Bay-Delta Water Overcommitted Eight Times, Three in Wet Years

William K. Reilly,  member of the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force and administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President George H.W. Bush, outlines the crisis in the Delta in the San Francisco Chronicle. 

Bullet points from the article:

  • The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta provides water for more than 25 million Californians and 3 million acres of agriculture, supporting a $400 billion economy. But the delta’s ecosystem is crashing.
  • Delta governance  is “the critical missing ingredient in water management.”
  •  The delta water‘s average annual flow is overcommitted to users by more than eight times. Even in the wettest years, the water is overcommitted by three times.
  • The Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force work concluded with the release of a strategic plan, but work continues under the banner of the Delta Vision Foundation.

He concludes, “On Monday, we will come together for a public meeting in Sacramento …

Multi-Species Act needed for Bay-Delta

SOMETIMES the comments to a posting are as important, if not more important, than the posting itself. When this happens, they need highlighting. This response to the May 21 news that protections for the green sturgeon may cause yet more pumping stoppages in the Bay-Delta falls in that class. It comes from Adan Ortega, Jr., a former vice president at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and now a consultant on Western water for the Los Angeles firm Rose & Kindel:

The possibility that protections for green sturgeon will follow those for the Delta smelt points “to the precise reason why California needs a multi-species plan for the Delta,” writes Ortega.  “The idea that the Bay-Delta can be restored to a natural state is over 100 years too late. A species by species approach only helps a special niche of lawyers and lobbyists who represent cities, farmers and environmentalists …

Green Sturgeon New Smelt for Bay-Delta Pumps?



A federal biologist holds a green sturgeon caught and released in San Pablo Bay, Calif., in 2002. Photo: NOAA

THE SAME day that Central Valley farmers filed suit over pumping stoppages to protect the Delta smelt, the spectre of additional protections for another fish, this time the green sturgeon, rose from government scientists. Reports Thursday May 21 from AP and Fresno Bee followed today (May 22) by a better report in Aquafornia.

For the full story, go to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announcement as to why its  Fisheries Service “is seeking public comment on a proposed rule that generally prohibits acts that would kill or harm a distinct group of North American green sturgeon that spawn in the Sacramento River. 

Listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, this distinct segment of green sturgeon is found from Alaska to California but is only known to reproduce

In Defense of Salt Cedars


Those gorgeous plants are bad, right? They’re the invasive riparian trees sucking Western water ways so dry that in 2006 Congress dedicated $80 million to study how to get rid of them.


Yes, millions have been spent trying to kill them, but it turns out that they may be good for the West.

WaterWired spotted the story in the May / June issue of Southwest Hydrology and today zapped it straight into the echo chamber. It turns out that the much vilified Salt Cedar, aka Tamarisk, does not gulp inordinate amounts of water. Moreover, it cohabits nicely with native vegetation except where native vegetation is stressed by human pressure on the rivers. Evidently, tamarisk is even a good habitat for birds.

To read the article by  Edward P. Glenn of the University of Arizona and Pamela L. Nagler and Jeffrey E. Lovich of the US Geological Survey, click here

How To, Why To Save Water


A Grace Phillips garden from

By Grace Phillips

RECENTLY, the Metropolitan Water District reduced water allocations to Southern California by about 20%. While we in Santa Monica are cushioned, the City will probably ask for further voluntary 10% reductions. That raises the question: Can you afford to reduce your water use? I have come to realize that it is very difficult for Santa Monica water users to answer that, because when you get your water bill, you have no way of knowing whether you are a good, careful water user, or a major water waster.  

So, I thought I would share some information to help you figure out what kind of water user you are, and some more information on how to be a better one. 

PART ONE: Some Interesting Factoids

  1. Santa Monica gets more than 80% of its water from far, far away. Pumping water up and over
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