BLOG ROUND-UP: Bloggers on Reclamation’s “maximizing” water deliveries, Delta smelt extinction, Fish science, drought, and more …

blog-round-up-previous-editionsRebalancing regulatory policies: Bureau of Reclamation looks to “maximize water deliveries”:  Tom Nassif writes, “The farmers who make up the heart of Western Growers’ membership are astute businesspeople. They understand the old adage, “Don’t throw good money after bad.” Our members understand that in business, sometimes problems are so intractable, endeavors so futile, that no matter how much more money you sink into a project, the original investment will be lost. Sometimes it is best to simply walk away (or disc up a field, to put it in a farming context).  Likewise, when a course of public policy proves over time to be insufficient to achieve its stated objectives – and actually produces significant economic and social harm – the sensible response is to change course.  It is a history so well-known it is hardly worth repeating. … ”  Read more from Nassif’s Notes here:  Rebalancing regulatory policies: Bureau of Reclamation looks to “maximize water deliveries”

Delta smelt extinction looms; Governor Brown remains silent:  Restore the Delta writes, “On December 29, 2017, The Trump Administration announced their intention to increase Delta exports to Central Valley farmers, despite Delta smelt nearing extinction. In the wake of this environmental crisis, California water reporters and environmental watchdog groups are wondering, “Where is Governor Brown?”  Executive Director of Restore the Delta, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla said, “America’s first fish species could be lost forever under Governor Brown’s watch. With only two delta smelt identified in the last fish survey, state and federal agencies need to focus time, money, and energy on restoring smelt populations instead of turning up the pumps. Governor Brown positioned himself as a global environmental advocate when President Trump took office, but has chosen to remain silent about Delta water exports since the Trump Administration’s announcement to increase pumping. Governor Brown has proved that he can stand up to President Trump in the past, so why not now?” … ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  Delta smelt extinction looms; Governor Brown remains silent

New paths to survival for endangered winter run chinook salmon:  “Many Californians have seen headlines about endangered Sacramento River Winter Run Chinook salmon (“winter run”) on the “brink of extinction.” But not many people know exactly what winter run are, nor why they are endangered.  Like all salmon, winter run reproduce (spawn) in freshwater. Their offspring migrate to the ocean as juveniles, where they feed and mature before returning to their natal stream to renew the cycle.  However, the timings of these movements differ dramatically among salmon species and populations. Winter run exhibit a suite of behaviors so unique that they are treated as a separate “species” by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and were the first Pacific salmon to be state and federally listed as endangered in 1989 and 1994, respectively. ... ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  New paths to survival for endangered winter run chinook salmon

Is this how we will save wild salmon?  Jim Yuskavitch writes, “Frank Moore is a fly-fishing legend—at least along Oregon’s North Umpqua River, which has been renowned for its summer steelhead since the 1930s, when Western fiction author Zane Grey fished its waters. Moore is a D-Day veteran; he returned after the war to live beside the river with his wife, Jeanne. Together, they became among the North Umpqua’s most vocal and effective advocates. In 1966, they founded the Steamboaters, a group of local angler-conservationists who still zealously guard the welfare of the river and its population of wild and wily steelheads. Now a coalition of fish conservation groups is seeking to extend the Moores’ lifelong contribution into the future with a Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary that will protect vital spawning habitat. Beyond that, the effort may prove to be a viable alternative to more restrictive approaches (like wilderness or wild and scenic river designations) in an inclement political era. ... ”  Read more from Sierra Magazine here:  Is this how we will save wild salmon?

Fish science?  Families Protecting the Valley writes, “You may have seen the latest story about pumping water out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (As fish disappear, Trump administration seeks to pump more California water south) and the reaction of fish scientists and environmentalists. Doug Obegi of the Natural Resources Defense Council was quoted in the story as saying “the Trump administration is saying damn the fish and damn the rivers and let’s get more water to Westlands.” Jay Lund, director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences warned, “I don’t know that they’re going to find a lot of extra water without doing violence.” Violence? Wow.  It’s always astounding to us how environmentalists and fish scientists look at all the evidence and never seem to come to the obvious conclusion. ... ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:  Fish science? 

Delta smelt: End of 2017:  Tom Cannon writes, “In a recent post, I summarized the population dynamics of Delta smelt using the Summer Townet Index and Fall Midwater Trawl index relationships.  Since then, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife updated the Fall Midwater Trawl Index for 2017.  In turn, I update the relationships in Figures 1 and 2 below.  As I predicted in another post last fall, there was no uptick in the 2017 index, despite it being a wet year.  News articles on the subject suggest “no easy answers.”  To me it is obvious that the water project managers went out of their way to short smelt in 2017.  The prognosis for Delta smelt remains grim.”  More from the California Fisheries blog here:  Delta smelt: End of 2017

Overconfident: No one is ever blamed or held accountable for mistakes or policies that don’t work:  Families Protecting the Valley writes, “We’re looking over the report by an independent team of experts on what went wrong at Oroville when almost 200,000 people had to be evacuated in fear of a dam failure.  There’s a lot to unpack but it’s difficult to overlook phrases like ‘overconfident’, ‘complacent’, ‘lax inspections’ and ‘lazy repairs’.  The San Francisco Chronicle reports “The 584-page document describes a culture of complacency, overconfidence and insularity at the Department of Water Resources that allowed errors to compound earlier errors, dating back all the way to the dam’s construction in the 1960s.” ... ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:  Overconfident: No one is ever blamed or held accountable for mistakes or policies that don’t work

A deep dive into the shallow end:  The California Farm Water Coalition writes, “California Magazine, the publication of the UC Berkeley Alumni Association, recently published an article by Glen Martin on California water issues. Titled, A Deep Dive Into California’s Recurring Drought Problem, the article contains a number of recommendations that, if implemented, would devastate large parts of California’s economy, without a significant improvement in California’s available water supply. A generously quoted individual, Dr. Richard Walker, suggests a few things that may make sense in macro economics but fail to address the consequences of large-scale farmland retirement. … ”  Read more from the California Farm Water Coalition blog here: A deep dive into the shallow end

Flood Protection 101: Stay out of the floodplain:  Lori Pottinger writes, “What did the catastrophic hurricane season of 2017 tell us about how we’re managing flood risk? We talked to Nicholas Pinter—a flood and floodplains expert at the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences and a member of the PPIC Water Policy Center research network―about improving flood management.  PPIC: Why did Hurricane Harvey result in so much damage to Houston?  Nicholas Pinter: Houston has had very bad land use planning—it is built on flood-prone land, and its inadequate storm drainage makes flooding worse.  … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Flood Protection 101: Stay out of the floodplain

Northern California water resource managers are prepared for this water year:  “The recent dry spell in California has re-kindled memories of the recent dry years in California and reminds us all about the variability inherent in California’s precipitation. Water resources managers in Northern California learned from the previous dry years and are prepared for this water year–closely coordinating with DWR, Reclamation, and the fisheries agencies to work through this water year as weather patterns emerge over the next several months. … ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here:  Northern California water resource managers are prepared for this water year

A brief tutorial in how bad the Colorado River Basin snowpack is right now: John Fleck writes, “Let’s look at the new Colorado Basin River Forecast Center graphic of projected runoff into Lake Powell, shall we?  The folks at CBRFC has done a lovely update of their graphical presentation. The story it’s telling right now – not so lovely.  Let’s take this step by step.  First, the green lines in the middle of the graph … ”  Continue reading at the Inkstain blog here:  A brief tutorial in how bad the Colorado River Basin snowpack is right now

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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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