Blog round-up: Jeff Kightlinger on MWD’s purchase of the Delta lands; The Delta tunnels and the Bay Area; plus rain dances, water conservation, late night salmon humor, and more …

Lassen Peak by Cat Burton

Lassen Peak by Cat Burton

Blog Round Up

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Jeff Kightlinger: Why Delta Wetlands: An investment in security: He writes, “On March 8, Metropolitan’s board authorized staff to enter into an agreement to purchase the Delta Wetlands Properties which consists of four islands and tracts in the central Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and part of a fifth island in the far western Delta. While Metropolitan has long owned land in the Palo Verde Valley in southeastern California as part of our overall water management strategy for the Colorado River, this would represent our first ownership of land to support water supply reliability, emergency response, climate change and ecosystem activities associated with our Northern California supply via the State Water Project. Why Delta Wetlands, why now and what to do with these lands? This one-pager provides a summary of the issues. This is essentially an investment in security. ... ”  Continue reading from the H2outlook blog here:  Why Delta Wetlands: An investment in security

Contra Costa Water District cuts deal with state on Delta tunnels:  Restore the Delta writes, “The Contra Costa Water District has settled with the Department of Water Resources claiming that the state is going to pay for their new water diversion facility, rather than CCWD customers, to mitigate impacts to drinking water quality resulting from operation of the Delta Tunnels.  Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla responds, “The settlement is, in itself, an indictment of the Tunnels and represents Contra Costa Water District’s self-interested approach to the Delta as a whole.   The new CCWD intake will have an impact on water quality and quantity in the Delta and is not covered in the EIR for the Delta Tunnels. The settlement says that DWR reserves the right to override environmental needs and concerns to build/operate the Delta tunnels. They are setting up the project as beyond the law, a project by Governor Brown’s fiat. ... ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  Contra Costa Water District cuts deal with state on Delta tunnels

Twin tunnels threaten San Francisco Bay:  “Should local salmon be pushed to extinction? Should some Bay Area residents pay much higher water bills? Should San Francisco Bay be contaminated with toxic pollutants? My guess is that Bay Area residents would answer these questions with a resounding “no,” but these scenarios will become reality if the two 30-mile water tunnels proposed by Governor Jerry Brown are built.  The tunnels have a new name since they were first proposed in  in 2012: the California Water Fix. These massive tunnels would divert more fresh water from the Sacramento River for transport to the Central Valley and southern California, mostly to be used to grow crops for export. But even under the new name, they would still cause major harm to the San Francisco Bay, and to the recreation, jobs, and wildlife that depend on a healthy bay. ... ”  Read more from Earth Island Journal here:  Twin tunnels threaten San Francisco Bay

The rain dance:  Families Protecting the Valley writes, “Yes, there is a modern rain dance.  We’re all in it whether we like it or not.  The dance starts with a prayer for rain.  Eventually the rain comes and fills the reservoirs.  Because the reservoirs like Shasta and Oroville are there not only for storage, but also for flood control, water has to be released to make room for potential future storms, even if there are no forecasts for future storms, by the way.  In a sane society we would make adjustments to somehow capture this released water when it flows to the Delta.  It is amazing to us that we have infrastructure in place that’s been there for decades that would allow us to capture this water.  … ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:  The rain dance

From the ‘You can’t make this up’ department: Todd Fitchette writes, “This comes from the “you-can’t-make-this-up” department of irony and government shenanigans.  As the federal Bureau of Reclamation was announcing its 5 percent allocation for agricultural users south of the Delta and a zero percent allocation for users in the Stockton East Water District and the Central San Joaquin Water Conservation District, the Bureau was preparing this gem:  “Beginning April 3, the Bureau of Reclamation plans to increase releases from Goodwin Dam into the Stanislaus River, to meet spring fishery flow requirements according to the National Marine Fisheries Service 2009 Biological Opinion. Goodwin Dam is located downstream from Tulloch Dam and New Melones Dam and Reservoir.” … ”  Read more from the Farm Press blog here:  From the ‘You can’t make this up’ department

Chronic versus acute problems:  Faith Kearns writes, “When the California drought really got going, in the sense of a generalized panic about it, it was late 2013 / early 2014. The drought had actually started at least a couple of years before that. Now, here we are, a couple of years later, and by most accounts it looks like we’re entering year five, despite a relatively wet winter in some parts of the state.  In those early days, I treated the drought much like I used to treat wildfire events when I worked on fire issues: as an acute problem — an intense, urgent event that would have at least a somewhat distinct end. This is as opposed to a chronic problem — one relatively unchanging in condition and with no definite end. ... ”  Read more from the Science Unicorn here:  Chronic versus acute problems

The frustration grows: Families Protecting the Valley writes, “It’s sad to watch Senator Dianne Feinstein plead with the bureaucrats who work for her to find some wiggle room in the pumping rules to get more water to the Central Valley.  The rules are hers.  She can change them but she won’t.  The bureaucrats are following her rules, yet she acts like she can do nothing about it.  We sit in wonder at how long this act has been playing out.  How can she continue to do it over and over again?  She puts the football down and Charlie Brown keeps trying to kick it again and again.  When will Charlie learn?  We have to think the answer is never.  … ”  Continue reading from Families Protecting the Valley here:  The frustration grows

Granite Bay and the California water ethic:  John Fleck writes, “When I read this Phillip Reese story Monday evening about a California community willfully defying the state’s water conservation orders, the name of the place rang a bell. I shot off an email to my friend Cynthia Barnett, author of the wonderful Blue Revolution, a call for a new water ethic in the United States. “Wasn’t Granite Bay the place you wrote about in Blue Revolution?” (My copy of the book was on the shelf at my University of New Mexico office – I push it on water resources students every chance I get.)  Turns out my memory was correct.  It was the waterfalls I remembered, right there on the first page of the book … ”  Continue reading from the Inkstain blog here:  Granite Bay and the California water ethic

Sensible measures:  Writing SGMA’s story: Tina Cannon Leahy writes, “My environmental law journal article on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) called Desperate Times Call for Sensible Measures:  The Making of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act was recently published.  The article was a follow up to a presentation I did in 2015 at the California Water Law Symposium on how SGMA was passed.  That year the symposium was hosted by Golden Gate University School of Law and afterwards they approached me and asked me if I’d be interested in making the story of how SGMA “happened” in to a law journal article.  I was chosen to present at the Symposium because during my time at the California Assembly I was fortunate enough to become the main technical drafter of Assemblymember Roger Dickinson’s groundwater legislation, Assembly Bill 1739.  That bill, together with Senator Fran Pavley’s Senate Bills 1168 and 1319, formed SGMA and its related statutory provisions.  It all started when Assemblymember Dickinson’s incredibly smart and capable Legislative Director, Les Spahnn, came to me in anticipation of introducing their bill and said, “Tell me about groundwater.”  Over an hour later he suggested, “Let’s work together on this!” and thus started one of the most rewarding professional partnerships of my career.  … ”  Read more from the Groundwater Act Blog here:  Sensible measures: Writing SGMA’s story

Data and values:  Faith Kearns writes, “There have been some prominent new calls for more and better data on water during the last couple weeks. Charles Fishman kicked things off with an opinion piece in the New York Times saying that the best and simplest answer to changing how we think about water is to “fix water data.” Several days later, the White House held a first-of-its-kind water summit. During the live event, many speakers made references to better data, which were further echoed in the event materials.  In the background, I and many others chimed in on Twitter with some differing perspectives. … I’m starting to think this issue might stay elevated for a while, and can’t help but have some thoughts about it. … ”  Continue reading at the Science Unicorn here:  Data and values

Recharging groundwater in Yolo County:  “The groundwater resources in the Sacramento Valley have been taxed during the past four dry years, with less surface water available and more reliance on groundwater resources. With the recent storms in Northern California and most of the Sacramento Valley in flood operations, now is an ideal time to recharge the groundwater resources to keep them in balance through the creative management of surface water resources. In Yolo County, the Flood Control and Water Conservation District is diverting water from Cache Creek into unlined canals as part of a concerted effort to recharge the important groundwater resources in Yolo County. The district’s General Manager, Tim O’Halloran, describes his vision for conjunctively managing surface and groundwater resources in the attached video. … ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here:  Recharging groundwater in Yolo County

More legal woes for Oakdale Irrigation District:  Eric Caine writes, “For more than ten years, the Oakdale Irrigation District (OID) has relied on water sales to balance its books. Over the decade prior to 2014, OID water sales brought in well over thirty million dollars.  The bonanza enabled the district to sell water to its customers for well under the cost of delivery.  When OID annexed Trinitas Partners into the district in 2013, the terms of the contract were ballyhooed by management as a great deal for district members because Trinitas was paying so much more per acre foot than OID’s senior customers. But even if every member of the district paid Trinitas’ cost of $55 an acre foot, OID still wouldn’t bring in  enough money to cover OID’s operation and maintenance overhead. … ”  Read more from The Valley Citizen here:  More legal woes for Oakdale Irrigation District

Making federal farm support drought smart:  Ellen Hanak writes, “A new initiative launched by President Obama in March seeks to better coordinate federal drought-management efforts at the basin scale, and ensure that key federal farm programs are in alignment with watershed conservation objectives developed by state and local partners. Making federal farm-program dollars work better and go farther will be key to this effort’s success.  The critical role of US Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs in managing water scarcity is often overlooked. But as we document in our recent report on the federal role in western water, USDA’s programs represent the lion’s share of federal water- and drought-related funding in the region. Given farming’s large water footprint in the West, even small changes in farm practices can have broad effects on water supplies and ecosystem health. … ”  Read more from the PPIC Blog here:  Making federal farm support drought smart

The week that was, March 27 to April 2: Model of accelerated Ice-melt in Antarctica in the journal Nature; a Robert Macfarlane essay to help absorb the import; a NASA snapshot of a runaway ice shelf and more in Chance of Rain’s weekly wrap up:  The week that was, March 27 to April 2

And lastly … Late night salmon humor with Stephen Colbert:  “If you take anything away from tonight’s episode, it’s never give money to a salmon who’s high.”


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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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