Blog round-up: Blogger on the BDCP’s economic analysis, the water bond, shortage on the Colorado River, drought, and more!

Pier cling-onsThe BDCP blog counts the benefits of the plan:  The BDCP is still a work in progress, says the BDCP blog, but the benefits will be many.  The plan will pump $84 billion into the economy and $5 billion in net welfare benefits, and other benefits such as   ” … The estimated $24 billion investment in this new water system may be thought of as a sort of insurance policy. (A policy paid mostly by the beneficiaries, rather than taxpayers. Those who actually use the water will pay 68 percent of the cost.)  Instead of spending money after an earthquake or flood breaches the Delta’s system of levees (remember New York City and New Orleans in the aftermath of destructive hurricanes) California would spend now to help the state and its federal water partners continue to provide a reliable supply of water to farms, businesses and families statewide. … ”  The BDCP runs it all down here:  Cost and Benefits Report: BDCP Investment a Boon to Delta and State

However, the Legislative Analyst’s Office is less optimistic:  Alex Brietler’s blog has the link to the LAO’s report which states: ” …“According to BDCP, the benefits of the tunnels are 35 percent to 40 percent greater than the costs to the water users that will fund them. However, two factors could affect whether the project has net benefits. First, the cost of the project could be higher from cost overruns. Second, the benefits could be lower than estimated because of lower-than-anticipated water demand or costs of alternative supplies.”   Read more at Alex Breitler’s blog: LAO is less optimistic

Easements might prevent tunneling under Staten Island:  Alex Breitler points out: ” … The Nature Conservancy owns the island, which is protected by a conservation easement to “encourage and promote wildlife-friendly agricultural practices on the property.”   Whether the project can proceed with that easement in place will doubtless be the subject of future debate. … ”  Alex Breitler has the easement documents posted.  Read it all here: How will ‘Craniacs’ respond?

How about no tunnels at all, says the Public Water News Service, who blogs that the BDCP took a tiny step in the direction when it caved to Delta residents, but he has a better idea:  ” … Now if they can just get rid of the tunnels altogether and go for the no-tunnel alternative (with levee reinforcements), they would make everyone in California happy! Except maybe the water contractors and water agencies who are looking to gain promotions, raises and job security from the BDCP fiasco. … ”  Read more from Burt Wilson here:  The BDCP Caves in to Delta Residents

Can California afford a new water bond?  The California Economic Summit blog praises the efforts of the legislators to trim down the water bond, include efforts to ban earmarks, but there is one question:  ” …  before this debate goes any further, one vitally important issue must be addressed. While the Senate’s initial water bill and the Assembly’s principles are tackling many of the water challenges facing the state, they don’t deal with the critical underlying question: Does the fiscal capacity of the state’s general obligation structure have the ability to support additional demands?  In other words, can California afford this? … ”  The California Economic Summit blog takes a look at the numbers here:  Can California afford a new water bond?

Shortage on the Colorado: Will Arizona be cutoff before California?  The Inkstain blog reports from a conference held on the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court ruling on Arizona vs. California: ” … Udall stood up before a room full of lawyers, law school professors and water managers and said, in essence, that water law doesn’t matter. OK, that’s a rhetorical overstatement of a nuanced point. What Udall was really saying is that there’s a world inhabited by water law junkies like me that accepts the reality that, for example, Arizona’s junior rights mean it gets cut off completely before California loses a drop. And then there’s “the reality of the public” where people, faced with such a situation, are going to say, in essence, “WTF?” (my initialism, not Brad’s) … ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  Brad Udall on the Colorado River and “the reality of the public” 

Have we reached peak water in the American West?  Peter Gleick says the growing crisis isn’t tomorrow, it’s already here, and western water management is unraveling:  ” … The old adage of the blind men describing an elephant based on their experience touching different parts of it applies to western water. In the past few years, we’ve seen bits and pieces of the puzzle: a well, and then two wells, and then a town goes dry. A farmer has to shift from water-intensive crops to something else, or let land go fallow. Vast man-made reservoirs start to go dry. Groundwater levels plummet, yet the response is to try to drill new and deeper wells and pump harder, or build another dam, or move water from an ever-more-distant river basin. Competition between industry and farming increases. And politicians run back to old, tired, half-solutions rather than face up to the fact that we live in a changed and changing world. … ”  Read more from Peter Gleick here:  Peak Water in the American West

Northern California water managers respond to drought:  Recognizing the signs of a dry year, water managers met back at the end of January to discuss drought preparation:  ” … Much of our focus is how to assure more reliable water supplies during dry periods for all beneficial purposes—farms, birds, fish, cities and rural communities, and recreation. Our various discussions across the region have led to a heightened awareness in the Sacramento Valley about the need to collaborate and better prepare for future dry conditions, including climate change scenarios that could lead to more extreme dry periods. … ”  The themes and recommendations that resulted from those meetings has been compiled into a report.  Get the link to the report and read more at the Northern California Water Association blog here:  The signs are everywhere – California is experiencing record dry and warm conditions. The first part of 2013 was the driest on record. Will this continue?

Preparations underway for the upcoming LA Aqueduct Centennial:  This November marks the 100th year of completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which will be marked by a variety of events, including exhibits, a centennial garden, and even a hundred mules walking on the aqueduct.  The Mono Lake Committee is preparing as well:  ” … Although the purchase of land in the Mono Basin for water rights began in 1912, export of water from the Mono Basin into the LA Aqueduct didn’t begin until 1941. The Committee has prepared a centennial fact sheet that compares the Mono Basin extension to the original aqueduct, the second LA Aqueduct, and the other sources of the city’s water supply. … ” Read more from the Mono-Logue blog here:  1913-2013: Los Angeles Aqueduct centennial

The Santa Ana sucker fish case:  Guest blogger runs down the jist of the case:  “A safe and reliable water supply is of the utmost importance to any growing community. In Southern California, a continued water supply is critically important because the region relies on imported water to support the population. However, the need to provide a reliable water supply is at odds with the need to protect critical habitat for the Santa Ana sucker, an endangered fish that calls the rivers and streams of Southern California home. In late July, a group of Southern California water districts filed arguments to overturn a 2012 court ruling that the districts believe will hurt their ability to provide  customers with an adequate water supply. … ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here:  Reliable Water Resources vs. Environmental Concerns: A Court Battle over the Santa Ana Sucker

Honorable blog mentions:  The Water Wired blog says, What? No US National Groundwater Monitoring Network?, the Pacific Institute Insights blog explains Why Water Managers Should Embrace Social Media and the Mono-Logue blog will make you envious of their job in the post, Stream monitoring: Mill Creek & the Wilson diversion system

Cool pictures:  Check out these incredible pictures of water:  Amazing Photo Technique Reveals Water Like You’ve Never Seen It Before

And lastly … Enjoy this funny piece of satire on political denial of pollution that is well worth watching (hat tip to the Aguanomics blog):

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