Blog round-up: Bloggers on the BDCP, fish screens, climate change and native fishes, restructuring the SWP and more!

dancing waterThe BDCP faces a geographic fight, says John Wildermuth over at Fox & Hounds, although they say the politics of geography has nothing to do with it:  ” …  Brown’s people say independent studies show the water project will bring the state at least $5 billion in benefits over the 50-year life of the project. The price tag — $24.7 billion and rising — would provide California with a more secure water supply, improved water quality and new and needed environmental protections for the Delta, they argue.  “It’s about the science, not the politics,” is the rallying cry.  As a rule of thumb, when someone starts saying a government project “is not about the politics,” it’s about the politics. And anyone who thinks the Delta tunnel plan isn’t political must have dozed through his California history class in high school. … ”  Read more here from Fox & Hounds: Brown’s Water Plan Faces New Geographic Fight

The BDCP’s costs are $7 billion more than the benefits and could cost LA ratepayers up to $47 billion, says Restore the Delta, who presented other analysis of the data: ” … The analyses found that the BDCP would cost $2.50 for every $1 in benefits.  “The BDCP contemplates one of the largest public works project in our history,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta. “The State refuses to conduct a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis, in violation of its own policies. We can only conclude that they don’t want the people of California to know whom the Peripheral Tunnels would primarily benefit, what the true costs of the Peripheral Tunnels are, who would pay how much, or that there is a more cost-effective solution.” … ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here: Experts Analyze Costs of Peripheral Tunnels: Costs are $7 Billion Higher than Benefits

A different Jerry Brown in charge this time, says Steven Greenhut at the City Journal.  When he took the oath of office this time around, many expected him to pick up where he left off, but instead, he is emulating his father:    ” … The new Brown maintains a reputation as an environmentalist, of course, especially when it comes to battling climate change. But instead of thinking small, Brown has made massive infrastructure spending the cornerstone of his policy prescriptions, along with the advancement of a pro-labor union agenda. Construction unions, in particular, have backed his infrastructure push, which includes building a $65 billion high-speed rail system that presumably would help the environment by getting people out of their cars, and a Bay Delta Conservation Plan that would cost at least $24.5 billion to change the flow of the Sacramento River—ostensibly to save a tiny, endangered fish that lives in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta. … ”  Read more from the City Journal here:  A Man, a Plan . . . a Tunnel?

Northern Congressional leaders rally against the BDCP at a press conference from the banks of the Sacramento River on Thursday: ” … Rep. Doris Matsui (D, CA-6), Rep. Jerry McNerney (D, CA-9), Rep. Mike Thompson (D, CA-5), Rep. John Garamendi (D, CA-3) and Rep. Ami Bera (D, CA-7) said the current plan proposed by Governor Brown, the Obama administration and south of the Delta interests would “devastate” the Delta region and ignores the concerns repeatedly raised by stakeholders in the Bay-Delta region.  “The South of Delta users will get the water and Northern California and the state’s taxpayers will get the shaft,” summed up Rep. Mike Thompson. “Everybody will have to pay to benefit the South of Delta water users.” … ”  Dan Bacher has more at the California Progress Report:  Members of Congress Slam Brown’s Peripheral Tunnel Plan

So where does La Malfa stand on the BDCP? asks Bruce Ross at the Record Searchlight.  He hears the loud protests of the Northern California legislators, but:  ” … I’ve been equally struck by the silence of Rep. Doug LaMalfa, who last time I checked represents a huge portion of the region whose water rights are at risk from increase pressure for exports.  So, you know, I reached out to his office. He called back this afternoon.  His take: “A key component would be to add water storage to make any Bay-Delta plan work.”  … ”  Read more from Bruce Ross’ blog here:  NorCal Democrats hate delta tunnels — where’s LaMalfa?

The Northern California Water Blog takes a look at fish screens in this post noting the anniversary of 20 years of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act.  The CVPIA’s Anadramous Fish Screen Program (AFSP) authorized funding for fish screens and  ” …  in particular, created the ideal opportunity for federal, state and local entities to come together in a voluntary manner to enhance fish passage.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the Sacramento Valley.  Over the past two decades, more than one billion dollars ($1,000,000,000) has been spent on fish passage improvements in the Sacramento Valley.  The majority of that funding has been spent on the construction of state-of-the-art fish screens.  The investment of these federal, state and local funds in the fish screen projects has helped to enhance fish passage for endangered or threatened species of salmon and steelhead in the Sacramento River and its tributaries.  … ”  Find out more and take a look at one of them here: Celebrating Two Decades of Fish Passage Improvements in the Sacramento Valley

Climate change has California’s native fishes in hot water, says UC Davis’ Peter Moyle, who recently published a study with three colleagues that looked at the likelihood of native fish species going extinct in the next 100 years:  ” …  Of the 121 native fish species still with us, 82 percent are likely to be gone in a century’s time as climate change accelerates declines of already depleted populations. By contrast, only 19 percent of the 50 species of fish introduced into California face a similar risk of extinction.  If present trends continue, most of the unique California fish fauna (63 percent are found only in the state) will disappear and be replaced by alien fishes such as carp, largemouth bass, fathead minnows and green sunfish. Vanishing fish will include not only obscure species of minnows, suckers and pupfishes, but also some of California’s iconic species: coho salmon and most runs of Chinook salmon and steelhead trout. … ”  Read more here from the California Water Blog: Warmer water will kill off most of California’s native fishes

Restructure the State Water Project and auction off the SWP’s water rights and facilities, says Rod Smith over at the Water Strategist Community Blog.  The restructuring of the interstate natural gas pipeline industry provides an example: ” …  New markets developed in the natural gas industry.  Contracts for natural gas in the field became the basis for long-term and spot markets for natural gas.  The sale and lease of capacity rights generated a market for transportation services that reallocated claims to facilities as the demands for transportation services changed.  The market prices for existing transportation facilities give economic signals for investment in new transmission facilities.  The Proposal: Separate the SWP water right from SWP transportation facilities,establish operators for water supply and for transportation facilities,auction the rights to receive SWP water supply and to use SWP transportation facilities, but ownership of the water rights and facilities stays with the State of California. … ”  Read more from the Water Strategist Community Blog here: A Modest Proposal to Restructure California’s State Water Project

Rebates signal a dry year, says the Chance of Rain blog, who notes that Reclamation has awarded a grant to the Southern Nevada Water Authority for washing machine rebates: ” … This kind of rebate — not new, but not standing policy either, rather a kind of an incipient nod toward the future —  is on the rise again as water supplies across the West contract and a disappointing water year winds up this summer. So, if you have a water hog appliance or irrigation system, now is a good time to go dowsing for  a deal at your local water supplier. … ”  Read more here from the Chance of Rain blog:  High good, low bad: Mead in May 2013

Seawater desalination is still an energy-intensive process despite technological advancements, says the new Pacific Institute blog:  ” … Local sources of groundwater and surface water are among the least energy-intensive options available. Imported water is highly variable, depending on the distance the water is moved and the change in elevation. Some imported water systems use little energy and may even generate it, such as the Los Angeles Aqueduct and San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct. Most systems that convey water to Southern California, however, use large amounts of energy, although still less than the requirements for seawater desalination, which average about 15,000 kWh per million gallons. But the overall energy implications of a seawater desalination project will depend on whether the water produced replaces an existing source of water or provides a new source of water for growth and development. … ”  Read more from the Pacific Institute’s blog here:  Desalination and Energy Use…Should We Pass the Salt?

Norris Hundley’s book, The Great Thirst, still schooling California on the meaning of water:  This seminal book is still required reading for many water resources students.  Writes Char Miller over at KCET’s Back Forty blog:  ” …  it gives “The Great Thirst” an intellectual energy that sweeps the reader through what could have been an impenetrable 564 pages of text. Let me put it this way: If you have any interest learning more about the profound role that water has played in the making of the Golden State — and Los Angeles — then you must read this richly detailed and seminal book.  Especially check out its second edition, which appeared a little over a decade ago. Written when Hundley, a long-time member of the UCLA History Department, was at the height of his powers, it remains the most compelling analysis of water politics in this state and is a model for the kind of rigorous research that should be replicated across the arid West. With his death at 77 on April 28, “The Great Thirst” serves as an enduring marker of Hundley’s penetrating insights and beguiling prose. … ”  Read more here:  A Usable Past: How Norris Hundley, Jr. Schooled California on the Meaning of Water

The taste of tap water varies regionally, but it’s more than just what you drink:  ” … according to one Cleveland chef, the distinct make-up of regional waters doesn’t just impact the taste of the water we drink; it also plays an important role in shaping the taste of the local dishes themselves.  “In many, many recipes, water is a key ingredient and many times it might be 90 percent of the recipe, so it becomes more important,” says Steve Schimoler, owner and chef at CROP Bistro, a hip eatery in the Ohio City neighborhood.  “As a chef, I go out of my way to procure the best ingredients for our menu. How could you not want the best water?” … ”  Read more from KQED here:  The Terroir of Tap

And lastly …  The quote “Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over” is often attributed to Mark Twain, but did he really say it?  The Quote Investigator checks it out here, and … using software to harvest icebergs for desert cities?

Photo credit: Water trio, by flickr photographer Cat Dancing

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