Evaluating Voluntary Agreements in the Bay-Delta Watershed

Satellite image of California, centered on the Bay-Delta watershed. The Central Valley shows up prominently, with green agricultural fields rimmed by drier brown land, surrounded by mountains.

by Nell Green Nylen, Felicia Marcus, Dave Owen, and Michael Kiparsky

Updates to flow and other regulatory requirements for California’s Bay-Delta watershed are long overdue.  For much of the last 12 years, state political leadership has prioritized efforts to develop voluntary agreements (VAs) with water users over completing updates to the watershed’s water quality standards.  Now the State Water Resources Control Board has restarted the regulatory …


It’s a Wonderful Law?

A thought experiment about the role of the ESA in California water management

[This post is co-authored by A. Dan Tarlock, Distguished Professor of Law, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law.] Remember the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which shows up on TV every year at Christmas season? In it George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, gets a great gift from Clarence, an angel-in-training who intervenes as George is …


Poor grades on Delta progress

Delta Vision Foundation, the non-profit formed to continue the work of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s Delta Vision Task Force, has released its second annual report card on Delta progress. (Legal Planeteer Rick Frank is a member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.) If you had to bring this one home to your parents, you’d likely be grounded …


Right on the Commerce Clause, wrong on the ESA

Cross-posted at CPRBlog. As Rick noted earlier, the Ninth Circuit is now the fifth federal circuit court of appeals to reject a Commerce Clause challenge to the ESA. In San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority v. Salazar, a Ninth Circuit panel upheld protection of the Delta smelt. I agree with Rick’s analysis of the Commerce …


The question of triage

The latest Delta report issued by the Public Policy Institute of California goes well beyond the Delta. Titled Managing California’s Water: From Conflict to Resolution, the report takes on the entire water management structure set up by state and federal law. There’s a lot in the report, which should be required reading for anyone interested …


EPA prepares to wade into the Bay-Delta

Cross-posted at The Berkeley Blog. EPA has announced “an information-gathering process on how the EPA and the State of California can achieve water quality and aquatic resource protection goals” in the California Bay-Delta. EPA is not proposing any new regulations yet, but it is seeking public comment on what it might do to address water …


And now for some good news

If you’re as depressed as I am by the current political climate and attempts on Capitol Hill to roll back everything from clean air protections to food safety, you might be feeling the need for some good news. Here’s at least a small antidote. The San Jose Mercury News reports that fish and birds are …


Thoughts on the latest Delta smelt ruling

As Sean pointed out yesterday, this week federal District Judge Wanger issued another ruling in the ongoing litigation over protection of the Delta smelt and restrictions on diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin river system. Reviewing the opinion, my first reaction was sympathy for the judge and his staff. There is no question that sorting through …


Draft Delta flow criteria issued

Last year’s California water reform legislation directed the State Water Resources Control Board to issue new flow criteria for the Delta to protect public trust resources, which include but are not limited to the fish species protected by the federal Endangered Species Act. The deadline for the Board to adopt those criteria is next month. …


Delta NRC committee issues initial report

The National Research Council’s Committee on Sustainable Water and Environmental Management in the California Bay-Delta released its first report this morning (also available through the National Academies Press web site, with registration). On a quick review of the summary, the conclusions are unsurprising — the Committee finds that the provisions of the Biological Opinions for …