Bloggers on the Fresno field hearing, the ongoing drought, salinity in the Delta, conservation, hyacinth, and more

sharp fallsDraining the Delta will not fix the California drought, says Kate Poole:  “California’s drought is affecting everyone – cities, farmers, and our environment are all suffering from lack of water.  We all eat food, we all depend on our cities to sustain California’s vibrant culture and economy, and we all rely on a healthy environment to provide clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and an escape from our hectic lives.  That’s why we need to find solutions together.  But let’s be clear: Despite what some elected official will be claiming at a field hearing this week, further draining the Bay-Delta estuary is not a solution to the drought. … ”  Read more from Kate Poole at the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  Draining the Delta Will Not Fix California’s Drought

Lloyd Carter covers the ‘dog and pony show’ of the Fresno field hearing:  “All you need to know about Wednesday’s (March 19)  drought field hearing in Fresno of the House Committee on Natural Resources is that salmon were never mentioned and the GOP pols knew how to throw red meat to the farmers in the packed city hall chambers. It speaks volumes that there were seven Republicans and only one Democrat (Rep. Jim Costa) at the hearing chaired by Rep. Richard N. “Doc” Hastings, who is retiring after his term ends. Hastings said he invited all 21 Democrats on the Natural Resources Committee to participate in the hearing but only Costa, who had no explanation why no other Democrats showed up, was in attendance. Committee members Jared Huffman and Grace Napolitano, former chair of the house subcommittee on water, were among the no shows. … ”  Continue reading here: House Natural Resources Committee hearing Dog and Pony Show

If environmental water isn’t accomplishing the task, it should be made available to other users, says Families Protecting the Valley:  They write about Board member Kole Upton’s testimony at the Fresno field hearing:  “Kole suggests that part of the revision of the Endangered Species Act incorporate “a proposed law requiring environmental water releases be held to the same standards for efficiency and accountability as required of urban and agricultural uses. Water is a public resource and should not be wasted by any user. So, if an environmental water release is not accomplishing the task for which it is being released, then it should be made available to the other water users so it may be beneficially used for society.” … ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:  Most Important Paragraph From Fresno Hearing

Restore the Delta calls for an investigation into water mismanagement: Dan Bacher writes: “As supporters of corporate agribusiness interests carried signs proclaiming “Food and People Before Fish” at a Congressional field hearing in Fresno, Restore the Delta (RTD) today called on the federal government to provide drought relief to Delta farmers and business owners and to investigate the mismanagement of water resources in California.  Apparently, the public relations folks who crafted the signs didn’t understand the irony of the fact that salmon and other fish that depend on the Sacramento River and the Bay Delta Estuary provide food for millions of people in the state of California – and support thousands of jobs in a multi-billion dollar industry. … ”  Read more from the California Progress Report here:  Restore the Delta Calls for Investigation into Water Mismanagement

False River dam could halt Delta saltwater surge: Wayne Lusvardi writes:  “California climatologists such as Jeffrey Mount, Peter Gleick and the California Climate Change Center have predicted for some time an apocalyptic disaster in the Sacramento Bay Delta from a rise in sea level and flooding due to global warming. But the real world disaster about to hit the Delta is coming from the reverse of the climatologists’ prophecies.  Ocean saltwater is about to contaminate the Eastern portion of the San Francisco-San Pablo Bay due to a drop in fresh water levels and lack of water flows, although the temperatures have been warm.  By about June of this year, the lack of freshwater inflows to the Delta due to drought and low reservoir levels would allow an ocean saltwater surge to contaminate the largest source of California’s drinking water and its largest estuary. … ”  Read more from the Cal Watchdog blog here: False River dam could halt Delta saltwater surge

DWR misplaces blame for salt water invasion in the Delta, says Burt Wilson:  He writes: “A crowd of over 150 Delta residents and business people spilled out onto the lawn at the Walnut Grove Community Church last week when the DWR came to town with maps and computer models to try to convince local residents, recreational boat owners and harbor and fisheries owners that putting water barriers in their area will protect them from an immanent salinity invasion of the Delta from the Bay Area. In typical DWR manner,  the water agency’s presenters told how water barrier dams would fix the problem of encroaching salinity–as if salinity itself was the villain. This is the usual water agency trick used to divert attention away from the real problem. In this case, salinity is not the “problem.” Salinity is the result of the problem of low flows in the Sacrament River that are not strong enough to push back the salty bay tides. Thus the “problem” really is right in the lap of the Department of Water Resources! ... ”  Read more from Burt Wilson here:  DWR Officials misplace blame for salt water invasion into the Delta

The Delta Dialogues looks back on Phase II and ponders the power of sitting in a circle:  “One early January morning two years ago, Jeff Conklin, Eugene Eric Kim, and I met at the Peet’s Coffee & Tea in Fairfield and drove on to Sacramento together. We went to talk with longtime stakeholders in the California Delta about a different way of thinking about the wickedly difficult problems of water and the Delta.  Last week was our penultimate meeting of the second phase of the project that resulted from that Sacramento trip: the Delta Dialogues. Over the past two years, the stakeholders have made amazing progress during monthly, daylong sessions and outside gatherings and phone calls. But it hasn’t been easy: I’ve walked into only two of those meetings feeling completely confident we would have a good session; during the other meetings, I’ve had to rely on hope and prayers that they would go well.  What was the difference between the two meetings and others? … ”  Read more from the Delta Dialogues here:  The Power of Sitting in Circle (Also: photo gallery, participants, dialog map)

Robert Pyke asks whose fault is the drought?  On his new website, Robert Pyke posts:  “In the Sacramento Bee’s Capitol Alert of February 12, 2014, under the heading “Neel Kashkari blames Jerry Brown for drought”, it is reported that Neel Kashkari, one of the Republican candidates for Governor, had said on KMJ 580 radio that a “lack of leadership in Sacramento” has left the state unprepared for dry years. That may be true, but it is hardly fair to blame the current Governor for failing to solve in three years a problem that has been decades in the making.  What is fair, however, is to ask why Governor Brown has stuck with the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) as the answer to California’s water supply reliability and Bay Delta ecosystem problems. ... ”  Read more from Robert Pyke here:  Whose fault is the drought?

Hydrowonk updates final SWP allocation prediction:  “Mother Nature was kind to California in February where monthly precipitation exceeded averages for the first month this water year (monthly chart).  This higher precipitation increases Hydrowonk’s prediction of the expected final SWP Allocation to 20%.  There is a reasonable chance that the final SWP Allocation will be zero. ... ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here:  Updated Forecast of Final California SWP Allocation: 20%

Pacific Legal Foundation’s Liberty Blog responds to Delta smelt ruling:  “Pacific Legal Foundation attorneys represent some of the farmers in San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority v. Jewell who are challenging the Delta smelt biological opinion as an abuse of federal power based on questionable science and shoddy regulatory procedures.  Damien Schiff, a principal attorney with PLF who represents Stewart & Jasper Orchards, King Pistachio Grove, and Arroyo Farms, issued this statement, in response to the Ninth Circuit’s ruling:  The Ninth Circuit has done a reverse rain dance for California, practically guaranteeing that the impacts of our current drought will be more devastating. … ”  Read more from the Liberty Blog here:  PLF voices support for solutions to water crisis

Senator Boxer says conservation would solve drought, says the Cal Watchdog blog:  “Can California’s zero-sum water wars only be resolved by a system of stern water conservation?  That’s what California U.S. Senator at large Barbara Boxer left as an unanswered question at a March 20 Palm Springs water symposium on the theme “Running Dry.” Boxer quoted President Obama from his February visit to drought-plagued California. He said Americans should stop thinking of water as a “zero-sum” game. ... ”  Read more from the Cal Watchdog blog here: Sen. Boxer: Conservation would solve drought

If On the Public Record had their proverbial druthers, how would they change the system?  ” … I recognize the massive shift in California law, policy and history that I’m advocating for, although given my druthers, I wouldn’t be advocating based on a doctrine like the public trust.   Given my druthers, I wouldn’t be working in our current water rights system at all.  Appropriative rights are fundamentally stupid (lock in wealth and water use based on arrival times from two centuries ago?).  The only advantage they have is that they currently exist and include a prioritization method.  If I got to start from a clean slate, ... ”  Read more from On the Public Record here:  In the comments, Francis says:

Understanding water use in California and the Sacramento Valley: Todd Manley writes: “In water short years, increased attention is paid to how much water is used in the state, where it is used, and for what purposes.  Many different numbers are used to describe water use in the state among generalized water users (environmental, agricultural and urban).  Often, water use is only described in terms of agricultural and urban uses, ignoring the important dedication of water to environmental uses.  The Department of Water Resources’ California Water Plan Update 2013 contains a substantial amount of information regarding water use both in the Sacramento Valley and in the state as a whole. ... ”  Read more from the Northern California Water Association blog here:  Understanding Water Use in California and the Sacramento Valley

Has Alex Breitler hit upon a new hyacinth solution? He writes:  “Eight days ago, I wrote about the opening of Stockton’s new cleaner-burning biomass power plant at the Port of Stockton. It feeds on green waste.  Today, I wrote about an “eyesore” right across the water, at Louis Park, where piles of harvested water hyacinth have been languishing for the past three months.  Connect the dots. … ”  So could it work?  Read more here: A new hyacinth solution?

The effect of the drought on Mono Lake (and ultimately DWP):  The Mono-Logue writes:  “This year is the third year in a row of below-average precipitation for California and the Eastern Sierra. Locally, the February 1 Mono Basin snowpack is at 25% of average. A single January winter storm on the 30th dropped over an inch of water (mostly as snow) along the Sierra crest and Highway 395. The precipitation brought Mono Lake up about two inches and brought much-needed relief to the parched Eastern Sierra. Mono Lake will rise slightly as the spring runoff commences, but not by much. Overall the lake will drop through the summer and fall. In the worst case, with no more significant winter  precipitation, Mono Lake could drop as much as two feet by late fall. … ”  What will this mean for the lake level, and ultimately, DWP’s exports from the basin?  Read more at the Mono-Logue here: Mono Lake amidst a drought

The Inkstain blog is on hand to see the pulse of water head down towards the Colorado River Delta:  “Manuel Campa was very particular. His town’s name is often shortened to merely “San Luis”, but standing in the dry bed of the Colorado River this morning, the full name mattered very much. “It’s the only city that has the name ‘Rio Colorado,’” he said.  The sandy riverbed beneath the bridge just west of town has become an iconic, sad image of the drying of the Colorado River. Since Hoover and Glen Canyon dams corralled the river’s flow for human use, the once-great river at San Luis has been slowly but surely dried until just a bed of sand remains.  But this morning the riverbed felt more like a party than an icon. … ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  “La Cuenca is dead right now”

Rethinking California’s Water Industry: Part 2—Think Risk Management Not Reliability of State and Federal Projects: The Hydrowonk blog writes: “Time to change our use of language about California’s State Water Project and the Central Valley Project.  Out with the old (supply reliability) and in with the new (risk management of water shortages).  Supply reliability relates to the ability of a water supply to meet its water demands.  Shortfalls in supply may translate into water shortages.  Water shortages have economic costs and consequences.  In engineering and supply chain management, supply reliability is measured as the percentage of the time a system operates as promised.  Water Right A yields 95% of its stated amount (80% + 20%x75%) and Water Right B yields 75% of its stated amount (50% + 50%x50%)—see table.  Are these measures an economically meaningful definition of supply reliability? ... ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here:  Rethinking California’s Water Industry: Part 2—Think Risk Management Not Reliability of State and Federal Projects

Seven shocking facts about California water and ten shocking facts about the world’s water (!!!):  “The message from the Pacific Institute for World Water Day is “Know Your Water!” One of the world’s leading nonprofit research organizations on freshwater issues has posted fact sheets of “7 Things You Should Know about California Water” and “10 Shocking Facts about the World’s Water.” ... ” You’ll find them both here:  Pacific Institute Posts Water Fact Sheets for World Water Day – Ten Shocking Facts about the World’s Water and More

Photo credit: Sharp Falls Abstract by flickr photographer Cobalt 123.

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