Blog round-up: Historically low San Luis Reservoir highlights broken water system; Praying to the wrong Gods; Taking the very long view on California drought; and more …

Trinity Divide by Joe Parks
The Trinity Divide, photo by Joe Parks

Historically Low San Luis Reservoir Highlights Broken Water System: Tim Quinn writes, “If you need a sign that the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is broken, look no further than San Luis Reservoir. Despite near-average precipitation this year and healthy storage in other north state reservoirs, San Luis is so precipitously low that deliveries were nearly shutoff in early August.  Meanwhile Shasta Lake, the state’s largest reservoir, sits at 109% of its historic average for the date.  What’s wrong with this picture? In a nutshell, we have a water system that is broken from a physical and policy standpoint.  Recent developments illustrate the problem. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  Historically Low San Luis Reservoir Highlights Broken Water System

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Praying to the wrong Gods:  Bill Hammonds writes, “I spent all winter praying for rain, and whether or not you think my prayers were answered, or even whether or not you think someone or something is there to answer them, it rained like crazy most of the winter. 120% of average rainfall in the Northern Sierra, all the northern reservoirs full, the system doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing, storing water in above normal years for below normal years.  Except for one little problem, or maybe two: First, I clearly was praying to the wrong Gods, because the reservoirs that are not full are the reservoirs on which the farmers in the San Joaquin Valley and the tech businesses in the Santa Clara Valley need the most in the summer time, and they are not filled by the lord above, but by bureaucrats who let the water that should have filled them run out to sea. ... ”  Continue reading at Families Protecting the Valley here:  Praying to the wrong Gods

Taking the long view – the very long view – on California drought:  “When we talk about water in California, we tend to focus on the past 100-150 years because it is the timeframe that corresponds with modern record keeping. At the same time, it’s a relatively short period that doesn’t yield much long range climate insight.  That’s where other methods of looking into the past become important. For example, tree ring analysis has offered a much lengthier view – going back 1000 or so years. But, what about the deep past?  Matthew Kirby, a professor of geology at California State University-Fullerton, uses lake sediments to reconstruct California’s water history over the past 100,000 years. He has a special focus on the most recent 11,700 years, also known as the Holocene or the time since the end of the last ice age. ... ”  Read more from the Confluence blog here:  Taking the long view – the very long view – on California drought

Moving the needle on nitrogen management: For nearly a decade – since Senate Bill SBX2 1 (Perata) was signed into law in 2008, requiring the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board), in consultation with other agencies, to prepare a Report to the Legislature to “improve understanding of the causes of [nitrate] groundwater contamination, identify potential remediation solutions and funding sources to recover costs expended by the State…to clean up or treat groundwater, and ensure the provision of safe drinking water to all communities,” there have been multiple efforts focused nitrogen impacts to groundwater quality. … ” Read more from the NCWA blog here:  Moving the needle on nitrogen management

California Supreme Court holds unanimously that state may restrict mining methods on federal lands:  Sean Hecht at the Legal Planet writes, ” … The California Supreme Court carefully analyzed the historical role of the Mining Law and cases decided by multiple courts since the enactment of that law.  The Court, in a clear victory for the ability of states to regulate to limit mining practices in order to reduce environmental harm, held that “[t]he federal statutory scheme does not prevent states from restricting the use of particular mining techniques based on their assessment of the collateral consequences for other resources.”  The opinion provides a useful analysis of the relationship between state police powers to protect health and safety and the federal Mining Law, concluding that “[t]he federal laws Rinehart relies upon reflect a congressional intent to afford prospectors secure possession of, and in some instances title to, the places they mine. But while Congress sought to protect miners‘ real property interests, it did not go further and guarantee to them a right to mine immunized from exercises of the states‘ police powers.” ... ”  Read more here:  California Supreme Court holds unanimously that state may restrict mining methods on federal lands

California Supreme Court invites state to frustrate federal policy, says Jonathan Wood at the Liberty Blog:  He writes, ” … The decision is disappointing, not least because it squarely conflicts with existing precedent, including a decision from the Supreme Court of the United States. As our amicus brief explained, the Supreme Court’s Granite Rock decision, held that states retain some authority to regulate the environmental impacts of mining, notwithstanding the federal policy in favor of it. But, if states go too far, by overregulating or banning mining in lieu of regulating it, that would be preempted. The California Supreme Court’s decision also conflicts with South Dakota Mining Association. In that case, the Eighth Circuit held that the Mining Act preempted a county’s ban on a mining method because it rendered mining commercially impracticable, in clear conflict with federal law’s encouragement of the activity. ... ”  Read more from the Legal Planet blog here:  California Supreme Court invites state to frustrate federal policy

Paper: ‘Coming to the table: Collaborative governance and groundwater decision making in Coastal California’:  ” … Collaborative governance is on the rise in the United States. This management approach brings together state and non-state actors for environmental decision- making, and it is frequently used in California for decisions regarding local groundwater management. This study examines groundwater decision-making groups and practices in a central California coastal community to understand whether groups meet specific collaborative governance criteria and whether and why certain subsets of the population are excluded from groundwater decision-making practices. It also identifies actions for better group inclusion. … ”  Download the paper at the Water Wired blog here:  Paper: ‘Coming to the table: Collaborative governance and groundwater decision making in Coastal California’

Scott Valley pioneers instream flow and groundwater management for reconciled water use: The Scott River is one of California’s four major undammed streams and important spawning habitat for coho (a species listed as “threatened”) and Chinook salmon. This peaceful and pastoral agricultural valley is at the center of several water-related conflicts and lawsuits. However, it is also pioneering a range of instream flow and groundwater management activities that could set the example for balanced water use in California.  At first glance, water management in the Scott Valley appears to be a story of farms vs fish, one that is common in California … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Scott Valley pioneers instream flow and groundwater management for reconciled water use

Los Angeles needs stormwater infrastructure:  The Treepeople blog writes, “As a lifelong Los Angeles resident, I understand the extremes that mother nature can throw at us. I recall the droughts of my youth, when we were all urged to be thoughtful about our water use and conserve. I also remember vividly the opposite extreme, when that scarcity turned to plenty, neighborhoods flooded and streams and beaches poisoned by a toxic stew of polluted runoff.  Years later, as Assemblymember representing the San Fernando Valley and then as a LADWP Assistant General Manager, I began to look upon these weather extremes with a sense of obligation.  … ”  Read more from the Treepeople blog here:  Los Angeles needs stormwater infrastructure

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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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