Blog round-up: Reusing tunnel muck, changing BDCP baselines, BDCP costs, north-south water wars, Temperance Flat, endangered water reporters, God’s bathtub and more!

water rhythmReusing tunnel muck:  The SFPUC’s Hetch Hetchy upgrade includes boring a tunnel underneath the San Francisco Bay, and the project has been able to virtually reuse all of the excavated “tunnel muck,” writes the BDCP blog:  ” … To be sure, tunneling can produce a lot of material. And the San Francisco Bay project suggests that the muck some people worry will become a long-term eyesore in the Delta could be used instead on levee upgrades and wetland restoration. Essentially, it could greatly diminish and perhaps even eliminate, the need to store the material.  Out of nearly a quarter million cubic-yards of San Francisco Bay tunnel muck, 98 percent of it has found a vital new and nearby use. … ”  Read more here:  “Muck:” A Reusable Material from Tunneling

Changing BDCP baselines:  Using a baseline is important when doing an environmental or economic analysis of an infrastructure project; the baseline is usually a “no-action” scenario, writes the Valley Economy blog:  ” … This scenario defines the conditions that are expected if the project is not built and is used as the basis of comparison for the projects impacts.  The same no-action scenario should be used for environmental, economic and financial feasibility assessments.  However, the latest BDCP documents use a different baseline for the economic analysis than the environmental impact report (EIR).  When analytical consistency gets in the way of rationalizing the tunnels, BDCP just switches the baseline.  … ”  Read more here from the Valley Economy blog:  Changing the Baseline: The Biggest Problem in the New BDCP Economic Rationalization of the Tunnels

Uncertain BDCP costs worry Friant Contractors:  The Friant Waterline posts about the BDCP costs, noting that there wasn’t much said about how the beneficiaries would fund the project:  ” … Some water agencies that make direct use of Delta water exports have suggested Friant should pay a major share.  “Friant supports the BDCP’s concepts because solutions must be implemented to eliminate or ease Delta water supply problems,” said Friant Water Authority General Manager Ronald D. Jacobsma. “However, all of the analysis we have thus far seen shows little or no water supply benefit to the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors, the Friant Division’s primary water supply link to the Delta,” Jacobsma said. … ”  Read more from the Friant Waterline here:  Specifics Still Awaited On Delta Plan’s High Costs; Friant Benefits Remain Unidentified

North-South water wars – will Southern California win?  Northern California is in the lead, winning by attrition and adjudication, writes the CalWatchdog blog, but Southern California could still pull it off: ” … The 19 million water customers of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California will have to fund most of the cost of the tunnels.  A “No Project” alternative of continuing to rely on the existing Delta pumping facility and California Aqueduct would add no new cost and would deliver the same or less amount of water.  But the existing Aqueduct system cannot do one thing: overcome the massive environmental regulatory burden and constant lawsuits mainly from Northern California organizations that have historically embargoed Northern California water from being shipped southward.  … ” Read more here from the CalWatchdog blog: North/South CA intensify water war

Avalanche of lawsuits against the Delta Plan has begun:  Dan Bacher has details on two of the four lawsuits filed against the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta PlanAvalanche of lawsuits against Delta plan begins

Temperance Flat project “looking feasible,” says the Friant Waterline: Reclamation recently held a workshop to update cooperating agencies on the feasibility study, still in process:  ” … “We learned that Temperance Flat Reservoir is still looking feasible, but operations, costs, bond eligibility for public benefits and issues related to water supply, water quality and project beneficiaries all need further analysis,” said Ronald D. Jacobsma, FWA General Manager.  Development of the proposed Temperance Flat Reservoir has been studied extensively in recent years and, although much analysis is still needed, a number of objectives have been identified with progress made on planning project details, Jacobsma said. … ”  Read more from the Friant Waterline here:  Temperance Flat Study Continues

Healthy headwaters:  There is increased interest in maintaining healthy headwaters, says  David Guy at the Water Food Environment blog.  He takes a look around and notes there are lessons to be learned from success in other regions:  ” … There are many good examples in other states, ranging from New York to Colorado, where there have been important investments and innovation in strategies for healthy headwaters. Several recent reports have started to provide a strong platform for a state policy for healthy headwaters in California. … ” Read more here from the Water Food Environment blog:  Thinking about Healthy Headwaters

Community fishing model working in San Francisco:  National Geographic’s News Watch blog writes a two-year-old fishermen’s cooperative in San Francisco is evening the playing field for the little guy:  ” … An irascibly gregarious crab fisherman, Larry Collins, and his wife, Barbra Emley, formed the San Francisco group in 2010; they wanted to put more money in fishermen’s pockets, while protecting fish stocks and developing new dock infrastructure to support independent operators. Collins and Co. are now part of the two-year-old Community Fisheries Network, a nationwide membership organization convened by Ecotrust and the Island Institute that is helping community fishing organizations become stable businesses and effective marketers, while leading fisheries and marine ecosystem protection, and building community assets. … ”  Read more here:  Fair Fish: San Francisco Fishermen Shake Up the Docks With Community Model

Clint Eastwood makes the City of Carmel’s day:  From the Monterey County Herald:  ” … Eastwood representative Alan Williams confirmed Wednesday that negotiations are underway with California American Water on an agreement to loan the utility a water right of 85 acre-feet per year for use on the Peninsula until a proposed new water supply project is online. The water right is from an 80-acre parcel near the Carmel River designated for a floodplain restoration project. … ”  Read more here:  Clint Eastwood, Cal Am in talks on water rights

Endangered water reporters:  We’ve all seen the botched headlines, the misstatements and the uninformed reporting that results when those unfamiliar with the complexity of California’s water issues try to write about things.  Shawn McKinnon, veteran water reporter with the Arizona Republic talks to the Columbia Journalism Review about the situation:  ” … “Water reporters are definitely an endangered group of people,” said McKinnon, who has covered water for more than 14 years for the Republic and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “It’s too bad because we are getting into this time when it’s probably a bigger issue than it ever has been. We need people who are out there watching and making sure everyone knows what is going on. “ … ”  Read more here:  Q&A: Shaun McKinnon, veteran water reporter

Is it time for water markets?  David Zetland at the Aguanomics blog says yes:  Time for REAL water markets in California?

New book tells the story of urbanization from the development of their water systems:  The Inkstain blog reviews a new book by historian Carl Smith tells the story of how the urbanization of Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago were shaped by the need for municipal water systems:  ” … It’s hard to overstate the significance of the cultural jump from the individualism of gathering one’s own water for one’s own home to the collectivism to banding together to build a water system. It was possible for newly forming cities in the United States in the early to mid-1800s to piecemeal roads and the like, but ultimately water systems required a new sort of collective action unlike anything urban communities had attempted to date. … ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  “City Water, City Life” – a positive review

Blog honorable mentions:  Here’s the Inkstain Blog on Dianne Feinstein’s water plan and National Geographic’s Newswatch weighs in on fracking’s need for water.  The California Water Blog post, The Delta won’t rise again, will be included with Thursday’s science notes.

And lastly … God’s bathtub:  Here’s a story about a lake in Australia dubbed “God’s bathtub” that is untouched by humans or climate change:  Australian Lake Untouched by Climate Change, Called “God’s Bathtub” and Home to Tiny Perch

Photo credit:  “Water rhythm” by flickr photographer Jos van Wunnik.

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