BLOG ROUND-UP: Water budgets, voluntary agreements, SWP tax and WaterFix, public-private partnerships, Mokelumne salmon, and more …

blog-round-up-previous-editionsWater budgets: Numbers matter:  Chris Shutes writes, “A recent series of articles and blog posts by Jeff Mount and others from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) proposes a system of “water budgets” for the environment as part of a new system for managing water and rivers in California. … A November 18, 2018 guest article by Mount and Ellen Hanak in the “CALmatters” newsletter leaves the realm of the conceptual and intervenes in ongoing regulatory process and public debate.  It both seeks to apply the water budget concept to the public discussion about the State Water Resources Control Board’s (State Board) ongoing update of the Bay-Delta Plan and opines that “voluntary accords offer the best hope for turning things around in the Delta’s troubled freshwater ecosystems.”  Exhibit A in the demonstration of why academics and policy analysts do poorly when intervening in regulatory process is the following sentence from the November 18 article: “Parties should avoid getting hung up on the specific amount of water initially set aside for ecosystems.”  Oh dear. … ” Read it here:  Water budgets: Numbers matter

Voluntary Agreements? But, is it really voluntary when one side gives you a gun and asks you to shoot yourself, or they’ll take the gun and do it for you?  Families Protecting the Valley writes, “The State Water Resources Control Board was all set to adopt a proposal to double the amount of water allowed to flow unimpeded down the rivers to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and out to sea. Then they got a letter from Governor Brown and newly elected Governor Gavin Newsom. They asked the board to delay the vote until December 12th. Since governors appoint the board members it was unlikely they would refuse the offer. But, why the delay? ... ”  Continue reading from Families Protecting the Valley here:  Voluntary Agreements? 

Santa Clara Valley Water District to act on letter from City of Palo Alto attorney re: SWP tax and California WaterFix: “At a Special Meeting on Wednesday, December 5, 2018 the Board of Directors of the Santa Clara Valley Water District will consider a letter from the attorney for the City of Palo Alto about the State Water Project tax that SCVWD imposes on parcels in the District. The letter states in part, “The purpose of this letter is to reassert the City’s position that the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s longstanding practice of taxing property owners in Palo Alto and other parts of Santa Clara County who do not receive water from the SWP to pay for the entire t y of the District’s SWP contractual obligations , rather than attempting to fund those costs from rate payers who use SWP water, is clearly inequitable and legally tenuous. … ”  Read more from the California Water Research blog here:  Santa Clara Valley Water District to act on letter from City of Palo Alto attorney re: SWP tax and California WaterFix

We need a new financial model to address California’s most pressing environmental problems: “Over the coming decade, the state of California will spend billions of dollars to restore habitat to protect endangered species and mitigate infrastructure improvements. But many existing institutions have been stuck in a project-by-project funding model that limits their ability to leverage private capital, integrate different funding sources or even ensure their desired outcomes are achieved.  Without private capital or partnerships, good conservation projects risk getting stuck in the development and permitting stages for decades, or even stalling out indefinitely. This is particularly true for conservation of large landscapes. … ”  Read more from EDF’s Growing Returns blog here:  We need a new financial model to address California’s most pressing environmental problems

Federal Agencies Advance Rural Water Infrastructure for Multi-Benefits in the Sacramento Valley: “Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke joined water leaders in the Sacramento Valley this week to help advance water supply reliability and multi-benefit water management in the region. This included a focus on the Maxwell Water Intertie described below—a project to help provide water management flexibility for the region.  The Maxwell Water Intertie will increase the efficiency and reliability of water management in the western Sacramento Valley by adding to and improving existing water infrastructure to facilitate greater flexibility in water conveyance, which would increase the drought resistance of rural communities and support the region’s agricultural economy. Importantly, the project will help serve water for multiple benefits in the Sacramento Valley, including water for the mosaic of farms, birds, fish, and recreation. … ”  Read more from the Northern California Water Association blog here:  Federal Agencies Advance Rural Water Infrastructure for Multi-Benefits in the Sacramento Valley

Mokelumne River salmon update – fall 2018:  Tom Cannon writes, “Dan Bacher’s report on 2018 salmon returns to the Mokelumne River Hatchery provides continuing good news for the Mokelumne River salmon run.  When I last reported on the fall run of Mokelumne River salmon, I described strong runs from 2010-2016. The 2017 run was exceptionally strong (Figures 1 and 2), despite being the product of the 2013-2015 drought. This success story is in large part due to the management of the Mokelumne River Hatchery, as reported in the Bacher article. Trucking hatchery smolts to the lower San Joaquin in the western Delta near Jersey Point greatly improves survival over releases of salmon in the lower Mokelumne River. … ”  Read more from the California Fisheries Blog here:  Mokelumne River salmon update – fall 2018

Another huge loss for Oakdale Irrigation District:  Eric Caine writes, “For any other public entity, the loss suffered on November 27 by Oakdale Irrigation District (OID) in Fresno’s Fifth Appellate District Court would amount to a wake-up call, but given the resistance to facts of three of its board members, General Manager and water attorney, it’s unlikely any of them will come away with a lesson learned.  This, after all, is the water district whose own attorney told them they would need an Environmental Impact Review (EIR) before instituting a fallowing program and subsequent water sale and then failed to perform the review. As if that weren’t enough, after getting caught failing to perform the review, the same OID attorney who had recommended the review argued in court the review wasn’t needed. … ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen blog here:  Another huge loss for Oakdale Irrigation District

Documenting California drought as an undocumented researcher:Evelyn Valdez-Ward is a doctoral student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Irvine where her research focuses on the effects of climate change and drought on plants and soils.  Q: Your research is on water transport in plants and how that might be shifting with climate change. Can you tell us a little more about what you are studying?  A: By 2050, earth’s population is expected to double, which means that agricultural production has to increase by 70% or more. It’s going to take a lot more work to figure out how to feed everybody. And we can’t do that unless we understand the way that climate change is affecting plant ecosystems. That’s why I study the effects of drought on the interactions between plants and their soil microbes — bacteria and fungi. … ” Read more from The Confluence here:  Documenting California drought as an undocumented researcher

Inkstain blog: I think (?) there’s an Arizona Colorado River deal?  John Fleck writes, “With the announcement of a meeting this afternoon of Arizona’s Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan steering committee, it appears we have the general shape of an agreement to settle the thorny issue of how to reduce Arizona’s use of Colorado River water.  Not a lot of details yet, but it appears that: Pinal County farmers will get 595,000 acre feet of mitigation water over the next three years;  Pinal County farmers will get federal help to drill a bunch of wells to advance their efforts to replace Colorado River water with groundwater; The Gila River Indian Community is on board, and will provide some of the replacement water needed to keep Lake Mead whole; The Colorado River Indian Tribes may be also providing water to help prop up Mead; The cities seem to be on board ... ”  To continue reading at the Inkstain blog, click here:  I think (?) there’s an Arizona Colorado River deal?  SEE ALSO: I think (?) there’s an Arizona Colorado River deal? Episode II and Another Arizona Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan sticking point?Daily 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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