Blog round-up: California’s Game of Thrones: Water; Crap detecting and California water; and Yogi Berra explains the Mono Lake case, plus ag conservation, the BDCP, the water numbers game, water markets, and more …

Fly Geyser Sliderbox

Fly Geyser near Blackrock Desert, Nevada

California’s Game of Thrones: Water: Dean Florez writes, ” … The politics of warring factions that fill each episode of HBO’s “A Game of Thrones” may have now been revived in reality show fashion as California’s water war saga now unfolds — brought forth by the state’s fourth-driest winter on record, preceded by a nearly water-less 2014.  Water wars are not new for California. Overall, the state has experienced ten multi-year droughts of large-scale extent in the last one hundred years. However, none seem worse in magnitude then today’s present day drama which have brought the potential for intra-state war among interested economic players similar to Kingdom’s vying for power tonight on HBO.  Is this drought season truly unlike any other in California history? ... ”  Continue reading at Medium here:  California’s Game of Thrones: Water

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On the Public Record gives thoughts on the Governor’s reasons for not including agriculture in his mandatory reductions:  On Governor Brown’s first reason, the lack of delivery from the water projects and water rights curtailments of junior appropriators is already sufficient cutback, OtPR writes, “This argument doesn’t impress me much, because we know that farmers are still getting water. They had a cheap surface water cutback, but replaced that supply with groundwater.  About 500,000 acres out of 9,500,000 acres were fallowed.  The remaining 9,000,000 acres used water to keep permanent crops alive or finished other crops.  Growers paid more money for this water, or they increased their overdraft.  Their actual cutback was 500,000acres/9,500,000acres = 5.2%.  I’d be happy to grant that growers deficit irrigated, or watered the very minimum to keep crops alive, so that percent might be higher, even 8% or 9%.  That’s about in line with urban water conservation last year.  The water right curtailments and lack of project water are not imposing a burden on agriculture whole disproportionate to the burden urban users shouldered last year. … ”  Continue reading from On the Public Record here: My thoughts on Governor Brown’s reasons for not including agriculture in mandatory water restrictions.

The Wall Street Journal gets it, the Fresno Bee not so much:  Families Protecting the Valley writes, “A recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal tells the drought story as we see it. You can read it for yourself below, but one thing they understand is that the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement has been a disaster for agriculture in our Valley. In their words, “during the current drought, about 400,000 acre-feet of water—enough to sustain 100,000 acres and 400,000 families—were used for test-runs (on the SJ River). Their conclusion? The salmon aren’t ready for the river, or vice versa.” Wouldn’t we like to have all that water now? …  Yet, the paper of record in the heart of farm country, the Fresno Bee editorializesAs the rest of California comes to grips with the state’s historic new water mandates, there’s an elephant in the room. And it’s wearing a farmer’s hat.” … ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:  The Wall Street Journal gets it, the Fresno Bee not so much

Why not use California’s existing water conservation plan as a framework to fulfill the Governor’s mandatory restrictions?  Team A.R.G.O. writes, “As the Caltrans signs say, California is in a serious drought.  And last Wednesday Governor Brown mandated California’s first ever statewide mandatory water reductions. There’s a challenge though.  How do we implement that 25% aggregate statewide goal and do justice to the widely different local circumstances around California and diverse array of actions already taken by local utilities?  Water is complex, and simple monthly gallons per capita used per month do not tell the whole story.  Many utilities don’t even read meters on a monthly basis and many others will read meters anywhere from every 20 to 40 days.   ... ”  Read more from A.R.G.O. here:  Why not use California’s existing water conservation plan as a framework to fulfill the Governor’s mandatory restrictions?

Restore the Delta says BDCP is now just a ‘water grab’:  “Restore the Delta (RTD), a coalition of anti-tunnels organizations and individuals, today responded to the governor’s abandonment of conservation and restoration, and move to permit a “tunnels only” BDCP. RTD responded to reports in the Contra Costa Times and other media.  “For eight years, Californians had been told that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) was going to serve what became law in 2009 — the co-equal goals of restoring the Delta and providing water supply reliability.  Our position has been that these co-equal goals are irreconcilable because the Delta watershed has been over subscribed five times,” said RTD Exec. Dir. Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla. ... ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  Tunnel opponents: BDCP is now just a ‘water grab’

Jerry Brown’s ditching of the BDCP conservation is part of a larger pattern, says Dan Bacher:  He writes, “Governor Jerry Brown has finally admitted that what most Californians have known all along – the “conservation” and “habitat restoration” components of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan have been nothing but window dressing for the twin tunnels water grab, potentially the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history.  On April 13, Restore the Delta (RTD), a coalition of anti-tunnels organizations and individuals, and the Center for Biological Diversity responded to the governor’s abandonment of the pretense of “conservation” and “restoration” and move to permit a “tunnels only” Bay Delta Conservation Plan, as reported in the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times and other media outlets. …”  Read more from the Calitics blog here:  Jerry Brown’s ditching of the BDCP conservation is part of a larger pattern

Environmentalists face blame for drought:  James Poulos writes, “As California’s potent drought inspired soul searching from analysts worried the Golden State can’t grow without water, politicians and officials focused on a more immediate task: laying blame for the problem.  Gov. Jerry Brown has tried to set a philosophical tone, cautioning that “we are embarked upon an experiment that no one has ever tried: 38 million people, with 32 million vehicles, living at the level of comfort that we all strive to attain. This will require adjustment. This will require learning.” But environmentalists have urged him to add water restrictions to California’s big farmers. … ”  Read more from Cal Watchdog here:  Environmentalists face blame for drought

On the Public Record on water markets and crop bans:  OtPR writes, “I should directly address what I believe to be the main reason that State agents do not want to get into crop bans.  My interpretation is that the Brown administration mostly believes that “the market” (which is synecdoche for growers acting individually within a market and going out of business if they are wrong and privatizing profit if they are right) can do the best job of selecting a crop mix and providing that mix at the cheapest price for consumers … ”  Continue reading at On the Public Record here: I do not believe growers acting in “the market” should be the sole determinant of crop choice.  More on crop bans from On the Public Record here: Why an almond ban?, Hard to defend., and We are already used to single crop bans.

Crap detecting and California water:  Aquadoc Michael Campana writes, “In my classes I try to teach my students to be ‘crap detectors’. I could have used ‘critical thinkers’ but the former term is more endearing to me: it’s from the title of an address given by Neil Postman in 1969, “Bullshit and the Art of Crap-Detection”. It struck my fancy as an undergraduate looking for out-of-the-box thinking.  In the water world we often focus on volumes of water. It can be hard to decide which units to use. You want to make the numbers understandable to your audience. … ”  Read more from the Water Wired blog here:  Crap detecting and California water

Water: The numbers game: Eric Caine writes, “Probably the most common controversy involving numbers and water is about how much water is used by agriculture. There are two camps. One says agriculture uses 80% of the water in California; the other says it uses around 40%. Both figures are usually tossed around absent qualifiers or context.  Here’s a quick and easy explanation of the figures from The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) ... ”  Read more from The Valley Citizen here:  Water: The numbers game

When enough isn’t enough:  Faith Kearns writes, “We have enough and we’ll never have enough. This is the unresolvable paradox at the heart of so many issues, and one that is playing itself out daily when it comes to discussions about California water. Since the now infamous “one year of water left” headline ran last month (don’t worry, it was quickly refuted) and the governor announced a 25% water reduction for urban users in the middle of a snowless Sierra meadow last week, anxiety has skyrocketed and finger pointing has commenced. … ”  Read more from the Science Unicorn here:  When enough isn’t enough

Nine policy challenges for California water:  Ellen Hanak, Jay Lund, and Jeffrey Mount write, “Two bills recently signed by Governor Brown—AB 91 and 92—will provide drought relief and help to enforce prescriptions for reducing water use that were outlined in the governor’s recent executive order. However most of the bills’ funds are allocated to efforts aimed at improving water management in general. Indeed, most of the funding goes to flood management.  These bills are a reminder that while drought is the crisis of the day, the state must grapple with multiple issues to put water policy on a sustainable and constructive path. These issues include improving water quality, restoring degraded ecosystems, finding new funding mechanisms, adapting to climate change, and reducing the risk of floods. … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Nine policy challenges for California water

Making every drop count in drought – and deluge:  Joshua Viers and Graham Fogg write, “A little publicized but highly curious part of the emergency drought legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last month advances hundreds of millions of dollars to shore up and replace aging levees in flood prone areas of the state.  Drought relief through better flood control? Really?  As it turns out, some flood protection projects are important during droughts. Strategically removing sections of old levees or rebuilding them hundreds or thousands of feet from their original riverbank sites can significantly replenish aquifers during wet years, providing badly needed supplies during droughts. ... ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Making every drop county in drought – and deluge

New information on water use in California and the Sacramento Valley:  “The new edition of the California Water Plan (Bulletin 160-13) was recently finalized by the California Department of Water Resources. Interestingly, the new edition determined that in an average water year agriculture used 200,000 acre-feet less than previously thought. While this does not change the overall percentages of water use in the state, it is important to note that agricultural water use during an average water year is 41 percent of applied water. This is important factual information amidst all the media coverage of the California drought, much of which has erroneously reported this information. ... ”  Read more from the Northern California Water Association blog here:  New information on water use in California and the Sacramento Valley

Yogi Berra explains the Mono Lake case: Johnathon Zasloff writes, “As part of the book I am writing on the Mono Lake case, one question stands out: how was the Mono Lake Committee able to assemble the resources to bring a lawsuit against the powerful Los Angeles Department of Water and Power?  At one level, the answer is obvious: it found a Sugar Daddy, in this case, the international law firm of Morrison & Foerster, which according to John Hart’s fine book Storm Over Mono, agreed to contribute $250,000 of attorney time to the case — nearly $1 million in today’s money. But this, of course, begs the question of why MoFo agreed to put in that much money. (And of course, the case wound up costing far more). The firm has something of a progressive reputation, but that doesn’t translate into several millions of dollars, which the case wound up costing and any experienced attorney would have seen. … ”  Read more from the Legal Planet here:  Yogi Berra explains the Mono Lake case

A conversation on MWD’s history of successful water management in Southern California:  The Groundwater Act Blog writes, “Formed in 1928, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has been delivering water to the Los Angeles area since 1939. Today, MWD is a consortium of 26 member agencies that supplies 18 million people. In a two part conversation, Water Resources Planner Bob Harding answered a series of questions to explain how MWD’s water management strategy has moved beyond a supplemental surface water supply to a sustainable portfolio approach that relies on conservation, innovation and preparedness. In part one, Bob discusses the history of MWD water delivery and how the strategy has moved into the 21st Century. ... ”  Continue reading at the Groundwater Act Blog here: Two Part Conversation on MWD’s History of Successful Water Management in Southern California

1075: What a Lake Mead shortage would mean in practice:  John Fleck writes, “There is a clear possibility of a shortage declaration on Lake Mead in August, which would force a reduction in Lower Colorado River water deliveries, primarily to Arizona, in 2016. Nevada and Mexico would also see small shortages. Neither California, nor the states of the Upper Basin (New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming) will see any curtailments.  This is a big deal, but it is almost entirely an Arizona big deal. Arizona currently has the slack in its system to absorb the reductions, including possibly deeper cuts if Mead continues to drop, without major disruptions. The Phoenix and Tucson metro areas are not going to dry up and blow away. ... ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  1075: What a Lake Mead shortage would mean in practice

And lastly … A Farmer Was Drilling For Water When He Found Something That Shocked The Entire World:  And that would be that Fly Geyser picture heading today’s blog round-up.  I did check the date – it’s not an April Fool’s joke – this thing does exist.  However, what it actually looks like seems to vary a bit, uh, depending on the photographer’s perspective …  “In the early twentieth century, a farmer decided that he needed to improve the agriculture on his ranch in Nevada. He figured that a well needed to be dug to bring water and nutrients to the soil above. He lived in a barren desert and the water stored deep beneath the Earth’s surface would have provided a more sustainable crop for this harsh and dry area. He knew that a well with ample water was needed to supply bountiful crops. What he didn’t know was what was waiting for him deep below the soil. … ”  Continue reading from Slip Talk here:  A Farmer Was Drilling For Water When He Found Something That Shocked The Entire World

Daily emailsPhoto of the Fly Geyser by flickr photographer In Mou we trust.

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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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