Blog round-up: Delta counties submit their own idea for BDCP governance, saving the Delta, the BDCP and fish, law is better than trust? and more!

waterDelta counties submit their own governance plan for the BDCP:  The Delta Counties Coalition has long advoacted for a greater role in the planning and implementation of the BDCP, and in a white paper, define a slightly different governance structure than the BDCP’s Chapter 7, which they say will give the counties “meaningful participation and control over both BDCP planning and implementation.”  The proposal includes replacing the “Adaptive Management Team” with a “Technical Advisory Group” and establishing a Coordinating Council, a stakeholder forum that would have some measure of broader public influence in the BDCP planning and implementation process:  “The proposed model establishes a governance structure that applies to both BDCP planning and implementation. In this respect, the proposed model addresses the current absence of local government participation in the BDCP planning effort, which is governed solely by the January 2012 Memorandum of Agreement between various agencies and the water contractors. Additionally, the proposed model greatly strengthens the role of local governments in BDCP implementation. It gives the Delta counties a prominent position within the lead governance entity, the Executive Council, rather than consigning the Delta counties to membership with dozens of other entities and the general public on a “stakeholder council.” These changes respond to fundamental problems with the BDCP that must be addressed, whether by advancing the approach described in this paper or otherwise.”  Read more from Alex Breitler’s blog here:  A greater role of Delta counties?

The law works much better than trust, says the Cal Watchdog blog:  Responding to the recent SacBee commentary by University of Pacific law professor Gregory S. Weber that said the problem with the BDCP was “gut level mistrust among the stakeholders,” the Cal Watchdog blog says:  ” … This is an odd statement from a law professor because the social function of the law is to not rely on trust. If the historical water wars in California have proven anything, it is that law has been a better vehicle, although sometimes flawed, than trust to settle water disputes.  Secondly, Weber calls Northern Californians “stakeholders” even though they may have not established any legal rights over water in the State Water Project.  A “stakeholder” is typically defined as someone who has deposited money depending on the outcome of an unsettled matter. Northern Californians are no more stakeholders in California’s socialized water system than Central Valley farmers or Southern California cities, and vice versa. … ”  Read more here from the Cal Watchdog blog:  Trust not enough to solve CA water problems

A diversion point in the Sacramento Ship Channel won’t work, says the State Water Contractors, responding to someone’s proposed alternative (it is not clear to me if they are responding to the NRDC proposal):  ” …  On the eve of release of key draft documents, several 11th hour proposals have been suggested. One proposal recommends a new 3,000 cubic-feet-per-second diversion in the Sacramento Ship Channel, a 43-mile-long, man-made passageway for cargo ships between the Delta and the Port of West Sacramento. Because this channel is a highly-documented spawning ground for the endangered Delta smelt, this proposal fails to address either the water supply reliability or the environmental issues that plague the Delta. Below are the three primary flaws to this proposal.  … ”  Read more here:  Sacramento Ship Channel Diversion: Bad for the fish, Bad for water supply

The BDCP is no good for fish, says Restore the Delta:  They point to the recent comments from fish agencies:  ” … The likely extinction of winter and spring run Chinook salmon is an inevitable consequence of shifting water exports to the Spring months, which is what BDCP wants to do. Reducing flows in the upper Sacramento River in Summer and Fall of dry years creates problems that are not going to go away.  As for habitat in the Delta offsetting the loss of fresh water for fish, the USFWS called the prospects for fish such as Delta smelt and longfin smelt “uncertain.” … ”  Red more from Restore the Delta here:  Prognosis for fish under BDCP: not good, – oh, and by the way, don’t look to the Trinity River for more water either.

Meral says Delta can’t be ‘saved’?  Dan Bacher at the Fish Sniffer says it like this:  ” … A Brown administration official recently admitted that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan has nothing to do with saving the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the estuary that salmon, steehead, sturgeon, Delta smelt, striped bass and a host of other species depend on for survival. While speaking with Tom Stokely of the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) at a meeting with Northern California’s Native American Tribes on Monday, April 15, Natural Resources Agency Deputy Director Jerry Meral said, “BDCP is not about, and has never been about saving the Delta. The Delta cannot be saved.” “I was flabbergasted because that’s not what we’ve been told by politicians and state officials,” said Stokely after the meeting.  ... ”  Read more from Dan Bacher at the Fish Sniffer here:  Brown Administration official says Delta can’t be ‘saved’

San Francisco is a little inconsistent with its water policies, says the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta, who notes at the recent State Water Board hearing, the City had a detailed presentation to show the economic harm that would occur if water was reduced:  ” … There is truth behind San Francisco’s assumptions of economic harm. Cuts in water deliveries could be harmful to a region’s economy, especially when that region has few alternative supplies to make up for the loss. Central Valley farmers and residents have become all too familiar with these economic hardships, which will worsen without cooperation of all water users.  Regrettably, San Francisco has not been very consistent in its stance on water issues. When it comes to other communities, such as the San Joaquin Valley, San Francisco is all too eager to cut water supplies that would have devastating economic effects on the agriculturally-based economy of that region. … ”  Read more from Delta Watch here: San Francisco lacking consistency on water policy

Regarding the unspent funds in the State’s Safe Drinking Fund Revolving Fund, the AP story misses the real point, says the Legal Planet blog:  Certainly, the unspent money is a black eye for the state and its regulatory agencies, but it’s only a fraction of the $39 billion in infrastructure spending that is needed:  ” … Got that?  It’s $455 million out of $39 billion needed.  It’s a little more than 1% of what the state needs.  The danger of exposes like this is that they really miss the overall story, and feed into a dangerous narrative that “if only the government weren’t so inefficient, we’d have plenty of money for what we want.”  It is fodder for unscrupulous or ignorant politicians who claim that they can make up budget shortfalls by eliminating “waste, fraud, and abuse.” … ”  Read more from the Legal Planet blog here:  California’s Unspent Water Funds: An Instinct for the Capillary

Take note of the effects of drought on Texas, says the Water Food and Environment blog:  Looking at Texas, water managers in California should ask themselves if we’re ready for the next drought:  ”  … As Texas’ water resources managers (and many others in the United States) are scrambling to conserve water and stretch additional supplies, let’s take a moment to think about the value of stored water during critical periods.  To start, California has experienced the driest first quarter on record going back to the 1800’s. Thankfully, the existing carryover water storage from last year has helped much of the state through this intensely dry period, without any major panic buttons being pressed by the Governor or any of the fishery agencies. Here, the investment in stored water throughout the state has proven a blessing. … ”  Continue reading from the Water Food Environment blog here:  “We are worthless without water

Colorado River blog notes:  The Chance of Rain notes that the Colorado River has been named the “most endangered” river in America, and the Agua-Zona blog has a link to a short video on the Central Arizona Project.

Photo, “All About Water” by flickr photographer Bruce Geisert.


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