BLOG ROUND-UP: Groundwater management, twin tunnels, California agriculture, small water systems, and more …

Capitola; Photo by Jerry Burke

blog-round-up-previous-editionsBringing order to groundwater management: Alvar Escriva-Bou and Jelena Jezdimirovic write, “California’s water management is a complex stew with many cooks. At the local level, hundreds of irrigation districts and urban water agencies and a few thousand small drinking water suppliers are responsible for a wide variety of water-related issues. And it just got more complex: as of June 30, more than 250 newly formed Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) were added to the mix.  The 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) directed local agencies to develop institutions, plans, and implementation strategies to sustainably manage their groundwater resources for the long run. … ”  Read more from the PPIC Blog here: Bringing order to groundwater management

When are markets appropriate tools for sustainably managing groundwater?  Nell Green Nylen writes, “Locals implementing California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) are rapidly turning from questions about who will manage groundwater and how they should approach institutional design to next-level questions: What does sustainability mean for a particular basin, and how will local managers achieve it?  One of many potential management tools is a local groundwater market. SGMA opens the door for local markets but does not provide guidance about when they might be appropriate.  Proponents’ rhetoric can paint markets as an unambiguously better, or even as the only, solution to California’s water challenges. However, faith in market efficiency needs to be tempered with a firm grasp of the greater physical and institutional context for water. Markets may be part of the solution, but only where implemented carefully. … ”  Read more from the Legal Planet here:  When are markets appropriate tools for sustainably managing groundwater?

Access, power, and money in California groundwater governance:  Faith Kearns writes, “Casey Walsh is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. … He has also been increasingly involved in the politics of groundwater management in California, which I ask him about in the interview below.  Q: You’re currently working on issues related to groundwater in California, particularly implementation of the new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Can you tell us a little more about what you’ve been focused on?  I have been following the SGMA process as it unfolds in both the Paso Robles and Cuyama groundwater basins in the Central Coast region of California. I am mostly an academic observer, but sometimes I do participate when I have something to contribute that is not already present.  As an anthropologist, I’m particularly interested in the themes of access, power, and money. And how those things play out is fairly different in these different basins. … ”  Read more from the Confluence Blog here:  Access, power, and money in California groundwater governance

Twin Tunnels: A disaster for salmon, part 2:  Tom Cannon writes, “Another biological problem with the Twin-Tunnels’ intakes:  Like gigantic vacuum cleaners, the flow pulled through the river intakes will likely suck baby salmon up against the fish screens (called “impingement”).  To minimize this problem, low through-screen water velocities (also called approach velocities) are necessary to hopefully prevent young salmon from encountering physical, injurious contact with fish screens.  The WaterFix proponents “promise” to keep those velocities low.  The biological problem with this premise is that juvenile salmon are weak swimmers on a sustained basis and cannot tolerate swimming against approach velocities through the screens for long periods.  When naturally migrating downstream, the small fish essentially “go with the flow” and do not aggressively fight against the current, except in unavoidable desperation (see: Struggling Salmon).  ... ” Read more from the California Fisheries Blog here:  Twin Tunnels: A disaster for salmon, part 2  SEE ALSO: MWD’s dreams: a nightmare for fish

Restore the Delta warns SCVWD Board Directors of CA Water Fix risks in comment letter:  “Restore the Delta submitted a formal letter regarding the risks of the CA WaterFix proposal to the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors today. The comment letter outlined various fiscal, environmental, and supply reliability risks of the project for not only Silicon Valley, but the entire state.  Policy Analyst for Restore the Delta, Tim Stroshane said:  “We wanted District Board members to grasp the risks California WaterFix poses to the District, their customers, and to the environmental justice communities of the Delta—and for what? Silicon Valley only takes a four percent share of Delta exports, yet they would shoulder a heavy financial burden with the Tunnels for several generations to come. WaterFix is not worth it, especially considering the lower cost alternatives we provided them.” ... ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  Restore the Delta warns SCVWD Board Directors of CA Water Fix risks in comment letter

Congress takes an important step to prevent future droughts:  Kerry Jackson writes, “Thanks to a stormy winter, California’s long drought is over says state government. But California’s man-made drought will continue as long as Sacramento misallocates our water supply. Maybe it’s time to appeal to a higher but distant authority.  When Gov. Jerry Brown declared in April that the six-year “drought emergency is over,” he didn’t seem like a man relieved. Maybe because what followed was a weary caveat.  “The next drought could be around the corner,” he said. “Conservation must remain a way of life.” Brown’s warning was less a weather forecast than an acknowledgement, probably unintended, that policymakers have done a poor job as stewards of the state’s water resources. … ”  Read more from Fox and Hounds here:  Congress takes an important step to prevent future droughts

California agriculture: A state of abundance:  The Northern California Water Association writes, “California’s farmers and ranchers produce an amazing economic bounty.  As demonstrated in an infographic in the June edition of Comstock’s Magazine (page 98), California agriculture contributed $47.1 billion – yes, billion with a “b” (down from a high of $53.5 billion in 2014) to the state’s economy in 2015.  Not included in this total is the impact agriculture has on other sectors, including shipping and warehousing, that are larger parts of the state’s economy. Sometimes, the economic production of California’s agricultural sector gets lost in the state’s economy as a whole, which diminishes its amazing contribution to the state. When this occurs, it is important to remember the magnitude of California’s economy. … ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here:  California agriculture: A state of abundance

Small, self-sufficient water systems continue to battle a hidden drought:  Amanda Fencl and Meghan Klasic write, “California’s drought appears over, at least above ground. As of April 2017, reservoirs were around 2 million acre feet above normal with record breaking snowpack . This is great news for the 75% of Californians that get their drinking water from large, urban surface water suppliers. Groundwater, however, takes longer to recharge and replenish. What does this mean for the more than 2,000 small community water systems and hundreds of thousands of private well-reliant households that rely on groundwater? … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Small, self-sufficient water systems continue to battle a hidden drought

Drop for drop? The tension between sameness and difference in water sources:  “Casey Walsh is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. … This interview takes a deeper look at his newest book on the cultural, political, and economic dimensions of how mineral springs in Mexico have been used and managed, both in the past and present, and how some of those themes might apply in California.  Q: You have a new book, Virtuous Waters, coming out early next year. Can you tell us a little about the book? A: Virtuous Waters has to do with drinking, bathing, and thinking about water during the last five hundred years in Mexico. The book makes the argument that the most important aspects of water use are the ones that are the most common for the most people – bathing and drinking. ... ”  Read more from The Confluence Blog here:  Drop for drop? The tension between sameness and difference in water sourcesDaily 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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