BLOG ROUND-UP: Delta voluntary agreements are a “plan to fail” in droughts; If droughts are predictable because they self-propagate, not planning for them is irresponsible; Can Elon Musk save the Colorado River, and the American Southwest?; and more …

Delta voluntary agreements are a “plan to fail” in droughts

Doug Obegi, Director of California River Restoration for the NRDC, writes, “Rather than planning for droughts and ensuring that minimum water quality objectives are achieved in critically dry years, the proposed voluntary agreement appears to be a “plan to fail” to protect the Delta in future droughts.   Droughts are a fact of life in California, even as climate change is making them worse.  The Governor’s Water Resilience Portfolio recognizes the need to improve drought preparedness, requiring that the State to be able to protect fish and wildlife during a six year drought (recommendation 26.3).  That recommendation is crucial because instead of being prepared for droughts and ensuring that water quality objectives that protect fish and wildlife are met, the State’s current “plan” for droughts is to declare an emergency and violate minimum water quality standards, devastating native fish and wildlife — and the thousands of jobs that depend on their health. … ”  Read more from the NRDC here:  Delta voluntary agreements are a “plan to fail” in droughts

Game theory explains what happened in the Voluntary Agreement negotiations

Deirdre Des Jardins writes, “In 2009, Michael Hanneman and Caitlin Dyckman published a stark assessment:  “The San Francisco Bay-Delta: A failure of decision-making capacity.” A decade later, their game theoretic analysis explains a lot of what happened with the Voluntary Agreement negotiations for the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan Update.  This is the key bit:  A well-known theorem from game theory has application to the bargaining regarding the Delta. The theorem applies to multi-person, cooperative (bargaining) games.  A solution concept for such a game is what is known as the core: the core is the set of outcomes with the property that no coalition of players, acting as an independent group, can achieve more for itself than what it would obtain from outcomes in the core. … ”  Continue reading at the California Water Research blog here: Game theory explains what happened in the Voluntary Agreement negotiations

Water Coalition letter

Don Wright writes, “A coalition of water stakeholder organizations from across California joined together to send a letter addressed to Governor Gavin Newsom and six key legislators requesting action to address water issues. The nine page document dated April 19, 2022 was signed by 18 organizations and entities including the San Joaquin Valley Water Blueprint and 10 Southern California, four Bay Area and three trade groups. The letter laid out the need to include a $6.5 billion appropriation in the 2022-2023 General Fund budget to strengthen statewide drought and flood resilience.  The letter states, “The only way to avoid a calamitous water shortage and subsequent environmental and economic degradation is to improve the adaptive management capacity of our current water system . . .” … ”  Read the full post at Water Wrights here: Water Coalition letter

If droughts are predictable because they self-propagate, not planning for them is irresponsible

Hank Campbell writes, “Everyone knows droughts are bad. They increase risk of wildfires and damage life in the affected region. They are not always predictable, when I lived in Pennsylvania in the early 1990s there was a drought with no known mechanism involved, but they are often cyclical, which makes them at least broadly predictable.  The Dry 2 Dry program at Ghent University believes droughts are not only predictable and cyclical, they can propagate in a kind of feedback loop; instead of being local, evaporated water is moved to other areas, so less of it is taking drought with them.  If so, that is even more reason California government needs to obey the laws it is bound to follow and create more water storage.  It is the goal of science and technology to not let fickle nature hold us hostage. … ”  Read more from Science 2.0 here:  If droughts are predictable because they self-propagate, not planning for them is irresponsible

Valley farmers: tiptoeing past a graveyard of trees?

Eric Caine writes, “Bringing to mind ageless adages about “putting all your eggs into one basket” and “everything that goes up must come down,” the current almond crisis for Valley agriculture has yet to penetrate the consciousness of most local residents, in part because of the major distraction of war in the Ukraine.  Discussion about bulging warehouses and falling prices has mostly been whispered. It’s difficult to talk while holding one’s breath. But more and more Valley farmers are finding themselves with their backs to the wall as a broken supply chain keeps last year’s almond crop marooned in warehouses while this  year’s coming harvest has fewer and fewer places to go.  To get an idea of how much is at stake, consider that, “more than 1.1 billion pounds of almonds from last year’s harvest are sitting in warehouses,” almost all of them in the San Joaquin Valley. Theoretically, these almonds are sold, but the inability to deliver them has caused a crisis of plummeting prices and reduced demand for this year’s rapidly approaching harvest. … ”  Read more from the Valley Citizen here: Valley farmers: tiptoeing past a graveyard of trees?

Little fish ignites big trouble

Bev Berens writes, “Visiting California was never really a travel dream for me. But this week, I returned from a trip to the Sunshine Coast that landed Mr. Berens and I in Fresno, squarely in central Joaquin Valley, one of America’s most diverse and fertile agricultural lands that leads the states in cash farm receipts. The scope of the ag economy there rivals the gross economy of some nations.  The first thing that struck me when off-boarding the plane was all the agriculture-related advertising and displays in the small Fresno airport. I didn’t see crop protection products or equipment advertised in the larger international airports where we spent a few waiting hours. There was also a scaled-down version of Sequoia trees, and the Sequoia National Park is something I’d really like to see. Someday.  The landscape is unique. … ”  Read more from The Farmers Exchange here: Little fish ignites big trouble

A simplified look at the complex world of fish population dynamics

Tom Cannon writes, “I have a simplified approach in analyzing fish population dynamics from which I review the status of populations of smelt and salmon. It looks at the dynamics of the relationship between the number of spawning adults and their returning adult recruits one to several years later. In the fish science vernacular, it is sometimes referred to as the “spawner-recruit curve” or “stock-recruitment relationship” or simply “S/R relationship”. The major features of a S/R relationship are shown in Figure 1 (A, B, and C) … ”  Read more from the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance here: A simplified look at the complex world of fish population dynamics

Can Elon Musk save the Colorado River, and the American Southwest?

Gary Wockner writes, “Over the past week, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the seven states of the Colorado River basin have jumped into “dire emergency” mode for how to protect Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell from plummeting water levels.  Three problems arise as the water level drops:  The Dam provides hydropower to a swath of the American Southwest, and if the water level drops near or below the hydropower turbines, electricity generation stops and the turbines may be severely damaged when air is spun, rather than water, through the turbines.  Page, AZ, has a water supply intake pipe that pumps water out of Lake Powell near the Dam, and as the Lake level drops, Page’s intake will start sucking air rather than water.  As the Lake level drops past “power pool” (where the hydropower turbines exist), the water can only pass through the “outlet tubes” which are steel structures at the base of the dam.  We prescribe three solutions to the three problems. … ”  Read the full commentary at the Pagosa Daily Post here: Can Elon Musk save the Colorado River, and the American Southwest?

Time to rethink the Upper Basin’s “Bonus Water” contributions to Lake Mead?

Eric Kuhn writes, “For years, the Colorado River management community has ignored, or at the very least sidestepped, a problem that has effectively sent more Upper Basin water downstream to help fill Lake Mead. But with the reservoir system operating on razor-thin margins, this “bonus water” – seeping through the sandstone cliffs of Glen Canyon, rather than being released through Glen Canyon Dam’s penstocks – could become a significant issue soon.  That leakage adds up. 150,00 acre feet per year is 1.5 million acre feet every ten years – enough, had it not been sent downstream to Lake Mead, to have pushed the Lower Colorado River Basin into shortage four or five years ago. … ”  Read more from the Inkstain blog here: Time to rethink the Upper Basin’s “Bonus Water” contributions to Lake Mead?

The man who bought a cruise ship on Craigslist

It’s not every day that you spot a cruise ship for sale on Craigslist. So Chris Willson was immediately intrigued when he stumbled across a 293-foot vessel listed on the classified advertisements website back in 2008.  The retired “pocket” cruise ship, built in Germany, was moored in the California Delta at the time, and its then owner was keen to offload it.  After seeing the listing pop up numerous times Willson, who was working on developing virtual reality tours, decided to do some investigating.  Once he made the trip down to the inland river delta and estuary in Northern California and stepped onboard, Willson was struck by how badly the 2,496 gross ton ship had been neglected over the years. ... ”  Continue reading at CNN here: The man who bought a cruise ship on Craigslist

Cobra venom in the water supply? We fact check the conspiracy theory

Newsrooms are used to getting calls from the public alerting journalists of potential public safety concerns. On Wednesday, one of Nexstar’s newsrooms received an important (and unsubstantiated) tip: There is snake venom in the drinking water in North Carolina.  This is concerning. There has been no public health alert distributed about this. So we did what anyone would do in such a case: We asked Google about the provenance of this warning and what we, as citizens, need to know about it. … ”  Read more from KTLA here: Cobra venom in the water supply? We fact check the conspiracy theory

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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