Whose water is it, anyway? Water rights 101

Who has the rights to California's water, in what order, for what, in what quantity, and under what terms, is by no means simple. However, KCET's Bay Delta Project explains it.

The week that was, 11/7-13/2010

"Always attracted to water..." -- The Financial Times reviews the Monet and Gérôme exhibitions in Paris. Click on "Bathers at La Grenouillere" by Claude Monet for the story.

I was overly optimistic when promising the return of “The week that was” this Sunday. More succinctly, I lied. My apologies. I am neck-high in packing boxes and movers wait for no blogger. In the stead of the Sunday news round-up, this letter. Sent last week by environmental organizations including the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Friends of the River to the California Natural Resources Agency, it’s an expression of highly formalized disgust at an emerging agenda for the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan, which environmentalists see as benefiting water exporters more than the buckling estuary tapped by California’s State Water Project.

For California water news, go to Aquafornia. For San Diego

Stop press: Fish need water

As reported last night by McClatchy Newspapers, and today by everyone, a scientific panel appointed by the National Academy of Sciences to review controversial federal protections for endangered California coastal fish has concluded that fish need water.

Or, in newspeak, the panel has reported that assessments by federal scientists that led to reductions of water diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta for Central Valley farms and Southern Californian cities were “scientifically justified.”

The protections for Delta Smelt, Chinook Salmon, Steelhead Trout and Green Sturgeon recommended in 2008 and 2009 by biologists from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries division were put to the academy panel for scrutiny last year at the behest of members of the powerful California congressional delegation. Led by Senator Dianne Feinstein, the delegates who demanded the review repeatedly suggested that the federal scientists had over-emphasized

“Silvery minnow” no precedent for Delta

This follow up to “Soft on Fish” arrived today from a member of the water bar familiar with the 2003 Silvery Minnow legislation cited by Senator Feinstein as precedent for the rider that she plans to attach to a jobs bill to increase water diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to farm interests on the West Side of the Central Valley.

“Senator Feinstein’s press release stated, “There is precedent for the solution I am pursuing: in 2003, the Senate unanimously approved legislation that provided water supply certainty with regard to restrictions imposed to protect the Silvery Minnow in New Mexico. In that legislation, Congress mandated that a Biological Opinion be implemented with a change.”

It is not true that the silvery minnow rider is similar to, or provides precedent for, Senator Feinstein’s Bay-Delta proposal.

Keep it civil

I’ll try. The easiest way to accomplish that when describing yesterday’s Los Angeles field hearing of the US House Sub-Committee on Water and Power is to thank the chair, Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, who proved a model of efficiency and civility.

From there, it gets difficult.

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