Bloggers discuss groundwater, the role of the federal government in water, management of the Colorado River, water issues in California, global water stress and more

With 67 million people blogging and news blogs rivaling mainstream media, the amount of information being churned out in posts is overwhelming—but recently a few themes have emerged that warrant attention.

The blogosphere has been abuzz of late with discussions about groundwater.

Why California’s agriculture needs groundwater management
Working under the assumption that the global market prefers high-value permanent crops (nuts, fruits, and wine grapes), a team from the UC Davis Center for Watershed Science explain on the California WaterBlog provide an analysis of why communities will need to better manage groundwater as a buffer against drought to maintain the profitability of those permanent crops.

Drought Watch: Groundwater, Our Hidden Asset
As part of a series on the impact of the drought on the PPIC blog, Jeffrey Mount and Ellen Hanak write about the importance groundwater as hedge against drought—but it has not provided the relief that it could in the current drought because it is not managed as drought storage.

Groundwater and the public trust doctrine, continued
In the continuation of a thought originally posted in February, Damien M. Schiff posted on the Pacific Legal Foundation’s Liberty Blog an explanation of a recent PLF amicus brief that argues against expanding the public trust doctrine to groundwater extraction.

Why Property Rights and Groundwater Won’t Wash
On The Valley Citizen, Eric Caine, a Humanities teacher at Merced College and former columnist for the Modesto Bee, points out problems with treating groundwater as a property right. While in a comment to the post, a reader points out that there is award-winning literature that demonstrates that property rights and water management are not in conflict.


Role of the Federal Government in water
A few blogs turned up with posts on the role of the federal government in water following a highly publicized debate on the issue at the American Bar Association’s water law conference.

In western water, what’s the right role for the feds?
JFleck at Inkstain offers his thoughts on an argument that Reed Benson made at the ABA water law conference debate that federal money is need to make agreements happen.

The greenback, the humpback, and the silverback: the feds’ value in water management
Reed Benson explains and defends the argument he made in the ABA water law debate.

Is the “iron triangle” in western water management still a relevant concept?
Moving away from the ABA water law debate, but continuing to mull the question of the appropriate role for the federal government in water, JFleck at Inkstain discusses whether “iron triangle” (a concept that describes public policy as being shaped and driven by Congress, the bureaucracy and interest groups) is still apt given changing circumstances.


Management of the Colorado River
Management of the Colorado River is coming up, particularly as Arizona seeks to meet its water needs in an uncertain future—and a Colorado River expert comments on the Minute 319 pulse flow.

Arizona water managers warn Lake Mead could be sorta unusable in five to eight years
JFleck at Inkstain discusses a recent presentation by CAP’s Tom McCann and Chuck Collum showing that water supply problems in the Lower Basin are not drought-related, but rather are due to a structural deficit.  He goes on to point out what happens if Lake Mead falls below 1,000 feet.

Arizona’s cry for Colorado River help: is “conservation before shortage” now a given?
More from JFleck at Inkstain: with a structural deficit in the Lower Basin’s water supply, a cry for “conservation before shortage,” which was rejected at the time of the shortage sharing agreement, now seems to be certain.

The Unsung Heroes of the Colorado River Delta Pulse Flow
Minute 319 included a commitment to conduct a pilot pulse flow to provide relief to the Colorado River Delta.  In National Geographic Water Currents, Jennifer Pitt of Environmental Defense writes about that effort as an example of the cooperation that is needed and achievable to meet western water needs—and  she gives a shout out to all involved, saying “it took many hands to lift the gates at Morelos Dam.”


Water issues in California
Bloggers covered various aspects of water policy and water management in California. 

Beyond bonds: Funding the governor’s Water Action Plan
A large team from the UC Davis Center for Watershed Science posts on the California WaterBlog an analysis of fiscal status of each of the main actions recommended in the governor’s Water Action Plan, and they discuss their own study that discusses the need to prioritized bond dollars and looks at the other funding sources and necessary reforms.

Water reallocation wouldn’t provide equity
Capital Press responds with factual corrections to a recent AP article that was appalled that entities with senior water rights were benefitting from California’s priority water rights system while many junior water right holders are being curtailed.  Capital Press also points out the impracticality and the implications of changing the existing system.

Will California’s drought extend into 2015?
Based on the historic record, Jay Lund and Jeffrey Mount post on California WaterBlog their predictions for next year’s hydrologic conditions.

Note: JOW also modeled hydrologic conditions based on both tree ring studies and DWR’s records.  See  What Does the DWR Tree Ring Study Tell Us About Sacramento River Hydrology?

Rethinking California Part III: Back to the Drawing Boards on Water Supply Availability?
Rodney T. Smith, Ph.D. of the Hydrowonk Blog discusses “What happens when the impossible happens.”  DWR’s SWP water supply availability study says there is zero percent probability of an SWP allocation less than 7%—but since that is proven to be inaccurate, now what?


Global water stress
Bloggers shared their reactions to a new report on urban water stress.

Study: Water Stress Affects Fewer Cities Than Previously Thought
Brett Walton of Circle of Blue discusses the recent study on urban water stress and points out that it found a much lower percent of large cities facing water stress than previously thought due to failure of the earlier report to account for large infrastructure projects that bring water from elsewhere.  He also points out some of the reasons why some are facing water stress.

World’s Large Cities Move Water Equivalent to Ten Colorado Rivers to Meet their Annual Water Needs
Sandy Postel of National Geographic’s Freshwater Initiative posts on National Geographic’s Water Currents how much water is imported by the world’s large cities and discusses the implications of those water transfers.


And more …

The Australian Approach to Water Crisis: Work With Farmers
With water crises erupting throughout the western U.S. , Brian Richter of The Nature Conservancy and University of Virginia posted in National Geographic’s Water Currents that water managers here should draw lessons from the reforms that have been made in Australia over the last decade.

Nevada’s Drought Crisis
Jeff Simonetti of the Hydrowonk Blog looks at the drought situation in Nevada and discusses possible water supply solutions.
Written by Marta Weismann