Science and report notes: Pesticides and the POD, Section 5937, fish and rice, water rights atlas, and Atmospheric River envy!
Pesticides and the Pelagic Organism Decline: No single cause has been linked to the rapid decline in abundance of the pelagic organisms in the Delta, and current theories suggest multiple stressors might be at work, with contaminants are one of the stressors being investigated. ” … Pesticide concentration data collected by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) at multiple sites in the delta region over the past two decades are critical to understanding the potential effects of current-use pesticides on species of concern as well as the overall health of the delta ecosystem. … What follows is a summary of publicly available USGS data for pesticide concentrations in surface water and sediments within the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta region from the years 1990 through 2010. … ” Read more here: A Compilation of U.S. Geological Survey Pesticide Concentration Data for Water and Sediment in the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta Region: 1990–2010
Section 5937 and water for fish: The Fish and Game Code’s Section 5937 says this: “The owner of any dam shall allow sufficient water at all times to pass over, around, or through the dam, to keep in good condition any fish that may be planted or exist below the dam.” Seems clear enough … so why isn’t it enforced? This 2012 journal article from the U.C. Davis Law Review delves into the law, covering the history of the minimum flow requirements, the primary impediements to implementation and enforcement, and the current state of the law. Read more here from UC Davis: The Rebirth of California Fish & Game Code Section 5937: Water for Fish
Fish and rice fields: The FishBIO blog took a tour of the Yolo Bypass, including a stop at the Knagg’s Ranch project: ” … Researchers have teamed up with farmers to investigate whether productive rice fields farmed during the summer can be managed in the off-season to provide winter habitat for juvenile Chinook salmon. The expansive habitat and somewhat regular flooding events in the Yolo Bypass offer a unique opportunity to test this rotation. They are just finishing the second year of the project, and rice grown on the experimental plots during the first year was harvested last fall. ... ” And the results so far have been impressive. Read more from the FishBIO blog here: Fish on rice
Checking on the health of fish: The FishBIO blog posts about how US FWS biologists assess the physiological condition of salmon smolts outmigrating from the Central Valley here: Health check-up
Interactive water rights map now available: The Resource Renewal Institute has launched an interactive map of water rights that shows thousands of water rights claims: ” … “California’s water crisis is exacerbated by incomplete, inaccessible data. Currently, water rights holders claim they divert, in aggregate, approximately 250 million acre feet of water each year. But California receives just 71 million acre feet of usable water from annual precipitation on average. We’ve created a water rights atlas to provide real-time and open information to create more effective citizen participants.” … ” Read more here: “California Water Rights Atlas” Opens to Public
California Water Blog notes the passing of Jerry Orlob: Former UC Davis faculty member and department chairman, Mr. Orlob was part of a distinguished group that helped shape more than a generation of water and environmental engineers: Jay Lund writes: ” … The technical skill that I think contributed much to his success was his ability to organize problems. His water quality modeling was impeccably organized. The spatial and temporal domains and fundamental flow and transport equations were organized into 1, 2 or 3 dimensions; the water quality and chemical processes rode on the backs of these flows; equations for the biological processes to be represented lived off the water quality and flows. Engineering and economic performance might then be estimated for a range of conditions and management alternatives. The processes were discrete, but they all worked together. … ” More from the California Water Blog: Jerry Orlob: Legendary mentor for California water engineers
National strategy to manage climate change and natural resources: The strategy, released by the Obama Administration, identifies key actions that need to be taken over the next five years to reduce the impacts of climate change, such as changing species distributions, spread of wildlife diseases, inundation of coastal habitats and changes in freshwater availability: ” … “The specific implications of climate change on fish and wildlife are uncertain and will vary on a regional and state basis,” said Kevin Hunting, Chief Deputy Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). “However, climate change is escalating and accelerating these threats, making it much more difficult and costly for agencies to manage. That’s why the development and release of the National Strategy is important because it serves as a foundation of a science-based and collective nationwide effort and is truly a national strategy – not just a federal strategy.” … ” Read more from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife here: National Strategy Will Help California Protect Natural Resources
New report on fracking: The new report, produced by the Berkeley Law’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE) and the Wheeler Institute for Water Law & Policy, comes at a time of intense interest and activity in California and fracking, with the first major court ruling, several lawsuits, and no less than 9 bills introduced in the legislature so far. ” … Contrary to its traditional role as a leader in environmental protection, California lags behind other states on hydraulic fracturing regulation. Wyoming, Colorado, and other states currently set stronger standards for transparency, safety, and environmental stewardship. The risks presented by hydraulic fracturing include potential contamination of ground and surface waters from well casing failure, improper fluid handling at the well site, and improper treatment and discharge of fracking “produced water” that contains harmful substances. Additional risks include the potential for induced seismicity from injection wells, as experienced in other states, and potential air quality and climate change impacts, which are especially relevant to the development of oil-rich shale formations in California. … ” Read more here from the Legal Planet blog: Hydraulic Fracking in California: New Report Addresses Wastewater and Potential Water Impacts
More climate change graphs: Peter Gleick has posted more graphs which illustrate the challenges we’re facing: ” … Here are three more, along with a bonus fourth, all with a theme of exponential growth – the powerful force that is behind much of the concern about climate change and many other environmental and social challenges. Figures like these are increasingly called “hockey stick” curves, after the work of Professor Michael Mann and others in the climate community, but such rapid exponential changes, which often signify problems (unless your bank balance looks like this) are common in other scientific fields as well. … ” Read more here: Iconic Curves #2: On Exponential Curves, “Hockey Sticks,” and Environmental Crises
Atmospheric River envy: The Inkstain blog writes: ” … AR’s are these amazing storms that blast California like a firehose, and they’re getting increasing attention in the climate-policy interface in California because of the importance of their presence, or absence, in determining whether that state has good or bad water supply years. But they’ve been primarily a California thing. Can they push their moisture past the mountains and make it all the way to New Mexico? … ” The Inkstain blog answers here: I want my Atmospheric River!