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And on to the serious science

In the afternoon, Dr. Michael Johnson, recently retired Director of the Aquatic Ecosystems Analysis Laboratory at UC Davis, gave a presentation on “Contaminants in the Delta and their Potential Role in Shaping Biological Communities.” He said that there was insufficient data to conclude that contaminants were partially or wholly responsible for the pelagic organism decline (POD) from 2000-2008. Effects must be from the trophic structure (which relates to energy in levels in the food chain). Dr. Johnson found that there were major fish kills even before the POD. In a list of contaminants, it was interesting to see that from 1986-2008, by far the highest contaminant count was for selenium, with boron in second place. Selenium, though, is not a [...]

“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 [...]

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