Bloggers on the public benefits of Prop 1, regional storage projects, groundwater, new environmentalism, the storm, drought, BDCP, and more …

Munich fountain by Paolo

Blog Round Up

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Untangling the public benefits of Prop 1:  Dr. Christine Boyle writes:  “Public benefits are related to the economic definition of public goods. A good is considered public if the “consumption of it by one individual does not actually or potentially reduce the amount available to be consumed by another individual.” Examples are recreational water use, clean air, military defense, and the light emitted from a lighthouse. Government almost always funds public goods because individuals will fail to do so; the reason being is that the benefits of public goods are by definition shared by many people, so individuals have little incentive to pay for them.  Hence, enter the government, in this case, the state of California.  … ”  Read more from Valor Water here:  Untangling the public benefits of Prop 1

Regional storage projects: The solution to long term droughts in California?  Jeff Simonetti writes:  “With the passage of Proposition 1, the State of California has $2.7 billion designated for new water storage projects. In this piece, I will look at two of the major potential projects that Proposition 1 may fund. I will explore how the facilities can help to alleviate future droughts as well as the hurdles they both face in implementation and financing.  The current drought we are facing has taught us the importance of having abundant storage in California. The proposed Sites Reservoir Project located west of Colusa could help to reach this goal. … ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here: Regional Storage Programs: The Solution to Long-Term Droughts in California?

Counties step up as new groundwater laws tackle a classic tragedy of the commons: Patricia McBroom writes: ““Picture a pasture open to all,” where each herdsman strives to keep as many cattle as possible on the commons, an economist wrote almost 50 years ago. The rational choice for each individual is to add more animals to his herd without regard for the welfare of neighbors, and they all do that as they march inexorably toward mutual destruction – the “Tragedy of the Commons” as described by Garrett Hardin. “Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit – in a world that is limited. Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all,” Hardin wrote in Science Magazine in 1968. ... ”  Read more from the California Spigot blog here:  Counties step up as new groundwater laws tackle a classic tragedy of the commons

New environmentalism needed for California:  Jay Lund writes:  “California needs a new environmentalism to set a more effective and sustainable green bar for the nation and even the world.  For decades, we have taken a “just say no” approach to stop, prevent or blunt human encroachments onto the natural world – often rightly so. Early environmentalism needed lines in the sand against rampant development and reckless industrialization and achieved widespread success. Our air and water is now cleaner even with population and economic growth. Industry, for the most part, is now accountable for its wastes. ... ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  New environmentalism needed for California

Old, new… when it comes to California water, we need it all:  Faith Kearns writes: “For what feels like quite a long time but turns out to only have been a couple of years, there has been an active and contentious conversation about the idea of “new” and “old” conservation. This dicussion is related the idea of the Anthropocene — the proposed name for a new geological epoch based on human activity — and is often extended to environmentalism in general. Michelle Nijhous provides an excellent, concise overview and current state-of-the-debate in The New Yorker that I highly recommend reading. ...  ”  Continue reading at the Science Unicorn here:  Old, new… when it comes to California water, we need it all

Capturing water after the storm:  Todd Manley writes:  “After going so long without meaningful rainfall in this third year of California’s drought, the recent storms and the precipitation they have brought are a welcome change. But, while the rainfall and snow are much needed, the overall quantity of the precipitation as well as where it is falling has limited the impact it is having on the drought.  The good news is that by November 26 the State Water Resources Control Board lifted the curtailments on water rights and the Term 91 restrictions on diversions, allowing reservoirs in Northern California to begin storing water behind the dams. … ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here:  Capturing water after the storm

News Media #Fail: Storms DID Ease California’s Historic Drought. But Erasing it Could Take Years: Tom Yulsman writes: “If you’ve been following news reports about California’s epic drought in the aftermath of the recent storms there, it would be understandable if you’ve found yourself perplexed.  “Finally, Some Good News In The California Drought” read the headline in Huffington Post. “Flood-Causing Deluge Amounts to Just Drops in California Drought” proclaimed the New York Times’ glass-almost-empty headline.  Refilling the glass a bit, the San Jose Mercury News stuck to reporting facts: “Winter storms finally starting to boost storage levels in key reservoirs”. Meanwhile, Wired, like the Times, spun the story gloomily : “Think California’s Huge Storm Will End the Drought? Think Again” ... ” Continue reading from Discovery blog here: News Media #Fail: Storms DID Ease California’s Historic Drought. But Erasing it Could Take Years

Is this the end of our dry spell?  Jeff Mount writes:  “This morning, the Bay Area and the Central Valley began to assess the mess created by Thursday’s big storm. And a big storm it was, with 50+ mph winds, torrential rains (more than 10 inches in some places, with blizzards in the Sierra), widespread flooding of streets, long power outages, and rivers and creeks that overtopped their banks.  This was an unusually powerful “atmospheric river” storm—California’s version of a hurricane—unmatched in intensity since January 2008. ... ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Drought watch: Is this the end of our dry spell?

BDCP could wipe out farmland values:  “Along with the rains finally drenching California in recent days have come clouds over Gov. Jerry Brown’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan. Published on the website of state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, a new report by the California Debt Advisory Commission questions the BDCP’s financing with municipal bonds.  On Dec. 10, water economist Rodney Smith, Ph.D., president of Stratecon Inc., analyzed the CDAC report about whether the BDCP was a “doable deal.” Specifically, he looked at what the plan would cost the Westlands Water District in the Fresno area. Westlands provides water to 700 family-owned farms that average 875-acres in size. … ”  Read more from the Cal Watchdog blog here:  BDCP could wipe out farmland values

Is BDCP a Doable Deal Redux—Part 2: Rodney Smith writes: “After reading the California Debt and Investment Advisory Commission’s study (“CDAIC Study”) on Bay Delta Conservation Plan (“BDCP”) financing considerations and risk, State Water Project (“SWP”) contractors and (especially) Central Valley Project (“CVP”) contractors should take a fresh look at the financial realities of relying on the BDCP. Unlike the study’s discussion of BDCP affordability,  which was marred by economic flaws, the study offers a useful discussion of financing and risk that water agency board members should consider as part of their fiduciary duty in making BDCP decisions.  The study makes a good first step in scratching the surface of risk assessment of the BDCP.  Prudence requires more risk assessment. … ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here:  Is BDCP a Doable Deal Redux—Part 2

‘Independent’ treasurer’s report is a lot of Blue Sky:  Burt Wilson writes: “Remember that State Treasurer’s report? You know, the one that said the BDCP was affordable for all California citizens? Well, it was full of Blue Sky. Yes, when the redoubtable Karla Nemeth called her media conference and extolled this new report, she could hardly contain herself in saying over and over again that it came from the “independent” State Treasurer’s Office. Water agencies then put the word out all over the state that the $68-billion boondoggle was supported as “affordable” by the “independent” State Treasurer’s Office. ... ”  Read more from the Public Water News Service here:  ‘Independent’ treasurer’s report is a lot of Blue Sky

San Joaquin River Access Guide: A portal for recreation and discovery: “”Who has not had the experience of being surprised to discover a little park or hiking trail near their home or along their drive to work they had never known was there? For more than 15 years I have lived within a mile of the San Francisco Bay. However it recently dawned on me that I had never actually spent any time on the water exploring this place where Central Valley Rivers and the Pacific Ocean ebb and flow. As a water-sport enthusiast I knew that I had to remedy this and began searching the internet for places to access the Bay from the urban landscape. To my surprise I found there were numerous tiny bay-side parks, some within minutes of my home where I could launch my kayak. These access points to the Bay have since become portals to a whole new world of opportunities for exploration, exercise, wildlife viewing, and relaxation. ... ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard here: San Joaquin River Access Guide: A portal for recreation and discovery

Fire Sale on Water:  Eric Caine writes:  “Despite little interest thus far in a fallowing program designed to make water available for sales next year, Oakdale Irrigation District (OID) will pursue plans to sell water to Westlands Water District.  Though OID General Manager Steve Knell has been under increasing pressure to keep OID water local, his Board of Directors continues to back his strategy of selling “surplus” water when available. Knell and OID attorney Tim O’Laughlin said Tuesday that the district needs to begin addressing requirements imposed by the California Environmental Quality Act at once if it should decide to sell water next year. ... ”  Read more from The Valley Citizen here:  Fire Sale on Water

Concrete and mulch: Downtown Los Angeles gets the green treatment:  Tree People write:  “Skid Row and its surrounding communities often are labeled with associations of sprawling concrete and warehouses, rampant homelessness, drug use and destitution. Though green spaces and trees aren’t a big part of the landscape (yet), this neighborhood is a vibrant corner of the city that offers a place to begin again to its residents who often have nowhere else to go. There is a thriving art scene, colorful community and a palpable sense of altruism here that often goes uncelebrated by the mainstream. … ”  Read more from the Tree People blog here:  Concrete and mulch: Downtown Los Angeles gets the green treatment

How to solve the Colorado River’s problems – or not:  John Fleck writes: “Everyone on the Colorado River has a legitimate argument that they’ve already sacrificed, and that they have a legal entitlement to what’s left. If everyone digs in their heels on these points, the system will crash. We need to be willing to share the pain. But (scroll to the bottom) there is hope on that front. … In reading and interviews for my book, I frequently run across arguments of the form that “we” (usually a state, but also sometimes a smaller water-using entity) have already done “our” share for solving the Colorado River’s problems by (insert specific sacrifice already made here).  They all, of course, are right. Consider: … ”  Continue reading at the Inkstain blog here:  How to solve the Colorado River’s problems – or not

As Lake Mead drops, Las Vegas plays the long game:  “Even with the release of extra water from upstream reservoirs, Lake Mead outside Las Vegas is forecast to continue dropping in 2015 and into 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s latest monthly “24-Month Study” (pdf). At this point, as Lake Mead drifts deeper into record emptiness, it goes without saying that the big reservoir, the key to supply water for urban-suburban Nevada, Arizona and Southern California, along with the vast agricultural empires of the southwestern deserts, is heading into record territories. ... ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  As Lake Mead drops, Las Vegas plays the long game

Photo credit:  Odd fountain found in Munich, picture by flickr photographer Paolo.

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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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