Bloggers on Governor’s executive order, Delta smelt, the tunnels, regulating crops, desalination, drought, and more …

Vaillancourt Fountain, Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco

Vaillancourt Fountain, Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco

New Analysis Finds Harm in Gov. Brown’s Drought Order: Suspends CEQA, Abandons Public Rulemaking: “Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Gov. Brown’s rush to build water export Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom sustainable farms, salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today responded to Gov. Brown’s executive order.  “While urban water conservation measures are desperately needed, Governor Brown is not calling for shared sacrifice,” said RTD Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla. “What he is enacting is sacrifice by 98% of Californians, and the sacrifice of the most magnificent estuary on the west coast of the Americas, for the top 1% of water and land barons on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.” ... ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  New Analysis Finds Harm in Gov. Brown’s Drought Order: Suspends CEQA, Abandons Public Rulemaking

Blog Round Up

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Analysis: Governor’s urban conservation rate will help fish, rivers, Delta: Dierdre des Jardins writes, “Governor Jerry Brown just announced an executive order mandating 25% statewide urban water conservation. This action is essential to conserve water in reservoirs to get through an extended drought. It will also help maintain minimum instream flows in rivers and estuaries so that endangered fish populations have a chance of surviving the drought.  Many people have cited statewide figures of 80% of California’s developed water going to agriculture, and 20% to urban use. Some even conclude that urban conservation won’t make a difference in demand on rivers and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. But these numbers are statewide averages, and include groundwater use. The 80%/20% figures do not apply to individual river basins, which may have much higher percentages of urban diversions, or to exports from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … ”  Continue reading from California Water Research here:  Analysis: Governor’s urban conservation rate will help fish, rivers, Delta

How many gallons to grow a smelt?  Families Protecting the Valley writes, “Millions of acre feet flow through the Delta every year, tens of millions really. Some of it because we don’t have the capacity to pump it and some of it because we refuse to pump it. The increase in the amount we let flow through the Delta and the reduction in the amount we used to get for farming and people has been going on for over 20 years.  How has this all worked out for the Delta Smelt? You can see by the title of the article below, “Prepare for the Extinction of the Delta Smelt.” So, all that water literally down the drain. How much water have we dedicated per smelt? ... ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:  How many gallons to grow a smelt

The dwindling Delta smelt population: What does it mean for the species and humans that rely on the Delta?  Jeff Simonetti writes, “… Although the Delta Smelt is a finger-sized fish, it is a very important part of the ecosystem of the Bay Delta. Many scientists believe that the Delta Smelt’s population is a good indicator of the health of the Bay Delta’s ecosystem because the smelt is an important part of the food chain. Further, the issues of drought, water pumping and transfers, invasive species and water quality all tie back to the smelt. Unfortunately, the recent population surveys show astonishingly low numbers of Delta Smelt. … ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here:  The dwindling Delta smelt population: What does it mean for the species and humans that rely on the Delta?

Who really uses the water?  Families Protecting the Valley writes, “We always see these statistics about how much water it takes to grow a strawberry or an almond or a head of lettuce. Then they usually go on to blame the farmer for how much water he’s using to grow it. We would like to ask a question we don’t ever hear: who is really using the water? Is it the farmer? Or is it the consumer? If it takes 3&1/2 gallons of water to grow a head of lettuce and you eat it, did you use the water or did the farmer use the water? Is anyone going to stop eating lettuce because it takes 3&1/2 gallons? We concede it takes a lot of water to grow food. So, the next time someone blames farmers for the amount of water they use, tell them to look in the mirror and they’ll see who’s really using it. ... ”  Continue reading from Families Protecting the Valley here:  Who really uses the water?

Are California’s mandatory water restrictions an April Fools’ joke?  Johnathon Zasloff writes, “Now that Governor Brown has ordered the state’s first mandatory water restrictions, it’s important to keep one number in mind: one-sixth. That is the amount of California water that goes to one crop: alfalfa. It’s a pretty low value crop. And it is not even for human consumption directly; it is used for cattle feed. It could be grown much more easily in the better-watered eastern US, but why should farmers worry about it? They are getting free water based on antiquated water rights law. ... ”  Read more from the Legal Planet blog here:  Are California’s mandatory water restrictions an April Fools joke?

More on the Governor’s war on lawns:  Holly Doremus writes, ” … I agree with Jonathan: excluding agriculture from the signature provision of this order is silly. It’s likely to raise resistance unnecessarily among urban water users, and misses important opportunities to begin dealing with our agricultural water problem. I don’t buy the Governor’s public justification for exempting agriculture, which is that farmers have already been through enough pain. The cuts imposed on urban users are benchmarked to 2013, before last year’s extraordinary restrictions. If agriculture truly is already experiencing significant cuts, requiring 25% reductions from 2013 use levels (or whatever year is identified as an appropriate benchmark) ought to have essentially no effect. It would provide an important symbolic show of fairness without actually adding to the pain agricultural users are suffering. … ”  Read more from the Legal Planet here:  More on the Governor’s war on lawns

Jeff Michael’s quick take on the LA Times article about the potential restructuring of the BDCP:  He writes, ” … I am in rare agreement with Mr. Kightlinger, this change has huge implications for the economics of the tunnels.  As I have discussed on this blog and a variety of other issues, the value of reducing regulatory uncertainty is the majority of the economic benefit attributed to the tunnels in the BDCP economic studies.  According to this article, the level of regulatory assurance will be massively reduced under the revised plan. ... ”  Read more from the Valley Economy blog here: Quick Take on LA Times’ Report on Restructuring the Delta Tunnel Plan

Regulate land, water, crops:  Eric Caine writes, “When the Los Angeles Times’ George Skelton proposed government regulation of crops last month, his column sparked a puzzling response from Modesto Bee editors. In, “Our View: Farmers don’t need help deciding what to plant,” the Bee slammed Skelton, saying, “It [Skelton’s column] could only have been written by someone with virtually no knowledge of actual farming.”  Skelton may not be an expert on farming, but that’s irrelevant to his point. ... ”  Read more from The Valley Citizen here:  Regulate land, water, crops

Drought watch: The end of the rainy season: Jeffrey Mount, Ellen Hanak, and Jay Lund write, “California’s rainy season is pretty much over. Most years, 85% of the wet season’s rain and snow has already fallen by late March. While rain often falls in April and May, it is rarely enough to make a big difference in the overall water picture, and the forecast is now quite dry.  That means California’s water managers now have a good idea how much water will be available in the state’s reservoirs, snowpack, and groundwater basins.  The news is not heartening. … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Drought watch: The end of the rainy season

The public benefits of Sites Reservoir: Fritz Durst writes, “The fourth year of a drought has led to creative water management to provide water for multiple beneficial purposes throughout the Sacramento Valley, including the mosaic of cities and rural communities, farms, fish, birds and recreation. Unfortunately, all these beneficial uses of water suffer during these dry years, with reduced water supplies for farmers and their crops and less than optimal habitat for fish and birds.  To reduce and potentially avoid these economic and environmental impacts in the future, the leaders in the Sacramento Valley are exploring long-term solutions that would benefit California in future dry years. In the Sacramento Valley, the discussion of long-term solutions inevitably leads to the value of Sites reservoir, a large off-stream regulating reservoir in the dry hills on the west-side of the Sacramento Valley. … ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here:  The public benefits of Sites Reservoir

Desalination gaining support as long-term response to California drought:  “While conservation is the key element of the state’s short-term drought response, those latter provisions of the governor’s plan have many Californians turning to desalination as a promising long-term solution to the state’s water needs.  “The Governor’s Executive Order issued today is consistent with the policy goals established in the state’s Water Action Plan and clearly demonstrates his commitment to developing new local water supplies including seawater desalination,” said Scott Maloni, vice-president of Poseidon Water, a water development company that specializes in desalination. ... ”  Read more from the Cal Watchdog blog here:  Desalination gaining support as long-term response to California drought

How to convince people to use less water using psychology:  “After four years of drought, California governor Jerry Brown announced this week that the state is imposing a mandatory 25 percent cut in water use for the vast majority of the state’s water districts. This is the first time in California history officials have mandated people use less water.  As Californians prepare for the cut, we thought we would take a look at some of the strategies studies have found work to convince people to use less water. Overall, it seems discomfort, peer pressure, and shame are the best water-saving tools. Our evidence: … ”  Read more from Pacific Standard here:  How to convince people to use less water using psychology

This iconic drought photo is pretty personal to him:  Dave Gilson writes: “If you’ve seen any photos of the current California drought, you’ve probably seen some variation on these striking before-and-after images of this bridge near Lake Oroville.  Seeing those images popping up everywhere has been a little weird for me since that bridge used to be named after my grandfather. … ”  Read more from Mother Jones here:  This iconic drought photo is pretty personal to me

Could LA’s new football stadium help California beat its drought? Joe Mathews writes, “That’s the ambitious goal of the latest stadium proposal to appear in Los Angeles. The project—details of which are only now becoming public—would provide more than merely a home for the National Football League’s Jacksonville Jaguars, who are looking to leave their smaller market in North Florida. The proposed stadium would double as one of the world’s largest and most advanced water recycling facilities.  The new stadium would be designed to help capture and clean rainwater from Los Angeles’ infrequent storms, thus fulfilling two longstanding Southern California dreams. … ”  Read more from Fox and Hounds here:  Could LA’s new football stadium help California beat its drought?

Water for the mind and for the state:  Ken Alpern writes, “To paraphrase from the oft-repeated adage of “we don’t have a tax problem, we have a spending problem” there’s a new phrase for anyone TRULY into the real world to confront: “we don’t have a water problem so much as we have a water usage problem.” Translated and restated:  we DO have a drought, but how we deal with our drought, and how we get more water to our population, are much greater problems than any Mother Nature can throw at us. Sure, there are water wasters, but those who build up straw men to knock down are much better at distracting from our true answers than they are at the tough, tough, TOUGH decisions needed to handle either this or any other emergency: 1) First off, the obnoxious strawman-building MUST be confronted.   … ”  Read more from CityWatch here:  Water for the mind and for the state

Yes, we can save water – and trees:   “Yesterday California Governor Jerry Brown issued the first mandatory water restrictions in response to our state’s historic drought. As this drought deepens and worsens and fears rise, it’s important to know that another country faced a very similar threat: Australia endured a devastating 12-year drought from 1997 – 2010. Because they have similar climate, and very similar people and economy, their story, their powerful successes, and some of their painful mistakes and lessons can serve as a guide to us in Los Angeles and California…to ensure we succeed and thrive.  This is good news that gives hope and strength, instead of fear.  Like California, Australia responded with progressively deeper conservation measures as their drought worsened. In addition to imposing water use restrictions, government agencies educated the public and engaged communities in taking action. … ”  Read more from the Tree People blog here:  Yes, we can save water – and trees

On the cusp of a paradigm shift: Musings on the Colorado River: Marta Weissman writes, “Last July, Lake Mead dropped to its historic low elevation.  Water managers keep tabs on the reservoir conditions, so they were not blindsided.  Solutions were already being sought.  But I wonder, does crossing such a threshold spur a sense of urgency? Or do they already feel the pressure as the threshold approaches? Water managers up and down the river are working hard to keep from crossing the more critical threshold of a shortage declaration, the first tier of which would occur if the Bureau of Reclamation’s 24-Month Study in August projects an elevation at or below 1,075 feet msl for the following January.  ... ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here:  On the cusp of a paradigm shift: Musings on the Colorado River

Blog honorable mentions … There’s just sooo much – but here’s a few more:  Five things you should know about water, from the PPIC blog; The impact of our disappearing snowpack on Lake Mead, from the Inkstain blog; Proof that California’s Water Sector Can Be a Climate Leader: Sonoma County Celebrates “Carbon-Free” Water, from the Equation blog; and April access to Sierra backcountry, from Alex Breitler’s blog

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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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