BLOG ROUND-UP: California Water Fix, the Delta smelt, and salmon; MWD’s Cal Water Fix cost assessment; Federal reserved rights for groundwater?; Checks and balances and the Clean Water Act rule; and more …

Mount Shasta, by Thomas Hawk

blog-round-up-previous-editionsCalifornia Water Fix and the Delta smelt:  Peter Moyle and James Hobbs write, “The delta smelt is on a trajectory towards extinction in the wild. Heading into 2017, the spawning adult population was at an all-time low although this past wet winter has apparently seen a small resurgence. However, increasingly warm summer temperatures in the Delta may dampen any upswing. Given the long-term trajectory of the population and climate predictions for California, maintaining Delta smelt in the Delta for the next 20-30 years is not likely to happen without significant improvements to the habitat.  So, what happens to the remaining smelt when they encounter California WaterFix? … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  California Water Fix and the Delta smelt

California Water Fix workshops: Costs and financing: Jeff Kightlinger writes, “Consumers have two very reasonable questions when it comes to any proposed big-ticket public project that may affect their utility bills: What is the project going to cost me? And what is the approximate cost of an alternative?  We at Metropolitan answer those questions and more in our latest policy white paper providing a detailed look at the financial planning for California WaterFix. The financial analysis, which will be discussed at a joint committee meeting of our Board of Directors on Monday, Aug. 14, indicates that the average Southern California household would pay in the range of approximately $2-3 a month more for California WaterFix, based on today’s project estimates and interest rates. That’s even a better deal than the $5 per month figure we previously estimated. ... ”  Read more from the H2Outlook blog here:  California Water Fix workshops: Costs and financing

MWD’s WaterFix Cost Assessment is Inaccurate and Inadequate, says Doug ObegiThe Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) released its final white paper on paying for the California WaterFix project yesterday.  Based on my initial review, as discussed below the white paper relies on two inaccurate assumptions, which significantly bias the analysis and conclusions and provides the Board of Directors with misleading and inaccurate information.  An accurate assessment of costs and cost allocation is critical for the Board of Directors to exercise their fiduciary duty to ratepayers across Southern California, as they decide whether to commit billions of dollars over the coming decades in higher water rates and property taxes, to pay for WaterFix. MWD’s white paper provides a wholly inadequate basis for the Board of Directors to exercise that fiduciary duty. MWD’s Board of Directors should demand an external review of the memo (for instance, the Westlands Water District had Goldman Sachs provide a presentation to their Board of Directors), and more time to consider the pros and cons, before making a decision on whether to fund the tunnels.  ... ”  Read more from the NRDC here:  MWD’s WaterFix Cost Assessment is Inaccurate and Inadequate, says Doug Obegi

Initial reaction to Metropolitan Water District’s financing white paper:  Jeff Michael writes, “I am leaving for the airport in 30 minutes, but judging from my Inbox, there is a high demand for a reaction to Metropolitan Water District’s recently posted white paper on financing and ratepayer costs of the Delta Tunnels.  Here is my reaction after an initial review. All the calculations and modeling in the paper relies on 3 huge assumptions which are almost certainly false. It assumes farmers (and wildlife refuges) pay the vast majority (approximately 2/3) of the estimated $17 billion cost.  Multiple analysis and statements by various potential participants have shown this is unlikely.  Drop this assumption, and Met’s cost share could triple. ... ”  Read more from The Valley Economy blog here: Initial reaction to Metropolitan Water District’s financing white paper

WaterFix results in $1 billion in harm to winter-run chinook salmon according to California guidelines used for storage projects:  Jeff Michael writes, “Two major water infrastructure policy processes are moving towards critical decision points that will determine their financial viability: a) the WaterFix (Delta Tunnels) led by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and b) $2.7 billion in Proposition 1 (Water Bond) funding towards public benefits from new storage administered by the California Water Commission.  One of these processes (Prop 1, California Water Commission or CWC) is treating economics seriously in the planning process, while the other (WaterFix) has not. Sadly, there is a lot more money and environmental risk associated with the tunnels project that has been ignoring and/or suppressing economic analysis of the project. ... ”  Read more from the Valley Economy blog here:  WaterFix results in $1 billion in harm to winter-run chinook salmon according to California guidelines used for storage projects

The twin tunnels project: A disaster for salmon, part 3:  Tom Cannon writes, “As previously discussed in Parts 1 and 2 of this series, due to the poor intake locations of the Twin Tunnels, the unacceptably low sweeping flows past the intakes’ fish screens, and exceedingly and harmfully long exposure time of young salmon to the screens, the fish will encounter a formidable gauntlet while attempting to migrate to the ocean. The Twin-Tunnels project proponents begrudgingly realized that the daunting length of the three fish screens will likely result in salmon impingement and other problems. Their solution? Slap on yet another unproven measure to supposedly provide temporary “refuge” for the weakened fish traversing the long screens. ... ”  Read more from the California Fisheries blog here:  The twin tunnels project: A disaster for salmon, part 3

Restore the Delta Outlines Risks of Delta Tunnels Participation for MWD in Comment Letter: “Today, Restore the Delta submitted a formal letter regarding the risks of the CA WaterFix proposal to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The comment letter outlined various fiscal, environmental, and supply reliability risks of the project for not only Southern California, but the entire state. Policy Analyst for Restore the Delta, Tim Stroshane said:  “MWD is the biggest water buyer in California. Recent presentations from MWD staff reveal a misguided belief that the way to fix the Delta is by destroying it with tunnels. CA WaterFix is neither a reliable nor cost-effective way to build southern California water supply reliability for the future.” … ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  Restore the Delta Outlines Risks of Delta Tunnels Participation for MWD in Comment Letter

LA County ratepayers rally against the Brown/Trump water stealing tunnels:  Dan Bacher writes, “This afternoon starting at 2 p.m., MWD will hold a workshop to discuss the release of their financing plan and the projected cost to Los Angeles ratepayers.  “Ratepayers will converge at today’s meeting today to protest this unfair rate and tax hike,” according to Brenna Norton of Food & Water Watch in a news advisory.  The average L.A. customer would see their water bills rise from $200 to over $393 annually for up to 75 years, according to an independent analysis by EcoNorthwest. … ”  Read more from the Red, Green, and Blue blog here:  LA County ratepayers rally against the Brown/Trump water stealing tunnels

New approaches to implement the Endangered Species Act in California:  The Northern California Water Association blog writes, “While the debates over the Endangered Species Act continue, we believe there are some straightforward and very practical solutions that seem to be working within the current regulatory construct. Most notably, we recommend an increased focus on the section 4 recovery planning process rather than the section 7 biological opinion process whenever possible.  To juxtapose the effectiveness of these processes, start with section 7, where various parties have been fighting for the past several decades over the Biological Opinions (BiOps) involving California’s Bay-Delta and the related river systems. … ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here:  New approaches to implement the Endangered Species Act in California

Another fall-run salmon crash: Bad ocean conditions again?  or Bad river/Delta/Bay conditions?  Tom Cannon writes, “NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center states on its website: “Similar to 2015, many of the ocean ecosystem indicators suggest 2016 to be another poor year for juvenile salmon survival, the second consecutive year of poor ocean conditions. The PDO was strongly positive (warm) throughout 2016, coinciding with the continuing of the anomalously warm ocean conditions in the NE Pacific initiated by the “The Blob” that began in the fall of 2013. Strong El Niño conditions at the equator also persisted throughout 2015 until May of 2016. Sea surface and upper 20 m water temperatures off Newport Oregon remained warmer than usual (+2°C) throughout most of 2016 continuing two consecutive years of anomalously warm ocean conditions.” Mother Nature has once again dealt California salmon a deadly set of circumstances. … ”  Read more from the California Fisheries blog here:  Another fall-run salmon crash: Bad ocean conditions again?  or Bad river/Delta/Bay conditions?

The time is now to save water for California’s future: The public benefits of Sites Reservoir:  The Northern California Water Association writes, “The Sites Project Authority today submitted an application to the California Water Commission to fund the public benefits of Sites Reservoir. Sites Reservoir is a unique and very modern water storage project–offering significant public benefits by providing up to 50% of water to environmental flows, creating a net benefit in water quality improvements; reduced salinity levels in the Delta; improved Pacific Flyway habitat for migratory birds and other native species; and more reliable cold water for the benefit of salmon in the Sacramento Valley river systems. These public benefits are described in more detail in the Sites Project Executive Summary. … ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here: The time is now to save water for California’s future: The public benefits of Sites Reservoir

That time we built a dam in Glen Canyon:  John Fleck writes, “Lauren Steely, late of the Bren School, did a neat analysis a few days ago to help visualize Oroville Dam inflow data. She’s using R’s joyplot tool, which is all the rage these days as a new day to line up and visualize variability in datasets that have repeating patterns.  Like, for example, the annual hydrograph on a river. … ”  Read more from the Inkstain Blog here:  That time we built a dam in Glen Canyon

Trial to start next week in feds demand for tens of millions for Duarte Nursery for plowing a field:  Tony Francois writes, “Next Tuesday, August 15, at 9:00 a.m. Pacific, at the federal courthouse in Sacramento, California, trial will get underway in the federal government’s outrageous demand for tens of millions of dollars in punishment from Duarte Nursery for plowing a field to plant wheat without permission from the United States Army. Needless to say, if the judge awards the government that much, it will be the end of the company and the jobs of its several hundred employees (none of whom had any role in this matter).  Today, the Daily Caller published an excellent article summarizing what is in dispute in the case. The entire piece is available here, but this paragraph captures the essence of it: ... ”  Read more from the Liberty Blog here:  Trial to start next week in feds demand for tens of millions for Duarte Nursery for plowing a field

Are there federal reserved rights for groundwater?  Damien Schiff writes, “That is the question being asked of the United States Supreme Court in two cert petitions filed last month, Desert Water Authority & Coachella Valley Water District v. Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Succinctly, the doctrine of federal reserved water rights creates a presumption that when the federal government withdraws land from the public domain (for, say, an Indian reservation or a national forest), the government also impliedly reserves the right to sufficient water to fulfill the purpose of the land withdrawal. Sounds reasonable enough, right? Well, not quite. … ”  Read more from the Liberty Blog here:  Are there federal reserved rights for groundwater?

Ditching checks and balances on the Clean Water Act rule:  Reed Benson writes, “The House of Representatives Appropriations Committee has approved a funding bill that would allow the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw an existing Clean Water Act rule “without regard to any provision of statute or regulation that establishes a requirement for such withdrawal.” This rule, known as Waters of the United States or WOTUS, was adopted by the Obama Administration EPA to clarify which waters are subject to Clean Water Act jurisdiction. The House Appropriations Bill is extraordinary, because if approved it would allow the Trump EPA to eliminate this rule without going through the usually required process, including public comment on the EPA’s proposal. … ”  Read more from Western River Law blog here:  Ditching checks and balances on the Clean Water Act rule

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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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One comment

  • Tom

    Very informative! Thank You. With links to White Papers and other Water Blogs; I get to see various viewpoints on this very important California water program.

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