BLOG ROUND-UP: The coming droughts of California in 2017; Letting the water flow in the San Joaquin (or not); Down and dirty water wars; Groundwater management as a culture-shift; and more …

L. A. River Katz by Roy Randall

blog-round-up-previous-editionsThe coming droughts of California in 2017:  Jay Lund writes, “California is a big diverse place.  California probably will experience droughts this year of different types in different places, and no drought at all in some places, simultaneously.  Even if conditions this year are very wet, with flooding, parts of California will have drought issues. (This is what makes California a great place to work on water problems.)  The first two months of this new water year have been wetter than average in the north and much drier than average in the south.  But it is still early days. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  The coming droughts of California in 2017

Letting the water flow in the San Joaquin:  John Cain writes, “The San Joaquin River and its three principle tributaries– the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced– are some of the hardest working rivers in the world. In most years, 80 percent of their total flow is diverted for agriculture.  Portions of the San Joaquin mainstem have been dry for most of the last 50 years. As a result, the steelhead trout and Chinook salmon populations that thrived in these rivers for millennia are now on the verge of extinction. California’s commercial and recreational fishing industry has declined as water diversions have increased. In 2008 and 2009, the fishery decline was so severe that the Pacific Fisheries Management Council totally closed the salmon fishery. ... ”  Read more from the American Rivers blog here:  Letting the water flow in the San Joaquin

River Hearings: The agenda has been set for this meeting with mostly pro-more-river-flow people given most of the time:  Families Protecting the Valley writes, “The State Water Resources Control Board will hold the first of five meetings tomorrow in Sacramento to determine how much water should flow down the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers.  Basically, the plan will put a lot more water down the rivers into the Delta and eventually out to sea.  Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa told the board in an earlier meeting that the plan would ‘absolutely devastate’ their economy.  The agenda has been set for this meeting with mostly pro-more-river-flow people given most of the time.  Others will have the standard 3 minutes to make their case. ... ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:  River Hearings: The agenda has been set for this meeting with mostly pro-more-river-flow people given most of the time

Down and dirty water wars, part 1: It’s perfectly understandable that anyone taking a stand in favor of increased river flows in the northern San Joaquin Valley is likely to be compared to an assailant of motherhood, apple pie and Fourth of July fireworks. After all, the Valley will indeed take an economic hit from increased flows, and no one wants to take economic hits anywhere or anytime.  But that’s the problem. The state has to decide how to distribute the economic hits and it has to rely on the neutrality of science as well as on the pleas of commercial and political interests to decide who to hit and how hard. … ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen here: Down and dirty water wars, part 1

To manage groundwater, California must first get basin boundaries right:  “A hidden treasure, groundwater has long sustained agriculture through California’s cycles of drought. Decades ago, state water officials started researching the geological formations that hold groundwater. By the 1950s, hydrogeologists had created an atlas showing the boundaries of more than 500 groundwater basins or subbasins.  But the maps, while showing how well groundwater geology is understood, had a minimal role in groundwater management. For decades, landowners were free to pump water from under their land at will. Now a landmark 2014 law sets up new bosses who will call the shots on who gets groundwater, when and how much. The maps can now influence how the competition for control evolves. ... ”  Read more from Stanford here:  To manage groundwater, California must first get basin boundaries right

Groundwater management as culture-shift for California farmers:  Josephine Devanbu writes, “During times of drought in California, groundwater turns from crutch to lifeline, swelling from 40% of the state’s total consumption to as much as 60%. Today, after five years of too little rain and snow, many areas are in overdraft — meaning that the rate of groundwater pumping exceeds the rate of replenishment. Thousands of agricultural and domestic wells have gone dry.  California’s groundwater reckoning has led to a rethinking of one of the state’s most fiercely guarded assumptions about water: that groundwater belongs to whomever owns the land above it. ... ”  Read more from the Confluence Blog here:  Groundwater management as culture-shift for California farmers

The importance of generations in the Sacramento Valley:  The Northern California Water Association writes, “Mary Wells is a fifth-generation farmer and one of the most thoughtful and powerful voices in Northern California. One of the great qualities in the Sacramento Valley is the way people think in terms of generations and our deep desire for our children and grandchildren to carry forward an amazing quality of life. As we share thanks with our families during the holiday, this is a good time to think about our families and the importance of the people that have come before us and our future generations. … ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here:  The importance of generations in the Sacramento Valley

On the importance of getting the boundaries right in water management and governance:  John Fleck writes, “I’m working this weekend on two talks, one a webinar Wednesday with Audubon and the other a lecture for UNM Water Resources grad students Thursday, that both touch on one of the fundamental challenges in getting water management right – the question of how we draw the boundaries, both geographically but also conceptually – around the problem we’re trying to solve. For Audubon, I’ll be giving an overview of my book, but tailored to the audience – folks who care about the environment in a very particular way. (Everywhere I went while I was working on my book, I took time out to go birding. I even have bird lists of the mallards I saw in the casino fountains on the Las Vegas strip. I am one with this.) The importance for this group is the way the struggle to bring environmental values to the water management discussion required connecting them to the broader ways in which we humans use and conceptualize water. It also required rethinking an international border. ... ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  On the importance of getting the boundaries right in water management and governance

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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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