Blog round-up: Water market reforms, Water for refuges, Paying for groundwater recharge, Urban water conservation, Grape and nut glut, and more …

Tomales Bay Dawn

Dawn at Tomales Bay; photo by Miwok

Blog Round Up

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These reforms can unclog California’s water market and help the environment: Ann Hayden writes, “California has a long tradition of conflict over water. But after five years of drought and an El Niño that failed to live up to its “Godzilla” hype, the conflict has become a crisis. How will the state adjust to a changing climate, increasing demands and prolonged periods of water scarcity?  That’s the question my colleagues and I set out to answer in Better Access. Healthier Environment. Prosperous Communities: Recommendations for Reforming California’s Water Market.  We analyzed the state’s existing market and offered a set of policy reforms to improve the efficiency, accessibility and transparency of the market so that cities, rural communities and ecosystems can benefit without altering existing water rights. … ”  Read more from the EDF’s Growing Returns blog here:  These reforms can unclog California’s water market and help the environment

No, the Central Valley refuges aren’t getting 100% of their federal allocations.  Not remotely.  Meghan Hertel writes, “Reading the news earlier this month that Central Valley wildlife refuges were going to receive 100 percent of their federal water allocations normally would have made us thrilled for the Pacific Flyway birds that depend on wetland habitat. And we weren’t surprised to see this news greeted with outrage by those who have been suffering from the drought along with the birds for the last three years.  But we weren’t thrilled because we knew that it wasn’t true. Refuges will not be getting anything close to the water they are owed this year and, in fact, have never received their full, Congressionally‐mandated and biologically‐needed water supply. … ”  Read more from the Audoblog here:  No, the Central Valley refuges aren’t getting 100% of their federal allocations.  Not remotely.

Inevitable changes to water in California:  Jay Lund writes, “Water is always important for California, as a dry place with a boisterous economy and unique ecosystems. A growing globalized economy and society historically drive changes in California’s water management that rarely occur quickly or without controversy. Water policy in California has always been about making and resisting change.  California has done comparatively well. Its water system sustains the world’s 7th largest economy of 39 million people with some of the world’s most profitable agriculture in one of the world’s drier places. And California (barely) preserves more of its native ecosystems than most other regions globally with Mediterranean climates, where native ecosystems often have been simply eliminated. California’s successes have not been born from complacency, but from continuous striving and conflict.  California water faces major inevitable changes. ... ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Inevitable changes to water in California

Water isn’t only for fighting over:  Brian Johnson writes, “One of the biggest challenges in the world of cold water conservation is making water laws and regulations work for the benefit of people who depend on rivers as well as for people who depend on water diversions. State water laws can be complex, especially when it comes to applying them to environmental uses and downstream communities. In fact, until fairly recently many states’ water laws did not allow water rights to be dedicated to uses such as boosting instream flows to benefit salmon and steelhead.  Here in California, as in other states, Trout Unlimited (TU) employs attorneys and water policy experts who work at both the project and legislative levels to reconnect stream reaches with adequate flow. TU does this by building partnerships with ranchers and landowners and by engaging in basin-wide water sharing negotiations. That way, we can and ensure that our trout and salmon streams have enough cold, clean water to sustain key habitat, restore threatened native trout species, and conserve fishing opportunities. … ”  Read more from the Trout Unlimited blog here:  Water isn’t only for fighting over

Paying for groundwater recharge:  Andrew Fisher writes, “Water levels in many of California’s groundwater basins have dropped too far, too fast in recent years, prompting a wave of experimental projects to augment the natural recharge of aquifers. But funding is a missing element in many of these efforts. A new local program to provide incentives for groundwater recharge could be replicated in other parts of the state.  Most Californians who use groundwater do not pay to use it. Instead, in many basins, property owners with an “overlying right” to water underground are free to extract as much as they need for “reasonable and beneficial use,” as loosely defined by state law, paying only for the costs of pumping.  The state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, enacted in 2014, empowers local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to impose fees in support of long-term water resource management and develop funding mechanisms for projects that conserve water and augment available supplies. … ”  Read more from the PPIC Blog here:  Paying for groundwater recharge

Making water conservation a way of life: Tracy Quinn writes, “The top action item in California’s Water Action Plan is to “make conservation a way of life.” In order to accomplish this, we cannot allow ourselves and the public to experience the short-term memory that often follows a multi-year drought; instead we must build upon the conservation and efficiency savings we have achieved during this unprecedented drought. Adopting a suite of strong permanent conservation measures is the most effective way to fulfill our ongoing obligation to conserve water resources.  Today’s Executive Order from California Governor Jerry Brown does just that. It lays out a framework for water suppliers to make conservation a permanent reality and ensures Californians continue to use this precious resource efficiently regardless of supply conditions. … ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  Making conservation a way of life

Why urban conservation is critically important for climate change:  “One of the major impacts of climate change will be on water resources. Many scientists believe that the recent, unprecedented droughts in California and other western states could be the beginning of a permanent transition to a drier climate in the region.  In California, many climate change models project significant drying in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River basins in coming decades. A 2012 study by Randy Hanson et. al. at the U.S. Geological survey has one of the clearest illustrations of how much drier these watersheds could get by the end of the century. ... ”  Read more from the California Water Research blog here:  Why urban conservation is critically important for climate change

Metropolitan’s Delta Islands water transfers:  Dierdre Des Jardins writes, “Since Metropolitan Water District announced the purchase of five Delta islands, there has been a lot of speculation about the reasons for the purchase.     Jeff Kightlinger, the CEO of Metropolitan, published an op ed in the San Jose Mercury News, in which he stated that the purpose of the purchase is to preserve Delta farmland and restore wetlands.   Kightlinger also stated that the Delta Wetlands water storage project was not one of the reasons for the purchase, and that the water rights applications for the storage project are being cancelled as part of the purchase.  Kightlinger should clarify exactly which water right applications are being cancelled as part of MWD’s purchase.  … ”  Read more from the California Water Research here:  Metropolitan’s Delta Islands water transfers

NRDC Lawsuit settled with agreement on water conservation:  Ed Osann writes, “In a victory for water conservation in California, the Board of the Yolo County Flood Control & Water Conservation District (Yolo) has approved a proposal to eliminate flat-rate water service from its rate structure and ensure that its last remaining flat-rate customers receive water through meters or other measuring devices and pay for the volume of water they receive.  Yolo’s action was in response to a lawsuit filed by NRDC last May to require the Department of Water Resources to enforce state water conservation laws when it approves grants to California water suppliers. NRDC applauds Yolo’s commitment to implementing required water conservation measures in today’s settlement agreement, despite DWR’s notable failure to play its part in conserving California’s water supply. … ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  NRDC Lawsuit settled with agreement on water conservation

Grape and nut glut drying up state’s water holes:  “Californians inundated by a plethora of mainstream-media bytes predicting Draconian consequence from this “epic drought” water experts and public-relations firms branded the worst in 500-years are perplexed by drought-flood news accounts aired simultaneously.   Meanwhile, government officials, water contractors, and mainstream media, whine about the dire impacts of the so-called worst drought in California since the 1500s, the record, show they’re reaping windfall profits. Public records attest that the Golden State’s economy, tax revenue stream, and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reached all-time highs during four years of drought. In the third year of the drought, the state’s GDP was a record-breaker.  … ”  Read more from Planetary Solutionaries here:  Grape and nut glut drying up state’s water holesDaily 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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