A section of the landscape surrounding the San Luis Reservoir. By Andrew Innerarity/ DWR

BLOG ROUND-UP: Water monopolies and the public interest; Whitewater rafting and California water policy; When snow disappears without a trace; As the climate changes, where are the safest places to live?; and more …

Water monopolies and the public interest

Trudy Wischemann writes, ““BIG BATTLE LOOMS OVER CALIFORNIA WATER RIGHTS,” ran the headline on a Dan Walters column last month.  Unfortunately, the headline could have been written anytime in the last 150 years, because water rights determine the past, present and future of farmland, people and the environment in this state.  We have been battling over them since the first gold mining camps, and it’s not likely to end.  The battle Walters hears rumbling this time is between the State Water Resources Control Board and senior water rights holders along the San Joaquin River, with Westlands Water District and environmentalists (unlikely bedfellows) entering the fray. ... ”  Continue reading at the Valley Citizen: Merill Goodall: Water monopolies and the public interest

Natural Resources budget trailer bill would exempt habitat restoration projects from CEQA

Deirdre Des Jardins writes, “SB 155, the Senate Natural Resources budget trailer bill, provides $593 million for projects that “advance multi-benefit and nature based solutions” this fiscal year, and another $175 million next fiscal year.  Section 23 of the bill exempts the following projects from the California Environmental Quality Act … ”  Continue reading at the California Water Research blog here: Natural Resources budget trailer bill would exempt habitat restoration projects from CEQA

SEE ALSO: Update on CEQA and Budget Trailers, from Restore the Delta

Delta Flows: Monitoring for the Bay-Delta Estuary on Multiple Fronts

Barbara Barrigan-Parilla writes, “We have endured CEQA reform bills to weaken Delta protections every two years for the last 12 years. We are vigilant always – without being panicked. And truthfully after so many attempts by DWR and California’s bipartisan line of misguided governors to create exemptions for a tunnel project that has gone from bad to worse, our indignation has evolved into a machine-like response in the sad whack-a-mole game of protecting the Delta. We continue to use our mallets as necessary while working to build positive programs for improved conditions in the Delta. ... ”  Read more from Restore the Delta here: Delta Flows: Monitoring for the Bay-Delta Estuary on Multiple Fronts

Whitewater rafting and California water policy

Gary Link writes, “You look up and see a huge wave of water rising above you, your grip tightens on the paddle, you involuntarily hold your breath, you hear the guide calling out commands, but your focus remains on that wall of water now cascading over you and your raft mates. You are drenched, invigorated, smiling with pure intensity, and the whole crew starts paddling together making sure the raft does not become stuck on the huge granite boulders ahead. That’s just one of the many whitewater rapids you faced on the river, and by the end of the trip you know that working together made for a productive and fun filled day. Ironic how a whitewater rafting trip can be a great analogy for water policy work. … ”  Read more from the Northern California Water Association here: Whitewater rafting and California water policy

Classification of Water Year Types

Tom Cannon writes, “At the 2021 Bay-Delta Science Conference, Department of Water Resources (DWR) engineers discussed the results of their modeling study on classification of Central Valley water-year types that define operations of state and federal water projects.1 The study recognized the need to adjust the rules because of climate change and associated changes in human and environmental demands on water supplies. “Iterations of the model become a water system stress test under different incremental changes of climate.”  The study focused on the classification of water years for the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers: currently, these are critically dry, dry, below normal, above normal, and wet. The study suggests there is likely to be a higher frequency of critical and below normal years, and a lower frequency of wet and above normal years, because of rising temperatures. … ”  Read more from the California Fisheries blog here: Classification of Water Year Types

When snow disappears without a trace

Jessica Law writes, “California’s drought this time seems to be worse than the last one in 2014-16. And it seems to have hit much faster and harder. Why is that?  There are two main reasons: The Sierra snowpack was deeper this winter than in the drought year of 2015. But only a fraction of its runoff made its way into creeks and rivers; and the official runoff forecasts missed the mark, anticipating normal runoff for the snowpack, and that more water would flow from the watershed into rivers and subsequently into downstream reservoirs.  To the first point, where did the snow go? A lot of the snow simply melted and soaked into the ground, re-wetting soils in Sierra watersheds that were severely parched after last winter, which was also dry. Those watersheds were so dry that the available snowmelt completely soaked into the soil in some cases, leaving no water left for spring runoff in the rivers. ... ”  Continue reading at the Water Forum blog here: When snow disappears without a trace

A tale of two below-normal water years – 2016 and 2020

Tom Cannon writes, “Water years 2016 and 2020 were below-normal water years in the Central Valley. Water year 2016 followed three critically dry, drought years, whereas 2020 followed two wet years (2017 and 2019) and one normal (2018) year. So one might assume that 2020 would have been better for Sacramento River salmon than 2016. But it ain’t so – because two different federal administrations were managing Shasta operations. The Trump administration’s policy to “maximize deliveries” of water that began in 2020 had consequences that turned deadly for salmon in critically dry 2021.  First and foremost, Shasta Reservoir storage in 2016 was surprisingly about 500,000 acre-feet or more higher than it was in 2020 after the first of April … ”  Read more from the California Fisheries blog here: A tale of two below-normal water years – 2016 and 2020

On a just transition for farmworker communities and farmworkers in the San Joaquin Valley

Deirdre Des Jardins writes, “San Joaquin Valley communities are on the front lines of massive land fallowing due to drought and soil and groundwater salinization. Satellite imaging shows almost a million acres of land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and in the Tulare Lake region that is either moderately or severely impaired by salinity. In droughts, growers fallow the marginal land, sometimes permanently. Small rural communities are left to deal with blowing dust and the loss of local jobs. … ”  Cotninue reading at the California Water Research blog here: On a just transition for farmworker communities and farmworkers in the San Joaquin Valley

Lessons from Three Decades of Evolution of Cropland use in the Central Valley

José M. Rodríguez-Flores, Spencer A. Cole, Alexander Guzman, Josué Medellín-Azuara, Jay R. Lund, and Daniel A. Sumner write, “California’s Central Valley is the source of more than $30 billion of farm value. It produces more milk than any state outside California, and dominates national production of dozens of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts and rice. The valley has two main parts: the Sacramento Valley (north) and the San Joaquin Valley (south); each has particular distinguishing agricultural features (such as soil, hydrology, climate, and economy) that have driven how agriculture and water infrastructure have developed. This post reviews the evolution of the major crops and crop categories produced in the Central Valley of California from 1990 to 2019. … ”  Continue reading at the California Water Blog here:  Lessons from Three Decades of Evolution of Cropland use in the Central Valley

As the climate changes, where are the safest places to live?

Tara Lohan writes, “Talent. King Mountain. Hugo. The town names — each the site of new wildfire ignitions following a lightning storm the day before — are all new to me. After I read each incident report, I head to Google maps to ask the same question that’s been on my mind for weeks: How close? This is my first wildfire season — also known as summer — in my new home state of Oregon. I’m learning the geography by way of (potential) catastrophe. After nearly two decades in San Francisco, my wife and I moved to central Oregon in May. We had been plotting our escape to a more rural location for years. While climate change wasn’t our reason for leaving the Bay Area, it was a consideration in where to go next.  We first looked at towns along the east and west flanks of California’s Sierra Nevada. But our searches mostly ended in frustration … and a bit of fear. … ”  Read more from The Revelator here: As the climate changes, where are the safest places to live?

 
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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