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“Paper Water” online

Bruce Tokars of Salmon Water Now has been prolific in producing informative videos about water politics and posting them online where they can reach a lot of viewers. His most recent effort is "Paper Water: and Other Sordid Tales."  This is a great overview of Stewart Resnick, the Kern Water Bank, The Monterey Amendments, and Paper Water.  You can watch this in four parts on YouTube. The whole 35-minute video is also posted on Vimeo.

New lawsuit considers groundwater and the public trust

The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA) and the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) have filed a lawsuit against the State Water Resources Control Board and Siskiyou County based on the idea of using the public trust doctrine to regulate groundwater.   Since 1980, the State Board has regulated pumping of groundwater within 500 feet of the Scott River, where the Legislature had found geology and hydrology to be uniquely interconnected (Water Code Section 2500.5 (b).  PCFFA and ELF assert that failure to regulate more distant pumping has depleted surface flows and hastened the decline of the coho salmon.   See "Should the public trust doctrine be extended to groundwater?" at http://baydelta.wordpress.com/

We’ve been framed

Have you noticed that certain words and phrases are used over and over again to describe the Delta, while other conditions never get described at all?   Discussions about the Delta have been "framed" by people invested in seeing it in a particular way, whether or not that way is accurate. Think about how often you have seen the Delta described as the "hub" of California's water system, as if that image conveyed everything important about the region.   But anyone looking at the system honestly would have to admit that the Delta's days as a "hub" are over.  Water coming in is limited, fluctuating, and/or compromised.  Sending historic levels of that water out is fatal to the ecosystem. Describing it [...]

Pipe dream

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) has produced a June 2010 Status Update with several interesting maps.  They're looking at management strategies  and "opportunity areas," and considering "site selection criteria" for 5 in-river intakes at 3,000 CFS capacity each  ("to avoid high population density areas"). If you aren't looking carefully, you could miss this subtle change on the map titled "Proposed Conveyance and Habitat Restoration Options": the central alignment is identified as a "Pipeline/Tunnel." We don't remember seeing the term "pipeline" being used in earlier BDCP documents.  This map describes the "Pipeline/Tunnel" as having "2 bores, each 33 feet inside diameter."  That was the same as last summer's "tunnel" description. In a future update, we expect to see "tunnel" dropped [...]

Training wheels

Richard Roos-Collins, one of Governor Schwarzenegger's appointees to the Delta Stewardship Council (DSC), has resigned.  Roos-Collins, an attorney for the Natural Heritage Institute, had previously served on the BDCP steering committee.  Restore the Delta and other groups thought that this constituted a conflict of interest, since one function of the DSC is to evaluate the BDCP.   Roos-Collins had not yet been confirmed by the Senate.  The Governor's other three appointees - Phil Isenberg, Randy Fiorini, and Hank Nordhoff - also have not been confirmed. California law allows a Governor's appointees to serve for one year pending confirmation.   The DSC will have a Delta Plan long before that.  So confirmation is kind of a moot point: so much for [...]

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