BLOG ROUND-UP: California’s fish emergency, Comparing Delta consumptive use; Dams, starving Delta smelt, and more …

Fall colors at Silver Lake; photo by Howard Ignatius
Blog Round Up
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California’s Fish Emergency: Lori Pottinger writes,Three-quarters of the state’s native fish are in trouble, and options for recovery have been constrained by the drought. We talked to Peter Moyle—an eminent fish biologist at UC Davis’s Center for Watershed Sciences and a member of the PPIC Water Policy Center research network—about what can be done to bring native fish back from the brink.  PPIC: A year ago, your research showed that if the drought continued, 18 native fish would be at imminent risk of extinction. What is the situation now, and how has the state responded?  Peter Moyle: For many native species, things are even worse. Those 18 species are in the most immediate danger, and their situation has not improved. Delta smelt are on the verge of extinction. We currently know of 122 species of native fish in California, and 90 of them are in trouble in one way or the other, with 30 already listed under the Endangered Species Act. Climate change is making things worse. ... ”  Read more from the PPIC Blog here:  California’s Fish Emergency

Comparing Delta consumptive use: Preliminary results from a blind model comparison: Josué Medellín-Azuara and many others write,As California works to improve its official accounting of water for a range of purposes, one major area lacking widely accepted quantification is the consumptive use of water for agriculture, particularly evapotranspiration (ET) from crops. In the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, such estimates are important, along with other hydrologic flows, for a variety of water rights, operational, and regulatory purposes.  Consumptive use is the proportion of water removed that cannot be reused elsewhere in a basin. For crops in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, this is mostly evapotranspiration. In a region’s water balance, consumptive use can become a keystone for estimating groundwater recharge, outflows from a basin, and the availability of water for water exchanges or market transactions. In places like the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (the Delta), crop consumptive use estimation may have the additional challenges of adjusting for a collection of localized factors such as fog, canal seepage, evaporation from canals, and widely varying wind conditions. ... ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Comparing Delta consumptive use: Preliminary results from a blind model comparison

Dam … who knew?  Melissa Rhode writes,Last month, global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations reached 400 ppm signaling that greenhouse gases are continuing to rise and the momentum of global climate change is well underway.  Carbon dioxide is only one of several greenhouse gasses – where methane is the most potent of all and 30 times stronger than carbon dioxide.  Most attention on methane emissions has been on that coming from burping corn-fed cows or leaks from fracking to produce natural gas.  The notorious methane leak in Aliso Canyon by Southern California Gas Company during fracking didn’t go under anyone’s radar, since it resulted in a leak in 100,000 tons of methane gas – said to be equivalent to annual emissions from half a million cars.  However, a new study published in Bioscience this past week has highlighted a new source of methane that was previously unaccounted for in global estimates – Dams.  The study found dams emit 25% more methane than we previously thought. Meaning dams are contributing approximately 1.5% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Making a strong case that greenhouse gas emissions from dams be included in IPCC budgets and other global inventories, when previously they have not been. … ”  Read more from Reflections on Water here:  Dam … who knew?

Are Delta smelt starving?  Tom Cannon writes, “The Sacramento Bee reported on August 31, 2016 that Dr. Ted Sommer at the California Department of Water Resources says that Delta smelt are starving. Dr. Sommer related recent success in stimulating the north Delta food web by increasing flow through the Yolo Bypass in July as part of the state’s new strategy to help Delta smelt. I had reported earlier on the experiment and the strategy.  While Dr. Sommer was not implying that just adding some fertilizer to the north Delta would save the smelt, he was deflecting discussion and treatment away from the overriding cause of the collapse of Delta smelt: lack of spring-through-fall outflow to the Bay. … ”  Read more from the California Fisheries Blog here:  Are Delta smelt starving?

New laws strengthen state’s water safety net:  Henry McCann and Ellen Hanak write,Governor Brown signed nearly 60 new bills this year that will influence how California goes about the business of managing water. Several of these new laws will expand and strengthen the water safety net for disadvantaged communities. A suite of bills signed in recent weeks will bring a much-needed assist for communities lacking reliable access to safe and affordable drinking water.  While the vast majority of residential water customers in California have access to safe drinking water, several hundred small communities still struggle to provide drinking water that meets basic health standards. In addition, the drought has resulted in more than 2,000 domestic wells across the state going dry and shortages in 100 small rural water systems. … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  New laws strengthen state’s water safety net

The best way to protect the environment isn’t always obvious:  Jonathon Wood writes,Our friend Brian Seasholes of the Reason Foundation has an article on on one of the oft overlooked environmental benefits of fracking: preserving open space as habitat for wildlife. He ends the article with a point that applies far beyond fracking and highlights one of the most important shortcomings in most environmental law:  “Life involves trade-offs, and decisions often have unintended consequences.”  As Milton Friedman famously put it: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Although the costs of public policies may not always be obvious, they’re there if you look hard enough.  Fracking is a good example of that fact. … ”  Continue reading at The Liberty Blog here:  The best way to protect the environment isn’t always obvious

Turning off a river for the winter:  John Fleck writes,After a great day-and-a-half gathering of the New Mexico water nerds in Silver City (the 61st annual New Mexico Water Conference, put on by New Mexico State University’s Water Resources Research Institute, I took a leisurely drive this afternoon along one of my favorite stretches of the Rio Grande. The Hatch Valley (more formally known as the “Rincon Valley”, but if you’ve ever eaten the chiles you’ll know why the “Hatch” name stuck) is a working landscape, and the Rio Grande here is a river turned in service of that work. Two big reservoirs, Elephant Butte and Caballo, regulate the river’s flow into the valley, and that flow is entirely managed to meet the needs of farming and other human water uses. ... ”  Read more from the Inkstain Blog here:  Turning off a river for the winter

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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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