BLOG ROUND-UP: Ag water data, Delta tunnels, groundwater recharge, Sites Reservoir, water efficiency legislation, Agency U-turns, and more …

Photo by David Yu

California agriculture water data leaks through mismanagement cracks: NRDC’s Arohi Sharma writes, “All of us in California have a role to play in reducing our water use, especially since our state is entering a new normal of longer, more frequent, and more extreme droughts. While our urban water users are improving water use efficiencies and integrating smarter management into their water planning, California’s agricultural water suppliers—also called irrigation districts—are not complying with laws that require them to report on their water use. In fact, a report published today by NRDC reveals that, from 2012-2016, only 12 percent of California’s large irrigation districts submitted all of their water delivery reports required under existing law. A shocking 28 percent of California’s large irrigation districts never submitted a farm-gate delivery report from 2012-2016, and 58 percent of farm-gate reports from those large irrigation districts were not submitted on time. … ”  Read more from the NRDC Switchboard blog here:  California agriculture water data leaks through mismanagement cracks

blog-round-up-previous-editionsDesign changes in Delta tunnels draft supplemental EIR will not save the Delta ecosystem:  Restore the Delta writes, “Yesterday, the Delta Tunnels Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) was released online. The document details the environmental impact of proposed design changes that claim to minimize impacts felt by Delta communities and the environment.  The Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will review the draft in the comings months and determine if the document meets the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). … ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  Design changes in Delta tunnels draft supplemental EIR will not save the Delta ecosystem

Congress wants to ban lawsuits on the Delta tunnels.  Should Orange County support that?  Dan Bacher writes, “The MWDOC board of directors will vote on a resolution supporting the controversial rider at the water agency’s board meeting on Monday, June 18.  The rider would set a dangerous legal precedent if approved by Congress. “The elimination of judicial review foreshadows a regressive slide from a government controlled by laws to a government controlled by rulers,” summed up Bob Wright, Senior Attorney at Friends of the River. … ”  Read more from the Red, Green, and Blue blog here:  Congress wants to ban lawsuits on the Delta tunnels.  Should Orange County support that?

MWD Orange County Staff Recommends Board to Support Calvert’s Litigation Ban Rider to Secure the Delta Tunnels:  Restore the Delta writes, “Despite Senator Dianne Feinstein’s well-documented opposition to Congressman Ken Calvert’s (R-Corona) rider that would exempt the Delta tunnels (CA WaterFix) project from further judicial review, Metropolitan Water District of Orange County (MWDOC) staff has recommended that its board of directors support the controversial rider with a resolution vote at Monday’s, June 18, 2018 MWDOC board meeting.  MWDOC’s staff position on the rider is not shared by either of California’s senators. ... ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here: MWD Orange County Staff Recommends Board to Support Calvert’s Litigation Ban Rider to Secure the Delta Tunnels

How much water is available for groundwater recharge?  Alvar Escriva-Bou writes, “The wet winter of 2017 brought an opportunity to test groundwater recharge—the intentional spreading of water on fields to percolate into the aquifer—as a tool for restoring groundwater levels and helping basins comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). This is especially important in the San Joaquin Valley, which has the biggest imbalance between groundwater pumping and replenishment in the state.  A key question for many valley water managers is how much water will be available for recharge in the long term. By law, only river flows in excess of what is required for environmental purposes and to supply existing water-right holders are available for recharge. A recent report by the PPIC Water Policy Center estimated how much water would be available in the San Joaquin Valley over the long term. … ”  Read more from the PPIC blog here:  How much water is available for groundwater recharge?

Become very precise.  On the Public Record writes, “I searched the archives and it does not appear that I have written about my genuine fondness for Mr. Todd Fitchette, Associate Editor at the Western Farm Press.  I find that he is nearly always thinking about the very same topic as I am, only completely opposite.  I had great sympathy with one of his op-eds saying, more or less, ‘I just don’t want to think about water for a while’.  I hear you, brother. … ”  Read more from On the Public Record here:  Become very precise

Tribal Fishing/Environmental Justice Rights Prevail After Supreme Court Ruling: Richard Frank writes, “Perhaps the most consequential environmental case of the rapidly-concluding U.S. Supreme Court Term ended this week with a whimper rather than a bang: in a curt one-sentence order, the Court ruled that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ earlier decision in Washington v. United States “is affirmed by an equally divided Court.”  The justices split 4-to-4 on how to resolve this important case involving Native American fishing rights, declining salmon populations and environmental justice. Under longstanding Supreme Court practice, that means the Ninth Circuit decision in favor of the tribes and against Washington State is automatically affirmed and constitutes the final disposition of this longstanding legal and political dispute. … ”  Read more from the Legal Planet here:  Tribal Fishing/Environmental Justice Rights Prevail After Supreme Court Ruling

Sites Reservoir — Potential Benefits for Fish, Potential to Worsen Conditions for Fish:  Tom Cannon and Chris Schutes write, “The proposed Sites Reservoir would be a new off-stream storage reservoir covering 12,000 -14,000 surface acres with 1.8 million acre-ft of storage capacity on the west side of the Sacramento Valley (Figure 1). The project would capture and store unregulated Sacramento River winter-spring runoff and some water previously stored in Shasta Reservoir. The diversion capacity to the reservoir would be 5400-6500 cfs, supplied by two existing river diversions (up to 1800 cfs at Red Bluff; up to 2100 cfs at Hamilton City) and a new diversion near Colusa (proponents are evaluating alternative capacities of 1500 and 3000 cfs, in addition to the currently preferred capacity of 2000 cfs).  ... ”  Read more from the California Fisheries Blog here:  Sites Reservoir — Potential Benefits for Fish, Potential to Worsen Conditions for Fish

Kapusta 1a Side Channel Project is now open!  Harmony Gugino writes, “In late April, flows from the Sacramento River came rushing in to the new Kapusta 1a side channel at river mile 288 just upstream from the City of Anderson. What an exciting moment to witness!  Since that time, finishing touches on the project included final rock placement along the channel, closing up the temporary access road, and adding several more native riparian plants. Then, post-construction monitoring begins when over the next one plus years, the Upper Sacramento River Restoration Team will be observing channel function, habitat conditions and use by fish species. … ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here: Kapusta 1a Side Channel Project is now open!

Unpacking California’s New Water Efficiency Legislation: What Does It Mean for Urban Water Suppliers?  Caroline Koch writes, “Last week Governor Brown signed two companion bills to put California on the path to greater water use efficiency in light of climate change and the reality that water utilities are facing a “new normal.” These bills – SB 606 (Hertzberg) and AB 1668 (Friedman) – grew out of the Governor’s 2016 Executive Order about Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life, and a yearlong stakeholder process that resulted in an implementing Framework for the Executive Order in April 2017. Although much of the Framework structure was retained, the plan shifted and evolved during the legislative debate.  To provide a bit of clarity now that the bills have become law, this blog takes a look at what these new laws will do, what they won’t do, and a few key take-aways for urban water suppliers. ... ”  Read more from Water Now here:  Unpacking California’s New Water Efficiency Legislation: What Does It Mean for Urban Water Suppliers?

Agency U-Turns: Policy reversals are likely to be more frequent in an increasingly polarized society. How should courts respond?  Dan Farber writes, “The Trump Administration is doing its best to wipe out Obama’s regulatory legacy. How will the courts respond to such a radical policy change?  The philosophical clash between these last two Presidents is especially stark, but this is far from being the first time that agencies have taken U-turns. This is the fifth time in the past forty years that control of the White House has switched parties, with accompanying changes in regulatory approaches. Yet the underlying statutory framework in environment and energy law has not really changed that much, especially in the past twenty years. Thus, courts have repeatedly had to decide how much credence to give to an administrative position that reverses earlier policy.  This may seem a somewhat esoteric legal issue, but it is going to be crucial to how much Trump succeeds or fails in gutting environmental regulation. Here’s what you need to know. … ”  Read more from the Legal Planet blog here:  Agency U-Turns: Policy reversals are likely to be more frequent in an increasingly polarized society. How should courts respond?

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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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