Blog round-up: Regulations and salmon, the Delta-groundwater nexus, MWD’s purchase of Delta islands, A tale of two (actually three) water boards, and more …

Sunset at Opal Cliffs by Daniel Hoherd
Sunset at Opal Cliffs, California; photo by Daniel Hoherd

Our regulators sacrifice salmon and the fishing community again:  Kate Poole with the NRDC writes, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. -William Yeats  These words that William Yeats penned almost 100 years ago pop into my head every time the well-intentioned people in California’s regulatory agencies make bad decisions that sacrifice California’s natural resources in the interest of short-term expediency (which, unfortunately, is pretty often these days). Most recently, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) waived requirements to increase flows from the San Joaquin River system and reduce exports at the massive water project pumps during April and May. These requirements are designed to allow juvenile salmon and steelhead to migrate safely out of the system, and without them, NMFS itself has determined that we will wipe out these populations. It was especially important to adhere to this requirement this year, after salmon and steelhead populations have suffered massive losses during the last couple drought years, and after a decent number of fall-run chinook made it into the San Joaquin system last fall during higher flow events. Now, very few of the offspring of those fish are likely to make it safely out to sea to help rebuild the population. … ”  Read more from Medium here:  Our regulators sacrifice salmon and the fishing community again

It’s not gutting!  Families Protecting the Valley writes, “No one’s gutting the Endangered Species Act.  We all know it’s the Holy Grail of the environmental left.  But, we would like to amend it a little bit.  In the article below the Sacramento Bee editorializes “House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, together with other San Joaquin Valley Republicans this week began moving appropriations legislation that would increase pumping of Delta water, even if it might further damage the Delta ecosystem.” The sentence gives us a look at the problem of dealing with Delta pumping.  … ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:  It’s not gutting!

California’s Delta-groundwater nexus:  Delta effects of ending Central Valley groundwater overdraft The California Water Blog writes, “Surface water and groundwater management are often tightly linked, even when linkage is not intended or expected. This link has special importance in drier regions, such as California. A recent paper examines the economic and water management effects of ending long-term overdraft in California’s Central Valley, the state’s largest aquifer system.  These effects include changes in regional and statewide surface water diversions, groundwater pumping, groundwater recharge, water scarcity, and resulting operating and water scarcity costs. … ”  Read more here:  California’s Delta-groundwater nexus: Delta effects of ending Central Valley groundwater overdraft?

Lack of political clout threatens Valley water: Bruce Frohman writes, “The San Francisco Bay Area is economically united by the Bay Area Association of Governments. Los Angeles is economically united by Los Angeles County and its huge population.  Valley counties, however, are not united. They seldom work together to promote mutual economic development and cooperation. Dominated by anti-government Tea Party, Libertarian, and Republican politicians, each city and county in the region operates as an independent fiefdom. Each political jurisdiction operates with little consideration for the wellbeing of nearby communities. Low population density within the region has not made the value of working together obvious to local leaders. ... ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen here:  Lack of political clout threatens Valley water

Is Metropolitan’s purchase of 20,000 acres in the Delta a subsidy for agricultural water contractors? Dr. Jeff Michael writes, “For years, I have explained why agricultural water contractors will be unable or unwilling to pay for their proportional share of the delta tunnels (i.e. California WaterFix) and have predicted that urban ratepayers will be stuck with most if not all of the tunnels’ cost.  Last week, the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) approved the $175 million purchase of approximately 20,000 acres of Delta land, much of it strategically located to support the construction of the delta tunnels.  Throughout last summer and fall there were multiple news reports that MWD was having discussions with agricultural water contractors like Westlands and Kern County Water Agency about jointly purchasing the Delta Wetlands property.  However, the agricultural agencies decided not to particpate, so MWD decided to go ahead and buy the property all by themselves.  Is this a harbinger for how the delta tunnels (aka Waterfix) will be financed?  After all, this is likely the largest land acquisition that will be made to directly support tunnel construction. … ”  Read more from the Valley Economy blog here:  Is Metropolitan’s purchase of 20,000 acres in the Delta a subsidy for agricultural water contractors?

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A tale of two (actually three) water boards:  Barbara Barrigan-Parilla writes, “I hadn’t eaten anything but a fried egg since about 6 am when finally around 9 pm we (RTD staffers) found a pizza joint in an adorable spruced up downtown Concord. We had just survived a depressing public meeting at the Contra Costa Water District (CCWD). 
One of our staff joked that “water board”-ing can be a form of torture. That’s what this meeting certainly felt like.  That is why we also have such sincere gratitude for our 50 followers who came out, participated, supported us, and stayed to clean up the process so that we could travel to the next “water board” –ing event.  Showing up was necessary, but still not pleasant. CCWD had just finalized a “settlement” with the California Department of Water Resources that took them out of the fight against the Delta Tunnels, and to most in the audience, sold out neighboring communities in the Delta.  We were there so the board members knew how their ratepayers and people in the region felt about the settlement. … ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  A tale of two (actually three) water boards

Diverse voices on Delta flows:  Alex Brietler writes, “In case you missed it, Delta advocates recently sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency asking for a long delayed update of Delta water flow and water quality standards. (A similar letter was also sent to the State Water Resources Control Board.)  Somewhere around 150 organizations signed on, including a number in the Stockton area. And it’s not just enviros. The Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce signed. So did the San Joaquin Council of Governments, which works on local habitat conservation issues. So did Catholic Charities. So did River Boat Marina. So did Lao Family Community Empowerment and the Asian Pacific Self Development and Residential Association. … ”  Read more from Alex Brietler’s blog here:  Diverse voices on Delta flows

Farms that grow groundwater:  The PPIC blog writes, “Farmers use the lion’s share of California’s groundwater, but they also do the most to rebuild depleted reserves of this critically important water source. We talked to Graham Fogg—a groundwater expert at UC Davis and a member of the PPIC Water Policy Center research network—about farmland groundwater recharge.  PPIC: How do farms recharge groundwater?  Graham Fogg: Crops don’t use all the water they get through irrigation—a lot seeps into underlying groundwater. Farms also move water from place to place through leaky ditches. The type of irrigation can affect the amount of recharge. For example, with flood irrigation a large fraction can end up back in the aquifer—commonly as much as a third or more. With micro-irrigation, a larger fraction of applied water is taken up by plants, and less ends up recharging groundwater. ... ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Farms that grow groundwater

OtPR is more impressed with Ms. Jagganath’s work every time she sees it:  OtPR writes, “This week we’ve gotten two very nice examples of the same argument.  The full argument goes as follows, although these examples have skipped to the third point: (1) Around here, the existing order of things is to shit on the poor.;(2) When there are fewer resources, rich people at the top naturally keep what they have, which forces us middlemen to shit on the poor even more.; (3) Why, oh environmentalists, are you forcing us to shit on the poor even more [by restricting access to resources]?  I thought you liked the poor, you liberal hypocrites.  The sucker’s response is to try to engage the third point. … ”  Read more from On the Public Record here:  I am more impressed with Ms. Jagannath’s work every time I see it.

Can we end water shortages?  Eric Caine writes, “Before the drought, wasting water was rarely mentioned; now it’s a constant topic. The subject will remain in the forefront because our population has reached the size where sustainability is a genuine concern. What constitutes waste and what can be done to conserve the available supply?  The simplest way to define waste is to say, “If I need to use water, the use is not a waste. If the other guy uses water in a manner I disagree with, his use is a waste of water.” The definition depends on who is doing the talking. For people who don’t golf, watering a golf course is a waste of water, but golfers will always disagree. … ” Read more from The Valley Citizen here:  Can we end water shortages?

The early days of the Central Valley Project: The role of progressive Republicans, Freemasons, and Mormon irrigators:  Gary Stadelman Posz writes, “This article grew out of conversation with colleagues about a speech Governor Earl Warren gave to a conference on water resource development at Stanford University in 1945. In his remarks, the Governor called for aggressive development of California’s water resources. Little is known about the background of this speech, most particularly about what prompted Warren to launch so directly and forcefully into this fraught pubic policy domain when he had previously not identified himself with it; this was a high profile move outside of his known political interests and priorities.  I joined this conversation with commentary on the mutually reenforcing influences favoring water development in the West, which essentially pervaded the political space of Warren’s career. … ”  Read more from the Chronicles of the Hydraulic Brotherhood here:  The early days of the Central Valley Project: The role of progressive Republicans, Freemasons, and Mormon irrigators

A Colorado River pilot program: Seasonal fallowing: Jeff Kightlinger writes, “Seven states and two countries share the waters of the Colorado River, and it will take a lot of cooperation and creativity in the years ahead to keep supplies and demands in balance. A new innovative pilot program between Metropolitan and the Bard Water District is now underway. It is testing the notion that water use can follow its highest value in “real time” allowing for nimble water sharing between agricultural and urban users. It’s a water version of the sharing economy as you might see in Uber or other services. The idea is seasonal fallowing, rather than fallowing for longer periods of time. And the idea is worthy of a test drive. … ”  Read more from the H2outlook blog here:  A Colorado River pilot program: Seasonal fallowing

And lastly … The week that was:  The grand man of California water bows out, Feinstein smacks Cadiz (again), water-skiing squirrel, Caravaggio in the attic and more in Emily Green’s weekly water news.  Read it here from Chance of Rain:  The week that was, April 10-16Daily 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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