BLOG ROUND-UP: Depleted reservoirs threaten hydro power, agriculture, drinking water; Investing in California’s water supply infrastructure; Restore the Delta: Delta Conveyance Project update; and more …

Depleted California reservoirs threaten hydro power, agriculture, drinking water

Katy Grimes writes, “In 2014, California voters approved $7.12 billion in bonds for state water supply infrastructure projects. Of that, $2.7 billion was designated for water storage projects. But nearly 8 years later, there are no new dams or reservoirs, or other water storage projects to collect and store California’s winter runoff. And California is in yet another drought.  As California Rep. Tom McClintock has said for years, “droughts are naturally occurring, water shortages are man-made.” He also has warned for many years, “We live in one of the most water-rich regions of the country – yet we have not built a major reservoir in this state since 1979.  Meanwhile, the population has nearly doubled.  The sad, simple fact is that we will NEVER solve our water problems until we start building new dams once again.” ... ”  Read more from the California Globe here: Depleted California reservoirs threaten hydro power, agriculture, drinking water

Investing in California’s water supply infrastructure

The California Farm Water Coalition writes, “CFWC recently released two short videos in a series aimed at educating the public on ways the new bi-partisan infrastructure package is aimed at investing in California’s water supply. The recent drought is showing areas where California’s water supply resilience is failing.  The bi-partisan infrastructure bill gives us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help promote drought resiliency, adjust to climate change, protect the environment, mitigate wildfires, maintain a safe, healthy, local food supply and ensure communities have the water they need to run their homes and power their businesses. … ”  Read more and watch videos from the California Farm Water Coalition here:  Investing in California’s water supply infrastructure

Restore the Delta: Delta Conveyance Project update

Barbara Barrigan-Parilla writes, “Last week, while our staff was away on leave, vacation, sick time, and other assorted in-Delta activities, DWR held a fisheries workshop on operations of the proposed Delta Conveyance Project. Colleagues from various organizations took an array of notes and shared the following with us. We are editing their notes to share with our followers, with a bit of color commentary; otherwise, we wouldn’t be acting like ourselves.  The webinar presentation indicates that the agencies are proposing several changes in operations of the Delta tunnel compared to WaterFix, and these changes are grounded in wholly inadequate operational criteria. The project may have moved from two tunnels to one, but the operating conditions for water quality are getting worse. This of course would lead to more harmful algal blooms in the Delta. … ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here: Delta Conveyance Project update

It’s time for the Biden administration to protect salmon

Kate Poole writes, “On day one of his Administration, President Biden ordered his staff to “immediately review” and take action to address a number of destructive Trump Administration actions that failed to adhere to the best available science and protect the environment. The two Endangered Species Act permits (“biological opinions”) issued by the Trump Administration for California’s Bay-Delta ecosystem were included on the list of actions explicitly called out for review. These two Trump biological opinions are unquestionably environmentally destructive, authorizing the complete extinction of at least one run of endangered chinook salmon and, at best, the slow demise of several other threatened and endangered fish native to the Bay-Delta ecosystem. These biological opinions also fail to reflect the best science, with the agencies’ own fisheries scientists being sidelined in the process of drafting them when their drafts failed to “open up the water,” as President Trump put it, or authorize increased water withdrawals for agriculture in a predetermined outcome that ignored the overwhelming science about the harm that increased diversions would cause. … ”  Read more from the NRDC here: It’s time for the Biden administration to protect salmon

Reckless water transfer would further jeopardize fisheries in 2021 & 2022

Cindy Charles writes, “The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, California Water Impact Network, and AquAlliance filed comments to the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) on July 16, 2021 in opposition to the proposed water transfer of up to 100,000 acre-feet of water from New Melones Reservoir. The transfer is requested by South San Joaquin Irrigation District and Oakdale Irrigation District (Districts). The proposed recipient is the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority (SLDMWA). ... ”  Read more from the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance here: Reckless water transfer would further jeopardize fisheries in 2021 & 2022

Are striped bass next to go? 2021 update

Tom Cannon writes, “The prognosis for Bay-Delta and California striped bass could not be much worse. Numbers of stripers salvaged at the south Delta pumping plants in 2021 are down to or below 2014-2015 levels. Like many other species that spend all or part of their lives in the Delta, striped bass are on a downward spiral. Good water years are not providing enough population rebound to offset devastating lack of recruitment in dry year sequences.  In my report on the status of striped bass in 2016, stripers had suffered terribly in four years of drought (2012-2015). By 2019, the prognosis was still not good after a sequence of wetter water years (2016-2019) that were below normal, wet, below normal and wet. … ”  Read more from the California Fisheries blog here: Are striped bass next to go? 2021 update

What is it about the Scott River and its Coho Salmon?

A recent article in Science Magazine provides a possible clue as to why the Scott River, a California tributary to the Klamath River, still produces a relatively large amount of coho salmon. A chemical released onto roads as tires wear has been found to kill young coho. Watersheds like the Scott River are pristine, sourced directly from springs and snowmelt, with low highway interaction. The Scott contrasts with its neighbor the Shasta river, which runs very close to Interstate Highway 5, and which produces few coho salmon.  Absence of pollution from tire debris may also be part of the reason why Butte Creek is able to produce so many spring-run salmon. On the other side of the coin, the prevalence of roads may help explain why coho salmon have been extirpated from many of the highly urbanized Puget Sound watersheds in Washington State and British Columbia. … ”  Read more from the California Fisheries blog here: What is it about the Scott River and its Coho Salmon?

Why NRDC opposes the proposed Sites Reservoir

Doug Obegi, Director, California River Restoration, Water Division for the Natural Resources Defense Council, writes, “There will undoubtedly always be some folks who believe the myth that building new dams and reservoirs will be a silver bullet that solves California’s water supply challenges.  The reality, of course, is that California already has constructed nearly 1,400 dams and reservoirs, and compared to the excessive and unsustainable demand for water in our state, new dams and reservoirs provide little water – at high cost.  And of course, most dams and reservoirs have had devastating impacts on our native fish and wildlife, and the Tribes, fishing jobs, and communities that depend on their health.  After all, even where dams don’t entirely block the flow of a river, they still take water from the environment (diverting and storing water that would have naturally flowed downstream in a river), nearly always storing that water for farms and cities to use later in the year or in subsequent years. … ”  Continue reading at the NRDC here: Why NRDC opposes the proposed Sites Reservoir

Sites Reservoir: California’s drought insurance policy

Jeff Sutton, General Manager, Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority, writes, “In California, we have experience with droughts. Drought is an inevitable and predictable reality for our state. In 2021, after back-to-back critically dry winters, California’s farms and our rural communities are facing a real and imminent threat as we approach the hottest, driest months of the summer irrigation season. While we brace for the impacts of this challenging water situation, our farms and local communities are simultaneously dealing with the huge economic impacts and uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic that has hit California’s rural communities hard.  Northern California reservoirs, the foundation of both the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project, are at historically low levels and continue to fall. The Sierra Nevada snowpack, that serves as our mountain reservoirs, is well below historic averages. ... ”  Read more from the Northern California Water Association here: Sites Reservoir: California’s drought insurance policy

Whiskey’s for drinking, water rights are for fighting over

Tony Francois writes, “Drive east out of Portland, Oregon, on Highway 84 for a few hours and most of the trip you’ll be alongside the Columbia River, where some centuries ago, steely men named Lewis and Clark risked life and livelihood to paddle into uncharted territory. Cross through the Blue Mountains and into Baker Valley and you’ll find another steely man, rancher Curtis Martin.  Depending on the day, you’ll likely see Curtis working on irrigation for his cattle or just tending to his land. But other than his ranch work at hand, for years Curtis has been busy with another important task, fighting the government and activists for his right to survive. What’s it like to be a rancher? “Raw. Rugged. You got to have grit,” Curtis answers. “Ranchers don’t know what ‘weekend’ means. It’s 24-7-365. You’re either taking care of cattle or irrigating.” He catches himself quickly. Not every day. “We try to take Sundays off and enjoy the day and recognize our Lord.”  He says his own grit came from his father, also a rancher. … ”  Read more from the Pacific Legal Foundation here: Whiskey’s for drinking, water rights are for fighting over

Sources of controversy in the Law of the River

John Fleck writes, “As we lumber toward a renegotiation of the operating rules on the Colorado River, one of the challenges folks in basin management face is the differing understandings of the Law of the River. There’s stuff we all know, or think we know, or stuff Lower Basin folks think they know that Upper Basin people may disagree with, and stuff Upper Basin folks think they know that Lower Basin people may disagree with.  Larry MacDonnell, one of the Law of the River’s great legal minds, has written a terrific treatise to help us untangle this. It’s clearly written from an Upper Basin perspective (“Yay!” said the guy – me – who drinks Upper Basin water!), so Lower Basin folks may disagree with some of what Larry is saying. That’s OK, the important thing is to understand that the answers to these questions are not given – that there are genuine disagreements on this stuff, and the negotiations to come need to wrestle with these questions. … ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here: Sources of controversy in the Law of the River

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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