Bloggers on Delta smelt survival, curtailments, Saracino resignation, twin tunnels aka California Water Fix, Central Valley ag, water numbers, recycled water, suction dredge mining, and more …

Long Beach Aquarium Jan 2013 #53Q&A on survival of Delta smelt – on and off the air:  The California Water Blog writes, “Fox News correspondent William La Jeunesse recently spoke with Moyle about the survival of the much politicized tiny fish, a federally designated “threatened” species with protections that at times have curbed the flow of water to many cities and farms. The interview resulted in only 10 seconds of air time. However, the reporter and biologist later agreed to post on California WaterBlog this more insightful series of questions and answers they had drafted in preparation for the interview.  Q.  Given the latest smelt survey, is it fair to say the species can no longer survive on its own? … ”  Continue reading from the California Water Blog here:  Q&A on survival of Delta smelt – on and off the air

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Big water exporters dealt minimal cutbacks: Wayne Lusvardi writes, “Gov. Jerry Brown has mandated an overall 25 percent reduction in urban water usage over the next nine months – equivalent to 1.3 million acre-feet, or enough to supply 7.8 million people.  But does Brown’s plan target where the most water can be saved or is it based on media images of water wasters?  Residents of the Palm Springs area, portrayed as water guzzlers enjoying rounds of golf amid lush landscaping, have been hit with the highest mandatory water cutbacks in the state, 36 percent. ... ”  Read more from the Cal Watchdog blog here:  Big water exporters dealt minimal cutbacks

Environmentalism: Worse than racism?  Michael Fitzgerald writes, “I ought to create an award for overheated rhetoric. For people who just can’t call a spade a spade without saying it’s a threat to Western Civilization. Or comparing someone to the Nazis.  Problem is, there is currently no one around Stockton who practices such foam-flecked rhetoric (I’m omitting some of the feverish online comment posters, of course).  I’ve noticed, however, one place that abounds in over-the-top rhetoric: Visalia. … ”  Read more from Michael Fitzgerald’s blog here:  Environmentalism: Worse than racism?

Saracino resignation: Contrary views not allowed:  Families Protecting the Valley writes, “The California Water Commission will make decisions about future water storage projects in the state.  In January the Chairman of the Board Joe Byrne announced that they will spend until the end of 2016 “developing a whole new set of guidelines and regulations on how to allocate the bucks.”  The Chico Enterprise-Record concluded at the time that “the work’s already been done. The answers are already known. The only reason we can come up with to dink around for two years is to come up with excuses to not build reservoirs.” We agree.  … ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:  Contrary views not allowed

Halftime score: Delta 7, Tunnel proponents 0:  Restore the Delta writes, “The Bay Delta Conservation Plan is dead. Long live the Delta! That puts the people who love the Delta and who want to see REAL restoration of the estuary in the lead at halftime. When we consider that the Brown Administration and tunnel proponents threw at us 40,000 pages of convoluted and misleading documents, a quarter of a billion dollar administrative effort, and eight years of public messaging and lobbying by the deep pockets at Westlands, Metropolitan Water District, and Kern County Water Agency to sell the public, Federal agencies and political leaders on the project, we deserve to cheer for ourselves.  Fact is, the BDCP could not stand up to public scrutiny, despite great efforts by the Brown Administration to suppress comments and ignore public input. … ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  Halftime score: Delta 7, Tunnel proponents 0

Delta Doozy: Public Water Agencies were Seeking 50-Year Permits and Habitat Restoration as a Ploy to “Pump Away Unimpeded”:  The State Water Contractors respond to a May 10 George Skelton column in the LA Times where he wrote: ““And the real purpose [of restoring 100,000 acres of habitat] was to entice federal fishery agencies to grant the tunnel project a 50-year permit to pump away unimpeded.”  The State Water Contractors respond:  “Permits to operate Delta water projects come with numerous conditions, and the proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) process mentioned in this column was no exception.  Existing and future operations of the Delta water projects are overseen and regulated by state and federal wildlife agencies as well as the State Water Resources Control Board. Any proposed modernization must undergo intensive review and comply with numerous environmental laws – including the Endangered Species Act, the California Environmental Quality Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Conveyance improvements alone are subject to and must meet all requirements of local, state and federal laws, regulations and permits, and pumping will remain subject to strict environmental limitations.  To suggest that public water agencies were seeking 50-year permits and habitat restoration as a ploy to “pump away unimpeded” is simply untrue.”  (Source here.)

California Water Fix: Fix or Farce, part 3:  Bob Pyke writes, “The writer had already concluded that the California Water Fix is a farce (see links at the foot of the home page of, but now the official State web site has been outdone by another site that includes a scary 30 seconds video that is also running on TV as a paid advertisement in support of The Fix. This site and the advertisement are the product of a weird coalition of labor, business and Jerry Meral. It should then come as no surprise that it is loose with the facts. The video starts by saying “California’s water infrastructure, aging, fragile, vulnerable to the next earthquake” and then claims that The Fix will do three things ... ”  Read more here:  An open letter on the California Water Fix – Part 3

The Central Valley needs a new narrative: Ellen Hanak writes, “Dan Dooley’s expertise on the nexus between water and agriculture runs deep: fifth-generation Tulare County rancher, water lawyer, former deputy director of the California Department of Food and Agriculture and former chair of the state Water Commission, former member of the National Academy of Sciences’ board on agriculture. So when he says the Valley needs a new narrative on water, we’d be wise to pay attention.  I’ve had the privilege of working with Dooley during one of his most recent gigs, as head of external affairs for the University of California, and we are fortunate to have him as an inaugural member of the PPIC Water Policy Center’s Advisory Council. Recently, I held a conversation with him following his recent lecture on the future of agriculture in the Central Valley, an event hosted by the Water Education Foundation. ... ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  The Central Valley needs a new narrative

Tulare County leads the state in dry wells and agricultural expansion:  Jeff Michael writes, “ACWA reports on DWR Director Mark Cowin’s comments at a drought hearing this week, ‘Cowin said DWR is implementing a number of water management changes, including a drought barrier in the Delta and temporary urgency changes in operations. He said about 1,900 wells have gone dry in California and over 1,000 of the dry wells are in Tulare County.’  Below is a table showing the change in harvested acres between 2013 and 2007 compiled from County crop reports. … ”  Read more from the Valley Economy blog here:  Tulare County leads the state in dry wells and agricultural expansion

Water providing multiple benefits prompts water rights over-appropriations myth:  The Northern California Water Association blog writes, “Over the past several years there have been reoccurring claims that California’s water rights are over-appropriated and that the water rights system does not work. This erroneous claim is made by those who simply add up all of the water rights maintained by the State Water Resources Control Board and state that they total more than the available water supplies in the state and therefore they are over-appropriated. What this process neglects to recognize is how water is managed to provide multiple benefits, that water rights are developed for both consumptive and non-consumptive uses, return flows allow for the same quantity of water to meet multiple water rights, and that there is an orderly and structured process for curtailing water rights when supplies are limited. For more information debunking the water rights over-appropriation myth, click here.”

What the numbers reveal about California’s water priorities: California’s drought and the responses to it have prompted a lot of finger pointing about who is responsible for the state’s current water shortages. But what do the facts tell us? First and foremost, the facts confirm that the lack of rain and snow is the primary cause of today’s water shortages. But the facts also paint an interesting picture of where we are allocating the little water that we have in this fourth year of drought, and what those allocations reflect about societal priorities for this precious resource.  One lucky group of federal water contractors — known as the Sacramento Valley Settlement Contractors — will get 1.6 million acre-feet of water in this fourth year of drought, just like they did last year. … ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  What the numbers reveal about California’s water priorities

Improvements Needed in Water Information: “How is the state government handling the drought? And what more could be done? A hearing convened by the Senate Natural Resources and Water subcommittee earlier this week delved into the topic, with updates by leaders from the administration on the implementation of drought actions in the urban and rural sectors and in the state’s diverse ecosystems. In a second panel, I joined several other non-governmental experts to describe additional ways forward to solve our short- and long-term water challenges.  My testimony focused on a number of policy priorities that we highlighted in a recent report on drought management. In particular, I emphasized the need for better information as a basis for better water management. … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Improvements Needed in Water Information

California recycled water scheme a tough sell:  James Poulos writes, “Looking for an edge in coping with California’s drought, officials around the state have embarked on a public relations campaign for recycled drinking water.  Proponents of the new push hoped to capitalize on the bad publicity hitting the bottled water industry, where several suppliers have come under scrutiny for drawing their water from California. This month, “Starbucks announced that it would begin a process to move the bottling operations for its Ethos water brand to Pennsylvania,” NBC News reported. Nestle, meanwhile, refused to stop sourcing its water from public lands in the Golden State, although its pumping permit expired decades ago, and activists have petitioned the California Water Resources Control Board to halt the practice. ... ”  Read more from the Cal Watchdog blog here:  California recycled water scheme a tough sell

California can’t arbitrarily ban mining:  Jonathan Wood writes, “The California Supreme Court is considering an important case concerning whether a state can frustrate federal law and deprive people of their livelihoods for no good reason. PLF filed this amicus brief in the case, joined by the Western Mining Alliance and Siskiyou County. If you’re a regular reader, you can probably guess which side we took. Of course the government can’t act so arbitrarily and lawlessly!  California bans miners from using “suction dredges” — which I gather are like mining vacuums — in any stream in the state. California has a problem, however. Federal law expressly encourages this mining.  … ”  Read more from the Liberty Blog here:  California can’t arbitrarily ban mining

Green Lawns, Fines, and Water Pricing: How do the Pieces fit Together for Water Prices in California?: Jeff Simonetti writes, “What do Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian and Jessica Simpson have in common besides their omnipresence on television and in the tabloids? A recent CBS Los Angeles report found that, despite the Governor’s mandatory water restrictions in early May, these celebrities still have beautifully green manicured lawns at their LA-area homes. The article points out that while the new water reductions are mandatory, the $500 penalty for not complying with the usage reductions is “pocket change” for celebrities such as Kardashian. (Indeed, Kardashian apparently spent an estimated $12 million at her 2014 wedding to rapper Kanye West. She could pay the $500 fine for 80 months just to equal the $40,000 her high heels at the wedding cost.) Elsewhere in Los Angeles, the landmark Mormon Temple in West LA stopped watering the vast lawn on the 13 acre site about a month ago when Governor Brown began discussing water restrictions. … ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here: Green Lawns, Fines, and Water Pricing: How do the Pieces fit Together for Water Prices in California?

California Drought Perspective:  Jeanine Jones writes, “This is California’s fourth year of drought.  Will 2016 be dry as well?   Much as we would like to know the answer to this question, the scientific community’s ability to provide skillful seasonal precipitation forecasts remains limited.  The Governor’s January 2014 drought emergency proclamation directed DWR to work toward improving seasonal forecasting, and we are working with researchers to evaluate a variety of factors that might increase forecast skill.  Atmospheric river storms, for example, provide a significant share of California’s winter precipitation and it may be possible to develop experimental forecasts of them looking 30-60 days ahead.  Unfortunately, however, research on improving forecasting and the transition of that research to operational applications is a slow and incremental process.  There is no silver bullet when it comes to improving seasonal prediction of winter precipitation. … ”  Read more from the Groundwater Act Blog here:  California Drought Perspective

Water for free?  Eric Caine writes, ““It’s almost like you live in Fairyland,” said Steve Knell last Thursday in a meeting in the Oakdale Irrigation District (OID)  boardroom. Knell is the district’s General Manager. He was responding to repeated queries from farmer Bob Frobose about OID’s apparent willingness to deliver water to Trinitas Partners while cutting back allotments for farmers with more senior water rights.  Trinitas Partners, a consortium of investors led by three Bay Area realtors, was annexed into the OID in 2013. At the time, local farmers were told Trinitas would be allotted “Tier 2” water. The assumption was that senior members of the district would receive their water ahead of Tier 2 customers. … ”  Read more from The Valley Citizen here:  Water for free?

Integrated Water Management: A Framework for Collaborative Governance: Nicole Kelley writes, “For the past two decades, TreePeople has been advocating for Los Angeles’ watersheds to be managed in a more integrated way. Our recent report, Moving Towards Collaboration: A New Vision for Water Management, lays out a path to achieve this and overcome common barriers to implementation.  After researching examples of integrated management from around the world, we developed a framework, focused on stormwater, as a resource for agencies and other leaders to consider future approaches that could positively impact their organizations and work. This framework highlights how different collaborative dynamics can transcend barriers to inter-agency cooperation. ... ”  Read more from the Tree People blog here: Integrated Water Management: A Framework for Collaborative Governance

A window of opportunity to move the Colorado River dialog forward:  John Fleck writes, “The long awaited “Moving Forward Phase 1” report on opportunities for managing water in the Colorado River Basin plopped into public view this afternoon.  I’m going to use the prerogative of a journalist no longer beholden to daily deadlines to wait until I’ve actually had time to review and think about the 448 page report about before writing about it. (Ah, the luxury.) My quick reaction after a quick trip through the executive summary (and with a knowledge of how long it took to get the report out the door – the release was originally planned for December) is that it’s as interesting for what it doesn’t recommend as for what it does. … ”  Continue reading at the Inkstain blog here:  A window of opportunity to move the Colorado River dialog forward

Creeping toward shortage: Lake Mead now headed toward bigger drop than we thought:  John Fleck writes, “Folks worried that Lake Mead might drop below elevation 1,075 and trigger a first-ever Lower Colorado River Basin shortage now have more to worry about. The latest monthly model runs from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (pdf) have increased the odds, and suggest that Mead (currently at 1,077.03) could drop all the way to 1,054 by the end of the 2016 “water year” – 18 feet lower than projected just one month ago.  This is all a result of the interaction of two important water management rules – one that calls for holding more water upstream in Lake Powell to keep that reservoir from dropping too far, and a second that calls for curtailing water deliveries to Arizona, holding the water back in Lake Mead, outside Las Vegas. ... ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  Creeping toward shortage: Lake Mead now headed toward bigger drop than we thought

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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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