BLOG ROUND-UP: Cal Water Fix, groundwater recovery, ecosystems, climate change, salmon, and more …

Somewhere in Davis; Photo by Eric Fredericks

Will the Metropolitan Water District Board Give Their Staff a Blank Check for WaterFix? Comparing language in MWD resolutions from October 2017 and April 2018: Jeff Michael writes, “Last fall, when the Metropolitan Water District board voted to approve their share of WaterFix, the authorization of the General Manager was strictly limited to $4.3 billion (calculated as 26% of total estimated cost, but the limit was on the amount).  Tomorrow, the resolution before Board members does not limit the amount, but approves the General Manager to pay 64.6% of total project costs and grants the General Manager discretion in how the percentage is calculated. While the staff report estimates this amount as “up to $10.8 billion,” the actual resolution varies substantially from previous resolutions in that it does not include a specific dollar amount or any language to limit the total amount. … ”  Read more from the Valley Economy blog here: Will the Metropolitan Water District Board Give Their Staff a Blank Check for WaterFix? Comparing language in MWD resolutions from October 2017 and April 2018

MWD changes course on Delta tunnels twice in one week: Could twin tunnels vs. phased construction? Restore the Delta writes, “On Friday at the eleventh hour, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) pivoted their direction on the Delta Tunnels again, putting the twin tunnels back on the table for discussion during their April 10 vote, after scrapping the $17 billion proposal in a board memo sent on Monday. … Restore the Delta’s executive director, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla commented, “If MWD’s ever-changing planning processes offer a look into what adaptive management could be like during tunnel(s) construction and operations, California’s water management system is in deep trouble for the next century. … ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  MWD changes course on Delta tunnels twice in one week

Groups contend Delta tunnels not being designed to withstand Maximum Considered Earthquake on nearby faults: California Water Research, Sierra Club, LA Waterkeeper, Southern CA Watershed Alliance, Exergy Energy Systems, Social Eco Education write, “We are writing to you about the Department of Water Resources’ cost-benefit analysis for the WaterFix project. The February 2018 WaterFix cost-benefit analysis by David Sunding discusses the risks and potential economic costs of export curtailment due to multiple levee failures from a Maximum Considered Earthquake (MCE) on the Hayward-Rogers Creek fault.1 Sunding’s cost-benefit analysis implies that construction of the Waterfix tunnels would result in no reduction in State Water Project and Central Valley Project exports in the event of such an earthquake. This is severely misleading and inaccurate.  The simple fact is that the WaterFix tunnels are not currently being designed to withstand a Maximum Considered Earthquake on nearby faults, as defined by the American Society of Civil Engineers’ ASCE-7 standard. … ” Read the letter here: Delta tunnels seismic risk notice

Groundwater recovery in California – still behind the curve:  Thomas Harter and Bill Brewster write, “California has a unique and highly variable climate in which drought reoccurs periodically. California began this century in a dry period from 1999 to 2005, and experienced droughts from 2007 to 2009, and 2012 to 2016. Such wet-dry cycles can be seen in Figure 1, which shows total rainfall amounts per water year (water years run from October 1 to September 30). These dry cycles greatly affect the state’s groundwater basins.  Despite the current storms, the 2018 water year is well below average, and that pattern may continue. But from a groundwater perspective, it’s clear that dry is the new norm. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Groundwater recovery in California – still behind the curve

blog-round-up-previous-editionsEcosystems need groundwater, too:  Lori Pottinger writes, “Groundwater is a critical resource for most living things in California. But while human communities can increase groundwater pumping when surface supplies diminish during droughts, ecological systems often have no backup supply. We talked to Sandi Matsumoto, associate director of the Nature Conservancy’s California Water Program, about determining which ecosystems are particularly dependent on groundwater and what can be done to help them cope with dropping water levels.  PPIC: What are “groundwater-dependent ecosystems”?  Sandi Matsumoto: These are familiar places to everyone—wetlands, rivers, estuaries, springs, and associated plants and animals that rely on groundwater to meet some or all of their needs. … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  Ecosystems need groundwater, too

How are California water managers thinking about climate change? It depends:  Faith Kearns writes, “When it comes to using climate change science to help guide decisions, researchers have found that California water managers fall into three fairly distinct groups based on how they work with scientific information and how they think about the future. While some water managers are actively using climate change science, others are not using it at all. In between these two extremes is a group that uses some climate information, but tends to defer to politics in decision-making. … ”  Read more from The Confluence blog here: How are California water managers thinking about climate change? It depends

Salmon spring threat – need for strong measure:  Tom Cannon writes, “In a March 25, 2018 post, I suggested strong measures to protect salmon populations in the Central Valley. Well, it is time for action number one. Young salmon from last fall’s spawn are pouring down the rivers for the Delta, Bay, and ocean. Hatcheries are about to stock millions of fall-run smolts. Up until last week, young salmon were getting lots of roiling cold water to push them along on their journey. But with a break in the rains snow melt is being trapped in reservoirs, and things are changing. Waters are getting warmer, fish are getting stressed, and predation is up. Sacramento River water levels have dropped over ten feet in the past week, and flow has dropped by half (Figure 1). Water temperatures below Colusa have risen sharply to over 60°F, perfect to stimulate the appetites of striped bass. ... ”  Read more from the California Fisheries blog here:  Salmon spring threat – need for strong measure

Water quality in the Sacramento Valley is good for aquatic life:  The Northern California Water Association blog writes, “Recent water quality monitoring testing conducted for the Sacramento Valley Water Quality Coalition (Coalition) show that water quality in the Sacramento Valley is good and particularly healthy for the aquatic ecosystem. Aquatic health and the biological condition of waterbodies is generally measured by toxicity testing for sensitive algae, invertebrates, and fish as shown in the following figure … ”  Continue reading at the NCWA blog here:  Water quality in the Sacramento Valley is good for aquatic life

Merced River salmon:  Tom Cannon writes, “The Merced River salmon population trends follow a similar pattern to those of other Central Valley rivers (Figure 1). Droughts (76-77, 87-92, 07-09, and 13-15) drive the population down. The basic response appears as a two year lag, reflecting the fact that primary mortality comes in the first year of life while living in rivers and migrating to the ocean. Lack of lag in some years likely reflects poor river conditions in late summer and fall when high mortality of adults may occur during their spawning run. The population increases in normal-wet year sequences (82-86, 95-00, and 10-12). The recent better drought performance with good runs in 2016 and 2017 (not shown) likely reflects the practice of trucking most of the Merced Hatchery smolts to the Bay in spring since 2010. ... ”  Read more from the California Fisheries blog here: Merced River salmon

Is the Central Arizona Project gaming reservoir levels to take more water from the Upper Basin?  John Fleck writes, “This Central Arizona Project infographic has been a bit of a “WTF” moment in the Colorado River Basin management community (click through for inforgraphic) … Kudos to whoever designed this. I’ve struggled to find ways to explain this. First posted to the Internet, then apparently taken down, it’s a solid explanation of the tricky way the Central Arizona Project has been managing its use of Lake Mead water – call for and use enough water early in the year to drop Lake Mead far enough to trigger a big release from Lake Powell, then crank back the orders later in the year to put the brakes on and keep Lake Mead from dropping so far that it’ll slip below elevation 1,075 and trigger a shortage declaration. … ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  Is the Central Arizona Project gaming reservoir levels to take more water from the Upper Basin?

Why, in 2018, the Bureau of Reclamation treated Mexico as part of the Colorado River basin:  “As I was working on a draft of my dissertation’s introduction a couple months ago, I decided that I HAD to know what percentage of the Colorado River Basin lies in Mexico. This factoid would have taken up half of a sentence and wasn’t necessary to my argument or larger purpose, but I was probably subconsciously (ok, consciously) looking for a way to procrastinate tackling the larger issues of the introduction, like formulating my argument. I put this question out to the #CORiver Twitterverse, and John, Abby Burk (of the Audubon Society), and I started an email chain that went way, way down a Colorado River rabbit hole. …. ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  Why, in 2018, the Bureau of Reclamation treated Mexico as part of the Colorado River basin

Department of Interior moves to rescind illegal threatened species rule: Damien Schiff writes, “On Monday, Department of Interior took the first step in withdrawing an illegal and counterproductive rule forbidding the “take” of hundreds of threatened species.  The move comes in response to two petitions PLF filed asking DOI and the Fish and Wildlife Service to rescind the regulation.  “If the Department of Interior follows through on its proposal, it will be a big win for the rule of law and species’ conservation,” PLF attorney Jonathan Wood said. ... ”  Read more from the Pacific Legal Foundation here:  Department of Interior moves to rescind illegal threatened species 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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