Sculpture in the East Bay. Artist: Karen Cusolito Photo: Thomas Hawk

BLOG ROUND-UP: Delta tunnel and an eastern alignment; Delta governance; Water policies and food production; Making your water bill affordable; Enviros v. Cost-benefit analysis; and more …

California continues to move rapidly on the water-stealing Delta Tunnel. Why, Gov. Newsom?  Dan Bacher writes, “In the midst of an unprecedented pandemic, DWR today submitted a revised Department of the Army permit application pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to request authorization for the proposed Delta Conveyance Project activities in waters of the United States. This is a necessary permit required by the federal government before the project can be constructed. … The underground tunnel project would divert water from the Sacramento River before it flows through the estuary so it can be exported through pumping facilities in the South Delta to big agribusiness interests in the San Joaquin Valley and to Southern California water agencies including the Metropolitan Water District. ... ”  Read more from Red, Green & Blue here:  California continues to move rapidly on the water-stealing Delta Tunnel. Why, Gov. Newsom?

Delta tunnel: US Army Corps application has new Eastern alignment:  Deirdre Des Jardins writes, “On Wednesday, June 17, 2020, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) submitted an application for a Section 404 Clean Water Act permit for the Delta tunnel to the US Army Corps of Engineers.  With the application, the Department of Water Resources submitted a map of the proposed project, which included the Eastern alignment for the main tunnel, and Intakes 3 and 5 (p. 37, shown below.)  In an accompanying announcement, the Department of Water Resources stated that the submission of the project map to the Army Corps of Engineers with the Section 404 application “is preliminary and should not be construed as a decision by DWR regarding its preferred project.” However, the evaluation of the project does represent a significant commitment of engineering resources, both by the US Army Corps and by the Department of Water Resources. ... ”  Read more from the California Water Research blog here: Delta tunnel: US Army Corps application has new Eastern alignment

An experiment in governance: marking ten years of the Delta Stewardship Council:  Jessica Pearson, Executive Officer of the Delta Stewardship Council, writes: “Earlier this year, the Delta Stewardship Council quietly hit a significant milestone. Ten years ago, on April 1, 2010, the newly-formed, seven-member Council met for the first time to discuss its mandated duties set forth in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Reform Act of 2009.  The creation of the Council was, in many ways, an experiment in governance by the California State Legislature and Schwarzenegger administration to address years of gridlock over how to manage the Delta’s limited natural resources and chart a science-based path forward for future management. After ten years with the Council, I can say, with conviction, the experiment is working. The Council’s central role in Delta policy and science is becoming more apparent, and more apparently necessary, with each passing year. Without a vision and a common blueprint for the Delta, we are only managing around the edges of a challenge that demands our collective best. Without strong governance and leadership, the experiment will fail. … ” Read more from the Delta Stewardship Council here: An experiment in governance: marking ten years of the Delta Stewardship Council

California water policies inhibit food production by Valley farmers: William Bourdeau writes, “Over the past several weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has created images Americans never expected to see in this country: Empty supermarket shelves and people lined up outside of markets waiting to enter to purchase food.  While the food supply chain in this country is strong, and American farmers certainly have the capacity to feed the people in the United States and around the world, anxiety created by uncertainty led to panic buying by consumers.  But what happens when the ability of farmers to feed the nation is suppressed by policies that inhibit the certainty of domestic food production? Shockingly, California’s San Joaquin Valley, which grows more than a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits, has been facing that very battle for decades. … ”  Read more from Water Wrights here: California water policies inhibit food production by Valley farmers

People, agriculture, and water in California:  Jay Lund writes, “Agriculture is California’s predominant use of managed water. Agriculture and water together are a foundation for California’s rural economy. Although most agriculture is economically-motivated and commercially-organized, the sociology and anthropology of agriculture and agricultural labor are basic for the well-being of millions of people, and the success and failure of rural, agricultural, and water and environmental policies.  The economic, ethnic, and class disparities and opportunity inequalities in urban life are urgent problems today. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  People, Agriculture, and Water in California

Balancing California’s water future:  Sustainable Conservation writes, “California’s groundwater – a critical resource in times of drought – is disappearing faster than we’re replenishing it. Our underground savings accounts are tapped, and we face a host of challenges like land subsidence, storage capacity loss and, most importantly, a dwindling water supply for California’s dry times.  To address groundwater reliability, the State enacted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in 2014 to build a sustainable water future for California above and below our feet. ... ”  Continue reading at Sustainable Conservation here: Balancing California’s water future

American River salmon shortchanged:  Tom Cannon writes, “The American River fall-run Chinook salmon are often referred to as a hatchery run. They are confined to the lower 20 miles of river below Folsom-Nimbus dams and are supplemented by Nimbus Hatchery smolt releases. Adult escapement (run size) is estimated from hatchery counts (Figure 1) and in-river spawning surveys (Figure 2). The run peaked with 100,000+ spawners from 2000-2004, after six wet years (1995-2000) and the initiation of large-scale releases of hatchery smolts to the Bay beginning in 1995 (Figure 3). After the initial success of Bay releases, the total numbers of smolts released dropped from the 8-12 million range to 4-5 million around the year 2000. ... ”  Read more from the California Fisheries blog here: American River salmon shortchanged

Will SCVWD reallocate special funding for creek restoration?  Deirdre Des Jardins writes, “Santa Clara Valley Water District is proposing to reauthorize the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program parcel tax, although the existing parcel tax was authorized through 2028.  The new parcel tax resolution will be considered at the June 23, 2020 Santa Clara Valley Water District Board meeting.  The draft 2020 resolution appears to eliminate an existing grant program that would provide $21 million for creek and wetland restoration.  It increases funding for seismic retrofit of Anderson Dam by $9 million, and provides $10 million for the Pacheco reservoir expansion.  It also increases funding for fish passage projects from $6 million to $8 million. … ”  Read more from the California Water Research blog here: Will SCVWD reallocate special funding for creek restoration?

Tradeoffs: Colorado River water, flowing down the Rio Grande:  John Fleck writes, “Faced with the challenge of teaching some or all of our coursework this fall on line, my University of New Mexico Water Resources Program colleagues and I have been having a think about what we’re trying to accomplish.  A lot of the thinking revolves around translating our educational goals from face-to-face classroom discussion to the new “modalities”, as the current edu-speak puts it. But it’s a useful moment, as I head into my eighth fall teaching , and my fifth as the program’s director, to also have a think about the underlying goals. ... ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here: Tradeoffs: Colorado River water, flowing down the Rio Grande

The roots of a coming Lake Powell Pipeline legal tangle:  Eric Kuhn writes, “As Utah pushes forward with its proposed Lake Powell Pipeline – an attempt move over 80,000 acre feet per year of its Upper Colorado River Basin allocation to communities in the Lower Basin – it is worth revisiting one of the critical legal milestones in the evolution of what we have come to call “the Law of the River.”  The division of the great river’s watershed into an “Upper Basin” and “Lower Basin”, with separate water allocations to each, was the masterstroke that allowed the successful completion of the Colorado River Compact in 1922. But the details of how that separation plays out in water management today were not solidified until a little-discussed U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1955, in the early years of the decade-long legal struggle known as “Arizona v. California.” ... ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here:  The roots of a coming Lake Powell Pipeline legal tangle

Making your water bill affordable:  Andrew Gard writes, “There is nothing more essential to life than water. Unfortunately, the essential nature of water does not mean it is affordable.  California faces serious hurdles to make water affordable. One big hurdle is Proposition 218, passed in 1996, to prevent utilities from increasing rates to generate state revenue. Water districts, tasked with upgrading their infrastructure, consistently battle Proposition 218. The districts, plagued with reduced revenue caused by reductions of water use, struggle to champion water conservation to assist in droughts while simultaneously reducing rates for low-income households. ... ”  Read more from the California Coastkeeper Alliance here:  Making your water bill affordable

Environmentalists v. Cost-benefit analysis: what does the future hold?  Dan Farber writes, “If it’s true that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” environmentalists might want to take another look at cost-benefit analysis. The Trump Administration is certainly doing its best to gut economic analysis of its rollbacks. Both economists and environmentalists are resisting. Is this an alliance of convenience or will it be the start of a beautiful friendship? ... ”  Read more from the Legal Planet here: Environmentalists v. Cost-benefit analysis: what does the future hold? 

The disparate impact of California climate policies:  Ronald Stein writes, “To the detriment of those that can least afford expensive energy, California climate policies have driven up the cost of electricity and fuels to be among the highest in the country. The cost burdens of those policies may be fueling (no pun intended) the basis of a rebellion as the state’s climate policies discriminate against minority and low-income consumers. … In California, stringent and deceptive climate policies, and intermittent electricity from low power density renewables, are expensive to consumers. … ”  Read more from Fox & Hounds here: The disparate impact of California climate policies

Featured image credit: Sculpture in the East Bay.  Artist: Karen Cusolito Photo: Thomas Hawk

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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