… and bloggers on everything else: federal drought legislation, Temperance Flat, groundwater, water transfers and more, plus the entire IPCC report in 19 Haiku!

Lady in a bubble

Here’s what bloggers had to say about everything else …

Emptying reservoirs, empty words:  “*President Obama came to the Central Valley to address drought and climate change. Everyone “is going to have to start rethinking how we approach water for decades to come,” he said. After making the remark in a speech at a ranch in Los Banos, a farm town roughly 75 miles northwest of Fresno, the President spent the weekend at a golfing resort in the Mojave Desert. ... ”  Read more from the Chance of Rain blog: Emptying reservoirs, empty words

Feinstein drought bill is the right approach, but the language must reflect the intent, says Steve Fleischli at the NRDC Switchboard blog:  “This week, Senators Feinstein and Boxer of California and Wyden and Merkley of Oregon introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate designed “to help California and Oregon farmers, businesses and communities suffering from historic drought conditions.”  NRDC deeply appreciates these Senators recognizing the severity of the drought impacting California and other parts of the West and their recognition that it is lack of rain and snow, and not environmental protections that is causing the drought. We also applaud the stated goal of seeking to “bring us together to address this crisis, rather than divide us.” … “  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  Feinstein Drought Bill: The Right Approach, but the Language Must Reflect the Intent

Both Obama and the GOP are clueless, says the Federalist blog:  “California is in a drought and the two parties react by either repeating stupid slogans or proposing things that only make matters worse.  As a John Muir Conservative Conservationist I recoil in horror at the total lack of any thinking by our political hacks and a desire on their part to destroy our natural heritage.  With all the hacks in the California legislature and Congress you would think there would be at least one politician with an original idea. … ”  Read more from the Federalist blog here:  Obama & GOP are clueless to solve the California drought

Temperance Flat: A dam you either love or hate:  The California Spigot blog writes about the controversy:  ” … Temperance Flat is one of the most controversial storage projects in California. Farmers want it; environmentalists oppose it; Federal officials have left it on the shelf for years. But this year, in the wake of California’s epic drought year, the project is alive and well. Like nothing else, these months with no precipitation have driven home the awareness that California does not have enough water in storage to get through really bad dry periods. …  A bit of background is needed to understand the stakes involved here and in the state at large. Nowhere do the competing forces of agriculture and ecology seem more tightly balanced than on the San Joaquin River at Friant. … ”  Read more at the California Spigot blog here:  California’s water storage crisis: The battle at Temperance Flat

What the Governor could do about groundwater:  On the Public Record responds to a mention in a recent Circle of Blue article that the Governor’s office was having difficulty articulating what they wanted to see in a groundwater policy: “The reason they cannot articulate what they want to see is that everything that would work is taboo. It is so taboo, in fact, that I would be surprised if it even gets brought up and rejected. The things they will say aloud, even in the privacy of the executive suite, are either already in process (monitor levels) or so trivial that the drought immediately exposes the suggestion as ridiculous.  Here is what the governor’s office could do if it wanted to address groundwater with the seriousness that matches the drought, and the extent of overdraft and subsidence. … ”  Read more here:  They can only vote against you once each.

Groundwater pumping: The race to the bottom:  “As we watch Californians floundering over drought, or sometimes not floundering, it’s worth revisiting Elinor Ostrom’s Governing the Commons. In it, Ostrom tells the story of communities in the San Gabriel Valley, east of Los Angeles, coming together to manage their groundwater at a time when a race to the bottom was underway that, absent collective action, would have drained the critical common pool resource … ”   Read more from the Inkstain blog here: Losing the groundwater pumping race to the bottom: your choice

Groundwater may be cheap, but it’s no free lunch, says NatGeo’s Water Current’s blog:  ” … It’s the cheapest source around, and a reliable alternative in dry years when water deliveries from the state’s rivers are curtailed. It’s also virtually unregulated in the state, meaning there are plenty of places where anyone can drill a well and pump without limit. As a result, California’s groundwater resources are gravely imperiled. Satellite data has recently shown that between 2012-2013, as surface water allocations became increasingly constrained, the state’s primary agricultural basins pumped a volume of groundwater equivalent to the rest of the state’s total water use.  As long as mountain runoff is the state’s primary water source and groundwater is unregulated, California’s water security will be in jeopardy.  So, after the federal emergency funds are spent, what should we do to start investing in California’s long-term water security? … ”  Read more from NatGeo’s Water Currents blog here:  California’s Drought: Cheap Water, But No Free Lunch

California needs to look below the surface to solve water woes, says Brian Stranko with the Nature Conservancy at the Huffington Post:  ” … We have had droughts before, and, while we’ve made some incremental fixes to improve efficiency and marginally manage our water better, we have not tackled the critical challenge that is necessary to meet the ongoing water needs of our farms, our cities and our unique natural environment.  Even as we scramble with emergency measures, the real question we should be asking is: How do we prepare for the next drought…and the one after that?  There are many improvements we could make. But, first and foremost, we need to change how we use water we pump from the ground. … ”  Read more here:  California Must Look Beneath the Surface to Solve Water Woes

Collateral damage from water transfers:  David Zetland at the Aguanomics blog writes:  “Jim Brobeck, Water Policy Analyst at AquAlliance sent me this insightful comment:  ‘Jay Lund, David Zetland and Robert Glennon are well known water policy analysts who consider water transfers to be a primary strategy for wise water supply management. The source of transferable water is river entitlement that agricultural irrigation districts control. The district farmers either fallow land to make water available or pump groundwater to replace the marketed river allocation. The latter method is called “groundwater substitution”. When author Glennon visited Chico he was asked if he included groundwater substitution water marketing in his recommendations for conserving water. He emphatically said such a strategy is “Bogus!” Jay Lund responded to the same question by saying that groundwater and surface water are connected and that water pumped from the ground depletes the surface flow. The Sacramento River is a losing stream all the way to Red Bluff during irrigation season’. … ”  Continue reading for the rest of Jim Brobeck’s comment as well as David Zetland’s response here:  Collateral damage from water transfers

It is fish versus people, says Families Protecting the Valley: As we watch Valley farmers get involved in negotiations for water during the drought, we would like to take this opportunity to review how previous negotiations have robbed them of more and more water. From the 1992 CVPIA, to the 1993 ESA listing of the Chinook Salmon, to the 1994 ESA listing of the Delta Smelt, to the 1995 CalFed Bay/Delta program, to San Joaquin River Restoration, these regulations have removed over 5-million acre feet from our water supplies. We can no longer tolerate a drought like we used to do. Despite all this, there haven’t been any tremendous improvements to fish populations.  … ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:  Water Crisis: It Really Is Fish Versus People

Crusty exchanges at the BDCP oversight hearing:  “Some of the same old arguments, but also a few interesting exchanges between Delta-area legislators and the state administration today at a hearing regarding the cost of the proposed twin tunnels.  Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, asked how the state could convey more water out of the Delta without harming senior upstream water rights.  “We’re not conveying more water out of the Delta with this facility. We’re conveying it more reliably,” responded Laura King Moon, deputy director of the Department of Water Resources. The state is merely changing the place where much of the water is diverted, King Moon explained. … ”  Continue reading at Alex Breitler’s blog here: ‘I would encourage you to get up to speed’

Delta National Park comments on the BDCP’s science review: I think it is safe to say that – at least for the supporters of the twin tunnels project at the heart of the BDCP – it did not help to let loose a group of evidently independent and knowledgeable scientists on the mixture of science, suasion and policy-making that permeate the BDCP effects documents.  Here are a few excerpts; … Employ a favorite bait-and-switch magic trick, Adaptive Management: “The panel recognizes that the success of BDCP hinges on a commitment to effective adaptive management, he said.  ‘Although it doesn’t fall under our purview in this review, adaptive management and really linking the effects analysis with the adaptive management was lacking with virtually no mention of it within Chapter 5,’ said Dr. Parker.” … ”  Read more from the Delta National Park blog here:  This is what independent science looks like

BDCP Infographic overstates earthquake risk, says Bob Pyke:  “The most up-to-date description and assessment of the Delta levee system can be found in the Economic Sustainability Plan of the Delta Protection Commission1. That study found that the current risk of damage to the Delta levee system caused by earthquakes is quite small and that the risk of damage from even more extreme earthquakes and floods could be made negligibly small by investing another $1-2 billion in the system. Such an investment would be very cost-effective because it provides multiple benefits. … ”  Read more here:  Tall_Tales_from_Southern_California

Uncertainty equals failure for the BDCP, says Burt Wilson of the Public Water News Service blog:  “In today’s society, uncertainty colors almost every aspect of life, especially in the proposals of politicians who keep throwing out “new” ideas without really knowing what they’re talking about. This brings to mind the philosophical truism that “our responsibilities are not fulfilled by the mere announcement of virtuous ends.” … Still, the daily newspapers and TV reports are filled with the proposals of grandiose schemes with even grander costs that encompass grand technologies that are at best uncertain and at the least truly hair-brained. The Bay Delta Conservation Plan’s twin tunnels project stands out as today’s most prominent example of uncertainty passed-off as a legitimate venture. It is followed closely by the “high-speed bullet train to nowhere”–both evolving from the fertile mind of Gov. Jerry Brown. …”  Read more from Burt Wilson at the Public Water News Service blog here:  “Uncertainty” = BDCP Failure!

Ugly Californication:  Aguanomics blogger David Zetland has been following California water policy, and he’s ran across some new ideas on a recent visit to talk to  water managers about “supply augmentation” via WaterSavr (a compound that reduces reservoir evaporation), such as:  “Managers are deathly afraid of adding anything to water, as regulators at Fish and Game and the regional Water Resources Control Boards are very fast to condemn and punish, often cheered by environmentalists. The cliche is that they’ve let “the perfect become the enemy of the good,” but they’re now at the point where it’s better to continue a disastrous tradition than try something new.[1] One water quality guy was so concerned about protecting fish from contamination that he forgot that no water means no fish to protect.[2] … ”  Read more from Aguanomics here:  Ugly Californication

Does lack of water meters mean wasting water?  Maybe not, says Alex Breitler:  “My Sunday story about the lack of water meters in Lincoln Village and other unincorporated portions of Stockton irritated some folks who don’t like the implication that they are wasting water.  Indeed, they may not be.  “I don’t think I use that much — I’m pretty careful,” said a Lincoln Village resident who called me today and left a voicemail. She didn’t give her name. ... ”  Read more from Alex Breitler’s blog here: Lincoln Villagers speak up

And lastly … the IPCC report in 19 illustrated Haiku:  “What if we could communicate the essence of this important information in plain language and pictures? Well, that’s just what one Northwest oceanographer has done. He’s distilled the entire report into 19 illustrated haiku.  The result is stunning, sobering, and brilliant. It’s poetry. It’s a work of art. But it doubles as clear, concise, powerful talking points and a compelling visual guide. … ”  Check it out here:  The Entire IPCC Report in 19 Illustrated Haiku

Photo credit:  The ‘lady in a bubble’ photo from 1963 was created by Melvin Sokolosky.  More details here.

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