Swarovski fountain by Costel Slincu

BLOG ROUND-UP: Delta tunnel route; Farmers and fallowing; Trump, Newsom and lawsuits; Regional planning and SGMA; the anticommons, and more …

Delta tunnel: independent technical review panel finds main tunnel route “impractical”:  Dierdre Des Jardins writes, “The Department of Water Resources’ Notice of Preparation for the Delta Conveyance Project shows two potential alignments for the main tunnel.   The “Central Corridor” is the route of the former WaterFix / twin tunnels project.  The “Eastern Corridor” is closer to I-5.  The Department of Water Resources did not disclose that an Independent Technical Review Panel, consisting of engineers from major tunneling contractors, found that the Central Corridor route (the WaterFix project route) is impractical due to access problems.  … ”  Read more from the California Water Research blog here:  Delta tunnel: independent technical review panel finds main tunnel route “impractical”

Pay the farmers now: Brian Richter writes, “My colleagues and I have just published a new study in Nature Sustainability that provides a detailed overview of water use and its implications in the US, with a focus on the West.  Unsurprisingly, media coverage of this story is focusing on the gee-whiz statistics (and yes, they are eye-popping) and the negative impacts associated with water over-use in the West. But my co-authors and I don’t want you to miss the real punchline of this story: There is a clear, immediately-available, well-proven option available to stave off catastrophic water crises in the West, it’s quite affordable, and there are thousands of farmers and ranchers ready and willing to implement it –> pay the farmers to temporarily fallow some portion of their farmland. … ”  Read more from Sustainable Waters here: Pay the farmers now

Trump, Newsom, lawsuits and the weather:  “On the first day, February 18, 2020 there was a meeting in Tulare hosted by Congressman Devin Nunes that featured Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt and Friant Water Authority Executive Officer Jason Phillips. The World Ag Expo’s Heritage Center was packed wall to wall to hear what these gentlemen had to say about water. They had a great deal to say.  On the second day, February 19, 2020 there was a meeting in Bakersfield that featured Bernhardt, Nunes, Congressmen Kevin McCarthy, Tom McClintock and former Congressman/candidate David Valadao. This meeting in a hanger at the Bakersfield airport was also packed wall to wall with folks wanting to hear not only what these gentlemen had to say but also what President Donald Trump had to say. Trump also had a great deal to say. ... ”  Read more from Water Wrights here: Trump, Newsom, lawsuits and the weather

California’s driest February and coming drought?  Jay Lund writes, “February has been amazingly dry in California, if anyone hasn’t noticed. No precipitation at all in February, a dry forecast, about 51% of seasonal Sacramento Valley precipitation (a bit less for the San Joaquin and Tulare basins), and only about half (45-57%) of normal snowpack for this time of year. Unless March is wet, this dry year seems likely to advance the onset of the fire season and threaten forest health this year.  Reservoir levels are still not bad for this time of year. Many are fuller than average, perhaps reflecting some snowpack loss. Some other reservoirs are a bit low. This is inherent in the first year of a drought, low precipitation and snowpack, but mostly ok reservoirs. …. ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  California’s Driest February and Coming Drought?

One area in California will tap regional planning to respond to the state’s groundwater law. Here’s how it could help farmers:  Ann Hayden writes, “Now that critically overdrafted groundwater basins in the Central Valley have submitted their sustainability plans, the hard work begins for them to balance groundwater supply and demand in ways that minimize economic disruption.  A state program called Regional Conservation Investment Strategies (RCIS) can help.  RCIS wasn’t created to help groundwater basins comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Rather, it was established in 2016 as a framework for regions to prioritize and develop measurable habitat conservation outcomes including those needed to  adapt to climate change.   This week, however, the Kaweah Subbasin was awarded $515,000 from the state’s Wildlife Conservation Board to develop an RCIS plan, becoming the first region in the Central Valley to leverage the process in response to SGMA. … ” Read more from EDF here:  One area in California will tap regional planning to respond to the state’s groundwater law

Supporting first-generation ranchers in coping with drought and climate change:  Faith Kearns writes, “When drought hits California, as it inevitably does, ranchers are among the first to feel it. In a state with distinct wet and dry seasons, the window in which the largely rain-fed grasses that nourish livestock can grow opens and closes quickly. Even small deviations in expected precipitation can alter what a ranching operation looks like in any given year.  Coping with that variation is therefore fundamental for California ranchers, and hard-won knowledge and approaches to dealing with drought are often passed from generation to generation. But, what happens when ranchers that don’t come from multi-generation ranching families confront drought? … ” Read more from The Confluence blog here:  Supporting first-generation ranchers in coping with drought and climate change

Robert Moses, the Colorado River, and the tragedy of the anticommons:  J0hn Fleck writes, “Wandering the halls of Bally’s in Las Vegas last December, at the annual meeting of the Colorado River Water Users Association, I received a text from a friend with a link to a piece in Politico by Marc Dunkelman about the late New York power broker Robert Moses.  Dunkelman spins a wonderfully readable tale of New York’s Penn Station, in particular why it is so awful. Because despite everyone knowing this central Manhattan transportation hub needs to be fixed, and lots of people having good ideas about how to do it, and projects to carry them out, Penn Station remains awful ... ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here: Robert Moses, the Colorado River, and the tragedy of the anticommons

The call of the wild: using sound to help imperiled species and ecosystems:  Lorraine Boissoneault writes, “It’s a quiet May morning on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. We’re high on a cliff inside the fences of the Nihoku Ecosystem Restoration Project, with only the sound of the wind rushing past our ears and the crash of waves breaking on the shoreline far beneath. Only the slightest hints of animal cries reach our ears — until ecologist Lindsay Young turns on a loudspeaker. Then the air fills with the breathy squawks and raucous chirps of seabirds.  It’s hardly Barry White, but for Pacific seabirds, it’s music to their ears. … ”  Read more the Revelator here: The call of the wild: using sound to help imperiled species and ecosystems

Featured image credit:  Swarovski fountain by Costel Slincu, via Flickr.

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