BLOG ROUND-UP: Some common questions on CA water; Land purchases: MWD’s new water grab?; Rationing next?; Developing a decision-support framework for curtailment; Climate change and your family’s future; and more …

Mono Lake wilderness; photo by Rennett Stowe

blog-round-up-previous-editionsSome common questions on California water (Part I):  Jay Lund writes, “People are interested in California water problems, and they ask reasonable questions.  Here is a first installment of short science-based answers to some reasonable questions often heard at public and private discussions of water in California.  (Longer answers are possible, of course.)  1.  Why doesn’t California just build desalination plants to end water shortages and leave more water in streams for the environment?... ”  Find answers at the California Water Blog here:  Some common questions on California water (Part I)

Land Purchases: MWD’s New Water Grab?  Restore the Delta writes, “Fascinating and scary article we wanted to share with you today.  According to excellent reporting by Ry Rivard the Los Angeles-based “Renewable Resources Group” has helped sell 33,000 acres of land to California’s most powerful water agency, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California:  A Little-Known Company Is Quietly Making Massive Water Deals “By spring 2016, Metropolitan had agreed to pay $175 million for 20,000 acres of farmland south of Sacramento. Again, Metropolitan paid a premium for the land – and again, Renewable was reaping the rewards. A 5-year-old appraisal showed the land was worth about half what Metropolitan paid.” ... ” Read more from Restore the Delta here:  Land Purchases: MWD’s New Water Grab?

Rationing Next?  We couldn't pump all that water if we wanted to, but we could sure pump a whole lot more than we're doing…but we choose not to:  Families Protecting the Valley writes, “With all the rain we've had in California you might have forgotten that residential indoor water rationing begins next year because of a pair of bills signed by then Gov. Jerry Brown last year during the drought.  They will limit indoor water use to 55 gallons per day per person.  The problem is that the way California manages its water it might make sense.  Just a few days ago we checked Delta inflow/outflow stats since April 1st that showed 6.1 million a/f flowed into the Delta, over 5.8 million a/f flowed right through and out to the ocean. … ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here:  Rationing Next?

Developing a Decision-Support Framework for Curtailment: “During a drought, California’s limited water supplies should be allocated transparently, efficiently, and predictably in accordance with the priorities that flow from state and federal law.  But what does this mean in practice?  What happens when there is not enough surface water to go around in a watershed?  California water rights law says that certain water users must curtail their water diversions—in other words, reduce the amount of water they divert or stop diverting water altogether.  Water right priority rules generally require those with the most junior, or lowest priority, water rights to curtail first.  But following water right priorities is not always straightforward, and other aspects of state and federal law complicate the picture by establishing their own priorities that also influence the need for and scope of curtailment. ... ”  Read more from the Legal Planet here:  Developing a Decision-Support Framework for Curtailment

Good luck, Ms. Vogel.  On the Public Record writes, “This interview killed me. My objection isn’t reasonable, because I bet the part I found objectionable was just mindless cliché. The author wrote it because all agendas are ambitious or something and they just let anyone put anything on the internet these days, so no one actually stopped to ask: ‘is or is not our new governor’s water Executive Order actually “ambitious”?’  Because if anyone had thought about it for a second, there is no fucking way to call the EO “ambitious”.  It is the purest representation of political vague fuzziness, designed to mean anything and offend no one. ... ”  Read more from On the Public Record here:  Good luck, Ms. Vogel.

Enough with the delays. Here’s why California’s rural communities need safe drinking water now.:  Ana Lucia Garcia Briones writes, “Jim Maciel knows about the challenges of providing safe and affordable drinking in California all too well.  His experience serving as director of a small water district highlights why state legislators’ approval of $140 million in new annual funding to provide safe, affordable water to all Californians is long overdue.  Jim is one of about 37 water leaders who I have had the privilege of meeting through the Leadership Institute, a training program created by Rural Community Assistance Corporation and expanded by Environmental Defense Fund and Self Help Enterprises. ... ”  Read more from the Growing Returns blog here:  Enough with the delays. Here’s why California’s rural communities need safe drinking water now.

Improved Yolo Bypass Fish Passage:  Tom Cannon writes, “Some salmon and sturgeon adults migrating up the Sacramento River this spring have had new help in passing upstream via the Yolo Bypass. With roughly half the Sacramento River’s flood waters flowing through the Yolo Bypass at the beginning of March, many salmon and sturgeon returning to the upper river to spawn likely chose entered the lower end of the Bypass at Rio Vista. These fish had a new notch opening to help them get over the Fremont Weir at the upper end of the 40-mile-long Bypass (Figure 1) and back into the Sacramento River to continue their journey. … ” Read more from the California Fisheries blog here:  Improved Yolo Bypass Fish Passage

Winter trawl survey – Delta smelt:  Tom Cannon writes, “A January 2, 2019 California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) memo relates that the fall midwater trawl index for Delta smelt was zero (none collected), though an attachment from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) shows that some Delta smelt were captured in late 2018 in non-index locations, as was the case in other recent years. The CDFW memo also relates that 5 smelt were captured in the December Kodiak Trawl Survey.  In an effort to update my last winter trawl post, April 2018, I present the winter survey results from 2002 through 2019 in the figure below. The 2018 and 2019 winter indices are consistent with the fall and summer surveys. ... ”  Read more from the Cal Fisheries blog here:  Winter trawl survey – Delta smelt

Functional Flows Scheduled for Clear Creek to Benefit Spring-run Chinook Salmon:  The Northern California Water Association blog writes, “The Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries Service announced this week the coordinated effort to provide two pulse flows in Clear Creek in May and June to benefit spring-run Chinook salmon. These functional flows are targeted to aid upstream migration of adult spring-run salmon to the upper reaches of Clear Creek where they can take advantage of colder water temperatures for egg incubation as part of the spawning process. … ”  Read more from the NorCal Water Association blog here:  Functional Flows Scheduled for Clear Creek to Benefit Spring-run Chinook Salmon

SCVWD pulls purchase of 5,257 acres of Merced ranch land from agenda: Deirdre Des Jardins writes, “The May 14, 2019 Board  Agenda for the Santa Clara Valley Water District included a closed session item to discuss “setting negotiation parameters” for the purchase of 17 parcels of land in Merced County.  County tax records show that the parcels total 5,257 acres, and are owned by 4S Ranch Partners LLC.  The parcels are within the Grasslands Wildlife Management Area, which is managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as winter wetlands for waterfowl migrating on the Pacific Flyway.  The parcels are encumbered by conservation easements. ... ”  Read more from the California Water Research blog here:  SCVWD pulls purchase of 5,257 acres of Merced ranch land from agenda

State Water Board rips OID:  Eric Caine writes, “So far, it’s been a rough year for the Oakdale Irrigation District (OID), and it’s not even half over. First, OID lost again in its case against the Oakdale Groundwater Association (OGA) when the Fresno Appellate Court denied its appeal and awarded OGA court costs and attorneys’ fees. That decision cost OID upwards of $330,000, in addition to the money it shelled out to its own attorneys.  Next, OID lost a case it had filed against two of its own board members, Gail Altieri and Linda Santos. Altieri and Santos riled their fellow board members by daring to tell the truth as they saw it to a judge. When a majority of board members chose to sue, another judge ruled the women had every right to act in the interest of honest accountability. … ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen here:  State Water Board rips OID

What does the Colorado River drought plan mean for California?  Gokce Sencan writes, “A much-anticipated plan to address chronic water shortages in the Colorado River Basin was recently signed into law by President Trump. This drought contingency plan (DCP) aims to slow the long-term decline in Lake Mead’s water levels caused by over-allocation of Colorado River water and 19 years of drought, as well as address future water shortages in the basin.  The DCP is the fruit of a decade of negotiations among the seven basin states to resolve the over-allocation problem through cuts and water storage. (Mexico receives water from the river but is not part of this plan.) California has the largest share of the Colorado, with senior rights to more than a quarter of the river’s average annual flow. … ”  Read more from the PPIC Blog here:  What does the Colorado River drought plan mean for California?

Busy Times for California Leaders and Environmentalists:  Victoria Rome writes, “We’ve had an exciting start to 2019 in California with a new Governor, Gavin Newsom, taking the oath of office, along with a new class of state legislators, many of whom ran and won on their environmental platforms. Legislative leaders, with pro-environment majorities in both the State Assembly and Senate are moving ahead with ambitious progressive agendas.  Governor Newsom transitioned seamlessly to the state’s top job. … ”  Read more from the NRDC here:  Busy Times for California Leaders and Environmentalists

Trump Administration Outdoes Itself on Climate Change Denial, Insists Arctic Warming is Good: Joel Clement writes, “Among intergovernmental bodies, it is hard to find a more congenial, consensus-driven body than the Arctic Council. This organization, comprised of the foreign ministers of the eight arctic states and leaders of six Arctic indigenous organizations, has managed to find common ground on issues of sustainability and the environment even during politically tense standoffs among the members, such as when Russia invaded Crimea.  Leave it to the Trump administration to detonate this paragon of congeniality. ... ”  Read more from the Union of Concerned Scientists here:  Trump Administration Outdoes Itself on Climate Change Denial, Insists Arctic Warming is Good

Climate Change and Your Family’s Future:  Dan Farber writes, “If you think about yourself and the two generations after you, a lot depends on your current age, whether you already have kids, etc. To keep this from getting too complicated, let’s focus on someone who was born in the US at the start of the millennium, in 2000. To simplify, I won’t specify gender or race, both of which are related to life expectancy. That person will be 19 next year, maybe about to start college or get a job.  Given current life expectancy, our “average” 19-year-old can expect to live to about 2077. Let’s call him or her Tyler, for simplicity. On average, US women today have their first child by age 26, but that age has been rising. It’s a little higher for men. So let’s just stick with 26 to keep things simple. That means Tyler’s first child will be born around 2026 and expect to live until around 2101, though there’s some chance the child will live until 2121 and beyond. … ”  Read more from the Legal Planet here:  Climate Change and Your Family’s Future

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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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