Blog round-up: Restore the Delta fundraiser, a secret BDCP website?, Delta Dialogues have a bad day, north Delta impacts, and much, much more

Photo by the Army Corps of Engineers

Photo by the Army Corps of Engineers

Today’s blog round-up is action-packed, so much I simply can’t stuff it all in the headlines!

Restore the Delta event raises over $500,000 for the group’s war chest:  The Central Valley Business Times covers the event, with Dr. Jeffrey Michael being the keynote speaker:  ” …  “I’ve come to the conclusion that being an advocate is a good thing,” he said. “A Delta advocate cares about this special place. They want future generations to enjoy a Delta that is fishable, farmable, swimable and all those nice things. But being a Delta advocate is being more than that. To me, it means facts over fear, being an advocate for good government and demanding that government agencies follow their own rules and be responsible for taxpayer dollars. It means standing up for enduring value, and having an environmental sustainability, fairness, democracy, and the rule of law.” ... ”  Read coverage of Michael’s speech plus view videos of the speeches from the Central Valley Business Times here:  Economist: State ignores its own studies about Delta  You can also read the text of Dr. Michael’s speech at the Valley Economy blog by clicking here.

A secret BDCP website?  Burt Wilson over at the Public Water News Service seems to think so:  ” … This secret BDCP website was found by Delta activist Bill Wells when he was searching for who was going to do the EIR/EIS plan for the BDCP’s twin tunnels. It’s actually run by the Department of Water Resources which is responsible for its confidentiality. Note the letters “bdcpeireis” in the website address. Notice that the site is copyrighted by Natoma Technologies, who is evidently going to prepare the EIR/EIS.   This is highly amusing since Jerry Meral and the BDCP have been pushing transparency for six years now and despite this very public pronouncement, Dr. Meral himself has had numerous secret meetings with water agencies trying to arrange funding for his twin tunnels. … ”  A secret BDCP website meant to hide information from the public?  Or a simply a mundane file and data transfer site?  You be the judge:  Outted website here:  Bay Delta Conservation Plan EIR/EIS Project Collaboration Environment  Public Water News Service blog here:  Secret BDCP website. Is it legal?

Delta National Park blog & Peter Gleick:  Delta exports not ‘ecologically sustainable’:   The Delta National Park blog takes a look at a graph illustrating water exports and in-Delta water use, and elaborates on Gleick’s comment that the exports are “not ecologically sustainable” and concludes:  ”  … The lobbyists, political representatives and shadow groups that represent the interests of the SWP need to get some perspective. There also needs to be greater transparency regarding the intended uses and users of new (aka reliable) water.  Too often these groups talk about food security, yet much of the water used in their territory goes to the production of non-staple products like almonds and pomegranates. One day i believe the hidden, powerful fracking oligarchs will put enormous pressure on politicians to build out the capacity of the tunnels to its fullest. That will truly be the end of the Delta. … ”  Read more here:  “Not ecologically sustainable”

Southern California Water Committee makes its case for the BDCP to Southern California businesses in this commentary:  ” … Why should Southern Californians be concerned about the Delta? Because the Delta has been stretched to a breaking point and the water that many Californians depend on is at risk. The ecosystem is in steep decline. Environmental restrictions on water deliveries meant to protect Delta fish have also greatly reduced the flexibility to meet statewide water supply needs. The need to secure our water supply is reinforced by leading scientists, engineers, water managers and other experts, including the U.S. Geological Survey, who warn that a significant portion of the state’s water supply could be wiped out for up to a year if a 6.7 magnitude earthquake strikes Northern California.  The statewide economic toll of such an outage would be disastrous.   We need a plan.  And we have one. Called the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, this seven-year work was produced by a team of federal and state water experts, scientists and public water agencies working together to balance the needs of the environment with California’s human and economic needs. … ”  Read more here from the Valley Industry and Commerce Association:  BDCP: Securing Our Water Supply and Strengthening the Economy

Delta Dialogues encounter rough waters:  After a successful August meeting, the September meeting didn’t go so well:  ” … The daylong gathering at the Delta Conservancy included testy exchanges, early departures by a handful of stakeholders, side conversations while others were speaking, the failure of participants to stick to the agenda, and difficulties and miscommunications among the facilitation team.  For the first time in the 18-month-old process, one participant, declined to say anything during “check in” process that starts each meeting, a simple, often lighthearted exercise in which participants are asked to say a few words about how they’re feeling as the meeting begins.  The group spent much of the time debating what they wanted to talk about – water supply? Conveyance? Undoing constraints in the system? A sequenced approach to the BDCP? Management of water? A Western Delta diversion, perhaps with a permeable levee?  This tug of war over the agenda represented a reversal from the previous meeting in August, when the group seemed to have agreed to look at hybrid alternatives to the BDCP conveyance plans. … ”  Read more here from the Delta Dialogues:  Are the Delta Dialogues Stuck?

Melinda Terry briefs the North Delta Water Agency on the BDCP’s impacts to the north Delta:  At a meeting earlier this month, Melinda Terry outlined the impacts to the north Delta.  She noted how provisions in the Agency’s contract with DWR could come into play:  ” … That agreement could ultimately affect the possible permit process that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan would receive from federal and state environmental agencies to implement the plan. Without approval from these agencies, the project will not move forward.  However, it appears that after BDCP modeling, project operations will still meet NDWA water quality criteria and protect the area from negative impacts like reverse flows, seepage and lower water levels. The same cannot be said for the West and South Delta, where reverse flows and salinity intrusion could possibly become a major factor if the project is implemented and eventually constructed.  “We might have to wait for actual impacts,” said NDWA Manager Melinda Terry, who conducted the informational hearing. “We might have to wait for litigation.” … ”  More coverage from the River News Herald here:  NDWA holds critical informational hearing on BDCP impacts to Delta

Environmental Water Caucus letter opposing BDCP is a ploy to get the NRDC’s smaller tunnel through, says Families Protecting the Valley:  They write:  ” … We believe that the NRDC knows no matter how much they might not like the tunnels, Los Angeles will get water because of their large voter base. The people of L.A. might not know where their water comes from, but as soon as it’s not there they will find the political will to get it one way or another. So, the smaller tunnels might not be the NRDC’s perfect answer, but it might be their best and only answer.  So, what do we make of the latest opposition to the BDCP by a coalition of over 30 environmental groups calling themselves the Environmental Water Caucus who say they don’t want the BDCP (tunnels) because it “will destroy the ecosystem, the fisheries and the agricultural economy of the Delta.” Are they fighting with the NRDC? Not likely. More likely that they are introducing a more radical negotiating position that will make the NRDC’s position look more reasonable… ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:  How Enviros Negotiate California Water

No way, the EWC’s position is no isolated facility EVER, responds John Herrick, South Delta Water Agency:  He fires back in a letter: ” … First of all I would point out that the positions of the EWC and the environmental groups supporting/participating in the BDCP process are diametrically opposed. Although I am not privy to every conversation and strategy meeting of every environmental group, there is little doubt that the EWC position on the twin tunnels is in no way associated with a negotiation strategy to further the notion of a smaller tunnel. The EWC members (generally) have the same position as those of us in the Delta, which is no isolated facility; EVER. I realize this may sound extreme, which I will explain below, but nonetheless there is no chance that those of us holding that position will eventually agree to a smaller facility and thus we would never be part of a strategy to get make a smaller facility more attractive. … ”  Read the letter here:  Herrick_10 10letter


Maven in her first panel appearance

Southern California (and yours truly) talks water at local event:  The folks at Zocalo Public Square and Occidental College brought together a diverse group of panelists to talk about the future of water in California last Sunday.   There were three panels; other panelists included Jay Famiglietti, Jason Peltier, and Emily Green.  I was seated on the third panel along with Richard Atwater and Ronald Bailey; our panel was moderated by Bettina Boxall.  It was my first time on a panel; hopefully I did okay.  You can read all about it and view podcasts of the panels at the Zocalo Public Square here:  Will We Ever Get Sane About Water?

Pat Mulroy in a race against nature?  The Inkstain blog comments: ” … That’s how the risks facing by Las Vegas, Nev., were framed this week in a piece in The Henderson Press. But as one of the members of my water geek brain trust, Phil King, likes to point out, reservoir levels are a wonderful way of tracking drought and/or plenty in a single indicator because they integrate both how much water nature puts into the lake and how much water humans take out. … ” A race against nature, or a race against herself?  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  Vegas: a race against nature?

Colorado River mapping tool ends at the border:  A little closer to home, Jennifer Pitt over at National Geographic’s Newswatch blog checks out the USGS Streamers tool, and finds a few surprises:  ” … On the Streamers website, I pointed to the headwaters of the Colorado River in Rocky Mountain National Park and clicked on “trace downstream” to see the river’s route.  What I saw was a river course stopping abruptly at the Mexican border.  In many ways this mapping flaw illustrates why the Colorado’s delta was allowed to deteriorate so badly:  a federal government that sees borders as the limit of its responsibility is one that will not manage holistically. … “  Another surprise: the tool shows the Colorado River flowing into the Salton Sea, which is in some ways rather spot on …  read more here:  The Missing Colorado River Delta: Rivers, Borders, and Maps  The USGS Streamers Tool, oddly enough, is still online despite the shutdown.  You can check it out here:  Streamer Tool

Peter Gleick on water, snow, and ice in a changing climate:  Many scientists, policymakers, and the public have only a partial understanding of the implications of the changing climate, but we already know enough to be worried, says Peter Gleick. One example is the connection between climate, snow, ice, and water resources:  ” … My early research on climate and water showed that climate changes were likely to reduce the amount of snow we get in mountainous areas, increasing the chances of rain instead of snow and accelerating snowmelt. Since then, more and better research has confirmed and expanded this understanding.  In the late 1980s, this was all hypothetical – it is what our models told us was likely to happen with warming. Those models proved correct, and we now see these and many other changes occurring. Some of these scientific findings were recently summarized in the latest, compelling IPCC release … ”  Read more from Peter Gleick at the Significant Figures blog here:  Unavoidable Adaptation to Climate Change: Water, Snow, and Ice

Blog honorable mentions:  Watch live migrating salmon on the Nature Conservancy’s Salmon Cam, GrokSurf’s San Diego blog on recycled water and SB 322, and the begarden blog shows three designs for passive stormwater management in residential gardens.

And lastly … Delta vision, 1960:  Check out this 72-page report to the State Legislature on potential Delta water facilities dated December 1960 which details what were envisioned as the possibilities for the Delta at the time:  A barrier at Chipps Island, a Single Purpose or Comprehensive Delta Water Project and more.  Lots of photos and diagrams!  Find it at the Internet Archive here:  Report to the California State Legislature on the Delta water facilities as an integral feature of the State Water Resources Development System (1960)


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