Blog round-up: Bloggers on the Delta tunnels, the Delta smelt plan, A Ninja strategy to fight drought, desalination economics, water accounting, and more …

Central Coast late afternoon BLM
California Coastal National Monument; photo by BLM/Bob Wick

Jason Peltier is still making sense on delta tunnel economics: Dr. Jeff Michael writes, “A look back 4 years shows the WaterFix is an even worse financial deal than the BDCP. Jason Peltier was quoted on tunnel economics in the Sunday Sacramento Bee, “How can we go to farmers and urban customers and say, ‘We’re going to pay our portion of this $15 billion project and we’re going to get the same amount of water or less?’ It doesn’t compute,” said Jason Peltier of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, which delivers Delta water to much of the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. “It’s totally inconsistent with the goals we started with, which are ‘we need to restore our water supplies.’ ” Jason is correct, just as he was in June 2012, when the Department of Water Resources was first rolling out its economic rationale for the tunnels in the BDCP. ... ” Read more from the Valley Economy blog here: Jason Peltier is still making sense on delta tunnel economics

California Supreme Court rules in farmland access case: Restore the Delta writes, “The California Supreme Court has reversed a Court of Appeal decision that favored Delta landowners against the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). In doing so, however, it did hand Delta landowners a limited victory by “reforming” the statute at issue. DWR had requested court orders that would allow DWR agents to enter Delta properties to conduct investigations in support of the controversial twin tunnel project. The proposed investigations included geological, biological and cultural surveys DWR said were essential for the twin tunnel project to continue. Representing dozens of Delta landowners, Tom Keeling of the Freeman Firm (Stockton) focused on the fact that DWR did not offer to pay for its proposed entries. DWR argued that the entries should be granted without compensation under a “pre-condemnation entry” statute. That statute requires a deposit of probable compensation for actual damage to property but no right to a jury within the proceeding. ... ” Read more from Restore the Delta here: California Supreme Court rules in farmland access case

New strategy on Delta smelt a step in the right direction, says Tim Quinn:  “Over the past few months, California water has seen its share of policy shifts. This month brought a development that many hope will set us on a course to better manage aquatic resources with a comprehensive set of tools.  With the release of the Delta Smelt Resiliency Strategy, state and federal agencies have outlined a comprehensive plan that centers on more than just pumping restrictions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. ACWA and its member agencies have advocated for such a strategy for the better part of two decades.  In recent years, biological opinions have required strict restrictions on Delta pumping to protect fish. … ” Read more from ACWA’s Voices on Water here:  New strategy on Delta smelt a step in the right direction, says Tim Quinn

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Will even 5% happen?  Families Protecting the Valley writes, “When the California Natural Resources Agency announced their “Delta Smelt Resiliency Strategy” last week, we had to wonder how it would impact the 5% allocation promised to the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.  In case you hadn’t heard, the ‘strategy’ calls for “allowing between 85,000 and 200,000 acre feet of extra water to wash out to sea this summer to bolster smelt habitat.”  That’s a lot of water, water that could have been pumped to the San Luis Reservoir and to farmers.   But instead it flows to the sea.  We want to emphasize this is ‘extra’ water.  Apparently ‘extra’ water is no longer for farmers, even farmers with only 5% of their allocation.  … ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:  Will even 5% happen? 

Stakeholders reach out to Bruce Babbitt:  ” … Today, public interest groups sent a letter to Bruce Babbitt requesting a meeting to discuss A Sustainable Water Plan for California (2015) which describes “a carefully conceived modern, 21st-century Plan B.” The groups claim their Sustainable Water Plan should actually be Plan A. The plan outlines less expensive alternatives to the Delta Tunnels that will protect the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary, West Coast fisheries, and help California develop long-term, regional water sustainability in a time of climate change.  In the letter sent to Mr. Babbitt today, the groups state: ... ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  Stakeholders reach out to Bruce Babbitt

California’s Ninja strategy to fight drought:  Melissa Rohde writes, “California’s recent (and ongoing) record-breaking drought has been a reminder of how vulnerable we are to a changing climate and what may be becoming a ‘new normal’ of  frequent droughts.  As California strives to build and restore a reliable and resilient future for its water in accordance to the 2014-2018 Water Action Plan, it is of utmost importance that we optimize California’s water system by integrating flexible water storage solutions that will help ensure a more reliable and resilient water supply for our future.  Storage projects need to be selected carefully to maximize the benefit of limited funding available for water infrastructure. Last week, our paper titled “Benefits and Economic Costs of Managed Aquifer Recharge in California” was published in the open-source peer-reviewed journal San Francisco Estuary & Watershed Science.  For the first time ever, our study investigated the benefits and economic costs of groundwater recharge and storage – known as managed aquifer recharge (MAR). ... ”  Read more from the Reflections on Water blog here:  California’s Ninja strategy to fight drought

Academics meet reality: a desalination example:  David Zetland writes, “I’ve been following the policies and technologies applied to desalinated water supplies for some years. In general, I approve of the technology, but not as a replacement for good water management.*  I recently wrote two papers on desalinated water. The first [pdf] describes how desalination can help good policy but not fix bad policy. In the second [pdf], I go over the political reasons for favoring “economically inefficient” desalination. In its discussion of Poseidon’s $900 million Claude “Bud” Lewis desalination near San Diego, I wrote: ... ”  Read more from Aguanomics here:  Academics meet reality: a desalination example

Better accounting begets better water management: Jay Lund writes, “Sustainable use of groundwater in California will require major changes in groundwater management, use, and recharge.  Under the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, groundwater basins as a whole are responsible for sustainability.  But millions of people and thousands of governments and private land managers must recharge more water and pump less to achieve this goal, without disrupting existing surface water rights.  How can responsibility and credit for groundwater use and recharge be developed and assessed without debilitating water wars? … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Better accounting begets better water management

Sacramento Valley contributes to Delta smelt production: Sacramento Valley water suppliers–as part of the ongoing effort to creatively manage water for various beneficial purposes—have stepped up these past several weeks to provide water into the Yolo Bypass “to boost production of the zooplankton” that are important food sources for the Delta smelt. Food web impacts are thought to be one of the major factors responsible for the decline of Delta smelt.  These same water suppliers are already working with state and federal agencies and conservation partners to implement the Sacramento Valley Salmon Recovery Program. These new actions are also part of a larger effort underway throughout the Sacramento Valley to spread water across the region to serve multiple benefits: increased food production for fish and other aquatic species in bypasses and related areas; important habitat and food for birds along the Pacific Flyway; and groundwater recharge that will be important for groundwater sustainability and preparing for future dry years. … ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here:  Sacramento Valley contributes to Delta smelt production

Shoshone hydro plant – the most fascinating water right in the West:  John Fleck writes, “On what is apparently Colorado River Day (who decides such things?) I made a little pilgrimage this afternoon to see the Shoshone hydro plant, just up river from the little town of Glenwood Springs on Colorado’s west slope.  Shoshone has a unique place in the water management of the Colorado River Basin because of western water law’s “doctrine of prior appropriation”, which says that the earliest water users have first dibs on the water in times of scarcity.  ... ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  Shoshone hydro plant – the most fascinating water right in the West

From bridges to water pipes: Doing infrastructure in ways that boost the economy, people, and places where we live: Douglass Sims writes, “Communities, cities and regions can do better than succumbing to the relentless budget pressures and inertia that contribute to failures like the Flint, Mich., drinking water disaster, road and bridge collapses, train derailments and sewer overflows plaguing localities nationwide.  They don’t have to think of “infrastructure”—such as bridges, drainage and water pipes—as a money pit best addressed by delays and shortcuts to fit planning cycles and political opportunities.  The quality of infrastructure, after all, contributes to whether societies thrive or fail—and is a key indicator of our progress and stature as a nation. … ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  From bridges to water pipes: Doing infrastructure in ways that boost the economy, people, and places where we live

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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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