Blog round-up: Bloggers on water conservation, drought, the BDCP, groundwater, stormwater, wasted water and more …

DroughtInfographic_r8The Multiple Benefits of Water Conservation and Efficiency for California: Heather Cooley writes:”California farmers have made great progress in updating and modernizing irrigation technologies and practices. For example, in 1990, more than two-thirds of California crops were flood irrigated. By 2010, that number had declined to 43% and is likely even lower today. During that same period, the percent of land irrigated with more efficient microsprinklers and drip irrigation increased from 15% to 38%. These improvements are one of the reasons that California remains among the most productive agricultural regions in the world, producing more than 400 different farm products.  But despite past efforts, great untapped potential remains to use water more efficiently. Water efficiency – defined as measures that reduce water use while maintaining the benefits water provides – has been shown to be a cost-effective and flexible tool to adapt to drought as well as address longstanding water challenges in California. … ”   Read more from the Pacific Institute’s Insights blog here: The Multiple Benefits of Water Conservation and Efficiency for California

Getting through the dry times:  The California Water Blog reposts this piece from November 2012 written by Ellen Hanak and Elizabeth Stryjewski, noting it is no less timely today.  They write: “This week, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released a new report that provides a checkup on California’s progress with two innovative water management tools: water marketing and groundwater banking. These tools are part of a modern approach that will enable California to manage its scarce water resources more flexibly and sustainably.  Water marketing involves the temporary, long-term, or permanent transfer of water rights in exchange for compensation. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Getting through the dry times

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House Republicans trivializing drought: Dava Castillo writes: ” … As reports continue to portend a dire future for California as the drought takes its toll, US House Republicans are playing politics and even trivializing the drought. It is doubly distressing to report that some California representatives have joined House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in irresponsible criticisms. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), and David Valadao (R-Hanford) sided with Boehner and used the drought as a way to attack environmental protection laws in the state.. … ”  Read more from All Voices here: California drought: House Republicans trivializing conditions

Drought’s toll deepens for Friant users:  The Friant Waterline writes: “It was a sad sight that has been repeated over and over this summer through the normally lush 1.2 million acre Friant Division, home of the nation’s most vital and productive citrus region. Orange trees, dying for lack of water and wilting in the final moments of their lives, are pushed into tangled heaps of dried limbs before a bulldozer’s blade. ... ”  Read more from the Friant Waterline here:  Drought’s toll deepens for Friant users

Why utilities shy away from mandatory water saving during a drought:  Jay Lund writes: “The State Water Board’s recent decision to outlaw some water-wasting activities under penalty of $500 fines helps alert urban residents and businesses to the seriousness of the drought. These water conservation actions, though, are fairly mild compared with the water rationing and other mandatory restrictions that Santa Cruz and a few other California communities have imposed this year. ... ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Why utilities shy away from mandatory water saving during a drought

Tunnel opponents rally in Sacramento (Photo story):  Dan Bacher writes: “Restore the Delta (RTD) and many other groups held a big rally at the State Capitol on Tuesday, July 29, featuring the delivery of a “Death of the Delta” coffin containing thousands of public comments opposing Governor Jerry Brown’s peripheral tunnels. Hundreds of people, including fishermen, Tribal leaders, environmentalists, Delta farmers and environmental justice advocates, rallied in over 100 degree heat to protest Jerry Brown’s tunnel plan and to call for a new Draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS). The protest was held on the final day of the public comment period for the BDCP.   The opponents charged that the EIR/EIS process has been “fatally flawed” due to its lack of public outreach to non-English speakers, failure to present a funding plan, exclusion of any non-tunnels alternative, and scientists’ identification of numerous “red flags.”  … ”  Read more from Dan Bacher here:  Tunnel Opponents Rally Against Brown Water Plan

Twin tunnels project threatens property owners,says the president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association:  Jon Coupal writes:  “You’d think that with all the well deserved bad press heaped on the High Speed Rail debacle that Governor Brown would be a little more circumspect about mega-infrastructure projects which, presumably, he wishes to be the cornerstone of his legacy. Unfortunately, it appears that his legacy may be that of an inflexible politician who has saddled California with projects that are financially suspect and downright wasteful.  His latest adventure is the pursuit of the “Twin Tunnels,” a massively expensive water conveyance project. … ”  Read more from Fox & Hounds here: Twin Tunnels Project Threatens Property Owners

The BDCP is a failure of state institutions, says Michael Fitzgerald:  He writes:  “Depending on the level of detail, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and its twin tunnels adjunct can be dizzingly complex. In today’s SacBee, however, two enviros contribute a remarkably lucid Op-Ed piece.  “The proposed BDCP ignores the overwhelming scientific evidence that we must increase the amount of water flowing through the Delta to restore it to health, and instead focuses on siphoning away even more river water than the 50 percent on average we already divert,” write representatives from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Defenders of Wildlife. … ”  Read more from Michael Fitzgerald’s blog here: The BDCP: a failure of state institutions 

Richard Frank asks, is California finally ready to get serious about groundwater reform?  He writes: “California, which prides itself as being a national and international leader in so many areas of environmental policy, lags woefully behind other jurisdictions when it comes to at least one subject area: groundwater regulation.  Alone among the Western states in the U.S., California lacks any statewide system of groundwater regulation and planning.  (Until a few years ago, California shared that dubious distinction with Texas; but even the Lone Star State adopted statewide groundwater laws a few years ago following a severe multiyear drought in Texas.)  But California’s groundwater outlier status may finally be changing in 2014. ... ”  Read more from the Legal Planet blog here: Is California Finally Ready to Get Serious About Groundwater Reform?

What will become of groundwater in the west as drought depletes this resource? Jeff Simonetti writes:  “Since the beginning of this year, water managers in states such as California have relied on both surface and groundwater storage to make it through the unprecedented drought. In many cases, these managers point to the large groundwater aquifers and surface water storage that some areas of the Western United States have to give us much needed water during the last few years. The proponents of using storage argue that during dry years, we can draw down our reserves from these sources to get us through even the prolonged drought we are now facing. However, some recent studies suggest that these practices may not be sustainable over the long term in the drier Western United States. In this piece, I will review the most recent research on groundwater depletion in the Western United States. In a follow-up piece next week, I will look at the latest legislation moving through California and Texas to address the groundwater depletion issues. … ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here:  What will become of groundwater in the west as drought depletes this resource? 

Stanislaus County Geologist on foothills groundwater, part 1: Eric Caine writes: “The Valley Citizen is committed to bringing as much science as possible to the ongoing dialogue about water in the San Joaquin Valley. Stanislaus County’s resident geologist is an internationally acclaimed consultant on geohydrology and geology. … Dr. Ferriz generously offered the following interview via email. Q: Your biographical information lists you as the Stanislaus County geologist. Have you been consulted by the county about groundwater pumping in eastern Stanislaus County?  Dr. Ferriz: Yes. I have my desk a few steps away from that of Mr. Walt Ward, County Manager of Water Resources, and we have a chance to talk about current issues. Mr. Ward has asked my opinion about very specific matters, such as the best information to include on a water database for the County, or the type of sediments that are likely to behave as aquifers on eastern Stanislaus County. Of course you realize that water resources management is 50% a technical issue, 25% a legal issue, and 25% a political issue.  … ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen blog here: County Geologist on Foothills Groundwater: Part I

Water Wired’s Michael Campana gives his ten cents on the blessings and the curses of the GRACE Mission:  He writes: “Unless you’ve been catatonic it’s been hard to miss the news coverage given to the latest paper from the GRACE groundwater guru, Jay Famiglietti, and his colleagues: Groundwater Depletion During Drought Threatens Future Water Security of the Colorado River Basin … Relating the depletion to the volumes of Lake Mead (see the press release) was a stroke of genius by the authors. Just about everyone knows how big that reservoir is. Kudos – it’s a great way to communicate results to the public. I even heard a local CBS-TV news reporter express the groundwater loss as 13 trillion gallons – now that’s a number people know is HUGE! But the Lake Mead analogy is spot-on, especially in the West. … ”  Continue reading at the Water Wired blog here;  My Ten Cents: The Blessings & Curses of GRACE – Colorado River Basin Groundwater Depletion, Irrational Exuberance & More

Planning for the rain: Why stormwater management matters during the drought:  Paula Luu writes: ” … There are many opportunity costs associated with the traditional stormwater management, but the biggest one that concerns our thirsty state is groundwater recharge. By moving water away from the people and places that need it, stormwater cannot percolate into the ground and replenish water we keep drilling deeper and deeper to reach.  Californians can counteract the negative impacts of stormwater runoff by promoting water infiltration at our houses or businesses. The Pacific Institute and NRDC have written about the potential of stormwater capture in urban and suburban California to help communities increase water supply reliability. Similarly, the State Water Resource Control Board’s Storm Water Program wants us to approach urban landscapes like natural watersheds that slow the flow of water and allow it to be absorbed into the ground. … ”  Read more from the Pacific Insights blog here:  Planning for the rain: Why stormwater management matters during the drought

California businesses ally to ensure robust water policy:  John Guenther writes: “If you’re looking for a high-profile manufacturer that for sure depends on water, New Belgium Brewing seems like a good one to highlight. As they say on the advocacy page, “You can’t make great beer without clean water.”  And that sounds like a pretty good reason for the brewery to become a founding member of the Blue Business Council, a network of businesses that officially launched recently as a partnership with California Coastkeeper Alliance and local Waterkeeper organizations. For the members, encouraging policies that tackle drought and water pollution in the state’s watersheds and ocean waters represents just plain good economics. ... ”  Read more from Fox and Hounds here:  California businesses ally to ensure robust water policy

When Big Mains Break, Wasted Water is Only the Beginning: Ed Osann writes: “What are we to make of the incongruous images of tens of millions of gallons of water gushing skyward in Los Angeles this week in the midst of a statewide drought emergency?  And what lessons can be drawn from the resulting flood of the Westwood neighborhood and the UCLA campus, including the standing water on the basketball floor at Pauley Pavilion, the Bruin’s home court?  First, water main breaks are so frequent that most don’t make the news. ... ”  Continue reading from the NRDC Switchboard blog here: When Big Mains Break, Wasted Water is Only the Beginning

20,000,000 gallons!  Families Protecting the Valley gives it some perspective:  They write: “When there was a pipeline break under Sunset Blvd. near the campus of UCLA it was national news. Look at all the water being lost in the midst of a drought. They say they lost 20,000,000 gallons. Sounds like a lot.  How does 20,000,000 gallons compare with the 800,000 acre feet of water we let go to the ocean last Fall because of the Endangered Species Act? Let’s see.  … ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:  20,000,000 gallons!

Climate change, fracking, and drought: Oh My!  Dave Lesher writes: “Last week’s release of the PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and the Environment prompted a discussion of several major policy issues under consideration in Sacramento. A panel convened by PPIC talked about the survey’s findings on climate change policy, particularly public attitudes toward a potential increase in gas prices when new regulations for transportation fuels begin next year. … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Climate change, fracking, and drought: Oh my!

Mono Lake south tufa #3 07-2008The terrific tufa of Mono Lake (with photos):  Intern Sandra writes: “Tufa formations juxtaposed against the snow-capped Sierras or reflected on the lake’s burnished liquid surface are iconic representations of Mono Lake. Indeed, the mountains, lake, and tufa towers are unique and hauntingly beautiful. Because the lake has no outlet, trace amounts of salts and minerals brought into it by freshwater streams have accumulated over the centuries, resulting in a thickish soup of salts and alkali. … ”  Continue reading here:  The terrific tufa of Mono Lake

Tejon Ranch to become a millionaires playground: Burt Wilson writes: “If you’ve ever driven up or down the Grapevine pass south of Bakersfield, you’ve probably noticed a big sign announcing “Tejon Ranch.” The ranch used to be owned by the Los Angeles Times and a few years ago it was the site of the flamboyant artist Cristo’s layout of thousands of yellow umbrellas placed artistically along the steep, dry hills.  The land swap, engineered over a couple of years, was similar to the Catellus land swap, almost page-for-page, in which a filthy-rich Tejon Ranch company plans to separate 32,000 prime acres on the best part of the ranch–near and up above the highway–for a huge development of high-priced homes, turning the remaining 240,000 acres over to a wild life preserve.  … ”  Read more from Burt Wilson at the Public Water News Service Blog here:  Tejon Ranch to become a millionaires playground

What is this El Nino thing anyway?  The Grist has this helpful video:

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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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