Blog round-up: The Australian experience, fish species update, water governance, drought restrictions and political bias, water taboos, almonds, Cadiz, and more …

New Bay Bridge by David Yu
New Bay Bridge by flickr photographer David Yu

Learn from the Australian experience, indeed – don’t make our mistakes:  Hayden Cudmore and Stefanie Schulte from New South Wales, Australia write, “Water reform has been ongoing in Australia for some 35 years. The advent of the 2007 Water Act in legislation and subsequent Murray Darling Basin Plan (MDBP) very much accelerated the process beyond reason. Although still maturing, Australia has the most advanced water trade markets in the world. A recognition this far, that irrigators have a water entitlement “Property Right” which lead to voluntary buybacks from irrigators by government as well as government investment in modernising water use efficiency measures on farm and irrigation supply networks returning saved water for environmental purposes (with the exception of compulsory reductions without compensation to groundwater/bore licences some years ago). Americans should learn from the Australian experience. Don’t make our mistakes! ... ”  Continue reading at the California Farm Water Coalition blog here:  Learn from the Australian experience, indeed – don’t make our mistakes

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An update on California fishes of ‘special concern’:  Peter Moyle writes, “Three-fourths of California’s native fishes are now officially designated as being in trouble, or potentially so.  The good news is that not all of these species – 93 of the total 123 native fishes today – have to go the way of winter-run Chinook salmon or delta smelt, which are verging on extinction in the wild.  Years ago, state wildlife managers created a “species of special concern” designation for California fauna that are not legally classified as “threatened” or “endangered” but nonetheless appear bound for extinction without some intervention. Though the label carries no legal clout, it has brought research and management attention to these animals at risk. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  An update on California fishes of ‘special concern’

Three ways teamwork helps birds survive California’s drought: Two hundred years ago, millions of birds including Long-Billed Dowitchers, Snow Geese, and Sandhill Cranes migrating south from Alaska to the the southern tip of Mexico would have had no problem finding prime wetland real estate along their routes. Back then, the regular flooding of California’s Central Valley’s surging Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers created some 4 million acres of wetland, by some estimates.  The birds migrating today are not so lucky—agriculture and development in the Central Valley has filled in 95 percent of the original wetland habitat. Around 205,000 acres of managed Central Valley wetlands remain for millions of migrating birds, and California’s four years of severe drought haven’t helped. ... ”  Read more from the Audubon blog here:  Three ways teamwork helps birds survive California’s drought

Cooperation and crisis in California water governance:  Mark Lubell writes, “I recently attended a Princeton conference on global governance, complex adaptive systems, and evolutionary theory.  The conference was hosted by ecologist Simon Levin and political scientist Bob Keohane, and featured some of the world’s top scholars in these areas of research. Simon Levin, who has written extensively about complex adaptive systems and a gazillion other things, offered the analogy of the immune system as a way to think how water governance responds to risk and crises.  Immune systems help maintain the function of biological organisms by responding quickly to invasions from external pathogens, or regulating rogue cells that might otherwise cause cancers. Similarly, governance systems may be more robust for maintaining cooperation if they can quickly respond to unforeseen crises.  In increasingly interdependent and connected systems, even small crises (“femtorisks”) can ripple through a system to create more series emergent risks.  These ideas inspired me to think about the relationship between two central themes in the broad literature on public policy and governance. … ”  Read more from Mark Lubell’s blog here:  Cooperation and crisis in California water governance

State Water Board Drought Restrictions Show Political Bias Favoring Governor Brown’s Party: Brain Hews writes, “A Hews Media Group-Community News investigation has found that the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), an unelected body made up of members appointed by Governor Brown and by Senate Pro Tem Kevin DeLeon, and stacked heavily with environmentalists and labor leaders, has deliberately assigned higher levels of water conservation to water agencies located in districts with seats held by State Senate and Assembly Republican office holders as opposed to agencies in the districts of Democratic office holders. … ”  Read more from Hews Media Group here: State Water Board Drought Restrictions Show Political Bias Favoring Governor Brown’s Party

Breaking water taboos:  Peter Gleick writes, “The recent severe drought in the Western United States — and California in particular — has shined a spotlight on a range of water-management practices that are outdated, unsustainable, or inappropriate for a modern 21st century water system. Unless these bad practices are fixed, no amount of rain will be enough to set things right. Just as bad, talking about many of these bad practices has been taboo for fear of igniting even more water conflict, but the risks of water conflicts here and around the world are already on the rise and no strategy that can reduce those risks should be off the table.  For urban and agricultural water agencies, the Western drought has highlighted how unprepared the region is for growing pressures from population growth and climate change. … ”  Read more at Science Blogs here:  Breaking water taboos

Why almond lovers can breathe easy again:  Sara Kroopf writes, “It’s been a tough year for the almond. Vilified and beaten down, the nut has come to symbolize the California drought. While the reasons for and solutions to the drought are complicated and nuanced, the almond’s reputation has nonetheless suffered.  Meanwhile, farmers across the board are under increasing pressure – from regulatory requirements and increasing consumer demand for transparency – to modify their fertilizer application practices and thereby reduce nitrogen losses to the air and water.  Fortunately, there’s good reason for the almond to cheer up – a new Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) from the California Department of Food & Agriculture will support the state’s almond growers in their ongoing efforts to make nut production more sustainable, without sacrificing yields. ... ”  Read more from Growing Returns here:  Why almond lovers can breathe easy again

Cadiz, scientization, and how Dan Sarewitz almost drove me out of journalism: John Fleck writes, “Ian James at the Desert Sun this week took on the journalistic task of rounding up the back-and-forth over the politics, law, policy, and science of the Cadiz project, a proposal to pump groundwater in the deserts of Southern California and ship it off for use in coastal plain cities. …  The science questions here are two, which overlap: would the project harm sensitive desert ecosystems and environments, and would it really yield the amount of water its proponents claim. The project’s supporters say their science clearly supports “no” to the first and “yes” to the second. The project’s opponents say the opposite.  Three years ago, I made a prediction: science won’t settle Cadiz. We have more science. The question isn’t settled. … ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here: Cadiz, scientization, and how Dan Sarewitz almost drove me out of journalism

Epic drought creates significant challenges and opportunities for special districts: Hanspeter Walter writes, “The drought California is suffering – the worst in modern times – is profoundly affecting special districts whose missions and operations are intertwined with water. These districts face the acute challenges and hardships of this drought on a daily basis. The drought is an immediate crisis, but it also presents important opportunities for special districts to ensure that they, their constituents, and California are prepared to thrive in a future of increased water scarcity. … ”  Continue reading at the Public CEO here:  Epic drought creates significant challenges and opportunities for special districts

Building a better water safety net: California’s poor rural communities have been hard hit by the current drought, which has brought drying wells and reduced water quality. Laurel Firestone is co-director of the Community Water Center, where she focuses on advocating for safe, reliable and affordable water supplies for vulnerable communities in the San Joaquin Valley. She was a speaker at an event to launch the PPIC Water Policy Center report What If the California Drought Continues?, which found maintaining safe rural water supply to be one of the biggest challenges of ongoing drought. Here she describes some of our water inequities, and ways to solve them. ... ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Building a better water safety net

Advancing salmon enhancement projects in the Sacramento Valley: Lewis Bair writes, “Earlier today local, state, and federal officials gathered to celebrate the coming completion of the Knights Landing Outfall Gate (KLOG) Fish Barrier project—a $2.5 million project, the first of several in the lower Sacramento Valley to ensure safe salmon passage.  In Knights Landing, the flows generated from the very large Colusa Basin Watershed enter the Sacramento River.  Under certain conditions, salmon migrating up the Sacramento River to spawn are attracted to these inflows. The project provides a physical barrier that keeps salmon from straying into the Colusa Basin.  As a result the salmon continue to swim up the Sacramento River ultimately reaching their spawning grounds near Redding. ... ”  Read more from the Northern California Water Association blog here:  Advancing salmon enhancement projects in the Sacramento Valley

Despite sale, OID still under water: Eric Caine writes, “It was fascinating to read Janie Gatzman’s letter of support for the Oakdale Irrigation District’s (OID) water sale in Wednesday’s Modesto Bee. Alert readers will remember that late last June Gatzman wrote that farming “south of the Tuolumne River” had not caused, “significant impacts to downstream city wells.”  Gatzman made her claim despite widespread knowledge of a huge cone of depression in the very area she claimed suffered no “significant impacts.” ... ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen blog here:  Despite sale, OID still under water  More from the Valley Citizen blog: Did OID Violate the Brown Act?

What do UCLA, trout, and El Nino have in common? Erika Abdelatif writes, “Each year we look forward to late September, when we rally a hearty group of volunteers to celebrate National Park Lands Day. The day was established to unite people from all over the country to promote the protection of public lands.  Here at TreePeople, we were excited to be one of over 2,500 sites in participation—with a focus on our restoration of the Santa Monica Mountains. Initially, our Wildlands Restoration Manager, Cody Chappel, had planned to coordinate 70 volunteers to remove abandoned junk—couches, appliances, fencing, and more!—left behind by squatters, decades ago near Topanga Canyon. … ”  Read more from the Tree People blog here:  What do UCLA, trout, and El Nino have in common?

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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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