Blog round-up: Groundwater insanity, water rights and water myths, drought and 5% allocation, BDCP, where are the Kennedy’s and more

water artCalifornia’s lack of statewide groundwater policy is insanity, says the Water Wired blog:  Overdraft in the Central Valley is no secret, Aquadoc Michael Campana points out:  ” … California refuses to do anything substantive about the subsidence issue. It lets local districts handle groundwater management. There is nothing wrong with this but without some kind of statewide oversight it is a fruitless endeavor. The state’s approach is a great example of “California Dreamin‘” and the operational definiton of insanity. … “  Read more from the Water Wired blog here:  Insanity, California Groundwater, Yogi Berra, and The Mamas & The Papas

It is insane and the problem’s not new, says the Valley Citizen blog:  “Most Valley citizens were surprised to read that parts of Merced County are sinking as much as a foot a year. The cause is subsidence—the collapse of land that occurs when too much water is pumped from an underground aquifer.  Subsidence isn’t a new problem in the San Joaquin Valley. As we’ve written here, a portion of Valley land including Los Banos and Kettleman City features the largest known area of subsidence in the world—some 1500 square miles. Subsidence is making news now because it has crept both north and west, is starting to have seismic effects on the Delta-Mendota Canal, and is even touching the California aqueduct.  It would appear from the news of the day that the Valley’s problems with subsidence are a local phenomenon, but in fact they’re symptomatic of a harsh reality Californians have tried to avoid for well over fifty years—the state’s unreliable water supply. … ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen here:  Flash—It’s Not Just a Groundwater Problem

Peripheral tunnels won’t address the problem, says Restore the Delta:  “Restore the Delta Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla said:  “San Joaquin Valley’s land subsidence is the real threat to California’s water delivery system.” RTD said the report shows that the Westlands and Kern Water District mega-growers are engaged in unsustainable growing of permanent crops on arid land, and that the governor’s Peripheral Tunnels don’t address this root cause of the state’s water problem. ... ”  Read the full statement here:  Peripheral Tunnels Opponents Respond to USGS Report on Subsidence: Tunnels will do NOTHING to Address Threat to Valley; Water Takers Weren’t Supposed to Plant Permanent Crops

Kate Poole responds to the Los Angeles Daily News’s editorial last week on water rights:  She writes: the editorial, “California is drowning in ancient and unfair water rules:”  ” … It’s noteworthy because the editorial correctly debunks some of the common myths about California’s water system and, in doing so, points the way to several needed reforms: Myth 1 – urban southern California is the biggest water hog in the stateWrong. As the editorial points out, “farming accounts for more than 80 percent of the state’s water usage, while providing less than 5 percent of its gross domestic product.” This is not to say that farming is not important – it certainly is. But because farmers laid claim to a huge amount of California’s water rights in the 19th and early 20th century, the State’s first-in-time, first-in-right system means that they continue to control a vast majority of the state’s water supply, even though agriculture is a far smaller piece of the State’s economic pie than it once was.  Meanwhile, many urban southern California water agencies have impressive plans to be highly efficient in their use and reuse of their piece of the remaining 20 percent.  When will we demand that agriculture be as efficient with this scarce resource?” … ”  Continue reading from Kate Poole at the NRDC here:  Restoring Fairness to the World of California Water

How prepared is California for another dry year?  Depends on your location, says Doug Obegi: Metropolitan Water District has been doing its part, notes Mr. Obegi:  ” … By reducing reliance on the Delta, improving water use efficiency, and investing in regional water supplies (and storage), Southern California shouldn’t face water shortages if 2014 proves to be a third dry year.  Other areas of the state, which haven’t reduced reliance on the Delta, haven’t built their own storage to save water for future dry years, and haven’t invested as much in conservation and local supplies, may not be as well off.  This illustrates the wisdom of the 2009 Delta Reform Act’s establishment of state policy to reduce reliance on the Delta and invest in conservation, recycling, stormwater capture, and other local supplies to increase regional self-sufficiency. … ”  Read more from Doug Obegi at the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  Is California Prepared for Another Dry Year? It Depends…

State Senator Andy Vidak says 5% water allocation is unconscionable:  The fourth generation farmer representing Kings County and portions of Fresno, Kern and Tulare counties, told Cal Watchdog blogger writes:  ” …“A five percent water allocation for our Valley is unconscionable; it will wipe out any hope of a thriving agriculture community and the jobs it brings,” Vidak said.  While Vidak said California has had two dry years, the Central Valley is suffering under the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, a federal program to restore flows to the San Joaquin River from Friant Dam to the confluence of Merced River, in order to restore Chinook salmon in the river. “Billions are being spent on dry salmon runs,” Vidak said. “We’re spending $2 million to $3 million per fish!” … ”  Read more from the Cal Watchdog blog here: Vidak warns: Water water everywhere, nor any drop to drink

SWP officials announce 5% initial allocation, but how often do they get a full allocation?  Alex Breitler takes a look at his blog here: Cuts get deeper and deeper for water agencies

Seismic upgrades to the state’s water conveyance system is a mature choice, says the BDCP blog:  “As California has matured as a state, we continue to take well-conceived steps toward lessening our potential for harm from earthquakes. Updating building codes ensures our homes, offices, and places we shop stay structurally sound and that public safety is prioritized. Bridges are upgraded or replaced, hospitals reinforced, and our infrastructure is armored against catastrophic failure.  Take for instance, upgrades to one of the Bay Area’s primary water conveyance, the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System.  About $4.6 billion will be spent to seismically upgrade the aging system. For the 2.5 million people it serves, that works out to about $1,840 per individual. When you take into account having access to fresh water versus not, the investment value seems evident.   The 25 million Californians who get some or all of their water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta face a similar risk. … ”  Read more from the BDCP blog here:  Mature Choices for a Mature State

Burt Wilson takes issue with handout at DSC meeting: Specifically, he’s bugged by the statement, “After the BDCP has been approved as complying with state law, the DSC will hold at least one public hearing on the BDCP Plan and then incorporate it into the Delta Plan.”  He writes: ” … It is the last statement I have a problem with. The way it reads, it means that the BDCP will be incorporated into the Delta Plan regardless of what is said at the public comment meeting. In other words, we are being handed a fait accompli! So why should we show up? Is this what the state legislature had in mind? Public input be damned!!  You see, this is the kind of language that makes those of us who love the Delta believe that the “fix” is in on the BDCP’s twin tunnels. … ”  Read more from Burt Wilson here:  Wake up,California!  The Central Valley Business Times interviews Burt here:  AUDIO: Critic says BDCP’s outcome decided before it happens

Captain Breitler pilots hyacinth-eating machine around the Delta:  And he’s got pictures to prove it.  Check it out here: Move over, Captain Phillips

Governor Brown’s prior “small is beautiful” legacy could sink water plans:  During Governor Brown’s first term in office, one of his central planks of his political platform was “small is beautiful,” writes the Cal Watchdog blog:  ” … Fast forward to 2013, and Brown is poised to push through his more than $50 billion package of big water projects: a Delta Twin Tunnels Plan, a Delta Conservation Plan, a Delta Levee improvement project, and a downsized statewide water bond requiring voter approval. One of the surprising changes in public opinion that may present an obstacle with voters to Brown’s water plan is the “small is beautiful” movement that paradoxically he made popular with many Californians. … ”  Will it sink Governor Brown’s tunnel plans?  Read more from the Cal Watchdog blog here: Will Gov. Brown’s ‘small is beautiful’ sink water plan?

Where are the Kennedys?  Families Protecting the Valley pays tribute to the anniversary of JFK’s passing by re-running a newsletter article from last year:  ” … There’s something about this article that sticks out, something that we wouldn’t see today. You have President John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, and Representative B. F. Sisk, a Democrat, and Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, a Democrat, working together to build a water project. What’s wrong with this picture? JFK’s speech is inspiring, a bipartisan support for growing food and jobs for Americans. Why do we no longer hear this from the Democrats? So much of what JFK said that day is applicable today. It would be nice to hear from some of our leaders what we heard from him that day, that new water storage was for the betterment of our Valley, our State, our Nation, and for all around the world who are fed by the agricultural bounty produced. … ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:  Where are the Kennedys?

Kennedy’s last speech in California:  Alex Breitler remembers JFK by posting this video:  ” … Seven weeks before he was killed, the president dropped in on Shasta County to dedicate Whiskeytown Dam, the last piece of a project to divert the Trinity River from its own native watershed into the Sacramento Valley. Today, diverted Trinity River water flows down the Sacramento River into the Delta and is pumped south to farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. … ” More from Alex Brietler here: Kennedy’s last California speech

And lastly … Solve water scarcity by using oil tankers to haul water for Norway:  “Towing icebergs to ease water scarcity is yesterday; transporting water in supertankers is today.  What if ready-to-drink filtered water, 500,000 tons at a time, could be consistently shipped across the world in old oil vessels and the effort prove financially viable? Thorsteinn Gudnason believes it can happen — very soon.  Bulk shipments of water involve tremendous overhead and the trick is pulling a profit, but Gudnason, managing director of Reykjavik-based Aqua Omnis, says his company is ready to transport water wherever it’s needed. “We [Iceland] have an abundance of high-quality spring water underneath our surface which we are offering to the world … It flows from Iceland into the ocean, quenching no one’s thirst.” … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press blog here:  Oil tankers, not icebergs, a water scarcity solution?

Photo credit:  Water art by flickr photographer Nora.

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