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Groundwater, Delta Tunnels, Colorado Water Plan and Upper Basin Dispatches

With regulation on the way in California, many commentators have groundwater on their minds, while others take on a different underground source: the Delta tunnel project.  The Colorado Water Plan is attracting attention, and further discussion in the Upper Basin ranges from conservation efforts to downstream shortages and irrigating marijuana.


On Groundwater
California’s invisible reservoirs
Barton “Buzz” Thompson, co-director and senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and professor at Stanford Law School, and Jenny Choy, research analyst at Water in the West, a program of the Stanford Woods Institute and Bill Lane Center for the American West, advocate for increasing groundwater storage in California over expanding surface water storage.   They argue that there is more groundwater storage available; the cost is much lower than alternatives; evaporation losses are minimized; surface water flows would be improved; and it would reduce or avoid problems associated with overdraft.

Editorial, 8/26: Proper perspective on groundwater
The editorial board of the Journal Star says an early aggressive approach to groundwater management has Nebraska in a good place regarding its groundwater supply.  It is not anticipated that the state will go the way of California or Texas, which are now facing water supply emergencies in some areas. 


Delta Tunnels
Dan Walters: New water bond could make Delta tunnels unnecessary
Dan Walters notes in the Sacramento Bee that the California Water Bond does not explicitly support the Delta tunnel project, in part because opposition to project could be a political liability for the whole bond.  Importantly, though, with so much funding directed to local and regional water supplies, the Water Bond could eliminate the need for the tunnels, which are proposed as a means to improve reliability of water supplies.

Jim Fiedler: BDCP twin tunnel plan would benefit Northern Californians
Jim Fiedler, chief operating officer for the Santa Clara Valley Water District, rebuts the Mercury News editorial board’s claim that “Northern Californians have ‘little or nothing to gain’ from the BDCP.  Fiedler emphasizes the need for improved water supply reliability.  He also says that those diverting water upstream of the Delta—such as San Francisco and the East Bay agencies—will benefit from ecosystem restoration, and those using Delta conveyance will the ones to pay for it.  He also counters the call for a smaller tunnel, saying that a smaller tunnel would require more energy to pump water and would cost more.  Most interesting, though, is his recollection that Delta conveyance was part of the original vision for the State Water Project and was included in the plan the SWP plan that was adopted in 1960.


Colorado Water Plan
Water Lines: Gunnison Basin contributes to CO water plan debate
Gunnison Basin Roundtable Education Committee Chairman George Sibley explains the struggles that will need to be addressed by the forthcoming Colorado Water Plan—and the interconnections among the regions, which further complicates planners ability to meet the projected future water demands.

Giving Coloradans a voice in our state’s water planning
State Rep. Randy Fischer, chairman of the  Interim Water Resources Review Committee, emphasizes the need for public input to help the committee work through the process of dealing with competing demands.


In the Upper Colorado River Basin
Only bold action will save the Colorado River
Bart Miller, water program director for Western Resource Advocates, and Matt Rice, Colorado River Basin Program director for American Rivers, argue that in light of ongoing alarms being sounded about dwindling supplies in the Colorado River Basin, various forms of conservation, efficiency, reuse, water banking and innovation need to be employed.

Water Works’ Decision
The Pueblo Board of Water Works has approved an ordinance that allows for the sale of water to marijuana growers outside of the city—but the editorial board of the Pueblo Chieftan believes that the new ordinance creates a slippery slope. They take issue with PBWW providing water in unincorporated Pueblo County because it conflicts with board’s primary purpose of serving the city, and they are also concerned with the level of accounting that will be needed to make sure no federal water is delivered to those growers.

Q+A: There’s a drought in Las Vegas, and that’s a challenge for Denver, too
Denver Water head Jim Lochhead says water shortages in the Southwest could negatively affect Denver’s water supply if Colorado River water needs to be sent downstream to meet obligations. Lochhead was interviewed at the Business of Water Summit in Las Vegas, which brought together over 100 businesses along with water agencies to enlist private sector support for water conservation.   Lochhead contends that business must play an important role in water policy, from stepping up conservation efforts to providing political support for reform.


Written by Stratecon Staff