BLOG ROUND-UP: Bloggers on the snow survey, Delta tunnels polling, DWR dams and spillway repairs, San Joaquin River restoration, flood improvements, and more …

blog-round-up-previous-editionsSurvey shows abundant snow but will it stick?  Juliet Christian Smith writes, “Today’s snow survey confirms abundant snow in the Sierra Nevada, an extreme turn from five years of drought. With climate change contributing to warmer winters in the Sierra Nevada, that snow may not stay put for long – an early snowmelt will cause flooding and require reservoirs to spill excess water that could threaten safety of California dams in the weeks to come.  As a consequence, Los Angeles’ Mayor Eric Garcetti recently declared a state of emergency for the small town of Owens Valley located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, nearly 300 miles from LA, where much of the city’s water supply originates. The mayor is worried that the melting mountain snowpack would flood the Owens Valley and overwhelm the LA Aqueduct, causing up to $500 million in damage. … ”  Read more from The Equation blog here:  Survey shows abundant snow but will it stick?

Water, water everywhere but not a drop to waste:  Anna Wearn writes, “The results are in: California’s snowpack is 164% of average, according to the latest Sierra Nevada snow survey.  The 45.8 inches of water content measured today—when the state’s snowpack typically peaks—is good news for a state that relies on this “natural reservoir” for one-third of its water supply. But California cannot afford to let up on efforts to achieve much needed reforms to the way we manage our water. California is still officially in a drought emergency, but surface water supplies are certainly in better shape after this winter’s storms. The estimates of upcoming runoff are well above average and most reservoirs are near, at, or above capacity and percent average storage. ... ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  Water, water everywhere but not a drop to waste

Public Policy Institute of California: 77% of Californians Think Governor’s California WaterFix is Important to the State’s Future: Californians for Water Security write: “This week, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) published a poll which highlights that 77 percent of Californians view Governor Jerry Brown’s California WaterFix as “important.” In fact, 51 percent think it is “very important.” The poll, which appeared in the report “Californians & Their Government,” also specifies that the majority of California residents in favor of water infrastructure improvements, in the aftermath of winter storms, flooding and the crisis at Oroville Dam.  The Public Policy Institute of California and their Water Policy Center conducts nonpartisan independent research with a focus on the economy, environment and society. … ”  Read more from Californians for Water Security here:  Public Policy Institute of California: 77% of Californians Think Governor’s California WaterFix is Important to the State’s Future

Biased Delta tunnels poll delivers bogus results:  Restore the Delta writes, “Last week the Public Policy Institute of California released their annual survey of “Californians and Their Government.” Crosstabs here.  Immediately, the Stewart Resnick-funded, pro-tunnels lobby group Californians for Water Security hailed the PPIC polls results with a press release “77% of Californians Think Governor’s California WaterFix is Important to the State’s Future.”  While that is an accurate portrayal of the poll results, ethical public polling requires the strict avoidance of biased questions that may change the accuracy of the survey. In the parlance of polling, the question the PPIC asked is known as a “Leading Question.” Such questions attempt to lead respondents into giving the “correct” answer. … ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  Biased Delta tunnels poll delivers bogus results

DWR dams upstream of Lake Oroville also had extensive spillway repairs, began spilling last week:  Dierdre des Jardins writes, “The California Department of Water Resources owns three smaller dams upstream of Oroville, including two on tributaries of the Middle Fork of the Feather River, and one on a tributary of the North Fork of the Feather River.  Records show that all three upstream dams had extensive spillway repairs in 2009, at the same time that the Oroville main spillway had extensive repairs.  The repairs for all three spillways included sawcutting concrete, void repairs, and repairs of major cracks. Frenchman Dam also had repairs of the spillway lip. Records show the three dams were last inspected in October of 2014.  Two of the dams, Grizzly Valley and Frenchman, began spilling last week, according to news reports. … ”  Read more from California Water Research here:  DWR dams upstream of Lake Oroville also had extensive spillway repairs, began spilling last week

One step closer to restoring the San Joaquin River:  Doug Obegi writes, “The State of California took another step towards finally restoring and protecting the health of the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Merced, and lower San Joaquin Rivers last month. March 17th marked the end of the public comment period regarding the proposal for improved flows in these rivers (and the environmental review of alternatives and potential impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act). On that day, NRDC submitted detailed comments to the State Water Resources Control Board regarding the need for increased flows in these rivers. In collaboration with The Bay Institute and several other conservation organizations, our comment letter demonstrates that the State must strengthen the flow proposal to protect and restore healthy rivers, the health of the Bay-Delta estuary, and healthy salmon runs that support thousands of fishing jobs. ... ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  One step closer to restoring the San Joaquin River

Californians favor funding flood improvements:  “California’s very wet winter has revealed both literal and figurative cracks in the state’s flood management infrastructure. While most flood-related problems this year didn’t reach the level of the Oroville Dam spillway disaster, public concern about California’s aging flood infrastructure is growing—including how to pay for upgrades.  According to the latest PPIC statewide survey, 61% of Californians say that more spending on water and flood management infrastructure is very important for their part of California. Only one in ten say it is not important. When we asked a similar question in October 2006, fewer than half (43%) said such spending was very important. Today, the view is widely held, with about majorities across partisan, racial/ethnic, age, education, and income groups saying so. Across regions of the state, majorities say more spending is very important, ranging from 56% in the San Francisco Bay Area to 65% in the Central Valley. ... ”  Read more from the PPIC Blog here:  Californians favor funding flood improvements

Flood management requires planning and nimbleness:  The NCWA blog writes, “The efforts involved in flood management are diverse and require agencies to incorporate both advanced planning and nimble responses to challenges that arise.  The Yuba County Water Agency played a key role in helping manage the Oroville Dam spillway challenges earlier this year by coordinating its releases on the Yuba River with the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). Additionally, two recent press releases shown below from the Yuba County Water Agency (YCWA) highlight activities that are part of the overarching mission of providing flood protection in the region.  In the first release, YCWA describes the actions taken last fall in preparation for potential high water events to clean out areas adjacent to the Yuba River to prevent water quality contamination and relocate people living on the river bottom to ensure their safety.  The second release regards a loan YCWA provided RD 2103 so that it could quickly address repairs to levees along the Bear River to promote public safety. ... ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here:  Flood management requires planning and nimbleness

Another groundwater case for SCOTUS? Do reserved rights apply to groundwater?  Michael Campana writes, “The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has never ruled on a dispute involving groundwater. There is currently one case now pending and being heard before a Special Master appointed by SCOTUS: the Mississippi v. Tennessee case involving the former’s contention that the latter – via the City of Memphis’s utility, Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW) – has been ‘stealing’ its groundwater for about 20 years. Mississippi is asking for a bit over $600M in compensation for its loss.  A number of us WaterWonks – not all lawyers – are salivating at the prospect of a ruling that might bring groundwater into the 21st century (legally speaking) instead of the 19th. ... ”  Read more from the Water Wired blog here:  Another groundwater case for SCOTUS? Do reserved rights apply to groundwater?

Yuba River chinook salmon status: Tom Cannon writes, “A March 16, 2017 Yubanet article by South Yuba Citizens League (SYRCL) noted that the 2016 fall run of salmon for the Yuba River has dropped to the low level observed since 2007 and 2008 (Figure 1):  “The low salmon run size for the Yuba River appears to be part of another regional salmon collapse.”  Comment: the 2007-2008 Central Valley salmon collapse was attributed to several potential causes: poor ocean conditions for spawn/brood years 2004 and 2005, poor 2004-2005 Bay–Delta conditions, and lack of hatchery pen acclimation in the Bay.1 Most likely that collapse was related to drier river conditions from years 2001-2005 and critically dry years in 2007-2008, after wet conditions in years 1995-2000 resulted in high population levels. The new 2016 low is likely a consequence of the drought years 2012-2015, and specifically of poor conditions in the Yuba River. … ”  Continue reading from the California Fisheries Blog here:  Yuba River chinook salmon status

Stench rises over Oakdale Irrigation District recall:  “Over the last few years, the Oakdale Irrigation District (OID) has conducted a secret water sale, failed to re-district according to state law, sold water by abandoning its water rights, annexed out-of-the-region buyers into the district at bargain rates while rejecting offers from local farmers to pay more for OID water, lost a water sale because it failed to observe requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act, barred newly elected directors from closed-session meetings, and pumped record amounts of groundwater while selling surface water to out-of-district buyers. Many of those actions, as well as other questionable decisions, are very likely why incumbent directors Frank Clark and Al Bairos were overwhelmingly defeated in the 2015 board election. … ”  Continue reading at the Valley Citizen here:  Stench rises over Oakdale Irrigation District recall

Why is the Salton Sea over there?  Rodney Smith writes, “Hydrowonk gratefully received an invitation to attend the Salton Sea Tour sponsored by the Water Education Foundation on March 16th, the day the Natural Resources Agency released a 10-Year Plan for habitat and dust suppression projects in the Salton Sea.  The tour was hosted by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, State Senator Ben Hueso and Resources Secretary John Laird.  After assembling at the Imperial County Airport, the entourage went to two venues.  The first stop was the Red Hill Marina.  Presentations included the observation that, in 2004, the Salton Sea shoreline was where tents were installed for a brown bag lunch.  I looked west to find the Salton Sea shoreline miles away.  I was stunned at the decline in the Salton Sea elevation with the attendant increase in the amount of exposed playa laced with residues of toxic/unhealthful chemicals and organics. ... ”  Read more from Hydrowonk here:  Why is the Salton Sea over there?

Should the feds leave regulation to the states?  Dan Farber writes, “Voices in and out of the Trump Administration have called for a shift responsibility for environmental protection to the states. Given that none of them has ever shown enthusiasm for state environmental protection, it’s possible whether their rule concern is federalism or deregulation. (In fact, as NYU’s Ricky Revesz points out, Pruitt has generally opposed state-level environmental protection.)  Be that as it may, there are legitimate questions about precisely where to draw the boundaries between the federal and state roles. It’s difficult, however, to see a case for a wholesale abrogation of federal authority in favor of the states. More than in difficult, in fact — it would be more accurate to say nearly impossible.  Before looking at the justifications for a strong federal role, it’s worth noting that the present system by no means gives the federal government complete control. … ”  Read more from Legal Planet here:  Should the feds leave regulation to the states?Daily 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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