BLOG ROUND-UP: Delta tunnels biological opinions, “Spec” groundwater markets, Drought funding and the budget, How difficult would it be for the Trump Administration to replace the Clean Water Rule?, and more …

Sausalito, photo by Miwok

Restore the Delta critiques shortcomings of Metropolitan's white paper on Delta tunnels construction:  “Today, environmental nonprofit Restore the Delta released their official response to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s first of three “white papers” regarding the Delta Tunnels proposal.  The first MWD white paper focuses on the physical infrastructure and construction of the tunnels.  Policy Analyst for Restore the Delta Tim Stroshane says, “The MWD ‘white paper’ on Tunnels construction is badly truth-challenged. It ignores the fact that California voters defeated a peripheral canal project by a nearly 2 to 1 margin in 1982. It skips over the 2009 Delta Reform Act policy mandate that importers like MWD are to reduce reliance on the Delta for their future water needs. The Tunnels provide no benefits to any fish, ecosystems or Delta communities during construction for at least 13 years. The project will destroy the Delta in order to export more water.” ... ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  Restore the Delta critiques shortcomings of Metropolitan’s white paper on Delta tunnels construction

Biological Opinions for the Delta Tunnels include new cuts to water diversions and further increase risk to water agencies that must decide whether to invest billions:  Jeff Michael writes, “The much anticipated biological opinions (Biops) for the Delta tunnels (aka WaterFix) were said to be the documents that would provide more clarity to water agencies about how much water they would receive, and allow them to make a decision about whether they were willing to pay for the $16 billion tunnels by September.  While the Biops provided tunnel proponents a day to celebrate partial regulatory approval, the documents have done more to confuse than clarify water supply.  There is no updated modeling of water exports from the project, and there are multiple new items that increase uncertainty and could lead to future cuts to water supplies.  Most importantly, the Biops ... ”  Read more from the Valley Economy blog here:  Biological Opinions for the Delta Tunnels include new cuts to water diversions and further increase risk to water agencies that must decide whether to invest billions

SWB Delta Tunnels Testimonies Contradict District Officials’ Public Comments: Restore the Delta writes, “Kern County Water Agency President Ted Page stated at the Buena Vista Water Storage District meeting that Kern County Water Agency anticipated receiving 1 million additional acre feet of water on average annually with the Delta tunnels project.  At the Bay-Delta Committee meeting for Metropolitan Water District in May, Metropolitan staff informed board members that their member water districts will be paying for their share of Delta tunnels funding through water sales to consumers.  These public statements stand in contradiction to direct testimony made under oath by witnesses testifying on behalf of the California Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation at permit hearings at the State Water Resources Control Board. …   Read more from Restore the Delta here:  SWB Delta Tunnels Testimonies Contradict District Officials’ Public Comments

What California needs is a “spec” groundwater market, not fake-markets: Wayne Lusvardi writes,  “Imagine a market for housing or land where no one is selling because the real estate market is at a standstill due to a deep and protracted economic recession. This situation of a lack of sellers for about two years has repeated itself after every housing boom in California.  Unless there is a tier of speculators in the market who are always ready, willing and able to sell at some price, there is a very thin housing market or none at all in many locations.  The same predicament occurs with wholesale water in California during droughts, which are normal and occur four out of every five years on average.  Few, if any, farmers or cities want to sell water at all during drought. … ”  Read more from Wayne Lusvardi here:  What California needs is a “spec” groundwater market, not fake-markets

Hoping new reservoirs will immediately store more water for California?  That's unlikely:  Julia Forgie writes, “Surface water storage has become a hot topic in California. The recent drought led voters in 2014 to approve California’s Proposition 1 water bond, which, in part, earmarked $2.7 billion for the public benefits of storage projects. It’s very likely that at least some of that money will go to a large surface water storage project, although it could also fund groundwater storage or conjunctive use projects.  Does it make sense to channel that pot of money to surface storage projects? There’s been a lot of research and debate about the environmental impacts and cost effectiveness of surface water storage. ... ”  Read more from the Legal Planet blog here:  Hoping new reservoirs will immediately store more water for California?  That’s unlikely

Crops, water and habitat: This California farmer's winning trifecta: Ann Hayden writes, “During times of water scarcity, like California’s recent drought, it’s tempting to take on a binary view of the world.  This was definitely the case with agriculture, which appeared to be at odds with everyone: farms vs. fish, farm vs. cities, farms vs. regulators.  As a dominant water user in the state, they were easy targets.  But when one digs deeper, it’s obvious that many in the agricultural community want to move beyond this debate and do things differently. Yes growing food and fiber takes water, but there are plenty of farmers laser-focused on improving efficiency, maximizing multi-benefit solutions and striking a balance between growing crops and preserving the environment. … ”  Read more from the Growing Returns blog here:  Crops, water and habitat: This California farmer’s winning trifecta

Like drought never happened: Budget omits funds for water:  Aubrey Bettencourt writes, “A few weeks ago, the governor and other state politicians ran victory laps proclaiming their passage of California’s new record budget. The behemoth budget — the largest spending plan in our state’s history — provides $183 billion to fund many diverse programs and projects deemed necessary to the people and government of California.  Their speeches forgot, however, to mention a crucial item the Senate, Assembly and Governor Brown left out: funding to addresses California’s chronic water deficit. … ”  Read more from the Fox and Hounds blog here:  Like drought never happened: Budget omits funds for water

Reflections on Cadillac Desert:  Jay Lund writes, “In 1987, when Mark Reisner published his book Cadillac Desert, I had just begun professing on water management. The book went “viral,” before the word viral had its present-day internet-intoxicated meaning.  The book offered a compelling revisionist history and understanding of water development in the American West, based on economic self-interest, ideology, and Floyd Dominy’s personal drives.  Since then, Cadillac Desert has been a “must read” book for Western water wonks. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Reflections on Cadillac Desert

Carl Boronkay: A giant in water passes:  “There are people throughout history who leave huge impacts on our world, yet receive scant recognition. Carl Boronkay is one of these people. Carl passed on July 5.  Like others who knew Carl well and worked with him closely, I can confidently say that a true giant has passed.  Carl’s vision while he was at the helm of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is one of the primary reasons California was able to endure the recent five-year drought and still maintain an economy that grew faster than the national average. His mark on California water is indelible. Let me explain. ... ”  Read more from ACWA's Voices on Water blog here:  Carl Boronkay: A giant in water passes

Protecting groundwater dependent ecosystems: Putting policy into practice:  Melissa Rhode writes, “Groundwater is a vital water supply for people and nature.  However, species and ecosystems are increasingly threatened worldwide due to rising human water demands.  Droughts and unsustainable pumping practices have, in some areas, lowered groundwater levels causing undesirable results to these groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs), which may either rely on groundwater for some or all of their water needs.  GDEs can be found in the form of a wetland, river/stream, terrestrial landscape, or spring/seep.  This large diversity makes it difficult to provide a one-size-fits-all management solution since each GDE has different ecological water requirements, contains different species, fosters specific habitat conditions, and can face a variety of threats from groundwater basin activities.  Despite these challenges, GDEs are receiving increasing attention worldwide through the development of water management policy initiatives. ... ”  Read more at the Reflections on Water blog here:  Protecting groundwater dependent ecosystems: Putting policy into practice

Splittail status, end of June 2017:  Tom Cannon writes, “Last time I posted on splittail, it appeared that the species remained relatively abundant (though declining) in its core population centers in the Bay. I was concerned about population recruitment during the 2012-2015 drought and whether there were sufficient adults remaining to bring about a strong brood year in wet year 2017. The traditional summer and fall surveys will be the best indicator of success. At the end of spring, the best interim indicator is splittail salvage at south Delta SWP and CVP export facilities. In wet years, south Delta export salvage likely best reflects San Joaquin River splittail production. ... ”  Read more from the California Fisheries Blog here:  Splittail status, end of June 2017

Winter – Spring – Summer – Fall:  “Over a period of two weeks in June, life in the Sacramento Valley, which usually takes on a certain predictability, was anything but that. All four seasons materialized in that brief period, showing the resiliency of water managers and growers throughout the Sacramento Valley. But then again nothing about 2017 has had a certain predictability about it.  On June 11 the temperature in Sacramento was 68 degrees.  Less than a week later it was 106: the first of a week-long string of triple digit days that scorched the valley. … ”  Continue reading at the Northern California Water Association blog here:  Winter – Spring – Summer – Fall

Republicans in the Valley: The red menace:  Eric Caine writes, “According the U.S. Geological Survey, the largest known area of land subsidence in the world—some 1500 square miles—is in the San Joaquin Valley, between Los Banos and Kettleman City. The subsidence occurred decades ago when Valley farmers pumped groundwater to service the greatest food-producing region in the world.  Today, Valley farmers continue to pump groundwater at near-record rates. They did so during the worst drought in recent memory, they’re doing so now, and they will continue to do so. The subsidence and the ongoing pumping, much of which has resulted in complete depletion of the last of the nation’s great aquifers, continues because it’s fundamental to so-called “free market” economics, a major but unwritten tenet of which encourages privatizing profits and socializing costs. … ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen here:  Republicans in the Valley: The red menace

How difficult would it be for the Trump Administration to replace the Clean Water Rule?  Sean Hecht writes, “On Monday, I posted a quick summary of the Trump administration’s recent action to start rolling back the Clean Water Rule, a joint rule by the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that defines the range of waterways the Clean Water Act protects.   The proposed action the agencies announced last week, following an executive order from February that ordered the review and rollback of this rule, would rescind the rule.  But it wouldn’t yet roll back any protections for streams or wetlands, though proposals for those rollbacks will come down the road. Eliminating federal protections for health and the environment will be a long, cumbersome process for the administration requiring multiple steps.  Here, I’ll discuss some of the legal issues, procedural hurdles, and other challenges the administration faces in completing the rollback. … ”  Read more from the Legal Planet blog here:  How difficult would it be for the Trump Administration to replace the Clean Water Rule?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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