Blog round-up: Bloggers weigh in on funding California’s water infrastructure, proposed drought solutions, the BDCP and more, plus will Lake Mead be unusuable in 5 to 8 years?

Owens Lake Excavator Apr 2012 #4Now is the Time to Invest in California’s Water Future, says Bryce Lundberg of the Northern California Water Association:  He writes: “I had a wonderful opportunity earlier today to join several esteemed leaders in asking the Legislature and our Governor to invest in California’s water future. At our state’s capitol this morning, I joined Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, the Nature Conservancy’s Jay Ziegler, Cesar Diaz from the State Building and Construction Trades Council, Stan Van Vleck from Downey Brand, and elected leaders from throughout the region in supporting a water bond that provides strong provisions to improve water supply reliability for people and nature. … ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here: Now is the Time to Invest in California’s Water Future

Money for water infrastructure:  Lessons from Kansas: Ellen Hanak and Dave Mitchell at the PPIC Blog write: “As summer approaches, signs of the drought are intensifying, with early season wildfires, new reductions in supplies from California’s depleted rivers, and many farmers scrambling for appointments with well drillers to access more groundwater. In Sacramento, there is also a heightened sense of urgency regarding money for the water system, as the June 26th deadline looms for legislative action on a new bond for the November 2014 ballot. The drought has drawn policymaker attention to water system investments, and it has raised hopes that the public will be willing to support new borrowing. While this is good news for California’s water system, the focus on bonds is a missed opportunity to go bigger. … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Drought Watch: Lessons from Kansas

Funding the California Water Action Plan: Ellen Hanak, Brian Gray, Jay Lund, David Mitchell, Caitrin Chappelle, Emma Freeman, Dean Misczynski, and James Nachbaur write: “In late January, Gov. Jerry Brown released the California Water Action Plan, which outlines 10 strategic priorities for putting the state on a more sustainable water management path. The plan – intended to guide state water policy for the next five years – places the current drought emergency in a broader context, acknowledging the need for a comprehensive approach to improving water supply reliability, restoring damaged ecosystems, and making our water infrastructure more resilient to droughts, floods and other hazards.  Action #10 of the plan focuses on funding, something needed for every other area to succeed. … ”  The blog goes through the water plan item by item, suggesting ways each item might be able to be funded, other than using bond money.  Read more from the California Water Blog here: Beyond bonds: Funding the governor’s Water Action Plan

Is shorting fish of water during drought good for water users?:  In drought years, California usually reduces “environmental water flows” — the amount of river flows needed to maintain aquatic ecosystems — to make more water available for farms and cities. The current drought has been no exception. Depriving fish of adequate river flows, however, might not be in the interests of urban and agricultural users if it leads to long-term decline of species.  Reductions in environmental flows during the 1988-92 drought arguably sped the expansion of destructive clam and aquatic weed populations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here: Is shorting fish of water during drought good for water users?

Should California expand reservoir capacity by removing sediment?  “Removing sediment from reservoirs is often suggested as a potentially better way to expand storage capacity than raising dam heights or building new reservoirs. This is a natural notion to explore given the cost and likely environmental impacts of traditional expansions.  For perspective, the construction cost of conventional reservoir expansion is about $1,700 to $2,700 an acre-foot (af) of storage capacity. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Should California expand reservoir capacity by removing sediment?

More dams or regulations to alleviate drought?: Wayne Lusvardi at the California Watchdog writes: “American diplomat Dwight Morrow wrote, “Any party which takes credit for the rain must not be surprised if its opponents blame it for the drought.”  Likewise any policymakers that take credit for restoring rivers for fish and not building dams should not be surprised when they get blamed for water shortages and groundwater overdrafting. ... ”  Read more from the California Watchdog blog here: More dams or regulations to alleviate drought?

Recharging the underground instead of building dams?  Families Protecting the Valley writes: “A lot of enviros are pushing the idea that we can just recharge our underground aquifers instead of building dams. We have to admit that to the untrained average citizen this probably seems like a good idea. We have all this underground capacity, why not use it instead of building new expensive dams and reservoirs?  Now, we don’t know if the people proposing this idea really believe it can work, or if it’s just a good line of rhetoric to use to convince people that dams are a waste of money. We tend to think the latter. ... ”  Continue reading from Families Protecting the Valley here:  Recharging the underground instead of building dams?

Seeking solutions for the Delta:  “Stockton-based Restore the Delta — known for its stinging criticism of state water policy — sets a positive tone in this new video, which proposes advancements in water efficiency and conservation as an alternative to big water projects like the twin tunnels. Here’s what Matt Mahon, a spokesman for the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta, had to say … ”  Read more from Alex Breitler’s blog here:  Seeking solutions

An implementing agreement at last: We finally have a draft Implementing Agreement (IA) released for public review and comment, plus additional time to pour over the BDCP and its EIR/EIS (until July 29). The Implementing Agreement is the document that the water contractors and the fisheries agencies will actually sign to allow BDCP to happen. Right now, the IA appears to give the water contractors everything they want and require virtually nothing from them in return.  Don’t expect to learn anything new there. … ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  An Implementing Agreement at Last

Rethinking California Part III: Back to the Drawing Boards on Water Supply Availability?  “What happens when the impossible happens?  Does prudence dictate that one revisit expectations?  The existing drought in California has understandably distracted the water industry.  With multi-billion infrastructure investments on the horizon and the foundation of the California economy hanging in the balance, responsible decision-making must reconsider analyses of California’s water supply availability.  Over the past month, a debate has emerged about the cause of California’s dire water supply situation.  Water agencies point to increased stringency of environmental regulation of the Golden State’s water projects as the cause.  Environmentalists counter that severe hydrologic conditions are responsible.  Do both sides have valid points?  Does California find itself in a “new hydrologic normal”?  Here are some facts. … ”  Continue reading from the Hydrowonk blog here: Rethinking California Part III: Back to the Drawing Boards on Water Supply Availability?

California in the balance as two warriors fight final battle: “They’re both of that age when retirement should have called them to the glider on the front porch and a quiet life of sipping lemonade in the summer’s heat.  But for Jerry Brown, 76, and Burt Wilson, 81, a lifetime of being at opposite poles of environmental battles not only continues but could culminate in a final conflict that will set the direction of California for generations after both have left the stage. It’s as if Hollywood had scripted it. ... ”  Read more from the Central Valley Business Times here:  California in the balance as two warriors fight final battle

Using music and the arts to connect people to watersheds:  Bay-Nature Magazine interviews  longtime Bay Area creeks advocate Carla Koop of the Gallinas Watershed Council about the project to produce Watershed, a CD compilation of original songs contributed by popular musicians on the Bay Area’s Americana, bluegrass, and pop scenes, as well as her efforts to use art as a means to connect people to their watersheds.  Read more from Bay-Nature here:  Singing the Praises of our Local Creeks

Will Stanislaus County Supervisors pass the water test?  Eric Caine at the Valley Citizen blog writes: “To hear the Modesto Bee tell it, Stanislaus County Supervisors’ attempts to formulate a groundwater policy are explorations into terra incognita:  ‘Being first can make you the focus of a lot of attention. That’s just one of the reasons Stanislaus County’s efforts to deal with water issues are important. We’re among the first in the Valley coming to grips with finding and supplying enough water to keep agriculture not just alive but thriving.’ But county groundwater policies are nothing new. Neighboring San Joaquin County began monitoring groundwater use in 1971, over forty years ago. The effort continues today. Yolo County has a plan any interested citizen can access and review. Both plans could be emulated, and it wouldn’t take a committee to do so. … ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen blog here: Will Supervisors Pass the Water Test?

In western water, what’s the right role for the feds?: “After spending the day reading about the federal government’s, shall we say, persuasive role in assisting Imperial Valley farmers that it was in their best interests to figure out a way to share a bit of their water across San Gorgonio Pass with the city folk to their west, I this evening ran across this:  ‘Reed Benson, a professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law in Albuquerque, said states need what he called a gorilla in the room, and federal money, to reach agreements. … ‘”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  Read more from the Inkstain blog here: In western water, what’s the right role for the feds?

The greenback, the humpback, and the silverback: the feds’ value in water management:  Reed Benson at the Western Water Law blog writes: “This past week I had the pleasure of speaking at the annual ABA Water Law conference in Las Vegas.  Soon after my talk, I found myself quoted in an AP story — proving that what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay there.  The story quoted me as saying that the federal government plays a valuable role in water management as a “gorilla.”  I did say that, but I drew the gorilla metaphor from a speech given 30 years ago by then-EPA Administrator Bill Ruckelshaus.  More on that shortly, but first, a bit of context. ... ”  Read more from the Western Water Law blog here: The greenback, the humpback, and the silverback: the feds’ value in water management

Arizona water managers warn Lake Mead could be sorta unusable in five to eight years, says the Inkstain blog:  “Absent some big wet years or management intervention, Lake Mead could drop to levels in the next five to eight years that would make it nearly unusable – especially for power generation and water for Las Vegas, but also at some risk for other downstream users – according to a presentation last week by staff at the Central Arizona Project to the agency’s board of directors.  That five-to-eight year time frame is how long it might take, under the scenario sketched by CAP staff, for the surface elevation of Lake Mead to drop to 1,000 feet above sea level – like Four Minutes to Midnight on the Colorado River Doomsday Clock or something. It’s still not midnight, but scary close. … ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here: Arizona water managers warn Lake Mead could be sorta unusable in five to eight years

Photo creditExcavator at Owens Lake by Maven.


About the Blog Round-up: The Blog Round-up is a weekly journey through the wild and varied tapestry of blog commentary, incorporating the good, the bad, the ugly, and sometimes just plain bizarre viewpoints existing on the internet.  Viewpoints expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily my own; inclusion of items here does not imply my endorsement of their positions. Items are chosen to express a wide range of viewpoints, and are added at the editor’s discretion. While posts with obvious factual errors are excluded, please note that no attempt is made on my part to verify or fact check the information bloggers present, so caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.

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