Blog round-up: Bloggers look back at 2013 and ahead at 2014, plus Sacramento sewage overflows, fracking and the BDCP, the Las Vegas groundwater pipeline and more

JOW Blog Round UpFour water resolutions for the New Year, and they aren’t take shorter showers, turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth, or buy low flow toilets.  You can do more than that, says Brian Richter at National Geographic:  ” … It may surprise you, however, to learn that when you look at your use and dependence on water more comprehensively – beyond your use of water inside your home – you will find much bigger ways for you to help conserve our planet’s water supplies.  If you are concerned about water shortages or want to do as much as you can to protect freshwater habitats, you might consider the following four ways to substantially lighten your personal water footprint.  The arrival of a new year is always a good time to adopt new resolutions! … “  Read the full post here:  Four Water Resolutions for a Sustainable Planet

ACWA’s Tim Quinn looks back at the accomplishments of 2013:  “With the year nearly over, it’s a good time to look back at what was a busy and productive 2013 for ACWA. Above all, our members once again came together to foster agreement on some of the state’s most complex water issues, choosing to build consensus rather than focusing on differences.  Time and time again this year, we provided effective and unified leadership as California was dealing with several critical water issues of statewide significance — Delta planning, the water bond and groundwater concerns, to name a few. Notably, in September the ACWA Board unanimously adopted the association’s Statewide Water Action Plan (SWAP). Developed over several months through collaboration with a broad cross-section of member agencies, the plan outlines 15 actions to improve water supply reliability, protect water rights, protect the integrity of the state’s water system and promote better stewardship. … “  Read more here:  Looking Back at a Busy 2013

2014 promises a water fight, says Cal Watchdog: The blog responds to the recent editorial by the Southern California Watershed Alliance’s Connor Everts and Food and Water Watch’s Adam Scow:  “  … The authors write, “An independent cost estimate found that water bills and property taxes for Angelenos would need to rise by $2,000 to $4,500 per household over 40 years in order to fund Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s $1.5-$5 billion cost-share of the project.”   A different estimate comes from the Metropolitan Water District, which pegs the cost of the tunnels at $5 to $6 per household per month. Moreover, the cost of the tunnels would not be carried only by the City of Los Angeles. Rather, the cost would be spread over all of Southern California water ratepayers in six counties as well as Central Valley farmers. Northern California would only pay for re-engineering the Delta ecosystem for fish. Most Northern cities would pay nothing for the tunnels. … ” Read more from the Cal Watchdog blog here: 2014 promises water fight over Delta tunnels

Sacramento can reduce its sewage overflows through water conservation, says the NRDC Switchboard blog:  Larry Levine writes: “In about 770 communities around the country, sewer pipes are designed to carry sewage and rainwater in the same pipes – but treatment plants don’t have the capacity to treat it all when it rains.  In these places – mainly in the Northeast, Midwest, and Pacific Northwest – raw sewage is dumped into rivers, lakes, and coastal waters (and sometimes into streets and basements) when storm runoff overloads the local sewers.  Sacramento, California, is one of the few cities outside those 3 regions to suffer from this particular problem. … At several locations along the Sacramento River – which flows south to the endangered San Francisco Bay Delta – the city of Sacramento releases over 200 million gallons of partially-treated or untreated sewage in a typical year, whenever the combined amount of storm runoff and sewage exceeds the capacity of the treatment system. … “  Read more here:  Use Less Water…Pollute Less Water: Sacramento Can Reduce Sewage Overflows Through Water Conservation

Frackers want BDCP water, says All-Gov: Skeptics who question the state spending at least $26 billion on a makeover for Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta that they think tilts heavily toward agribusiness and industrial interests can add one more factor to that side of the equation—fracking.   The folks who drew up the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) have a webpage that publishes answers on a weekly basis to questions about the looming mega-project that would redirect water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers through two tunnels to farmers, businesses and thirsty Californians to the south and west. … Water interests want more water and—in case it wasn’t clear before, the BDCP makes it clear now—that includes oil and gas drillers using hydraulic fracturing. In answer to the question “Will water pumped from the Delta be used for fracking in the Central Valley?” the answer was yes. “Fracking presumably would be an ‘industrial’ use of water.” … “  Read more from All-Gov here: Frackers Await the Flow of Water from the $26-Billion Delta Project

Chinook salmon escapement preview:  The FishBio blog takes a look at the numbers:  “Across the West Coast, fall-run Chinook salmon migration is wrapping up and abundance estimates are being calculated. Most salmon abundance counts are calculated using carcass surveys to approximate the number of salmon in a watershed, but the disadvantage of this method is that escapement estimates are not available until after the migration period is complete. There are a few tributaries, however, that have adopted different techniques, such as video monitoring or the use of a Riverwatcher for enumerating fall-run Chinook salmon, that allow for real-time calculations. Using this information can provide more rapid insight into what salmon abundance looks like in 2013.  In the Sacramento River Basin, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service monitors fall-run Chinook salmon on Battle Creek with the use of video, and has the ability to enumerate Chinook salmon escapement on a semi-real-time basis. The 2013 Sacramento River Fall-run Chinook (SRFC) counts were predicted to be similar to those in 2012, and if Battle Creek is any indication, then 2013 was another good year. ... ”  Read more from the FishBio blog here:  Chinook salmon escapement preview

Army Corps project builds “clubhouses” for juvenile salmon on the Yuba River:  “Creating an underwater environment that protects young salmon along the lower Yuba River in northern California – that’s the goal of a pilot study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District.  Juvenile salmon, like teenagers, enjoy finding a place to hang out and eat with friends, so Corps biologists have placed experimental fish hideouts along the lower Yuba, imitating natural drift wood deposits. The Large Woody Material Management Program is designed to enhance rearing conditions in the lower Yuba River for spring-run Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead and includes placing collections of specifically-sized logs and tree roots at varying locations along the lower Yuba. … ”  Read more from the Army Corps of Engineers here:  Corps pilot project seeks to learn from nature, building fish “clubhouses” on lower Yuba River

Mono Lake and climate change:  Mono Lake is one of the country’s oldest lakes, with a rich ecosystem and a rich political history to go with it.  It’s also an area that researchers say may hold some answers to climate change:  “What will the future hold? Researchers like Ali are trying to find out, by looking deep into the past. The work has been going on for years, involving many researchers from Lamont and elsewhere, including Ali’s advisor, Sidney Hemming, her husband Gary Hemming and her former student, Susan Zimmerman. Former Lamont researcher Scott Stine has been digging into Mono Lake’s past for more than three decades.  “I can’t imagine ever not working out there,” Sidney Hemming said, reflecting on the area’s rich geological potential. “Every time I go I feel like I’ve learned so much that it’s unlikely I will have ever run out of new things to learn. … ”  Read more from Columbia University’s State of the Planet blog:  Climate Change and the Future of Mono Lake

Judge invalidates Las Vegas pipeline plan:  “A Nevadan district judge has invalidated the largest groundwater awards in the Silver State’s history. In a decision published Tuesday, Senior District Judge Robert Estes found assurances from Nevada State Engineer Jason King that the engineer’s office could monitor impact of Las Vegas pumps proposed for rural valleys covering more than 20,000 square miles and drafting more than 27 billion gallons a year “arbitrary and capricious.”  The decision is the third in a series of stinging rulings from Nevada courts reversing allocations made since 2007 by the State Engineer to Las Vegas water prospectors. In 2009 and 2010 Nevada’s district and supreme courts demanded that the State Engineer revisit groundwater awards to Las Vegas’s Southern Nevada Water Authority from Dry Lake, Delamar, Cave and Spring valleys because of unsound groundwater science and due process violations. … “  Read more from the Chance of Rain blog here: Judge decrees awards of rural water for Las Vegas “arbitrary and capricious”

The United Watershed States of America:  The Water Wired blog posts a paper on the idea, which hearkens back to Welsey Powell: From the abstract: “Watersheds know no political boundaries. Except for the borders of a few countries and a few of the United States, this adage is true. Most watersheds include many state, provincial, and local governments and this “balkanization” is what makes the policy of watershed management so complex. Employing an historical exercise in counterfactualism, “what if” the United States were originally delineated on a watershed basis? “What if” each state was originally delineated by watershed, basin, or hydrologic planning unit? What would we learn as watershed managers from this exercise? This article reviews a selected history of watershed management in the USA as it relates to the many laws, regulations, and river basin commissions that were created to manage water resources that cross political boundaries. ... “  Read more from Water Wired here:  The United Watershed States of America…Revisited

Water Wired blog kicks off the new year with a post on the jump in FEMA flood insurance rates:  “  … Constituents are incensed at the increases and letting the MCs know. Now, Congress wants FEMA to back off. The MC most outraged is Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), whose name is on the law (duhhhh…). … Maybe Maxine ought to read the bills to which she affixes her name and/or understand the likely consequences. Raise flood insurance rates and not expect people to get worked up?  … “  Read more here:  2014′s First Post: A Flood of Optimism?

Compiled by Chris “Maven” Austin