Blog round-up: Breathtakingly bad CA drought journalism – and even worse, the water rights system, farms and wildlife, top four drought myths, almond siege, food prices, and more …

Wilton water sliderbox

Wilton water, by Gillie Rhodes

Some breathtakingly bad California drought journalism:  John Fleck writes, “I’ve been avoiding wasting time on the “someone’s wrong on the Internet about California drought” genre – so much is being written that is so bad. But Elijah Wolfson’s Newsweek cover story (I won’t link, find it if you must) is so breathtakingly well-researched-and-written-ly bad that I’ll let it stand in for the genre: ‘We’re driving in my beat-up Volkswagen through the Central Valley, just south of Sacramento, and even here the effects of the drought are stunning: the hills to the west, usually soft and green, are burnt-crisp and yellowed. The fields spreading for miles in both directions are also toast; they look as if they would crumble under your feet. Here and there, crops still live, but they are hedged in on all sides by death.’ Let’s compare that image with the reality of California agriculture, as authoritatively described in U.S. Department of Agriculture crop data. ... ” Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  Some breathtakingly bad California drought journalism

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You thought that was bad?  Here’s even worse California drought journalism:  It’s simply bizarre … Hat tip to Alex Brietler: Local water agencies turn to students for drought help

Significant supply reductions throughout California: The water rights system working for California: David Guy writes, “The four consecutive years of drought have led to some pundits suggesting that the California water rights system does not work. In fact, the current system for water rights has worked amazingly well during this challenging dry period. Not perfect, but surprisingly well. Yes, there have been significant reductions in water supplies throughout both rural and urban areas in California, which you would expect in dry years and is the way the water rights system is designed to work. … ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here:  Significant supply reductions throughout California

Farms that help wildlife: Nathaniel Seavey, John Eadie, Jeffrey Mount, and Peter Moyle write, “When we hear that agriculture accounts for 80% of human uses of water in California, attention often turns to water intensive crops like rice and alfalfa (almonds—a water intensive but high revenue crop—have been much in the news as well). The suggestion is often made that farmers stop growing low revenue crops in order to conserve water. There are many reasons not to dictate what crops to plant. One not often discussed is that some crops that generate low revenues per unit of water may actually have high environmental value, particularly for birds and fish.  … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Farms that help wildlife

Top four myths of the California drought: The NCWA blog writes, “One of the unfortunate byproducts of the current drought are the myths circulating regarding water use and the means for addressing the water crisis in the state.  Some are perpetuations of myths developed during past water crises.  Others build upon misinformation that has a more recent origin.  Below are four myths that you may see in media accounts of the drought.  1) Agriculture uses 80 percent of water in the state.  … ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here:  Top four myths of the California drought

Almond siege threatens Valley homeowners:  “Just outside the city of Oakdale, houses along Orange Blossom and Horseshoe Roads represent most everyone’s dream of country living come true. Nestled under canopies of cottonwoods and oaks and with close access to the Stanislaus River, many of the homes feature backyard pastures with grazing horses, frolicking dogs, and large country cats hunting mice and gophers. … ”  Read more from The Valley Citizen here:  Almond siege threatens Valley homeowners

California drought and the avocado estates:  “California regulators are moving with commendable speed to implement Governor Brown’s latest Executive Order directing a 25% reduction in urban water use. A first and second version of the urban regulations have been produced in less than three weeks, which is warp speed for government work. The State Water Board has listened to comments, made improvements, and is close to getting it right – just what we hope and expect from our public servants. But the Board took a sharp wrong turn when it’s second draft proposed to shield local water suppliers from their expected share of statewide water reductions based on their delivery of large amounts of drinking water to “commercial agriculture.” ... ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  California drought and the avocado estates

Food prices and the California drought: California’s drought has been tough on farms and especially painful for farm workers in the Central Valley. But consumers of California-produced food have been spared large price increases.  Despite the severity of the drought and California’s dominant market shares in many foods – especially fruits, vegetables and tree nuts – consumers saw only small food price effects last year and are unlikely to notice much price impact in 2015. The reasons derive from California’s geography, irrigation plumbing system, the economics that drive the distribution of irrigation water among crops and the basics of food supply and demand. ... ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Food prices and the California drought

Brown dumps green regulations to push tunnel plan: James Poulos writes, “Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration has decided to scrap a key environmental commitment and forge ahead with a controversial, costly plan to build two massive water tunnels under California’s San Joaquin River Delta region.  The unpalatable choice underscored both Brown’s resolve to see the project through and the daunting challenges he still faces in trying to secure enough political support to do so. Without the tunnel plan, Brown would have to go back to square one in his ambition to secure adequate water resources for Southern California over the long term. … ”  Read more from the Cal Watchdog blog here:  Brown dumps green regulations to push tunnel plan

Is facilitation right for your GSA process? Q&A with Gina Bartlett, Senior Mediator with Consensus Building Institute, on how facilitation works, and can help with GSA formation. The GAB writes, “What is a “Senior Mediator” and how is it different than a facilitator?  A senior mediator is someone who is able to run effective meetings, but is astute with regard to strategy and collaborative policy development. A senior mediator has the necessary skills to work between the parties and stakeholders in the room to manage conflict. It is someone who is very strategic but has a skillset to work through difficult issues so conflict becomes productive, rather than derailing.  A facilitator is someone who runs an effective meeting and organizes the process so all parties can work together effectively.  … ”  Read more from the Groundwater Act Blog here:  Is facilitation right for your GSA process?

Water on her mind:  Bad Mom, Good Mom writes, “There is so much I want to tell you about my beloved California and the danger it faces from people with lawyers, lobbyists and PR staff working to bleed it dry before everyone else notices.  You’ve probably read the headlines about the three years with nearly no precipitation and quotes by people who say it is just random chance or god’s fault.  The truth is much more complex.  But, as a scientist and a Californian with a love for the outdoors, I can clearly see that this is a man-made disaster and the culprit is not Carly Fiorina’s conveniently mute scapegoat. ... ”  Read more from the Bad Mom, Good Mom blog here:  Earth Day 2015: Water on my mind

The Battle of Hetch Hetchy moves to the courts: This week, the longstanding battle over the dam and reservoir that have for a century flooded Yosemite National Park’s storied Hetch Hetchy Valley moves to the courts.  A new lawsuit, filed by conservationists on the 177th anniversary of  John Muir’s birth, asserts that the City of San Francisco’s continued operation of O’Shaughnessy Dam and Hetch Hetchy Reservoir on the Tuolumne River within the Park violates Article X, section 2 of the California Constitution.  Specifically, Restore Hetch Hetchy, the organization that brought the lawsuit against San Francisco, claims that continued maintenance of the dam and reservoir in one of Yosemite’s most spectacular areas, constitutes an “unreasonable method of diversion” of water that violates state constitutional standards. … ”  Read more from the Legal Planet here:  The battle of Hetch Hetchy moves to the courts

The great thirst: A critical appreciation of Norris Hundley, Jr.:  Jon Christensen writes: In the 2009 preface to the new edition of his book Water and the West, Norris Hundley, Jr. wrote: “Water is today, as it was when the first edition of this book appeared thirty-five years ago, among mankind’s greatest concerns, a problem that remains a crisis of worldwide importance. Scientists, statesmen, environmental groups, and people everywhere recognize that water is a resource not to be taken for granted. Even those areas with considerable water are struggling with pollution and problems of management that worsen yearly as population grows and industry and agriculture expand.” … ”  Continue reading at Boom here:  The great thirst

A great water historian in California’s water need:UCLA’s Jon Christensen has written a lovely, loving essay remembering the late water historian Norris Hundley, who wrote so well about western water, and (Jon argues) is important now, in California’s time of need: ‘It’s not for nothing that we often talk of western water wars. What Norris showed is that at times this looked not so much like the imperial, all-knowing conquest of a hydraulic society in the American West, but instead like a chaotic war of all against all, in which, as he wrote, “no bullets were fired,” “yet the life and death of cities and states in an enormous area were at stake.” Or, what we might just call democracy, messy democracy, a theme to which Norris would return, again and again.’ I’ve been thinking a lot about this because one of the central arguments in my work right now is that water is not for fighting over, but I think there is room for a meeting between my own work and the argument that both Christensen and Hundley are making and it lies in part in this central point. … ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  A great water historian in California’s water need

Drought measures straddle California-Nevada border:  James Poulos writes, “As Sierra Nevada snowpack hit record lows, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval unveiled a new drought commission, revealing that California’s extended water crisis had begun to alter political considerations across the border.  … Through an executive order, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, Sandoval created “a seven-member panel of administrators, scientists and water officials to study the state’s long-term water plan.” ... ”  Read more from Cal Watchdog here:  Drought measures straddle California-Nevada border

Don’t let LA’s trees become a casualty of the drought: As I drive through LA this beautiful spring my heart is breaking. In every street, in every block, I see trees in decline.  This is a quiet crisis, and it’s accelerating.  Earlier this month I sat in a presentation by the Urban Forester of Santa Monica. He said that after four years of drought, our trees’ ability to take up water has atrophied, especially in trees not native to our region. Whereas in past years many trees have been struggling but surviving, it’s now reached the point where they’re dying. We’re in a critical time for saving LA’s trees. … ”  Read more from the Tree People blog here:  Don’t let LA’s trees become a casualty of the drought

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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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