Western Drought Causes Earth’s Surface to Rise as Groundwater Drops

By Rong-Gong Lin II, LA Times

Another Side Effect of Drought: Land deformations

A Side-effect of Drought: Land Deformations

Drought has altered landscape as it’s depleted 63 trillion gallons of water across Western U.S., study says The West has risen an average of 1/6 inch since 2013 due to lower groundwater, according to scientists Report questions whether loss of groundwater could be triggering more earthquakes on San Andreas fault.

A year and a half of drought has depleted 63 trillion gallons of water across the Western United States, according to a new study that documents how the parched conditions are altering the landscape.

The loss of groundwater, as well as surface water such as reservoirs, has been so extreme that it lifted the West an average of one-sixth of an inch since 2013, according to researchers from UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The situation is even worse underneath the snow-starved mountains of California, where the Earth rose up three-fifths of an inch. Groundwater is very heavy, and its weight depresses the Earth’s upper crust. Remove the weight, and the crust springs upward.

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Opinion: Letter to Editor of Press Democrat on California’s Water Crisis

Re: Editorial, Taking stock of California’s water supplies, 8/29/14

Dear Editor:

“Water flows uphill towards money”
- Marc Reisner, Cadillac Desert.

California is the only state – not just Western state – which has no regulatory framework or clear authority to regulate groundwater.  Those with the biggest pumps and the most money take the lion’s share, to the severe detriment of nearby and downstream property owners, our rivers, lakes and streams, and our public trust resources like fisheries.

Property owners, farm bureaus, grape growers and developers are still fighting recent court rulings that have recognized the state’s authority to regulate “connected groundwater,” where pumping has damaging impacts to surface water and water rights.

Well and drilling records are not generally made public. Wells are not metered. At least here in Sonoma County, we are finally developing science-based groundwater management plans, but they are still short on preventing reductions to surface water levels and flows.

The new groundwater legislation just being approved is a start for California, but it leaves overall groundwater basin planning on a long leash and timeline.

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Invitation to Fish Survey Presentation

To Everyone,
You are invited to a presentation on a survey study of fish use by California Tribes during a public State Water Board Meeting. The results could be used for deriving water quality objectives to protect people (including Tribes) who catch and eat fish from California’s waters. Dr. Fraser Shilling of UC Davis will be presenting his survey results to the Board Members of the State Water Board.

The date is Sept 9 , 2014. We will email the meeting agenda with the meeting details closer to the date (meeting agendas can also be found here:http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/board_info/agendas/ where they are posted 10 calendars days in advance of the meeting). You can attend in person in Sacramento (Cal/EPA Building, 1001 I Street, Sacramento) or you can watch a live video broadcast of the meeting, available at:http://www.calepa.ca.gov/Broadcast/.

Presentation Summary

Tribes have expressed concern that water quality and other water-related decisions tend to lack consideration of tribes’ use of water and aquatic resources.  The State Water Resources Control Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provided funding to UC Davis researchers to collaborate with tribes in discovering the historical and current patterns of fish use.  UC Davis researchers worked with partner tribes to establish an appropriate approach to interviewing tribe members about fish use.

Members of 40 California tribes and tribe groups were surveyed directly at 24 locations, and staff from 10 tribes was surveyed online using standard questionnaires.  Traditional uses of fish were assessed using literature review and surveying of tribe members and staff.  Contemporary uses were assessed using tribe member interviews.  UC Davis researchers found that tribes use fish in similar patterns (fish types and source-waters) as they did traditionally, but not in similar amounts.  Tribes used 26 freshwater/anadromous fin-fish species, 23 marine fin-fish species, and 18 other invertebrate, and plant species and groups of species.  The single most commonly caught and/or eaten fish species group among all tribes was “salmon”, which could include chinook or coho salmon.  The 95th percentile rates of consumption of caught-fish varied by tribe and ranged between 102 grams per day (g/day) (Pomo) and 484 g/day (Pit River).  The rate of fish use (frequency and consumption rate) was suppressed for many tribes, compared to traditional rates, which most tribes attributed primarily to water quantity and quality issues.

If you have questions, please contact Amanda Palumbo at:amanda.palumbo@waterboards.ca.gov or (916) 341-5687.



Amanda Palumbo, Ph.D.

Environmental Scientist

Division of Water Quality

State Water Resources Control Board

1001 I Street, 15th Floor

Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: 916.341.5687

Posted in Drinking Water issues, Salmonid/Wildlife Impacts, Streams and Wetlands Impacts | Leave a comment

Large Dams Just Aren’t Worth the Cost

J. Leslie/NYTimes

An aerial view of the Kariba Dam between Zambia and Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, circa 1965. Credit Paul Popper/Popperfoto — Getty Images

An aerial view of the Kariba Dam between Zambia and Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, circa 1965.  Credit Paul Popper/Popperfoto — Getty Images

THAYER SCUDDER, the world’s leading authority on the impact of dams on poor people, has changed his mind about dams.

A frequent consultant on large dam projects, Mr. Scudder held out hope through most of his 58-year career that the poverty relief delivered by a properly constructed and managed dam would outweigh the social and environmental damage it caused. Now, at age 84, he has concluded that large dams not only aren’t worth their cost, but that many currently under construction “will have disastrous environmental and socio-economic consequences,” as he wrote in a recent email.

Mr. Scudder, an emeritus anthropology professor at the California Institute of Technology, describes his disillusionment with dams as gradual. He was a dam proponent when he began his first research project in 1956, documenting the impact of forced resettlement on 57,000 Tonga people in the Gwembe Valley of present-day Zambia and Zimbabwe. Construction of the Kariba Dam, which relied on what was then the largest loan in the World Bank’s history, required the Tonga to move from their ancestral homes along the Zambezi River to infertile land downstream. Mr. Scudder has been tracking their disintegration ever since.

Once cohesive and self-sufficient, the Tonga are troubled by intermittent hunger, rampant alcoholism and astronomical unemployment. Desperate for income, some have resorted to illegal drug cultivation and smuggling, elephant poaching, pimping and prostitution. Villagers still lack electricity.

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Posted in Environmental Impacts, Lakes and Resevoirs Impacts, Water Conservation Issue | Leave a comment

Registration open for the Inaugural Steelhead Summit, Oct. 21-23 in Ventura, CA

Dear Colleagues,

Salmonid Restoration Federation is excited to announce that registration is open for the Inaugural Steelhead Summit, taking place October 21-23 in Ventura, CA.

Click here to view the final agenda. The registration form at the bottom of the agenda can be printed and mailed along with your payment to SRF, PO Box 784, Redway, CA 95560. You can also register online by going to our website and clicking the Registration tab.

Please feel free to print the Steelhead Summit poster and display it at your office.

SRF is planning to offer a no host bar poster session at this event on the evening of Tuesday, October 21. We would welcome your participation. Please email poster@calsalmon.org if you would like to present a poster. For planning purposes, we request that you confirm your participation at the poster session by August 15.

Thank you and we look forward to seeing you in Ventura!

Sara Schremmer
Program Manager | Salmonid Restoration Federation
(415) 672-0385 (cell) | Sara.Schremmer (skype) | www.calsalmon.org

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Comments on Regional Water Board’s Integrated Plan


At the last Regional Water Board meeting – when Flow Impairment was being considered as part of the listing process – the Board recognized that there was a serious problem with flow impairment with our surfaces waters – but – could not justify allowing for Flow Impairment to be a factor necessitating such listing.

The basic argument was  that  “Listing….seems a clunky way to get at the issue.”

The following poses the question of “Clunky-ness” as an inherent aspect of all Regional and State Board programs and policies.

Glunky?  What program do they have that is not “Clunky”?

Dealing with the subject of Low Flows via a listing might seem “clunky” – what other avenue are they suggesting we use.

Are listings for Temperature, Sediment, Nutrients, Pathogens not “clunky”

Are ineffectual Implementing Programs, that lack enforceability (due to lack of clearly stated operational standards – Dairy WDR, Timber WDR, still to be developed WDRs) not “clunky”.

What can be clunkier than a bunch of rivers with no water in them?

Everything is “clunky” – as we are dealing with messy situations.

Listing merely points to the problem the needs attention and remedy.  How you deal with the problem may or may not be “clunky”. – depending on authority and design.

Listing  merely tells responsible agencies and planning authorities that they must look at issue and address it.

When a program or policy to deal with flow issues is derived that is not “Clunky” -  I will eat my hat.



To All,

I want to support Alan’s concerns about the flippant use of the word ‘clunky’ to describe your decision to NOT list flow as a water quality impairment.  The use of that word totally lacks credibility, scientific basis, and does nothing to ameliorate our extraordinary water crisis taking place in all our rivers.  The use of the word ‘clunky’ is of particular concern since Matt himself talked about the causal role of flow in the extensive nutrient impairment of the Klamath River earlier in the meeting on the day you made your determination.  We have three endangered fish species at risk here, the livelihoods of major agricultural operations, a very popular recreation area, all of which represent huge amounts of tax revenue for the State, not to mention the incredible environmental values that living in our area brings to all of us.  We need a much more serious justification for NOT listing this critical element as an impairment.

I want to acknowledge that this is a very thorny and controversial issue. You have limited resources to address flow impairments, but that has never been a cause to stop critical listings before, that I am aware of.  In fact, how many of the listed impairments were supported by past Boards, in spite of complaints they would be too costly for regulated entities to comply with?

Those of you who are current members of this very important Board are intelligent and knowledgable people who were placed in your position because you know far more than the general public about technical and legal aspects of water quality and river functioning.  Your justification for not listing flow as an impairment is very disappointing.  We request that you provide a scientific basis for why it is NOT necessary to place ‘flow’ on the 303(d) list.

Finally, justifications provided thus far are not consistent with many other impairments listed in the past, as Alan points out.  Unless and until the listing occurs, you would be under no obligation to fully address its impacts let alone how you will protect beneficial uses without it.


Brenda Adelman

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Sonoma County’s Riparian Corridor Ordinance

Mark your calendar & spread the word:

Planning Commission hearing
August 28, 2014 at 1:00 pm
PRMD hearing room

Board of Supervisors hearing
Oct. 21, 2014 (tentative)
Nov. 18, 2014 (tentative)
Supervisors’ Chambers
Sonoma County Administration Building
575 Administration Drive, Room 102A

Be sure to let others know about these important hearings.  Our voices will be needed to inform and encourage good decisions.

have a great week,

Posted in Agriculture Impacting Water, Streams and Wetlands Impacts, Watershed Related Concerns | Leave a comment

Governor Brown signs tunnels-enabling water bond

Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation Wednesday evening to put a controversial $7.5 water bond before voters this November.

Dan Bacher, August 2014

The Legislature passed the water bond, strongly opposed by family farmers, Delta residents, Tribal leaders, fishing groups and majority of the state’s environmental groups, in spite of an intensive campaign to get key legislators to vote against it.

The water bond will facilitate the construction of the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history, the $67 billion peripheral tunnels, under the ironically named “Bay Delta Conservation Plan,” according to Delta advocates.

“Water is the lifeblood of any civilization and for California it’s the precondition of healthy rivers, valleys, farms and a strong economy,” gushed Governor Brown. “With this water bond, legislators from both parties have affirmed their faith in California’s future.”

The legislation signed by Governor Brown, AB 1471 by Assemblymember Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), replaces the current $11.1 billion water bond on the November ballot. The bipartisan legislation passed the Senate 37-0 and the Assembly 77-2.

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Delta tunnels bad news for salmon industry

Taxpayers, anglers would suffer most 

August 08, 2013
Guy Carl

A hot topic in the California Legislature these days is the “peripheral tunnel” project designed to divert water to southern California farmers and cities.

This project is strongly opposed by many salmon advocates and other environmental groups due to the further harm it would inflict on the already embattled Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta system.

The project consists of twin tunnels that would capture water from the Sacramento River system in the north, send it underground beneath the natural Delta waterways, to then be deposited into the existing south Delta pump system. From there the water flows away from the Delta to serve southern California water users.

The tunnels are the centerpiece of the proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), which is described by supporters as “a collaborative effort by government officials and water contractors to solve California’s water problems.”

The stated objective as defined by the California Legislature is to achieve two goals — providing a more reliable water supply for the State of California, and restoring the Delta ecosystem.

Supporters of the environment see it instead as a water grab disguised as a conservation plan.

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Legal Challenge to Industrial Printing in the Coastal Hills

The Scott River in Siskiyou County

All that you see in this aerial view taken in the coastal hills of western Sonoma County was built without a General Plan Amendment and the required Environmental Impact Report. This industrial land use is unrelated to our local agriculture or natural resources and defies our General Plan.  A major expansion of this printing factory, Dharma Press, was recently narrowly approved by the Board of Supervisors with a special exception for a charismatic religious use.

Under the cover of a religious retreat, Dharma Press has moved its entire printing factory from an industrial section of Berkeley to the coastal forest and is now producing over 400,000 books annually there. Ratna Ling Retreat and Dharma Press pay no taxes, nor do they provide jobs to local residents, but they threaten our safety with highly combustible, dense-volume paper storage warehouses in a forested area, and burden our fragile, narrow roadways with 40-foot tractor trailers daily. Many of these books are sold commercially for profit.

This is an important land-use issue that will set a precedent for similarly zoned parcels in Sonoma County. Say yes to preserving our General Plan and rural coastal hills and no to unrelated and unregulated industry in our Resource and Rural Development areas.

Coastal Hills Rural Preservation filed suit July 24 in Sonoma County Superior Court to stop the expansion of Dharma Press at Ratna Ling Retreat (35755 Hauser Bridge Road), an industrial-scale printing and storage facility in an otherwise rural area of the Cazadero hills above Salt Point State Park.

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