Blog round up: Temperature management on the Sacramento River, Economist advise how to manage drought, changing California’s water rights system, Arizona’s Colorado River zeitgeist and more …

Sun and Sea sliderbox

Sun and sea by Karol Franks

Better reservoir management would take the heat off the salmon:  Jeff Mount writes, “Over the past few weeks, the state’s largest reservoir—Shasta—has been in the spotlight as managers struggle to meet multiple demands with dwindling reserves. Surface reservoirs are central to managing California’s water supplies for a variety of purposes. However, during extended droughts, when the amount of water in reservoirs gets low, water allocation decisions can involve difficult trade-offs. This year the trade-offs at Shasta are particularly challenging, since the survival of a run of endangered salmon may be on the line.  Most of Shasta’s water goes to agricultural water contractors in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys. The reservoir generates abundant hydropower and supports a large recreation economy. Shasta, along with Folsom and Oroville Reservoirs, is also the principal source of water for controlling freshwater outflows from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. These outflows are necessary to maintain water quality for both human uses as well as fish habitat. ... ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Better reservoir management would take the heat off the salmon

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State Water Resources Control Board could cost California’s agricultural economy $4.5 billion: Mike Wade writes, “Farmers throughout the Central Valley have been working hard and assuming huge personal risks in support of the Sacramento River Temperature Management Plan to protect salmon and still provide water to their farms.  “Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of water is being loaned to the United States Bureau of Reclamation, National Marine Fisheries Service, water districts, communities and individual farmers to stretch every drop available to protect California’s protected salmon and valued agriculture,” said Executive Director Mike Wade of the California Farm Water Coalition. … ”  Read more from the California Farm Water Coalition here: State Water Resources Control Board could cost California’s agricultural economy $4.5 billion

The Sacramento River Temperature Plan and its impacts on the Sacramento Valley:  “Every year in water is different. In this fourth consecutive dry and warm year, the spotlight is on the dynamics surrounding the Sacramento River Temperature Plan, which has emerged as a major challenge for water resources, fishery and refuge managers. … the agencies’ new flow proposal will limit releases below Shasta Reservoir to 7,250cfs to preserve cold water in the reservoir for later in the year. This new flow path represents an approximate 20% reduction in flows from the original operations agreement during July, and will severely impact water deliveries within all regions of the Central Valley Project (CVP). By the integrated nature of the system, the impacts will also spread to other parts of the Sacramento Valley. ... ”  Read more from the Northern California Water Blog here:  The Sacramento River Temperature Plan and its impacts on the Sacramento Valley

How to manage drought?  Ask an economist:  The California Water Blog writes, “The economics of water scarcity is crucial to sustainable water management, particularly during droughts. California has long benefited from the insights of economists, though their ranks in state water agencies are thinning. Luckily, California has a wealth of young, talented economists already active in public water policy and who will be around for future droughts. California WaterBlog asked five of them what California should be doing to prepare for a fifth year of drought and beyond. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  How to manage drought? Ask an economist

A call for value-based water administration: Brian Devine writes, “When I was in a fraternity (well, I still am in the fraternity, but you know what I mean) we were often told, nay commanded, to rush new freshmen into our organization through what the national-level suits called values-based recruitment. This entailed a thoughtful process of designing recruitment events based on the values that we held as men and as brothers, and on the values we wished to see in our new members.   As you might expect, we dudes largely ignored their suggestions ... ”  Continue reading at the Parting the Waters blog here:  A call for value-based water administration

On the Public Record presents: The California Resilient Agriculture initiative:  OtPR writes, “My guess is that it would take two more dry years for California to get serious about revising the water rights system.  (Especially with the possibility of getting a water rights reform initiative on the presidential ballot in November 2016.)  I think people get serious about drought in year six.  In year four, apparently, we tentatively bring up the topic. … So far I’ve only seen mentions of the concept.  I haven’t seen anyone but me put forth an actual proposal.  People say vague [stuff] like “you know, what Australia did.”  But here I am with this blog and no sense.  My recent insight was that water rights reform should be part of a package so big that water rights reform is the least of the boldness.  I call this package “California’s Resilient Agriculture” initiative. ... ”  Read more from On the Public Record here:  Go big or go home.  See also: Let us never refer to this post.

Think what On the Public Record could do with ‘direction’ and ‘creativity’: OtPR writes, “I’ve been seeing the  word ‘flexible’ come up from agricultural advocates.  … Flexibility is code for “not enforcing the Endangered Species Act” or disregarding environmental requirements when building new storage.  Somehow, from agriculture advocates, flexibility only ever applies to the environment.  In practice, California agriculture has been moving away from flexibility as they change from annual crops to permanent crops. ... ”  Read more from On the Public Record here:  Think what I could do with “direction” and “creativity”!

Drought and the Supreme Court:  Johnathan Zasloff writes, “When I first read Rick’s writeup of the Supreme Court’s decision in USDA v. Horne, concerning the federal government’s Depression-era system of “marketing orders” that required farmers to set aside a percentage of their raisin crop in a government-controlled account, I was worried about water. And that’s not just because I always worry about water.  Horne turned on whether the federal program is better considered as a physical taking or a regulatory one. That has huge implications for water law, because of recent controversies about whether the government’s failure to deliver contracted water amounts to a physical taking or a regulatory one. That is critically important because whereas regulatory takings generally implicates a balancing test, physical takings doctrine uses a per se test that purposefully ignores any public policy considerations. … ” Continue reading from the Legal Planet here:  Drought and the Supreme Court

Cal Water Fix: A legacy project or vanity project?  Robert Pyke writes, “California Governor Jerry Brown’s support of High Speed Rail and the Twin Tunnels under the Delta (now called the California Water Fix) is often explained by these being legacy projects, in the same way that the enlarged California higher education system and the State Water Project are said to be legacies of his father, Pat Brown. But this analogy does not stand scrutiny as suggested in a recent column by Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee. Even though the State’s higher education system now has some challenges, as does the State Water Project, for many years these were widely considered to be great successes, so that they did burnish the legacy of Pat Brown. But, as Dan Walters suggests, there is scant evidence that either High Speed Rail or the Twin Tunnels will ever be built, let alone be a success, so why does the Governor support them, other than to retain the support of the construction trade unions and Southern California and Silicon Valley business interests? … ”  Read more from Bob Pyke here:  An open letter – Part 8

A DWR “prize winning” doozy: Burt Wilson writes, “When the BDCP tunnels gurgled and died, the DWR quickly replaced them with the California Water Fix. Overnight. In fact, in the middle of the night! This was quickly followed by the California Eco Fix–the new name for the habitat restoration and last, but not least, their supporting propaganda (read: misinformation) arm, Californians for Water Security CWS).  If you look at the make-up of the CWS you’ll find it’s predominately Unions and local Chambers of Commerce. ... ”  Read more here: A DWR “prize winning doozy”

The Columbia River would exactly replace all of California’s rainfall:  Dave Appell writes, “I’m reading Cadillac Desert, Marc Reisner’s excellent book on water and the West, and it got me wondering if California would ever come to Oregon for its next water source.  William Shatner was recently reported to be looking for $30 billion on Kickstarter to fund such a pipeline, but I don’t see it there now. But he does have a brainstorming site going, Shatner’s Water.  Anyway, here’s an interesting numerical coincidence. My first thought was that there couldn’t possibly be enough water in Oregon to do much for California and its drought. But what if you diverted the entire Columbia River to California? I still guessed that wouldn’t do much at all, but that’s wrong. ... ”  Read more from Quark Soup here:  The Columbia River would exactly replace all of California’s rainfall

A strategic, connected and adaptive California Water Action Plan?  Lucas Patzek writes, “In California’s multiple responses to the drought, there is one key initiative that remains relatively unknown: the California Water Action Plan (Plan). The Plan calls for coordinated action to address the dynamic and interconnected challenges faced by the state’s water system. Thus far, our ability to resolve these challenges has not kept pace with the increase in their scope and complexity. Efficient and effective coordination is exactly what is needed, but the question is: how do the actions of multiple agencies align to advance solutions that are strategic, connected, and adaptive? ... ”  Read more from Ag Innovations here:  A strategic, connected and adaptive California Water Action Plan?

Engineer: Backup water supply for Mountain House was considered ‘not necessary’:  Alex Breitler writes: “Lynn Sutton, a civil engineer who worked for Mountain House developer Trimark and for the Mountain House Community Services District from 1988 to 2003, comments on Sunday’s story about the master-planned community’s water problems:  “When the community of Mountain House was first contemplated in 1988, I advised the then project manager for Trimark that, among other items, an adequate water supply was very important.  I directed him to meet with Tom Shephard who was an attorney specializing in water rights.  At that meeting, Tom indicated that (Byron-Bethany Irrigation District) did have established pre-1914 water rights, which at that time was considered a very reliable source of water.  … ”  Read more from Alex Breitler’s blog here:  Engineer: Backup water supply for Mountain House was considered ‘not necessary’

Hot night at Knights Ferry meeting: Eric Caine writes, “Thursday, June 25, over two hundred people met at the Community Club in Knights Ferry. Sponsored by the Stanislaus Ground Water Alliance Committee, the purpose of the meeting was to provide a forum for large farming operators, the Oakdale Irrigation District (OID), and  elected leaders to respond to questions from local residents about problems caused by thousands of acres of new orchards and the ongoing drought.  The overflow crowd packed into a room with no air conditioning and an outside temperature of 102 degrees at the start and 88 degrees at the end. Among some citizens, tempers were as hot as the weather. … ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen here:  Hot night at Knights Ferry meeting

Pawns in the water game: Eric Caine writes, “Dr. Vance Kennedy was visiting Modesto Reservoir in eastern Stanislaus County last week when someone asked him what the likelihood is that almond orchards around the reservoir are pumping water from the reservoir via seepage into nearby aquifers. “One-hundred percent,” replied Kennedy. Kennedy retired from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) after winning its highest possible award. His special expertise is in tracing sediments in water, but he’s well versed in geology and hydrology in general, and stays current with USGS research.   … ”  Read more from The Valley Citizen here:  Pawns in the water game

Water exporter Riverside sues state over 28% cutback:  Wayne Lusvardi writes, “In California, drought has been redefined as when your city has surplus water it already sells to alleviate shortages of other water suppliers that doesn’t count towards its state-mandated water cutback.  Even water suppliers that are water independent and export water to other water districts to alleviate drought are being tagged with as much as 28 percent mandated water cutbacks.  One such city is Riverside, which has sued the California Water Resources Control Board over its 28 percent reduction mandate on the basis that it is “water independent” and its groundwater should be counted toward meeting the requirements for only a 4 percent water curtailment. ... ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here:  Water exporter Riverside sues state over 28% cutback

Orange County’s other, better desalination project:  Charles Lam writes, “Dana Point’s Doheny Beach, a strip of sand located just off Pacific Coast Highway, is one of the few places in Southern California where you can go beach camping. It’s been popular for decades with sunbathers and families, who each weekend scramble to get first rights to the numerous fire pits that dot the beach just a few feet away from a parking lot that runs parallel to the water line.  It’s also an unlikely home for what could be Southern California’s last, great hope for responsible desalination–the Doheny Ocean Desalination Project. … ”  Read more from the OC Weekly blogs here:  Orange County’s other, better desalination project

Thinking about wheeling capacity on the Colorado River Aqueduct: Rod Smith writes, “With the implementation of the Quantification Settlement Agreement in 2003, the amount of Colorado River water available to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has been less than the capacity of the Colorado River Aqueduct (“CRA”).  For example, the Bureau of Reclamation currently forecasts that Metropolitan’s use of Colorado River water will be 861,616 AF in 2015 http://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/g4000/hourly/forecast15.pdf.  This is 438,834 AF less than the historical maximum annual amount of 1.3 million AF of Colorado River water conveyed through the CRA. … ”   Continue reading at the Hydrowonk blog here:  Thinking about wheeling capacity on the Colorado River Aqueduct

Taking more water from the Colorado River’s upper basin:  John Fleck writes, “Wyoming is pursuing federal legislation to take another 150,000 acre feet per year from its share of the Colorado River’s Upper Basin allotment:  ‘If successful, the project would allow the state to use the bulk of its remaining allocation under the Colorado River Compact, diverting another 149,600 acre-feet from the Green River annually, according to state documents.’ The legislation tackles a technical question: the need for improvements to Fontenelle Dam to allow Wyoming to fully use its water. I don’t know squat about the technical question. I’ll refer you to Angus Thuermer’s story for that, he does a good job with that context.  The basin-scale policy question, though, is clear.  ... ”  Continue reading at the Inkstain blog here:  Taking more water from Colorado River’s upper basin

Arizona’s Colorado River zeitgeist: John Fleck writes, “In this morning’s Arizona Star, Tucson journalist Tony Davis asks, “Is California trying to take our water?”  In journalism, there’s a joke known as “Betteridge’s Law“: “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”  As Tony’s story strongly suggests, the notion making the rounds these days in some Arizona political circles that California is out to steal away a share of Arizona’s Colorado River water is crazy talk. No one in Arizona has presented any evidence beyond their state’s historic paranoia about their larger and more politically powerful neighbor’s alleged water ambitions. … ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  Arizona’s Colorado River zeitgeist

Photo credit: Sun and sea by flickr photographer Carol Franks

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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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