Blog round-up: Delta tunnels, San Joaquin tributary objectives, low San Luis reservoir, California’s broken water system, messy environmental policy, and more …


Point Reyes (Photo by Mike Boening)

Blog Round Up

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Why California Water Fix is a path to extinction:  Doug Obegi writes,Last month, the website Water Deeply published an op-ed I wrote about the likely harm to salmon and other endangered species from the California WaterFix project.  This op-ed followed a letter that NRDC sent to the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service regarding major flaws in the draft biological assessment.  Below is a more detailed version of that op-ed, which includes page citations to the WaterFix biological assessment.  The California Water Fix project, which proposes to construct and operate twin tunnels that would divert millions of acre-feet of water before it reaches the Bay Delta estuary, would likely lead to extinction of several native fisheries, based on our review of the recent biological assessment prepared by the Bureau of Reclamation. … ” Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here: Why California Water Fix is a path to extinction

Unraveling the Myths of Restore the Delta Testimony to State Water Board Regarding California WaterFix: Californians for Water Security write:Recently, “Restore the Delta” submitted testimony to the State Water Resources Control Board in response to the California WaterFix petition. Below are some facts to counter some of their false claims.  WaterFix has been studied and reviewed for over a decade by the state’s leading scientists, water and environmental experts and represents the only viable plan to protect our water supplies and the Delta.  Failure to act on WaterFix means promoting the status quo – which not only jeopardizes water security for 2/3 of our state but also threatens the very Delta they claim to want to protect.  Below, we dispel some of the myths that opponents continue to perpetuate. … ”  Read more from Californians for Water Security here:  Unraveling the Myths of Restore the Delta Testimony to State Water Board Regarding California WaterFix

Water Follies:  The Planning and Conservation League writes, “It is hard to wrap our minds around the campaign to build two giant tunnels to divert Northern California around the San Francisco Bay Delta Estuary.  The current battleground is the State Water Resources Control Board.  They have begun a scheduled 55 days of hearings for just the first part of the proceeding.  Any logical person would first ask, what are the water quality standards for the Delta that would have to be met by such a massive diversion? The uncontested fact is that the standards have not been updated for over two decades, the time when those outdated standards have proven to be insufficient to protect fish species from imminent extinction.  … ”  Read more from the PCL Insider here:  Water Follies

Statement by California Farm Water Coalition on the upcoming release of proposed flow standards for tributaries to the San Joaquin River: California officials are on the verge of releasing new water regulations that would cause significant harm to California residents without quantifying any specific environmental benefits.  The State Water Resources Control Board is expected to release its Water Quality Control Plan on Thursday, September 15 that would set new requirements for water flowing in tributaries to the San Joaquin River.  The expected result is the direct loss of 350,000 acre-feet of water that is currently used to grow food on 100,000 acres of prime farmland. It is enough water to serve the domestic needs of 2 million Californians or produce almost 5.8 billion salads.  “If implemented, the State Water Board’s rule will have a devastating impact on drinking water, sanitation needs, food production, the economy and jobs for people stretching from the Northern San Joaquin Valley throughout the Bay Area. That’s why this regulation is opposed by schools, health departments, farmers, Latinos, cities, economic development officials and more,” said Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition. … ”  Read more from the California Farm Water Coalition here:  CFWC statement on unimpaired flows

Day of Reckoning (Phase 1 Delta Water Quality Control Plan objectives): County elected officials, who represent 525,000 people, say they haven’t been part of the discussion:  Families Protecting the Valley writes, “We have done our best over the last decade to explain the mistake that the San Joaquin River Settlement was and still is.  The San Joaquin River, however, was not an end in itself for environmentalists, but just another step in their continued effort to extract more and more water from the farm community.  The SJ River Settlement was a strategy to go after the water used by Friant farmers on the east side of the Valley.  At the same time this was being done there was another effort regarding the Endangered Species Act protecting smelt and salmon in the Delta.  This strategy led to biological opinions that curtailed pumping out of the Delta and limited water deliveries to the Valley’s west side. The next step for enviro water strategy is to the north. … ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:   Day of Reckoning

Is there more water than we thought in California? Jeff Simonetti writes, “Could California have a lot more water supplies than anyone expected? It is an intriguing theory that caught some significant press attention last month, including an in-depth article in The Washington Post. Scientists at Stanford contend that California has vast amounts of water trapped deep underground at depths of 1,000 to 10,000 feet below parts of the Central Valley.  Their calculations estimate that California has approximately 2,700 cubic kilometers of freshwater at these depths, which equates to about 2.22 billion acre-feet! (For conversion of cubic kilometers to acre-feet, each cubic kilometer of water is about 810,714 acre-feet.)  For parched California, this could be an interesting potential source of water if it were sustainably and economically recoverable. … ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here:  Is there more water than we thought in California?

Low San Luis Reservoir:  Tom Cannon writes, “Tim Quinn, Executive Director of the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), is trying again, as in so many of his blog posts, to hornswoggle us into believing that many of this year’s water woes have been caused by “overzealous” fish protections.1 His August 17, 2016 post on the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) website is focused on why San Luis Reservoir in the San Joaquin Valley has such low water storage this summer. San Luis storage went from 50% of capacity at 1 million acre-feet (MAF) at the beginning of April to 0.2 MAF (10% of capacity) at the beginning of August. All to human use.  Mr. Quinn correctly points out that lack of federal Delta exports to San Luis was due to a concerted effort by the Bureau of Reclamation to conserve Shasta Reservoir’s storage and cold-water pool to save this year’s spawn of winter-run salmon in the Sacramento River below Shasta. … ”  Read more from the California Fisheries Blog here:  Low San Luis Reservoir

The truth:  If we don’t act, hundreds of thousands of acres will be forced into retirement:  Families Protecting the Valley writes, “Congressman Devin Nunes held a water forum last week where he began by showing a PowerPoint presentation called ‘Drought by Design:  Current Water Outlook for the San Joaquin Valley.’  The information in the presentation gives us a no-holds-barred look at where we are with the current state of affairs in water policy in California.  Here are some of the highlights (or lowlights): … ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here: The truth:  If we don’t act, hundreds of thousands of acres will be forced into retirement

Political power is no longer enough:  On the Public Record writes, “A West Side grower writes a post on the TheHill, bemoaning Congress’s lack of action.  (I should say that the author has been personally generous to me, a couple times.)  Most of the post is the standard advocacy position of West Side growers, which we are familiar with.  I’m more interested in what the post reveals about political power: that it isn’t enough anymore.  Political power without the backing of Science or popular support cannot move these bills.  Maybe all three are required, I don’t know.  But all of their access (testifying before Congress, toady Representatives, expensive lobbyists) isn’t getting the job done for the West Side growers. … ”  Read more from On the Public Record here:  Political power is no longer enough

California’s Broken Water System:  Water Mellon writes, “The backbone of California’s water supply is the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, one of the largest estuaries in North America. The Delta supplies 3 million acres of farmland and two of three Californians with water — 25 million people.  In the 1950s and 60s, the state built the State Water Project and Central Valley Project to move some of that water throughout California to agricultural hubs and urban regions stretching from the Bay Area to San Diego.  When snowpack from the Sierra Nevada melts, it runs through the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers into the Delta. In the south Delta, water is diverted into the Clifton Court Forebay, screened for fish at the Skinner Fish Facility and then pumped into the South Bay and California Aqueducts.  There are quite a few problems with the current system. … ” Read more from Medium here:  California’s broken water system

An ode to the benefits of messy environmental policy:  Mark Lubell writes, “Ramiro Berardo and I recently published a new article on the structure of polycentric and complex governance systems for water management (sorry for the gated links…but see key figure inserted in this blog, where policy actors are circles, venues squares, and links represent participation).  We have been working on this project for a number of years, driven by the reality that most environmental governance arrangements involve many different actors participating in multiple policy venues, and working on interrelated problems.  Fortunately, veteran California environmental policy-maker Phil Isenberg was kind enough to provide a commentary on the article.  Among Phil’s comments  … ”  Read more from Mark Lubell’s blog here: An ode to the benefits of messy environmental policy

What the Triclosan victory means and doesn’t mean:  “Thanks to an NRDC lawsuit, you can soon shop for soap and rest easy knowing that you won’t be picking up a bottle with triclosan or a bar with triclocarban. The Food and Drug Administration – after 40 long years – has taken the final step necessary to get triclosan, triclocarban, and other unsafe and ineffective chemicals out of so-called antibacterial soap.  But the FDA didn’t quite do everything. Here’s a quick explanation of what happened, what didn’t happen, and what it means. ... ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  What the Triclosan victory means and doesn’t mean

Implementing the Salmon Action Plan for 2017:  The NCWA blog writes, “The Northern California Water Association (NCWA) and several water resources managers joined state and federal agencies in a joint presentation to the State Water Board earlier this week on the various actions underway to improve salmon recovery throughout the Sacramento Valley. The presentation described the tremendous progress on collaborative projects that will have a positive impact on salmon, yet more work is ahead. Local, state, and federal agencies, as well as conservation partners, have worked together to develop the “Salmon Action Plan for 2017 Winter-Run Chinook Salmon in the Sacramento River” (shown below) and will continue to make a concerted effort to implement the plan. … ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here:  Implementing the Salmon Action Plan for 2017

When do we stop calling what’s happening on the Colorado River a “shortage”?  John Fleck writes, “Putting together a lecture for University of New Mexico Water Resources Program students tomorrow, I’ve been thinking about this quote from MWD’s Bill Hasencamp, in last week’s LA Times:  ‘“Basically, what the models say is that, in the future, most years will be shortage years,” said Bill Hasencamp, the manager of Colorado River resources for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. “Shortages are going to be a way of life.”’  “Shortage” here has a very particular technical meaning, but it also carries some interesting baggage in terms of how we as a community think about the water supplied by the river we share. ... Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  When do we stop calling what’s happening on the Colorado River a “shortage”?

And lastly … Internet more important to Americans during drought than alien invasion (but only just):  “Companies are constantly asking Americans what they think of one thing or another.  On somber days, I fear it’s the same few thousand Americans replying to every survey.  After awhile, they’re just having some fun really.  This thought is exacerbated by a survey that’s exclusively just invaded my laptop.  Some 2,047 American adults were asked about disasters. … ”  Read more from CNET here:  Internet more important to Americans during drought than alien invasion (but only just)

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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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