Blog round-up: We can do more than pray for drought, BDCP’s myths, Friant wonders if it’s a BDCP beneficiary, Stanislaus groundwater lawsuit and more

full moon rocksBloggers on drought …

We can do more than just pray for rain, says NRDC’s Kate Poole: On Tuesday, the AP reports that the California Conference of Catholic Bishops asked people of all faiths to pray for rain in California, offering a suggested prayer for God to “open the heavens and let His mercy rain down upon our fields and mountains.” The dry conditions that California is currently experiencing  certainly warrant calls for mercy. We have just said farewell to 2013, the driest calendar year ever recorded across virtually the entire State. A glance out the window in almost every part of California confirms that 2014 is not looking much better so far. Our weather gurus offer little reason for hope, predicting measly if any amounts of rain and snow for the rest of the month.  Is our only option praying for rain?  While it can’t hurt, there are important lessons to be learned from our current dry circumstances about what the earthbound among us should and should not do to help California weather this and future droughts. Here are a few important ones. … ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  California’s Drought – We Can Do More Than Pray for Rain

So why won’t Governor Brown declare a drought?  Families Protecting the Valley speculates: When the governor was asked about why he wasn’t declaring a drought emergency he flippantly said, “Governor’s can’t make it rain.” Well now, if he could make it rain we wouldn’t need drought declarations, would we? Since the governor won’t give us a serious answer to the question, we are left to turn inward, to our own inquiring minds. We are left to fill the void he leaves by his non-answer. We are left to speculate. Maybe if our speculation is a little bit off-kilter the governor will see fit to correct us, but in the meantime it’s all we have.  Could it be…that if the governor declares a drought emergency he would be pressured into helping Central Valley farmers and this would anger his environmental constituents? … ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley:  “Can’t Make It Rain”

Urban users need to feel drought’s pain, says the Western Farm Press blog:  ” … While much of the mainstream press coverage centered on the bitter cold and several inches of snow that fell in places, California has somewhat quietly been suffering through its record-breaking drought with nary a satellite truck or storm chaser to be seen. Snow plows moving an inch of snow off of New York City streets seem to have garnered more attention than the fact Fresno, Calif., had less rain last year than did Yuma, Ariz.  Maybe that will change with news out of Sacramento, Calif., that officials in California’s capital city are recommending reductions in the amount of water used by the public. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press blog here:  California’s urban water users face cutbacks

San Francisco water solution:  Capture the fog:  The Burrito Justice blog has found a unique solution for the City by the Bay’s water woes:  ” … I demand that Ed Lee immediate tap the aquatic reservoir that is… @KARLTHEFOG.  There is a precedent to this in South America. Residents of Lima are building “Atrapa nieblas“, or fog traps. On a good foggy day they can capture 150 gallons of water.  We of San Francisco, being awesome, can do better than that. ... ”  How much better?  Burrito Justice pencils it out, even retools Sutro Tower …  Check it out here:  Sutro, Fog Catcher

Bloggers on the BDCP …

The BDCP Blog corrects more stubborn myths:  Apparently, no drought of myths as Karla Nemeth rebuts 23 of them, ranging in topics from project costs, funding sources, impacts and more.  Read it all here:  Correcting Stubborn Myths Part II

Friant unclear if they are among the ‘beneficiaries’ of the BDCP who will have to pay for it:  The Friant Waterline provides an example of why figuring out who will pay for the BDCP is not clear cut:  “It is not yet known whether or not the Friant Division’s water contractors are going to be expected to be among water supply beneficiaries who would be counted upon to help pay for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan’s $16 billion twin tunnels and costs of other related project elements.  Users of the Friant-Kern and Madera canals receive their water from the San Joaquin River. No BDCP benefits have yet been identified for Friant or the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors in the western San Joaquin Valley.  Those four agencies effectively enjoy the first right to use Central Valley Project water from the Delta as an exchange supply that permits Friant water to be diverted at Friant Dam. The exchange water is delivered through the Delta Mendota Canal to Mendota Pool, west of Fresno. … ”  Read more from the Friant Waterline here:  Friant Is Still Unclear Over ‘Beneficiaries’

Hydrowonk’s predictions for the BDCP:  The California Watchdog blog writes on Hydrowonk blogger Rodney Smith’s predictions for the BDCP:  ” … On Sept. 12, 2013, Smith presented a slide show to the Special Imported Water Committee Meeting of the SDCA titled, “Is Bay Delta Conservation Plan a Doable Deal?”  Included in his presentation are a number of predictions for the BDCP for 2014.  Smith’s predictions are based on statistical analysis, not on crystal ball gazing.  But it might prove interesting to Californians to look into Smith’s crystal ball about what is likely to happen with the BDCP in 2014. The BDCP is a strategy to re-engineer the freshwater biology of the Delta mainly for fish; and partly by building two tunnels under the Delta to ship water Southward. … ”  Find out what Hydrowonk has to say here:  Read more from the Cal Watchdog blog here: Hydrowonk makes 2014 predictions for Bay Delta plan

And bloggers on other things …

Resistance is futile …change is inevitable, says the California Water Blog:  Ellen Hanak and Jay Lund point out that change has always been and will always be a part of California: ” … Additional changes are on the horizon, driven by large, long-term physical processes such as sea level rise, climate warming, land subsidence, depletion of groundwater and accumulations of salts and nitrate in groundwater. Other drivers include further introductions of invasive species and the continuing evolution of California’s economic structure and governing institutions.  California water policy and management will need to prepare for these seeming inevitabilities and find solutions that support a strong economy and a healthy environment, while easing transitions for vulnerable groups.  Here is our list of 10 changes to come: … ”  Continue reading at the California Water Blog here:  Resistance is futile: Inevitable changes to water management in California

Stanislaus County groundwater lawsuit a game changer, says the Valley Citizen blog:  “Today’s news that a group called Protecting Our Water and Environmental Resources (POWER) will sue Stanislaus County unless it revokes permits for wells on the county’s east side is very likely to change the rules about groundwater throughout the state. Attorneys for POWER are arguing the well permits are in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act. They have a strong case.  In June, 2011, we summarized some of the local benefits from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Though local media prefer to shroud CEQA in mystery, it’s the best tool we have to prevent environmental degradation and exploitation of public resources. … ”  Read more from The Valley Citizen here:  Groundwater Lawsuit Will Change the Water Game

Mono Lake and the landmark D1631: On September 28, 1994, the California State Water Resources Control Board issued Decision 1631. That decision with its accompanying order marked, if not the end, at least a major turning point in many years of judicial and administrative activity regarding challenges to diversions of water in the Mono Basin by the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP). In 2014, the twentieth anniversary of D1631, it is worth reflecting on how D1631 came to be.  DWP diversions in the Mono Basin were an outgrowth of its construction of the Los Angeles aqueduct. That facility diverts water from the Owens River to Los Angeles. Both to augment its water supply from the east side of the Sierra and to provide water for hydropower plants to be built in the Owens Gorge, DWP sought water rights to divert water from four freshwater creeks tributary to saline Mono Lake north of the Owens Valley. In 1940, they were granted those rights. … ”  Read more from the Mono-Logue here:  Saving Mono Lake: The road to D1631, twenty years and counting

WRDA bill contains provisions for financial penalties if agencies miss deadlines – and that’s a problem, says NRDC Switchboard:  “The Senate bill would essentially require the Army Corps of Engineers to issue daily fines to the Fish and Wildlife Service or other agencies that miss a deadline to which they had previously agreed.  Considering that agencies are underfunded and understaffed, the wisdom of financial penalties that will only aggravate these problems is suspect. This is bad. But the House language is worse. … ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  Yes, Virginia, the House WRDA Bill is Worse than the Senate

The recent New York Times article missed a few points, says Jennifer Pitt:  When the New York Times writes something alarming about water, people pay attention, she notes, but the Times may have missed a few things:  ” … Water conservation in agriculture will be more of a challenge. While the Times cites laser-leveling of fields as a practice to reduce farm run-off, this practice may not actually save water.  Much of the water that leaves farms is already going back into our water supply where it is used over and over again. …  Historically in the West, water has been permanently taken out of agriculture to feed the thirst of our growing cities, and the acreage of irrigated fields has declined.  That’s something to consider as Western communities make choices about water supply:  do we want lawns if it means we have to buy-up and dry-up our irrigated open spaces and our culture of farming and ranching? … ”  Read more from National Geographic’s News Watch here:  What the New York Times Misses About the Colorado River

Daily Kos looks at Peak Water: Peak water is here and unlike peak oil, there is no substitution for water. But like peak oil the low-hanging fruit of our fresh water supply has been picked and what is left requires costly environmental and financial impacts to extract. Peak water is about reaching physical, economic, and environmental limits on meeting human demands for water and the subsequent decline of water availability and use. There is a vast amount of water on the planet but sustainably managed water is becoming scarce. … ”  Read more here:  Peak Water

Rivers, RIPs, and recovery:  “If you give a rip about western rivers and their native fish and wildlife, you should know the term RIP.  By that I do not mean Rest In Peace–although that too has relevance, given how many of the West’s native fish species have been extirpated from all or many of the streams they once inhabited.  Instead I mean Recovery Implementation Programs, which have a stated goal of recovering species protected by the Endangered Species Act.  These RIPs have become a preferred approach to ESA compliance for river-dependent species, at least in the Interior West.  So you know a little about the ESA but don’t know what a RIP is?  No surprise, given that you won’t find any mention of RIPs in the ESA itself or even its implementing regulations.  The only place you will find RIPs, in fact, is in western river systems where water management and use cause problems for threatened or endangered species (mostly fish and birds). … ”  Read more from the Western River Law blog here:  Rivers and RIPs: Recovery? Really?

Photo credit:  “It was a full moon” by flickr photographer Elizabeth Haslam

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