Blog round-up: Phony drought forums, Drought regs and lawns, almonds, the new ‘California Water Fix’, water bond blunders, and more …

Water lilies by Edwademd

Monet’s water lilies by Edwademd

Phony drought forums:  Families Protecting the Valley writes, “It’s going to be difficult to find answers to the California drought if the right questions aren’t being asked.  Every time we see a drought forum we know it will be the same old story with the same old answers.  The State agriculture board held their drought forum at the Fresno Fairgrounds where we heard that “ag is suffering, the environment is suffering, and we have urban areas that literally have run out of water…it has also significantly increased the danger of wildfires…This is an evolving disaster, and it is getting worse and expanding as the days go on.”  That’s the kind of things you’ll hear at these drought forums.  They feel your pain.  … ”  So FPtV has prepared a list of questions they’d like answers to.  Read it here:  Phony drought forums

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Big yards favored by California’s drought regulations: Ed Osann writes, “What’s the difference between a suburban yard and a farm? This might sound like the opening line of a stale joke, but it’s serious business for California regulators heading into another summer of record-breaking drought. The State Water Resources Control Board has just adopted regulations implementing Governor Brown’s order for an unprecedented mandatory reduction of drinking water use by 25% statewide. The worst drought in 1,200 years (long before 38 million people moved to California) calls for bold action, and the State Board is to be commended for swiftly moving to implement a serious program of urban water use reductions in advance of the hottest months, when landscape irrigation typically soars. … ”  Read more from the NRDC here:  Big yards favored by California’s drought regulations

Goodbye lawn, hello desert: Bruce Frohman writes, “Within the past few decades, climatologists have discovered that urban development significantly alters climate. In part, this is because heat islands exist around urban areas as large numbers of homes use heaters in winter. The heat escaping from homes warms the surrounding air. The more homes there are, the greater the effect on temperature.  In summer, expansive tracts of concrete and a corresponding reduction in vegetation result in hotter days and warmer nights. In the San Joaquin Valley, the increase in temperature in winter has resulted in drier winters as fog forms less frequently. The warmer temperature results in greater evaporation and a drier climate. In summer, hotter temperatures in the cities have a similar effect in drying out the region. … ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen here:  Goodbye lawn, hello desert

Would ‘Lose the Lawn’ solve LA’s water problem?  “Would “Lose the Lawn” solve the City of Los Angeles’s water problem? Throughout the state the crescendo to eliminate residential lawns has grown louder among water boards, agencies and political leaders.  In Los Angeles, a partnership between the Metropolitan Water District and the DWP will even pay residents $3.75 per square foot to convert their lawns ‘drought tolerant’ landscape with arguable curb appeal.  So given the following extreme example, how much water would the city save if all of the single family homes throughout the city participated in the program and killed off their lawns? And what would the long term benefit be to residents? … ”  Continue reading from Drought Math here:  Would ‘Lose the Lawn’ solve LA’s water problem?

Turning the tables on almonds: OTpR writes, “The 2014 California Almond Acreage Report tells of 50,000 new acres of almonds.  The projections are for more almonds acreage.  Fairmead, CA is one town of a few hundred people who lost their wells to the deep almond wells next door.  In Tulare County, rural homeowners are seeing their wells dry up after almonds go in.  In Madera Country, rural homeowners are seeing their wells dry up after almonds go in.  In Stanislaus County, almond groves are terrible neighbors.  Longtime farmers locals are asking Fresno County to impose a moratorium on new almond trees. … ”  Read more from On the Public Record here:  Turning the tables on almonds

Almonds aren’t the problem:  Eric Caine writes, “Before they became the drought’s demon crop, almonds were the San Joaquin Valley’s reigning beauty queen. Residents and visitors gushed glowing praise during the annual bloom and most everyone agreed food doesn’t get any better than a tasty snack that’s also good for you.  But that was before four years of drought escalated California’s long history of water woes into a finger-pointing frenzy that made farmers in general and almond farmers in particular everyone’s favorite water culprit. Charles Fishman, author of The Big Thirst, calls it “water envy” … ”  Read more from The Valley Citizen here:  Almonds aren’t the problem

New strategy, new challenges for the Delta:  Jeffrey Mount, Ellen Hanak, Brian Gray, and Jay Lund write, ” … Last week, Governor Brown announced a new approach to managing the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … The governor’s new strategy is to disentangle ecosystem restoration from water supply infrastructure improvement. Under a new program, entitled California Water Fix, the state would proceed as planned with the tunnel project, and with restoration of 2,000 acres of habitat to mitigate the impact of construction. As before, the tunnels would be funded by the water users who use Delta exports.  To improve the health of the Delta, the state will implement California EcoRestore, a scaled-down effort that focuses on completing or improving projects already required by federal regulators to reduce the environmental impacts of water exports. This effort would begin restoring 30,000 acres of high-value habitat in the next three years—an ambitious timeline. The funding for this work is already available—largely from the same water users. (It is worth noting that funding for ecosystem restoration under BDCP had yet to be identified.) Both Water Fix and EcoRestore face daunting challenges. ... ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  New strategy, new challenges for the Delta

Governor Brown misleading public on earthquake risk to push the tunnels, says Restore the Delta:  They write, “Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Gov. Brown’s rush to build massive underground water tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom sustainable farms, salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today held a news conference at the site of the Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) construction project to note the Brown Administration was excavating the top of the levee, with several days of pylon driving, and shaking the levee to its core. “There was no damage to the levee, yet the governor claims Delta levees are so “fragile” they will all fail in an earthquake. This is a main justification in the governor’s campaign to force through the water export tunnels. Yet, not one Delta levee has ever failed in an earthquake. The earthquake threat to the remainder of the 300-mile water project is greater than in the Delta, yet the governor has no plans to address that risk. His focus on the Delta shows that it is water exports for unsustainable mega-growers, not earthquake threat to the people of California, that is the governor’s concern. … ”  Continue reading from Restore the Delta here:  Governor Brown misleading public on earthquake risk to push the tunnels

California Water Fix: Fix or farce? part 2:  Bob Pyke writes, “A second aspect of the Governor’s decision to split the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) in two parts, the California Water Fix, and California Eco Restore, is the continued reliance on the earthquake bogey to justify the need for the Twin Tunnels that remain the main component of the California Water Fix. In the judgment of the writer, who is not all-knowing but does have a Ph.D. in geotechnical and earthquake engineering from Cal, the argument that the tunnels are needed to protect water exports after a major earthquake has always been a red herring. Not only has the threat to the Delta levee system been exaggerated, but DWR’s own studies show that the Delta will likely be flushed out with fresh water within several months of a worst case earthquake. … ”  Continue reading here:  An open letter on the California Water Fix – Part 2 – with figure

Tribal activists organize to stop California water heist:  Dan Bacher writes, “Tribal water activists presented short films about threats to Northern California’s rivers from Governor Jerry Brown’s drought plans at Arcata’s D Street Community Center on the evening of Friday, May 8.  The films included the Yurok Youth Fish Kill video, Sovereigns Water and the Shasta Dam raise video, according to event organizer Regina Chichizola.   The speakers explained to a crowd of 40 people that Northwestern California water from the Trinity River and Shasta reservoirs are shipped hundreds of miles to benefit California’s agriculture industry, which continues to use 80 percent of California’s water on water intensive crops during the record drought. “Even though average Californians are being asked to cut their water use, corporate agriculture interests are expanding their acreage in the driest areas of California,” said Chichizola, “and they are planning to destroy Northern California’s rivers and flood sacred sites to keep up their unsustainable water.”   … ”  Read more from IndyBay.org here:  Tribal activists organize to stop California water heist

Water bond blunders: It’s Time for California to Stop Looking to the Past and Start Planning for the Future:  Juliet Christian Smith writes, “For decades, California has been known as an economic and environmental leader. Now, in the midst of one of the worst droughts on record, California needs to start applying some of that innovation and leadership to our water challenges.  What has made California a leader? It’s not doing what others are doing, or even doing it slightly better, but rather finding ways to fundamentally rethink and transform systems, harnessing information and science to build a better future. ... ”  Read more from The Equation blog here: Water Bond Blunders: It’s Time for California to Stop Looking to the Past and Start Planning for the Future

Keeping the accounts for groundwater sustainability:  Rob Gailey, Graham Fogg, et al. write:  “The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 creates an opportunity to establish standards for the way California accounts for its stores of groundwater, which provide up to 60 percent of the state’s water supply during droughts.  The new law requires regional agencies to prepare Groundwater Sustainability Plans for “high” and “medium” priority groundwater basins, as designated by the California Department of Water Resources [1].  Earlier this year we suggested an outline for developing the plans in an orderly, scientific and transparent fashion. Central to each plan will be a water budget analysis, which catalogs the conceptual framework and available data on the hydrologic function of groundwater basins. The water budget serves as a summary of knowledge on a basin and a potent screening tool to evaluate approaches for sustainable management. … ” Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Keeping the accounts for groundwater sustainability

Sacramento Press Club focuses on water:  “California’s drought has gone on long enough that many of the state’s reporters­—whether or not they cover the environment—have found they need to learn more about how water is managed in the state. The Sacramento Press Club helped close this information gap yesterday by hosting PPIC’s Water Policy Center director Ellen Hanak, who talked about the five things you need to know about water … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Sacramento Press Club focuses on water

On the Horizon: Collaborative solutions to LA’s Water Crises:  “This historic drought is driving a thirst for solutions, and government agencies are responding with an openness to work together as never before. Over the past year, TreePeople has facilitated an exciting exploration of “collaborative governance” among agencies for innovative water management in the Los Angeles region. Our partners in this effort are the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation, and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. Together, this Multi-Agency Collaborative has forged a promising start on envisioning and outlining a new way of governing. The timing couldn’t be better. ... ”  Read more from TreePeople here:  On the Horizon: Collaborative solutions to LA’s Water Crises

John Fleck in defense of Imperial Valley farming:  He writes, “Tom Philpott, who through his Mother Jones pieces has aimed aimed his considerable knowledge of our food system at California’s water problems, sets his sights this week on the Imperial Valley of southeastern California where, as he notes, “Imperial Valley’s farms gets 3.1 million acre-feet annually—more than half of California’s total allotment and more than any other state draws from the river besides Colorado.”  It’s important to consider Imperial’s water use in discussing California (and the Colorado Basin) water problems. But by focusing on the arithmetic of water use and agricultural production rather than the institutional mechanisms of water allocation, Philpott has missed important lessons to be drawn from Imperial about how to solve the water problems we face. … ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  John Fleck in defense of Imperial Valley farming

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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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