Blog round-up: New Year blogs, plus the BDCP, drought, Sacramento sewage overflows, fracking, the ESA and more

Water CometIt’s the first blog round-up of the new year and there’s certainly no drought of blogs to cover, so let’s start with some blogs for the new year, then move on to the drought and other things …

Bloggers on the New Year …
  • Sandra Postel blogs on water in 250 words or less in this New Years post:  Asked to contribute an anthology on a basic question several months ago, Sandra shares her response:  ” … As 2014 begins, I thought I’d share these words.  They reflect, I hope, the profound shift in consciousness that is needed if we are to ensure that enough water is provided for all living things long into the future.  “In a world divided by race, tribe, gender, religion and so much more, it is water that connects us all.  The molecules of H2O that comprise sixty percent of each of us have circulated across space and time throughout the ages.  They move through the air, the trees, the birds and bees, and through you and me – and may have quenched a dinosaur’s thirst so very long ago. … ”  Read the full post at National Geographic here:  As a New Year Dawns, A Reflection on Water
  • Four water resolutions for the New Year, and they aren’t take shorter showers, turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth, or buy low flow toilets.  You can do more than that, says Brian Richter at National Geographic:  ” … It may surprise you, however, to learn that when you look at your use and dependence on water more comprehensively – beyond your use of water inside your home – you will find much bigger ways for you to help conserve our planet’s water supplies.  If you are concerned about water shortages or want to do as much as you can to protect freshwater habitats, you might consider the following four ways to substantially lighten your personal water footprint.  The arrival of a new year is always a good time to adopt new resolutions! … ”  Read the full post here:  Four Water Resolutions for a Sustainable Planet
  • ACWA’s Tim Quinn looks back at the accomplishments of 2013:  “With the year nearly over, it’s a good time to look back at what was a busy and productive 2013 for ACWA. Above all, our members once again came together to foster agreement on some of the state’s most complex water issues, choosing to build consensus rather than focusing on differences.  Time and time again this year, we provided effective and unified leadership as California was dealing with several critical water issues of statewide significance — Delta planning, the water bond and groundwater concerns, to name a few. Notably, in September the ACWA Board unanimously adopted the association’s Statewide Water Action Plan (SWAP). Developed over several months through collaboration with a broad cross-section of member agencies, the plan outlines 15 actions to improve water supply reliability, protect water rights, protect the integrity of the state’s water system and promote better stewardship. … ”  Read more here:  Looking Back at a Busy 2013
  • 2014 promises a water fight, says Cal Watchdog: The blog responds to the recent editorial by the Southern California Watershed Alliance’s Connor Everts and Food and Water Watch’s Adam Scow:  ”  … The authors write, “An independent cost estimate found that water bills and property taxes for Angelenos would need to rise by $2,000 to $4,500 per household over 40 years in order to fund Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s $1.5-$5 billion cost-share of the project.”   A different estimate comes from the Metropolitan Water District, which pegs the cost of the tunnels at $5 to $6 per household per month. Moreover, the cost of the tunnels would not be carried only by the City of Los Angeles. Rather, the cost would be spread over all of Southern California water ratepayers in six counties as well as Central Valley farmers. Northern California would only pay for re-engineering the Delta ecosystem for fish. Most Northern cities would pay nothing for the tunnels. … ” Read more from the Cal Watchdog blog here: 2014 promises water fight over Delta tunnels

Bloggers on the drought …
  • Dry conditions magnifies need for Californians to conserve, says Richard Atwater, Southern California Water Committee:  ” … The dry conditions underscore three things. First, the whole state needs to actively conserve water. It must be a priority for the entire state. Second, we need to continue to develop local water supplies to fend off the impacts of dry conditions. This means capturing more stormwater when it’s available, cleaning up groundwater basins and recycling water. We’ve already made great strides on this front but there is still more work to do. And lastly, the dry weather underscores the need to invest in a system that allows us to access water from the Sierra Nevadas when it’s plentiful, so that it can be stored and used as needed—for example during extended dry periods. The system we have today is not reliable enough to fulfill that need. The twin tunnels proposed under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan would make this water supply accessible during wet periods, in addition to protecting it from earthquakes and other natural disasters. ... ”  Read more from the Southern California Water Committee blog here:  Drought Watch: 2013 Marks Driest Year on Record, Need for Californians to Conserve Magnified
  • Drought impacts on humans are many, points out the Western Farm Press blog:  The blog takes a look at the recent snow survey and says:  ” … This is not good, folks. While comparisons to the drought of 1976-1977 that nearly claimed Shasta Lake and had other key reservoirs at record lows are noteworthy, we’re really in a much worse predicament than we were then as California’s population has increased by 16 million to more than 38 million today.  As water continues to evaporate from the landscape, so too does the human condition continue to decline in California. More farmland sits fallow, putting more farmworkers out of work and their former employers looking for other sources of reliable income.  … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press blog here:  Drought’s impacts on California’s human condition
  • 19th century thinking won’t help drought, says the Valley Citizen blog:  ” … California’s present water system has reached the end of its ability to serve the  population of an ever growing state.  Recognizing this fact, the Governor’s office is proposing construction of multi-billion dollar tunnels underneath the San Joaquin Delta to move water from northern California to the south. The proposal ignores the fact that in the future, northern California will need to keep an ever greater percentage of its water to accommodate population growth.  Meanwhile, other politicians have proposed building bigger dams to hold more water for dry years. It is only a matter of time before the Auburn Dam proposal resurfaces. On the west side of the Valley, the state has debated for years the construction of a huge second dam south of San Luis Reservoir that would flood the incredibly beautiful Los Banos Creek basin.  All of these proposals are 19th century solutions that will not fix the 21st century problem that is facing California. The problem is that the state’s rainfall doesn’t yield enough fresh water to serve the future larger populations without destroying the ecosystems of the entire state. … ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen blog here:  19th Century Thinking Won’t Help Drought, by Bruce Frohman
  • The Mono-Logue blog considers the impact of drought on Mono Lake:  ” …  Here at the Mono Lake Committee we are, of course, fans of water awareness and water conservation practices. We’re also big fans of data and information. Greg Reis is the Mono Lake Committee’s Information & Restoration Specialist, which means he tracks the weather and water data in the Mono Basin. When I asked him for some perspective on what it all means for Mono Lake, he gave me this great response:  “Last winter, the big storms just stopped coming about a week before the new year, and a year later we are still waiting for them to return. This has made the 2013 calendar year the third-driest year since 1932 measured at Cain Ranch, with only 3.5 inches of precipitation. The annual average is about 10.5 inches.” … ”  Read more from the Mono-Logue here:  On snow surveys, drought, water conservation, and Mono Lake
And bloggers on other things …
  • Contraction or complexity for the Delta? asks the Delta National Park blog:  “Since my time has been preoccupied elsewhere for a while now, my apologies for what follows: A long opinion piece on the merits of the BDCP, and a restatement of the premise that the Delta’s evolution is best managed toward a more complex space of multiple public and private activity. Otherwise, the current mechanisms and masters of Grifftopia will win out.  The impetus behind this post is the Sierra Club’s recent release of an alternative to the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan’s (BDCP) plan to rip apart the historic settlement landscape and seasonal habitats of the North Delta for what many would no doubt consider to be the greater good. Unlike the BDCP, Sierra’s is a comprehensive proposal, and intelligently links California water issues to their logical extensions—the future of the Westlands Water District, groundwater monitoring and regulation, and statewide conservation and storage. … ”  Read more here:  Will the Delta evolve towards contraction or complexity?
  • Sacramento can reduce its sewage overflows through water conservation, says the NRDC Switchboard blog:  Larry Levine writes: “In about 770 communities around the country, sewer pipes are designed to carry sewage and rainwater in the same pipes – but treatment plants don’t have the capacity to treat it all when it rains.  In these places – mainly in the Northeast, Midwest, and Pacific Northwest – raw sewage is dumped into rivers, lakes, and coastal waters (and sometimes into streets and basements) when storm runoff overloads the local sewers.  Sacramento, California, is one of the few cities outside those 3 regions to suffer from this particular problem. … At several locations along the Sacramento River – which flows south to the endangered San Francisco Bay Delta – the city of Sacramento releases over 200 million gallons of partially-treated or untreated sewage in a typical year, whenever the combined amount of storm runoff and sewage exceeds the capacity of the treatment system. … ”  Read more here:  Use Less Water…Pollute Less Water: Sacramento Can Reduce Sewage Overflows Through Water Conservation
  • Frackers want BDCP water, says All-Gov: Skeptics who question the state spending at least $26 billion on a makeover for Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta that they think tilts heavily toward agribusiness and industrial interests can add one more factor to that side of the equation—fracking.   The folks who drew up the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) have a webpage that publishes answers on a weekly basis to questions about the looming mega-project that would redirect water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers through two tunnels to farmers, businesses and thirsty Californians to the south and west. … Water interests want more water and—in case it wasn’t clear before, the BDCP makes it clear now—that includes oil and gas drillers using hydraulic fracturing. In answer to the question “Will water pumped from the Delta be used for fracking in the Central Valley?” the answer was yes. “Fracking presumably would be an ‘industrial’ use of water.” … ”  Read more from All-Gov here: Frackers Await the Flow of Water from the $26-Billion Delta Project
  • The Delta’s own Agatha Christie: Alex Breitler writes:  “Joan Klengler emailed me the other day after reading about the latest effort to brand the Delta. Turns out Klengler, who lives in the L.A. area, is the author of a series of novels called the “The Delta Mysteries,” which uses the estuary as a backdrop for all sorts of nefarious plots. “Hopefully I have done my best to promote it (the Delta) as a beautiful and magical place to visit,” Klengler told me.  ... ”  Find out more at Alex Breitler’s blog here:  The Delta’s own Agatha Christie
  • Peter Moyle blogs on the Endangered Species Act:  “The Endangered Species Act turns 40 this week, and I have been closely involved with the law for as many years as a fish biologist at UC Davis.  I arrived on campus in 1972 with the goal of developing a research program on the ecology of California’s highly endemic, but poorly known fish fauna. For better or worse, I found myself involved in endangered species issues from the start. The law has been extraordinarily valuable in promoting studies of endemic species and in keeping them from going extinct. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  The ESA, fish and me
  • No extinction, no matter what … huh? Families Protecting the Valley says something’s out of whack:  “The first statement below is from the Discovery Channel. It tells us that “over the course of Earth’s history, anywhere between 1 and 4 billion species have existed on this planet…the overwhelming majority of these species are now extinct.”  In the next article, the Discovery Channel tells of the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act and assures us, “the law says unequivocally that it is the official policy of the United States not to let any species go extinct, no matter what.”  One of these is out of whack. We will let you guess which one. … ”  Read more here: No Extinction! No Matter What!
  • A water primer for Central Valley residents:  The Valley Citizen blog runs down the issues and says:  ” … Water, once the dullest of subjects, has become an engrossing topic even to mainstream Valley media. But mainstream media seldom explain water issues in terms of the political realities that shape them.  Fortunately, new media have made it easier than ever to become well informed about water in our region. With a little background reading and periodic checking of key websites, any Valley citizen can become better informed about the political forces that have diverted water away from the public interest and toward their own ends. … ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen blog here:  The Valley Citizen Water Primer
  • Water Wired blog kicks off the new year with a post on the jump in FEMA flood insurance rates:  ”  … Constituents are incensed at the increases and letting the MCs know. Now, Congress wants FEMA to back off. The MC most outraged is Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), whose name is on the law (duhhhh…). … Maybe Maxine ought to read the bills to which she affixes her name and/or understand the likely consequences. Raise flood insurance rates and not expect people to get worked up?  … ”  Read more here:  2014’s First Post: A Flood of Optimism?

Photo credit: Photo by flickr photographer Jo Christian Oterhals.

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