Blog round-up: Speaker Boehner blames CA drought on Obama, Public land management at a crossroads, Water wars from the top of the watershed, Groundwater crap detecting 101, and more …


Pond in the Sunset, by Marl Wrlta

Speaker Boehner blames California drought on Obama:  “House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) took to Facebook on Tuesday to recast California’s worst drought in 1200 years as a “man-made water shortage” — not worsened by climate change, but by President Obama himself.  He also asserted that, in the midst of the historic Dust Bowl conditions, Americans still have a God-given right to green lawns.  Boehner, of course, famously said in May that he is “not qualified to debate the science over climate change.” That just affirmed what was clear from his bizarre 2009 assertion: “The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical.” … ”  Read more from Think Progress here:  Speaker Boehner blames California drought on Obama

Telling farmers what to plant is not the solution:  Todd Fitchette writes, “As the debate heats up over water in California it was only a matter of time before someone recommended a shift to complete authoritarianism on the part of Sacramento (some might argue we’re already there, but that’s another discussion).  An LA Times columnist recently suggested that our government ought to force its way into the business decisions of farmers by legislating what can be planted where and when based on how much water it takes to grow a crop.  Such suggestions have no part in reasonable debate because they are simply ridiculous. ... ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press blog here:  Telling farmers what to plant is not the solution

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Is California’s drought the new normal?  Stephen Maples writes, “Many are wondering whether the current drought is the harbinger of a drier California with more frequent and longer multi-year dry spells.  Some have already jumped to this conclusion.  “This is the new normal,” Gov. Jerry Brown declared during an April 1 press conference announcing mandatory urban water restrictions statewide, the first in state history. The news media amplified the pithy quote and several other elected officials have repeated the claim as their own. ... ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Is California’s drought the new normal?

Public land management at a crossroads:  Andy Fecko writes, “Placer County Water Agency owns and operates the Middle Fork American River Project (MFP), providing water supplies, hydroelectric power, public recreational opportunities and environmental stewardship for the people of Placer County and the region.  …  Our watershed spans some 412 square miles, and provides enough drinking water for 250,000 citizens and enough renewable hydroelectric energy for 100,000 homes.  36% of this area, some 150 square miles – have burned since 2000.  While some of these fires have been mild in nature, others have been increasingly devastating because of the intensity and severity with which they engulf the landscape.  This troubling trend, fueled by decades of active fire suppression and changes in forest management policy and exacerbated by natural drought conditions has led to a situation that puts California’s water supplies at great risk, and leaves local agencies bearing the consequences.  ... ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here:  Public land management at a crossroads

Water wars from the top of the watershed:  Gloria Duffy writes, “We have a home at the top of the Sacramento-San Joaquin watershed, one of California’s most important water sources, in the tiny town of McCloud at the foot of Mt. Shasta. Water has been a topic of controversy here, even before the state’s water crisis. Six years ago, after a six-year fight, Nestle abandoned a plan to build a giant water bottling plant in McCloud after then-California Attorney General Jerry Brown threatened to sue Siskiyou County for not properly evaluating the environmental impact of such a facility.  It was interesting, during our vacation in McCloud in July, to see the impact of the state’s new water regulations in one specific case, where the town services management, the McCloud Community Services District (MCSD), is one of the holders of the water rights being restricted. … ”  Continue reading at the Huffington Post here:  Water wars from the top of the watershed

Prestigious California law professors, a word please?  On the Public Record writes: “A database?  You are aware of the difficulties the State Board is having using our current water rights structure to manage this drought, and your first prescription is a real good database?  You have taken a careful look at the existing database and noticed that it sucks balls.  So you propose a good water rights database instead.  I have several objections, which I list below from least indignant to most indignant … ”  Continue reading from On the Public Record here:  Prestigious California water lawyers, a word please?  Also see follow-up post:  Prestigious California water law professors, you are trifling.

The inexact science of water pricing:  Adam Soliman and Henry McCann write, “How can the price of water help us manage the drought? Like everything to do with water management in California, there is no easy answer. The State Water Resources Control Board recently held a workshop to examine the current pricing climate and explore the state’s role in helping urban water utilities adopt conservation-oriented water rates.  Currently, more than half of the state’s urban water utilities use some form of tiered water rates, which increase the per-gallon charge for higher levels of water use. While tiered pricing can encourage conservation, utilities also must meet other competing objectives, particularly covering the cost of providing services. When water sales fall, balancing the books can be a challenge, because fixed costs make up as much as 70 to 80 percent of total utility costs. … ”  Read more from the PPIC here:  The inexact science of water pricing

Crap Detecting 101, part 4: California groundwater: Is deeper older than shallower and is that bad?  Michael Campana writes, “On 1 July 2015 a well-known environmentalist Tweeted the following:  ‘Groundwater wells in CA have to go so deep now that the water they bring up is 20,000 years old.’  I inferred from the Tweet and the article to which it led that the author thought it was bad to pump groundwater that old. The link led to a page entitled 9 Sobering Facts About California’s Groundwater Problem. Most of the facts made sense, with perhaps a slight bit of hyperbole.  Fact Number 5 was this one … ”  Continue reading at the Water Wired blog here:  Crap Detecting 101, part 4: California groundwater: Is deeper older than shallower and is that bad?

Keeping our groundwater resources in balance:  “The fourth consecutive dry year in Northern California has illuminated the pressures on the Sacramento Valley’s water resources and the challenges we face in providing reliable water supplies for various beneficial purposes in the Valley.  Groundwater resources are critical in the Sacramento Valley, with groundwater providing almost 30% of the region’s water supplies in most years, with this percentage increasing during dry years such as 2015 when surface supplies are not available. Importantly, there have only been two wet years so far this century (2006, 2011), which means that our important aquifer systems have not been recharged, either directly or indirectly, as much as we would like. … ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here:  Keeping our groundwater resources in balance

Facilitating California’s groundbreaking groundwater governance system:  “The historic Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) was signed into law in the fall 2014, providing the first comprehensive framework for regulating groundwater in California. The timeline is tight for local agencies to implement the act, and the state has recognized the pressing need to connect water management groups with professional facilitators to ensure success. Funding has been allocated to the Facilitation Services Program1 of the state’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) to support a range of activities related to SGMA implementation, including strategic planning, stakeholder assessment, meeting facilitation, and public outreach. Water management groups having facilitation needs are encouraged to submit an application to DWR as soon as possible. ... ”  Read more from the Ag Innovations Network here:  Facilitating California’s groundbreaking groundwater governance system

The historical background of California’s water crisis:  Marc Wells and Evan Blake write, ” … The drought is not simply a natural disaster, as there is near consensus among scientists that climate change plays a major role in reducing available water supplies. The refusal to seriously address this issue by capitalist governments, largely beholden to giant energy conglomerates, poses great dangers to the planet and mankind’s survival.  However, the crisis in California is man-made in another, critical sense. Since the state’s founding in 1850, water policy has never been carried out in a rational, scientific or democratic fashion, but rather subordinated to powerful corporate interests, including agribusiness, real estate, and increasingly the financial aristocracy. … ”  Continue reading from the World Socialist Web Site here:   The historical background of California’s water crisis

Still passing the buck on water:  Eric Caine writes, “For decades now, water woes in the San Joaquin Valley have been blamed on the state and federal government and especially on the “enviros,” those effete coastal dwellers who prefer fish to people.  So it was that at last Tuesday’s Oakdale Irrigation District (OID) Board of Director’s meeting when rice farmer Robert Frobose brought up OID’s broken promises about possible impacts from annexing Trinitas Partners, General Manager Steve Knell was quick to change the subject to state and federal efforts to protect fisheries and the San Joaquin Delta ecosystem with increased flows along major rivers. … ”  Read more from Valley Citizen here:  Still passing the buck on water

Stormwater Infrastructure and its Potential Role to Change Water Supplies in California: Jeff Simonetti writes, ” … Despite the potential challenges that new water supply sources such as recycled water pose, California must look at any and all options it has at its disposal to create new water supplies. In addition to looking at increased recycled water use, many jurisdictions across California are looking at ways to build infrastructure to capture increased amounts of stormwater. These projects range from small, residential projects to much larger systems that can divert water from major storm drain channels. While some of these projects may have the potential to provide increased water supplies for communities to use in times of drought, they are not without their drawbacks. In this post, I will address the opportunities and challenges that building increased stormwater capture facilities will bring to the state, and discuss the best ways that the state may use its financial resources to build this infrastructure. ... ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here: Stormwater Infrastructure and its Potential Role to Change Water Supplies in California


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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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