Blog Round-Up: Bloggers on House Republican’s legislation, drought preparedness, choices and policies, plus Owens Lake Dust Control, Vegas and water conservation, and more

Inforgraphic from the Pacific Institute Click for a larger size.

Infographic from the Pacific Institute
Click for a larger size.

There may not be much precipitation in our atmosphere these days, but there’s no drought of commentary in the blogosphere …  So many blogs, I may have to start producing a second blog round-up …

We’re all in this drought together … well, unless Nunes sacrifices the environment first:  Doug Obegi at the NRDC’s Switchboard Blog writes: ” ... [W]hile the State and most stakeholders are working together to get through the drought, Congressman Devin Nunes and many of his far right colleagues in the Central Valley are apparently gearing up to reintroduce legislation to overturn the Endangered Species Act, preempt state environmental and water rights law, rescind the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, and generally blame environmental laws for the lack of rain and snow.   Yet in their zeal to stop the restoration of the San Joaquin River and to eliminate protections for salmon and other native fish under the Endangered Species Act, they’ve lost sight of the facts. ... ”  Read more from the NRDC’s Switchboard blog here:  Read more from the NRDC’s Switchboard blog here:  We’re All in this Drought Together (Unless Congressman Nunes Sacrifices the Environment First)

Alex Breitler goes on a search for snow and finds a little:  Video and pictures here:  Our search for snow

Drought preparedness and choices:  On the Public Record wonders about the ultimate wisdom of coming to rescue when small towns make bad choices:  “Head of the Drought Task Force said that a dozen or so small towns face running out of water in the next 60 days. The prospect of trucking water, or bringing in mobile desal plants, looms. Some of these towns may be very poor, and haven’t had the wealth to make their water supply resilient (second tank, line to a different source, pump lower in their reservoir to reach more volume). Some of them may simply not have other sources. Some of them, though, may have been living in denial about the risk of bad events. They may have had the wealth but been unwilling to pay higher rates.  Were it mine to do, I’d say that we, the people of the State, will help you once. … ”  Read more here:  Before the water trucks roll in.  See also this from the Inkstain blog: In a drought, who runs out of water, and who pays?

20% conservation is not enough in a drought:  “While embarking on a comprehensive education campaign and asking for a 20% reduction in water usage is a positive step, it simply does not go far enough in light of the realities of California’s water situation and sends the wrong message to Californians about what our water future must look like.   First of all, reductions should be mandatory. While some local agencies and municipalities are already pursuing such mandates, the Governor must send a stronger message by requiring reductions statewide. ... ”  Read more from PCL’s Green Roots blog here:  20% is Not Enough: Water Conservation in the Drought

Nothing unprecedented here:  On the Public Record says the State’s response is a little predictable:  ” … What the drought director said yesterday is utterly, straight-down-the-line, conventional thinking for the State agencies. There is nothing “unprecedented” about the State’s drought actions. He pretty much distilled standard operating procedure with every statement. … ”  How so?  Read more here:  So entirely precedented.  Then read the follow-up, Unprecedented, my ass.

More from On the Public Record:  There’s more here: Grasshopper and the Ant comes to mind. and And pretend climate change isn’t about to make us poorer.

More challenging than 1977:  “With all the discussions surrounding the dry year, there are many comparisons to 1976-77, one of the sharpest dry periods in recent history. Yet, as we look at and plan for 2014, it is becoming increasingly obvious that managing our precious water resources in 2014 will be much more challenging than it was in the 1970s. ... ”  David Guy explains here: More Challenging than 1977?

Drought as a stimulus for water policy changes:  Jeff Mount writes in the new PPIC blog:  “As this year unfolds, California will have to come to grips with the significant consequences of the drought emergency declared by Governor Brown. Drought Watch will be a regular feature on this blog, tracking the drought and its policy consequences.  As droughts go, this one is both brutal and unprecedented. We are in the grips of a “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge,” a term coined by Daniel Swain of Stanford University for the high-pressure area that has been pushing storms to the north of us for over a year now. Coupled with the low rainfall and warm temperatures over the previous two years, this dry period is impressive. ... ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Drought Watch: Drought Declarations and Water Policy

Golf courses in the desert and groundwater overdraft:  Kate Poole at the NRDC Switchboard notes that Speaker Boehner spent some time golfing in Palm Springs while he was out here, where he might have noticed those fairways were quite green: ‘ … It takes a lot of water to keep 124 golf courses looking green and lush in the desert – about 124,000 acre-feet per year according to the Coachella Valley Water District’s website.  That’s nearly one-fifth of all the water used by the City of Los Angeles in a year.  A mere 12 of these golf courses use recycled water for irrigation, with over 100 of Coachella Valley’s golf courses still relying on groundwater and Colorado River water for irrigation – withdrawals that are contributing to significant groundwater overdraft in the area. So what are local water officials doing about this groundwater overdraft?  They’re importing water from another overtapped supply – the San Francisco Bay-Delta via the State Water Project – and using that water to replenish those groundwater basins that have been overdrawn to keep thousands of acres of golf courses green – to the tune of more than 2.5 million acre-feet of imported water since 1973. … ”  Read more from Kate Poole at the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  Real Solutions for Meeting California’s Water Needs

Same old debate: State blames feds, feds blame state, nothing happens: This from Families Protecting the Valley:  “There are only a couple of ways for Central Valley farmers to recapture water lost because of environmental lawsuits: 1) from the Delta, through the pumps, despite the smelt. 2) from Friant Dam to farmers and cities instead of to San Joaquin River Restoration. The smelt is a federal Endangered Species Act problem. River Restoration is a federal problem. To solve a federal problem we need the U.S. House and U.S. Senate to pass legislation. The House has done so. The Senate will not even take up the argument. Why? Because the ESA is an article of faith for the Democratic Party. It is sacred to them. They believe the smelt is an indicator fish, meaning it’s like the canary in the coal mine. If we lose the smelt, they believe, it’s an indicator of the breakdown of the health of the Delta. This is a theory, not a fact.  … ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:  Same Ol’ Debate

Can California be saved?  Should California be saved?: Back in Washington DC, The Hill blog writes:  ” … Every time, no matter what the problem, the same solution will be provided: central government tinkering with a system flawed from the beginning by its own creation. And that is what will happen now in California. There will be vast technical solutions advanced by the federal government, but the problem was inherent from the beginning.  Should Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Southern California have been settled in the first place? It is a desert and clearly there are water problems. But centralized governments — America’s, Russia’s, China’s or anyone’s — can think only in big solutions, like changing the flow or rivers, building aqueducts like the Romans. Should we not run a pipeline to the Southwest from the Great Lakes and drain that? … ”  Read more from The Hill blog here:  Can California be saved? Should it be?

Drought emergency and fracking: Dan Bacher from the Governor’s drought declaration:  ”  … While the protest took place on the sidewalk on the north steps of the Capitol, activists from Oil Change International and deployed a three-story banner across from the Capitol with the message: “Governor Brown: Climate Leaders Don’t Frack. Ban Fracking Now.”  Adam Scow, California Campaigns Director of Food and Water Watch, pointed out the irony of Brown pushing the tunnels and fracking while California is suffering from a record drought. “By allowing fracking to happen in California, Jerry Brown’s actions are in direct conflict with his rhetoric today on water conservation and climate change,” said Scow. “Brown’s current water and energy policies mismanage the people of California’s water supply, and this – not his ‘green’ talk – will be what defines his legacy.” … ”  Read more from the Red, Green, and Blue blog here: In a drought emergency, why is California pushing fracking?

Be frugal, be flexible, and be inclusive, advises the Delta National Park blog:  ” … In this era of scarcity the interests of the haves and have-nots will intensify, the resilience of the myth of American innovation is going to be tested like never before.  What California needs is to develop a Jugaad culture of innovation: be Frugal, be Flexible, and be Inclusive. This is the way that this era will not be a zero-sum game of water supply and reliability, something that the tunnels ensure. … ”  Read more from the Delta National Park blog here:  “Be frugal, be flexible, and be inclusive.”

ACWA’s Tim Quinn hikes out into the middle of Folsom Lake, and gives this observation:  ” … The eerie and disconcerting sight had a big impact on us, and it struck me that everyone should have this stark and visual experience of the power of drought.  As I write this, Sacramento is poised to log the longest dry stretch in its recorded weather history, dating back to the 1870s. The utter lack of rain and snowfall – on the heels of two consecutive dry winters – has created graphic evidence at Folsom Lake that Mother Nature is just not delivering the precipitation we need this winter. Each dry and sunny day that passes makes it less likely that will happen. ... ”  Read more from ACWA’s Voices on Water here:  Ultra-Low Folsom Lake Underscores Power of 2014 Drought

Drought could cascade through the state’s infrastructure:  The Cal Watchdog looks at the grim news:  “California’s drought disaster is real, and could cascade through several levels of the state’s infrastructure. Here’s what could happen: 1. A cutback of 95 percent of water for some farmers and 20 percent for Southern California cities; 2. A resulting loss of hydropower from pumped storage reservoirs; 3. Wildfires.  Throw in the shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, which isn’t caused by the drought, and the electricity crisis could be even worse. … ”  Read more from the CalWatchdog blog here: Drought could cascade through state infrastructure

A scheme to throw good water after bad: Leave it to a crisis to bring out the worst in those who helped bring it about.  Led by Devin Nunes, three San Joaquin Valley Republicans are trying to overturn legislation that restored flows to the San Joaquin River after over two decades of litigation.  Never mind that a wide consensus of scientific opinion agrees that restored flows are necessary for the survival of San Joaquin Valley salmon runs. Never mind also that restored flows are critical to the survival of the San Joaquin Delta.  Nunes and fellow Republicans David Valadao and Kevin McCarthy want to keep pumping water south to Tulare County farmland, where the soil has been ruined and the groundwater is increasingly contaminated. … ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen blog here:  A Scheme to Throw Good Water After Bad

Drought isn’t Mother Nature – it’s weather warfare:  This from the ChemTrails: The Exotic Weapon blog:  ” … Much of the state went through all of 2013 with no significant rain. Why? What will it take to wake people up to the “weather warfare” being waged on them? … ”  Read more here:  Chemtrails Drought Catastrophe Targets California

So what are the twin tunnels for?  Bruce Ross at the Record Searchlight blog says the BDCP officials keep saying that the BDCP is a plan to reinforce the reliability of the water currently moved through the Delta: ” … And they’re right. That plan doesn’t call for moving any more water. But this is California. There’s plan upon plan upon plan. And the same Brown administration that is avidly pushing the Bay Delta Conservation Plan also released, late last year, a California Water Action Plan. What’s it say? Here’s the relevant part … ”  Read more from Bruce Ross’s blog here:  What are the Delta tunnels for?

Ice cubes and conservation:  Jay Famiglietti vacations in Portland, and writes:  ” … After a day or so of dining out all over town, I noticed a very distinctive common denominator.  Our water was being served, almost everywhere, without ice.Maybe I overthought it, or maybe I was spot-on, but my assumption was that this was an intentional water (and energy) saving measure.  I know what you’re thinking. Never assume.  But it just makes so much sense. … ”  Read more from National Geographic’s News Watch blog:  Chill Out on Ice Cubes to Save Water

Why Pat Mulroy should head LA DWP:  Emily Green at the Chance of Rain blog writes:  ” … Were it in our powers, Christensen and I would appoint Pat Mulroy as new general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power.  Christensen spots two stars aligning: One has Southern Nevada Water Authority general manager Pat Mulroy stepping down from her post in Las Vegas next month while the other has the leadership of the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power opening up at the same time.  I recommend reading Christensen. Here, for my part, is why I think California should snap up the woman who the US Senator from Nevada Harry Reid has relied on to carry the water for the most populous part of his state while joking that it has earned her the reputation as “the wicked witch of Nevada.” … ”  Read more here:  Why L.A. needs the “wicked witch” of Nevada

For Vegas, conservation is easy when you use a lot of begin with: Back in the 1980s, a researcher named Lawrence Hamilton (gated JSTOR paper here) studied water use and conservation behavior among the residents of 431 homes in Concord, New Hampshire. Concord’s a classic case – a slow, steady population increase putting pressure on supply that’s manageable during wet times but that became a problem in 1980, when the weather turned dry. ... ” Read how this relates to Las Vegas here:  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  Vegas: It’s easier to conserve water if you’ve been wasting a lot to begin with

And lastly … the secret life of salmon:  One of my favorite photobloggers takes some underwater shots of Alaskan salmon: “Every fisherman has wondered what the heck is going under that pretty water while he’s standing for hours without catching much of anything. So i decided one day i should just stick my head down there and find out … ”  Check it out here:  Wild Alaskan Salmon

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