Blog round-up: Will the drought extend in 2015? Peter Gleick on solving CA’s water problems, and plotting the Delta Dialogue’s future, plus water conservation, efficiency, groundwater, a Delta smelt song, and more …

Underwater animal

“Underwater animal”

Will the drought extend into 2015?  Jay Lund and Jeff Mount at the California Water Blog write:  “Debates over how to manage California’s critically dry water supplies this year have displaced most discussion about water next year.  This year’s drought is bad, but another dry year that begins with even lower groundwater and reservoir levels could be much worse. The state’s reservoir storage is already at near-record lows for this time of year, and accelerated overdraft of groundwater — the state’s most important drought reserves —  is likely to limit its availability.  How likely will next water year be dry? … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here: Will California’s drought extend into 2015?

Peter Gleick on solving California's water problems: He writes: “For over 150 years, Californians have argued, litigated, yelled, and otherwise fought over water. California is a big state — we have redwood forests, desert regions, mountains, coasts, rich agricultural lands, amazing natural ecosystems. And overall, we have a pretty good amount of water.  The problems with California's water are that it is highly seasonal, highly variable, and poorly managed. Now, halfway through the second decade of the 21st century, we've hit the wall. California is in a drought — some call it the third year of a drought, but it could also be called the 10th dry year out of the last 13 (see Figure 1). Even if next year brings some relief, our water problems will remain. … ”  Read more from the Huffington Post here: Solving California’s Water Problems

ACWA Report Puts Drought Impacts, Vulnerabilities in Vivid Focus:  ACWA president John Coleman writes:”Though the full story of the 2014 drought continues to be written, it’s already clear that impacts are being felt across almost all sectors of California. It is also clear that we are in store for much more severe impacts if 2015 is another dry year.  ACWA helped daylight some of those impacts and possible solutions today with release of a report by our statewide Drought Action Group. The report, “2014 Drought: Impacts and Strategies for Resilience,” offers a unique, on-the-ground perspective on impacts around the state this year and areas of concern for 2015 beyond. … ”  Read more from ACWA's Voices on Water blog here: ACWA Report Puts Drought Impacts, Vulnerabilities in Vivid Focus

Urban Water Conservation and Efficiency – Enormous Potential, Close to Home: NRDC's Ed Osann writes: “As California continues to face severe drought conditions, a new report released today by NRDC and the Pacific Institute tallies the huge potential to lower water use in virtually every community across the Golden State. Reducing water demand can help make our cities more resilient to future droughts, saves energy and reduces air pollution, and leaves more water in rivers and estuaries for fish, wildlife, and recreation. Compared with the water consumption levels of the last decade, urban water use can be cut by one-third to one-half using technologies and practices that are available today. We helped develop these estimates, and summarize the most significant of them here. … ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here: Urban Water Conservation and Efficiency – Enormous Potential, Close to Home

Water conservation success backfires on policy makers:  The Cal Watchdog blog writes: “A longstanding truism when it comes to needed goods such as water systems, flood control or catastrophic earthquake insurance is that the public wants them but does not want to pay for them. This was confirmed anew by a recent USC-L.A. Times poll, which found only 36 percent of those polled were in favor of raising taxes for statewide water system upgrades. A plurality of 46 percent indicated they would be willing to pay more to assure a more stable water supply.  However, 51 percent indicated that taxes should not be used to upgrade water storage and conveyance facilities. As pollster Drew Lieberman of the Democratic polling firm of Greenberg, Quinlan and Rosner put it, “Support evaporates entirely when you put a price tag on it.” … ” Read more from the Cal Watchdog blog here:  Water conservation success backfires on policy makers

A Tale of Two Farms: How Water Efficiency Could Help Drought-Proof California Farms: Pacific Institute's Heather Cooley writes: “For many California farmers, this growing season has been the “worst of times”. While all of the state is in the midst of a severe drought, conditions are most acute in the state’s most productive agricultural region.  The full impact of the drought on the state’s agricultural regions is not yet quantified, but preliminary results from a University of California- Davis study suggest that Central Valley farms will receive 6.5 million acre-feet less surface water than under normal conditions. ... ”  Read more from the Pacific Institute here: A Tale of Two Farms: How Water Efficiency Could Help Drought-Proof California Farms

Making the most of California's rain – new report shows how capturing stormwater can help make our water supplies more reliable: NRDC's Noah Garrison writes: “For much of California, 2013 was the driest year since the state started keeping records more than 150 years ago.  In May, measurements of the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which normally provides about one-third of the water used by the state’s farms and cities (as well as by natural ecosystems) as it slowly melts through the spring and summer, were at only 18 percent of average for that time of year, and the state reported that it “found more bare ground than snow as California faces another long, hot summer.”  Statewide, the average rainfall in 2013 was only 7 inches, far less than its long-term average of 22 inches, and the lack of precipitation poses a serious threat across the state—including placing communities at risk of running out of water (though this risk was thankfully reduced by rain, still below average, in February and March).  Capturing that water when it does rain in our cities and suburbs can help communities increase their water supply reliability—so they have the water they need when it doesn’t. … ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here: Making the most of California’s rain – new report shows how capturing stormwater can help make our water supplies more reliable.

Plotting the Dialogues’ Future: At their March gathering, participants in the Delta Dialogues facilitated and mapped the conversation for the first time, as they plotted a course for the future of the process.  Participants, while lamenting low attendance during the gathering (just five stakeholder groups were represented), noted that it is an extraordinary busy spring for many involved in the Delta Dialogues, from efforts to combat drought and gathering public comments on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan consuming the time of participants. The consensus of the meeting was that by delaying the next meeting for a couple of months – and gathering in June, when things may be less busy for participants, would help the process. … ”  Read more from the Delta Dialogues here: Plotting the Dialogues’ Future

Fracking in the Delta: Burt Wilson from the Public Water News Service blog writes: “Our friend and Delta researcher Nicky Suard, Esq., tells us that a new injection residue fracking well is situated on Staten Island right next to the Mokelumne River near Walnut Grove. Since this is part of the “central conveyance” pathway where Delta water is exported to the Clifton Court Forebay where it is pumped south to Los Angeles, she thinks this is quite a risk for the California drinking water supply. She's right! … ”  Read more from Burt Wilson here:  Fracking in the Delta

Why property rights and groundwater won't wash:  The Valley Citizen blog writes: ” … The current drought is bringing groundwater into public consciousness. In so doing, it’s helping create a consensus that California groundwater law must change.  Consider this: If water belongs to the owner of the land above it, what happens when powerful pumps pull it away? Most people would agree that taking property away from its rightful owner is theft, plain and simple. Today, groundwater pumping indiscriminately steals both public and private water resources.  The problem began when the people who decide such things decreed that groundwater law should be separated from water law in general. … ”  Read more from The Valley Citizen blog here: Why Property Rights and Groundwater Won’t Wash

Stanislaus County Supervisors Issue Blank Check to Water Miners:  The Valley Citizen blog writes: “Tuesday, June 10, Stanislaus County Supervisors issued a blank check to water miners. Of those present, only Supervisor Jim DeMartini seemed willing to speak candidly about the process. “This is like squirting water on the outhouse when your house is burning down,” he said.  DeMartini was referring to the Stanislaus Water Advisory Committee’s (SWAC) seventeen point “action plan.” … ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen blog here: Supervisors Issue Blank Check to Water Miners

What it will take to fix Lake Mead – the Arizona suggestion: The Inkstain blog writes: “Last night, I shared Part I of an interesting discussion by Arizona water managers of the risk facing Lake Mead and Lower Colorado River Basin water users in Nevada, Arizona and California:  ‘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.'  The evaluation by the Central Arizona Project water managers is pretty grim. But Part II, in the morning light, may be more interesting. It’s the boldest proposal I’ve seen in public ... ”  Continue reading from The Inkstain blog here: What it will take to fix Lake Mead – the Arizona suggestion

Nevada's drought crisis:  Jeff Simonetti at the Hydrowonk blog writes:  “Talk about an interesting unintended consequence of the drought – in Wildhorse and Willow Creek Reservoirs in Elko County, Nevada, the Department of Wildlife has lifted all fish catch limits. The Department of Wildlife is concerned that as the water levels in these reservoirs fall, oxygen levels will decrease further causing a massive fish kill during the summer. This summer will be the second year in a row that Nevada lifted fishing limits due to drought, and the drought in Nevada is in its third year. Nevada relies on rainfall to support everything from tourism and construction in Las Vegas to agriculture in the more rural areas of the state. However, for the last three years, Mother Nature has been uncooperative. In this piece, I will review some of the challenges that Nevada faces as well as the steps the state can take to address the long-term challenge of water shortage. … ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here:  Nevada’s drought crisis

Is Arizona changing its Colorado River rhetoric?  “Tony Davis has an excellent story in this morning’s Arizona Star on what looks from the outside like a sudden shift in the direction of Arizona’s Colorado River rhetoric:  ‘For the first time, the state agency that operates the multibillion-dollar Central Arizona Project warns that water shortages could hit Tucson and Phoenix as soon as five years from now. … The recognition that there is a problem – a “structural deficit” in which Arizona, Nevada and California are using more water annually than the big river can provide – is not new here. What’s new is Arizona’s starkly public recognition of the problem and the specific sort of action being called for. ... ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here: Arizona’s cry for Colorado River help: is “conservation before shortage” now a given?

Is the “iron triangle” in western water management still a relevant concept? The Inkstain blog writes:Berkeley agricultural economist E. Phillip Leveen seems to have been* the person who coined the term “iron triangle” to describe the political structure behind large scale 20th century water development in the western United States. The “triangle” is an attempt to describe the relationship between federal water agencies, members of key congressional committees responsible for allocating tax money for the great water works,  and water users – generally agricultural water users. Here’s Leveen describing the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in 1972 ... ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here: Is the “iron triangle” in western water management still a relevant concept?

Can We Reasonably Expect the Private Sector to Advance Sustainable Water Management? Should We?: “Over the past several years, the CEO Water Mandate has articulated to businesses why and how they can advance sustainable water management by making their own operations more efficient and by contributing to watershed efforts to promote sustainability. This is a proposition that some, especially a segment of the NGO community, are skeptical of. Many of these concerns are outlined in a paper from the Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU) entitled Conflicts, Companies, Human Rights and Water—A Critical Review of Local Corporate Practices and Global Corporate InitiativesThis week, the Mandate released a discussion paper – in collaboration with WWF International – that tackles these claims and shines a light on why we believe they are largely not true. … ”  Read more from the Pacific Institute Insights blog here: Can We Reasonably Expect the Private Sector to Advance Sustainable Water Management? Should We?

And lastly, we now bring you the Delta smelt song, performed by Ms. Donnelly West:

Photo credit:  “Underwater animal” by flickr photographer JFXie

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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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