Mosquito Lake, photo by Michael Levine-Clark

BLOG ROUND-UP: Voluntary agreements, return of the drought, undead CA water policies,10 worst enviro decisions, and more …

Return to the BATNA, Gov. Newsom:  On the Public Record writes, “Governor Newsom. I understand that this will be hard for you to read. But the situation is clear. It is time for you to perform the Tasks of Grief for the Voluntary Agreements. I know that you wanted them very badly. I presume that you dreamed of a future in which they were a success. You sacrificed greatly for them, but do not let the sunk cost fallacy deceive you. The Voluntary Agreements cannot happen while the Bi-Ops and the ITP diverge, and you cannot ethically follow the Bi-Ops and the Trump admin will not follow the ITP. We are where we are, and you cannot will the VAs into being. You drove Wade Crowfoot like a rented mule, but being even harder on him will not give him good-faith negotiation partners. There is nothing left to do but what you should have done from the very beginning. … ”  Read more from On the Public Record here: Return to the BATNA, Gov. Newsom

Chair Esquivel. Time to re-start the Bay-Delta Plan. On the Public Record writes, “Chair Esquivel. There will be no Voluntary Agreements for the foreseeable future. Westlands says so at their Board meetings. Met is supporting the Bi-Op, and says VAs are halted. Reclamation and the feds aren’t in a negotiating posture. I’m told there have been no VA meetings this year. The Newsom administration is primarily focused on the pandemic. The mainstream papers are reporting that the VAs aren’t happening. My friends and colleagues gossip that the VAs are over.  … ”  Read more from On the Public Record here: Chair Esquivel. Time to re-start the Bay-Delta Plan.

Drinking Water Week (Part 1): The return of the same old drought:  Tim Stroshane writes, “… Drought now joins pandemic and murder hornets in a rather apocalyptic 2020. The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) checked its Sierra snowfields on April 30th and found that snowpack was just 21 percent of average statewide for the start of summer irrigation season. A year ago, reported the San Francisco Chronicle, the snowpack was 188 percent of average. DWR determined this was enough water for a paltry 15 percent allocation of State Water Project capacity to its thirsty water contractors, also reported by Courthouse News Service.  The United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) in February this year allocated 100 percent of contractual supplies to its most senior Central Valley Project (CVP) water contractors—the Sacramento Valley Settlement Contractors, and the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors—as well as the wildlife refuges in the Central Valley. But what February offered, April took away when storms brought insufficient snowpack to offset the ongoing snowmelt of early spring.  .. ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  Drinking Water Week (Part 1): The return of the same old drought

Drinking Water Week (Part 2): The undead policies of California water:  Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla and Tim Stroshane write, “These are the undead ideas of California “water policy” today: A Delta Conveyance Project. New Dams and Reservoir Storage. Voluntary Agreements. Such ideas are put forward by the water industry—and few others—as “solutions” to California’s seeming chronic shortage of water.  These ideas have been defeated time and time again (statewide elections, regulatory-agency-forced-march attrition and rejection, change of governor). They are propped up like scarecrows by water industry investment of time, money, and expertise to keep them in their undead state. They keep returning, largely unwanted and unsupported, to menace the California public, especially when they learn the environmental and economic impacts of such projects. ... ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here:  Drinking Water Week (Part 2): The undead policies of California water

Building the Case for Infrastructure:  Julie Minerva writes, “During this pandemic, my crystal ball and I are social distancing; while I am working at home it is tucked away in my Capitol Hill office. Luckily, I was able to dig out my old magic-8 ball from the back of my closet, but each time I turn it over the message reads “Gone Fishing.” At first I thought it a fluke, but now I realize it might be trying to tell me something.  That is because the outlook for a federal infrastructure stimulus package is so murky even Nostradamus would not try to predict when Congress might act. In fact, we are all at risk of whiplash, given that it is “infrastructure week” yet again. Take for example this recent rapid exchange on infrastructure … ”  Read more from The Levee Was Dry here: Building the Case for Infrastructure

Ag groups’ claims on causes of food shortages don’t hold water:  Dierdre Des Jardins writes, “On May 1, 2020, the California Farm Bureau Federation joined the California Farm Water Coalition, the Family Farm Alliance, and many other agricultural groups in sending a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom requesting that the Governortake the necessary steps to help secure next year’s food supply” by directing “your agencies and departments to find ways to maximize water supplies for farmers this year, until such time that we can normalize the food supply chain from farmer to grocery store shelf.”  But the premise of the Farm Bureau / Farm Water Coalition / Family Farm Alliance letter falls apart on close examination. The disruptions to the food supply chain from the COVID-19 pandemic are not based on a lack of production in the fields.  Rather, the disruptions are based on major shifts in consumption patterns because of the pandemic and on resulting problems with distribution. ... ”  Continue reading at California Water Research blog here: Ag groups’ claims on causes of food shortages don’t hold water

Dealing with the news:  Don Wright writes, “There have been many changes to our society and always will be. As they say change is the constant. Dealing gracefully with change is an important part of survival; and living well. One of the biggest changes I’ve noticed in the past couple of decades is the prominence of daily newspapers. They used to sit at the apex of presenting and guiding both public thought and comment. Newspapers have taken a precipitous drop due mostly to the increased competition of other media outlets. I still enjoy reading print and subscribe to a couple of magazines and newspapers. I like newspapers, the spot news and the crossword puzzle but I tire of the template many stories follow. It is my considered opinion, often enough reporting about water in California needs a disclaimer announcing it as editorial. ... ”  Read more from Water Wrights here:  Dealing with the news

Susan Tatayon: Communicating What’s at Stake: the Art of Communicating Science:  She writes, “In recent weeks, we have all faced a sweeping and unprecedented disruption of daily activities as the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic. During this time of uncertainty, I’m deeply grateful to our governments, healthcare workers, farmers, food providers, and countless others who are working around the clock to keep us safe and healthy.  I’m also grateful for the scientists and analysts who have distilled probability and statistics data into a simple and effective call-to-action to “flatten the curve,” or slow the spread of coronavirus to better match emergency response capacity. Developed by The Economist based on research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, analysts created a chart to show the projected number of coronavirus cases with and without protective measures. This single image effectively conveys what’s at stake, and it inspired me to consider how we can modify communications about scientific findings related to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, especially as we adapt to limited in-person interactions during these extraordinary times. … ”  Read more at the Delta Stewardship Council here: Susan Tatayon: Communicating What’s at Stake: the Art of Communicating Science

Top 10 worst environmental decisions in California’s history:  Ethan Elkind writes,“California has a paradoxical history with its environment. On one hand, the state boasts incredible natural beauty, along with a government that is an internationally recognized leader for strong environmental policies. But the state’s residents have also caused severe environmental destruction, particularly in the late nineteenth century — some of which helped spur the mobilization that led to these environmental successes.  Looking at California’s history, what were some of the most striking examples of environmental destruction? To qualify for this “Top 10” list, the destruction had to be irreparable (at least in anyone’s lifetime) and of a uniquely beautiful environmental feature (landscapes and plants). Of note, animals are not included, nor is an assessment of the economic trade-offs or alternatives. … ”  Read more at the Legal Planet here:  Top 10 worst environmental decisions in California’s history

Klamath’s Scott River salmon and steelhead in trouble:  Tom Cannon writes, “The Scott River is a major contributor to Klamath River salmon and steelhead runs. The fry of fall-run Chinook and Coho salmon that spawned in the Scott system this past fall-winter are now leaving their gravel beds. Steelhead are completing their spawning run. These salmon and steelhead are in for a tough year because flows are low, precipitation has been minimal, and the snowpack is well below average. … ”  Read more from the California Fisheries blog here: Klamath’s Scott River salmon and steelhead in trouble

Drought, flood, and fire: Managing extreme events in the Sacramento river basin:  The NorCal Water Association writes, “Water management in the Sacramento River Basin has always been defined by dramatic variability in climate and conditions—extreme events of drought, flood, and fire have shaped this region. Across the basin, experience navigating these highly variable conditions has informed a robust set of water management practices to address their impacts while managing water for multiple benefits.  Today and into the future, these extreme events of drought, flood, and fire are expected to increase in frequency and volatility, with their impacts magnified by a changing climate. In response, water resources managers in the Sacramento River Basin are taking action to address these changing conditions. … ”  Read more from the NCWA blog here: Drought, flood, and fire: Managing extreme events in the Sacramento river basin

Spring 2020 Sacramento River conditions and hatchery releases:  Tom Cannon writes, “Federal and state hatcheries are feeding striped bass with juvenile salmon in the Sacramento River and Delta yet again this spring.  As of April 22, 2020, hatcheries have released over 16 million salmon smolts into the Sacramento River system.  While about two-thirds of these releases so far took place under relatively good conditions (moderate flows, flow pulses, and cool water through early April), the latest one-third have been released under increasingly lower flows and high, stressful water temperatures that lead to high rates of predation.  Hatchery smolts lingering from the earlier releases are also subjected to these conditions.  Millions of wild smolts are also at risk, as they too have been emigrating with the early April flow pulse. ... ”  Read more from the California Fisheries blog here:  Spring 2020 Sacramento River conditions and hatchery releases

Risky business again – Merced Irrigation District selling water out of district in critically dry year:  Cindy Charles writes, “In March, Merced Irrigation District (Merced ID) filed a petition with the CA State Water Board (Board) for a temporary change to transfer up to 45,000 acre-feet of water to out-of-district water agencies.  Merced ID plans to sell its water even though the San Joaquin Index shows us in a Critically Dry Year for 2020.  CSPA filed protest comments with the Board against approval of the sale.  CSPA argues that this water sale will not best serve the public interest, is contrary to law and will have adverse environmental impacts. Merced Irrigation District seeks to sell water in the Critically Dry 2020 water year to make up for budget shortfalls.  As revenues from the sales of electricity continue to fall, revenues from irrigation water sales are inadequate to cover costs, including an ever-increasing pension liability. ... ”  Read more from the CSPA here: Risky business again – Merced Irrigation District selling water out of district in critically dry year

Let’s Stabilize Lakes Mead & Powell Now:  Brian Richter writes, “As of today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) forecast for this year’s expected water supplies in the Colorado River is at 59% of average. That’s not good news.  If that prediction proves true, this will be one of the driest water years since Lake Powell was constructed nearly 60 years ago. The volume of water stored in Lake Powell each year is affected by three primary factors: the amount of water flowing into the reservoir after ‘Upper Basin‘ water users have extracted water for their use, minus water released from the reservoir to support Lower Basin water users, and minus evaporation from the reservoir itself. Lake Powell will lose – by my estimation — about 23 feet of water this year, or about 2.1 million acre-feet (MAF) of storage. At that point, the reservoir will be 60% empty. ... ”  Read more from the Sustainable Waters blog here: Let’s Stabilize Lakes Mead & Powell Now

Featured image credit:  Mosquito Lake, Alpine County, California.  Photo by Michael Levine-Clark via Flickr.

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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