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    Aug 17 2014

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    Daily Digest, weekend edition: Gov. Brown talks twin tunnels, local agencies ordered to enforce water restrictions, and Bay Area losing billions of gallons of water due to leaky pipes, plus the water bond, drought, and more

    Kern National Widlife Refuge.  Photo by Chris Austin.  All rights reserved.In California water news today, Governor Brown talks about the twin tunnels, water agencies ordered to enforce statewide water restrictions, Bay Area loses billions of gallons of water to leaky pipes, water bond won't be a drought buster, San Joaquin County reviewing bond language, water bond gets chorus of kudos in Kings County,  California hasn't had a drought this bad since 1895, and California's record heat is like nothing you've ever seen – yet, talk of an El Nino year cools, but don't despair yet about winter, and alarming images emerge from drought, plus plenty more news and commentary

    In the news this weekend …

    • Governor Brown talks twin tunnels (among other things):  Governor Brown pays the San Jose Mercury News a visit:  ” … Brown, meeting with this newspaper's editorial board, also said he plans to proceed with his twin-tunnel plan for the Delta whether or not the public votes on it, and suggested that comprehensive reform of the California Environmental Quality Act, long one of his top priorities, is all but dead. … ”  Find out what he had to say here:  Gov. Jerry Brown defends CPUC president, Delta tunnel plan
    • Water agencies ordered to enforce statewide water restrictions during drought:  “A state agency today ordered local water agencies to enforce mandatory statewide water restrictions implemented because of California’s severe drought, the California Public Utilities Commission Announced Thursday.  The CPUC is requiring local water districts to alert customers to restrictions adopted by the State Water Resources Control Board within 10 days in local newspapers and on websites and to directly notify customers by mail or email within 20 days, the CPUC said. ... ”  Read more from CBS Bay Area here:  Local agencies ordered to enforce statewide water restrictions during drought
    • Bay Area loses billions of gallons of water to leaky pipes:  “As Bay Area residents struggle to save water during a historic drought, the region's water providers have been losing about 23 billion gallons a year, a new analysis of state records reveals.  Aging and broken pipes, usually underground and out of sight, have leaked enough water annually to submerge the whole of Manhattan by 5 feet — enough to meet the needs of 71,000 families for an entire year.  Bay Area water agencies have lost from 3 to 16 percent of their treated water, according to this newspaper's analysis of the latest reports on water that disappears before the meter. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Bay Area loses billions of gallons of water to leaky pipes
    • Water bond won't be a drought buster:  “Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers are expected to use the backdrop of California's most severe drought in nearly four decades to sell voters on the $7.5 billion water plan they put on the ballot this week.  Despite its size, the measure will not solve the problems created by the drought nor is it expected to prevent rationing during future ones. Instead, the projects it will fund are designed to provide a greater cushion when the state finds itself dealing with prolonged water shortages in the decades ahead. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Water bond won’t be a drought buster
    • San Joaquin County's statement says it supports parts of the water bond, but must review the language:  “San Joaquin County issued a statement this afternoon saying that it supports many provisions in the state’s new $7.5 billion bond but now must carefully review the language to determine if the proposal adequately protects the Delta.  Of the five Delta counties, San Joaquin is the only county that has not yet announced support for the bond, which will appear on the November ballot. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  San Joaquin County’s statement says it supports parts of the water bond, but must review language
    • Kings County: Water bond deal gets chorus of kudos: “Good luck trying to find somebody in Kings County willing to denounce Wednesday’s $7.5 billion water bond deal.  The compromise package, which sailed through the Assembly 77-2 and the Senate 37-0 after months of negotiations, won broad support among farmers, water experts and water lobbyists as a third-year of California drought tightened its grip.  Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, and Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, voted “yes.” ... ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here: Water bond deal gets chorus of kudos
    • California hasn't had a drought this bad since 1895:  “It's no secret that California is in the grips of an absolutely brutal drought. But how does it compare historically?  According to this week’s figures from the US Drought Monitor, some 82 percent of the state is now suffering either “extreme” or “exceptional” drought — the first time that's happened since the monitor was set up in 1999. … ”  Read more from Vox here:  California hasn’t had a drought this bad since 1895
    • California’s Record Heat Is Like Nothing You’ve Ever Seen… Yet:  And the cheery drought news continues:  “If hot thermometers actually exploded like they do in cartoons, there would be a lot of mercury to clean up in California right now.  The California heat this year is like nothing ever seen, with records that go back to 1895. The chart below shows average year-to-date temperatures in the state from January through July for each year. The orange line shows the trend rising 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit per decade. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg News here: California’s Record Heat Is Like Nothing You’ve Ever Seen… Yet
    • Talk of an El Niño year cools, but don’t despair yet about winter: Hey, the news gets better: “Ignore El Niño if you can.  With the media attention, it's not easy to look away from this rock star of California weather. El Niño, a sprawling blob of warm water in the Pacific Ocean, appeared in spring, raising the chances of a gully-washing winter.  But the blob has cooled a little and so have hopes that it would break this desperate drought — at least in the media. Meteorologists say this is just a dose of reality, and it's no time to despair.  There are other blobs in the sea. … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here:  Talk of an El Niño year cools, but don’t despair yet about winter
    • Alarming images emerge from drought: Check out the LA Times photo gallery here: Alarming images emerge from California drought

    In regional news this weekend …

    • Agency reconsidering water for Klamath salmon:  “A federal agency said Friday it is taking another look at releasing water in Northern California's Klamath Basin to prevent the spread of disease among salmon returning to spawn in drought conditions.  A decision is likely next week following discussions with fisheries biologists and others, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Janet Sierztutowski said from Sacramento, California. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Agency reconsidering water for Klamath salmon
    • Red Bluff City Council considers drought emergency declaration:After the California water board adopted mandatory conservation measures, the City Council here is poised to adopt its own mandatory conservation measures.  City staff is recommending that council members on Tuesday adopt mandatory conservation measures that would ban hosing driveways, sidewalks and other surfaces, limit landscape watering hours, and cause restaurant operators to serve water only when requested, among other rules. … ”  Read more from the Red Bluff Daily News here:  Red Bluff City Council considers drought emergency declaration
    • Northern California fish feared extinct due to drought still hanging on in small isolated creek:  With a fish net in one hand and backpack in the other, UC Davis fish biologist Peter Moyle set out across the dry Sierra foothills Thursday to look for a fish he feared was destined for extinction because of drought.  What he found puzzled him.  On a dry hill, with the sun blazing, he came across a thriving creek – with plenty of water and fish. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Northern California fish feared extinct due to drought still hanging on in small isolated creek
    • Summit with a view: How to help Lake Tahoe: Capitol Hill and courthouse shadows will cloud the Lake Tahoe Summit that convenes Tuesday.  No doubt, the political A-listers gathering for the 18th annual summit have much to celebrate, starting with the spectacular views from the location near South Lake Tahoe. They also have their work cut out for them.  “We have our challenges, environmentally,” Amy Berry, CEO of the Tahoe Fund, said in an interview. “There’s a lot more to be done.” … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Summit with a view: How to help Lake Tahoe
    • Whitewater rafting businesses struggle in drought:  “A record drought in California has forced many rafting companies to shut down early during what's usually their busiest time of the year.  For Whitewater Excitement, a rafting company that operates at the American River near Sacramento, scheduled dam releases have kept them afloat this summer. Rafting continues five days a week.  Even so, the owner of the rafting company said his bookings are down about 25 percent due to public perception. … ”  Read more from ABC 7 here:  Whitewater rafting businesses struggle in drought
    • Residency trumps wealth in Stinson Beach rationing plans:Sarah Butler crammed garbage bags packed with laundry into her old Volkswagen van on her weekly run “over the hill” to Mill Valley.  Some of the 630 or so permanent residents of this Marin County town have recently begun to make this trek, thanks to the statewide drought. But these weren't Butler's linens and towels. A broker with Oceanic Realty, she was hauling for vacation renters, who along with day-trippers can swell the population here on a summer weekend as high as 15,000. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Residency trumps wealth in Stinson Beach rationing plans
    • East Bay Homeowner Fined By HOA For Replacing Lawn With Drought-Resistant Landscaping: An East Bay homeowner is in a battle with her homeowners’ association over her drought-resistant yard after she was fined by the HOA for not having sod. Fran Paxton was trying to be good a citizen when she decided to replace her lawn with the water-saving landscaping. ... ”  Read more from CBS Bay Area here:  East Bay Homeowner Fined By HOA For Replacing Lawn With Drought-Resistant Landscaping
    • San Jose moving to impose water conservation measures, but without fines:  “Complying with new state rules aimed at cutting water use during California's historic drought, the San Jose City Council is poised to declare a citywide water shortage, ask all residents to cut use by 20 percent and place new limits on watering lawns and landscaping.  But like many other large Bay Area urban communities, the city does not plan to hire “water cops” or issue fines for people who ignore the rules — at least not for now. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: San Jose moving to impose water conservation measures, but without fines
    • Redwood City Saltworks: Federal report that could boost development pulled at list minute:An Army Corps of Engineers report whose findings could give a boost to Cargill's scaled-back Redwood City Saltworks project was poised to be publicly released but was withheld at the last minute after another federal agency intervened, according to documents reviewed by The Daily News.  And now, officials at the Corps of Engineers are wrangling with those at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to determine which body has jurisdiction over the controversial proposal to develop 1,400 acres of salt flats. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Redwood City Saltworks: Federal report that could boost development pulled at last minute
    • Fresno: Reaction to new water rules: Confusion, crankiness, compliance: “I have driven, bicycled and walked some neighborhoods in the last two weeks to see how people are reacting to the tougher yard-watering restrictions in Fresno. Two words describe some folks: Confused and snarky. Others are onboard. Many lawns are not quite green anymore.  Due to the drought, the city on Aug. 1 began limiting yard watering to twice a week, instead of three times a week. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Reaction to new water rules: Confusion, crankiness, compliance
    • Southern California: $7.5 billion water bond could meet California’s needs during drought: The $7.5 billion water bond measure approved by state legislators this past week could help pay for ambitious local projects, from cleaning the polluted San Fernando Valley groundwater basin to recycling treated sewage for drinking water.  The Los Angeles region depends largely on scarce and expensive imported water, and the bond funds could help reverse that dependence by increasing the local supply, experts say. At the same time, the money could help restore native rivers, improve water quality, capture stormwater runoff and even build some parks. … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Daily News here: $7.5 billion water bond could meet California’s needs during drought
    • Southern California: Water bond funds for groundwater cleanup could be key to water recycling: A Southland lawmaker and utility officials held a “water summit” Friday to encourage voters to approve a $7.5 billion bond measure on the ballot in November.  KNX 1070’s Jon Baird reports officials say cleaning up polluted wells in the San Fernando Valley could be key to help keep the water flowing into the region. … ”  Read more from CBS 2 here:  Clean up of polluted wells could be key to water recycling
    • In face of drought, critics say ‘Slide the City' doesn't hold water: More than 6,000 people have signed an online petition to stop “Slide the City” from setting up on Olive Avenue on Sept. 27, saying it is “extremely irresponsible” for any city in California to allow an event featuring a giant water slide to take place given the record dryness being felt across the state.  The event must still be given the green light from the Los Angeles Public Works Department, which will review the application and take into account any concerns. The agency has not said when it will issue its decision. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: In face of drought, critics say ‘Slide the City’ doesn’t hold water
    • Southern California Cities Ask Residents To Scrap Water-Guzzling Lawns: To combat the ongoing drought, Southern California cities are offering rebates to property owners willing to tear up their green lawns for more climate-appropriate alternatives. Some entrepreneurial landscaping businesses are taking advantage. … ”  Read more from NPR here: Southern California Cities Ask Residents To Scrap Water-Guzzling Lawns
    • Coachella Valley: More on the transparency lawsuit:The First Amendment Coalition filed suit against the Desert Water Agency and the Coachella Valley Water District in Riverside County Superior Court on Friday. The San Rafael-based organization, which advocates for open government, argued that California's public records law compels the agencies to report how much groundwater is pumped each year by individual users, including golf courses, country clubs, farms and resorts.  Both water agencies had published that information in years past. But after The Desert Sun published a list of the desert's biggest groundwater consumers in March, they changed course, hoosing not to include the data in their 2014 groundwater reports. ... ”  Read more from The Desert Sun here: California behind on monitoring groundwater
    • San Diego: Fire Department fined for water theft: A San Pasqual Fire Department board member has paid a $1,000 fine after Poway cited the department for taking water from a municipal fire hydrant without paying for it — water that was then pumped into a nearby well owned by the board member’s friend.  The incident was photographed July 28 by a city employee as a fire department water truck filled up at a hydrant on Valleyview Road in northern Poway. … ”  Read more from U-T San Diego here: Fire Department fined for water theft

    In commentary this weekend …

    • New water bond could make Delta tunnels unnecessary, says Dan Walters:  He writes: “As Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders hammered out a water bond deal last week, one very high priority was making it “tunnel-neutral.”  In a way, that’s a bit odd, since Brown has hoped that boring twin water tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta would be one of his legacies. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  New water bond could make Delta tunnels unnecessary
    • Compromise bond will help provide what the state needs, says the Appeal-Democrat:  They write: “We think the new water bond proposal is probably the best deal Californians can get and that borrowing the money now to shore up infrastructure and to start creating water savings will pay off well in years and decades to come.  California legislators, at the last hour, approved a water bond ballot measure that would put $7.5 billion into play and would go a long way in securing the state's water supply, quantity and quality. Though it seems it was a whirlwind process, engaged parties have been discussing and debating various issues and parts of such a measure for years. As it turned out, we think, it was fairly well ordered. ... ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Compromise bond will help provide what the state needs
    • Santa Rosa Press Democrat: Water bond: A high water mark or all wet?:California legislators struck a compromise. Democrats and Republicans negotiated a $7.5 billion water plan, placing it on the Nov. 4 ballot with just two no votes — a rare display of bipartisan cooperation in Sacramento. For that, they deserve credit. Their work product deserves consideration — and also careful scrutiny. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat here: PD Editorial: Bond: A high water mark or all wet?
    • Water bond is far from perfect, says columnist Michael Fitzgerald:  He writes:  “The annals of miracles – Moses parting the Red Sea, and all that – may have to expand to include the state's new $7.5 billion water bond, which is tolerably fair to the Delta.  Of course, having just read through the bill once, I can't say there isn't some loophole hidden in the jargon. But it looks like this time the state proposes to address its water problems without elbowing Delta counties aside.  Nor can I see any wording in AB1471 that directly supports the destructive twin tunnels proposal. This ain't that. Or so it appears, though some vehemently disagree. ... ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Water bond is far from perfect
    • Water bond is something voters should support, says the Porterville Recorder: You won’t see The Recorder praising the work of state lawmakers very often, but we have to take a step back and praise lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown for approving the new water bond that will be placed on the November ballot.  Late Wednesday, legislators from both parties agreed on a $7.5 billion bond that includes nearly $3 billion for new water storage projects in the Golden State. … ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here:  Water bond is something voters should support
    • Jonathan Zasloff on the hydrology of the public trust: He writes: “A couple of weeks ago, Rick reported that California might finally be ready to institute some form of statewide groundwater regulation. (The original California Water Act regulating surface water is now more than 100 years old, and when it was enacted, many observers thought that groundwater regulation was just around the corner: hey, what’s a century between friends?). Consider me skeptical: both bills are currently in suspense in the Legislature. Moreover, the fact that they are tepidly supported by the Association of California Water Agencies, in the words of Shania Twain, don’t impress me much: I’m still waiting for the Farm Bureau and conservative agricultural interests to sign on, and they have already declared their opposition … ”  Read more from Legal Planet here:  The hydrology of the public trust
    • Instead of worrying about more water, how about conserving what we have? asks columnist:  Tom Barnidge writes:  “The way Chris Dundon, Contra Costa Water District's conservation coordinator, tells the story, the customer who called for advice was a transplant from San Francisco with a yard so large it required 28 watering stations. Most were drip irrigation, some were sprinklers, and nearly all were broken. That's what accounted for his enormous water bill.  “He'd been using 3,000 to 5,000 gallons a day,” said Dundon, who showed him the repairs that were needed. “After that, his water bill dropped from over $300 to about $60.” … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Instead of worrying about more water, how about conserving what we have?
    • Column: Stanislaus County looking for ways to help residents pay for replacement wells: Jeff Jardine writes: “Wells are going dry. Residential well owners are screaming and, in some cases, frustrated to tears.  When they confront the irrigation districts whose increased pumping of groundwater at the very least coincides with the spate of wells going dry, they are told they are on their own. You should have dug a deeper well years ago, before being surrounded by the acres and acres of new orchards.  When they ask for financial help, the answer is, sorry, no can do. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Jeff Jardine: Stanislaus County looking for ways to help residents pay for replacement wells

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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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