Blog round-up: Eminent domain and the BDCP, Troglodytes defend the Governor’s tunnels, Optimism and the hazards of technology; Why groundwater regulation fails; and more …

Blue abstract water trees
Photo by Sherrie Deveau

Questions over acquiring land for twin tunnels: Alex Breitler writes, “Delta advocates want more details about the mysterious “property acquisition plan” (part 1, part 2) that received quite a bit of attention last week.  In a letter to state and federal officials on Thursday, the Local Agencies of the North Delta asked loads of questions about the origin of the document and what it might mean for Delta property owners whose farms lie within the footprint of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed twin tunnels. ... ”  Read more from Alex Breitler’s blog here:  Questions over acquiring land for twin tunnels

Eminent domain and the BDCP:  Rod Smith writes, “California’s water world is abuzz with the revelation that the BDCP involves acquisition of land parcels for the project’s diversion facilities and 30-mile twin tunnels, either by acquisition or by Eminent Domain.   As Rick Blaine (aka Humphrey Bogart) stated in Casablanca, “I’m shocked.  Shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.”  The BDCP acquisition program will push takings litigation into new territory. Eminent domain commonly involves one public agency and a single landowner. The BDCP “kicks it up a notch” by involving hundreds of landowners. This will transform “political coalitions” into joint legal defense alliances. Prior experience suggests that the BDCP will find that their actual acquisition costs many multiplies of their initial estimates. … ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here:  Eminent domain and the BDCP

Troglodytes defend the Governor’s tunnels:  “Governor Brown has become an international leader on taking action to combat climate change, repeatedly calling business-funded opponents of such action “troglodytes.”  Thus, I found it surprising that the chief sponsor and promoter of the most broadly ridiculed and discredited report opposing California’s climate change policies was the author of the rebuttal of my recent op-ed criticizing the economic rationale of the tunnels. The Small Business Association’s infamous climate-change report predicted that implementing AB 32 would create an economic doomsday that would permanently erase 1.1 million jobs, and cause a 26% decline in discretionary spending by California households among other ridiculous findings.  The report is a prime example of why Governor Brown calls his climate change opponents “troglodytes”, and it was universally and very publically blasted by academic experts, and even the LAO. … ”  Continue reading at the Valley Economy blog here:  Troglodytes defend the Governor’s tunnels

Neither Governor Brown or Carly Fiorina gets it right on water:Restore the Delta (RTD), the leading opponents of Gov. Brown’s rush to build massive underground water tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom sustainable farms, salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today responded to Gov. Brown’s statement and Carly Fiorina’s comments regarding the problems with drought management, conveyance, and dams in California in their interviews with Chuck Todd of Meet the Press.  Restore the Delta’s Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla responded to the entire exchange with the following statement. … “Clearly, Carly Fiorina’s statement about the need for new conveyance and reservoirs to solve California’s water challenge, and Governor Brown’s video response to her reveal how out of touch both the Governor and Ms. Fiorina are with what California truly needs to manage increasing droughts successfully. ... ”  Continue reading at Restore the Delta here:  Neither Governor Brown or Carly Fiorina gets it right on water

New front in federal blame game: Chris Reed writes, “When it comes to the federal government’s seemingly muted response to a severe drought in its most populous, richest state, Republicans and Democrats in Congress have faced sharp criticism.  GOP lawmakers from California and their supporters are accused of offering solutions that abandon responsible policies that follow federal law in protecting the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta Estuary’s ecosystem and its endangered species.  Democratic lawmakers from California and their supporters are accused of being too concerned about preserving the Delta at any cost, and in doing so showing indifference to the fate of poor people in the Central Valley who need agricultural jobs. ... ”  Read more from the Cal Watchdog blog here:  New front in federal blame game

Indecision sinking California faster than epic drought: Newly-released National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellite imagery pictorially illustrates that California is sinking faster than ever before – notably not at the speed of the iceberg hit, broken-hulled Titanic.  The worst part is neither had to happen.  According to the ‘sky-spy’ folks at NASA, snapped satellite photos confirm some areas of California’s famed San Joaquin Valley are sinking nearly two inches per month tied in part to drought and continued large scale amounts of groundwater pumping. ... ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press blog here:  Indecision sinking California faster than epic drought

In California, clarifying what we mean by drought:  John Fleck writes, “Preparing for a lecture for next week for the University of New Mexico Water Resources Program class I’m co-teaching, I’m having the students read this piece by my drought guru Kelly Redmond:  “Most concepts of drought involve a water balance. This implies that both supply and demand must be considered, as well as the question of whether there is “enough” (and, enough for what?). Thus, through time I have come to favor a simple definition; that is, insufficient water to meet needs. (emphasis added)”  I’ll be talking some of the quantitative drought metrics, like the Palmer Drought Severity Index, or the Standardized Precipitation Index, or How Much Water Is In That Big Reservoir. But Kelly’s point is that the key is to understand how systems (people, ecosystems, etc.) are actually using the water. ... ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  In California, clarifying what we mean by drought

Optimism and the hazards of technology:  John Bass writes, “‘One cannot be pessimistic about the West. This is the native home of hope. When it fully learns that cooperation, not rugged individualism, is the quality that most characterizes and preserves it, then it will have achieved itself and outlived its origins. Then it has a chance to create a society to match its scenery.” – Wallace Stegner, The Sound of Mountain Water’  “I can’t help but wonder if articles like this one by technophile Charles Fishman in the NYT, applauded for being “optimistic,” or Wallace Stegner’s barely expressed anxiety about rugged individualism, help kick the more difficult cans down the road. Fishman apparently thinks the solution is to build an even bigger water redistribution infrastructure: … ”  Continue reading at the Delta National Park blog here:  Optimism and the hazards of technology

Drought bites harder, but agriculture remains robust: Richard Howitt, Duncan MacEwan, Josué Medellín-Azuara and Jay Lund write, “Today we release our second annual report estimating the economic impacts from prolonged drought.  More than anything, the results of our 16-page analysis of the current growing season speak to agriculture’s remarkable resilience to multiyear surface water shortages. They also show that the industry’s ability to continue growing in revenue and jobs is coming at increasingly higher costs.  Overall, California’s $46 billion-a-year agricultural output remains robust in this fourth year of severe drought, mostly because of the state’s vast reserves of groundwater.  ... ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Drought bites harder, but agriculture remains robust

Groundwater: Why regulation fails:  Eric Caine writes, “Despite state-mandated regulation, vast stores of groundwater have disappeared from the Colorado River Basin and the Ogallala Aquifer. The water is gone for a simple reason: More has been taken out than has come in.  The simple notion of overdrafting—taking more from an account than has been put in— is something people learn early on when it comes to checking accounts. “Money in minus money out” is the basis for our universal exchange system. Unfortunately, groundwater is exempt from the rule. … ”  Read more from The Valley Citizen here:  Groundwater: Why regulation fails

Crazy hot days, crazy warm nights: A new study on climate change in the Central Valley:  “Last week I, along with an international group of scientists, published a study in the journal Climatic Change in which we found that the hottest summer days (24 hour periods) in the Central Valley were twice as likely to occur due to climate change. Heat waves in California’s Central Valley have become progressively more severe in recent decades due to  higher humidity and warmer nighttime temperatures. Observations obtained from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center show that Central Valley nighttime temperatures were nearly 2°F (1°C) warmer in the 2000s compared to the 1901-1960 average and even higher for the whole of California  ... ”  Read more from The Equation blog here:  Crazy hot days, crazy warm nights

I flew with NASA to study the California drought from the sky:  “It didn’t look good. Dark sapphire pools dotted the bare grey peaks of the Sierras, ringed in too many concentric circles of sediment to count. As I flew above the mountains with NASA scientists on a tricked-out DC-8 plane, the effects of four years of drought were painfully evident to the naked eye. But it’s what we couldn’t see that we were here to study.  For a week this summer, NASA’s flying laboratory did loops over California as part of the Student Airborne Research Program, known as SARP. Students from all over the country work closely with the agency to collect data to study topics from industrial pollution to the health of local forests.  And for the past few years, the effects of California’s drought. … ”  Read more from Gizmodo Australia here:  I flew with NASA to study the California drought from the sky

Water Game Time! Papers: 1) ‘Computer-supported Games and Role Plays in Teaching Water Management’; 2) ‘Irrigania’ & More!  Michael Campana writes, “Water games, anyone? I’m always game.  Friend and colleague Todd Jarvis, who is teaching a class in the Business of Water this summer, sent me this paper,Computer-supported Games and Role Plays in Teaching Water Management’ by A. Y. Hoekstra, published a few years ago in Hydrology and Earth System Sciences. Professor Hoekstra looks like he has a lot of interest and expertise in water games.  Todd’s class recently played the Global Water Footprint Game and will tackle the California Water Crisis Game next week. … ”  Read more from the Water Wired blog here:  Water Game Time! Papers: 1) ‘Computer-supported Games and Role Plays in Teaching Water Management’; 2) ‘Irrigania’ & More!

New groundwater reports: The State of Sacramento Valley Groundwater Resources:  “The Northern California Water Association (NCWA) and water resources managers in the Sacramento Valley are watching the groundwater resources very closely during this dry period with an eye toward preserving the sustainability of our precious groundwater resources. With four consecutive dry years and only two wet years this century, there is tremendous stress on the groundwater resources in the Sacramento Valley.  Two new reports from the Department of Water Resources further illuminate the pressures on California’s groundwater resources and provide a more detailed picture of groundwater conditions. … ”  Continue reading from the NCWA blog here:  New groundwater reports: The State of Sacramento Valley Groundwater Resources

Putah Creek: A wild trout fishery reborn: Dan Bacher writes: “The Pleasant Valleys Road Bridge over Lake Solano, a still-water section of Putah Creek above the Solano Diversion Dam, used to be a popular spot where anglers from throughout the area would congregate to catch rainbow trout on a variety of offerings. But the bridge is nearly deserted now any day you cross it.  On weekends, families, including many farmworkers from the Winters area, would spread throughout the river and accesses on the creek, to catch trout. The Department of Fish and Wildlife planted the lake with lots of rainbow and brown trout for decades, providing a good put-and-take fishery. Many of the fish would grow to become big, fat holdovers. … ”  Read more from the Daily Kos here:  Putah Creek: A wild trout fishery reborn

The Carmel River gets a boost:  Lori Pottinger writes, “The Carmel River is a shadow of its former self these days, due to overuse of its waters, drought, and dams. But an ambitious project to remove one of its two large dams will bring some life back to the overtaxed river.  The removal of the 106-foot-high San Clemente Dam, now filled with sediment, will be the largest in the state. It will open miles of spawning and rearing habitat for threatened steelhead trout and restore some of the river’s natural flow of sediments. The restoration of sediment flows will support the riparian ecosystem downstream, create gravel beds used by spawning fish, and help replenish sands at Carmel Beach. … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  The Carmel River gets a boost

Southern Nevada’s water supply through the drought: Making the most of limited supplies: Jeff Simonetti writes, “In the drought-parched Western United States, it is hard to find a silver lining in the economic and social costs that the long-term drought has caused. But at Lake Mead on the Colorado River, people are trying to make the most of the limited water supplies and take advantage of the unique sights that the low water levels have revealed. In late July, CBS News reported that the exceptionally low lake levels have revealed interesting historical attractions that up until the drought, were essentially unreachable. The receding shoreline revealed the foundations of Saint Thomas, a pioneer town that Mormon settlers founded in 1865.  … ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here:  Southern Nevada’s water supply through the drought: Making the most of limited supplies

The Lower Colorado: No shortage for now, but that pesky structural deficit is still there: John Fleck writes, “No Lower Colorado River shortage for now, but don’t break out the party hats.  Lake Mead is forecast to end calendar year 2015 with a surface elevation of 1,082.33 feet above sea level, according to new numbers released yesterday by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The current forecast for the end of 2016 is 1,079.57. The good news is that both of those numbers are greater than 1,075, which means the odds are against there being a “shortage” declared this year or next (when Mead hits 1,075 on some future January 1, rules kick in that reduce Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico allocations – repeat after me “this is not a crisis” – more here). … ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here: The Lower Colorado: no shortage for now, but that pesky structural deficit’s still there

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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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