In this week’s installment, bloggers look at ways to reduce dams’ impact on fish, consider boosting supply through efficiency and desalination, and probe the causes of and responses to the drought.
Flagging problem dams for fish survival
Under a seldom-enforced section of California law, Section 5937 of the Fish and Game Code, dam operators are required to release enough water to support downstream fish populations. Ted Grantham and Peter Moyle of California WaterBlog describe a method developed by the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences for prioritizing which dams should be examined more closely for compliance. The system screens dams based on several categories: the size of the dam, impact on stream flow, and presence of vulnerable species.
Benefits of Clean Power Plan Are Measureable – Drop for Drop
Kate Zerrenner, a project manager in the Environmental Defense Fund’s Austin, TX office, says that the Clean Power Plan released by EPA earlier this year is an opportunity for Texas to increase energy efficiency and renewable energy—which could cut the state’s water consumption by 45% by 2040. Switching from coal-fired power plants to natural gas could save over 50 billion gallons annually, and renewable energy requires even less water.
Desalination looking like a better option every day
John Smith writes for the Las Vegas Review-Journal that in the face of increased water scarcity, Southern Nevada should think hard about importing water from desalination plants. While desal is not cheap, Smith argues that it makes more sense than drawing down other sources and building ever-more elaborate pipelines. He is hardly alone in his thinking—he notes that desal is a perennial topic in Nevada, and cites comments by John Entsminger, the General Manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, calling desalination a “viable” if expensive future option.
Drought Causes and Mitigation
When Our Responses to Drought Make Things Worse
Peter Gleick, president of Pacific Institute, discusses the findings of a recent Pacific Institute report that shows many of the strategies employed in California to cope with drought—including increased groundwater pumping and relying on natural gas instead of hydropower—make things worse in the long run. Gleick advocates shifting “from crisis-driven responses to the development and enactment of long-term mitigation measures,” such as increased efficiency.
Another Dust Bowl? California drought resembles worst in millennium
Laura Geggel of LiveScience discusses a recent study on the role of atmospheric anomalies in the 1934 Dust Bowl drought. High pressure over the western US diverted rain away from the region—a weather pattern that also characterizes the current California drought.
Priority administration and the Central Arizona Project’s allotment
John Fleck revisits his post from last week on the difficulties of Phoenix trying to store its surplus water in Lake Mead. Complicating his argument are two factors: Central Arizona Project water that is not used by senior right users is subsequently allocated to junior users, and the Intentionally Created Surplus mechanism that Fleck pointed to as a possible avenue to storing surplus water applies only to water saved from specific conservation programs.
Written by Stratecon Staff