With 67 million people blogging and news blogs rivaling mainstream media, the amount of information being churned out in posts is overwhelming—but over the last 10 days a few themes have emerged that warrant attention.
Drought & Water Supply
Epic 500 year drought exacerbated and exaggerated by water officials
In post on California Progress Report, forensic accountant Patrick Porgans, presents facts showing that, despite claims made by scientists and water officials, California is not experiencing its worst drought in 500 years.
Dwindling California snowpack is a warning of more dire water challenges to comeBen Chou of the NRDC argues that current situations and projected trends require the state to move away from “unsustainable water supplies” like exports from the Delta and the Colorado River. Infrastructure-heavy approaches like dams and reservoirs should be eschewed in favor of water efficiency, recycling, green infrastructure, and improved groundwater management. It is only through the latter policies that the state’s water system can weather climate change and provide for the “next generation of Californians.”
March rains increase Hydrowonk’s prediction of final SWP allocation to 23%
Inputting new precipitation data into his model, Rodney T. Smith, Ph.D. of the Hydrowonk blog updated his prediction of this year’s final SWP allocation. California’s precipitation levels are still well below normal, but March rains have tipped up the expected SWP allocation—though comments exchanged between Dr. Smith and a follower of the blog reveal that the expected allocation would be much lower if state operations at Lake Oroville warrant adjustment to the model.
Groundwater Management Funding
Funding sustainable groundwater management in California
A team of experienced water experts posting on California WaterBlog share their detailed analysis of the current funding system for groundwater management agencies and explicate a model of cooperative federalism particularly appropriate for groundwater. The different classes of districts—special act, adjudicated, and local—are considered, and the authors provide a compelling case for reform of Proposition 218 (1996).
EPA’s Proposed Rule on the definition “Waters of the United States”
Lowell Rothschild of the law firm Bracewell & Giuliani began a series analyzing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule on the definition of “waters of the United States.”
- EPA Proposes Its Waters of the U.S. Rule, Leaving No Puddle Unregulated highlights a difference between a leaked version of the proposed rule and the official released version—puddles was removed from the list of bodies of water explicitly exempt from regulation—and ponders the probability that opponents of the rule will capitalize on that change.
- In EPA’s Proposed Waters of the U.S. Rule: Does It Regulate Puddles?, Rothschild discusses the breadth of the rule and the possibility that puddles could be considered jurisdictional bodies of water under the proposed rule.
- EPA Proposes Its Waters of the U.S. Rule – Can It Survive the Supreme Court? is Rothschild’s discussion of the similarities between the proposed rule and the government’s arguments that the court rejected in the Rapanos case.
- Proposed “Waters of the U.S.” Rule Improves Regulatory Clarity – In Part includes his discussion about where regulatory clarity is improved and where it is not.
- Proposed “Waters of the U.S.” Rule: Can Significant Nexus Be Clarified? includes discussion of the problems with the definitions of “floodplain” and “riparian areas,” which are key terms for establishing a significant nexus—and subsequently, federal jurisdiction over certain waterbodies.
- Proposed “Waters of the U.S.” Rule: Clarity, Part 3 is an examination of the definition of “tributary” and how a problematic part of the definition leads to a lack of clarity in the rule.
- In Proposed “Waters of the U.S.” Rule: What Is Left of the Significant Nexus Test?, Rothschild discuss why including the significant nexus test in the rule creates another layer of opacity in the rule—especially since the rule already includes definitions of “tributary” and “adjacent.”
A team of lawyers from Holland & Knight also joined the discussion about the proposed rule. In Obama Administration Releases Proposed Rule on “Waters of the United States” they present evidence for their argument that the proposed rule will sweep waters that are isolated or far from the navigable waters into the EPA’s regulatory jurisdiction, and they urge stakeholders “to develop and submit strong comments” so that the final rule won’t have such broad impact.
For background on the proposed rule see EPA and Army Corps release controversial proposed rule on the definition of “waters of the United States”.
Written by Marta Weismann & Stratecon staff