Blog(ish) round-up: The BDCP hogs the stage as bloggers chat about the BDCP’s economic analysis, the sandhill cranes, Delta Dialogues, habitat restoration, the legislative hearing and more!

drop of waterToday’s round-up is blog-ish, due to the inclusion of a few non-blog items …

State Water Contractors release fact sheet examining Sunding’s and Michael’s cost-benefit studies:  Dr. Jeffrey Michael, an outspoken critic of the BDCP’s economic studies, has asserted that the BDCP’s costs exceed likely benefits.  This fact sheet compares Dr. David Sunding’s 244-page report and Dr. Jeffrey Michael’s 13-page analysis side by side.  “Looking at the studies side-by-side allows for a clear understanding of the analysis that went into crafting each study,” said Terry Erlewine, general manager of the State Water Contractors.From the public water agencies’ perspective, Dr. Sunding’s study was a far more in-depth, large-scale analysis. It went above and beyond what is required for an economic analysis of a Habitat Conservation Plan – and it is important that we use the best information available in order to make important decisions for our ratepayers and the state as a whole.”  Read the fact sheet from the State Water Contractors here:  BDCP Cost-Benefit Studies: A Comparison

It’s not a benefit-cost study, says Dr. Michael (but not in response to the fact sheet … this blog post predates the fact sheet which was published yesterday):  Dr. Michael continues to assert that the BDCP’s economic report is being misrepresented.  He points to the statement made by Ms. Nemeth at the recent Delta Stewardship Council when she said that the BDCP’s economic analysis has determined a ‘$5 billion economic benefit that is mostly the result of reducing the risk of future shortages.’:  Dr. Michael responds:  ” … Given how much the Delta Plan expounds on the subject of risk, I am kind of surprised Phil Isenberg or another member of the Delta Stewardship Council didn’t interject right there to ask Ms. Nemeth if her use of the term risk was consistent with the Delta Plan, especially since she said most of the benefits come from risk reduction.  The Stewardship Council’s Delta Plan goes to great lengths to define risk as probability times consequences, it even has graphics illustrating the concept.  But the BDCP Economic Analysis doesn’t treat a future reduction in water exports without BDCP as a risk with a probability, it treats low probability risks as certainties with 100% probability.  …  ”  Read more here from the Valley Economy blog:  BDCP Officials Continue to Inaccurately Describe Their Economic Study

Will the BDCP yield a reliable water supply?  Not without storage, says the Hydrowonk blog:  “Remarkably, DWR’s operational studies suggest that the BDCP’s water supply benefits are mostly in normal and wet years.  Supply reliability means the ability of a water resource to provide water in drought conditions.  The BDCP mantra about water supply reliability has stood the concept on its headThe missing link: storage.  Without it, the BDCP project looks like a new junior priority water resource for California water users.   … ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here:  Does the Bay Delta Conservation Plan Yield a Reliable Water Supply?

The BDCP’s new alignment under Staten Island will have benefits for the birds, says the BDCP blog:  The permanent footprint of the realigned tunnel will only be a few dozen acres at most and and soil pulled from under the island could be used to raise levees or subsided areas on the island:   ” … Anyone who has witnessed the spectacle of cranes looping in great chains over Interstate 5 to settle for the evening at the Cosumnes River Preserve realizes that the birds adjust to human activity.  But DWR and its BDCP partners are concerned about construction activities disturbing the cranes.  To minimize disturbance, the BDCP would implement stringent avoidance and minimization measures year round.  The measures would limit activities near roosting sites and place barriers between construction and roost sites where necessary. Although cranes show loyalty to wintering sites, they are intelligent and fairly adaptable.  A working group of experts is being convened to find other ways to not only minimize disturbance but ultimately improve Delta conditions for cranes. … ”  Read more from the BDCP blog here:  Protecting Sandhill Cranes under the BDCP

Seems everyone has a twitter account these days, and the sandhill cranes are no exception:  You can follow them on twitter here: @MrSandhillCrane

Delta Dialogues discuss the BDCP:  My apologies, this post is a few weeks old, but well worth the read.  The Delta Dialogues is an effort led by the Delta Conservancy to bring various Delta stakeholders together in a facilitated discussion to talk over the issues and develop a shared understanding.  This post describes the July meeting where participants discussed the BDCP and governance in a six hour meeting:  “The conversation, while full of good humor, was so intense that the participants kept talking and declined to take breaks, even when prompted by facilitators. But participants said the Dialogues, as they progressed into greater detail, might also be running up against some of the same obstacles as previous efforts to bring together different Delta stakeholders.  “It was a really interesting discussion today… a lot of serious points touched on,” said Leo Winternitz of the Nature Conservancy as he departed the room. “I’m just afraid that Delta Dialogues is ending up where a lot of Delta discussions end up — in the Sargasso Sea.” … ”  Read more from the Delta Dialogues here:  To BDCP or Not to BDCP?

Habitat restoration, recreation and the BDCP: The River News Herald takes a tour of Cache Slough and Liberty Island with Snug Harbor’s Nicky Suard where much of the habitat restoration is slated to occur:  ” … The Yolo Bypass is currently being experimented with to produce juvenile salmon that are getting quite bigger than those that stay in the main channels. Steamboat Slough continues to get narrower at the mouth, decreasing from 350 feet to under 150 feet in recent years due to the berm tests and planting of tulles, in some cases – over 1,000 cubic feet. Suard explained that the tulles are actually bad for fish.   “Salmon can’t hide in there,” she said of the berm tests. “A lot of these projects talked about being proposed have actually already been done.”  The berm tests start upstream of the Sutter confluence on federal land. These $1.5 million projects or more have been lost in years with high water, as the berms are washed out and the money is wasted. The question is, has enough science been done to justify changing habitat that drastically?”  Read more from the River News Herald here:   Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta recreation in danger

Restore the Delta comments on the legislative hearing:  Looking at the structure: The Authorized Entity Group, the Permit Oversight Group, the Adaptive Management Team, and the Implementation Office, RTD comments:  ” … If this doesn’t look to you like a recipe for effective governance, you are in good company. The Legislative Analyst’s Office said that lines of authority and accountability are unclear, and noted that the Implementation Office doesn’t have statutory authority over the agencies whose activities it is supposed to direct.  The Delta Reform Act gave the Delta Stewardship Council responsibility for some of the activities BDCP will pursue (like adaptive management), but it isn’t clear how BDCP will integrate with other Delta processes or how much authority the DSC will actually have over BDCP.  Is that what legislators had in mind when they voted for a reform in Delta governance?  … ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  Delta Flows Newsletter

Legislative hearing reveals secret agenda, so says the Public Water News Service blog:  The jig is up for the BDCP, says the post:  ” … Natural Resources Secretary John Laird and Charlton Bonham, the Director of Fish and Wildlife were the two heavyweights who took the opening questions. Laird, commenting on the many confusing drafts of the BDCP plan, said, “The confusion has resulted because people think all those decisions or whatever was in the draft was final, it absolutely isn’t.” (Then why did they release the drafts to the media, John?) Bonhom allowed that “Adaptive Management is based on the perspective that policy choices should be treated as large-scale experiments.” (Omg! the mad doctors are in charge!)   Both statements just added to the confusion! … ”  Read more here:  Is there a secret agenda going on in those State Legislative Hearings?

Fat levees are a cost-effective alternative to the tunnels, says Restore the Delta:  ” … Proponents of “fat” levees have not suggested that they are a complete alternative to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), but only that fattening levees is necessary whether the tunnels were constructed or not, and that fattening levees is a crucial part of a better solution. “BDCP is supposed to be a habitat conservation plan, but the main ‘conservation measure’ being proposed is building the Peripheral Tunnel,” said RTD Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla. “Fat levees are a more cost-effective alternative to tunnels and ought to be evaluated as part of the overall conservation plan.” … ”  Read more here:  Peripheral Tunnels Opponents: Fat Levees are Cost-Effective Alternative to Tunnels

Delta historical maps and drawings now online:  Yesterday’s Stockton Record carried a story about how the documents have been digitized: ” … “Because of more and more litigation and interest with everything going on with the Delta, those maps have been used more and more,” said David Stuart, director of the museum, keeper of thousands of historic records from across the county.  “They’re getting more wear and tear,” Stuart said. “That’s why it’s a priority to digitize them.”  About 200 maps are now online, the society announced recently, including drawings of levee profiles, levee cross-sections and schematics. … ”  Read the story from the Stockton Record here:  Old school Delta maps finally join the digital age

And lastly … Those lucky Fishbio blog people!  Here is a work assignment I wouldn’t mind having … would you?  Taking stock of Big Chico Creek

Photo credit:  “A drop of blue water” by flickr photographer ERIO.

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