Blog round-up: Bloggers on the Hetch Hetchy lawsuit, the water bond, legislation, urban water use and more, plus Andy Lipkis and MWD’s Kightlinger do the Ice Bucket Challenge

Texture by Stephanie Taylor
Photo by Stephanie Taylor

Hetch Hetchy lawsuit: Courtroom pushback on water: Congressman Devin Nunes writes:  “Environmentalists are looking to complete their destruction of the California water supply by pushing legislation to regulate groundwater usage. For a glimpse of what the enviros have already wrought, look at the U.S. Drought Monitor’s list of the top U.S. cities that are running out of water – every one of them is in California and six are in the San Joaquin Valley. There was some pushback this week, however, when a group filed a lawsuit to end the double standard by which San Francisco, with its uninterrupted water supply from Hetch Hetchy, is exempt from the water cutbacks that have plagued the Valley. … ”  Read more from Congressman Nunes’ blog here:  Courtoom pushback on California water

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Hetch Hetchy lawsuit: Shadowy organization?  Families Protecting the Valley writes: “A group representing farm interests has wised up and given itself a name similar to names used by environmental groups. They call themselves “The Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy and Reliability.” Has a nice ring to it.  They are asking a very reasonable question: Why does our Central Valley water have to flow through the Delta, but San Francisco’s doesn’t? As you probably know, San Francisco gets its’ water from Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite and it flows via pipeline straight to San Francisco instead of through the Delta like it would if it were left to nature. The liberals in S.F. exempt themselves from the rules they make for us. ... ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:  Shadowy organization?

Scott River decision gives Californians one more tool to keep water in streams:  “In a landmark decision, a California court recently declared that the public trust doctrine applies to groundwater if it alters benefits provided by navigable streams – benefits that include recreational boating, hunting, swimming, wildlife habitat, and scenic beauty. Groundwater itself is woefully unprotected in the state, but where groundwater, or any other water use alters flows in navigable streams, it could be protected in the public interest. … ”  Continue reading from the NRDC here:  Scott River decision gives Californians one more tool to keep water in streams

PPIC blog looks at trends in urban water use:  Emma Freeman and Caitrin Chappelle write: “Most of California is now in an exceptional drought, but water use statewide has actually increased over the last year. In response, the state has imposed short-term restrictions intended to help us get through the current drought. As state and local water agencies look beyond the current emergency for ways to adapt to a future in which droughts are likely to be more frequent and more severe, it is instructive to examine and compare urban use in two relatively normal water years, 2000 and 2010.  First, the good news: Total statewide urban water use (for residential, commercial, and industrial purposes) decreased by 12 percent from 2000 to 2010, even as California’s population increased by more than three million. ... ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Drought watch: Trends in urban water use

Pacific Institute responds to the Washington Post article’s article,“Water Utilities Charge More to Offset Low-Flow Toilets, Faucets and Shower Heads”: Heather Cooley writes: “A recent Washington Post article erroneously stated: “Federally mandated low-flow toilets, shower heads and faucets are taking a financial toll on the nation’s water utilities, leaving customers to make up the shortfall with higher water rates and new fees that have left many paying more for less.” The article tackles an important topic, albeit one that is all too commonly misunderstood. Two key facts are frequently missing from these discussions:  Fact #1: Water Conservation and Efficiency Reduce Long-Term Costs Most areas have already developed the least expensive water supplies, and the next increment of supply is considerably more expensive. Water conservation and efficiency improvements are the cheapest, fastest, and most reliable “new supply.” ... ”  Read more from the Pacific Institute’s Insights blog here: Response to Washington Post Article “Water Utilities Charge More to Offset Low-Flow Toilets, Faucets and Shower Heads”

The 2014 Water Bond: A watershed moment that deserves reflection:  John Coleman, Kathy Tiegs, and Randy Record write: “There are moments during our professional and personal lives when it is important to acknowledge a milestone reached. The historic approval Aug. 13 of a modified water bond for the 2014 ballot is one of those moments.  After more than five years of hard work, intense negotiation and collaboration, the Legislature on a bipartisan vote approved and Gov. Jerry Brown signed a $7.545 billion bond that is supported by a broad swath of interests from water, business, conservation groups, labor and agriculture. The bond replaces an $11.14 billion measure that was slated for the November ballot and likely would have failed. This new compromise bond will appear on the ballot as Prop. 1 and is a central tenet of Governor Brown’s comprehensive water policy. In its targeted scaled-down form, the bond stands a solid chance of success at the ballot box in November. … ”  Read more from Voices on Water blog here:  The 2014 Water Bond: A watershed moment that deserves reflection

Landmark water bond now faces voters: James Poulos writes: “As August draws to a close, the state has seen a striking instance of successful high-level bipartisan wrangling. Sacramento secured a massive water bond package, putting $7.5 billion in bonds on the ballot as Proposition 1. Although legislators, and Gov. Jerry Brown, are all claiming victory, questions remain as to how much of a short-term impact could be felt. … ”  Read more from the Cal Watchdog blog here:  Landmark water bond now faces voters

Water bond is another missed opportunity, says Joe Mathews: “If the state of California could tax self-congratulation over missed political opportunities, we might have the money to rebuild our water infrastructure.  The water bond placed on the ballot by the legislature is of a piece with other less than impressive triumphs of the Brown Era. Presented with events and political possibilities to make big progress on a crucial issue, political leaders choose something small that doesn’t change all that much. … ”  Read more from Fox and Hounds here:  Water bond is another missed opportunity

Federal legislation could be key to water storage:  Wayne Lusvardi writes: “There was a lot of hoopla last week over the California Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown putting a bipartisan water bond on the Nov. 4 ballot that, for the first time in nearly 50 years, actually includes storage. Proposition 1 would spend $7.5 billion, including $2.7 billion on storage.  However, despite the bipartisan support and the ongoing drought, the passage of Proposition 1 is by no means certain. For one thing, annual payments of half a billion dollars per year might turn off voters. The money would have to come from reduced funding from the state general fund for other things, or from tax increases. … ”  Read more from the Cal Watchdog blog here:  Fed bills could be key to CA water storage

The legislative landscape for current water issues in California:  Jeff Simonetti writes: “In my Post last week, I focused on the groundwater depletion that the Colorado River Basin faces. During the historic drought that California and many western states face, water users have increasingly turned to groundwater to make up for the utter lack of rain or surface water supplies. Despite the torrential rains that some areas of California received in early August, the Los Angeles Times reports that these rains did little to dent the drought in the state. The rains either fell on areas that were not seeing the worst drought conditions in the state, or the rain did not permeate the soil effectively. As such, the state still has large areas stuck in severe and exceptional drought. … ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here:  The legislative landscape for current water issues in California

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Westlands drainage deal imminent? Lloyd Carter writes: “A tentative agreement is near in secret talks between the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation,the U.S. Justice Department and the Westlands Water District to settle three long-simmering drainage lawsuits, according to Interior Department sources. The settlement could be a bonanza for Westlands, which has been searching for half a century for a solution on how to safely dispose of farm drainwater containing salts, heavy metals and the trace element selenium. … ”  Read more at the Chronicles of the Hydraulic Brotherhood here:  Drainage deal imminent?

BDCP is out to eventually pull off a gigantic Delta land grab: Burt Wilson writes: “In politics–and most every other public function–actions speak louder than words. It is also the nature of politics to use deceptive language to cover up planned actions by couching them in terms of being in the public interest when they are actually for private, corporate benefit. This is called “enlightened self-interest” in today’s legislative bodies whose members only pretend to serve the people. This is as old as the Roman Empire, as new as the war in Iraq and as near as the Delta. … ”  Read more from the Public Water News Service Blog here:  BDCP is out to eventually pull off a gigantic Delta land grab

This is what a more sustainable food system looks like:  Eve Andrews writes: “Let’s be real: The American food system today has some pretty daunting issues. We’re saddled with a farming system that, on the whole, releases a massive amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere (675 million metric tons annually at the most recent tally, to be exact), sucks nutrients from the soil, and leaches chemicals into the water table. And in regions with some of the richest farmland, historically speaking, you can’t buy a fresh vegetable for love or money — but you can get a two-liter bottle of potable sugar and an endless variety of nutritionally vacant foodstuff approximations at any corner store. … ”  Read more from Grist here:  This is what a more sustainable food system looks like

Another trip down the groundwater rabbit hole: Eric Caine writes: “It was big news when the Modesto Irrigation District (MID) caught six customers stealing water from MID canals. The culprits were not only fined, their names were published in the Modesto Bee.  The fines, thought to be in the neighborhood of $1500, were food for thought when someone at the MID Board meeting wondered whether water thieves would also have to pay for the water they take. … ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen blog here: Another Trip Down the Groundwater Rabbit Hole

Summer thunderstorms give Mono Lake and its tributaries a drink and a break: “We were expecting the worst for streamflows this summer. Runoff at 48% of average this year—as forecasted in April, and even lower than the last two dry years—would make 2014 the driest year of the last three, adding up to the three driest consecutive years on record for runoff in the Mono Basin. … ”  Read more from the Mono-Logue here:  Summer thunderstorms give Mono Lake and its tributaries a drink and a break

Southern California water supply moves into the yellow:  Jeff Kightlinger writes: “As the drought continues, a basic in water planning is to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. So we hope for rain and snow this winter and El Niño conditions, while we prepare for the drought to continue.  Metropolitan has rarely reduced the availability of water supplies to our 26 member agencies in our 86-year-history, but planning for that possibility next year is a necessary next step.  When Metropolitan restricts supplies, it does so through our Allocation Plan. That plan was last implemented in 2009. But since then there have been shifts in local water supply conditions and use patterns and other changes. So it is time to fine-tune the plan so that it is both fair and effective from a local and regional perspective. … ”  Read more from H2outlook blog here:  Water Supply Conditions: Into the “Yellow”

Real News: Spurring Weed growth with Water:Did you ever experience an “Onion Fear” moment? When you suspect you’ve been humiliated and hoodwinked by a “news” story that’s actually a journo-joke straight from The Onion?  Onion-fear struck by the forth paragraph as I read this item … ”  Read more from Thirsty in Suburbia here:  Spurring Weed growth with Water

And lastly …  the ice bucket challenge …

Why the ice bucket challenge gives me the chills: Tracy Quinn writes: “Can one responsibly participate AND be water smart … even in an epic drought?!  If you’re like me, your Facebook newsfeed has been filled with videos of friends, family, and celebrities taking part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (#alsicebucketchallenge).  The campaign is a true testament to the power of social media, which allows people to share the things that inspire them or make them laugh – or, in the case of the ALS challenge, both. And everyone from Bill Gates to Tom Cruise to George W. Bush has gotten in on the action. … ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  Why the ice bucket challenge gives me the chills

Chill out, it’s not that much water:  Alex Breitler writes: “Some of my friends are grousing about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, given California’s extreme drought.  Look, I’m the biggest water cop on my block. I stalk the streets at night, taking photos of errant sprinklers and gushing gutters, posting them on Twitter. (Kind of creepy, I realize.)  But the Ice Bucket Challenge, in the grand scheme of things, is a drop in the proverbial bucket. … ”  Read more here:  Chill out; it’s not that much water

Tree People’s Andy Lipkis and Metropolitan’s GM Jeff Kightlinger do the ice bucket challenge in a drought-responsible way:  Jeff Kightlinger is challenging MWD Chairman Randy Record, Delta Stewardship Council Chairman Randy Fiorini, and the managers of all Metropolitan agencies to do the same, and Andy Lipkis is challenging Nancy Steele, head of Council for Watershed Health, Ruskin Hartley, head of Heal the Bay, Steve Fleischli, NRDC, and all the other people conserving water to join in the ice bucket challenge:

Photo credit:  “Water” by flickr photographer Stephanie Taylor.  More from Stephanie Taylor here:  Stephanie Taylor Artist/Writer

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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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