Daily Digest, weekend edition: BDCP news and commentary, drought and the California Water Atlas, plus chances of precip increasing

News and commentary from the mainstream press, plus weather, webcasts, events and more …
Everything you need to know about what’s going on in the world of water today!

Daily DigestIn the news this weekend …

  • Contra Costa residents concern over the BDCP is rising:As the state prepares to unveil key environmental documents for Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to build two large tunnels to move Sacramento River water south, dozens of concerned East Contra Costans were brought up to speed last week on how it could impact their Delta backyard.  The governor’s $24.7 billion plan is widely opposed around the Delta communities, as opponents say the tunnels would reduce fresh water flows, endanger local fish and other habitat and put a sizable financial dent in local agriculture. … ”  Read more from the Contra Costa Times here: Contra Costa: Residents’ concern grows over Delta tunnels plan
  • California’s Record Driest Year?: “The first 10 months of 2013 have been the driest such period on record in California, dating to 1895, according to the National Climatic Data Center.  Compare the rainfall so far in 2013 with the average-to-date totals through November 14 in the interactive graphic below, and you’ll see what we mean. Some locations are running over 20-inch precipitation deficits for the year, so far. … ”  Read more from the Weather Channel here:  California’s Record Driest Year?

  • Laird told small towns need help during drought:  Laird came to talk BDCP with the Latino Water Coalition, but that wasn’t all that was on the Coalition’s mind:  ” … the Latino Water Coalition seemed just as interested in the short term, meaning next year. What if there is a dry winter? People in small west San Joaquin Valley towns could suffer as they did in a dry 2009, members said. In west-side cities with high unemployment, food lines are not unusual. But the lines were much longer in 2009. The coalition said nobody in state government prepared for the problem. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee News Blog here:  State resources leader told people in small towns need help during drought
  • New California Water Atlas highlighted in AP article:  ” … Access to data about groundwater levels, pollutants and who owns the rights to siphon water from rivers and aquifers is available through government websites, but the information is often obscured by outdated or ineffective technology.  Now a group of self-described “nature nerds” made up of database experts, academics and conservationists are trying to bring meaning to the state’s mass of water data. The effort is called The New California Water Atlas, and will use interactive maps powered by government data that are currently publicly available, but hard to synthesize. … ”  Read more from the Daily Journal here: New interactive California water atlas seeks to clarify state’s complicated water systems
  • Delta Protection Commission’s Advisory Committee scrambles to reorganize and prepare for BDCP:  There’s a lot to do in the coming months regarding responding to the new flood insurance requirements plus comment on the BDCP’s EIR, but first things first:  ” … The DPAC hasn’t met in two years, has lost numerous participants and the entity’s Charter is outdated. Tuesday’s meeting was an attempt to gain a direction for the committee, and to set the table for the upcoming months. Discussion revolved mostly around DPAC’s charter, which will have to be updated before the next meeting in December. “There is a lot of work to be done on the Charter,” said Melinda Terry, General Manager of the North Delta Water Agency. “There are a lot of missing categories here.” … ”  Read more from the River News Herald here:  Delta Protection Commission Advisory Committee gets back in the swing
  • Fracking fears in the Valley:  Oil companies are exploring the vast Monterey Shale underlying the parts of the Central Valley: ” … The estimated amount of oil —15 billion barrels — and the potential economic benefit — up to 195,000 jobs, by one estimate — has grabbed everybody’s attention.  Oil companies are drilling more test wells to see if large-scale production is possible (the jury is still out on that). Local politicians are drooling over the possibility of ending the Valley’s chronically high unemployment. Environmental groups worry about what such large-scale oil production would mean for an area that already suffers from badly polluted air, contaminated well water and other environmental negatives. … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here:  Fracking raises fears — and hopes — of oil boom  Another fracking story:  $60,000 penalty for fracking fluid in unlined Kern County pit

In commentary this weekend …

  • Sustainable solutions, not tunnels, are needed for Delta:  The BDCP is not the answer; the real issue is California’s water is oversubscribed, says San Joaquin County Supervisor Ken Vogel: ” … There are a number of things that we should be considering in place of the BDCP.  What if we reactivate historical floodplains to lessen flood peaks, enhance wildlife habitat, and replenish depleted groundwater basins? What if we build new reservoirs to increase flood control and water storage potentials? What if we recycled or desalted as much water as possible?  As communities throughout California struggle to find reliable water supplies, sustainability must be a priority to ensure California’s prosperity. Rather than reallocating water shortages, we should examine ways to sustainably create new water locally and regionally. … ”  Read the full commentary at the Stockton Record here: There’s a better way
  • Who will pay for the tunnels, questions the Fresno/Sacramento Bee:  ” … Previously, the project was expected to generate 5.3 million acre-feet of water in an average year — more than contractors have been receiving recently under biological opinions.  But because such exports would reduce outflow in the Delta, further harming threatened fisheries and raising the ire of environmental regulators, that number has been scaled back to 4.8 million acre-feet.  This is still a huge volume of water — enough to supply nearly 10 million homes or irrigate 4.8 million acres of farmland with a foot of water for a year. But it also is roughly what contractors have been receiving in recent years. … ”  Will it be worth the investment?  Read the full editorial from the Fresno Bee here:  Editorial: Who will pay for water plan?  or very similar editorial from Sacramento Bee here:  Big obstacle for tunnel project: Who will pay?
  • Water problems causing difficulty with farm loans:  Leonard Van Elderen of Yosemite Farm Credit discusses the what water problems mean for farmers getting necessary loans: ” … For now, the lending environment for agriculture is relatively strong. Farmland continues to possess considerable value. Land prices are rising. But the emerging concerns about water – both in their sheer number and their serious nature – seem of greater long-term concern than ever before.  Lenders certainly don’t have all the water solutions for California. But we don’t want to wake up to a problem where land loses value and the financial ability to farm begins to dry up. … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here:  Leonard Van Elderen: Water is the value that runs farming

weatherPrecipitation watch …

  • Things are looking up, according to the National Weather Service:  “Expect variable cloudiness and cooler temperatures today and Monday. A more significant change will occur early next week as the broad trough will tap into a subtropical moisture fetch. Widespread precipitation across the region will actually bring rain to most of the valley with snow potentially only impacting the Sierra Nevada passes. The greatest threat should be Tuesday into Wednesday.

About the Daily Digest: The Daily Digest is a collection of selected news articles, commentaries and editorials appearing in the mainstream press. Articles are generally selected to follow the focus of the Notebook blog. Articles behind paywalls are not included, because if I can’t see them, I figure you can’t, so I don’t want to waste your time. (If I send you to something you cannot access, please do let me know! Email Maven)

The Daily Digest is published every weekday with a weekend edition posting on Sundays.

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