Blog round-up: BDCP and science, 11th hour alternatives, PPIC report and tunnels, saving the Delta, water doesn’t always flow uphill to money, wage disparities and more … !

Photo by Department of Water Resources

Photo by Department of Water Resources

More, yes more.  There’s always more!  It’s a blog smorgasboard this week, so let’s get to it:

BDCP delays: It’s not the feds, it’s the science, says NRDC’s Doug Obegi:  The Governor’s recent letter to the feds urging their timely review of BDCP documents apparently stems from a letter from Kern County Water Agency saying they will not continue their funding of the process unless the federal fish agencies can  “commit to completing their review of the Administrative Draft to the extent that the Public Draft can be released, with their support on July 1, 2013.”  But don’t blame the feds, says Obegi:  ” … While the water contractors and the State of California may want to blame the Feds for the delays in preparing the BDCP, it is the State’s (and the water contractors’) refusal to utilize sound science in the BDCP that continues to delay and bedevil this process. We’ve wasted years in this process – and lots of money – because the state and contractors refuse to incorporate sound science into BDCP. … ”  Read more here:  State’s Refusal to Use Sound Science Continues to Delay the Bay Delta Conservation Plan

These last minute BDCP alternatives won’t work, says Richard Atwater at the Southern California Water Committee  Blog:  The process has been udnerway for seven years, and a variety of strategies have been studied already, he says:  ” … After seven years of planning, studying and substantially changing the proposed BDCP at a cost of over $200 million, critics and opponents are seeking to derail the process, wanting to start again and study different alternative plans. We’re not against the state studying a variety of alternatives—but they have already done so, with broad public input on the alternatives being evaluated. The fact is that many of these 11th hour alternatives still fall short of the original goals. … ”  How so?  Continue reading here:  Why Last Minute Proposals for the Delta Fall Short of California’s Needs

The Valley Economy blog with some thoughts on the PPIC report and the tunnels:  Jeffrey Michael takes note of the low scores the tunnel received in the survey and says:  ” … Although the tunnels fared terribly in their survey, the PPIC does not highlight that conclusion.  Instead they offer reasons they think the tunnels are better than they look in this ranking.  For instance, they talk about how the measures interact with one another, but they do so in a biased way – pointing out how the tunnels might support some measures while omitting how they work against other measures.  …”   More thoughts on the PPIC report here:  New PPIC Survey Makes A Strong Case for a No-Tunnel BDCP Alternative

Delta National Park blog on saving the Delta:  Jerry Meral’s remarks about not saving the Delta have attracted a lot of attention, notes John Bass:  ”  … The question of course is what exactly did he mean? The knowledgeable folks at UC Davis’s California Water Blog weighed in, and imply, perhaps, that Meral sort of misspoke. That what he meant to say was that it can’t be restored – not saved – and provide historical context to just how profoundly the Delta has been altered.  The UCD people know, and as I have brought up many times, the rhetoric about “restoring” the Delta that the UCD folks focus on is just that, a messaging tactic of pro-Delta groups. … ”  Read more here:  The semantics of saving

Agency officals on saving the Delta:  At the joint hearing on the BDCP, Senator Wolk asked John Laird, Mark Cowin and Chuck Bonham to speak Meral’s remarks.  Find out how they answered over at Alex Breitler’s blog here:  “Our mission requires hope”

Restore the Delta responds to the agency officials:  Responding to the hearing, Restore the Delta writes: ” … DWR head Mark Cowin has it wrong.  If we invest in regional water projects throughout the state, as we reduce water taken from the Delta, Southern California will gain greater self-sufficiency – which will keep them safer from catastrophic events.  The BDCP would use up all money available for investments in wise water management strategies, and thus interfere with moving California forward to more sustainable water resource practices. … ”  Restore the Delta Responds to Peripheral Tunnels Update

Note:  Coverage of the joint Senate committee hearing on the BDCP is coming to the Notebook very soon!

Delta Vision Foundation wants you to grade state and federal agencies, the Legislature, and stakeholders on their progress in implementing the Delta Vision strategic plan and achieving the coequal goalsClick here to take the survey.

Money doesn’t always flow uphill, says the Cal Watchdog blog:  If it did, SoCal would have won the Delta war long ago.  So what else is at play here?  ”  …  In California, water flows from the wet North to the dry South only when there is sufficient political legitimacy.  There isn’t so much a scarcity of water as there is justification for conveying it from where it naturally flows and ponds to where it doesn’t.  It doesn’t matter to much of the public that California’s imported water system is socialized. Constituents see local water supplies from the Sierra Nevada as their property.  As long as Southern California is perceived as wasting Northern California water on swimming pools in Beverly Hills and Newport Beach, it will have difficulty gaining political legitimacy to prevail in the North-South political water war. … ”  Read more here:  CA Delta water war being won by legitimacy, not money

Water utility worker pay compared to public safety worker’s pay: The Valley Economy blog says sure, the wage issues at the State Water Project are real, but are their wages too low or are the other’s wages too high?  ”  … Other than teachers, California local government workers make enormous salaries compared to their national counterparts.  While the high salaries of police and firefighters are well-known, the premiums earned in the public water sector in California are even higher.  Local government safety and utility workers in California both earn wages that are 37% higher than the U.S. average.  If you drill down to water utilities (NAICS code 22131), the wage premium paid to public California water agency employees baloons to 44% more than the U.S. average.  California skews the U.S. average higher too, so if you  take California out of the U.S. data and compare us to the other 49 states, the gap rises to around 60%.  … ”  Read more here:  Which Public Workers Are Most Overpaid in California Compared to National Norms?  Water Utilities or Public Safety

Feinstein and Boxer blocking Lake McClure spillway project: The Merced Irrigation District wants to raise the spillway just 1 foot, which would allow an additional 70,000 acre-feet to be stored in wet years.  It wouldn’t cost much, says the Cal Watchdog blog,  and ” … critical environmental resources are sustained by the artificial lake with very minor negative impacts due to the proposed project.  Raising the spillway would only impact already disturbed lands.  The spillway is adjacent to the boat ramp and houseboat repair yard of the McClure Point Recreation Area and Marina.  On top of being economically and environmentally sustaining, there is bipartisan political support for the project by Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove).  So raising the spillway would hypothetically be a four-way winning deal for farmers, recreational users of the lake, politicians and the environment.  It sounds like a “no brainer” to approve such a project. … ”  So why not?  Read more here:  Feinstein, Boxer stymie water, power & wildlife for Lake McClure

Be the hostess with the mostess at your next Bay Area party:  Entertain your friends while educating them about climate change impacts at the same time with this engaging activity book from the Pacific Institute.  Play Climate Justice Human Bingo, Community Resilience Lifeboat, or this:  ”  … One activity is the board game Climate Change Survivor – the atmosphere’s version of Sorry! Community groups, community health workers and educators, church groups, schools, families, and even groups of neighbors can download the game board and game cards free online and have a great time while learning about different climate change impacts, how we might be vulnerable, and what we can do to better prepare and protect ourselves from these impacts. … ”  Read more here:  Pacific Institute and Partners Release Climate Change Survivor Workbook with Games

And lastly …

IMG_1238 smaller …. A Rock-a-Hoola revival?  No way!  Well, maybe … Those who have read me in other places might remember a trip I took to the abandoned Rock-A-Hoola waterpark, located outside of Barstow on the road to Vegas.  Here’s my photoblog essay on the park.  The Chance of Rain blog took a trip out that way recently and stopped by to find a contractor working on the place who told her it was going to be reopening.  I have often asked, philosophically, what does this folly, this abandoned water park in the middle of a desert, say about us?  But now .. what would it say if it reopens, sucking out Mojave groundwater for our splashing and swimming pleasure?  So far, it looks like someone is trying but there’s a long way to go …  I’ll keep you posted.

 …. A first hand account of the dry conditions:  The Trout Underground heads out for the first fly fishing trip of the year:  ” …  Ultimately, we got within a mile of the stream before the drifts acquired that “You think you’ll make it, but you’ll end up walking back to cell phone coverage” look.  I’ve seen that look. I know that look.  We stopped there.  When we got out of the truck, one thing struck us.  It didn’t look like spring. The snowfall has been so dismal in California that even the alpine landscape looked dried and dusty, like it was already summer.  … ”  Read more here:  The First Small Stream Fly Fishing Trip Of The Brand-New Season

 …. I know I take pictures of some strange stuff, but sewers as art?  Check it out here.

 

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