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    Aug 24 2014

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    Daily Digest, weekend edition: Time running out for federal legislation, feds to release water for Klamath salmon, bond funding for conservancies, drought fears in wine country and more …

    Grapevines in the San Joaquin Valley.  Photo by Chris Austin.  All rights reserved.
    In California water news this weekend, time running out for federal legislation, federal agency to release extra water for Klamath salmon as farm districts protest, bond funds conservancies with unclear water role, drought fears in wine country, water witches in demand, pressure chambers help Valley farmers save water, a Central Valley road trip shows the impact of the drought, a great salty mess, study says climate change could happen slower for next decade, how much does the ice bucket challenge really waste? and more news and commentary …

    In the news this weekend …

    • Time running out for federal legislation:  Secret negotiations over a California water bill are nearing a make-or-break moment, after a long, dry summer that’s tested some political alliances.  The state’s Democratic senators are struggling to balance sympathy for Central Valley farmers with concern for environmental protection. The Obama administration has sometimes moved slowly. Some regional conflicts remain unreconciled.  And time is short. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Time running out for federal legislation
    • Federal agency to release extra water for Klamath salmon: “A federal agency has decided to boost releases of cool clean water into Northern California's Klamath River to prevent a repeat of the 2002 fish kill that left tens of thousands of adult salmon dead.  “We have determined that unprecedented conditions over the past few weeks in the lower Klamath River require us to take emergency measures to help reduce the potential for a large-scale fish die-off,” U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Regional Director David Murillo said Friday from Sacramento, California. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Federal agency to release extra water for Klamath salmon
    • Feds to Release Water for Klamath and Trinity Salmon; Farm Districts Protest:The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Friday that it will release water over the next several weeks to aid chinook salmon on the Klamath and Trinity rivers — a move that native tribes on the river have lobbied for to prevent a repeat of a catastrophic die-off that killed tens of thousands of fish headed upstream to spawn in 2002.  The tribes welcomed the bureau’s decision, which involves releasing about 25,000 acre-feet of water into the Trinity River from Lewiston Dam, northwest of Redding starting Saturday morning and continuing through Sept. 14.  But the Westlands Water District and the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, which serve thousands of farms in the San Joaquin Valley, immediately announced they will seek a temporary restraining order to stop the releases. ... ”  Read more from KQED here: Feds to Release Water for Klamath and Trinity Salmon; Farm Districts Protest
    • Bond funds conservancies with unclear water role: On the outskirts of Los Angeles, the Baldwin Hills Conservancy is a haven of hiking trails, sports fields and a lookout point with panoramic views of downtown to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west.  The former oil-drilling patch of rolling hills sits along a flood-control channel, but it doesn't provide a drinking water source nor is it part of Southern California's water-delivery system. Even so, the conservancy stands to gain $10 million if voters approve the $7.5 billion water measure that state lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown placed on the November ballot this month amid the state's historic drought. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Bond funds conservancies with unclear water role
    • Conservancy funding in the water bond:  The Associated Press runs down how the $297.5 million in funding slated for conservancies will be split amongst the various organizations should the bond be approved by voters here: California water bond funding for conservancies
    • Drought fears in wine country:  “To get a sense of how the state’s three-year drought has created a new normal in the wine industry, consider the truck that Rued Vineyards purchased this year.  Almost daily, Tom Rued would drive the stainless-steel tanker, with a capacity of 6,400 gallons, about 15 miles to a city of Healdsburg filling station to load up on recycled wastewater.  The entire operation takes about five hours, including the round trip between the Alexander Valley vineyard and the plant, the time filling up the tanker, and offloading the water into a drip irrigation system to keep 19 acres of sauvignon blanc vines moist enough to make it through another harvest. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Drought fears in wine country
    • Water witches in demand as wells run dry:The calls started in October, when the rain was supposed to come. Rob Thompson's phone kept ringing – a farmer in Fresno, a winemaker in Napa Valley, a rancher in Yreka.  All were looking for water. And they had heard Thompson could find it using an ancient method most call unorthodox, if not ridiculous. Thompson is a dowser, a person who believes they have the ability to locate water or precious metals deep underground using rods, sticks or a pendulum to guide them. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: California drought: Water witches in demand as wells run dry
    • Pressure chambers help Valley farmers save water:Tom Chandler, a fourth-generation farmer, is using a sophisticated suitcase-sized tool to do what farmers used to do largely by guesswork: Size up how much water to give his almond trees.  The device is a pressure chamber, and it squeezes water from leaves to measure how thirsty his trees are.  “Using the pressure chambers is like having a fuel gauge for your plants,” Chandler said. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Pressure chambers help Valley farmers save water
    • California Report: Central Valley Road Trip: The Impact of the Drought:We begin a special edition of The California Report with a road trip tour of the Central Valley. Host Scott Shafer and Central Valley Bureau Chief Sasha Khokha talk with farmers, ranchers and residents as California's prolonged drought takes its toll. Scott and Sasha tour Tulare County, talking with an almond grower and with a farmworker family, whose well has run dry. They also check in with Tulare County Supervisor Allen Ishida, and with the man who runs the water system for the town of Poplar.”  Listen here: (about 9 min)
    • California’s Central Valley: ‘More Than Just Farmers on Tractors’: A companion story to the above: “As we all know by now, California is in a serious state of drought. Some parts of the state are getting hit harder than others. The Central Valley is one of them.  We wanted to show what this long dry year has meant for one of the country’s richest farming areas. So, producer Suzie Racho and I headed down Highway 99 to meet up with The California Report’s Central Valley bureau chief, Sasha Khokha, who’s based in Fresno. Our first stop was a cattle auction in the Tulare County town of Visalia ... ”  Read more from KQED here:  California’s Central Valley: ‘More Than Just Farmers on Tractors’
    • How serious is California's drought? Check out these before and after pictures, taken only three years apart.  How serious is California’s drought?
    • The great salty mess:  Pollution threatens U.S. water sources: According the US Geological Survey, we have a salt problem. A recent report from the scientific agency warns of a buildup of salinity by both manmade and natural causes in our lakes, streams and rivers. Fertilizer and stormwater runoffs and urban wastewater discharge are among the main sources for the increasing presence of ions such as sodium, sulfate, chloride and magnesium in the water. Drought has further increased the salt concentration. That spells trouble for the spectrum of industries that depend on clean water.  “Cities and companies are altering watersheds,” said Giulio Boccaletti, managing director of Nature Conservancy’s global freshwater program. “Businesses are increasingly aware that the problem of managing water is not just managing the efficiency of water use within their plants but also managing the watersheds.” … ”  Read more from The Guardian here: The great salty mess: pollution threatens US fresh water resources
    • Climate change could happen slower for the next decade, study says:Temperatures have risen more slowly in the past decade than in the previous 50 years and will continue to rise at a somewhat slower rate in the next decade, according to a new study, even as climate change continues to raise temperatures to unprecedented levels worldwide. … ”  Read more from TIME Magazine here:  Climate change could happen slower for the next decade, study says
    • And lastly … How much water does the ice bucket challenge really waste?  I've largely ignored this story, but in case you were wondering, Design & Trend answers the question here:  How much water does the ice bucket challenge really waste?

    In regional news this weekend …

    • Humboldt County supervisors grapple with funding for Klamath Dam analyst:During its Tuesday meeting, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will discuss its options on how to keep up on a proposed Klamath dam removal project after the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation denied providing funds for a county position to serve that purpose.  In its Aug. 5 letter to the board, bureau Acting Commissioner Lowell D. Pimley stated that the board's March request for funding a senior environmental analyst position to work on the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) was something the agency was incapable of fulfilling. ... ”  Humboldt County supervisors grapple with funding for Klamath Dam analyst
    • Salmon habitat restoration planned along the Sacramento River near Redding:  “Plans have been mapped out to restore a side channel to the Sacramento River near Redding that was once a hospitable spawning area for salmon.  Known as Painter's Riffle, the area just south of the Highway 44/299 bridge becomes a gravel bar when the river is low.  In 1986, California Department of Fish and Game biologist Dick Painter designed and built the side channel, expecting that salmon would travel off the main river to spawn. ... ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury-Register here:  Salmon habitat restoration planned along the Sacramento River near Redding
    • Nevada Irrigation District begins planning for new reservoir on Bear River:NID Board of Directors took a historic step this week into the water future of Nevada and Placer counties, according to a news release.  On Aug. 13, the board unanimously authorized staff to file an application for the annual appropriation of 221,400 acre-feet of water from the Bear River. The district’s application was filed later that day with the State Water Resources Control Board along with the payment of $488,459 in filing fees. ... ”  Read more from The Union here: NID begins planning for new reservoir on Bear River
    • Nevada City: Efforts to revive mine meet strong resistance:  “It is quiet at Tim Callaway’s gold mine, with its crumbling concrete, rotting wood and the occasional butterfly accustomed to undisturbed access. But there is plenty of commotion over what’s below the surface: an unseen 240,000 ounces of ore.  To reach it will take more than dynamite. Mr. Callaway, 62, who calls himself “a steward of the land,” must take on an alliance of local residents, many of them city escapees, who protest that reopening the mine would threaten their water and the tranquility they came here for. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  Efforts to revive mine meet strong resistance
    • Bay Area: Drought deed won't go unpunished:  “Drought-conscious California officials are rallying behind a San Francisco Bay Area woman who replaced her lawn with low-water native plants, then was hit with a fine from her homeowners association.  Fran Paxson, a retired teacher living in San Ramon, told the San Jose Mercury News that she overhauled her front yard with more sustainable landscaping, getting a rebate from her local utility as a reward for the work. … ”  Read more from the AP via the Portland Press Herald here: Drought measure won’t go unpunished
    • Stanislaus County Supervisors to consider loan program for homeowners with dry wells: “Stanislaus County has released details of a proposed emergency loan program designed for homeowners who can’t afford to replace their dry wells.  The county would create a pot of $200,000 for low-interest loans to owner-occupied residential properties in unincorporated areas. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Dry wells: Stanislaus supervisors will consider a loan program for owners with financial need
    • Tulare County:Volunteers deliver bottled water to drought-stricken community: “Nearly 1,000 people whose wells have gone dry due to drought received an emergency allotment of bottled water Friday.  The door-to-door giveaway of 12 gallons of water per person was the latest development in a summer of water woes in the central San Joaquin Valley. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Volunteers deliver bottled water to drought-stricken community
    • Paso Robles: City denies new well permit for winery: The Paso Robles City Council this week rejected an appeal by Filipponi & Thompson Drilling, on behalf of the Eberle Winery, for a permit to replace a water well.  The rejection comes after the city council adopted an ordinance on March 4, which temporarily prohibits the construction of new wells, or the modification, rehabilitation, or reconstruction of existing wells that would increase the amount of groundwater capable of being extracted from the Paso Robles groundwater basin. … ”  Read more from the Paso Robles Daily News here:  City denies new well permit for Eberle WInery
    • Paso Robles: CalTrans working to reduce road-side water consumption:  “Caltrans is installing “smart irrigation” controllers, a recycled-water pipeline, and low-flow fixtures to cut its water use along state highways throughout the Central Coast.  “As the drought intensifies here in California, we are making every effort to lead the way conserving the state’s precious water supplies,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. … ”  Read more from the Paso Robles Daily News here:  CalTrans working to reduce road-side water consumption
    • San Luis Obispo: Most cities, residents fail to cut water use by 20%: “In January, the governor declared a statewide drought emergency and urged “all Californians to conserve water in every way possible” to cut water use by 20 percent.  Only the residents of Cambria are meeting Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal — and many communities are falling far below that number. Still, residents in most communities have cut their water use, although the same can’t necessarily be said for their public facilities. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Most cities, residents fail to cut water use by 20%
    • Nacimiento pipeline temporarily shut down due to leaks:The Nacimiento Water Project pipeline was shut down earlier this summer after leaks were discovered in the system. The cause of the leaks are being investigated after officials were alerted to leaks in more than 1,000 feet of pipeline under the Nacimiento River when a wet spot was discovered along the access road near the lake. San Luis Obispo County Public Works Deputy Director Mark Hutchinson said that an expert is coming out to forensically test the pipe at that location to find out the cause. “We don’t know why those pipes failed,” Hutchinson said. “We never lost pressure; it never showed up in the gauges. … It’s important to find out why it’s leaking to make sure it’s not going to get worse.”  … ”  Read more from the Paso Robles Daily News here:  Nacimiento pipeline temporarily shut down due to leaks
    • Drought coping strategies dominate San Bernardino water conference:  “Drought was the word of the day at the San Bernardino County Water Conference on Friday, where leaders preached the need for more local storage and passage of a $7.5 billion water bond to cope with future dry spells.  “This region grew with imported supplies. To prosper, we need to grow our local supply,” said Steve Arakawa, manager of Bay Delta initiatives for the Metropolitan Water District, Southern California’s main wholesaler. … ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here:  Drought coping strategies dominate water conference
    • Weaker El Nino pattern could mean less rain for Southern California:  “A weaker El Niño pattern than originally predicted could mean less rainfall for drought ridden California this winter according to a report issued by weather forecasters at the Climate Prediction Center and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society last week.  The lack of a coherent atmospheric El Niño pattern and a return to near-average sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific means the chance of a moderate El Niño has dropped dramatically according to the report released August 7. The chance of El Niño has decreased to about 65 percent for the coming fall and early winter, a downgrade from predictions of a moderate event in June. ... ”  Read more from Valley News here:  Weaker El Nino pattern could mean less rain for Southern California
    • San Diego water officials didn't all cut back:  “County water officials issued a “Drought Watch” alert in February, calling on the region’s residents to reduce water use, even beyond existing conservation efforts.  Those same water officials went on to increase their own use by an average of 4.3 percent in the first six months of this year, compared to last year, according to billing records obtained by U-T Watchdog. … ”  Read more from U-T San Diego here:  Water officials didn’t all cut back

    In commentary this weekend …

    • Drought leads California to rethink water management, says Dan Walters:  He writes: “On average, rain and snow storms drop about 200 million acre-feet of water on California each year – 65 trillion gallons of the life-giving liquid.  Nearly two-thirds of it either evaporates, sinks into the ground or is absorbed by trees and other plants while the remainder, 70-plus million acre-feet, finds its way into rivers flowing either to the Pacific Ocean or several inland “sinks.” … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Dan Walters:  Drought leads California to rethink water management
    • Regulate San Joaquin Valley groundwater, protect things that live above, says commentary:  Salvatore Salerno, Anita Young and Candy Klaschus write: “The eastern San Joaquin Valley is especially vital habitat for raptors. Bald and golden eagles, osprey, prairie falcons, ferruginous and rough-legged hawks, short-eared and burrowing owls are only a few of the raptor species inhabiting this wonderful remnant of the Valley’s natural history.  In recent years, as more orchards have covered this natural habitat, it has become less viable for raptors that must forage over open ground. Moreover, these same orchards are consuming tens of thousands of acre-feet of water every year by pumping groundwater. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: Regulate San Joaquin Valley groundwater, protect things that live above
    • Groundwater regulation, water rights reform is critical, says the Lompoc Record:  They write: “On average, rain and snow storms drop about 200 million acre-feet of water on California each year — 65 trillion gallons of the life-giving liquid.  Nearly two-thirds of it either evaporates, sinks into the ground or is absorbed by trees and other plants while the remainder, 70-plus million acre-feet, finds its way into rivers flowing either to the Pacific Ocean or several inland “sinks.” … ”  Read more from the Lompoc Record here:  Groundwater regulation, water rights reform is critical
    • Delta-friendly water bond is a win for all of California, says Senator Wolk: She writes: “Two years ago, I introduced a measure to replace the doomed pork-laden water bond from 2009 with a trim, focused and noncontroversial bond that could win voter support and address California's critical water needs, without threatening the Delta region by funding the Bay Delta Conservation Plan or the Delta tunnels.  Last week, after months of pushing and pulling and tough negotiating — with an injection of leadership from Gov. Jerry Brown — the Legislature finished that work and put a new $7.5 billion water bond on the November ballot. ... ”  Read more from the Contra Costa Times here: Sen. Lois Wolk: Delta-friendly water bond is a win for all of California
    • Water bond is a game changer for California, says Assemblyman Dan Logue:  He writes: “Last week, I was pleased to join as a co-author of historic water bond legislation that I believe is a game changer for the state of California. It is a comprehensive proposal that includes funding for above and below-ground storage, safe drinking water and recycling, while protecting existing water rights and “area of origin” rights. Additionally, the proposal is “neutral” on the Governor's controversial “twin tunnels” plan that many Californians oppose. … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Water bond is a game changer for California
    • Water bond will prepare state for the next drought, says Assemblyman Brain Dahle:  He writes: “There’s an old saying that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, but the second-best time is now.  The same holds for building reservoirs.  California is enduring its worst drought in 200 years, by some measures. The agricultural belts of the Central Valley are the driest and suffering the most from shortages, with fields fallowed and groundwater drawn down severely to make up for shortages, but nobody is immune from the drought’s effects. Cities are strictly rationing water. Treasured runs of salmon are at risk of die-offs. … ”  Read more from the Grass Valley Union here: Water bond will prepare state for the next drought
    • In The Long Run, The Rest Of The World May Gain From California's Severe Drought, says Forbes columnist Peter Kelly-Detwiler: He writes: “Here’s why: nobody does anything about a problem until it gets severe enough to worry.  If you don’t believe that, witness the tepid global response to the scientific reports concerning climate change.  But when it really hits the fan, people get moving. And few get moving more quickly, more proactively, or more creatively at solving environmental problems than Californians. In addition, California’s economy is large enough that it affects the rest of the country, and often has a residual impact on the global economy. … ”  Read more from Forbes here:  In the Long Run, The Rest of the World May Gain From California’s Severe Drought

    Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

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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.

    Maven’s Notebook
    where California water news never goes home for the weekend

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