Blog round-up: Does real-time water data really cause people to use less? plus bloggers on the drought, Delta tunnels documents, groundwater management, urban water management plans, and more …

Lily pads Arboretum

Lily pads at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers

Real time water data causes people to use more water, not less:  John Fleck writes, “The idea of installing smart water meters is in vogue these days, with the idea that water users, if made more aware of how much water they’re using all the time (rather than just when they get their monthly bills), will use less:  “In the spring of 2005, the City of Aurora, Colorado offered residents the opportunity to purchase Water Smart Readers (WSR). WSR are monitoring devices that provide households with real-time information on water consumption but not price information. The hope of this policy, from the utility?s perspective, was to make households more aware of their water consumption leading to, ideally, a reduction in water use. Real-time information policies are becoming more common as part of larger efforts by utilities to improve system-wide efficiency and more effectively manage demand.”  That’s Aaron Strong and Chris Goemans in a weirdly counter-intuitive (to me at least) new paper, The impact of real-time quantity information on residential water demand. … ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  Real time water data causes people to use more water, not less

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Frustrations flow over slow reactions to drought: Todd Fitchette writes, “It’s a good thing the fallout from California’s epic drought isn’t an emergency and we have the luxury of time to solve our issues.  Okay, so I’ve not heard anyone say this out loud (I’m probably guilty of mumbling it under my breath though) but that’s the impression I got from a recent California Water Commission meeting in Bakersfield.  The meeting, which featured less than a quorum of the eight-member panel, was apparently more informational than anything and, according to at least one other person in the room was a bit disappointing in its light attendance. ... ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Frustrations flow over slow reactions to drought

“There is NO drought in California”  Belinda Weymouth writes, “Yeah that’s right folks, we Californians are not in the midst of a four year drought, but rather suffering from flagrant mismanagement of our most precious life-sustaining and finite resource – water.  That’s the word from a man with his finger on the pulse of water supply issues for the past thirty-eight years – Conner Everts.  Everts, is co-facilitator of the Environmental Water Caucus (EWC), a coalition of forty-two environmental groups on a mission to ensure sustainable water management solutions for all Californians. Easier said than done. … ”  Read more from the Huffington Post here:  “There is NO drought in California”

DWR Director contradicts the Environmental Impact Report that he just released, and other observations on the Sac Bee’s article questioning whether farmers can/will pay for the delta tunnels: Jeff Michael writes, “The Sunday Sacramento Bee had a front page story by Dale Kasler and Ryan Sabalow titled “Delta Tunnels: Farms weigh project risks.”  It contained a lot of interesting quotes from farm leaders who receive water from the Delta and public officials.  In my view, the most important one was this from Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin:  “It’s not a question of ‘Do I want 5.2 (million acre feet) or 4.9?” Cowin said.  “It’s a question of ‘Do I want 4.9 or 3.5 or 3, or shut down the facilities altogether over time?'”  Really?  You just released the official Environmental Impact Statement that clearly describes the question as a choice of 4.7 – 5.3 million acre feet with the tunnels, and 4.7 million acre feet without the tunnels.  ... ”  Continue reading at the Valley Economy blog here: DWR Director contradicts the Environmental Impact Report that he just released, and other observations on the Sac Bee’s article questioning whether farmers can/will pay for the delta tunnels

Central Coast a microcosm of state water challenges:  “Water challenges around the state are in many ways unique to a particular place, but there are also many similarities and lessons to be learned from place to place. We talked to Richard Frank, a member of PPIC Water Policy Center’s research network, about water management on the Central Coast, where he lives when he isn’t teaching environmental law at UC Davis and directing the school’s California Environmental Law and Policy Center.  PPIC: How are Central Coast water challenges a harbinger for California’s water future?  Richard Frank: First off, even before the current drought, the Central Coast experienced chronic water shortages; we came to a crisis point earlier than the rest of the state. ... ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Central Coast a microcosm of state water challenges

The hard work of sustainable groundwater management:  Erik Porse writes, “Under California’s new groundwater law, local agencies must adopt long-term plans for sustainably managing basins subject to critical overdraft. Preparing these plans will be challenging, requiring collaboration and compromise among water users accustomed to pumping as they please.  Local agencies do not know exactly what they’re in for. They’ve never been responsible for achieving “sustainable groundwater management,” as the law requires. However, the histories of adjudicated basins in the Los Angeles area can be instructive. They illustrate the difficult and exhaustive process required in reaching agreement among unregulated groundwater pumpers. ... ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  The hard work of sustainable groundwater management

A shout out to California’s farmers and ranchers:  David Guy writes, “As we progress through another dry summer, let me offer my appreciation for California’s farmers and ranchers and the vital role that they serve in our state and throughout the world. Nestled between California’s untamed natural areas (the wilderness areas, National Parks, and conservation areas) and the thriving urban areas are California’s working landscapes, including California’s farms and ranches. The dry period in California has made me appreciate these farms even more. To most of us, the drought is something we hear about in the news, but it does not affect our daily lives. To farmers and ranchers, the drought is not esoteric—it affects their daily lives and their families and challenges them in ways that non-farmers cannot truly understand. The drought is imbedded in their lives.  In this light, let me urge readers to take a moment to take stock and reflect on the role of California agriculture and the farmers and ranchers who serve our state. Here are my ruminations on the role of agriculture … ”  Read more from the Water Food Environment blog here:  A shout out to California’s farmers and ranchers

California’s Urban Water Management Plans: Balancing Future Growth and Water Supplies: Jeff Simonetti writes, “Earlier this year, The New York Times wrote an article entitled “California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth”, which garnered significant media attention. The article prominently featured a picture of a large house with a green lawn in the middle of the desert, with a large suburban subdivision in the background. In fact, the picture was taken in Rancho Mirage, a city in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs. Further research determined that the subdivision is a gated community named “Versailles”, and the houses are built near the famed Sunnylands compound, which has hosted among others, eight US Presidents, Queen Elizabeth and one of Frank Sinatra’s weddings. Sunnylands is a 200-acre estate with a 9-hole golf course, 11 man-made lakes and a pool. ... ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here: California’s Urban Water Management Plans: Balancing Future Growth and Water Supplies

Valuing every drop – lessons from the drought:  Bryce Lundberg writes, “As we are starting to approach harvest season in the Sacramento Valley, the water resources managers continue to work overtime this summer to pursue thoughtful and creative ways to stretch every drop of available water. We have learned a lot this year as we head into the late summer. Most notably, this year has revealed the value of both surface and groundwater storage. With the lowest snowpack in our lifetime, the only water available for this year is already in storage in a reservoir or aquifer. As I look around the Sacramento Valley, I am thankful  our predecessors had the foresight to build surface storage reservoirs that surround this great Valley, providing water this year for our farms, the cities and rural communities, the refuges and managed wetlands, the cold water for salmon and other fisheries, and recreation. ... ”  Read more from the Northern California Water Association blog here:  Valuing every drop – lessons from the drought

Calaveras County – conservation kings:  “While Stockton snagged local headlines for its 41 percent reduction in water use in June, it was the Calaveras County Water District that achieved the lowest per-capita water use — a thrifty 57 gallons per person per day, lower than any other major water supplier in the San Joaquin River watershed.  Fifty-five gallons per day is generally considered the standard for indoor water use alone. So that gives you some idea how well the folks up in the Lode have been doing. … ”  Read more from Alex Breitler’s blog here:  Calaveras County – conservation kings

Shorebirds in the Valley: Eric Caine writes, “Shorebirds occupy remnant wetlands and the mud flats around our lakes and reservoirs. The largest numbers occur during migration, when they pass through the Valley on their way to southern wintering grounds. Some also winter here.  The larger species are the best known. Black-necked Stilts, American Avocets, and Greater Yellowlegs are often seen and sometimes even known by name. … ”  Read more from The Valley Citizen here:  Shorebirds in the Valley

Why community-based research matters to science and people: Lauren Richter writes, “When and how does research serve people? When and how does community-based participatory research improve the “rigor, relevance and reach” of science itself? Today we are witnessing an increase in collaborative research projects that seek to address environmental and environmental health issues in polluted communities. While an academic scientist may have access to labs and facilities, a community living near an industrial-scale hog farm in North Carolina may have unique insights about the types of exposures and acute and chronic health impacts they routinely feel and observe. Their experience can inform research questions, study design, and the types of research outputs that could assist local groups as they advocate for health-protective public policy. … ”  Read more from The Equation blog here:  Why community-based research matters to science and people


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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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