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Aug 15 2014

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Daily Digest: Water bond reactions from north to south, how dust could solve the drought, and drought conundrum: to wash or not wash that dirty car? plus lots more news and commentary

Daily DigestIn California water news today, water bond reactions from north to south, latest map shows California's crippling drought leveling off, how dust could solve California's drought, drought pushing tiny fish towards extinction, it isn't just dry, it's hot, and drought conundrum: to wash that dirty car or not?  plus plenty more news and commentary …

In the news today …

Water bond reactions from north to south …
  • Water bond looks good to NorCal leaders:  “Voters will decide in November whether the $7.545 billion state water bond becomes reality.  For now, north state water leaders are pleased that the bond will include more funding for surface water storage and that leaders from other parts of the state agree water storage is important.  The current version of the bond came after weeks of intense compromises by legislators. Originally, $2 billion within the bond was earmarked for water storage. This would not have been enough to begin both Sites Reservoir near Maxwell and Temperance Flats Reservoir near Fresno. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Water bond looks good to NorCal leaders
  • Water bond largely lauded:  “Local reaction to the $7.5 billion water bond approved by legislators Wednesday was almost unanimously positive, as the bond cleared the path for a project North State water district managers and local leaders have been pushing for decades — Sites Reservoir.  The bond, which will appear on the November ballot as Proposition 1, allocates $2.7 billion of “continuously appropriated” funding to water storage, meaning the funding cannot be reappropriated to other uses. … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Water bond largely lauded
  • Water bond could benefit Sonoma County:  “The $7.54 billion water bond approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor on Wednesday could provide significant resources to the Sonoma County Water Agency and other North Bay water providers. The “Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act” provides funding to enhance local water supply and quality, increase the use of recycled water, protect and develop groundwater resources, improve and restore watersheds and beef-up water conservation programs. … ”  Read more from the Sonoma Gazette here:  Water bond could benefit Sonoma County
  • Full page ad accuses new water bond of being water down with pork:A full-page newspaper advertisement in several of California's largest newspapers claims a new water bond is watered down with “pork.”  Lifelong Californian and retired farmer Dean “Dino” Cortopassi wrote and paid for the ad, which appeared Thursday in the U-T San Diego newspaper with the headline “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!” … ”  Read more from Channel 10 News here: Full-page ad accuses new water bond of being watered down with ‘pork’
  • Solano County representatives applaud new water bond:New water bond is a win for the state and communities around the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, according to government leaders.  In the midst of a severe drought in California, state lawmakers voted Wednesday evening, supporting the placement of a $7.5 billion water before voters in November as Proposition 1.  The legislation replaces the $11.14 billion water bond that was set for the November ballot with the $7.5 billion water bond crafted by the Governor and Democratic leaders in the State Legislature. … ”  Read more from The Reporter here: Solano County representatives applaud new water bond
  • Legislators: Bond good for San Mateo County: With the Legislature narrowly making its Wednesday night deadline to approve a water bond that voters will consider in November, San Mateo County legislators are satisfied with compromises met in the $7.5 billion bipartisan bill.  Assemblymen Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, and Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, both represented the Bay Area on the Assembly’s water bond working group and said the diverse bill will benefit their districts.  “The ongoing historic drought, our aging water infrastructure and degraded watersheds have all combined to present us with an environmental and economic crisis that needs to be addressed,” Mullin said in a prepared statement. “While the water bond is not perfect, nothing that is negotiated between so many disparate interests could be.” ... ”  Read more from the San Mateo Daily Journal here:  Legislators: Bond good for San Mateo County
  • Environmentalists blast water bond:  “The water bond that will be on the November ballot in California is a “poster-child of pork barrel politics, a rejection of 21st Century solutions and a return to the failures of the dam building era,” says a critique of the bond’s fine print by the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.  The $7.5 billion bond pushed by the governor represents “an enormous underground subsidy” for the governor’s massive water tunnels that would suck fresh water out of the Sacramento River before it could flow into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the group says. … ”  Read more from the Central Valley Business Times here:  Environmentalists blast water bond
  • Stockton officials: Support of water bond the right move:  “Delta-area legislators defended their support of California's new $7.5 billion water bond proposal on Thursday amid tough criticism from some of their friends who believe the bond could be tied to Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed twin tunnels. Stockton-based Restore the Delta, in particular, blasted its allies at the state Capitol for ostensibly forcing taxpayers to buy Northern California water that critics argue could be shipped south through the tunnels. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here: Officials: Support of water plan right move
  • California farm groups high-five $7.5B water bond:The $7.5 billion California water fund law inked by Governor Jerry Brown late Wednesday (Aug. 13) has garnered ‘high fives’ from several Golden State agricultural associations.  Gov. Brown signed Assembly Bill 1471 into law which will now appear as Proposition 1 on the California ballot. Then, it’s up to voters to deliver thumbs up or down on the proposal on Nov. 4, General Election Day. ... ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: California farm groups ‘high-five’ $7.5B water bond
  • Bond measure would provide infusion for Inland Empire  water projects: “Inland water projects designed to help the region withstand drought could benefit greatly from the $7.5 billion bond measure that will go before voters in November, local officials said Thursday.  “This opens up a whole potential funding stream for Southern California,” said Bob Muir, spokesman for Metropolitan Water District, the region’s wholesaler of imported supplies from the State Water Project and the Colorado River. … ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here:  Bond measure would provide infusion for water projects
  • Reader poll: What do you think of the water bond?  The Sacramento Bee wants to know.  Vote here: Poll: What do you think of California’s $7.5 billion water bond?
  • And lastly in water bond news … Pigeon is surprise star of water bond deal:  “What’s a bored Capitol community to do while it waits for a water bond deal? Make a star of a pigeon.  As legislators caucused before an afternoon session Wednesday, the California Channel’s filler broadcast of the Capitol dome was interrupted by an avian cameo. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Pigeon is surprise star of water bond deal
and in other news … yes, there is other news …
  • Latest map shows California's crippling drought leveling off: After months of worsening drought across California, conditions appear to have leveled off, at least for now.  According to the latest assessment released Thursday, more than 80% of California continues to suffer extreme drought conditions — a figure that has remained unchanged now for roughly two weeks. Things had been on a steady march toward worse, pushing more than half of California to the most severe level of drought for the first time since the federal government began issuing regular drought reports in the late 1990s. … ” Read more from the LA Times here:  Latest map shows California’s crippling drought leveling off
  • How dust could solve California's drought:  “With 80 percent of California in a state of extreme drought, you wouldn't think dust would be the answer to the state's water woes. New research presented in San Francisco yesterday suggests, however, that dusty air blown across the Pacific Ocean from Asia and Africa could be influencing precipitation in the region.  In a presentation at a national meeting of the American Chemical Society yesterday, Kim Prather from the University of California, San Diego, described research she is leading into the dust swept westward by the jet stream. The dust—and the tiny bacteria and molecules it carries with it across the Pacific Ocean—is then mixing with other airborne particles like sea spray and smoke to have distinct and variable impacts on clouds and precipitation, Prather said. ... ”  Read more from Scientific American here:  How dust could solve California’s drought
  • California's Drought Pushes Tiny Fish Toward Extinction: “Rebecca Quinones with the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences walks  through thick brush in the Red Hills Mountain range of Tuolumne County.  “I’m here at the shores of Horton Creek, and I’m using a dip net to collect some of the roach that we’re seeing,” Quinones says.  Roach, as in the Red Hills Roach. It’s a small minnow-like fish that lives in a unique and uninviting environment:  small warm creeks with nutrient-poor soil. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  California’s Drought Pushes Tiny Fish Toward Extinction
  • California isn't just dry, it's hot:  “California might be headed for its hottest year on record. The state’s average temperature for the first half of the year is already its highest in recorded history, according to a recent report by the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Association’s Climatic Data Center.  The average temperature for January through July was 60.9 degrees Fahrenheit. It beat the previous record, set in 1934, by 1.4 degrees. … ”  Read more from KQED Science here:  California isn’t just dry, it’s hot
  • And lastly for statewide water news … drought conundrum: To wash or not wash that dirty car:  “[KPCC] did the homework for you. Here are the advantages and drawbacks to all the ways you can wash your car while California's in a water shortage. ”  Check it out from KPCC here:  Drought conundrum: To wash or not to wash…the car?

In regional news today …

  • PG&E to release dam water for steelhead in Eel River:  “At the request of state and federal agencies, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. will release about 2,000 acre-feet of water from Lake Pillsbury in Lake County to create stable habitat for endangered steelhead in the upper Eel River, according to a National Marine Fisheries Service press release.  The decision was made in response to the ongoing drought conditions in California, which have resulted in low flows and warm temperatures in several North Coast rivers and tributaries. … ”  Read more from the Times-Herald here:  PG&E to release dam water for steelhead in Eel River
  • North Bay has new water management tools to help with drought:  “North Bay drinking water suppliers, including the Sonoma County Water Agency (Water Agency), are moving forward with implementing new water supply management tools such as mandatory water conservation orders, innovative water conservation rebate programs for Russian River communities, seeking approval for adjusting Russian River in-stream flows to preserve storage in Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma, and participating in an outdoor water savings community event on August 23 in Santa Rosa.  A new partnership with Scripps Institution of Oceanography has also kicked off to research the role of atmospheric rivers in the Russian River watershed.  Due to three consecutive dry years, water storage levels in local reservoirs remain well below average, including Lake Mendocino at 34 percent and Lake Sonoma at 66 percent of water supply capacities. ... ”  Read more from the Sonoma County Gazette here:  North Bay New Water Management Tools in response to Drought
  • San Jose Water customers to face big increase:  “Customers of San Jose Water Company face a sharp increase in monthly bills following the state Public Utilities Commission's approval Thursday of a long-delayed rate hike.The decision will result in a 15 percent increase in monthly water bills through the end of this year, with a further unspecified increase planned for 2015, according to John Tang, a spokesman for San Jose Water. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  San Jose Water customers to face big rate increase
  • Momentum to limit Salinas Valley groundwater pumping grows:  “One of the last things growers in the Salinas Valley want to hear are plans to limit the amount of groundwater they can pump for irrigation. But voices advocating exactly that are growing louder.  A new report – specifically addressing Central Coast groundwater – was issued Aug. 4 by the nonprofit California Water Foundation. In it, the foundation is recommending the establishment of new local entities called groundwater sustainability agencies, or GSAs. These agencies “should be granted the necessary authorities to sustainably manage the basin, including the ability to limit pumping, require monitoring and collect fees,” the report says. … ”  Read more from the Salinas Californian here:  Momentum to limit Salinas Valley groundwater pumping grows
  • Lake Tahoe clarity on track despite setback in 2013:  “The famously clear waters of Lake Tahoe got a little murkier in 2013, according to a new report, but officials say the lake remains on a long-term path to better water clarity.  The annual “State of the Lake Report” by UC Davis reveals that average annual water clarity at Lake Tahoe declined by about 5 feet in 2013 to a depth of 70.1 feet. They blamed the decline mainly on wet, stormy conditions in December 2012. Water clarity during summer, considered the biggest challenge facing the lake, was virtually identical to 2012 and improved more than 13 feet compared to 2011. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Lake Tahoe clarity on track despite setback in 2013  See also: UC Davis Scientists Say The Drought Has Helped Water Quality At Lake Tahoe
  • Wild and Scenic bill unlikely to pass this year: SB 1199 – better known as the Wild and Scenic River designation for the Mokelumne River – has been placed in the “suspense file” by the state Assembly’s Appropriations Committee, effectively dooming its passage in this year’s session, which ends in about two weeks. … ”  More from the Calaveras Enterprise here:  Wild and Scenic bill unlikely to pass this year
  • Stanislaus County: Well owners may be required to reveal how much they're pumping: Stanislaus County officials are considering rewriting the county’s groundwater ordinance to require that all well owners reveal how much they’re pumping and how far their wells’ water levels have fallen.  Periodic “groundwater extraction statements” are being proposed for everyone who pumps water from Stanislaus aquifers, County Counsel Jack Doering told the Water Advisory Committee on Wednesday night. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Well owners may be required to reveal how much they’re pumping
  • Rim Fire: How California's drought is helping charred lands recover:California's drought has been bad news for most of the state, but it's actually been good for areas recovering from last year's Rim Fire.  The fire, one of the biggest in California history, tore through more than 400 square miles of woodlands in and around Yosemite National Park. … ” Read more from KPCC here: Rim Fire: How California’s drought is helping charred lands recover
  • Nacimiento pipeline shut down due to leaks:  “The Nacimiento Water Project pipeline, billed as the saving grace to many local communities’ dwindling water supplies, has been shut down and under investigation for the past several weeks because of leaks.  The five community partners that bought into the pipeline have received only a small fraction of the water they requested in June and none in July. The $176.1 million pipeline was designed to boost water supplies for Atascadero, part of Cayucos, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and Templeton by drawing from Nacimiento Lake. ... ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Nacimiento pipeline shut down due to leaks
  • Paso Robles: Bill to form North County water district passes Senate:  “The California Senate on Wednesday approved by a wide margin a bill that would allow the creation of a water district for the Paso Robles groundwater basin.  By a vote of 29-3, the Senate approved AB 2453 by Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo. The bill would allow the formation of a Paso Robles water district with a board of directors consisting of a combination of property owners and at-large members. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Bill to form North County water district passes Senate
  • Cuyama Valley groundwater withdrawals:  “Groundwater is the sole source for agricultural, domestic and municipal water use in California's Cuyama Valley, located primarily in Santa Barbara County. In most areas, groundwater is being depleted faster than it naturally recharges. A new water availability report from the U.S. Geological Survey investigates groundwater conditions in the Cuyama Valley.  “The findings provide a better understanding of the use and movement of water in the valley, as well as the quality and quantity of groundwater used in the Cuyama Valley Basin,” said Randall Hanson, research hydrologist and lead author of the new report. ... ”  Read more from Edhat here:  Cuyama Valley groundwater withdrawals
  • Despite drought, Alhambra still wants residents to keep lawns green:Alhambra is officially restricting residents to watering their lawns twice a week. As of Aug. 1, residents are limited to a self-regulated watering schedule of once every three days before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m. But despite that, city officials still expect Alhambrans to keep their lawns green — or possibly face fines of up to $1,000.  Landscaping professionals and residents say watering on this restricted schedule and maintaining a green lawn is difficult. “It’s really tough to maintain a green lawn by watering twice a week,” said the owner of Mirage Gardens, Ray Pomposo, who has 11 years of experience landscaping in the Los Angeles area. Pomposo said that adding absorbent polymers to retain moisture is the only measure he could think of to keep a lawn green under these conditions. … ”  Read more from the Alhambra source here: Despite drought, Alhambra still wants residents to keep lawns green
  • Coachella Valley: Desert water agencies face lawsuit over transparency:  “The desert's two largest water agencies have spent months refusing to release information about the Coachella Valley's largest groundwater users, even though they had routinely released that information in the past.  The First Amendment Coalition plans to file a lawsuit Friday against the Coachella Valley Water District and the Desert Water Agency, following public records requests filed by The Desert Sun earlier this year. Peter Scheer, the coalition's executive director, said the agencies' failure to disclose groundwater use data is “embarrassing,” particularly during a historic drought. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Desert water agencies face lawsuit over transparency

In commentary today …

  • Half century later, Legislature must regulate groundwater, says the Sacramento Bee:  They write: “Now that the governor and legislators have put together a water bond, they must confront the groundwater crisis.  In the third year of severe drought, groundwater has been critical, providing 60 percent of the water for the state’s $45 billion agriculture industry.  Californians have been depleting groundwater for 50 years, probably longer, by pumping more water than nature can replenish. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Half century later, legislature must regulate groundwater
  • Farmers want reasonable groundwater protection, too, say Juliet Christian Smith and Moira Burke: They write: “Farmers use water to grow our food, a basic need. No water, no farming, no food. Farmers have been stewards of our natural resources for generations, and have provided jobs and commerce. Despite California’s extensive aqueduct system, the current drought has severely strained surface water supplies.  As a result, groundwater is being pumped out at record rates, harming the state’s aquifers and sometimes other landowners. One of the reasons this is happening is that California lacks consistent groundwater management. … ”  Read more here:  Viewpoints: Farmers want reasonable groundwater protection, too
  • Jerry Brown, Democrats and Republicans agree on that most contentious of issues: water, says the Sacramento Bee: The write: “A rare event played out in the Capitol on Wednesday night, and it’s worthy of note. Gov. Jerry Brown achieved bipartisan agreement on that most contentious of issues: water.  By votes of 37-0 in the Senate and 77-2 in the Assembly, the Legislature agreed to allow a statewide vote this Nov. 4 on a $7.5 billion bond intended to pay for improvements to California’s water system. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Editorial: Jerry Brown, Democrats and Republicans agree on that most contentious of issues, water
  • Voters can now decide on water bond, says the SF Chronicle:  They write: “It took state legislators up to and past the deadline to work out a viable water bond proposal to put on the November ballot, but (with a big push from the governor) they got it done. The new proposal is leaner and represents investments in a wider array of concerns. Now it is up to the voters to decide.  The $7.5 billion bond package passed early Thursday with strong bipartisan support. It replaces the pork-laden $11.1 billion measure previously approved by the Legislature in 2009 but repeatedly pulled from the ballot as too big for voters to swallow. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Voters can now decide on water bond
  • Legislators finally recognize the state's water crisis, says the Chico Enterprise-Record:  They write: “Brown lawns, dirty cars and fallow rice fields don't begin to tell the story of the depth of California's drought.  A look at California's lakes and rivers should frighten at least those of us in the northern half of the state. We are accustomed to seeing flowing rivers and blue lakes. Instead, rivers are alarmingly low. Rivers like the Eel and Smith are barely flowing. Larger rivers like the Klamath and Trinity have enough water to support their salmon runs, but just barely — the fish are in danger because the water is low and warm. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise Record here:  Legislators finally recognize the state’s water crisis
  • Last moment bond won't fix water issue, says Steve Greenhut: He writes: ““You know why there are so many whitefish in the Yellowstone River?” asked Montana-based landscape artist Russell Chatham, in his 1978 book. “Because the Fish and Game people have never done anything to help them.” I keep that quotation in mind whenever the government promises to solve a problem, especially a big one that promises to tame nature.  The very act of legislative sausage making — that age-old cliché about the ugly nature of lawmaking — assures that deals to please special interests and appease people with differing political philosophies and constituencies drives the final result. Ongoing efforts to craft a drought-related water bond fits that pattern to a tee. ... ”  Read more from U-T San Diego here: Last-moment bond won’t fix water issue
  • California businesses need stronger federal clean water rules, says Steve Frisch:  He writes:  “You don’t have to be a native Californian to know how important water is to our state, especially in light of the current record-breaking drought. The total cost of this drought is already running into the billions of dollars, and could end up costing us thousands of jobs.  Water is an economic necessity, and we need to protect it. That’s why a law like the Clean Water Act, designed to protect our waterways from harmful discharges, is so important – not just for agriculture, but also to industries like tourism, fishing, manufacturing and even technology. With water so scarce in California, and the state expected to grow to 50 million people by 2050, we need to make sure we’re protecting every drop. ... ”  Read more from EGP News here:  California businesses need stronger federal clean water rules

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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About the Daily Digest: The Daily Digest is a collection of selected news articles, commentaries and editorials appearing in the mainstream press. Items are generally selected to follow the focus of the Notebook blog. The Daily Digest is published every weekday with a weekend edition posting on Sundays.

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