California Coastal Monument: Photo by Bob Wick/BLM

BLOG ROUND-UP: Water and drought deceit: More dubious policies; The Bay-Delta salmon crisis that didn’t have to be; DWP originally designed for a six year drought; and more …

Water and drought deceit: More dubious policies California lawmakers continue to perpetrate

Katy Grimes writes, “Food or Fish, Liberty or Oppression, Victim or Fighter? We Californians have many decisions to make about our future.  In Climate Deceit and Dubious Policies California Lawmakers Continue to Perpetrate, we addressed unreliable solar and wind power, and China’s influence pushing electric vehicles and an all-electric grid on the U.S., and how this all started with AB 32, California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which initially set a 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal into law.  While California’s drought conditions are actually historically normal, each of California’s droughts are billed by government and media as the driest period in the state’s recorded rainfall history. Scientists who study the Western United States’ long-term climate patterns say California has been dry for significantly longer periods — more than 200 years. … ”  Read more from the California Globe here:  Water and drought deceit: More dubious policies California lawmakers continue to perpetrate

The Bay-Delta salmon crisis that didn’t have to be

Kate Poole writes, “The state and federal agencies tasked with protecting our fish, wildlife, and natural resources are once again scrambling to avoid wiping out this year’s cohort of chinook salmon that spawn below Shasta Dam. If this sounds familiar, it is because this scenario is a repeat of attempts to “manage” Shasta operations in 2014 and 2015, which resulted in over 75% of the eggs and fry of endangered winter run chinook salmon being destroyed in both of those years, solely from the lack of sufficient cold water being released from Shasta Dam (overall in-river mortality rates for winter run born in 2014 and 2015 exceeded 95%). Fall run chinook salmon, that form the backbone of the west coast salmon fishery, fared even worse in their Sacramento River habitat in 2014. We’ve heard lots of proclamations this year about how California learned its lessons from the severe drought of 2012-2016 and won’t repeat the mistakes of that era, which were horrific for fish and wildlife. But here we are again, with some of California’s last struggling salmon runs still not fully recovered from the last drought and once again facing extinction-level mortality events in the wild. ”  Read more from the NRDC here: The Bay-Delta salmon crisis that didn’t have to be

Shasta Experiment #2 – Saving the Cold-Water Pool

Tom Cannon writes, “In the afternoons of 4/15 and 4/16, the Bureau of Reclamation conducted a second set of experiments or tests of the powerhouse bypass at Shasta Dam with the apparent goal of conserving the volume of Shasta Reservoir’s cold-water pool for later in the summer.    Reclamation released warm surface water from Shasta Reservoir into upper Keswick Reservoir through the upper river outlets to the dam spillway (see inset at right), bypassing the TCD and powerhouse.  Water temperature immediately below Shasta Dam reached values greater than 70ºF in the early afternoon on the 14th and 15th (Figure 1).  The river outlet releases occurred between the normal daily peak-power releases through the powerhouse (Figure 2).  In the prior test (Exp #1) in the early morning hours of 4/11, water temperature below the dam reached only 55ºF, as some cold water was also being released through the powerhouse. ... ”  Read more from the California Fisheries blog here:  Shasta Experiment #2 – Saving the Cold-Water Pool

Shasta Experiment #3 – Saving the Cold-Water Pool or Increasing Irrigation Deliveries?

Tom Cannon writes, “In early April 2021, the Bureau of Reclamation began a series of tests to determine if releases of water that bypass the powerhouses at Shasta Dam could help save Shasta’s cold-water pool through the summer and fall and thus help sustain salmon spawning in the Sacramento River below Shasta. This post describes the third experiment in the series.  Experiments or tests of the powerhouse bypass continued at Shasta Dam from 4/19-4/24, 2021.  But the apparent goal of conserving cold-water pool volume for later in summer seems to have morphed into an acute operational phase of releasing a lot of water for contractor deliveries early in a critical drought year. ... ”  Read more from the California Fisheries Blog here: Shasta Experiment #3 – Saving the Cold-Water Pool or Increasing Irrigation Deliveries?

The State Water Project was originally designed for a six year drought

Deirdre Des Jardins writes, “A 1983 Bulletin by the Department of Water Resources (Bulletin 160-83) [1] documents that Oroville reservoir was designed to provide long-term carryover storage and reliable water deliveries in case of a repeat of the 1928-1934 drought. The Department of Water Resources  proposed in the same Bulletin 160-83 to change State Water Project operations to take greater risks with carryover storage to increase total water deliveries. The operational change was made on the basis of a long forgotten study which estimated that the 1928-1934 drought only had a probability of recurrence of 1 in 200-400 years. … ”  Read more from California Water Research here: The State Water Project was originally designed for a six year drought

The Sacramento River: ‘Ridgetop to River Mouth’ multi-benefit water management

The dry year and reduced flows in the Sacramento River System are challenging the ability for water resources managers to serve water for cities and rural communities, farms, wildlife refuges, fish and recreation.  Part of the challenge has been the inordinate focus on temperature management in the upper part of the river below Shasta Lake. As we have all seen countless times before, a focus on one species or in this case one aspect (temperature) of water management is not a path forward for the long-term, successful recovery of salmon, nor does it advance multi-benefit water management or help serve water for all these important purposes in the region. ... ”  Read more from the NorCal Water Association blog here: The Sacramento River: ‘Ridgetop to River Mouth’ multi-benefit water management

CSPA urges State Water Board to tap New Melones now

Chris Shutes writes, “Following up on the State Water Board’s April 21, 2021 workshop on Sacramento River water temperature management, CSPA has written a letter urging the Board to enforce existing flow requirements for the lower San Joaquin River.  Water Rights Decision 1641 requires the Bureau of Reclamation to release water from New Melones Reservoir to meet seasonal San Joaquin River pulse flows.  Implementing the required releases from New Melones would also take pressure off other major reservoirs, which are struggling to maintain cold water for fish downstream. ... ”  Read more from the CSPA here: CSPA urges State Water Board to tap New Melones now

The next steps in “my semi-charmed life of the mind”

John Fleck writes, “When I was happily toiling those many years as an inkstained wretch, I had secret fantasies of leaving newspaper work to spend my waning years on the campus of the University of New Mexico. It’s a short bike ride to campus, which has trees and libraries and people thinking slowly.  I loved what newspaper work gave me – Michael Hirschorn called it “a certain kind of quasi-bohemian urban existence for the thousands of smart middle-class writers, journalists, and public intellectuals who … live semi-charmed kinds of lives of the mind.” ... ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here: The next steps in “my semi-charmed life of the mind”

Resistance is not futile, but the Colorado River lawsuit settlement reflects ecological and political bankruptcy

Gary Wockner writes, “Over the last two months, I negotiated and signed a settlement agreement that included the river-protection groups I represent dropping a lawsuit for a proposed new dam and diversion on the Colorado River. Signing the agreement signaled what I’ve long known about environmental laws and water politics in Colorado – they are both ecologically and politically bankrupt.  In this particular case, I agreed to drop our lawsuit in the federal court of appeals against the Windy Gap Firming Project (”Project”). We’d lost the permitting battle with the Army Corps of Engineers, and we’d lost the first lawsuit in federal district court, and then we appealed. The particular facts and law in this case, as well as the opposition against us, indicated that settling the case was the best good option. … ”  Read more from Gary Wockner here: Resistance is not futile, but the Colorado River lawsuit settlement reflects ecological and political bankruptcy

Bring the Kern back to Bakersfield

Amy Merrill writes, “The first time I saw the Kern, it was the upper reaches of the river’s north fork, cutting through wildly steep and craggy mountains of the southern Sierra. My mission then was to help survey meadows at the river’s headwaters. After my fieldwork, I drove down the exhilarating slopes, with the wild river running in a deep canyon to my right. The canyon deposited me and the river into the wide, open plains of the southern Central Valley, just east of Bakersfield. The highway pulled away from the river as I drove into the valley, and when I arrived in Bakersfield, I saw that the riverbed through the city was empty and dry. … ” Read more from American Rivers here: Bring the Kern back to Bakersfield

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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