BLOG ROUND-UP: Bloggers on San Joaquin flow objectives, Delta smelt and salmon, water quality and the Trump administration, ag water savings, a water sector energy hog, eminent domain, and more …

blog-round-up-previous-editions Sunrise in Sebastopol; photo by James Gentry

Agriculture’s clear response to California: ‘Stop taking our water’:  Todd Fitchette writes, “Watching the live, online feed of the public hearing related to California’s proposal to take two major rivers by forcing water from them to flow unimpeded to the ocean says one thing to me: this is going to be a different fight for government officials who enjoy the view from their thrones.  For those unaware, the state agency that controls who gets water in California and for what use is conducting hearings because they must – not because they necessarily want to hear from the serfs, but because it’s the law and they’ve mastered the ability to make meetings so uncomfortable that “Joe Farmer” tends not to come because he’s got better things to do – like work and try to make money. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press blog here:  Agriculture’s clear response to California: ‘Stop taking our water’

Is the Board listening?  “The Fresno and Modesto Bee editorial boards had a message for the State Water Resources Control Board after hearings in Stockton, Merced and Modesto:  “We hope the state water board left Modesto having heard one message: It won’t be easy taking the water this region depends on.”  We’ll say one thing.  The Northern Valley is fighting with everything they have to make their case for Stanislaus, Toulumne and Merced River water.  They are united with water districts, local officials and average Joe’s.  We wish the Central Valley elected representatives had fought this vigorously for San Joaquin River water.   … ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:  Is the Board listening?

Cocaine in your salmon!  Families Protecting the Valley writes, “Scientist have found up to 81 drugs and personal care products in the flesh of salmon caught in the Puget Sound.  “Some of the drugs include Prozac, Advil, Benadryl, Lipitor, and even cocaine.”  People are using a lot more and a lot of different drugs today compared to the past, and wastewater treatment plants are unable to fully remove them during treatment.  If you think this is a problem only for Puget Sound salmon, think again. … ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:  Cocaine in your salmon!

Another chance for Delta smelt – a 2017 comeback? In 2010 Delta smelt started a two-year comeback after three years of drought.  The fourth lowest fall index on record (2009) brought a modest increase in the normal water year 2010 summer and fall indices that in turn led to the modest 2011 wet year recovery.  Another comeback may be in the making with the wet fall-winter of water year 2017. ... ”  Read more from the California Fisheries Blog here:  Another chance for Delta smelt – a 2017 comeback? 

Winter in the Delta: Salmon and smelt:  “December and January have traditionally been the months when salmon and smelt enter the Delta in large numbers with late fall and early winter storms. Juvenile and yearling salmon pour out of the rivers into the Delta. Heavy rains wash fry, parr, and smolts from their river spawning grounds into the Delta. Sub-yearling winter-run, yearling late-fall, spring-run, and fall-run, and newly hatched spring and fall-run fry abound. Adult longfin and Delta smelt migrate up from the Bay, surfing the tides on their annual spawning runs.  These same storms whet the appetite for December exports from the south Delta. ... ”  Read more from the California Fisheries Blog here:  Winter in the Delta: Salmon and smelt

Improving California’s plan for agricultural water savings:  Ben Chou writes, “NRDC submitted comments this week on California’s draft plan for implementing Governor Brown’s executive order to make “water conservation a California way of life.” The plan aims to push our cities and farms to more efficiently use our state’s precious and limited water resources. We joined a coalition with 10 other NGO partners to submit comments on the agricultural components of the plan. You can read more about our recommendations for the urban water conservation framework in this blog post by my colleague Tracy Quinn.  When the plan was released several weeks ago, I noted that the plan’s approach for increasing agricultural water savings misses critical opportunities to streamline the state’s agricultural water planning process, encourage the adoption of water-saving practices, and improve enforcement of existing rules in favor of a convoluted approach that is quite simply a different way of counting the vast amount of water that agriculture already uses. … ”  Read more from the NRDC here:  Improving California’s plan for agricultural water savings

Quest for crystal clear water: Water quality and the Trump Administration:  Tracy Mehan via the Water Wired blog writes, “Where is the Trump Administration heading in terms of water quality, say, as it relates to the Safe Drinking Water and Clean Water Acts?  During the March Republican primary debate, President-elect Donald J. Trump promised to eliminate the ‘Department of Environmental Protection.’ However, in a subsequent speech in Pittsburgh, he said, “I will refocus the EPA on its core mission of ensuring clean air and clean, safe drinking water for all Americans.” Further, “I believe  firmly in conserving our wonderful natural resources and beautiful natural habitats. My environmental agenda will be guided by true specialists in conservation, not those radical political agendas.”    In a recent November interview= with reporters and editors of The New York Times, President-elect Trump expressed the view “that clean air and ‘crystal clear water’ were vitally important.”  Two major pathways to “crystal clear water” involve infrastructure financing and regulatory policy.  … ”  Read more from the Water Wired blog here:  Quest for crystal clear water: Water quality and the Trump Administration

California water policy: Will the GOP demand more change?  Chris Reed writes, “The California water compromise reached by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-San Francisco, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, and inserted into the massive infrastructure bill that was signed into law last week was trumpeted as a hard-fought victory for Central Valley agriculture.  But the larger war over how California’s limited water resources are used seems far from over. The compromise’s approval is sure to spur new court battles. It could also embolden House Republicans like McCarthy and Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, and conservative think tanks to seek further changes in federal policies. … ”  Read more from Cal Watchdog here:  California water policy: Will the GOP demand more change?

Four economic errors that cause environmental problems (and how to correct them):  Gregory Heal writes, “Our dependence on nature runs deep. There is no denying that a pristine environment improves our health, lengthens our lives, and makes us more productive. Yet in our lifetimes catastrophic environmental change will occur because of four basic, correctable errors in the design of our economic systems.  As an economist and entrepreneur, I’ve studied these errors from both a theoretical and a practical perspective, and as a naturalist I’ve regretted the destruction of the natural world we see every day.  In my new book, Endangered Economies: How the Neglect of Nature is Threatening Our Prosperity, I argue that we can fix each of the most egregious flaws in the system to correct our neglect of nature and allow the economy and the environment to coexist and nurture one other. We can end these threats to our prosperity. … ”  Read more from the Union of Concerned Scientists Equation blog here:  Four economic errors that cause environmental problems (and how to correct them)

A water sector energy hog:  Alvar Escriva-Bou writes, “When we use water, we’re also using energy—sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Overall, water use accounts for about 20 percent of California’s electricity use and 30 percent of natural gas used by businesses and homes. This energy is used to supply, convey, treat, and heat water.  Where does it all go, and more importantly, how can we best save both water and energy?  You might guess that our long-distance transport of water through the state’s network of canals and pumping stations is a big energy hog. The federal and state water projects combined move about a quarter of all water used in California. The State Water Project—which conveys water from the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta to cities and farms in the San Joaquin Valley, the Central Coast, and Southern California—is the largest single user of electricity. But even so, the state’s water conveyance system is something of an energy sipper, accounting for just 4 percent of the sector’s total energy use. … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  A water sector energy hog

In western water management, the rest of us nervously watch California:  John Fleck writes, “One of my new lectures this semester for UNM Water Resources Program students tackled the question of where and how you draw boundaries around a water management problem. The example I worked through was the Colorado River and the U.S.-Mexico border. You have water management institutions and governance that are largely separate on each side of the border, and a treaty that attempts to manage the handoff as water (a river and aquifers) moves from one nation to the next. There’s a fascinating history of adaptation, sometimes quite poor, in the way that handoff is carried out. ... ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  In western water management, the rest of us nervously watch California

The Use of Eminent Domain to Take Over Private Water Companies in California Part I: The Case of Apple Valley’s Proceedings to Acquire Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company:  Jeff Simonetti writes, “The use of eminent domain across the world can often be a contentious process regardless of what property is being taken. In China, the City of Beijing evicted an estimated 1.5 million people from their homes in the city to make way for the buildings and infrastructure needed for the Olympics. In some instances, the citizens were not justly compensated, and developers would take drastic steps to force unwilling residents to move from their properties. In the City of Kunming, an elderly 83 year-old woman refused to vacate her property after her neighborhood was slated for development. To drive her out, the developer leveled all of the properties around her home, cut electricity and dug a two meter deep mote around her house. Yikes. ... ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here:  The Use of Eminent Domain to Take Over Private Water Companies in California Part I: The Case of Apple Valley’s Proceedings to Acquire Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company Part 2 is here: The Use of Eminent Domain in California to Take Over Private Water Companies Part II: Changes in Citizen Sentiment Complicate the Process

Nothing like a flyoff at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge:  “Yesterday I had the privilege of going to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge for the first time to see the fly-off at sunset. Perhaps you’ve seen that. Or maybe to Staten Island for the Sandhill Cranes. If not, you should go. It’s one of the most amazing natural sights you’ll ever see.  California once had tens of millions of ducks and geese migrate and overwinter in Central Valley wetlands. Now 95% of those wetlands are gone. The remaining wetland habitat is on the few small refuges and surrounding duck clubs for hunting. But those wetlands alone wouldn’t provide enough food to support the few million waterfowl that still come here for the winter. ... ”  Read more from the Audoblog here:  Nothing like a flyoff at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

Salmon project now has root wads:  River Garden Farms writes: “The most important elements of our North Tobiasson Deep-Water Rearing Structures Project are arguably the root wads, as they are what will provide the salmonids with the actual shelter from velocity and predators. Being so important, we set a high quality standard when it was time to source them. We wanted to make sure that anything we put into the river would not only perform its key function – with plenty of little places for the salmonids to hang out –  but also be durable, sustainable, and cause minimal-to-no disruption to the river’s existing uses. ... ”  Continue reading here:  Salmon project now has root wads

Water: “A pox upon us all,” says Bruce Frohman:  Eric Caine writes, “Even though Stanislaus County has suffered only 5 years of drought, citizens of Modesto have been under some form of water rationing for over 20 years. We are permitted to water our yards once a week in winter and twice a week in summer. Many of us allow our lawns to die each summer in order to conserve water “for the good of the community.”  Our level of disgust with local water providers and the state water board can’t get any higher unless our water is totally shut off.  We are disgusted with all of them. ... ”  Read more from The Valley Citizen here:  Water: “A pox upon us all,” says Bruce Frohman

White Christmas:  John Fleck writes, “The backyard of my childhood home, in the foothills above Upland, California, was a remnant of an old orange grove. It still had a concrete irrigation standpipe (I think that’s what they’re called?) like the one in the picture. No water came out – such are the traces of Southern California’s agricultural past as we brought water to the land, grew food, then moved on.  There were still groves checkerboarded through our neighborhood in the 1960s when I grew up, a past I romanticize – the smell when the trees were in blossom, the sound of wind machines on the rare cold mornings, the way my parents’ bridge game with their friends Dick and Elizabeth Fleming would stop so Dick could listen turn up the radio to listen to the fruit frost report. … ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  White Christmas

The common ground of rivers:  Chandra Brown writes, “I work summers in the Grand Canyon. This is the ultimate goal for a lot of career river guides; it’s what some consider the best guiding job in the world. I know I’m lucky. In the Grand Canyon, we take people rafting for fifteen days at a time. We try to hide from the summer sun. We tell stories of ancient things, and our own journeys become new stories. Clients sometimes ask why we row heavy oar boats instead of running trips on motorized rigs. The motor guides make more money, as they can do twice as many trips in a season. Their boats carry more clients and they cover the 225 miles of river in half the time that we do in our oar boats.  Isn’t it obvious, I ask. Those motors talk over the Canyon. … ” Read more from National Geographic’s Water Currents blog:  The common ground of riversDaily emails

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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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