeting.  He doesn’t see how the Delta could survive an event similar to the great floods of 1861-62, when it rained for 42 days straight, turning the Central Valley into a lake.  Even so, Restore the Delta says the tunnels wouldn’t help in such a situation:  “If an Arkstorm is a serious possibility, and if it were even stronger than the storm of 1862, then both BDCP and the Delta Plan are missing the boat, so to speak, with the Peripheral Tunnels.  The tunnels wouldn’t be much use if the areas above the intakes and below the pumps were flooded for weeks or months. … ”  Read more here from Restore the Delta: Meral moves the target

A troubled marriage between science and policy:  Tina Swanson reflects on the difficulty of blending science with policy:  ” … The marriage of science and policy is a difficult but (usually) rewarding relationship. But there’s trouble brewing in this one and … divorce could be fatal for both the ecosystem and California’s water supply.  I stewed about this meeting for months, and it prompted me to reflect on pivotal scenes from my own science and policy marriage. … ”  Read more here:  Trouble Brewing in the Marriage of Science and Policy in the Bay-Delta

Retire toxic farmland, says C-WIN and the Delta National Park blog agrees:  Carolee Krieger of C-WIN penned this commentary for the Fresno Bee, saying the solution for the lack of drainage on the westside of the Central Valley and the selenium issues is to retire toxic farmland.  The Delta National Park agrees, and tying that into Westlands recent announcement that Westlands farmers have been advised to prepare for a 20% allocation:  ” … The question of course is Who will give up their water so that WWD can have more of it? Show of hands, please? Hmmm … no one seems anxious to help WWD out. The fish haven’t been heard from. Yes, scarcity is another reason why land retirement makes good sense. … ” Read more here from the Delta National Park blog:  Equite, scarcite, liberte

A different sort of dialogue on the Delta:  Daniel Weintraub covers the Delta Dialogues, the Delta Conservancy’s 6 month program to bring warring Delta stakeholders together for a different type of conversation:  ” … The talks had no set agenda and no concrete goal other than conversation. That sounds dreadful. But it might actually be why they worked so well. People who have spent their lives in battle with one another came out of the encounter with newfound appreciation for each other’s interests, even liking each other. How Californian! … ”  Read more from the Healthy Cal blog here:  A new conversation about water

San Joaquin flow objectives:  35% unimpaired flows is not enough:  Diverting 65% of the flow won’t help the salmon, says Doug Obegi of the NRDC:  ” … This summer, the State Water Resources Control Board will establish new flow standards to protect salmon and fisheries in the Lower San Joaquin River and the three tributaries.  The Board’s draft report concludes that about 35% of the natural flow should remain in the rivers, allowing more than 65% to be diverted.  Yet the scientific information shows that salmon are unlikely to recover at those flow levels, which are only slightly better than current flow levels. We can – and must — do better than 35% for San Joaquin salmon to recover and achieve the state and federal salmon doubling goal.  … ”  Read more from Doug Obegi at the NRDC here:  Will California Restore the Lower San Joaquin River and its Salmon?

Trout Unlimited agrees:  ” … Unfortunately, the Board is considering a proposal for the San Joaquin watershed that will do little to improve the unsustainable status quo.  Specifically, the Board is considering setting San Joaquin inflows at 35% of unimpaired flow, a mere two percent increase from the 33% that occurs in a typical year.  Such a tepid response is simply not enough to prevent the continued decline of the fishery resources in the watershed. … ”  Read more from Trout Unlimited here:  Reinvesting in California’s Salmon and Steelhead

Personal choices do matter, says Peter Gleick:  ” … despite our focus on the big issues of water-use efficiency and productivity, behavior and personal choice can still be important. Indeed, behaviors and societal preferences do change over time. Think about how society’s perceptions and preferences have evolved on issues like smoking on airplanes, or seat belt use. Think about civil rights, and women’s rights, and gay marriage.  In the water world, if our choices and decisions and behaviors change in the direction of lower-water-using options, so much the better. … ”  So how much difference can a personal choice make, such as turning off the faucet when you brush your teeth?  Peter Gleick does some calculations: On the back of an envelope: Brush your teeth, but turn the water off

Peter Glieck blogs on the relationships between climate, snow, ice, and water resources:  Peter writes: ” … Some of my earliest research on climate and water (my doctorate in 1986 evaluated the regional hydrologic impacts of climate change) showed that one of the most critical impacts of climate change would be changes in the snow/rain dynamics in mountains. Since then, more and better research has confirmed and strengthened our understanding of how vulnerable water systems – and especially mountain regions – are to climate changes. Indeed, we already see impacts in the form of disappearing tropical and high-latitude glaciers and ice caps, changing rainfall patterns, and increased water content in the atmosphere, not to mention the growing influence of climate change on the frequency and intensity of some extreme events. … ”  Read more here: Climate change, snow and ice, and water resources

Cool photo galleries:  The Sacramento Bee has a slideshow on the rice field salmon study and the Fresno Bee gives you a short photo tour of the Tracy Pumping Plant.

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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