Blog round-up: The Delta tunnels, native fishes, water quality, El Nino, salmon, drought, Maury Roos, and more …

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Why the NRDC opposes the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (aka Delta tunnels): Doug Obegi writes, “Today, in partnership with several conservation and fishing organizations, NRDC submitted extensive comments on the latest environmental analysis of the proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which has been rebranded as the California WaterFix (this is the state’s latest proposal to two construct two massive tunnels under the Delta, reducing flows through the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas). NRDC and our partners have been engaged in the BDCP process from the beginning, and we strongly supported the Delta Reform Act of 2009 which established the co-equal goals for the Delta and established state policy to reduce reliance on the Delta and invest in regional and local water supplies. ... ”  Read more from the NRDC here: Why the NRDC opposes the Bay Delta Conservation Plan

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Valley Economy blog’s digest version of Delta tunnels comments:  “Here is a summary of my comments, which focus on two issues that severely bias the analysis in favor of the tunnels.  “1. The analysis is based on a project description that is widely known to be economically unviable due to its minimal water yields.  Because of the tunnels extreme cost, the intention to pay for the tunnels through steep increases to water rates, and the fact that the tunnels design capacity allows for much higher water exports; a complete project description must include a financial analysis that shows the proposed water yields are economically viable (especially for agricultural users).  The lack of such a financial analysis and plan in the face of well-known questions about economic viability mean that the project description is at best incomplete, and at worst making false statements about intended levels of water exports in order to gain environmental approval.  … ”  Continue reading at the Valley Economy blog here:  Valley Economy blog’s digest version of Delta tunnels comments

New document reveals Kern County Water Agency’s true goals: unlimited supply on-demand with few environmental restrictions, says Restore the Delta:  They write, “In their drafted public comments letter on the Recirculated EIR/S for the Delta Tunnels, the Kern County Water Agency (KWCA) reveals the true goals of agricultural water exporters — unlimited water supplies, even if it violates federal Endangered Species and Clean Water Acts.  In the letter KWCA declares appreciation for this revised draft because they believe it is “an important” first step toward creating a workable solution for their agency.  Yet, they still want more; otherwise, the project is not “economically feasible.”  The letter reveals their goals: greater deliveries for the State Water Project and allowing for “adaptive management” with limited adjustments to the water supply of the project. … ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  New document reveals Kern County Water Agency’s true goals: unlimited supply on-demand with few environmental restrictions

Saving native fishes from extinction:  Jeffrey Mount and Peter Moyle write, “Native fishes have been hit hard by the drought, with 18 species—including many salmon runs—at high risk of extinction if warm, dry conditions persist. But there are actions we can take now to avert what could be the largest loss of native freshwater fish biodiversity since the arrival of Europeans in California.  The state and federal fish agencies entrusted with preventing these extinctions face formidable challenges. The species at risk cover a very large geographic area and in many regions the options for emergency management actions are limited. Additionally, the total amount of funding allocated to managing the environment during this drought is very modest: $66 million, or roughly 2% of total state drought spending. ... ”  Read more from the PPIC Blog here:  Saving native fishes from extinction

California is failing to protect water quality in the Delta:  Kate Poole writes, “California is not just dragging its feet when it comes to updating and enforcing water quality standards for the beleaguered San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary. Instead, the State appears to be up to its neck in cement, paralyzed in its ability to enforce and update critical water quality standards for the largest and most important estuary on the west coast of the Americas. Despite requirements to update water quality standards every three years, the State has not meaningfully updated the standards for this estuary since 1995, and has not reviewed or updated them at all since 2006. In other words, the same water quality standards that led to the collapse of the Bay-Delta estuary and its fish and wildlife populations are still in place today. That’s why a group of national and local conservation groups, including NRDC, Defenders of Wildlife, and The Bay Institute, sent a letter today asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to take over the job of updating and enforcing safeguards for Bay-Delta water quality. … ”  Read more from the NRDC here: California is Failing to Protect Water Quality in the San Francisco Bay-Delta

From Ripon to the Hague: 58 years of water management with Maury Roos:  The Groundwater Act Blog does 10 questions with Maury Roos:  “Tell us a little about yourself, are you a native Californian?  I grew up in Ripon, California on a farm. I was the oldest  of five children, with two brothers and two sisters.  I went to Ripon Christian School from grades one through 12, then two years at Modesto Junior College, then to San Jose State where I got an engineering degree in 1957.  My father was slowly converting his land to almonds from a dairy operation, but it was small time in those days. Because you had to take your turn with the water from the irrigation canal, one of the more pleasant jobs was irrigating at night. It was cool outside. It was usually pretty interesting, trying to detect from the starlight where the water was going. I think that’s where my interest in water began. ... ”  Read more from the Groundwater Act Blog here:  From Ripon to the Hague: 58 years of water management with Maury Roos

Do you know where your water’s been?  “The twin challenges of water quality and quantity are leading to creative thinking and interesting solutions in California and across the west. David Sedlak is helping find innovations in water re-use and treatment in his various professional endeavors. He’s a professor of environmental engineering at UC Berkeley, co-director of the Berkeley Water Center, deputy director of the ReNUWIt program, and a member of the PPIC Water Policy Center research network. We talked to him about the state’s water quality challenges and efforts to create more sustainable water systems. PPIC: What might a lay person find surprising about water quality in California?  David Sedlak: Most people don’t realize the extent to which to we use water over and over again in the state. ... ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Do you know where your water’s been?

What if we have too much water: El Nino and flood damages:  Gene Tanaka writes, “If recent weather forecasts hold true, we can expect an El Nino this rainy season. And with an El Nino comes flooding and related litigation. As counter-intuitive as it may be during this drought, it makes sense for California’s public agencies to now ponder the legal consequences of a flood.  Following a flood, a public agency that designed, constructed or maintained a public improvement may be sued for inverse condemnation, nuisance and dangerous condition of public property for damages caused by that agency’s improvement, like a flood control project. Each type of claim presents unique legal wrinkles. … ”  Read more from the Public CEO here:  What if we have too much water: El Nino and flood damages

Implementing projects for salmon recovery in the Sacramento Valley: The Sacramento Valley Salmon Recovery Program partners – American Rivers, California Trout, The Nature Conservancy and Northern California Water Association – continue to aggressively implement efforts to improve salmon habitat and migratory corridors. An updated summary of the Salmon Recovery Program includes an overview of the program and more detailed information on the Sacramento Valley Fish Screen Program, instream flows dedicated to salmon and the priority projects program participants are working to implement in the upcoming year. ... ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here:  Implementing projects for salmon recovery in the Sacramento Valley

The ironic story of Alexander Vogelsang: Alex Breitler writes, “Unless you’re in your 90s, you’ve never been to the Calaveras County town of Petersburg. It was dunked underwater when they built the original Hogan Dam east of Stockton in 1924.  Piecing together a story about unusually low reservoir levels a couple weeks ago, I stumbled on a tidbit that helps put Petersburg back on the map — historically speaking.  It turns out one of the few native sons of this extinct town, Alexander Vogelsang, was also a leading proponent for the flooding of Hetch Hetchy Valley to provide San Francisco with a water supply of pure snowmelt. … ”  Read more from Alex Breitler’s blog here:  The ironic story of Alexander Vogelsang

New twists as Mono Lake’s level falls: Spotlight on lake level forecasting in 2016: California’s four-year drought has lowered Mono Lake more than five feet. The decline has been disappointing to watch yet ecologically survivable thanks to the protections won by the Mono Lake Committee and Mono Lake advocates two decades ago. 2016, however, could change this story for the worse.  The winter of 2015–16 lies ahead, and a wet winter with ample Mono Basin precipitation is the hope of all Mono Lake friends. But as we have learned over the years at the Committee, our work is most effective when we hope for the best and prepare for the worst. In this case, another dry winter that pushes the state into a fifth drought year would push new and potentially contentious Mono Lake management issues to the forefront. … ”  Continue reading from the Mono-Logue here:  New twists as Mono Lake’s level falls: Spotlight on lake level forecasting in 2016

Show Me the Water’s Failed Promise: The Newport Banning Ranch File:  “It’s bad enough that water utilities project far more supplies than they have access to which by definition is paper water. It’s bad enough that using this imaginary water they can always come to conclusion that every project requesting a WSA has sufficient water to proceed. But recently it became clear to me that are other forms of paper water that comes in large amounts as well. Paper water is water the city says it has available to it, but it can never access because it’s being used by someone else within the state’s water system.  In July I was asked by the Banning Ranch Conservancy to look at the Newport Banning Ranch water supply assessment as they prepared for a California Coastal Commission meeting on the project.  ... ”  Read more from the Drought Math blog here:  Show Me The Water’s Failed Promise: The Newport Banning Ranch File

Drought: The new normal: Heidi Siegmund Cudha writes, “Dave Pettijohn is a tall drink of water.  At a lanky 6’3,” the director of water resources for the Los Angeles Department of Water of Power (LADWP) cuts a striking figure, a handsome, calm presence in the water wars besieging our increasingly golden state.  Dr. Kelly Sanders is a rising star in the state’s water conversations, a SoCal newbie with the poise of an East Coast debutante and the gutsy candor of a veteran plainspeaker. Sanders is an Assistant Professor in the Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental engineering.  I tracked both of them down after last week’s Milken Institute and KPCC-sponsored forum on the “Future of Water” and specifically the California drought and technology. … ”  Read more from Fox and Hounds here:  Drought: The new normal

Stationarity, recurrence intervals, and our perception of weather and climate extremes:Robert Osborne and Jonathan Overpeck published interesting pieces in the last couple of days reinforcing an important point about our perceptions and understanding of recurrence intervals in big weather and climate events. Osborne is in the southeastern U.S. and is writing about flooding (short term) while Overpeck is in the southwest and is writing about drought (much longer time scales) but their points have an important parallel.  Osborne spent some time debunking the “1,000-year flood” meme that sprouted around South Carolina’s October floods. They weren’t. And that matters because…. ” Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  Stationarity, recurrence intervals, and our perception of weather and climate extremes

California’s Water Conservation Regulations and the Law of Unintended Consequences Part 1—Management Impacts: Marta Weismann writes, “The California Drought has elicited fascinating reactions. Water was moved by truck—whether to meet basic human health and safety needs in areas where wells ran dry; comfort and aesthetic needs in affluent communities like Montecito; or individual luxury needs, like the case of the celebrity who was fined for illegally transporting water over district boundaries to his estate. “Drought shaming” (use of social media by individuals to identify and reprove water wasters) emerged as a common and acceptable practice. Almonds were vilified. And some individuals even push back and deny that the drought exists.  Among the policy-oriented counteractions, an array of economists have proposed new pricing strategies designed to encourage conservation among end users. … ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here: California’s Water Conservation Regulations and the Law of Unintended Consequences Part 1—Management Impacts

What California’s new data inventory law means for water managers:  Patrick Atwater writes, “Senator Hertzberg’s SB 272, signed into law by Governor Brown on October 11th, amends the California Public Records Act to require local governments in California to inventory their enterprise data management systems and catalog the following information on their website:  (1) Current system vendor. (2) Current system product. (3) A brief statement of the system’s purpose. (4) A general description of categories or types of data. (5) The department that serves as the system’s primary custodian. (6) How frequently system data is collected. (7) How frequently system data is updated.  The law categorically exempts school districts and provides several exemptions, including an infrastructure clause pertinent to water utilities:  … ”  Read more from the Argo Naut here:  What California’s new data inventory law means for water managers

Do You Know ‘How Science Makes Environmental Controversies Worse’? Read This Paper: Michael Campana writes, “WaterWonk extraordinaire John Fleck brought this 2004 paper by Daniel Sarewitz to my attention. I had not seen it before, much less read it. Provocative, to say the least. Read for yourself.” From the abstract: “I use the example of the 2000 US Presidential election to show that political controversies with technical underpinnings are not resolved by technical means. Then, drawing from examples such as climate change, genetically modified foods, and nuclear waste disposal, I explore the idea that scientific inquiry is inherently and unavoidably subject to becoming politicized in environmental controversies. I discuss three reasons for this. … ” You can read a copy of the paper at the Water Wired blog here:  Do You Know ‘How Science Makes Environmental Controversies Worse’? Read This Paper

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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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