Blog round-up: Bloggers on “Regulatory flexibility”, Delta pumping restrictions, Cal Water Fix, native freshwater fish, Sites Reservoir, alfalfa exports, and more …

Palace of Fine Arts by David Yu
Palace of Fine Arts, photo by David Yu
Blog Round Up
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Another Year of “Regulatory Flexibility” in Response to California’s Drought May Lead to Extinction: Doug Obegi writes, “More than 40 years ago, a bipartisan Congress enacted – and President Nixon signed into law – the Endangered Species Act. The Act effectively declares that human beings have a moral obligation not to so fundamentally alter the Earth that we drive other native species on our planet extinct, recognizing that what affects the web of life will inevitably affect us too.  California enacted its own endangered species law in 1970. Together, these laws require that we take action to conserve and prevent the extinction of native fish and wildlife, and if necessary, they prohibit actions that would jeopardize the continued existence and recovery of these species. These acts protect animals both big and small: blue whales and bald eagles, grizzly bears – and the salmon they eat – and the small fish that salmon feed on. And by protecting California salmon, these acts protect the jobs of thousands of fishermen across the West Coast whose livelihoods depend on healthy salmon runs. … ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  Another Year of “Regulatory Flexibility” in Response to California’s Drought May Lead to Extinction

Why is California not storing more water?  Todd Fitchette writes, “Accusing regulators of egging on the current drought to justify not sending irrigation water to growers in 2016 sounds a bit far-fetched until you look at the facts.  As I write this, the Sacramento River is at flood stage in northern California. It has nothing to do with the need to make room in Shasta Lake, which sits at about one-third of capacity and about 50 percent of normal for this time of year.  Heavy rain in northern California has pushed streams to their limits, sending flood flows down the Sacramento and largely out to sea in what some might consider criminal. What else do you call a willful desire to take fresh water away from human beings? … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Why is California not storing more water?

El Nino won’t fill up groundwater basins:  Juliet Christian Smith writes, “El Niño is hitting California at last, bringing the pitter-patter of rain, snowy mountains, and more wet weather in the weeks ahead. For me, El Niño’s arrival the last couple of weeks has been an opportunity to introduce my toddler to the joy of splashing in puddles—which have been practically nonexistent since she was born.  And while El Niño-fueled storms are beginning to fill above-ground reservoirs, it is important not to forget one of the major lessons of this drought: the critical importance of California’s groundwater. We recently released a fact sheet that describes the vital role groundwater has been playing in avoiding catastrophe for the Golden State in The Big Water Supply Shift: Groundwater Key to Water Security in California’s Changing Climate. ... ”  Read more from Union of Concerned Scientists here:  El Nino won’t fill up groundwater basins

It’s double Delta doozy Tuesday, say the State Water Contractors in response to commentaries on the Cal Water Fix Design & Construction Enterprise and freshwater flows in the Delta:  They write, “The first Doozy this week comes from a press release, “Supervisors Decry Lack of Transparency in Governor’s Tunnel Plan Design and Construction Agreement,” from the Delta Counties Coalition on January 15, 2016:   “…the region most affected by this plan for taking additional water from the Delta, was never consulted or even made aware of this outrageous plan to begin construction before a mandatory environmental review is completed.”  Some Facts for the Record: As required by state law, construction on California WaterFix cannot and will not begin until the environmental review process is complete and all necessary state and federal regulatory agencies have signed off on the project. Last week, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) posted a draft agreement that proposes one of the most transparent construction processes in the state’s history. ... ”  Read more from the State Water Contractors here:  Delta Doozy: Construction Will Begin in the Delta Without a Complete Environmental Review, Project Will Stop Freshwater from Flowing Through the Delta

Why care about native freshwater fish? Jason Baumsteiger writes, “Even with a strong El Niño year, there are no assurances the drought is over. Clearly we need a better plan for future droughts and that plan needs to include provisions for native freshwater fish.  But why include native fish?  There are many reasons.  Many feel that native fish have a right not to be driven to extinction for economic purposes.  Indeed, enough people feel this way that this is Federal and state law. In addition, many native fish support human needs, such as providing food, recreational opportunities, future medicinal alternatives, economic well-being or purely aesthetic value. For species like salmon and trout, the benefits to humans are straightforward.  But what of the many less charismatic species which naturally occur in the state? Do they matter? Is there any reason to keep them around, or can they be replaced with introduced species which more readily support human economic objectives? … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Why care about native freshwater fish?

Time for California to invest in Sites Reservoir, says the Northern California Water Association:  They write,  “Although rains and snow are blanketing California, it is still not clear whether there will be water in storage later this spring and summer when it is most needed for various purposes. California has nearly 39 million people and a spectacular landscape supporting various other species–all of which depend upon a managed water system to help provide drinking water and other domestic uses, the most diverse and high quality food grown anywhere in the world, the cold water and habitat for fish, and habitat for birds along the Pacific Flyway. The last four dry years and a changing climate has reinforced that for all of these beneficial uses to thrive in California, we need robust surface water storage throughout California. ... ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here:  Time for California to invest in Sites Reservoir

Water board includes Spanish language outreach for SGMA: The State Water Resources Control Board is helping to create more awareness and transparency about SGMA, drought and water conservation for Spanish speaking populations who may be greatly impacted or just interested in groundwater issues. And people in the Central Valley have been particularly hard hit in the last four years due to drought.  According to Miryam Barajas, Information Officer for State Water Resources Control Board, “In the Central Valley, there is an urgent need. You have communities that have run out of water, and private wells have gone dry. Some families are afraid their kids will be taken because they don’t have the ability to provide for the basic needs. There is a lot of fear, with the migrant and farming community, about government.”  … ”  Read more from the Groundwater Act Blog here:  Water board includes Spanish language outreach for SGMA

A note on alfalfa export data:  John Fleck writes, “There’s a letter to the editor in the latest High Country News (it’s in the paper edition, can’t link yet) that repeats a California water myth that’s just flat wrong – the California Supergiant Alfalfa Water Use Export Myth:  “Alfalfa alone is using more water than all the other water uses combined, and most of it is being shipped overseas for use as feed for dairy cows.”  No. Just no. In all sorts of ways. ... ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  A note on alfalfa export data

Eager for rain – and floods – on California’s floodplain playground: the lower Cosumnes River: “California’s drought plays on, and a recent series of storms to start the New Year have done little to change this broken record.  However, promising weather conditions suggest a change of tune may be coming soon.  This is exciting news for drought-stricken California, bringing hope of full reservoirs and an extended spring ski season.  It has also put those of us who study floodplains on high alert, with every new storm ushering anticipation of rising rivers and possible flooding of riverside ecosystems and flood bypasses (and hopefully not nearby communities!). … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here: Eager for rain – and floods – on California’s floodplain playground: the lower Cosumnes River

Fresno mayor doesn’t mention water:  Families Protecting the Valley writes, “It’s no secret that Fresno’s Mayor has not been the champion for water that we hoped she’d be.  As the Mayor of the biggest city in the man-made drought section of California we’d like to think that the industry that is most important to the region would deserve a comment at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington D.C.  We provide a link to her comments below.  She does mention that we are the food capital of the world, but doesn’t mention the attack on farming when it comes to water.  … ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:  Fresno mayor doesn’t mention water

From drought to storms: El Nino and Hollywood:  Faith Kearns writes, “After ending my post on California water issues showing up all over the TV with a note about El Niño being next, Sharon Swart at The Hollywood Reporter put out this pretty great article on that very topic. It is filled with some kind of crazy stories, like this one from actress Dyan Cannon on the 1982-83 El Niño landing in her Malibu yard:  “”‘I ran downstairs, and the ocean was coming into my living room. Then I saw firemen falling into the pool; they didn’t know it was there because it’s covered with water.’ While her house was drying out in Malibu, Cannon rented a place in Coldwater Canyon, where ‘torrential rains came and the roof caved in.’ She now lives in an L.A.-area condo, in part due to her El Niño misfortunes.” ... ”  Read more from the Science Unicorn here:  From drought to storms: El Nino and Hollywood

As nations flood risk grows, protecting wetlands is more important than ever:  Ben Chou writes, “Many neighborhoods and communities across the U.S. have seen firsthand the impact of escalating flood risks in recent years. In just the past year, catastrophic flood events occurred in Oklahoma, Texas, South Carolina, Missouri, and Illinois, to name just a few places. Heavy downpours in these states caused widespread flooding, which led to loss of life and billions of dollars in damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure.  Flood risks have increased as climate change has made heavy rainfall events both heavier and more frequent, greater urbanization has led to more pavement covering ground previously available to absorb rainwater, and expanded development in coastal and inland areas prone to flooding has increased flood vulnerability. ... ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here: As nations flood risk grows, protecting wetlands is more important than ever


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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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