BLOG ROUND-UP: Trump’s rollback of the ESA, Voluntary settlement agreements and SB1, Delta tunnel and sea level rise, Farms and climate change, droughts and not enough water, water is no one-thing, and more …

Oceanside Pier by Daryl D Hart

This week in California water blogs:  As Scientists Warn of Biodiversity Crisis, Trump Administration Guts Endangered Species Act; Voluntary Settlement Agreements and SB1; Delta tunnel: Sea level rise and elevation of the North Delta; Delta August Adjustment; What Water is Covered by the Clean Water Act?; If You’re Concerned about Climate Change and Water Supply, California Farms Can Help Show the Way; Droughts and Not Enough Water: California’s Silent Crisis; An old-style blog commentary post; Water is no one thing; and more …

As Scientists Warn of Biodiversity Crisis, Trump Administration Guts Endangered Species Act:  The NRDC writes, “The Trump administration finalized its drastic rollback of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), just months after the United Nations released a dire report warning that one million species could go extinct if business continues as usual. “We’re facing an extinction crisis, and the administration is placing industry needs above the needs of our natural heritage,” says Rebecca Riley, legal director for NRDC’s Nature Program.  The changes to the law, released by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Commerce, would change the rules for protecting imperiled species and insert economic factors into decisions regarding whether a species should be listed. “Science must guide our decisions, not dollar signs,” says Riley. “We shouldn’t use economic factors to decide whether a species should be saved.” … ”  Read more from the NRDC here: As Scientists Warn of Biodiversity Crisis, Trump Administration Guts Endangered Species Act

Who Benefits from Endangered Species Rollback? Big Polluters:  Jonathan Hahn writes, “At a time when the world’s leading scientists warn that human-caused global warming is precipitating a wildlife extinction crisis, the Trump administration has announced the most sweeping rollback of protections for endangered species in a generation.  Trump’s newly finalized regulations will significantly weaken the process for listing and enforcing Endangered Species Act protections and inject economic and potentially political considerations into that process where none had existed before. They will bring to an end automatic protections for threatened species, make it easier to delist species (by raising the bar for what evidence is required to show that a species is threatened and endangered), and limit the ways in which climate change can be factored into listing decisions in “the foreseeable future”—essentially removing climate change as a consideration just as the global climate crisis is accelerating. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Club here: Who Benefits from Endangered Species Rollback? Big Polluters

blog-round-up-previous-editionsVoluntary Settlement Agreements and SB1:  On the Public Record writes, ” … I don’t like the VSA’s. There are all the usual reasons. I don’t believe the districts will offer meaningful water. If there is potential habitat restoration, then it is already owed to us. The enviros aren’t being included in the negotiations, and I certainly have no faith in Bonham to represent the river.  Further, it is morally wrong for the State to be negotiating the VSA’s as it is.  This might be more clear if our nations had Rights of the River, as other countries do. In that case, the river itself would have a fundamental right to exist with a living ecosystem. … ”  Read more from On the Public Record here: Voluntary Settlement Agreements and SB1

Delta tunnel: Sea level rise and elevation of the North Delta:  Deirdre Des Jardins writes, “On May 2, 2019, the Department of Water Resources released a Q&A fact sheet on “Modernizing Delta Conveyance Infrastructure.” The fact sheet states that the California Ocean Protection Council has recommended “that projects with a lifespan beyond 2050 be built to withstand 10 feet of sea level rise by 2100.” The Department of Water Resources is to be commended for recognizing this recommendation by the Ocean Protection Council, and hopefully will be using it in assessing climate change and “efforts to modernize Delta conveyance,” per Governor Newsom’s April 29 Executive Order. … ”  Read more from the California Water Research blog here: Delta tunnel: Sea level rise and elevation of the North Delta

Delta August Adjustment:  Tom Cannon writes, “The State of California has markedly increased inflows to the Delta and reduced exports in early August 2019 (Figure 1). There is no announced reason for this major hydrologic adjustment that has had a major effect on Bay-Delta habitat. The likely reason was to maintain the 14-day average salinity standard of 450 EC at Jersey Point, which was exceeded on a daily basis beginning on August 10 (Figure 2).  “Adjustments” to Delta inflow and exports began at the end of July as daily Jersey Point salinity began to exceed the 450 EC standard. The federal Central Valley Project made little or no contribution to this correction. … ”  Read more from the California Fisheries blog here: Delta August Adjustment

What Water is Covered by the Clean Water Act?  Karrigan Bork writes, “It is important if a stream, river, wetland, or even a dry ditch is protected by the Clean Water Act (CWA). The CWA is a federal law “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.”  But the Act doesn’t cover all waters. Waters covered by the Act, called “jurisdictional waters,” are determined by the language of the Act and by court decisions and administrative rulemakings interpreting that language. Ongoing rulemaking efforts by the Trump administration, coupled with several recent court decisions, make defining jurisdictional waters very difficult. ... ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here: What Water is Covered by the Clean Water Act?

If You’re Concerned about Climate Change and Water Supply, California Farms Can Help Show the Way: The California Farm Water Coalition writes, “A new UN climate study indicates that climate change will be a bigger problem for farmers and consumers in the future.  In a 2018 Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) survey, 80 percent of respondents said climate change is a serious threat to California’s future. And 72 percent cited water as a concern, with drought and water supply named most frequently as our biggest environmental issue. If you see yourself in these statistics, you should be cheering the efforts of California farmers. … ”  Read more from the California Farm Water Coalition here: If You’re Concerned about Climate Change and Water Supply, California Farms Can Help Show the Way

Droughts and Not Enough Water: California’s Silent Crisis: Richard Rubin writes, “California is known as earthquake country but nature poses more insidious threats which can go undetected until too late. Among them are the recurrent droughts and chronic lack of water.  As I wrote in California and Its Water, Time to Re-think State’s Failing Water Policies, and Drought and Denial, “……so far the proposals coming out of Sacramento and emulated by water districts across the state call for stricter conservation, including expanding water storage facilities, more effective groundwater management, digging wells, greater recycling and more efficient irrigation systems.”  If this remains the principal focus of our efforts, little will have changed. … ”  Read more from Fox and Hounds here: Droughts and Not Enough Water: California’s Silent Crisis

CWR comments at the Water Board’s Water Portfolio Listening Session:  Deirdre Des Jardins writes, “The State Water Resources Control Board held a listening session to receive input on the Water Portfolio.  Deirdre Des Jardins made the following comments for California Water Research on deep adaptation to extreme impacts of climate change — droughts and flooding.  Water agencies need to plan for reliability of ecosystem water during droughts. There were far too many water agencies that came before the Water Board in 2014 to request relaxation of minimum instream flow standards. This should be the last resort during droughts, and only done after implementing Stage 4 drought curtailments.  If California water agencies fail to do this, aquatic ecosystems will not survive climate change. … ”  Read more from the California Water Research blog here: CWR comments at the Water Board’s Water Portfolio Listening Session

An old-style blog commentary post: On the Public Record writes, “Maven’s Notebook recently pointed me to Don Wright’s water blog, and I could not love it more. He travels to water meetings in the San Joaquin Valley, writing each up. This is the window I’ve always needed. I regret that I have not been reading every post from the very beginning. Mr. Wright, I love your work and hope that it goes smoothly for you always.  I don’t know whether it needs to be said that Mr. Wright and I substantially disagree, from our base assumptions through to our conclusions. I see myself in his every characterization of an ignorant environmentalist and supporter of a strong role for CA government. That is OK. We don’t have to agree. I can nevertheless look for insight in his reports on San Joaquin Valley water meetings. … ”  Read more from On the Public Record here: An old-style blog commentary post

That Coastal Commission Meeting Was a Confusing Mess. Did They Even Mean to Advance the Hotel Project?  Ryan Burns writes, “Late into the long afternoon hearing at yesterday’s meeting of the California Coastal Commission, Chair Dayna Bochco acknowledged two things that had become quite evident.   The first was that she was a bit confused.  The commission had just voted 5-6, narrowly deciding not to agree with a staff recommendation to disagree with a consistency determination from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. (See? Confusing.) ... ”  Read more from the Lost Coast Outpost here: That Coastal Commission Meeting Was a Confusing Mess. Did They Even Mean to Advance the Hotel Project?

Progress Continues on Yolo Bypass Floodplain Restoration:  The Northern California Water Association blog writes, “Last month, the Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation announced the final state and federal approval of the environmental impact report for the Yolo Bypass Salmonid Habitat Restoration and Fish Passage Project.  The project will construct a 100 foot long, two-way fish passage facility on Fremont Weir and a 1.8 mile concrete flood protection wall.  This project will allow juvenile salmon to move from the Sacramento River out on to the floodplain in the Yolo Bypass to feed and rest, and then back into the Sacramento River to continue migrating to the Pacific Ocean. ... ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here: Progress Continues on Yolo Bypass Floodplain Restoration

As Global Warming Increases, Is There an Upper Limit to How Much Additional Water Vapor The Atmosphere Can Hold?  Elliott Negin writes, “I’m sure you’ve heard that old adage, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.” Living in Washington, DC, for the last three decades, I certainly know what it means. That said, it would be more accurate to say, “It’s not only the heat, it’s also the humidity.”  Indeed, humidity is critical when estimating the impact higher temperatures triggered by global warming will have. Scientific projections of future heat stress that rely on temperature increases alone underestimate the problem. After all, a 100°F summer day in the nation’s capital with 70 percent humidity feels a lot different than a 100°F summer day with 25 percent humidity in Phoenix. When there is a lot of water vapor in the air, it feels hotter. … ”  Read more from The Equation blog here:  As Global Warming Increases, Is There an Upper Limit to How Much Additional Water Vapor The Atmosphere Can Hold?

Water is no one thing:  “Headed out across campus in a quest for coffee this morning, I had occasion to stop and rest at the little courtyard fountain on the south side of the University of New Mexico’s Zimmerman library.  In a neat thesis a couple of years ago, UNM geographer Susanna Diller identified three core values of fountains: a proxy for nature, an aesthetic landscape feature, and a site of relaxation.  I’ve been thinking about fountains as I prepare for the arrival next week of a new cohort of UNM Water Resources Program students. As a communicator, I think a lot about “framing” – the importance of the first thing you say as you launch a communication process, the way it sets up all that follows. … ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here: Water is no one thing

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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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