Daily Digest: News, commentary and precipitation watch for November 7, 2013

Daily DigestIn the news today …

  • Fall Midwater Trawl shows declining Delta fish populations: Bay Nature takes a look at the study that shows populations of Delta fish such as Delta smelt, striped bass and threadfin shad are at a fraction of their historical abundance, with striped bass being counted at the second lowest figure since the trawls began in 1967.  There may be other explanations than exports, the article note:  ” … Scientists however believe other factors have also contributed to the fish’s decline. Stripers spawn prolifically—for example, a five pound female may spawn 180,000 eggs in one season. But UC Davis fish expert Peter Moyle told the Express that pollutants such as DDT and pesticides may have lowered the fertility of females and slowed growth rates in young fish, while a population crash in the 1980s may have come as a result of invasive species consuming juvenile striper’s preferred food.”  Read more from Bay Nature here:  New Report Shows Decline in Delta Fish Populations
  • Bill Jennings says water officials purposefully disregarded standards this year so more water could be exported from the Delta:  Jennings and others say the relaxing of water quality standards to those of a critically dry year was just a maneuver to export more water to farms south of the Delta:  ” … Such an increase in exports could increase salinity in the Delta and increase the number of fish sucked into the export pumps, similar to the effect of reducing reservoir releases into the Delta. State water pollution and game officials disagree with Jennings’ conclusion that the change was made to allow increased exports of water.  Les Grober, environmental program manager for the Water Quality Control Board, said his agency decided to change Delta standards at the request of state and federal wildlife agencies worried about protecting salmon later in the year.  “We always have a tough situation,” Grober said. “How do you make the best use of a limited supply of water? We did what we thought was best.”  … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Jennings: Water officials purposely disregarded issues
  • Conservation group buys property for floodplain restoration:  “Like other Central Valley streams, the San Joaquin is constricted by levees and has little room to spread out. During a flood, this means all the water stays in the river, placing more stress on levees protecting downstream communities like Stockton.  The $9.3 million purchase of the Hidden Valley Ranch will allow that property to hold some of those flood flows before they reach the city.  The acquisition also allows Chico-based River Partners to bring back the kind of native plants and animals that once lived in floodplains up and down the Valley. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Easing Stockton’s flood woes
  • State Food and Ag looks at groundwater issues:  Experts warn at day-long meeting that groundwater is being critically overdrawn:  ” … Potential remedies discussed ranged from empowering local water agencies to work collaboratively to develop local and regional groundwater solutions to protecting the Sierra Nevada snowpack through forest thinning to increase surface water. Several experts warned that climate change and diminishing snowpack in the Sierra Nevada could worsen groundwater overdraft due to increased unreliability of surface water supplies.  “It certainly appears that we have reached the tipping point for groundwater,” said Board President Craig McNamara. “My question would be: what should be our next steps?” … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  State Food and Ag Board Examines California’s Groundwater Challenges

  • Owens Valley Aqueduct Manager says Owens Valley hasn’t changed in 100 years:  When asked why he said that, DWP Manager Jim Yannotta said his statement was “more in line with how DWP has preserved the Owens Valley.”  ” … Yannotta said the Owens Valley is “preserved” and not developed. Not like Fresno or Lake Havasu, he said. The manager maintained that LA is working with Owens Valley on environmental issues. When asked about the number of disputes and disagreements over water and the environment, Yannotta said, “I don’t share those views. We do our obligations under the Water Agreement. We’ve done a good job of management,” he said, “and there is not adverse environmental damage.”  However, records show that Inyo County has disagreed with how LA sees things. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  Aqueduct Manager responds to statement that OV has not changed in 100 years
  • New EPA Report details water’s importance to our economy:  ” … Synthesizing recent studies on the topic, The Importance of Water to the U.S. Economy  report released this week finds that energy production, water supply and food production together account for over 94% of water withdrawals from the nation’s groundwater, streams, rivers, and lakes. This has created an energy-food-water nexus in which these sectors are interconnected. … ”  Read more from ACWA Water News here:  EPA Report Examines Water’s Importance to U.S. Economy

In columns and commentary today …

  • The Lompoc Record is skeptical of the Governor’s Water Action Plan:  ” … The idea is to get all water agencies on the same page, working together toward a common goal. Our experience with integrating government plans and ideas in California into a single document compels us to say — good luck with that.  The Water Action Plan contains generalized recommendations, including making communities less reliant on water imported from elsewhere, increasing ways to store storm runoff for future use, and getting Californians in the habit of using considerably less water than they use now.  Looking at those recommendations, you realize that, at the very least, these are plans that will meet stiff resistance, most likely including legal action to stop any such plan from being implemented. … ”  Continue reading the editorial at the Lompoc Record here:  Squeezing water out of a plan
  • Mike Wade of California Farm Water Coalition responds to Environmental Water Caucus commentary:  He takes issue with several points, including: ” … Claiming that California’s water resources are oversubscribed by a factor of five ignores the fact that water rights are issued for specific uses at specific places and time. That means water can be used at one place and time to generate power, and then a second time to irrigate a field of tomatoes and once again for washing clothes in a city or town. … ”  Read his full rebuttal here:  Guaranteeing water source
  • Fremont Valley Preservation Project just a water grab, says Lois Henry:  ” … I wrote about this mysterious company’s initial proposal last year when it was just a solar/water banking project.  That has now changed to include a “native groundwater” sales scheme that I believe will ultimately put Kern County water into Los Angeles taps and toilets.  And AquaHelio is hoping Kern County itself will help do the deed in exchange for a tempting prize, a cut of the water. … ”  Read Lois Henry’s column at the Bakersfield Californian here:  You like water mysteries? This one’s a doozy

Precipitation watch:

  • Chance of showers headed for Northern California on Monday …

Of note …

  • If you are in the Southern California area, the Los Angeles Aqueduct Cascades will be open to the public through the end of the week.  The hours are Thursday and Friday, 2013, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  This is a rare opportunity to see this facility!
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