Bloggers on the California drought ….

One Tree Hill

“One Tree Hill”
Photo by Justin Kern

There is certainly no drought of bloggers with something to say about many different topics that today's blog round-up is split in two parts.  Here's what bloggers had to say about the drought; read on to the next post to see what bloggers had to say about everything else.

Why and how to save native species during a drought:  Peter Moyle writes:  “California is in one of the most severe droughts in recent years. This means water agencies are under great pressure to sacrifice river flows meant to sustain fish and wildlife for increased water delivery to farms and cities. Here are some questions decision-makers should consider in the tradeoff:  Why save native fish?  The answer lies in a value judgment: how important is it to save species and ecosystems special to California?  … ” Read more here:  Why and how to save native salmon during a severe drought

Size does matter in a drought, says Jeff Mount over at the PPIC blog:  ” … The California Department of Public Health has identified 17 community water districts at risk of running out of drinking water this spring. This affects more than 40,000 people, most of them in normally water-rich Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. Although our early February rains have helped, they haven’t significantly changed the outlook for this year. If the drought continues into next year, many more communities will be in trouble.  State and local officials are appropriately focused on providing emergency supplies to meet health and sanitation needs, but it is instructive to examine how these communities ended up in this predicament and how they might avoid it in the next drought.  The 17 at-risk districts have three things in common: … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Drought Watch: Size Matters…in a Drought

How much acreage would have to be fallowed in drought before any of those fruit, vegetables and nuts are lost to U.S. consumers? On the Public Record contemplates: “I see this quote everywhere; today’s example is from here.  California’s drought is especially worrisome because the state produces about one-half of the country’s fruits, vegetables and nuts. It is the No.1 agricultural state in the U.S.  The valuable information that never accompanies this quote is: how much of California’s irrigated acreage does it take to produce half the country’s truck crops? How much acreage would have to be fallowed in drought before any of those fruit, vegetables and nuts are lost to U.S. consumers? ... ”  If you are very good, we’ll send you some oranges for Christmas.  See also from On the Public Record: Less than $5B/year, I presume. and No love on Valentine’s Day.

A drought environmental water market could help native species, says the California Water Blog: With California in a major drought, state and federal regulators will be under pressure to loosen environmental flow standards that protect native fish. This happened in the 1976-77 and 1987-92 droughts, and today’s drought could become much worse.These standards demonstrate the high value society places on the survival of native fish and wildlife. In past droughts, we have given away some of these protections because of pressure to make more water available for other uses.  But this time, California can do better. We can create a special water market that better meets the state’s goals of both ensuring a reliable water supply and protecting the environment. In this market, growers and cities would pay for the additional water made available from relaxed environmental standards, and the revenues would help support fish and wildlife recovery. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Why give away fish flows for free during a drought?

Wayne Lusvardi has some questions about that drought environmental water market:  He writes:  “I held the position of chief real estate appraiser for one of the largest water districts in California, which involved the valuation of sales and leases of agricultural land and water. My colleague Charles B. Warren, ASA, and I were the first to have recognized that from 1999 to 2001 Telecom Deregulation had unintentionally created a market price for fiber optic easements and wireless cell sites.   Given the typical failure of centralized government to solve a foreseeable drought in California, I welcomed the U.C. Davis group’s call for water markets.  However, after I delved into the U.C. Davis team’s proposal I had some serious misgivings.  Firstly, I question whether it is appropriate to use a public website for an article that could be interpreted as a self-advertisement by a team of water experts offering to structure such a water market? ... ”  Read more from Wayne Lusvardi, guest blogging at the Hydrowonk blog here: U.C. Davis Experts Call For Drought Environmental Water Market

The Colorado – a lesson of success for California?  From the Inkstain blog:  ” … Brett Walton, writing about President Obama’s visit to California’s drought-stricken Central Valley, captured that state’s water policy dilemma:  “

It can’t just be a matter of there’s going to be less and less water so I’m going to grab more and more of a shrinking share of water,” Obama continued. “Instead what we have to do is all come together and figure out how we all are going to make sure that agricultural needs, urban needs, industrial needs, environmental and conservation concerns are all addressed.” That is a tall order, requiring a radical reinvention both of California’s water supply hardware and its operation – changes that politicians, environmentalists, and farmers have fought over for decades. Indeed, the drought has catalyzed a consensus that something should be done, but there is little agreement about the details' [end quote]  Yes, but… To the south, the fruits of some years of wrestling over these issues has left a more orderly process for dealing with the current mess. … ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  California’s water policy failings on display, but is there a lesson of success here as well?

Water main leaks don't let up, even in a drought: We've all seen the big water main breaks on the evening news or on YouTube.  But only a small number of water main breaks actually make the news.  And all the main breaks put together are only a fraction of the total amount of water being lost every day from water utility pipes.  Much more water is lost from leaks that continue unseen for months and even years. California is estimated to lose about 10% of its supply of treated drinking water due to leakage from water utility pipes.  These losses are an unrelenting “tax” on the water system and its customers – robbing families and communities of clean water year after year. … ”  Read more from Ed Osann at the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  Water Main Leaks Don’t Let Up, Even During A Drought

More challenging than 1977?  Yes, says the Water Food Environment blog:  “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. … ”  Read more from Water Food Environment here:  More Challenging than 1977?

Will the drought bring together or distract the Delta Dialogues? The bad news – and a little good news – from California’s drought dominated discussion between participants during the January meeting of the Delta Dialogues.  The participants, representing diverse stakeholders (state agencies, water agencies, the fishing industry, agriculture, environmental NGOs) and gathering at a waste water treatment plant in Elk Grove, seemed to agree that California needs more tools to make decisions during drought emergencies like the one declared in January. “We don’t have very good mechanisms for doing things on the fly,” said Carl Wilcox of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.   Participants saw opportunity – but also peril – in using the drought as the basis for spurring work on long-term solutions in the Delta. “I see this as a big distraction from the long term,” said John Cain of American Rivers. … ”  Read more from the Delta Dialogues blog here:  Will the Drought Bring Us Together, Or Distract Us?

How much do those recent rains matter?  “Drought-parched Northern California had a welcome bit of rain during the first week of February. An “atmospheric river”—a meteorological phenomenon that funnels tropical moisture from the west Pacific into California—produced prodigious amounts of rainfall. In the central Sierra Nevada more than 10 inches of rain fell in just three days. More than 20 inches of rain were measured in the Russian River watershed—an amount greater than the annual average rainfall for the City of Sacramento. Some rivers in the North Coast and Sierra Nevada that were at record low levels on February 1 rose to record highs on February 9.  Drought’s over, right?  Not even close. … ”  Read more from Jeff Mount at the PPIC Blog here:  Drought Watch: How Much Do Recent Rains Matter?

And lastly … ‘California’s so dry…that leaks are the new status symbol' and other California drought jokes:  the Thirsty in Suburbia blog runs them all down here:  Drought Jokes: “It’s So Dry…” California Edition!

Photo credit:  One Tree Hill by flickr photographer Justin Kern

cant help itI'm addicted to this California water stuff, doctor … I can't help it!

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