Blog round-up: San Joaquin tributary objectives, Delta tunnels economics, Met comes to town, water marketing, stormwater ruling and more …

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Blog Round Up
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“All of ’em. I’ll speak for all the agencies right now.” On the Public Record writes,The State Board is setting instream flows for the rivers of the northern San Joaquin Valley.  Their first estimate is that districts must leave about 40% of the unimpaired flow in the rivers.  That would be about 390,000af more water in the rivers than now; with our rule of thumb, we can estimate 130,000 acres of irrigated lands going out of production.  The locals are vowing to fight the impending decision.  Stockton East has alluded to extortion; I would like to turn that mention of extortion on its head.  Farmers, districts and cities in these riversheds, I bring you a message from the liberal environmentalist dictators.  Without any reservation, I speak to you on behalf of all the ignorant and power-hungry regulators.  I tell you this ... ”  Continue reading at On the Public Record here:  All of ’em. I’ll speak for all the agencies right now.

State documents show Delta tunnels are not cost effective:  Doug Obegi writes,As the Associated Press has reported today, documents disclosed by the State of California conclude that the California WaterFix project (the proposal to construct and operate two massive tunnels under the Delta) is not cost-effective.  Even assuming $3.9 billion in federal taxpayer subsidies, the draft report for the State prepared by David Sunding demonstrates that the project is not cost effective for many users.  These documents were disclosed by the state of California in response to a Public Records Act request by Restore the Delta.  For years, project proponents have claimed that the tunnels would not require public subsidies, and that urban water users would not have to subsidize agricultural users. … ”  Read more from the NRDC here:  State documents show Delta tunnels are not cost effective

How can a $6.5 billion farm subsidy to Central Valley farmers provide no benefit to Valley farms and the Valley economy? When it is used to subsidize the delta tunnels.  Jeff Michael writes,For my detailed comments on last fall’s Brattle analysis,  reported by the AP todaysee the memo I wrote that is posted on Restore the Delta’s website.  Restore the Delta surprised me late last week by sending me a copy of this report and related emails from their PRA request and asked for my thoughts.  I wrote the comments memo over the weekend, and gave them permission to distribute it with the report.  If you have followed this blog over the years, it should be obvious that I was not at all surprised by the findings that the tunnels’ are a bad deal for farmers – even if there is a enormous federal subsidy for costs allocated to the Central Valley Project.  The benefit-cost report I published last month stated, “If only the benefits and costs to water exporters who would pay for the tunnels are considered the costs still exceed benefits by more than $7 billion in the most optimistic scenario.” … ”  Read more from the Valley Economy blog here:  How can a $6.5 billion farm subsidy to Central Valley farmers provide no benefit to Valley farms and the Valley economy? When it is used to subsidize the delta tunnels

Delta people should shut up, again:  Barbara Barrigan Parilla writes,Remember back in May of 2015 when Jerry Brown suggested critics of his Delta Tunnels plan should “shut up?”   Well, now Californians for Water Security are also asking SF Bay-Delta activists to please shut up. That’s not surprising coming from an astroturf lobbying campaign, launched with the support of the Paramount Farming/The Wonderful Company (Resnick). See the email traffic on group’s founding, released under the California Public Records Act.  What caused this new round of scolding by backers of the Delta Tunnels?  Two things.  Most recently, they were upset about the news we released on a state-funded, economic analysis that found the Delta Tunnels are not feasible without huge subsidies from taxpayers. The media – who had always been told the Delta Tunnels would be paid for by water users – jumped on the story … ” Read more from Restore the Delta here:  Delta people should shut up, again

Meet the new neighbors: Metropolitan comes to town:  Alex Breitler writes,Polite pleasantries were exchanged. A chocolate brownie was offered as a “welcome to the neighborhood” gift.  But in the end, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s visit to the belly of the beast — i.e., downtown Stockton, where the Delta Protection Commission met on Thursday night — revealed few new insights about the southland’s recent purchase of 20,000 acres of land in the Delta.  Randy Record, chair of Metropolitan’s Board of Directors, acknowledged that portions of the land could help facilitate Gov. Jerry Brown’s twin tunnels project, which the commission opposes. … ”  Read more from Alex Breitler’s blog here:  Meet the new neighbors: Metropolitan comes to town

Two annoying myths about agriculture:  On the Public Record writes,Dr. Sunding’s most recent cost-benefit analysis of the AroundDeltaWaterGo has some exciting tidbits that you’ll be reading in the news soon.  I’d like to call out one small item to make a different point about rhetoric … ” (short excerpt due to way article is quoted)  Read more at On the Public Record here:  Two annoying myths about agriculture

Water marketing that helps nature:  Ellen Hanak and Jelena Jezdimirovic write, California urgently needs more practical, effective ways to improve conditions for struggling populations of native fish and waterbirds. A key ingredient is to add more water to rivers and wetlands at critical times of the year. Water trading is a proven way to do this—it brings necessary flexibility for environmental water managers while also reducing conflicts over the allocation of scarce supplies.  Buying water to support nature is not a novel concept in California. In fact, federal and state agencies helped jumpstart California’s water market during the 1987–92 drought by purchasing water for wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries. Today, environmental water purchases support wildlife refuges, increase flows for fish in the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta and other watersheds, and reduce salt build-up in the Salton Sea. … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Water marketing that helps nature

The Past, Present and Future of Payments for Ecosystem Services – Water: This past week, I hosted a workshop at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center. This is the idyllic Bellagio beside the shores of Lake Como in Italy rather than the one in Vegas with the cool fountains. For Star Wars fans, it is across the lake from the site of the wedding scene at the end of the 2nd prequel. I spent April, 2014, at the Center as a Resident working on an article entitled “The Past, Present and Future of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES).” Last week’s workshop used my article as a springboard, bringing together PES experts from seven countries, including the former Environment Ministers from Costa Rica and Peru, as well the CEO of the world’s largest sustainable timber company.  The central idea of PES is straightforward. Many of the benefits provided by the environment are not captured by markets. If landowners received compensation from beneficiaries for the valuable ecosystem services they provide such as water purification, carbon sequestration, or storm buffering, their land management practices would be very different. ... ”  Read more from the Legal Planet here:  The Past, Present and Future of Payments for Ecosystem Services – Water

Ecogeomorphology: A transformative expedition education:  “This week, the Center for Watershed Sciences is proud to feature our flagship education course, Ecogeomorphology. What began as a collaboration between then-Professors Jeffrey Mount and Peter Moyle to introduce students to cross-discipline thinking in expedition settings has developed into a transformative opportunity for the select graduate and undergraduate students to experience a range of settings throughout California and the West, led by professors throughout the campus.  Why are classes like this worthy of the California WaterBlog? Because they are how we develop water leaders who can collaborate across disciplines, understand the complexity of water issues, and translate their educational experiences into visionary strategies for water management. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Ecogeomorphology: A transformative expedition education

Is there more water than we thought in California? Part II: Alternatives to deep groundwater extraction and areas of the US that may be able to capture similar supplies:  Jeff Simonetti writes,In last week’s post, I wrote about how scientists at Stanford University identified approximately 2.2 billion acre-feet of water deep underground below California’s aquifers. While the “new” find that the Stanford group identified may be interesting, the economic and regulatory challenges surrounding this water supply may make it impractical for widespread use. However, are there alternatives to this water supply in California and other areas of the United States? Could similar projects be brought to bear in these areas? And if not, what are some potential alternatives to provide thirsty California with water supplies during a drought? I will address these issues in this post.  … ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here:  Is there more water than we thought in California? Part II: Alternatives to deep groundwater extraction and areas of the US that may be able to capture similar supplies

The Clean Water Act, Federalism, Big Money and the California Supreme Court Ill-considered Supreme Court Decision Threatens California’s Administration of Clean Water Act Permit Program:  Richard Frank writes,The California Supreme Court recently issued a little-noticed decision on a seemingly arcane state public finance issue that could well wind up having a dramatic, negative effect on California’s continued ability to administer the federal Clean Water Act’s permit program in the Golden State. The case is Department of Finance v. Commission on State Mandates. In that decision, a bare 4-3 majority of the Supreme Court held that the costs associated with conditions imposed by California’s Regional Quality Control Board on local agencies that operate storm drain systems under a state-administered federal permit must, under the California Constitution, be reimbursed by the state. In doing so, the Supreme Court imposed potentially multi-billion dollar liability on the state while simultaneously misperceiving the nature of the federally-mandated water pollution permit system administered by the State of California since 1972. Even more alarmingly, the Court’s decision threatens the cooperative federalism principles that are inherent in the Clean Water Act’s regulatory program and incentivizes California’s abandonment of that program. … ”  Read more from the Legal Planet here:  The Clean Water Act, Federalism, Big Money and the California Supreme Court Ill-considered Supreme Court Decision Threatens California’s Administration of Clean Water Act Permit Program

Ruling muddies water on Clean Water Act:  Brian Gray writes,The California Supreme Court recently decided a case that could have profound consequences for the state’s efforts to protect water quality. The case reveals the challenges California faces in keeping polluted runoff out of waterways and coasts.  The court ruled that the state must reimburse Los Angeles and 83 other Southern California cities for certain costs of complying with a stormwater permit issued by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board. Stormwater permits are part of the regulatory system created by the federal Clean Water Act and its California counterpart, the Porter-Cologne Act, to protect water quality. These laws regulate discharges of pollutants into the state’s rivers, bays, and estuaries, as well as the Pacific Ocean. … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Ruling muddies water on Clean Water Act

More Progress on Salmon Recovery Projects: RD 2035 and Woodland-Davis Complete Fish Screen Project – Only Two High Priority Diversions Remain in the Sacramento Valley:  The NCWA blog writes,Yesterday afternoon, various elected officials, water resources managers, landowners and representatives from state and federal water management and fishery agencies gathered on the Sacramento River in Yolo County to celebrate the completion of the Reclamation District 2035 (RD 2035) and Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency (WDCWA) combined diversion and fish screen facility.  Joining in the celebration were bi-partisan members of the California Congressional Delegation, who sent a congratulatory letter to RD 2035 and the cities of Davis and Woodland.  ... ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here:  More Progress on Salmon Recovery Projects: RD 2035 and Woodland-Davis Complete Fish Screen Project – Only Two High Priority Diversions Remain in the Sacramento Valley

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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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