Bloggers on the water bond, groundwater regulation, Delta smelt court case, BDCP, drought, water rates, and more …

Water meters, by Thomas Hawk

Water meters, by Thomas Hawk

Blog Round Up

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It's a wide-ranging blog round-up this week, starting with the water bond …

Water Bond Will Support Long-Term Water Reliability for the Sacramento Region and State: The Sacramento region has been leading the state in water conservation this year–an outstanding accomplishment that is helping California withstand the multi-year drought. This achievement is a result of both effective water efficiency programs and a strong commitment by residents to be a part of the solution.  In November, residents will have another opportunity to help secure our water future–this time for the long term. ... ”  Read more from the Northern California Water Association blog here: Water Bond Will Support Long-Term Water Reliability for the Sacramento Region and State

Restore the Delta on the water bond, the BDCP, and the Water Commission:  “In order for the water bond to be BDCP neutral, as its Delta legislative supporters insist that it is, it would need to do more that ensure that no bond money can be spent on tunnels and that no water contractors can get credit for any Delta habitat activities.  In order to be BDCP neutral, the water bond would need to ensure that no funding can be used for projects that facilitate continued reliance on exports that damage the Delta and the Bay-Delta Estuary. The Bay Delta Conservation Plan is supposed to be a habitat conservation plan, and it will never succeed until export flows are reduced.  But in fact, up to half the funding in the water bond is designed to perpetuate a water storage and delivery system that California has outgrown. Given 21st century climate and environmental realities, making that system bigger is not going to make it better. ... ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  Restore the Delta on the water bond, the BDCP, and the Water Commission

The water bond: A classic David and Goliath battle in California politics: Dan Bacher writes: “The campaign for and against Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond on the November 4 ballot, has emerged as the classic David and Goliath battle of this election season in California. The Governor, Republican and Democratic Party establishment, corporate agribusiness interests, construction unions, corporate “environmental” NGOs, prominent billionaires and big water agencies are backing the Yes on 1 campaign. In contrast, a grassroots coalition of fishing groups, environmentalists, consumer organizations, two Indian Tribes, family farmers and Delta water agencies is enlisted in the battle to defeat Proposition 1. The contrast between the Yes and No on 1 campaigns is illustrated by the respective money each campaign has raised. Governor Jerry Brown’s Proposition 1 and 2 campaign has raised $6,621,946 and has spent $817,276, while the No on Proposition 1 campaign has raised a total of $71,000 and has spent $41,036 as of October 6, 2014, according to Ballotpedia: http://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_1,_Water_Bond_(2014) … ”  Read more from Dan Bacher here:  The water bond: A classic David and Goliath battle in California politics

Could USGS data help with groundwater law? Todd Fitchette writes: “Show of hands: how many people know the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) collects data about the country’s surface water?  I thought they basically just measured earthquakes and studied rocks.  A Twitter post led me to a quick trip to the USGS website, which shows that the agency does much more than study the solid portions of the Earth. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press blog here:  Could USGS data help with groundwater law?

When groundwater regulation fails, part 1:  Eric Caine writes:  “Especially since the drought extended through last year’s dry winter, you couldn’t write “groundwater” and “California” without adding, “the only state that doesn’t regulate.” The assumption was that California’s groundwater problems must be due to lack of regulation.  That assumption, however, fails against the realities of groundwater regulation in many states where groundwater woes are not unlike those in California. One such example is Texas, where large portions of the great Ogallala Aquifer are already useless for irrigation. … ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen blog here: Groundwater: When Regulation Fails, Part I

PLF asks the Supreme Court to put the demands of the few over the needs of the many: Kate Poole writes: “Last week, the Pacific Legal Foundation asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling validating the 2008 delta smelt biological opinion (“BiOp”). The 2008 BiOp analyzes the impact of two of the country’s largest water diversion and storage projects, the federal Central Valley Project and California’s State Water Project, on the health of the largest and most important freshwater estuary on the west coast of the Americas, the San Francisco Bay-Delta, and one of its native species – the threatened delta smelt, a key indicator species whose fortunes rise and fall with the health of the Delta. The delta smelt BiOp, and the companion salmon BiOp that looked at the impacts of the two water projects on California’s native salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon, found that if the water projects continued to divert water out of the estuary at the historically high rates seen in the early 2000s, the Delta would continue its precipitous decline; all of these native fish would likely go extinct ... ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  PLF asks the Supreme Court to put the demands of the few over the needs of the many

High school student tackles twin tunnels:  “Stagg High journalist Devin Wickstrom has finished a multimedia project on the twin tunnels.  It’s tough to relate this issue to the general public — not to mention Stagg’s student body — but Wickstrom found some diverse voices for his piece, including a couple that you might not have heard before. … ”  Check it out at Alex Breilter's blog here:  High school student tackles twin tunnels

Drought: Questions of survival:  Faith Kearns writes:  “Okay, so this drought in California has been going on for a while now, and many of us are starting to anticipate the beginning of our rainy season, which is normally somewhere around November through the end of March, with equal parts hope and dread, and that anxiety seems to be coming out in strange ways. Earlier this week, I woke up to this headline: “In virtual mega-drought, California avoids defeat.” All of my days are filled with this kind of thing, like “It takes HOW much water to grow an avocado?!” or greek yogurt or other food of your choice, but I still felt a little cognitively challenged in even understanding the idea of a “virtual mega-drought” or what it might mean for California to “avoid defeat.” ... ”  Read more from The Science Unicorn here:  Questions of survival

Seven ways California could change in a 72-year drought:  “It's very hot and very dry in Southern California right now, and it's been this way for what seems like forever, which might make you wonder, “What if this never ends?” Glad you asked! Over at the LA Times, they've taken a look at a study a group of researchers conducted a few years ago that games out what might happen to California if it were to go through a megadrought lasting for, oh, 72 years. (That's not so unlikely; the Twentieth Century was freakishly wet in California and the Western US has been in a drought for about 15 years now.) After some thorough computer modeling, the researchers came back with the surprising answer that we would not all shrivel up and die, and, in fact, “California has a remarkable ability to weather extreme and prolonged droughts from an economic perspective,” the director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences says. ... ”  Read more from Curbed LA here:  Seven ways California could change in a 72-year drought

Why Americans need to ante up for water:  Cynthia Barnett writes:  “This summer, a 90-year-old water pipe burst under Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, sending a geyser 30 feet into the air and a flood of troubles over the UCLA campus. Raging water and mud trapped five people, swamped 1,000 cars and flooded five university buildings — blasting the doors off elevators and ruining the new wooden floor atop the Bruins’ storied basketball court.  As the campus dried out, though, Angelenos seemed less upset about the replaceable floorboards at Pauley Pavilion than they were over another loss: 20 million gallons of freshwater wasted in the middle of the worst drought in California history. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti took heat for his earlier campaign promise not to raise water rates in a city with a long backlog of repairs for aging water pipes. … ”  Read more from Green Biz here:  Why Americans need to ante up for water

Do tiered water rates save water? Wayne Lusvardi writes: “It must sound crazy in the middle of an epic California drought to say empirical studies show raising water rates to spur water conservation is not likely to result in water conservation.  But a study by CalWatchdog.com of comparable water rates in Orange County indicates tiered water rates do not clearly result in demonstrably lower water usage. Similar studies in other states show the same thing. … ”  Read more from the Cal Watchdog blog here:  Do tiered water rates save water?

Political systems and environmental law: Eric Biber writes:  “The other day I posted about Australia’s repeal of its carbon tax. Australia is not the only country that is going through some retrenchment in environmental law. In Canada, the government made some substantial alterations to the requirements for environmental review for government projects (reducing the scope of the requirement and limiting it to certain major projects); it also reduced the coverage of federal protection for fisheries and fish habitat. On the other hand, here in the United States, despite the best efforts of the Republican-led House, the Obama Administration has been pressing ahead with efforts to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. ... ”  Read more from the Legal Planet blog here:  Political systems and environmental law

Stanislaus County: Boggs rocks the Water Committee:  Eric Caine writes:  “When Stanislaus County Supervisor Jim DeMartini made a surprise appearance at Wednesday night’s meeting of the Stanislaus Water Advisory Committee (WAC), people expected fireworks. DeMartini has been an outspoken critic of the WAC since its formation early this year.  In theory, the WAC is supposed to advise county supervisors on water policy. In fact, it has seemed dedicated to avoiding action of any kind. DeMartini’s recent attempts to establish a moratorium on permits for wells put the committee into a panic. Several members have vested interests in continuing to drill as long as the water holds out. … ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen here:  Boggs rocks the Water Committee

Los Angeles: August regional water use per capita:  Steve Murray writes: “On October 7th, The State Water Resources Control Board released the August installment of the retail water suppliers report on Water Conservation. [link here] The report is a collection of information of what retailers are doing to achieve water conservation: who is under mandatory water restrictions and what steps have been taken. They also release raw water usage data: Gallons used, percent residential users and population.  I’ve data-mined and mapped this for the greater Los Angeles area to help dispel some water myths and provide the public and decision makers with the info they need to make data-driven decisions. … ”  Read more from Steve Murray here:  August LA Regional Water Usage

The newest Colorado River management widget: the “System Conservation Program”:The Colorado River Pilot System Water Conservation Program crept forward last week, in the process demonstrating an endearing quirk of Colorado River Basin water governance – no one is in charge. This no-one’s-in-chargeness is one of the central themes of my book. With the System Conservation Program, the folks not in charge are handing me an easy story line.  The news was the announcement Wednesday (press release here, scroll to the bottom of this post for the full solicitation document) of a “Funding Opportunity for Voluntary Participation in a Pilot System Water Conservation Program.” … ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here: The newest Colorado River management widget: the “System Conservation Program”

Western water law and policy: ready for resilience?: “I recently had the pleasure of speaking at a conference hosted by the Utton Transboundary Resources Center at the UNM School of Law in Albuquerque.  The conference theme was “Water Resilience in a Time of Uncertainty,” and presentations addressed the need for laws, policies, and processes that can help the West prepare for coming changes that will place increasing stress on our water resources.  The focus was on ways to make our water allocation, management, and governance regimes more resilient, so that the region will suffer less harm from the effects of climate change, among other things. I spoke on “Resilience and the Law” along with Dan Tarlock of Chicago-Kent law school–one of the great gurus of water and environmental law–and our moderator was Melinda Harm Benson, a professor of Geography & Environmental Studies at UNM.  ... ”  Read more from the Western River Law blog here:  Western water law and policy: ready for resilience?

What the Disappearing Aral Sea Tells Us about the Value of Water: The satellite image of the Aral Sea recently released by NASA just about knocked my socks off.  It wasn’t that the sea was shrinking; that’s been true for decades.  It was how fast it was disappearing.  Once the world’s fourth largest lake, the Aral Sea in Central Asia has been losing water for half a century — ever since Soviet engineers began diverting the two rivers that sustain it, the Amu Darya and Syr Darya, in order to grow cotton in the desert. … ”  Read more from National Geographic here: What the Disappearing Aral Sea Tells Us about the Value of Water

Photo credit: Water meters, by Thomas Hawk

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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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