Blog round-up: Groundwater, climate change, drought, desal, water markets, the water bond, the anti-commons and more …

water slide failGroundwater experts, water law experts, and conservation groups tell the Forest Service to do more to protect groundwater: Marcus Griswold writes: “Responding to a proposed agency-wide U.S. Forest Service groundwater policy, more than 125 groundwater scientists, legal experts, and conservation groups call on the Forest Service’s Chief Tidwell and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Secretary Vilsack to protect groundwater as a public national resource.  These letters urge the Forest Service to embrace its role and duty to protect and sustainably manage water originating in and passing through National Forest lands. For instance a letter from a group of prominent natural resources and water law professors states “The Forest Service is a key player in watershed management; over 66 million people depend on National Forests for clean drinking water from surface and groundwater resources. Waters originating on Forest Service lands are vital to farmers and ranchers, and are also critical to fish, wildlife and wetland resources nation-wide.” … ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  Groundwater experts, water law experts, and conservation groups tell the Forest Service to do more to protect groundwater

When groundwater regulation fails, part 2:  Eric Caine writes:  “Though California has finally joined every other state in regulating groundwater usage, we shouldn’t believe regulation will necessarily promote groundwater sustainability.  If regulation were the answer, the great Ogallala Aquifer wouldn’t be facing total depletion. If regulation were the answer, the Colorado River Basin wouldn’t have lost over 41 million acre feet of groundwater over the last ten years. That’s enough water to serve residential use for the entire US population for eight years. ... ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen blog here:  When groundwater regulation fails, part 2

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Maybe NASA could take on California water metering? The Delta National Park blog writes: “What’s more challenging – putting men on the moon or metering water in California?  The reaction to the passage this summer of “landmark” groundwater legislation by the California Assembly is overly optimistic, and to burnish my point, I’d point the reader to the Pacific Institute’s September 2014 paper on the recent history of California water metering“The California legislature has recognized the importance of metering and has passed several bills requiring meters in California … ”  Continue reading at the Delta National Park blog here: Maybe NASA could take on California water metering

Massive Dumping of Wastewater Into Aquifers Shows Big Oil’s Power in California: Dan Bacher writes: “As the oil industry spent record amounts on lobbying in Sacramento and made record profits, documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity reveal that almost 3 billion gallons of oil industry wastewater were illegally dumped into Central California aquifers that supply drinking water and irrigation water for farms.  The Center said the wastewater entered the aquifers through at least nine injection disposal wells used by the oil industry to dispose of waste contaminated with fracking (hydraulic fracturing) fluids and other pollutants. … ”  Continue reading at the California Progress Report here: Massive Dumping of Wastewater Into Aquifers Shows Big Oil’s Power in California

EDF Voices:  Why California thirsts for rain and the East Coast gets soaked:  Ilissa Ocko writes:  “If you think the weather’s acting strange, you’re correct. Extreme weather in the United States is trending upward, and human-caused climate change has already been blamed for much of it – most recently in connection with the California drought.  But along with extreme weather we’re also getting extreme contrasts. What on Earth is going on when New York gets endless rain and San Francisco none, and when one part of the country is freezing while another suffers under record heat? ... ”  Read more from EDF here:   EDF Voices:  Why California thirsts for rain and the East Coast gets soaked

How scientists linked the California drought to climate change:  Ilissa Ocko writes:  “California has officially entered its fourth consecutive year of drought, and is trapped in its worst water shortage situation ever.  Because we know that human-caused climate change can trigger and exacerbate drought conditions, media, public officials, California residents, and scientists have all been wondering for years if rising global temperatures likely caused or contributed to the current drought in California.  The short answer: Yes, they did. ... ”  Read more from the EDF here:  How scientists linked the California drought to climate change

Modernizing drought water allocations: Ellen Hanak, Jeffrey Mount, Jay Lund, Greg Gartrell, Brian Gray, Richard Frank and Peter Moyle write:”This past year’s severe drought conditions meant that most users of surface water flows —agricultural, urban and environmental — had significant unmet demands. In May, the State Water Resources Control Board ordered curtailment of water rights for the first time since the drought of 1976-77 – 37 years ago.  The board followed the seniority of water rights, with riparian right-holders having first claim on the available water and appropriative right-holders following by the dates of their appropriations. Many junior appropriators were prohibited from diverting any water. With few exceptions, the board did not factor in other considerations, including the needs of fish and wildlife and public health and safety. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Modernizing drought water allocations

California as a drought testing ground:  “An international consortium of water economists gathered at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C. earlier this fall for two days of meetings on water policy research. The timing was opportune, as the World Bank – which provides financial and technical assistance to developing economies around the globe – recently reorganized to provide a new emphasis on water resources. The conference theme was the economics of water conservation and efficiency, with researchers looking at the role of technology, pricing, and institutions to effectively and efficiently manage water resources under conditions of increasing scarcity. In light of the national and international attention to California’s ongoing drought, I was asked to give keynote remarks about lessons from California for other regions of the world. … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  California as a drought testing ground

Could desal solve our problems after all? Alex Breitler writes: “Every month or so someone sends me his or her “solution” to California’s water problems.  Those quotation marks aren’t meant to sound snide. These folks are all a heck of a lot smarter than I am. Or at least, more determined. You’d have to be, to spend your spare time trying to figure this mess out.  The latest proposal comes from Tualatin, Ore.-based Bella Machines, which wants to build a massive subterranean desalination plant near Los Angeles that would run on hydraulic power. ... ” Continue reading at Alex Breitler’s blog here: Could desal solve our problems after all?

Seven underwater surprises exposed in dried out California lakes: Patrick Kulp writes: “California’s most severe drought in at least a century has taken a huge toll on the state’s lakes, many of which are now dangerously far below their full capacity.  The state is expected to lose an estimated 2.2 trillion gallons of surface water this year, according to a 2014 study, and as of last week, 82% of the state is facing extreme or exceptional drought conditions. The water level of some key reservoirs has been reduced to as little as a quarter of their total volume. But the massive water loss has also uncovered an array of historical artifacts and bizarre odds and ends that would normally be hidden away in the murky depths of these lakes. … ”  Read more here: Seven Underwater Surprises Exposed in Dried Out California Lakes

Water, Money, Taxes, Campaigns, and the Bond: The Resnick Farming Story. Restore the Delta writes:  “Today we’re going to consider some shenanigans going on down around the end of the Delta-Mendota Canal, the second of the two canals that convey water south out of the Delta. (This is the federal Central Valley Project – CVP – facility; the other is the State Water Project’s California Aqueduct — SWP.)  The Delta-Mendota Canal ends west of Fresno where a channel called Fresno Slough connects the Kings River to what is left of the San Joaquin River. The Mendota Dam there creates a reservoir called the Mendota Pool which is used to hold water to irrigate crops. … ”  Continue reading from Restore the Delta here:  The Resnick Farming Story

So how are we going to build these western water markets?  John Fleck writes:  “Peter Culp, Robert Glennon and Gary Libecap have published an excellent new analysis of the potential for water markets to help us dig out of the western United States’ water mess … I agree, and their new work offers a great menu of policy options to move down this path. In brief (again quoting Culp et. al): 1-Reform legal rules that discourage water trading to enable short-term water transfers; 2-Create basic market institutions to facilitate trading of water, 3-Use market-driven risk mitigation strategies to enhance system reliability, 4-[B]etter regulate the use of groundwater by monitoring and limiting use to ensure sustainability, and by bringing groundwater under the umbrella of water trading opportunities; and 5-To make water markets work at scale, strong federal leadership will be necessary to promote interstate and interagency cooperation in water management.  This is great stuff. But how do we actually do any of them? ... ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  So how are we going to build these western water markets

Conservation Leaders Launch Environmental Coalition for Clean Water & Wildlife Protection – YES on Prop 1: Steven Maviglio writes: “California and national conservation organizations have announced their support for Proposition 1 on the Nov. 4 statewide ballot and have formed a campaign committee to advocate for the passage of the historic water bond.  Members of the Environmental Coalition for Clean Water & Wildlife Protection – Yes on Prop 1 include the following local, statewide and national conservation groups: ... ”  Read more from the California Majority Report here: Conservation Leaders Launch Environmental Coalition for Clean Water & Wildlife Protection – YES on Prop 1

Why the NRDC supports the water bond:  Annie Notthoff writes:  “In the midst of an epic drought, California voters have an opportunity this November to invest $7.4 billion in state bonds that could be used for fiscally and environmentally responsible water projects across the state; projects that deal with short-term challenges of the drought and invest in long-term solutions for the future, including creating new water supplies, ecosystem restoration, safe drinking water for disadvantaged communities, and groundwater and surface storage.  NRDC fought hard to ensure that legislators crafted a bond that’s good for California’s environment and economy. And while it’s not perfect, it has broad bipartisan support and is backed by conservation groups, local water districts, business and labor leaders, editorial boards all around the state… because we all know that this bond does as much as it can for as many people and groups as possible, while ensuring that our tax dollars go as far as possible to address California’s water needs.  … ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  Why the NRDC supports California’s Prop 1, the water bond

The north state strongly supports the water bond:  The Northern California Water Association blog writes: “Two Butte County leaders and farmers expressed the strong support in Northern California for Proposition 1. Bryce Lundberg, the Chair of the Northern California Water Association, and Jamie Johansonn, the Second Vice President of the California Farm Bureau Federation and former Oroville City Councilman, presented an open letter in the Chico Enterprise Record on October 19 explaining why Proposition 1 deserves our support. ... ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here:  The north state strongly supports the water bond:Proposition One

Deeper In Debt Or A Better Water Policy? Voters Will Decide In November:In November, California voters will decide the fate of a proposed $7.5 billion water bond, Proposition 1. Rather than approve more debt, voters should pressure governments at all levels to end policies that encourage urban and agricultural water waste. Consider rice, though these problems apply to other crops.  California is the second-largest producer of rice in the country thanks to massive government subsidies. According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, rice is the most heavily subsidized crop in the United States, with government assistance providing half the income of U.S. rice farmers. California rice farmers took in subsidies totaling $2.6 billion from 1995 through 2012. … ”  Read more from the Fox & Hounds blog here: Deeper In Debt Or A Better Water Policy? Voters Will Decide In November

On November 4th, Support a Smart Water Bond: Roger Niello writes: “While water, or the lack of it, has been a hot topic across the region, the Metro Chamber has been playing an important role in policy discussions to protect our water supplies, create solutions to address the current challenges and avoid future water crises.  Adding to the complexity, every level of government is involved in the water policy debate. Both the state and federal governments control major infrastructure projects that are critical to assuring reliable water supplies, but their increasing number of environmental regulations create further challenges to sustainability. Cities, counties and other local agencies are tasked with providing the resources to deliver high quality water and manage the groundwater for agricultural, urban and environmental purposes. … ”  Read more from the Northern California Water Association blog here: On November 4th, Support a Smart Water Bond

Prop 1 Roots Go Back to Water Bonds that Built California:  Joel Fox writes: “You might say that Proposition 1, the water bond, carries the DNA of bonds that promoted a growing and prosperous California. Water bonds helped build the Los Angeles Aqueduct in the early 1900s to make possible the growth of one of the world’s great cities. Another bond helped build the State Water Project half-a-century later, which, among other things, helped spur the state’s agricultural abundance. With the state facing a drought of staggering proportions, Proposition 1 would continue California’s long history of providing and caring for precious water resources. … ”  Read more from the Fox and Hounds blog here: Prop 1 Roots Go Back to Water Bonds that Built California

Harrison “Hap” Dunning honored with 2014 Defender of the Trust Award: Arya writes: “The Mono Lake Committee has a celebrated tradition of honoring individuals who champion Mono Lake and advocate for the public trust with the Defender of the Trust Award. The California Supreme Court’s definition of the public trust doctrine in its landmark 1983 Mono Lake decision goes: “The public trust is an affirmation of the duty of the state to protect the people’s common heritage of streams, lakes, marshlands and tidelands….”  Read more from the Mono-Logue here: Harrison “Hap” Dunning honored with 2014 Defender of the Trust Award

LA Mayor calls for more water efficiency:  Ed Osann writes:  “Kudos to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti for proposing ambitious new water-saving goals for the city.  Hizzoner aims for dramatic reductions in water use over the next two years.  L.A. has already made impressive strides — water use today is comparable to the 1970s, even with over a million additional residents.  That said, the city still uses a heck of a lot of water – well over 500 million gallons each day – much of it outdoors. There are compelling reasons for L.A. to curb its demand for water. ... ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  LA Mayor calls for more water efficiency

Phoenix, Lake Mead, and the anti-commons: Here’s a good example of why fixing the west’s water problems is going to be so difficult.  Phoenix wants to do something really simple. It currently has more Colorado River water than it needs, and it would like to just leave its unused apportionment in Lake Mead. This seems like a no-brainer – Phoenix gets to stash some water now as a hedge against things getting worse. Las Vegas should love this, because more water in Lake Mead means less risk to Las Vegas’s water intakes, which are increasingly vulnerable as Mead drops. In general, this helps reduce the risk of a shortage declaration by propping up Lake Mead’s levels. What’s not to like?  Except, under the rules, Phoenix cannot do this. … ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  Phoenix, Lake Mead and the anti-commons

Photo credit:  Water slide failure by flickr member dadavldov.

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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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