Blog round up: Who pays for infrastructure damaged by subsidence?, Is 2% enough to save the salmon industry?, California water management dilemma, CEQA and the drought, and more …

Blue Sutro Bath Ruins by David YuFairness and paying for infrastructure broken by subsidence:  On the Public Record responds to a recent article in which Michelle Sneed and Claudia Faunt recall how they have contacted agencies and businesses to inquire about damages done by subsidence in the Central Valley, and are finding out that these damages are not recognized and tracked, but rather simply fixed as needed.  OtPR writes, “This damage is not being caused by Californians as a whole. We are not cracking San Joaquin concrete by driving down the 5. If Californians end up repairing these roads, bridges and buildings out of the general fund, we will truly have gotten the shaft. … ”  Continue reading at On the Public Record here:  Fairness and paying for infrastructure broken by subsidence

Thumbnail image for 2015 CV water allocations.pngIs 2% enough to save the salmon industry?  Kate Poole writes, “Less than 2%. That’s how much water has been provided from the entire Central Valley in 2015 to help salmon and other fish survive the drought. Here’s a pie chart prepared by staff from the State Water Resources Control Board showing this breakdown graphically:That skinny, hard-to-see 2% slice for “regulatory outflow” includes more than just flows for fish (and definitely includes more than Endangered Species Act protections) – it also includes things like maintaining adequate water quality for farmers in the Delta. Compare that skinny slice against the more than 50% of water diverted from Central Valley rivers this year for consumptive uses, primarily agriculture, which includes total Delta exports (19%), San Joaquin upstream net use (6%), Sacramento upstream net use (19%), and net Delta consumptive use (8%). The remaining slice of 26% for salinity control is needed to ensure that the water pumped out for export in the south Delta is fresh enough to be useable, and not too salty for drinking or irrigation.  … ”  Continue reading at the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  Is 2% enough to save the salmon industry?

Making the most of little water – with spreadsheets:  “It seems inevitable that increasing numbers of California farmers will see their claims to surface water suspended this growing season as the drought persists into a fourth year.  The State Water Resources Control Board said as much Friday (June 12) when it extended drought-related prohibitions on river diversions to irrigators with rights dating to 1903 in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its watersheds. The order marked the first time California has limited water use for senior water rights holders since the 1976-77 drought.   The prospect of such draconian cutbacks convinced about 200 Delta farmers with priority dates earlier than 1903 they would be better off giving up water before they began planting. In May, they negotiated an agreement with the water board to voluntarily surrender 25 percent of water supplies (from 2013 levels) this June – September growing season. ... ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Making the most of little water – with spreadsheets

An open letter on California Water Fix: Everyone should be eating veggie burgers:  Robert Pyke writes, “The LA Times, in an article headlined “Gov. Brown says ‘Spaceship Earth’ approach will see California through drought” reported on two appearances in Los Angeles last week by Governor Jerry Brown The full video of his appearance at USC can be found at  Readers are urged to view the entire video in order to see the context of his remarks which may be lost in a newspaper report or a blog. And, the Governor made a number of points of broad principle which were quite good, and a couple of asides about politics which were excellent. But when it gets down to the details, the Governor is often loopy, if not plain wrong. Several examples follow. The LA Times reporting is shown, naturally, in Times Roman, the direct quotes from the Governor are in italics, and my comments are in Georgia, my Australian accent being vaguely Southern. ... ”   Read more here:  An open letter on the California Water Fix – Part 6

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California water management dilemma:  Lawrence Easterling writes, “We are witnessing the dismantling of the California water conveyance system that supplies drinking water for 25 million California residents and four million acres of prime farmland in the San Joaquin Valley.  Our water resources are being “Withheld” from the very people of this state who have shown what “Free Enterprise” can do not only for the well-being of all in California, but the entire nation. Unfortunately, several major environmental groups and complacent politicians are killing the freedoms that have been the bulwark of success in California. Let me explain. … ”  Read more from Fox and Hounds here:  California water management dilemma

Rein in California farmers to solve the drought?  Not so fast:  Mary Wald writes, “I mentioned to a friend in Santa Cruz that I had the opportunity to tag along for the cherry harvest in the San Joaquin Valley last week. “Yeah,” he said. “We are going to have to take a bite out of big ag in California if we’re going to solve water.”  It’s a common comment along California’s Highway 101 corridor, where the Democrat liberal thinkers live a world apart from the Republican conservatives along Highway 5. ... ”  Read more from the Huffington Post here:  Rein in California farmers to solve the drought? Not so fast

CEQA and the drought:  Eric Biber writes, “One thing that the deep drought in California has prompted is more discussion of water storage projects like dams. Part of that discussion has been arguments that environmental review pursuant to CEQA should be “streamlined” for water storage projects. A bill to streamline environmental review for two dam projects died in the Assembly this year. These efforts are being led by Republicans who hope to use the drought as leverage to both reduce environmental protections in California and chip away at the dominance that Democrats now have at the state level. … ”  Read more from Legal Planet here:  CEQA and the drought

Restore the Delta on the passing of Jerry Cadagan, the Delta and the False River blues, and more: It is with great sadness that Restore the Delta shares with our followers the recent passing of our friend and fellow advocate Jerry Cadagan. In addition to providing a number of us with daily media clips that included brilliant commentary and great wit, Jerry was our friend. He always had an encouraging word when we were over tired or over worked. He always was on the lookout for new information or new connections that would help us advance our cause. And he always made us laugh. ... ”  Continue reading here:  Delta flows: He did it for love; Drought and the False River blues

Let’s pull together to solve groundwater crisis:  Lori Pottinger writes, “Groundwater overuse is an invisible problem that has surged with the drought. Shrinking aquifers can bring great risks for the state’s economy and well-being of groundwater-dependent communities, which is why the state stepped in to regulate its use last year. Last week, PPIC’s Water Policy Center and the California Water Institute at Fresno State co-hosted an event that brought together local experts representing agricultural, urban, and rural community perspectives. The discussion addressed the challenges of managing groundwater sustainably and implementing the new groundwater law in the San Joaquin Valley.  The event’s take-away message was clear: it’s time to stop finger-pointing and focus on cooperation. … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Let’s pull together to solve groundwater crisis

Either you own the legacy of your farming ancestors or you don’t:  On the Public Record writes, “My usual objection to appropriative water rights is that I think seniority is a fucking stupid way to allocate water (and its corresponding wealth). I don’t understand why a farmer should get more water now because his grandfather claimed it a century ago. As between current users of water, having better grandparents doesn’t seem like it should make someone more worthy of having water.  That said, if farmers do want to claim the benefits from their grandparents, they should also own the downsides. ... ”  Read more from On the Public Record here:  Either you own the legacy of your farming ancestors or you don’t

California’s challenge to reliable water isn’t infrastructure.  It’s RNHA:  David Coffin writes, “The state’s biggest challenge in meeting the population’s water supply requirements isn’t conservation, it isn’t lack of infrastructure, not storage, and not groundwater. It’s RHNA, a little known wonkish piece of legislation embodied in Government Code 65580 that’s mostly known to planners, developers and city hall staffers that pressures cities to grow.  What follows might sound like we’re veering away from the focus of this blog but stick with it, RHNA affects water demand in a very heavy handed, mindless way. You’ll see why. … ”  Read more from Drought Math here:  California’s challenge to reliable water isn’t infrastructure. It’s RNHA

The future of desalination in California is still in the future:  Peter Gleick writes, “It’s only natural that during a crisis we look to single, “silver bullet” technical solutions, after all, they are supposed to be effective against werewolves, witches, and other monsters. For monsters like the ongoing severe California drought, the current favorite silver bullet is seawater desalination.  And why not? California sits at the edge of the largest body of salt water in the world – the Pacific Ocean – and taking salt out of water is a successful, commercial, well-understood technology. … Where does ocean desalination fit into the mix of water solutions for California? And what are the real lessons from Israeli and Australian experiences with desalination? … ”  Read more from Significant Figures here:  The future of desalination in California is still in the future

Desalination: It’s as easy as 1-2-3, says Burt Wilson:  He writes, ” … Jerry knows that the tunnels cannot make any new water. All they can do is transfer it to southern California faster. But what if there’s no water to transfer? Jerry’s tunnels would sit dry if the drought continues and there is every indication it will.  It would take $58-billion to build Jerry’s tunnels–including interest. For that kind of money we could build desalination plants that make water—water that could easily be sent south through the Delta by strengthening the levees. ... ” Read more at the Public Water News Service blog here:  Desalination: It’s as easy as 1-2-3

Reminder: California droughts often end with floods:  Carolyn Kousky, Jeffrey Mount, and Nicholas Pinter write, “Just a year ago, Texas and Oklahoma were experiencing a crippling drought. In May, record rainfall and deadly floods swept through these recently parched states, with devastating results. It was the same story in Australia in 2010: two years of record floods followed a decade-long record-breaking drought.  There’s a reminder here for California: droughts can end with a deluge.  About one in five California residents now lives in a flood-prone area. ... ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Reminder: California droughts often end with floods

There are many ways to protect endangered species:  “If species aren’t protected under the Endangered Species Act’s burdensome approach, they’ll receive no protection at all. This is an all too common refrain. But it’s a false choice. There are many ways to try to conserve and recover species. The ESA’s punitive approach is not the only one, nor even the best one.  Take the Utah prairie dog. The incredibly burdensome federal regulations forbidding anyone from doing anything that affects this abundant rodent in southwestern Utah — even on their private property — were recently struck down as unconstitutional. Contrary to most people’s knee jerk assumption, the result of this decision is likely to be good for the species as well as the long-suffering members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners (the organization on whose behalf PLF brought the challenge). This is because the decision has opened the door to state experimentation to find a better way to protect the species. … “  Read more from the Pacific Legal Foundation’s Liberty Blog here:  There are many ways to protect endangered species

Bottled water and drought: The center of the debate over water policy in California and Oregon:  Jeff Simonetti writes, “As officials across Oregon grapple with the drought, pundits are looking for both culprits and solutions. One culprit that some groups have identified as a water waster in both Oregon and California in particular is the bottled water industry. Particularly, opponents to the industry are taking aim at both the Nestle Company’s current water bottling operations in California as well as a new proposed facility in Oregon. They argue that bottling water from aquifers that the drought is affecting is irresponsible and that the operations often have little environmental oversight or accountability on how much water they use. But is this a fair assessment of the industry, and are they really operating without governmental oversight? I will address both of these issues in this piece. … ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here:  Bottled water and drought: The center of the debate over water policy in California and Oregon

Is Alex Breitler a ‘drought shamer?  “There’s an interesting piece today on “drought shaming” — the practice of self-deputized water cops who take video of every little dribble from some schmuck’s front yard and gleefully post it to YouTube.  There’s even an app. Gotcha!  I read the story with some disdain, only to recall that last night I took a photo of illegal watering at Stagg High School and immediately posted it to Twitter. … ”  Read more from Alex Breitler’s blog here:  Am I a drought shamer?

Why’d you have to go and make things so complicated, California?  Faith Kearns writes, “Last year, on one of the hottest days of southern California’s fall (it was about 108 in Palm Springs), I bought a rain jacket because, well, it was on sale and I needed one. Shortly afterward, I spent a couple weeks without a kitchen as my landlord replaced the roof on part of my apartment because it had started to leak. In both cases, lots of jokes were made about the need to protect myself from the rain — I mean, what rain? Then, it rained. Quite a lot. And I was happy to have a rain coat and a solid roof, and felt slightly less crazy.  ... ”  Read more from The Science Unicorn here:  Why’d you have to go and make things so complicated, California?

In spite of drought, California agriculture perseveres: Todd Fitchette writes, “As I travel California to interview farmers, talk with researchers and take photos of crops being harvested signs of drought are everywhere. Dead trees, fallowed fields and even lighted signs on Highway 99 tell us to “limit outdoor watering” because of the drought.  As bad as things are out there – and they’re bad – there are also signs of success and perseverance. Row crops are still being irrigated with overhead sprinklers, orchard trees look pretty good to the untrained eye and grapes – yes, there are still lots of those growing in the Golden State.  Then there are the things that just don’t make sense. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press blog here:  In spite of drought, California agriculture perseveres

How Trinitas rolled the Oakdale Irrigation District: According to General Manager Steve Knell, the Oakdale Irrigation District’s (OID) Board of Directors was preoccupied with the district’s precarious financial position as far back as 2011. And that may be why the Board failed to address its state-mandated requirement to apportion district boundaries based on population.  … Four years later, OID still hasn’t reapportioned and its financial situation has worsened. ... ”  Read more from The Valley Citizen here:  How Trinitas rolled the Oakdale Irrigation District

Now or Never: It’s Time for the State Board to Require Stormwater Capture and Help California Mitigate the Drought: Becky Hayat writes, “Anyone who’s driven outside Los Angeles has seen the effects this drought has had on our landscape: hillsides are brown, farm fields have been fallowed, and reservoirs are critically low. It’s a stark reminder that the Golden State is, in fact, a drought state; and in the midst of the worst drought in more than 1,000 years, we need to be using every drop of water as wisely as possible.  One of the ways to combat this drought (and future droughts) is to capture stormwater, which in its most ambitious form could provide up to 253, 437 acre-feet of water for Los Angeles County after every inch of rainfall. That’s nearly 40% of the City of Los Angeles’ annual water use captured in just a single one-inch storm event.  California is at a critical moment in deciding how we’ll deal with stormwater in Los Angeles … and beyond. ... ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here: Now or Never: It’s Time for the State Board to Require Stormwater Capture and Help California Mitigate the Drought

Wary Palm Springs guards its cheap, plentiful water: The California narrative about water is generally a tidy tale about the arid south scrambling to come up with water from the relatively wet north. But plenty of other angles deserve mention, starting with the fact that the state’s best-known desert communities — those in the Coachella Valley — have both cheap and plentiful water.  The Palm Springs region and its 400,000 residents and 124 golf courses aren’t gobbling up an extreme chunk of Colorado River supplies, as many assume. It’s blessed with huge underground aquifers that are tapped with an efficient water infrastructure that has drawn admiring looks for decades. … ”  Read more from the Cal Watchdog blog here:  Wary Palm Springs guards its cheap, plentiful water

Arizona: A century of fear that California is going to steal its water: In the fall of 1934, Arizona Gov. Benjamin Moeur dispatched the Arizona National Guard to the banks of the Colorado River near its junction with the Bill Williams to try to block efforts to build what would eventually become Parker Dam. Their fear: that the Colorado River Aqueduct, which would tap into the new reservoir, would steal Arizona’s god-given Colorado River water, siphoning it off to dreaded Southern California. ... ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  Arizona: A century of fear that California is going to steal its water

Photo credit: Blue Sutro Baths by flickr photographer David Yu.

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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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