Blog round-up: Bloggers on the BDCP deliveries, costs, impacts, and more – plus water storage, the drought, and an arena above the Bay … ?


As seen around Sacramento …. McDonalds and Sacramento Bee team up for some subliminal advertising … meanwhile …

Let’s first pause for a moment as the Inkstain blog’s John Fleck pays tribute to friend and former colleague Mike Taugher’s tragic passing, posting links to some of Mike’s finest work at the Contra Costa Times here:  Mike Taugher, A Journalists Journalist

RIP, Mike, you will be sorely missed  …

And now, back to the slugfest, and there’s plenty of it this week!

BDCP deliveries in a changing world:  The BDCP blog notes:  “UC Berkeley economist Dr. David Sunding said that the BDCP, if implemented, would allow the state to deliver more water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta than otherwise, almost entirely in years of abundant rainfall.  It’s also true, as state officials have said, that average annual Delta water deliveries under the BDCP could be about the same or less than they have been historically.  Specifically, projections show a range of federal and state water project deliveries that are within 10 percent of the historical average deliveries of the last 20 years (5.3 million acre-feet).  How could the BDCP allow the capture of more water in wet and average years but still not increase overall Delta water project deliveries in the future? … ”  The BDCP blog answers here:  Water Deliveries under the BDCP: Trying to Hold Steady in a Changing World

Bob Pyke responds to the BDCP blog, saying:  ” … it is a fallacy that the BDCP is big gulp / little sip plan. To be sure more water would be taken in wet years and less in dry years because there is more water in wet years, but the BDCP is essentially “run-of-the river”. It includes no storage, and no ability to take a really big gulp in really wet years. And, while total exports in dry years will be less than at present, exports in the summer months in those years will be even greater than at present. Currently exports from the South Delta are exceeding the outflow from the Delta into the Bay. Because the bypass flow requirements limit exports at other times of the year, the BDCP will “suck the Sacramento River dry” in summer to the detriment of Delta water quality. … ”  Read Bob Pyke’s full response here:  Pyke response to Nancy Vogel

Under deadline, BDCP is moving fast and playing loose with the engineering, science, costs and benefits, says the Delta National Park blog:  ” … First of all, it needs to be acknowledged that there are concerns within Federal agencies that the BDCP process could be perceived as biased.  Many feel the Delta conveyance alternative deck is stacked to the benefit of real estate developers and ground water polluting big ag. Maybe even fracking frackers. That every choice that the policy people put in place favors tunnels.  Concerned, but certainly not conspiratorially inclined nor guided by the constraints of journalism or public policy makers, I have managed to obtain what I have been told might be a copy of the BDCP “expedite” playbook. Its preface is a simple set of principles: … ”  Read more from the Delta National Park blog here:  The BDCP Playbook

Dan Bacher explores alternative legacies for Jerry Brown:  It’s dangerous ground we’re treading on, says Dan Bacher:  ” … The period when a long time pol enters the terminal phase of his career is fraught with danger for the public (and in this case the environment, too). The nearly spent executive is obsessed with his ‘legacy’ and in the case of Jerry Brown, following in the foot steps of his father, these manias are exacerbated and can be especially hazardous to the common good … ”  Rather than the tunnel, how about a pyramid, perhaps?  Suggestions from Dan Bacher here:  Alternatives to the tunnels for Governor Brown’s legacy?

Alex Breitler with some thoughts on the federal agencies comments on the BDCP:  While the LA Times article focused on the comments regarding the perceived bias, Alex Breitler looks at some other issues here:  Insufficient

Air quality impacts of the tunnel plan questioned:  San Joaquin County Supervisor Bob Elliott recently asked Valley air officials to look into the air quality impacts of the Governor’s tunnel plan: “ … “There may be a parallel here to the history of the Owens Valley and the diversion of Owens River water from Owens Lake,” Elliott wrote. “This diversion dried up Owens Lake leading to an air quality disaster of dust/particulate matter causing reported cleanup costs of more than one billion dollars. Surely, we would all like to avert this kind of unintended consequence.” … ”  Read more here from Alex Breitler’s blog: Air and water

Beneficiary pays and the BDCP:  With the contractors slated to pay 68% of the costs of the BDCP, Restore the Delta asks how does that line up with the principle of beneficiary pays?  ” … For years, BDCP has been touted as a “beneficiary pays” project. So it is interesting to see how that translates into the funding estimates in the BDCP Administrative Draft.  All benefits other than water delivery have been gradually shifted away from the state and federal water contractors, so that now BDCP assumes that the contractors will pay for just 68% of total BDCP funding.  (The cost split between state and federal contractors has not yet been determined.)  The other 32% – almost a third of the cost – is to come from a variety of public state and federal sources.  This pretty much lines up with everything about BDCP that is NOT tunnels — that is, all the rest of the conservation measures.  … ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  The real meaning of “beneficiary pays”

Design of the tunnels only 10% complete:  Well, it’s a start, says Restore the Delta:  ” … Bear that in mind as you read what follows.  The subject of the meeting was costs, financing, and take alternatives for a project for which THE FINAL DESIGN IS 90 PERCENT UNKNOWN.  And the design is for a project that has never been done anywhere before. … ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  Well, it’s a start

Tunnels just a water grab for fracking and agribusiness, says Dan Bacher, who writes about the clandestine connection:  ” … The alarming role that the peripheral tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta could play in increased fracking in California and the leadership position of the Western States Petroleum Association and oil companies in the state’s environmental regulatory processes are two scandals that the mainstream media has for the most part failed to cover.   … The oil industry, represented by Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association and the former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called “marine protected areas” in Southern California, is now pushing for increasing fracking for oil and natural gas in shale deposits in Kern County and coastal areas. … ”  Read more from Dan Bacher at IndyBay here:  New California Water Grab for Fracking and Agribusiness

The Public Water News Service blogs on the BDCP, Phil Isenberg and the coequal goals, and conservation easements here:  Here’s your weekly reality check! …and a prophesy!

So what would that massive tunnel boring machine look like?  Close to this one, although at 17.5 meters or about 57 feet, it’s actually bigger, but this tunnel boring machine is getting ready to dig a new tunnel underneath downtown Seattle.  Check it out here from Tunnel Talk:  Inauguration of world record Seattle EPBM

Aguanomics on overallocation in the Delta: The Aguanomics does a flashback post to this time last year, when he wrote ” … I talk to a lot of people about sustainable water management. One recurring question is “why does this situation persist, and what can be done to change it?”  My answer to this question is usually that it persists because politicians — the ones who can change the laws affecting water allocations — like it that way. Why do they not reform the system to put it on a sustainable basis? Because that action would reduce their power. … ”  Read more from the Aguanomics blog here:  Overallocation and why it persists  The Water Wired blog has some thoughts, as well as pulling out a link to one of Zetland’s essays:  A Broken Hub Will Not Wheel: Water Reallocation in California – read more from the Water Wired blog here:  Bay-Delta Blues: ‘A Broken Hub Will Not Wheel – Water Reallocation in California’ (@aguanomics)

Denham trumps Feinstein on water storage, so says the Cal Watchdog blog:  Senator Feinstein wants more storage, but it already exists.  It’s just that New Melones Lake is sitting half empty due to ‘regulatory overkill’ they say, but Representative Denham has a solution: ” …Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, has proposed H.R. 2554. In the bill’s language, it aims “to increase water storage availability at the New Melones Reservoir to provide additional water for areas served below the reservoir, and for other purposes.” The bill further specifies that none of the added water storage can go toward the dam’s “conservation account,” which already takes most of the water stored during dry years. … ”  Read more from the Cal Watchdog blog here: Rep. Denham trumps Sen. Feinstein’s call for more water storage

NRDC has amnesia, says the Cal Watchdog blog, citing NRDC Executive Director Peter Lehner’s reply to the Wall Street Journal over whether California is currently suffering from an historic dry spell or a ‘government-made drought’:  ” … Lehner blames the worst dry spell in California in 119-years for the six-month drought from January through June of this year. But 1894 was not the driest year in the last 119 years in California … California has experienced decades of dry water years without having to reduce water deliveries to farmers. Lehner is half right that farm water reductions are not universal.  But contrary to Lehner, these reductions are targeted at larger corporate-owned farms served by the Central Valley Project. … ”

A proposal for a new arena for the Golden State Warriors: is this a violation of public trust?

Public trust and the proposed basketball arena above the Bay:  The Golden State Warriors are collaborating with city officials to build a new arena that would stretch out over the Bay, but environmentalists are pondering if this is a proper use of land under the public trust doctrine?  The Legal Planet blog explains:  ” … in the landmark, 1971 decision, Marks v. Whitney, the California Supreme Court famously held that public trust uses “are sufficiently flexible to encompass changing public needs,” and include “the preservation of these lands in their natural state, so that they may serve as ecological units for scientific study, as open space, and as environments which provide food and habitat for birds and marine life…”  More recent judicial decisions in California and elsewhere similarly confirm that recreation is another legitimate use of public trust lands. So, to return to the question, is the proposed construction of a basketball arena on (or, more accurately, over) the tide and submerged lands of San Francisco Bay an appropriate use of these public trust lands? … ”  The Legal Planet blog explores the issue here:  Is the Golden State Warriors’ Proposed Basketball Arena a Proper Public Trust Use?

And lastly … The Trout Underground shows you what wildlife really does when you’re not looking (party time!)and check out these pictures of the FINA World Aquatic Championships from Barcelona from the Boston Globe’s Big Picture blog.

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