Blog round-up: Bloggers on all aspects of the drought, plus can drones help out the drought, and for you fishermen, how to up your stream creds

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Wikimedia’s 2013 picture of the year: Incandescent lightbulb with the tungsten filament smoking and burning with a flame due to the presence of oxygen.

Pardon the non-water related off-topic picture this week, but this is an interesting shot and a worthy diversion … However, the blog round-up is not off-topic as bloggers had plenty to say,mostly about the ongoing drought:

Waiving Environmental Protections in the Bay Delta: Bad News for Fishermen, Water Supply, and BDCP: “Earlier this week, the National Marine Fisheries Service waived environmental protections for endangered steelhead in the Bay-Delta, in order to allow increased pumping by the CVP and SWP over the next few weeks.  This was the second time in as many months that this federal agency waived pumping restrictions protecting endangered salmon and steelhead (NOTE: there have been no pumping restrictions protecting delta smelt this year).  In addition, the State Water Resources Control Board has also granted multiple waivers of water quality protections in the Delta, protections which have generally been in place since the 1990s. The environmental protections for salmon and other fisheries in the Bay-Delta are already far weaker in dry years than in wet years, but these decisions to relax environmental protections in the Delta came as a result of significant political pressure from San Joaquin Valley agribusiness interests.  While these waivers of environmental protections may be justified by political science, they clearly are not justified by biological science.   … ”  Read more from Doug Obegi at the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  Waiving Environmental Protections in the Bay Delta: Bad News for Fishermen, Water Supply, and BDCP

Funding sustainable groundwater management in California:  Ellen Hanak, Jay Lund, Jeff Mount and others write at the California Water Blog:  “One of the few current bright spots on California’s waterfront is that the drought seems to be spurring momentum to improve groundwater management in the state’s rural areas.  Outside of a few dozen adjudicated basins and specially authorized groundwater management districts – located mostly in urbanized parts of Southern California and the Bay Area – local groundwater oversight remains largely voluntary and somewhat precarious.  Despite recent advances in basin monitoring and recharge programs, these more voluntary efforts lack the teeth needed to prevent long-term declines in the water table. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here: Funding sustainable groundwater management in California

They aren’t only hurting themselves by overdrafting groundwater, says On the Public Record:You know what I never see in discussions of groundwater overdraft and subsidence? I never see any discussion about how growers are going to pay back the people of California for the infrastructure that is damaged by their overpumping. Subsidence caused by groundwater overdraft is breaking public roads, canals, runways, overpasses and buildings. Farmers who overdraft an aquifer know this problem exists and do it anyway. ... ”  Read more from On The Public Record here:  They aren’t only hurting themselves by overdrafting groundwater.

Northern California Rivers and Fish Doomed Absent Immediate Agency Action:    “Initial projections of the April 1 snowpack assessment, a key indicator of water conditions, indicate that snowpack is near record lows and that water storage is less than 30% of normal conditions, according to a joint press release by a coalition of fishing groups, Tribes and environmental organizations. The California Coastkeeper Alliance, Karuk Tribe, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), Klamath Riverkeeper, Earth Law Center, Russian Riverkeeper and California Sportfishing Protection Alliance are asking the state and regional water board to recognize North rivers and creeks impaired by severely altered flow on the biennial Section 303(d) Listing in order to protected imperiled populations of salmon, steelhead and other fish species. … “The Scott River and other North Coast rivers are literally sucked dry, leaving salmon no place to spawn and robbing the Karuk and other tribal people of a critical cultural resource,” says Leaf Hillman of the Karuk Tribe. … ”  Read more from Dan Bacher at IndyBay.org here:  Northern California Rivers and Fish Doomed Absent Immediate Agency Action

Late storms help, but there’s no escaping the need to conserve this year: Even as rain pelted parts of Northern California yesterday, the latest snow survey confirmed the drought is far from over.  Department of Water Resources officials say the meager statewide snowpack – still just one-third of normal despite a modest boost from the storms – does not bode well for our water supply outlook this summer.  While ACWA is working on several fronts to help member agencies combat drought impacts this year, water conservation remains a key tool as drought conditions persist and potentially intensify in the near future. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Voices on Water blog here: Late Storms Help, But There’s No Escaping Need to Conserve This Year

What did they know? And When did they know it? asks Restore the Delta:  “In retrospect, state and federal water managers may wish they had sent less water out of upstream reservoirs last year. Even in an average water year, it’s a challenge to meet the needs of all the water users above and below the Delta and the needs of several runs of migrating and spawning fish as well. And what’s an “average” water year? Probably it is much dryer than anyone thought when the state and federal water projects were designed and built.  But some people at the Department of Water Resources (DWR) have been thinking about the possibility of drought. In April 2009, the Department prepared a paper titled Delta Drought Emergency Barriers that looked at nine alternative locations for salinity control barriers in the Delta. … ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  What did they know? And When did they know it?

Drought is only half the story, says Families Protecting the Valley:  “This is a note and op-ed piece we received from Lance Johnson, a friend of Families Protecting the Valley:  “Below is an Op Ed I sent to the Fresno Bee yesterday AM that is on point with Sunni’s column Families just ran. This is my third version on the same topic going back about 3 weeks to a parallel column by Dan Walters that Families also ran. My first version went to the Sac Bee who did not run it. Version 2 went to Wall Street Journal as they have of late run a number of CA drought articles. WSJ didn’t run it. So I did the rewrite below for Fresno Bee. So far every story and every writer side steps the fact that it is Democrats that brought about our water crisis and I spend a goodly amount of time citing chapter and verse about that. This is also a history lesson on CVPIA which during the implementation process I represented west side CVP interests (everybody except Santa Clara), from start to finish. So I have first hand knowledge about it and can tell horror stories about John Garamendi’s involvement in it as he led the process at the time known as “The Garamendi Process”. … ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:  Drought Is Only Half the Story

Hydrowonk increases SWP allocation prediction to 23%:  “Mother Nature’s generosity to California extended into March where precipitation was about average (which in California seems like a deluge these days).  This March precipitation was greater than used in Hydrowonk’s predictions.  So, Hydrowonk’s updated prediction for the expected Final SWP Allocation:  23%  Hydrowonk’s predictions are based on a study of the historic record of final State Water Project Allocations.  The model relates final SWP Allocations to the amount of water in storage at Oroville at the beginning of the water year and precipitation as measured by the Northern Sierra 8-Station Index from October through April. … ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here:  March Rains Increases Hydrowonk’s Prediction of Final SWP Allocation to 23%

Central Valley impacts of drought:  “The economic losses from the drought is the hottest topic in the Valley right now.  It is clear that the 2014 drought impacts will be larger than the 2009 drought, but how much larger?  A significant challenge in making comparisons is accounting for the remarkable changes in Valley ag over the past 5 years.  What is the right baseline for measuring fallowing and lost production?  For he 2009 drought, 2007 was arguably the best year to use for the baseline because there were already some modest drought impacts in 2008 leading up to 2009. ... ”  Read more from the Valley Economy blog here:  The Baseline for Drought Impacts: Valley agriculture has expanded a lot in the 5 years since the last drought

California history shows droughts don’t last:  “Gov. Jerry Brown, state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, and other legislators are pushing for groundwater regulation during the drought.  Since October 4, 2013, the California Water Resources Control Board has been floating a discussion draft of a Groundwater Workplan Concept Paper. The draft calls for the enforcement of groundwater quality and well design, the creation of an inter-agency task force to crack down on groundwater overdraft and ordering those responsible for nitrate contamination to provide replacement water.  Yet the historical data show that the major groundwater basins in California always have replenished after droughts, with the exception of the Tulare Basin. ... ”  Read more from the CalWatchdog blog here: CA history shows droughts don’t last

The state is politicizing the drought, says Burt Wilson:  He writes:  “Let’s get one thing straight: the drought in northern California will be over long before the drought in southern California, but the Department of Water And Power (DWR) will never tell you so.  They need to keep you in the dark as long as possible so they will have a good excuse to raise Shasta Dam by 18 ft. (Yes, believe it!) and get northern California reservoirs filled–not for use in northern California, but to ship that water south to southern California!  Do we think that the MWD of SoCal is putting up 25% of the funding for the twin tunnels to help all Californians?  … ”  Read more from Burt Wilson here:  Politicizing the Drought!

2012-2014 on track to be driest 3 consecutive years on record in the Mono Basin:  “Yesterday marked the first day of the 2014 runoff year, and it is also time for adding up the total runoff from the 2013 runoff year.  A runoff year runs from April 1 to March 31, and enables tracking of stream runoff from the time of peak snowpack from one year to the next. Mono Basin runoff was about 54.5% of average between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014. This is 17.4% less runoff than the 66% of average runoff forecasted one year ago, thanks to the very dry spring, fall, and winter (last summer, precipitation was above-average thanks to thunderstorms). It was the second-farthest-off runoff prediction since the California State Water Resources Control Board’s Decision 1631 in 1994, after 18.6% too much runoff was predicted in 2008. … ”  Read more from the Mono-Logue here: 2012-2014 on track to be driest 3 consecutive years on record

Oddly enough, Death Valley is one of the places in California not in ‘extreme drought’: As the driest place in North America, Death Valley is about as inhospitable a place as you can get on Earth. In fact, NASA frequently uses its barren landscape as an analogue for Mars. Naturally, it was a perfect destination on my drought-themed road trip.  Oddly enough, Death Valley is one of the few places in California that’s not technically in “extreme” drought right now. Its drought is listed as only “severe,” despite having recorded only 30 percent of its average rainfall so far in 2014. As the rainy season staggers to a close, more than 70 percent of the state is currently in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, the highest two categories as described by the U.S. drought monitor. ... ”  Continue reading at Slate Magazine here:  The Thirsty West: Death Valley’s Looking Pretty Good Right Now

Can drones help drought-stricken California?  “Some experts say that California is in the midst of a 500-year drought event. Others are going so far as to call it the worst drought in history. While this news means a bad year for the states 38 million residents, fishermen and others that rely on water for their livelihoods, it could mean disaster for the million plus acres of permanent crops already in the ground.  Permanent crops are those crops like trees (fruit and nut) and wine grapes. Unlike cotton, rice or alfalfa they represent a long, multiyear commitment. Trees can take seven years to start producing fruit and If you are the unfortunate grower that is facing losing your trees it means letting go of the prior years of investment. Worse still, starting over with new trees could mean that you will have to go a decade with no income as well as enduring the loss of the planted investments. … ”  Read more from sUAS News here:  Can Drones Help Drought Stricken California?

And lastly … need to up those stream creds?  The Trout Underground points us to the highly anticipated FishBrah App:   ” … Brahs can tune up their streamside photo’s into epic shots.  Can’t grow that bro beard – no problem.  Forgot to sport that flat-brimmed hat today – gotcha covered.  Didn’t want to bring your psycho dog in the boat but want him in your shots – can do.  Want to spice up that shot with a flowing red cape – Done!  Just drag and drop from their extensive menu of goatees, bro beards, muttonchops, gangsta lids, and superhero accoutrements. ... ”  Read more from Michigan Fly here:  FishBrah App Release Announced

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