Blog round-up: Delta Tunnels hearing: the view from the cheap seats; Saving the Delta smelt; What do Californians get in exchange for ‘feeding the world’?; and much more …

Two eages on the Trinity BLM

Delta Tunnels hearing: the view from the cheap seats: Alex Breitler writes, “Just for fun, here are a few random thoughts after the first three weeks of the water board’s twin tunnels hearing.  Disclaimer: I haven’t attended in person yet, and I’ve probably seen less than half of the hearing on webcast. Gotta have some time to actually report on this and other subjects.  That said, here goes: … ” Read more from Alex Breitler’s blog here: Tunnels hearing: the view from the cheap seats

Climate change, California water, and the Delta tunnels:  Restore the Delta writes, “In California, drought is the new normal.  Delta Tunnel proponents have tried to convince urban and agricultural water exporters that massive water deliveries will be available for capture and export to dry regions from big storm events.  Just one problem with that plan.  With less and less Sierra snowpack to melt, and fewer rainstorm events, there is no reliable water source for the Big Gulp. If constructed, using the Delta Tunnels at full capacity, 9,000 cfs (cubic feet per second), would only be possible during limited storm events, a huge waste of money for a project with a $17 billion price tag. … ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  Climate change, California water, and the Delta tunnels

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Will the State Water Board allow the Delta smelt to go extinct?  Kate Poole writes, “Today, NRDC joined with our colleagues at the Defenders of Wildlife and The Bay Institute to ask California’s State Water Resource Control Board (“State Board”) to take emergency steps to save the threatened Delta Smelt from extinction. The State Board has the authority and the duty to preserve and restore California’s native fish and wildlife for future generations—that’s what it means to protect public trust resources. But the State Board has shirked this duty for years now, ignoring its own critical role in protecting the Delta and its species, while allowing federal fish biologists and the Endangered Species Act to do all the hard work. But, now, the State Board must act quickly if the Delta Smelt—the first in a long line of imperiled fish native to the Delta, including chinook salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon—is going to be saved.   Our request for emergency action is based on recent urgent calls issued by biologists at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) and California’s Natural Resources Agency to increase flows through the Delta in the summer months to allow young fish to reach food-rich habitat and grow and survive to rear the next generation of Delta Smelt. … ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard here:  Will the State Water Board allow the Delta smelt to go extinct?

Delta Deception: Regulators diverting needed supplies to water agencies who claim they no longer need to conserve:  The State Water Contractors write, “Half-truths about California’s water system do not advance an informed public discussion. Communications that lack the proper context, omit details or distort data can lead to the wrong conclusion. … Today’s Delta Deception comes from the Natural Resources Defense Council’s August 10 blog, “Will California’s SWRCB Allow Delta Smelt To Go Extinct?” … Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has never claimed that Southern Californians no longer need to conserve water, and water agencies throughout the state continue to prioritize conservation. As detailed by MWD’s general manager in June, continued conservation and lower per-capita water use is an important part of managing through this year and beyond. Mandatory rationing is not in place in any major urban area, north or south. That does not mean that conservation is no longer needed nor does it mean that conservation has ended. … ”  Read more from the State Water Contractors here:  Delta Deception: Regulators diverting needed supplies to water agencies who claim they no longer need to conserve

More of the same?  Saving the Delta smelt:  The California Farm Water Coalition blog writes, “We agree that the San Francisco Bay Estuary needs to be saved. All Californians need a healthy environment in order to thrive and farmers’ very survival depends on it. Being good stewards of the land is what allows us to produce more than 50% of the U.S.-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables.  What we disagree with is the method being proposed. Decades of releasing billions of gallons of water to the ocean in an attempt to save the Delta smelt has been a proven failure. This year alone, California has flushed over 1 million acre-feet of water out to sea, enough to provide 6 million domestic users with water for a year or grow almost 17 billion salads. … ”  Read more from the CFWC blog here:  More of the same?  Saving the Delta smelt

What do Californians get in exchange for ‘feeding the world’, asks On the Public Record:  OtPR writes, “Mr. Michelena, a West Side grower, writes a column for the Modesto Bee lamenting that Californians have abandoned the vision of “feeding the world.”  He ties that vision back to JFK, but I have never heard a coherent argument for why California should feed the world.  Why should California exhaust her limited natural resources to meet a relatively infinite demand?  This is before my time, but perhaps JFK’s motivations were altruism and the optimism of the 1950s.  (I find myself resentful of Eastern politicians who view western resources as trading chips, even for noble things.)  Even with the best of motivations, is there any limit to how far California should draw down her waters to feed the world?  … ”  Read more from On the Public Record here:  What do Californians get in exchange for ‘feeding the world’?

Economic analysis of the 2016 California drought for agriculture:  Josué Medellín-Azuara, Duncan MacEwan, Richard E. Howitt, Daniel A. Sumner, and Jay R. Lund write, “The drought continues for California’s agriculture in 2016, but with much less severe and widespread impacts than in the two previous drought years, 2014 and 2015.  Winter and spring were wetter in the Sacramento Valley, to the extent of several reservoirs being required to spill water for flood control, but south of the Delta was unusually dry.  The much-heralded El Nino brought largely average precipitation north of the Delta, replenishing some groundwater, and drier than average conditions to the southern Central Valley and southern California.  The historical pattern of increasing water exports from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in these circumstances was less available due to environmental restrictions on Delta pumping.  Some concerns also remain for water supplies north of the Delta regarding temperature releases from Shasta reservoir.  The overall estimated impacts of the 2016 drought on agriculture are summarized in the table below. ... ”  Continue reading at the California Water Blog here:  Economic analysis of the 2016 California drought for agriculture

I’m going to regret this, I’m sure of it, says On the Public Record:  OtPR writes, “The way wealth is accumulating through farming on the west and south San Joaquin Valley is not new.  The recent almond and pistachio profits are astonishing and call new attention to that wealth.  But even with the new populism built on the Occupy and Sanders’ movements, I still don’t see mainstream think tanks willing to directly address it.  I see Delta advocates pointing it out, because it helps their advocacy.  I see WaterFix proponents dancing around the issue.  … ”  Continue reading at On the Public Record here:  I’m going to regret this, I’m sure of it

Families Protecting the Valley responds to the LA Times column by Robin Abcarian:  They write, “This last piece you wrote (A tour of California’s water supply lays bare the tension between farmers and fish)has me puzzled and I would like you to clarify. When I read it, it seems like nothing more than another story continuing the line of farmers vs. fish. You have spent time studying California water and even taken a tour of parts of the CVP and SWP. By now, surely you realize the general public is quite ignorant when it comes to both the water that supplies their homes, and the food that sits on their tables. I use the term ignorant not in a demeaning sense but a factual sense, and the story you wrote, benefited the reader in neither category. In fact, rather than educate the reader that fish numbers continue to decline when federal pumps are not running, you add a line at the very end of your story that clearly states your position. I wonder, are you looking for a solution or the truth, or are you simply appearing to be interested and somewhat sympathetic to Central Valley farmers in order to continue the ignorant tale of exporting water through nut production? … ”  Continue reading at Families Protecting the Valley here:  Story ideas for the LA Times

There’s a water-energy nexus here, but it’s not what you think:  Ben Chou writes, “Earlier this summer, researchers at UC-Davis confirmed what a lot of us already know—that saving water saves energy. The analysis from the UC-Davis Center for Water-Energy Efficiency found that California’s mandatory 25 percent reduction in urban water use, which was adopted in May 2015 due to the ongoing severe drought, resulted in significant energy and greenhouse gas savings. From June 2015 to February 2016, the electricity saved by reducing urban water use is estimated to have been nearly 922 gigawatt-hours. Because electricity production oftentimes relies on fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, this energy savings also significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions—similar in scale to taking almost 50,000 cars off the road! … ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  There’s a water-energy nexus here, but it’s not what you think

The snake at the crux of California’s wildlife challenge, and the policy that can save it:  “Enter the giant garter snake. The giant garter snake is an aquatic species native to California and a federally-listed “threatened” species that largely persists today – along with many other critters – in the vast acreage of Central Valley rice fields and water distribution canals.  In the past, seasonal floods would transform California’s Central Valley into a great inland sea of floodplain habitats teeming with fish and wildlife, including the giant garter snake. … ”  Read more from the Growing Returns blog here:  The snake at the crux of California’s wildlife challenge, and the policy that can save it

Rice University – A Glass Half-Full: A Look into the Current Water Crisis in California and Strategies to Preserve our World’s Greatest Resource:  “Earlier this year, MCWRA had the unique opportunity to host 12 Rice University (Houston) students for a half day in Sacramento at the Capitol and a daylong tour of the American River Watershed.  On the eight day Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip, the students examined the impacts of the drought, visited local farms and communities most affected in the areas of San Francisco, Sacramento, and Fresno. The students also explored some of the causes and exacerbating factors of the drought, looking at the issue through the lens of climate change and policy. The students also looked at the issue of working with local water boards, conservancies, and supporting organizations that are raising awareness in the local communities in an effort to promote water conservation and sustainability. … ”  Read more from Mountain Counties here:  Rice University – A Glass Half-Full: A Look into the Current Water Crisis in California and Strategies to Preserve our World’s Greatest Resource

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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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