The consolidated salmonid cases and us

Last week in the Eastern District Court in Fresno, Judge Oliver Wanger derided federal biologists for employing “guesstimations” as to how much Sierra snowmelt should be allowed to flow through the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers and related tributaries into the San Francisco Bay Delta instead of being diverted by pumps to Central Valley farms and Southern Californian cities. The contemptuous conflation was the most quoted part of an 134-page finding in the on-going Consolidated Salmonid Cases, which concluded by intimating that pumping restrictions in place to protect migrating Delta smelt, Chinook salmon, steelhead trout and green sturgeon would soon be relaxed.

Unsurprisingly, the Contra Costa Times and other news outlets report today that pumping restrictions were indeed loosened. Decried by environmentalists and praised by water exporters, the most recent ruling is a temporary call in a game that is far from over.  As this battle for California’s fresh

Oil and water

Click on the image to be taken to NASA’s Earth Observatory for the history of this May 23 image of the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Or go to the Huffington Post for the most unflinching coverage of pelicans coated in crude as the oil reaches Louisiana wetlands.

The week that was, 5/16-22/2010

On May 18, 2010, Judge Oliver Wanger of the Easter District Court in Fresno, CA, intimated that water reserved under the Endangered Species Act in the San Fancisco Bay Delta system to aid fish migrating through its tributaries may be diverted to Central Valley farms and Southern California cities because of the impact of fish protections on water users. A subsequent ruling is expected this week.

It is in the public interest that relief be granted to Plaintiffs, who represent a substantial population of water users in California, to enhance the water supply to reduce the adverse harms of destruction of permanent crops; fallowed lands; increased groundwater consumption; land subsidence; reduction of air quality; destruction of family and entity farming business; and social disruption and dislocation, such as increased property crimes and intra-family crimes of violence; adverse effects on schools and increased unemployment leading to hunger and homelessness. This must

The Dry Garden: Descanso in recovery

Schematic from the Long Range Conceptual Plan for Descanso Gardens developed with the Portico Group. Click on the drawing to be taken to the Seattle company's master plan for Descanso.

Nowhere in the West is sustainable gardening a harder sell than in Southern California. Public gardens preach conservation, but their grounds are surrounded by turf. The message to visitors: Eastern-style, highly irrigated gardening is not just OK here, it’s the way it’s done.

And so, it is beyond refreshing, more like happy dance exciting, that Descanso Gardens has begun what will be a long-range overhaul in which water conservation is the central theme. The messaging will start with the landscaping.

A 237-page review, grandly titled a “Long Range Conceptual Plan,” outlines what will one day be a sweeping overhaul with a paean to water. “The structure of the garden plants, native and introduced, is informed by water. The Gardens’ cultural


Click on the image to read about Powell's new book from National Geographic

From the Pasadena-based NPR affiliate KPCC: “In the spring of 2008, author and National Geographic grantee Jonathan Waterman launched a journey by boat and by foot down the Colorado River. His 1,450-mile trip began at the river’s source in Rocky Mountain National Park and followed the river through the Sonoran desert and the parched Mexican delta, all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The Colorado River supplies water for more that 30 million people and 3 million farm acres and is the most diverted and litigated river in the world. Through his journey, John Waterman gets to the heart of the complex issues facing the river whose water levels have dipped to an all-time low. His book examines the impact of the Colorado’s peril on a vast region and looks at the immense debate over water use

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