Blog round-up: The BDCP, Kern County water and Madera sprawl, Squaw Valley eyes Martis Valley water, a lesson in water bonds, the United Watershed States of America, and more!

Water on a caterpillar

Water on a caterpillar

It’s a jam-packed blog round-up today, so let’s start with the favorite topic du jour, the BDCP:

BDCP blog looks to dispel some stubborn myths:  “In light of the importance of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to most Californians, we thought it time to address some of the stubborn “urban myths” that are being perpetuated about the BDCP.  We encourage Californians to get involved with understanding the proposed plan and investigate the details for themselves.   Good water policy in California requires an open discussion of facts. It also requires a good faith acknowledgment that “final” answers aren’t, by definition, to be found in “draft” documents. Public draft documents open up the process for review and constructive comments.  Hopefully by correcting some more persistent myths, we will clear the way for a meaningful exchange of ideas during the public review process, set to begin on December 13, 2013. … ”  Read more from the BDCP blog here:  Correcting Stubborn Myths

Not surprisingly, bloggers disagree:  Restore the Delta counters the BDCP blog myth by myth here:  Delta Flows newsletter; The Save the California Delta Alliance does the same here:  BDCP Mislabels Facts as “Myths”

Valley Economy blog expands on the comparison between high-speed rail and the tunnels: Dr. Jeff Michael writes:  “A comment I made comparing the tunnels to high speed rail was printed in the San Jose Mercury News, “The financial hole in this is at least as large as the financial hole in the high-speed rail plan.”  People are interested in the comparison between these so-called legacy projects, so here are some of the simple calculations behind the statement.  In both cases, the “hole” in the capital financing for the project is an unrealistic projection of funds provided from a key source.  In the case of high-speed rail, the hole comes from federal government appropriations that are unlikely to materialize.  In the case of the tunnels, the hole comes from the unrealistic expectation that farms will pay the majority of the costs since the majority of the water is for irrigation. … ”  Read more from the Valley Economy blog here:  Comparing the Financial Hole in the Delta Water Tunnels Plan to High-Speed Rail

Measuring Delta freshwater inflow:  From Tina Swanson at the NRDC:  “I believe in the power of measurement.  Since I’m a scientist, I suppose this is to be expected.  Measurements are a way to answer questions, spot patterns, and connect the dots.  They make you think and, at least for some people, they can even persuade you to change your mind or your behavior.  For me, half of the fun of being a scientist is figuring out how to measure the piece of the puzzle that I need to understand how something works.   For the past ten years, starting with the Ecological Scorecard project and its successor, the 2011 State of the Bay report, I’ve been using measurements to track and evaluate the ecological health of San Francisco Bay, the West Coast’s largest estuary and my own backyard.  But these measurements, or indicators as we call them, aren’t just for show.  They are also powerful tools to help us understand how this threatened estuary—and the valuable ecological, commercial and recreational services it provides—is responding to our management, protection and restoration efforts. … ”  Read more from Tina Swanson at the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  The Power of Measurement, Part I: The State of Freshwater Inflow to the San Francisco Bay Estuary

Time to weigh in on the BDCP, says the Fox and Hounds blog:  “Earlier this week the state and its federal partners released the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and its corresponding draft EIR/EIS for public review, triggering a 120-day comment period, an important step in working toward a final Plan.   Developed by scientists and water experts, the intent of the Plan is to place the Delta’s estuary on the path to recovery and secure a reliable supply of water for 25 million Californians up and down the state. The time to weigh in is upon us, and this can be a challenging task. The Plan documents total 34,000 pages.  No, that’s not a typo. And, yes, it’ll take Iron Man to lift it. But as Mae West opined, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!” And, there is a lot of good in this Plan.  … ”  Read more here form the Fox and Hounds blog: Time to Weigh in on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan

Burt Wilson’s BDCP Christmas Story:  “Twas the night before Christmas at BDCP, But their eggnogs were downed amidst much misery. Their heads were hung low, their brows were all sweated,’Cause it looked like their EIR wouldn’t be vetted.  Six years or more they had worked through the night, To make us believe the twin tunnels were right. When pressed to explain things, they just hemmed and hawed, Cause they knew all along what they planned was a fraud. … ”  Read more here:  A BDCP Christmas Story

A different tunnel debate in court this week:  Alex Breitler reports on his blog:  “On Monday, a state appeals court will hear oral arguments from state officials and attorneys representing Delta landowners, who for years have resisted efforts by the Department of Water Resources to come onto their land and conduct environmental tests needed to build the twin tunnels. Thomas Keeling, the Stockton attorney representing the landowners, calls this a “milestone event” in an overview document which he released on Thursday. The case has been pending for a couple of years now, and some of the tests and surveys required to build the project have been delayed as a result.  … ”  Read more from Alex Breitler’s blog:  Tunnels debate in court next week

Dan Bacher: Dark Links: the MLPA Initiative and Bay Delta Conservation Plan: Dan Bacher writes: “The privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels at first may appear to be entirely different processes.  The MLPA Initiative, a process begun in 2004 under the Schwarzenegger administration, purported to create a network of “marine protected areas” along the California coast. The network was supposedly completed on December 19, 2012 with the imposition of widely-contested “marine protected areas” along the North Coast.  On the other hand, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan is a process begun under the Bush and Schwarzenegger administrations to achieve the co-equal goals of water supply reliability and Delta ecosystem restoration. The Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement was released to the public on Monday, December 9 and the 120 day public comment period will begin on Friday, December 13.  However, in spite of some superficial differences, the two processes are united by their leadership, funding, greenwashing goals, racism and denial of tribal rights, junk science and numerous conflicts of interest. When people educate themselves on the links between the two processes, I believe they can more effectively wage a successful campaign against the twin tunnels. … ” Read more here:  Dark Links: the MLPA Initiative and Bay Delta Conservation Plan

How Kern County water spawns Madera County sprawl: Lois Henry tries to wrap her mind around it:  “So, a pile of water banked in Kern County is being used to support a massive urban development in Madera County.  Before you try and wrap your head around how that’s geographically possible, there’s the whole question of whether the banked water (and other water slated for the project) even can be used for that purpose.  Then let’s tack on whether it’s cool that public resources are being used throughout this deal to basically benefit private businesses.  I swear when I started this I just wondered how the water would “move” up to Madera.  Why can’t anything ever be simple? … ”  Read more from Lois Henry here: How water from Kern grows sprawl in Madera

Squaw Valley thinks about drawing water from the Martis Valley:  “The Squaw Valley Public Service District has a problem that’s preoccupied it for the past 20 years — all of its water comes from a single source, the aquifer under the Squaw Valley meadow and ski resort east parking lot. This means that in the case of an emergency such as contamination of the aquifer, there is no backup water supply to turn to. In September, the district board approved studying a preferred alternative water supply — the Martis Valley aquifer, more than eight miles away. While the district has decided to take a step back and more fully explore water sources closer to Squaw Valley, the idea of exporting water from a neighboring community is raising some eyebrows. … ”  Read more from the Moonshine Ink blog here:  Squaw Valley Eyes Martis Valley’s Water

Blogger gives Northern Californians a lesson in water bonds:  Taking a tour and realizing she had much to learn, she embarked on some self-education, starting with some history to put it into context:  ” … Water rights, in California, are a tangled checkerboard of conflicting and overlapping laws attempting to protect varied and valuable interests.  Since California became a state, water rights have been hotly contested. The early cattlemen ignored boundaries and drove their cattle to the nearest stream; gold miners grabbed the nearest gold-bearing stream and ignored the water rights in their rush to protect gold claims. Hydraulic mining wrecked havoc that still remains, and the fishing stocks have not completely recovered from the fishermen who overfished the salmon populations or the profit- driven developers who blithely put houses in the middle of a vast desert and expected the water supply to support homeowners’ needs. ... ”  Read more here: Northern California Water Bond Education for Voters

Judge invalidates Las Vegas pipeline plan:  “A Nevadan district judge has invalidated the largest groundwater awards in the Silver State’s history. In a decision published Tuesday, Senior District Judge Robert Estes found assurances from Nevada State Engineer Jason King that the engineer’s office could monitor impact of Las Vegas pumps proposed for rural valleys covering more than 20,000 square miles and drafting more than 27 billion gallons a year “arbitrary and capricious.”  The decision is the third in a series of stinging rulings from Nevada courts reversing allocations made since 2007 by the State Engineer to Las Vegas water prospectors. In 2009 and 2010 Nevada’s district and supreme courts demanded that the State Engineer revisit groundwater awards to Las Vegas’s Southern Nevada Water Authority from Dry Lake, Delamar, Cave and Spring valleys because of unsound groundwater science and due process violations. … ”  Read more from the Chance of Rain blog here: Judge decrees awards of rural water for Las Vegas “arbitrary and capricious”

The United Watershed States of America:  The Water Wired blog posts a paper on the idea, which hearkens back to Welsey Powell: From the abstract: “Watersheds know no political boundaries. Except for the borders of a few countries and a few of the United States, this adage is true. Most watersheds include many state, provincial, and local governments and this “balkanization” is what makes the policy of watershed management so complex. Employing an historical exercise in counterfactualism, “what if” the United States were originally delineated on a watershed basis? “What if” each state was originally delineated by watershed, basin, or hydrologic planning unit? What would we learn as watershed managers from this exercise? This article reviews a selected history of watershed management in the USA as it relates to the many laws, regulations, and river basin commissions that were created to manage water resources that cross political boundaries. ... ”  Read more from Water Wired here:  The United Watershed States of America…Revisited

Blog honorable mentions:  So many blogs … blog overload!  Here are more worth a look:  The Save the SF Bay blog takes a look at the regulatory history of the Delta, the Valley Citizen blog asks where the birds are, GrokSurf’s San Diego blog says the Morena Reservoir is back in service…for now, and the NRDC Switchboard blog wonders if the FDA’s proposed rule is the swan song for triclosan

Photo credit: “Water on a caterpillar”, by flickr photographer Alexandre Dulaunoy, who gives no explanation as to how … or why …

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