Blog round-up: California’s drought response, protecting freshwater fish, SGMA implementation, water and politics, federal spending bill, and more …

Christmas in California SliderboxHow California can improve its drought response in 2016: Kate Poole writes, “The most difficult part of solving any problem is admitting that it exists. Only then can real progress be made. For many years, we witnessed climate deniers hold the world back from tackling climate change because they rejected the notion that a problem existed. With the recent breakthrough in Paris, the world overcame the influence of climate deniers to admit that a serious, planet-altering problem exists, and to agree to collective action to address the problem. The same acknowledgement is needed in the world of California water if we are going to keep at bay the “drought … ghost that thumps on our walls in the century ahead,” as Matt Weiser so eloquently puts it.  Houston, we have a problem: the collapse of the Bay-Delta. … ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here: How California can improve its drought response in 2016

NRDC’s Drought Report Card gets an “Incomplete”: The California Farm Water Coalition writes, “NRDC’s “Drought Report Card” gets an “incomplete” for using a flawed report as the basis of its poor grade for agriculture. NRDC’s 2014 report, “The Untapped Potential of California’s Water Supply: Efficiency, Reuse, and Stormwater,” cowritten with the Pacific Institute, was used as the basis for its recent “report card.”  Much of the agricultural section of its 2014 report is actually based on a 2009 Pacific Institute Report. At the time, the Pacific Institute estimated that 3.4 million acre-feet of water savings were attainable through improved irrigation scheduling. That number was based on a 1997 DWR survey of just 55 farmers who claimed a 13 percent savings in applied water by incorporating CIMIS data into irrigation scheduling. The Pacific Institute also assumed back in the 2009 report that only 20 percent of farmers were using some sort of irrigation scheduling, so it applied the 13 percent savings to the remaining 80 percent in each of California’s hydrologic basins to arrive at its 3.4 MAF number. That’s quite a stretch. … ”  Read more from the California Farm Water Coalition here:  NRDC’s Drought Report Card gets an “Incomplete”

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A pragmatic reason to protect freshwater fish:  Jeffrey Mount, Ellen Hanak, and Peter Moyle write, “California’s freshwater fish are in trouble. The causes are many and include the way we manage water and land as well as this unusually warm drought. The decline of these fishes can lead to broader consequences, particularly if they are declared threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).  There are pragmatic reasons to avoid this outcome. Listings under the ESA lead to “emergency room” actions to prevent extinctions, often reducing flexibility for water management and bringing significant economic consequences. … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  A pragmatic reason to protect freshwater fish

Comments to the State Water Resources Control Board: Regulation for Measuring and Reporting Water Diversion: Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 88 on June 24, 2015, adding provisions to the California Water Code for stricter measurement and reporting for surface water diverters. Last week, the State Water Resources Control Board published a draft Emergency Regulation for Measuring and Reporting on the Diversion of Water to implement SB 88. Below is the full text of a comment letter prepared by a research team from the PPIC Water Policy Center and UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, based mostly on an ongoing comparison of water accounting in Western states and semi-arid countries. (Accounting for consumptive water use and return flows are central to our comments. Consumptive use is the net water consumed by a use, unavailable for later re-use. Return flows from a water use are diverted, but ultimately returning as usable water to streams, lakes or aquifers. Return flows to the sea are considered to be consumptive due to water quality.) … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Comments to the State Water Resources Control Board: Regulation for Measuring and Reporting Water Diversion

Federal omnibus spending bill contains funding for Delta tunnels: Restore the Delta writes, “Deep within the 2009 page Omnibus Spending Bill up for a vote in Congress on Friday, is a provision called the CALIFORNIA BAY-DELTA RESTORATION starting on page 401 and referenced again on page 409 that would once again, allow some $37 million in federal tax dollars to help plan and build massive export tunnels that would take essential freshwater and export it to irrigators south of the Delta. Funding for the tunnels export project was to be paid for by water users, (i.e. the water districts that support industrial-scale crops for foreign export and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.)  More than $257M spent so far on the delta water export tunnels, more than $73M has been funded by the federal taxpayers with the most recent federal grant of $17M received under false presences—for a habitat conservation plan that was dropped months before and now is a tunnels only project. … ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  Federal omnibus spending bill contains funding for Delta tunnels

SGMA Anniversary Meetings: Technical Q&A from “One Year In”: “The State Water Resources Control Board and the Department of Water Resources recently hosted a series of “one year in” stakeholder meetings to review what has happened and what’s to come since passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014. More than 600 people attended the workshops, in person or online. Some were interested members of the public, and others represented public agencies. In several meeting locations, separate technical sessions were conducted. Following is a selection of questions and answers that came out of the technical sessions. A separate Groundwater Act Post will list the more general questions asked during public sessions. ... ”  Read more from the Groundwater Act Blog here: SGMA Anniversary Meetings: Technical Q&A from “One Year In”

California has plenty of water – and too much politics:  Steve Greenhut writes, “Almost everyone knows California is running out of water as it enters the fourth year of a grueling drought. The results are stark, as massive reservoirs turn into mud pits, and state inspectors fine residents for watering their lawns. But in the state’s second most populous county, there’s a problem of a different sort.  The San Diego County Water Authority has so much water it doesn’t know what to do with it all. And its long-term prospects are even more promising. ... ”  Read more from the Reason blog here:  California has plenty of water – and too much politics

Has the pit bull of environmental law been spayed? Jonathan Wood writes, “The Endangered Species Act has often been called the “pit bull of environmental law” because “[i]t’s short, compact and has a hell of a set of teeth. Because of its teeth, the act can force people to make the kind of tough political decisions they wouldn’t normally make.” As we’ve regularly reported, it can impose burdensome (and unconstitutional) restrictions on private property owners, costly regulation of public projects (especially water projects), and threaten people with significant jail time for mere accidents.  Several recent articles tout a new study “dispelling” the “myth” that the Endangered Species Act is burdensome. The study was done by several employees of Defenders of Wildlife and it concludes that none of the 88,290 projects that have gone through formal consultation since 2008 have been kiboshed as a result of the Act. ... ”  Read more from the Liberty Blog here: Has the pit bull of environmental law been spayed?

How do we move past the yuck factor in potable reuse?  Michael Kiparsky writes, “Potable water reuse is increasingly seen as a potential way to help ease urban water supply challenges. Potable reuse is as it sounds – recycling wastewater to augment drinking water supplies. There are many reasons why potable water reuse makes sense in water scarce regions, but like other emerging technologies, moving from theory to implementation has proven challenging in some cases.  Potable reuse has characteristics that should make it desirable as an addition to some urban water portfolios. Treatment technologies can purify wastewater to meet current water quality standards, and since wastewater is always available for treatment, potable reuse can complement other means of offsetting increasing water demands. … ”  Read more from the Legal Planet blog here:  How do we move past the yuck factor in potable reuse?

More Slices Than Pie: Structural Deficit on the Colorado: John Fleck writes, “I’m not sure who came up with the “More Slices than Pie” title for the panel discussion I moderated Thursday at the annual meeting of the Colorado River Water Users Association, but it had a nice ring. A big thanks to Tom McCann from the Central Arizona Project for putting the panel together and inviting me to help out. Important audience, important messages about the risks if basin water managers can’t come to grips with the need to stop draining their reservoirs so quickly.  There’s some important signaling here. For a long time, this thing we have come to call the “structural deficit” – the reality that paper allocations on the river exceed actual water supply – was an elephant in the room. It’s not that the overallocation problem was ignored in official discussions. People both inside and outside the basin’s water management institutions have talked about this for years. … ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  More Slices Than Pie: Structural Deficit on the Colorado

El Nino versus the Arctic: which will win this winter? This past week, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) 2015 annual meeting was abuzz with discussion of El Niño 3.4 and the Arctic Oscillation. No wonder. These indicators are clues to how major competing factors may play out this winter in the northern hemisphere.  The autumn conditions (October to November) rank as the third largest El Niño since 1950. (Between June and September, El Niño logged the second strongest conditions since 1950.)  Other news released during the AGU meeting was just as remarkable. The latest Arctic Report Card monitoring year (October 2014 to September 2015) broke the hottest Arctic land temperature annual average since 1900. Five key indicators to watch this winter: … ”  Read more from the Union of Concerned Scientists here:  El Nino versus the Arctic: which will win this winter?

Photo credit: Manhattan Beach pier at Christmas; photo by Mike Miller.Daily emails

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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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