Blog round-up: Bloggers debate portfolio alternative, a scenario with no tunnels and tunnel muck, plus $12,600 salmon, ‘bronze buckshot’ and more!

Water Fall altThe blog(ish) round-up’s cup runneth over with commentary, so let’s get to it:

Costs of the ‘portfolio approach’ outweigh benefits, says the BDCP blog:  The BDCP blog takes a look at the State’s analysis of the ‘portfolio approach,’ a plan which calls for a 3,000 cfs tunnel and reduced amounts of habitat restoration with the cost savings being applied to water recycling and conservation projects.  The BDCP blog says the portfolio approach won’t work:  ” … the Department of Water Resources has conducted extensive economic and water modeling analysis of a potentially smaller water conveyance fix and habitat restoration for the Delta than proposed by BDCP. The findings point to some fundamentals of engineering and math. A tunnel that is a third of the size is in no way a third of the construction cost. Constraining the future water system reduces public water supplies. It increases reliance on 50-year old pumping facilities in the southern Delta that are of concern to the environmental organizations themselves. And it doesn’t free up nearly the necessary funds to replace the lost water supplies.  … ”  Read more from the BDCP blog here:  Smaller Doesn’t Mean Cheaper

Portfolio approach provides more water and does so more reliably, says Kate Poole:  Firing back on the NRDC Switchboard blog, Kate Poole writes:  ” … NRDC recently analyzed the amount of new water supply that could be generated from $5 billion of investment in water recycling and urban water conservation. Those investments yielded between 926,000 and 1,240,000 acre-feet of permanent new water annually.  That’s a lot of new water that could be created in areas that are now more dependent on water exports from the Delta than they want to be.  Developing water locally implements the State’s policy to reduce reliance on the Delta.  If you add this new water supply to the 4.2 MAF average supply from the Delta that the State says a smaller, less expensive tunnel would yield, the portfolio approach provides more water and a more reliable water supply at less cost than provided by the current BDCP two big tunnels approach. … ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  Try as They Might, the Natural Resources Agency Can’t Debunk the Portfolio Approach to Resolving Threats to the Delta

Where would California’s water supply be without the tunnels?  Hydrowonk renders his opinion:  ” …  Over the past couple of weeks, I have heard about alternatives to the no BDCP scenario defined by DWR.  What proves true will have a substantial impact on the cost of BDCP water.  Under alternative “no tunnel” scenarios, the best case for the cost of BDCP water would be well over $1,000/AF for a non-firm water supply.  There are some scenarios where the BDCP investment may yield even a lower water supply.  In those circumstances, the BDCP investment in tunnels would become the “bridge to nowhere” in waterworld.  Whatever one’s views about the BDCP, in the end we are rolling the dice on what is, in fact, the future world with and without the tunnels. … ”  Read more from Hydrowonk here:  What would be California’s Water Supply Situation without the BDCP and What It Means for Tunnels

Great pyramids of tunnel muck:  Alex Breitler has some Google Earth shots which graphically depict how much material would be excavated for the tunnels:  ” … In fairness, the state recently announced changes to the project that could reduce the amount of excavated material. Plus,  far from being abandoned in enormous piles towering over Delta farmland, proponents say tunnel muck could be put to beneficial uses like strengthening levees and restoring habitat. The illustrations do reinforce, however, just how massive the Bay Delta Conservation Plan is. … ”  Read more from Alex Breitler’s blog here: The Great Pyramids of Tunnel Muck

Melinda Terry takes issue with the Delta Independent Science Board:  While touring restoration sites in the Delta with the science board, Ms. Terry said the ISB was catering to special interests and not getting the whole story:  ” … “You are not getting the whole story when making decisions in a bubble,” she continued. “And that bubble will burst when confronted by reality — the reality where Congressional members in the Delta region have invested a great deal of political capital for approval of federal funding for the Central Valley flood protection system — and especially those expected to last beyond the next flood event.  “Californians approved bond measures for public safety and reduced flood risk instead—not habitat projects to allow more exports of water from the Delta. … ”  Read more from the Central Valley Business Times here:  Is the Delta Independent Science Board really independent?

This year’s decision to relax Delta water quality standards to “critically dry” gave exports priority over salmon, says Restore the Delta:  The State Water Board’s Decision 1641 set flow and quality standards to protect the Delta as well as establish temperature requirements to protect salmon.  This year, however, State Water Board officials allowed the water projects to operate as if it were a critically dry year for the stated purpose of saving cold water in Lake Shasta for salmon.  ” … No mention was made of the need to reduce exports from the Delta in lieu of violating the standards or changing the temperature requirements. During the period of violation of the water quality standards, the exports from the Delta continued at quantities substantially in excess of the quantity of cold water claimed to have been saved in Shasta. For the period of May through August exports exceeded 1.4 million-acre feet.  It appears that the water gained by violation of the standards was exported. … ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  2013 Water Rights Decision Elevates Water Exports To Priority Over Protection of Salmon and Adequate Supply for Delta Farmers

No “silver bullet” but “bronze buckshot” instead, says the Inkstain blog:  ” … The Metropolitan Water District board yesterday handed out 16 grants to local Southern California water agencies that looked very much like what this metaphor implies – lots of small projects targeted at funding preliminary work on lots of little local solutions … ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  “Bronze Buckshot” at the MWD

Shasta dam raise and the $12,600 salmon:  C-WIN and the Environmental Water Caucus pencil out the projected cost for each salmon that might return as a result of raising Shasta Dam:  ” … Several alternatives are under consideration by Reclamation, and all are flawed. The clear favorite and most “cost effective” alternative — CP-4 — is projected to produce 813,000 extra salmon smolts for the Sacramento River system. Sounds like a lot?  It isn’t.  At the typical adult salmon return rate of .13%, this will result in 1,057 additional adult salmon. The construction costs allocated to the taxpayers for this project are $654.9 million.  What’s the bottom-line meaning?  Assuming a 50-year life span for the dam enlargement project, each returning fish will cost taxpayers $12,600!  … ”  Read more from C-WIN here:  Coming soon to a Supermarket near You: The $12,600 Salmon: Prorating the “Benefits” of Raising Shasta Dam

Hoopa Valley Tribe applauds judge’s decision to allow Trinity River water to  be released to prevent Klamath fish kill:  Danielle Vigil-Masten, chairwoman of the Hoopa Valley Tribe says the fact that a last-minute lawsuit could have caused a massive fish kill points to the need for long-term solutions in the Trinity and the Klamath:  ” … It is regrettable that this latest lawsuit has reignited the war for the Trinity River, one of the fiercest in the history of California water. At stake are Northern Californian’s way of life, including thousands of years of tribal existence, and commercial and sport fishing economies.  In this suit, irrigators located hundreds of miles from the Trinity River revived arguments that water for salmon, environmental conservation and cultural preservation should more profitably be used to grow crops. These crops are grown with subsidized water on marginal lands.  This latest attempt to use environmental laws to block water for environmental protection is especially hypocritical and deplorable if we look at the history of the Trinity water struggle. … ”  Read more from Indian Country Today here:  Fate of Northern California at Stake in Trinity River War

Take a tour of the Tracy Fish Collection Facility in the video from the Bureau of Reclamation: The Tracy Fish Collection Facility is a complex system of louvers, bypasses and holding tanks operated to protect and salvage fish, natural to the area, from the nearby C.W. “Bill” Jones Pumping Plant. The facility collects Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fish species as a primary mitigation feature for the pumping plant and returns them to the Delta.”

Blog honorable mention: Several stories on water issues geared towards Southern California from Los Angeles Magazine.

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