BLOG ROUND-UP: Recognizing the Delta’s place in the greater watershed and beyond; One small step for the Fish and Game Commission, one large step for Delta management; Delta tunnel contract negotiations: water grab?; Huge Westlands water contract: It looks like they just followed the law; and more …

Sunset on the beach on the Central Coast. Photo by Moonjazz.

In blog commentary this week: Recognizing the Delta’s place in the greater watershed and beyond; One small step for the Fish and Game Commission, one large step for Delta management; Delta tunnel contract negotiations: water grab?; Huge Westlands water contract: Conclusion: It looks like they just followed the law and made a deal; Ties exposed between Westlands Water District and Aurelia Skipwith, Trump’s nominee for USFWS director; Water districts are not democratic institutions; and more …

Recognizing the Delta’s place in the greater watershed and beyond:  Susan Tatayon writes, “Last month marked the start of the 2020 water year, which is off to a dramatic start. Early rain and sleet surprised many in late September. Just two weeks later, fierce wildfires fueled by extreme winds, dry vegetation, and low humidity charred more than 100,000 acres and destroyed hundreds of structures, forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes and businesses. Through all of this, I am reminded of the words of John Muir, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”  The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is hitched to so many things. Our estuary is a critical habitat for fish and wildlife, home to millions of people, and the hub of our state’s water delivery system. From the Sierra Nevada to the mouth of the San Francisco Bay, what happens in one part of the Delta watershed affects the entire estuary. … ”  Read more from the Delta Stewardship Council blog here: Recognizing the Delta’s place in the greater watershed and beyond

One small step for the Fish and Game Commission; One large step for Delta management:  “The California Fish and Game Commission deserves recognition for moving forward with an important Delta fisheries management policy that will be considered at their next meeting. The Commission has yet to take final action but, after years of stakeholder engagement with the Commission and their staff, the positive movement is a major milestone in the effort to protect native endangered salmon.  The new policy would formalize prioritization and management of listed native species over those of non-native fish, consistent with the federal and California Endangered Species Acts. … ”  Read more from the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta here: One small step for the Fish and Game Commission; One large step for Delta management

Delta tunnel contract negotiations: water grab?  Dierdre Des Jardins writes, “The Department of Water Resources has been engaging in negotiations with the State Water Project Delta export contractors on an Agreement in Principle for a contract to pay for the “Delta Conveyance Project” (aka the Delta tunnel.)  This post discusses the November 14, 2019 drafts of the Agreement in Principle. There is a fifth draft offer by the Department of Water Resources and a sixth draft offer by the SWP contractors, who are calling themselves the “Public Water Agencies” or “PWAs.” … ”  Read more from the California Water Research blog here: Delta tunnel contract negotiations: water grab?

blog-round-up-previous-editionsHuge Westlands water contract: Conclusion: It looks like they just followed the law and made a deal:  Families Protecting the Valley writes, “According to the L.A. Times, the “Westlands Water District, a sprawling San Joaquin Valley farm district with ties to the Trump administration, is poised to get a permanent entitlement to a massive quantity of cheap federal irrigation supplies.”  How much are they supposed to get?  “1.15 million acre-feet of water.”  BUT…”There is no guarantee it will get that … ”  Continue reading at Families Protecting the Valley here:  Huge Water Contract: Conclusion: It looks like they just followed the law and made a deal

Ties exposed between Westlands Water District and Aurelia Skipwith, Trump’s nominee for USFWS director:  “Trump’s nominee for Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) not only has worked for agrochemical giant Monsanto, but for a firm lobbying for the powerful Westlands Water District.  On July 17, President Donald Trump announced the nomination of Aurelia Skipwith to be the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, a former Westlands Water District and oil industry lobbyist that is pushing a water plan that will devastate Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations, applauded the nomination. … ”  Read more from the Daily Kos here: Ties exposed between Westlands Water District and Aurelia Skipwith, Trump’s nominee for USFWS director

Water districts are not democratic institutions.  On the Public Record writes, “WHEREAS many water districts are not democratic institutions, despite the intention of democratically elected boards;  WHEREAS some water districts get away with being corrupt as fuck for a long time; You might think that I’m going to go for some of the obvious forms of non-democracy, perhaps the famous ‘water districts on the west side allocate votes by acreage, not by population’. Please. We are not amateurs here. ... ”  Continue reading at On the Public Record here: Water districts are not democratic institutions.  Continue on with this follow-up post: Water districts are incapable of anti-growth decisions.

Reclamation and DWR maintain fall X2 at Chipps Island in 2019 for the last time:  Tom Cannon writes, “Despite falling river flows and lower reservoir releases, the US Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources maintained Delta outflows and the prescribed fall salinity in the Delta (X2 located at Chipps Island, River Kilometer 74) in the last half of August, September and October 2019. They did this by sharply reducing Delta exports. These actions helped to maintain low salinity habitat in (and flow through) Montezuma Slough in Suisun Marsh. … ”  Read more from the California Fisheries Blog here: Reclamation and DWR maintain fall X2 at Chipps Island in 2019 for the last time

Calaveras River plan takes 14 years to keep all the water:  “On November 14, 2019, CSPA filed comments critical of a new Habitat Conservation Plan for the Calaveras River and also filed comments critical of a supporting environmental review document.[1]   Stockton East Water District (Stockton East) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released the Plan and the supporting environmental review document on September 30, 2019.  The release of the Plan came just under 14 years after CSPA filed a public trust complaint with the State Water Board over harm to fisheries in the Calaveras River.  The 2019 Plan proposes to devote not a single drop of water to fish that water users on the Calaveras River can otherwise use for water supply. … “ Read more from the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance here: Calaveras River plan takes 14 years to keep all the water

Klamath’s Shasta and Scott Rivers – Update Fall 2019:  Tom Cannon writes, “In two May 2017 posts1, I discussed the status of fall-run Chinook salmon in the Scott River and Shasta River through the 2016 runs. This post updates the escapement record for the two rivers through the 2018 runs with preliminary data on the 2019 runs. ... ”  Read more from the California Fisheries blog here: Klamath’s Shasta and Scott Rivers – Update Fall 2019

Is Florida the answer to California’s fire problem?  James Steinbauer writes, “Every year in early spring, Lane Green sets half of his property—100 acres of longleaf pine forest in the Red Hills region of the Florida Panhandle—on fire. Green, 73, has been burning this land since the time he learned to walk. His father would jury-rig a torch using a wire hanger and piece of cloth and tell him to drag it through the brush along the road—just as Green’s father had been taught before him, his granddad before him, and his great-granddad before him. When Green was young, his favorite time to burn was at night, when the air was cool, and the fire, creeping and crackling, looked as if the stars had been scattered across the ground. ... ”  Read more from Sierra Magazine here: Is Florida the Answer to California’s Fire Problem?

Perspectives on Groundwater Sustainability: Q&A with Jane Wagner-Tyack with the League of Women Voters of California:  Nina Foushee writes, “Q: How did you get involved with sustainable groundwater management issues?  A: I have been following water issues in San Joaquin County for a long time because I used to work with Restore the Delta, which focuses on protecting fisheries and farming in the San Francisco Bay-Delta and estuary. While working on these local issues, I began following water policy for the California League of Women Voters (LWV). I’m now co-director for the LWVC Water committee, and I’m the League’s legislative analyst for water. The state League has a long relationship with California’s environmental and environmental justice NGOs, which is how I met Jennifer Clary.  Jennifer talked to us about trying to get LWV people involved in the SGMA process around the state. ... ”  Continue reading at the We All Live Downstream blog here: Perspectives on Groundwater Sustainability: Q&A with Jane Wagner-Tyack with the League of Women Voters of California

The radiant biologist:  “Virginia was feeling a bit down.  She was hoping to land an internship during the summer break.  Prospects were bleak. Virginia’s attitude even more so.  Ever since she was eight years old, Ed could see it in her eyes. His little girl was destined to become a biologist. Each summer they spent time at the family’s cabin above Carmel Valley. Ed saw the joy those days in the great outdoors brought his daughter. But a decade later, at a pivotal moment in Virginia’s life, Ed watched as the glow faded from his daughter’s eyes.  Back home in Pacific Grove for the summer, Ed could not stomach the sight of his youngest daughter moping around any longer. He packed up the car and the pair hit Highway 101 back to the University of California, Davis. … ”  Read more from the Northern California Water Association blog here: The radiant biologist

Scientists urge action to increase soil carbon:  “Soil is one of the most precious and finite natural resources, and maintaining healthy soil is mandatory to provide enough food for the planet in the face of a changing climate.  There is strong scientific consensus on the urgent need to rebuild agricultural soil carbon. That’s the topline message of a comment published this week in the journal Nature Sustainability. … ”  Read more from the Growing Returns blog here: Scientists urge action to increase soil carbon

Putting the Water Action Hub into action in the Apparel Sector: Sonali Abraham writes, “How often do you think about where that new jacket you just bought was made? Or how much water was used to make it? As consumers in this rapidly expanding and globalized world, it is easy to forget the resources that go into making something that we buy with a click in the comfort of our homes.  Water is and has always been an intrinsic part of the textile manufacturing process. … ”  Read more from the Pacific Institute here: Putting the Water Action Hub into Action in the Apparel Sector

EPA’s Draft Update to Its “Science Transparency Rule” Shows It Can’t Justify the Rule:  Sean Hecht writes, “Over a year ago, EPA issued a proposed rule , ostensibly to promote transparency in the use of science to inform regulation. The proposal, which mirrors failed legislation introduced multiple times in the House, has the potential to dramatically restrict EPA’s ability to rely on key scientific studies that underpin public health regulations. The rule, on its face, would require EPA to take actions inconsistent with statutory mandates, including requirements to use the best available science in its regulatory processes. Robinson Meyer of the Atlantic provided an informative discussion of the proposed rule last year. The latest draft proposed update to the proposal, discussed at a House Science Committee hearing this week, further confirms that the Trump Administration isn’t really interested in reining in agencies’ power relative to Congress, or in other professed conservative values.  ... ”  Read more from Legal Planet here: EPA’s Draft Update to Its “Science Transparency Rule” Shows It Can’t Justify the Rule

The Terrible Thing about EPA’s Restricted Science Rule that We Aren’t Talking About: Anita Desikan writes, “Alarmingly, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is attempting to choke off the science that can be considered in the policymaking process in a way that will almost certainly hamper the efforts to monitor and protect people from environmental health hazards throughout the US, but especially in underserved communities. The EPA is about to release a new supplement to its restricted science rule, which will pose incredible harm to the science used throughout the agency and could result in endless analyses at the EPA that stop science-based decisionmaking in its tracks. When science is sidelined, the people that are most affected are those that come from communities that had been marginalized for decades, that is, Indigenous communities, communities of color, and low-income communities. And one way that marginalized communities will face the brunt of the burdens is from the rule’s chilling effects on how we regulate harmful chemicals. … ” Read more from The Equation here: The Terrible Thing about EPA’s Restricted Science Rule that We Aren’t Talking About

The Groundwater Visibility Initiative on Steroids: Global Groundwater Sustainability – A Call to Action:  Michael Campana writes, “If you are a groundwater junkie or something similar and you’ve been living under a rock, you probably have not heard of the Global Groundwater Sustainability: A Call to Action initiative that has arisen from the recent AGU Chapman Conference in Valencia, Spain, 21-24 October 2019: Quest for Sustainability of Heavily Stressed Aquifers at Regional to Global Scales.  Here is a letter that Tom Gleeson, one of the leadership team members (along with Karen VillholthRichard TaylorDeb PerroneJay FamigliettiDavid HyndmanAnne van Loon and Yoshi Wada), sent me to see if I would distribute it. … ”  Read more from Water Wired here: The Groundwater Visibility Initiative on Steroids: Global Groundwater Sustainability – A Call to ActionDaily 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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