Blog round-up: Court upholds State Water Board’s broad authority to ban unreasonable uses of water, modernizing groundwater management, BDCP, funding water projects, drought, hydrpower and much more …

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California Court Upholds State Water Board’s Broad Authority to Ban Unreasonable Uses of Water: Richard Frank at the Legal Planet blog writes:”I recently wrote about a then-pending court case in which California grape growers were challenging the State Water Resources Control Board’s limits on the growers’ diversion of water from California rivers and streams to provide frost protection for their grapes.  That litigation is important because it goes to the heart of the Board’s authority under Article X, section 2 of the California Constitution to limit or ban “unreasonable” uses, or methods of diversion, of water.    California’s Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District has now issued its decision in Light v. State Water Resources Control Board.  That ruling represents an important, if predictable, win for the Water Board, and an affirmation of the Board’s broad authority to exercise its constitutional authority to proscribe unreasonable water practices by all California water users–authority that becomes more important as California suffers through a drought unprecedented in state history. … ”  Continue reading from the Legal Planet blog here: California Court Upholds State Water Board’s Broad Authority to Ban Unreasonable Uses of Water

Modernizing California’s groundwater management:  The California Water Blog writes: “As California strains under a third straight year of drought, Gov. Jerry Brown and many legislators have shown strong interest in modernizing management of groundwater – the state’s most important drought reserves. At the same time, a group of nearly 40 leading water professionals and scholars has been exploring ways California can move forward with more effective groundwater management. Organized by the Groundwater Resources Association of California, the Contemporary Groundwater Issues Council of scientists, economists, consultants, policymakers and regulators recently developed a set of consensus recommendations [1]. Council co-chairs Vicki Kretsinger Grabert, Thomas Harter and Tim Parker outline eight points that the group considers critical to moving California’s groundwater management into the 21st century. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here: Modernizing California’s groundwater management

California added just five dams since 1959:  The California Watchdog blog writes: “Has California built any dams in the past 55 years as its population has more than doubled – and as a drought rages? Yes – but not by the state.  Peter Gleick of the Pacific Water Institute recently stirred the waters about whether California has added any new water storage dams since 1959. The title of his article in the San Francisco Chronicle, “The Number of New Dams Built in California in the Past 50 (or 40, or 30, or 20) Years is Not Zero.”  Gleick is correct that five new dams were built in California since 1959 with a total capacity of 8.6 million acre-feet of water. However, we need to distinguish. ... ”  Read more from the Cal Watchdog blog here:  California added just five dams since 1959

On Several Fronts, Promising Signs of Water Progress: Metropolitan GM Jeffrey Kightlinger writes: The state/federal effort to improve the reliability of water supplies from Northern California and restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is now in its seventh year, a testament to the time and hard work necessary to come up with a lasting solution. From the outside, it may be difficult to gauge progress of the Bay Delta Conservation Program at any given time. But there’s been considerable movement this spring. Here are three examples:  The State Water Project Contract: Metropolitan and its fellow State Water Contractors reached agreement in principle on an important contract term sheet to extend the contract through 2085. … ”  Read more from the H2outlook blog here:  On Several Fronts, Promising Signs of Water Progress

BDCP Cost and Yield Deception:  Dr. Jeff Michael at the Valley Economy blog writes:  “Last week, BDCP released what it describes as “cost and yield information,”  although I didn’t see any new information in the glossy newsletter summary with the pretty bird. The newsletter makes 2 main claims: 1) BDCP provides reliable water for $5 per month, and 2) BDCP is cheaper than the alternatives.  Both of these claims are deceptive and are based on invalid comparisons and inaccurate assumptions.  I’ll start with the second claim, BDCP is cheaper than alternative water supplies  … ”  Continue reading at the Valley Economy blog here:  BDCP Cost and Yield Deception

Local water funding in June primaries: The PPIC blog writes: “Much of the current water talk in Sacramento surrounds a new state water bond for the November ballot. Yet as we show in our study Paying for Water in California, most water spending—84 percent—is actually raised locally. While passage rates on local water measures have been fairly high since 1995 (72 percent passing), few make it on the ballot (on average only six per year). This is largely because funding for many critical water services—including stormwater management, flood protection, and ecosystem and watershed improvements—often requires two-thirds of voters to approve, and local officials are reluctant to put such measures on the ballot unless they think they can win. In the June 3 primary election, only two local water measures were proposed. The results illustrate the challenges of funding water services that require direct voter approval. … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here: Local water funding in June primaries

One simple fix for California’s drought: David Zetland at the Aguanomics blog writes:(via DA) I read that the Pacific Institute and NRDC have proposed “five simple fixes for California’s drought.” Putting aside the incorrect wording (the truth is that Nature makes a drought, but Man makes a shortage), I offered the following comment:  This typical, top-down list of to dos will accomplish nothing, as it requires (1) farmers to spend $100 to save $5 of water and/or (2) homeowners to spend hours on a leak that costs them $2.25 per year.  As usual, the INCENTIVE to reduce water usage is totally missing from this list of recommendations. ... ”  Read more from Aguanomics here:  One simple fix for California’s drought

California hydropower advances: The Cal Watchdog blog writes: “To service California’s electricity market, hydropower finally is advancing. Currently, California needs to import cheap, water-based electricity hydropower from nearby states to bail out its power grid when solar power fades out at the sunset hours of each day.  So it’s good news the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission just gave approval for California’s electric grid operator and Buffett’s PacifiCorp to establish a western regional hydroelectric market.  PacifiCorp is the power authority over privately owned hydropower facilities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.  But there’s even better news: A new U.S. Department of Energy study indicates California could generate 60 percent greater hydroelectricity from within its own borders without having to rely on Buffett’s imported hydropower. ... ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  California hydropower advances

Agricultural Water Management Planning in the Sacramento Valley: The Northern California Water Association blog writes: “The water resources managers in the Sacramento Valley have developed agricultural water management plans to guide important water management throughout the Sacramento Valley. Water is our lifeblood and no drop is wasted. These plans provide the framework for water management decisions on how to best provide water for farms, birds and fish in the region. … ”  Read more from the Northern California Water Association blog here: Agricultural Water Management Planning in the Sacramento Valley

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(Re)discovering the San Joaquin: Monty Schmitt at the NRDC Switchboard blog writes: “This week I had a chance to travel by kayak down 23 miles of the San Joaquin River just south of Mendota, CA with CNN reporter John Sutter, who is undertaking an ambitious journey to explore the River’s entire 360 miles – from high Sierra to the sea.  Since his journey began a week ago, John has traveled many miles in an effort to meet people for whom the River plays an important role and he has reported on his experiences with an impressive stream of Twitter posts. I met up with John for a nine hour paddle down a beautiful stretch of the River and seeing the San Joaquin through his eyes helped me see it in a fresh way.  I have worked on the San Joaquin River for 15 years alongside a wide range of stakeholders, yet few meetings have involved actually spending time on the River, seeing firsthand both its beauty and the challenges facing California’s second longest river. ... ”  Read more from Monty Schmitt at the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  (Re)discovering the San Joaquin

Tuolomne River salmon: fish in a barrel?  The Valley Citizen blog writes: “About the only thing most everyone agrees on about salmon on the Tuolumne River is there aren’t as many as there used to be. Disagreements arise when people try to explain why. While there are some exceptions, most of the disputants fall into one of two groups.  The “flow” people argue that dams and consequent reduced flows along rivers during migration have decimated salmon runs. They say that reduced flows lead to loss of spawning habitat and temperatures too high for salmon survival. ... ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen blog here: Tuolumne River Salmon: Fish in a Barrel?

Wetland Restoration Creates Jobs, and Provides Ecological, Economic, and Social Benefits: The Pucci Foods blog writes: “Urban development is an essential process for United States as our population increases and communities grow. The coastline in particular draws us with it’s aesthetic beauty and the economic potential created by bodies of water. We have a curious desire for waterfront property, and we are willing to pay top dollar for it. Coastlines can create vibrant and profitable communities – the San Francisco Bay Area is a perfect example. Yet coastal urban development comes at a price that we are just now beginning to understand. Our coastlines are lined with wetlands, beautiful expanses of uniquely adapted plants and animals that play a vital ecological role. As the human population increases, the acreage of coastal wetlands decreases. A recent report has outlined how restoring our wetlands not only helps keep coastal ecosystems healthy, but also provides immense economic and social benefits for coastal communities. By investing money to protect and restore wetlands, we can create jobs and better help protect our own cities. ... ”  Read more from the Pucci Foods blog here: Wetland Restoration Creates Jobs, and Provides Ecological, Economic, and Social Benefits

Is Modesto Irrigation District on the road to bankruptcy? The Valley Citizen blog writes: “Public utilities are known for financial stability. Without competition, they generally don’t have to worry about remaining financially solvent. However, in the last few decades, technological changes have undermined the bottom line of some public utilities.  When American Telephone and Telegraph was exposed to competition via deregulation, it tried to adapt in order to survive. Eventually, because of its weak financial condition and poor competitive structure, the company sold out to Southwestern Bell, which then changed its name to AT&T!  The important question for the Modesto Irrigation District (MID) is whether new technology can undermine its monopoly position as a water and electricity provider for service areas in the San Joaquin Valley.  … ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen blog here: Is the MID on the Road to Bankruptcy?

Lake Mead’s problem: It’s about the lower basin structural water deficit, not the Bellagio Fountain:  The Inkstain blog writes:”Vegas is an easy target, but Lake Mead’s problems involve far more than Sin City’s profligacy.  Longer version: As Lake Mead drops toward a record low some time next month, there’s a temptation to draw a dotted line to the Bellagio Fountain, 30 miles to the west, and point a finger of blame. It’s not the fountain itself, but rather the water excess of Las Vegas that it symbolizes, that draws the easy comparison, as the energetic and extremely widely read Eric Holthaus did in a recent Slate post that tripped straight from Mead’s record lows to the gaudy fountain on the strip … ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here: Lake Mead’s problem: It’s about the lower basin structural water deficit, not the Bellagio Fountain

Photo creditPicture of John’s Weather Forecasting Stone by flickr photographer Tim Rogers, with a hat-tip to Cannon Michael for posting it on twitter first.


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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