BLOG ROUND-UP: A state of water independence; Fish still lack the calendars they need to migrate on our schedule; Is California’s approach to water really ‘insane’?; and more …

Photo by Linda Paul.

blog-round-up-previous-editionsA state of water independence:  Brian Gray writes, “The presidential election has raised questions about how changes in federal environmental policy could affect California’s water resources management. Concerns include the potential loosening of endangered species protections and changes to federal regulatory jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. These questions are especially pronounced in California, where the United States is both an environmental regulator and operator of several of the state’s largest water projects.  While there are areas of uncertainty, California’s water rights and environmental laws are both robust and comprehensive, and thus will provide something of a firewall to changes in federal policy. Although many of these laws apply in tandem with their federal counterparts, California’s laws are also largely independent of federal environmental standards. Here are a few examples. … ”  Read more from the PPIC Blog here:  A state of water independence

Fish still lack the calendars they need to migrate on our schedule:  The California Farm Water Coalition blog writes, “In December of 2016 bipartisan legislation was passed by Congress and signed by President Obama.  The new legislation requires water officials to supply as much water to farm, business and urban users as is considered environmentally safe under existing rules (biological opinions) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  It further requires that if water officials do not supply the maximum amount of water allowed, they must justify that decision by providing evidence that a reduction is necessary.  Thanks to this law, 25 million Californians – farms as well as urban users – are being supplied with water that otherwise may have been withheld.  And while we are grateful to Senator Feinstein, Congressman McCarthy and all the legislators that helped make this much-needed legislation a reality, we still have work to do to apply the common-sense approach of the new law to other parts of the water bureaucracy. … ”  Continue reading at the California Farm Water Coalition Blog here:  Fish still lack the calendars they need to migrate on our schedule

Is California’s approach to water really ‘insane’?  Groundwater and the public trust doctrine:  Michael Campana writes, “A regular reader and very good friend took umbrage at a comment I made suggesting that California might be ‘insane’ when it comes to its failure to recognize that surface water and groundwater are connected. Here is my comment, made in response to a comment Laurel Lacher made to my recent blog post:  Thanks for your comment, Laurel – much appreciated! We’re not quite as ‘insane’ as Arizona. One thing to remember – unlike Arizona and California but like your eastern neighbor New Mexico – Oregon legally recognizes the connection between surface water and groundwater. That makes a big difference when it comes to managing groundwater. Let’s hope both our states (and California) get our acts together!  And my California friend’s email comment: … ”  Continue reading at the Water Wired blog here:  Is California’s approach to water really ‘insane’?  Groundwater and the public trust doctrine

LA may have to pay 90% of the Delta tunnels cost:  Stephen Frank writes, “Jerry Brown wants to protect fish and allow more water to flow to the ocean.  In exchange for this, the people of Los Angeles will be forced to pay higher water rates—to pay for the $68 billion delta tunnels—that even the Obama Administration does not support.  This is the Brown payoff to unions and special interest—the general public is the loser.  “The governor’s tunnels, essentially an underground version of Mr. Brown’s ill-fated Peripheral Canal idea of the 1980s, “still represent a very poor return on investment for urban water users for the $16+ billion in capital cost: only about 10,000 acre-feet of annual water supply per $1 billion in capital investment,” the independent economist notes. … ”  Read more from the California Political News and Views here:  LA may have to pay 90% of the Delta tunnels cost

Is 2017 the year California busts the drought?  Jeff Simonetti writes, “What a difference a year makes. In a series of posts that I authored in late 2015 and early 2016, I wrote about how the potential “Godzilla” El Niño had the possibility to wipe out at least some of the drought conditions, provided that the drought-relieving storms tracked in a direction that would hit California. Unfortunately for California, the “drought-busting” rains did not come to alleviate the drought. Instead, atmospheric conditions pushed storms largely to the north, providing a deluge to Washington, Oregon and British Columbia. In fact, Seattle recorded the wettest period from October 1 to March 1 on record, receiving 38.22 inches of rain during that time. Parts of northern California received decent amounts of rainfall, but the majority of the Central Valley and southern California remained dry. However, since then, weather patterns have changed in a way that may favor a wetter winter for California. … ”  Read more from the Hydrowonk blog here:   Is 2017 the year California busts the drought? 

How healthy riparian systems benefit California ranchers:  Evan Patrick writes, “California landowners have a number of important reasons to value riparian forests. They offer shade to cattle, provide critical erosion and flood control, sequester carbon and support abundant wildlife.  Yet many landowners, especially those already stretched to manage their farms and ranches, often overlook these benefits in their day-to-day work.  Unfortunately, California’s riparian forests are dwindling, covering only 5 percent of their historic range.  … ”  Read more from the Growing Returns blog here:  How healthy riparian systems benefit California ranchers

Longfin smelt status end of 2016:  Tom Cannon writes, “The longfin smelt population in the Bay-Delta reached a near record low index in 2016 (Figures 1 and 2).  The index was 7, slightly higher than the record low index of 4 in fall 2015.  There is a strong positive spawner (fall index two years prior) to recruitment (fall index) relationship (Figure 3).  Recruitment is strongly related to the number of spawners (likely the number of eggs spawned).  Recruits-per-spawner is also strongly influenced by wet or dry year conditions; in other words, first-year survival is higher in wetter years.  The poor fall 2015 and 2016 indices indicate that recruitment in 2017 and 2018 is likely to continue at record low levels.  ... ”  Read more from the California Fisheries Blog here:  Longfin smelt status end of 2016  For more from the California Fisheries Blog, see: Delta smelt at risk

California’s water conservation regulations and the law of unintended consequences, part 4: Fairness: Marta Weismann writes, ” … While the State Board warned of the possibility of a return to mandatory conservation if dry conditions prevail, the optimism of the November announcement stands in contrast to the October announcement—which reported the third consecutive month of declining conservation levels. There had been a steep drop in conservation levels among some suppliers, and the State Board was focusing on conservation levels, rather than hydrology, as the factor driving whether it would once again implement mandatory conservation regulations. Observers picked up on the State Board’s cue, and a number of blogs and commentaries noted that people won’t save as much unless they are forced to and seemingly called for a return to a mandatory set of rules.  While conservation levels were higher, mandatory regulations are a rife with problems. … ”  Continue reading at the Hydrowonk blog here:  California’s water conservation regulations and the law of unintended consequences, part 4: Fairness

UC Davis irrigation experiment shows big increase in alfalfa yield per acre-foot of water:  “Cleverly managed deficit irrigation (when you significantly reduce water applied during the hot part of the year) substantially increased yield per unit water applied in a new study by researchers at UC Davis. In controlled side-by-side field experiments, Dan Putnam and his colleagues demonstrated that if you do it right, a big reduction in water applied will result in just a small reduction in yield. ... ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  UC Davis irrigation experiment shows big increase in alfalfa yield per acre-foot of water

Time for a new and modern conversation about conservation in the Sacramento Valley:  The Northern California Water Association blog writes, “There is a new and exciting conversation underway in the Sacramento Valley about how functional flows can serve multiple beneficial purposes, including water for fish, farms, birds, cities and recreation.  Importantly, this is a different conversation than the discourse over the past several decades to continually add additional water to sterile, inhospitable river channels in the Delta. The more modern conversation–spreading the water out and slowing it down throughout the Valley–is showing promise to improve the food-web and habitat necessary to recover salmon and other fish in both the Sacramento Valley and the Delta; while the old discourse has led to fish declines and frustrated water users. … ”  Continue reading at the NCWA blog here:  Time for a new and modern conversation about conservation in the Sacramento Valley

The Bully Pulpit: Fresno Mayor Lee Brand says he won’t be shy about using his high profile position to push water policy changes in the Central Valley:  Families Protecting the Valley writes, “When Families Protecting the Valley started writing our newsletters to inform people what we thought was really going on with California water policy, one of our goals was to try to get local elected officials involved in state water policy decisions.  Over the years we have kept plugging away and we are starting to see our goal come to be.  For example, new Fresno Mayor Lee Brand says he won’t be shy about using his high profile position to push water policy changes in the Central Valley.  The Fresno Bee reports that Brand will use “Supervisor Buddy Mendes, a Riverdale farmer whose district encompasses southern and western Fresno County, as “my resident expert” on the Valley’s agricultural water situation.” … ”  Read more from the Families Protecting the Valley here:  The Bully Pulpit: Fresno Mayor Lee Brand says he won’t be shy about using his high profile position to push water policy changes in the Central Valley

Statements on climate change from major science academies, societies, and associations: Peter Gleick writes, “Scientific understanding of the role of humans in influencing and altering the global climate has been evolving for over a century. That understanding is now extremely advanced, combining hundreds of years of observations of many different climatic variables, millions of years of paleoclimatic evidence of past natural climatic variations, extended application of fundamental physical, chemical, and biological processes, and the most sophisticated computer modeling ever conducted.  There is no longer any reasonable doubt that humans are altering the climate, that those changes will grow in scope and severity in the future, and that the economic, ecological, and human health consequences will be severe. ... ”  Continue reading from the Significant Figures blog here:  Statements on climate change from major science academies, societies, and associations

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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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