Blog round-up: Ten realities for managing the Delta, Tunnel economics and seismic risks, paying for subsidence impacts, water markets, pot, alfalfa, El Nino, and more …

ET World by Nicolas RaymondTen realities for managing the Delta: Peter Moyle writes, “I have been working on Delta fishes for nearly 40 years. Increasingly, I have curmudgeonly thoughts about what is needed to make the ecosystem work better. Here I present these thoughts as “Ten Realities” – statements of the obvious that are often overlooked in public debates about the system.  Reality No. 1:  The historical Delta ecosystem cannot be restored. The Delta of today bears almost no resemblance to the Delta of 100 years ago. Late 19th century residents would have a hard time recognizing the place. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Ten realities for managing the Delta

Additional thoughts from Jeff Michael on Sunday tunnel commentary in the Sacramento Bee: He writes, “Today, the Sacramento Bee published an op-ed by me on the economic benefits and costs of the Delta Tunnels.  As always, word constraints limit what you can see in an op-ed.  This post expands and clarifies a few things.  Financing the Tunnels: The op-ed focuses on economic benefits and costs, and doesn’t discuss some of the serious problems with financing the tunnels.  Without going into details, these are myriad and deserve a separate op-ed of their own.  Most notably, farmers would have to pay the majority of the tunnels’ cost because they receive the majority of water exported from the Delta.  It is highly unlikely that the agricultural agencies can pay their share, meaning costs will have to be shifted to urban agencies or general taxpayers. ... ”  More from the Valley Economy blog here: Additional thoughts and information regarding my Delta Tunnels op-ed in the Sunday Sacramento Bee

The consequences of a massive earthquake-induced Delta flood: Jeff Michael writes, “The tunnels’ PR campaign and some state leaders, including Governor Brown, talk about the catastrophic delta flood scenario as if the only consequence is water exports.  Given that the direct devastation of such an event would be in the Delta itself, there are some serious economic and moral problems with this argument that should be raised given it is the main argument made for the controversial tunnels.  The source usually cited by tunnels advocates for the earthquake risk is the DRMS Phase I study which assessed flood risk and consequences in the Delta.  Its assessment of levee failure probabilities was highly controversial but I will ignore that debate here, and focus on the consequences analysis. … ”  Read more from the Valley Economy blog here:  The consequences of a massive earthquake-induced Delta flood

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Groundwater overdrafters should pay for the infrastructure they are breaking.  On the Public Record writes, “Here’s a news story showing some infrastructure in Fresno county that is sinking, cracking and breaking because farmers are overdrafting groundwater.  The interesting part comes at 1:48, where the reporter says: ‘The price tag for just replacing this one small bridge is about two and a half million dollars.  Much of the burden for fixing it will fall on the taxpayers. Cut to Mr. Son, Deputy Director at Fresno County Public Works, saying: The bridge itself is our responsibility. ... ”  Read more from On the Public Record here:  Groundwater overdrafters should pay for the infrastructure they are breaking

Bold predictions!  Families Protecting the Valley writes, ““We are talking about extinction.” – California Governor Jerry Brown  With the above statement Jerry Brown joins a long list of population explosion/global cooling/global warming/climate change doomsdayers who have absolutely and unequivocally been 100% wrong about every prediction they’ve made throughout history, and unapologetically stuck to their guns no matter how wrong they’ve been.  Jerry Brown’s comments came after flying to Rome in the private jet of real estate developer George Marcus and his wife.  Flying in a private jet is probably the single most damaging thing you can do in a single day to the environment if you believe in climate change theories. ... ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:  Bold predictions!

How so, Lester Snow?  On the Public Record writes: “At Water Deeply, Lester Snow writes: ‘Nonetheless, California must create a real and transparent water market that enables transfers between willing sellers and buyers. This is absolutely essential to the state achieving the necessary resilience to withstand long periods of drought.’ This is assertion and nothing more.  Here is a way the state can achieve the necessary resilience to withstand long periods of drought with no market. … ”  Continue reading from On the Public Record here:  How so, Lester Snow?

Real and transparent salt water markets: John Bass writes, “Salt, both surface and groundwater sources, was a subject in two recent pieces of reporting in California water news. Would anyone suggest that it will be less of a subject in coming years?  The problem isn’t the lack of a real and transparent water market, as Lester Snow recently argued at Water Deeply. The problem is that the demand for water is bigger than the supply, especially the demands of those who offer salt in trade. ... ”  Read more from the Delta National Park blog here:  Real and transparent water markets

On the Public Record finds a like-minded thinker on water markets:  “I have been watching the water field for decades.  I attend meetings and read accounts of other meetings.  I read policy recommendations until I am nearly numb to them.  I cannot summon any more interest in the intriguing in the Delta, for example.  Based on exposure to lots of ways to consider water and a willingness to trust my own assessments, I have slowly kludged together a mostly-consistent philosophy.  I may or may not have convinced some readers, and maybe there’s more agreement for parts of it than I know (although I suspect that pieces get cherry-picked to support other advocacy, which is perfectly fine).  Until yesterday, I had never seen my philosophy expressed elsewhere.  Yesterday, out of nowhere, I found a blog-popular author who isn’t on the water circuit.  … ”  Read more from On the Public Record here: Someone who thinks about climate change and markets the way I do (1 of 3). See also follow up posts: Someone who thinks about climate change and markets the way I do (2 of 3), and Someone who thinks about climate change and markets the way I do (3 of 3).

Report: Better ‘GRACE’ than glitz: ‘Quantifying Renewable Groundwater Stress with GRACE’:  Micahel Campana writes, “Here is a new one from Jay Famiglietti & friends. I love the play on words in the title; I would call it a double entendre without the risqué interpretation. Why not quantify something with grace? Better than with mercilessness or ineptitude! ... ”  Read the report at Water Wired here:  Better ‘GRACE’ than glitz: ‘Quantifying Renewable Groundwater Stress with GRACE’

California streams going to pot from marijuana boom:  Caitrin Chapelle and Lori Pottinger write, “California has seen a recent boom in marijuana farms, mostly on private lands but also illegal grows on public lands such as national forests. Hard data are hard to come by for this crop, which is mostly grown in the shadows. But California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials estimate that production on public lands has increased by 55 to 100 percent in ecologically fragile north coast watersheds over the past five years alone. This surge is having a decidedly unhealthy effect on some of California’s rivers and streams. The situation is heating up as many of the state’s waterways are at all-time lows and some at-risk fisheries nearing collapse.  … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  California streams going to pot from marijuana boom

Alfalfa’s multitude of contributions to the environment: There will be patches of green this summer amid a seemingly endless golden brown landscape that symbolizes California’s fourth year of an ongoing drought. Alfalfa fields will provide some of the green to an otherwise monochrome palate.  Not only will alfalfa fields provide an aesthetic break, but the fields will be sanctuary for over a quarter of the 675 amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles that reside in California. Sanctuary for great blue herons, snowy egrets, red tail hawks, pronghorn antelopes and the Swainson’s Hawk, which was listed as a threatened species in 1983 primarily due to the loss of habitat, to name just a few of the 182 species that regularly feed, seek cover and reproduce in alfalfa fields. … ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here:  Alfalfa’s multitude of contributions to the environment

El Nino 2015: A drought buster or just a bust?  Jeff Simonetti writes, “The Western United States remains mired in a serious drought. According to the most recent US Drought Monitor, 74.51% of the Western United States faces some sort of drought conditions. Extreme drought covers 18.87% of the West, with extreme and exceptional drought covering portions of California, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Despite an abnormal dose of rain last week from the remnants of Hurricane Dolores, forecasters have little hope in the immediate term that the record drought will abate. (However, the storms from Hurricane Dolores did break records in some areas for rainfall in July. Los Angeles averages just .01 inch of rain in July. On July 18th alone, Los Angeles received .36 inches of rain, which broke the monthly record of .24 inches set in 1886.) But in the longer term forecasts, scientists are feeling more certain that an El Niño pattern may strengthen this fall to provide drought relief to the parched West. ... ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here:  El Nino 2015: A drought buster or just a bust?

Recognizing the value of cleaner watersheds:  “The mission of the Forest Service is to “sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.” The provisioning of water resources – notably clean drinking water and flood control – is central to this. Growing demand for our water resources, spurred by population growth, and the effects of climate change further challenge the Forest Service to successfully meet the needs of present and future generations.  In the western United States – where water flowing from national forests makes up nearly two-thirds of public and commercial water supplies – water scarcity and wildfire threats have galvanized diverse stakeholders to invest in healthy headwaters. Local communities, public utility companies, businesses, non-governmental organizations and state and local agencies are investing in watershed restoration to avoid catastrophic economic losses. … ”  Read more from the USDA blog here:  Recognizing the value of cleaner watersheds

The ‘Yes Men’ have a crazy solution to California’s drought:  “The Yes Men are at it again. Known for their prankster activism, the “culture jamming activist duo” created by Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos have offered a unique solution to California’s ongoing epic drought.  In a collaboration with the comedy video website Funny or Die and the Guardian, the activists’ spoof video suggests that hipsters stop showering if they insist on continuing to eat beef. … ”  Read more from AlterNet here:  The ‘Yes Men’ have a crazy solution to California’s drought

Water, history, and the environment, part 1:  Eric Caine writes, “When local residents met in Knights Ferry last month to discuss the effects of the almond boom on their quality of life, the emphasis was on domestic wells running dry, but there were many other concerns. One that received little media attention was the effects of almond orchards on wildlife.  “Your people are shooting the deer,” said one man who lives near orchards owned by Trinitas Partners. “We used to have deer and now all the deer are gone.”  Trinitas spokesman Ryon Paton denied anyone in his employ was shooting deer. … ”  Read more from The Valley Citizen here:  Water, history, and the environment, part 1

Water, history, and the environment, part 2: Eric Caine writes, ““Like most environmentalists, they want it all,” said Oakdale Irrigation District (OID) General Manager Steve Knell recently when discussing water rights along the Stanislaus River.  Though absurd on the face of it, Knell’s claim represents a widespread belief throughout the San Joaquin Valley, where environmental illiteracy and historical amnesia have enabled private appropriation of public resources since the days of the gold rush. The simple fact is that “wanting it all” is impossible in the San Joaquin Valley because “it” is almost all gone.  Consider Tulare Lake in the southern part of the Valley.   … ”  Read more from The Valley Citizen here:  Water, history, and the environment, part 2

Dissecting LA’s water supply: Conservation and stormwater capture: David Coffin writes, “With the availability of imported water seriously dropping and local supplies (recycled water and groundwater) not increasing as projected, the LADWP had to scramble to come up with ways to develop new supplies or create the perception of sufficient supplies for future growth. Or both.  This would require some creative thinking by the department. Pie charts in past water plans cited four categories of water supply, aqueduct, groundwater, MWD, and recycled water. Each which are categorized as new water.  In the 2010 UWMP the department settled on three new categories. Two of these categories were ‘Conservation‘ and ‘Stormwater Capture’. The third will be discussed at a later date. … ”  Read more from the Drought Math blog here:  Dissecting LA’s water supply: Conservation and stormwater capture

Coase’s reservoirs: How transaction costs are emptying Lake Mead: John Fleck writes, “Updating my Colorado River reservoir storage spreadsheet today to make a graph for a friend was a pretty discouraging exercise. Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the system’s two massive reservoirs on which 9 states and a gazillion people and farm acres depend, are at their lowest combined level since 1967, when they were filling Powell for the first time.  I style myself as the optimist in the room. Staring dimly into the future, I think I can see what solutions to the West’s water problems might look like. My optimism comes from things like this, which appears on the agenda of tomorrow’s meeting of the Imperial Irrigation District board of directors. ... ”  Continue reading from the Inkstain Blog here:  Coase’s reservoirs: How transaction costs are emptying Lake Mead

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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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