Daily Digest, weekend edition: Plenty of BDCP news and commentary and more!

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 …

  • Tunnel protesters rally at the Capital on Friday:  “Hundreds of protesters rallied at the state Capitol on Friday, voicing their opposition to Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to build twin tunnels through the Sacramento Delta.  They came from across the state to deliver a message to Brown — they want to scuttle the twin tunnels. “It’s just a big water grab,” said Allison Cox, a Clarksburg resident. “And it’s going to destroy a lot of people’s lives out there.”  Read more from Channel 3 here:  Protester: Twin tunnels plan is ‘just a big water grab’  Also worth a look: This slideshow touring a Delta restoration project, also from Channel 3
  • The River News-Herald reports from Monday’s tunnel protest rally on the Capitol steps:  “The thermometer read right around the freezing level on the west steps of the California State Capital building on Monday afternoon, but the fire behind opponents of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and its proposed twin-tunnel water conveyance were burning at a controlled and concise volcano level.  As the 120-day public review period for the 34,000 page BDCP document is set to begin this Friday, the statewide coalition opposing Governor Jerry Brown’s water export tunnels (comprised of Restore the Delta, Food & Waterwatch, Environmental Water Caucus, AquaAlliance, Friends of the River, California Water Impact Network, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and Southern California Watershed Alliance) known as Californians for a Fair Water Policy kicked off their campaign that urges “No wasteful water projects, No tunnels!” … ”  Read more from the River News-Herald here:  Californians for a Fair Water Policy ignite statewide campaign to fight tunnels
  • Official public review period begins:  Find out where you can find the documents, how to submit your comments, details on the public meetings and more at the BDCP website here:  Draft BDCP and Associated Draft EIR/EIS Public Review and Comment Period Begins Today, 12/13/13
  • BDCP’s documents receive harsh criticism: To provide relevant, insightful and accurate public comment – the Bay Delta Conservation Plan’s (BDCP) release of the Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) will require more time than most have to spare.  The combined 34,000-page document’s public comment review period begins Friday, Dec. 13 and will continue until April 14, 2014. To read the entire document in that 120-day window would require an average reading schedule of 283 pages per day.  For the Delta Independent Science Board, Delta Protection Commission and regulatory agencies, members have expressed great concern for the lack of time to complete this arduous and laborious task. The Delta Counties Coalition, comprised of the five counties within the statutory Delta strongly opposed the release of the EIR/EIS Monday. … ”  Read more from the River News-Herald here:  BDCP’s EIR/EIS release receives harsh criticism

  • Garamendi and others assail BDCP:  “The Bay Delta Conservation Plan and its Environmental Impact Report and Statement are available for public review and comment.  Though the public comment period that opens Friday will last until April, some of those who have studied the plan, including officials from the Delta counties, already have expressed their distaste for the proposal — one even called the plan a “boondoggle.”  That description came from one of the plan’s most vocal critics, U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, D-Davis, who added this week, “This project still doesn’t create one gallon of new water, and it still doesn’t add one gallon of desperately needed storage for existing water,” he said.“The BDCP remains a bad deal for California. It’s time to stop the madness and fully consider alternatives.” … ”  Read more from the Benecia Herald here:  Officials assail draft Delta plan; public comment period to open
  • Money and environmental concerns could sink tunnel plan: The floodgates are open for public feedback on California’s plans for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Starting Friday, the Brown administration is accepting comments on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan – its effort to stem the decades-long battle over the hub of the state’s water supply.  State officials say the water supply for 25 million Californians from the Bay Area to San Diego is at stake, as is the health of the largest estuary on the West Coast.  “From my perspective, this is really our last shot for decades to come,” says Mark Cowin, director of the California Department of Water Resources. “And from what we know about the risks that the Delta faces, perhaps our last shot to save the Delta.” ... ”  Read more from KQED here:  Money, Environmental Concerns Could Sink Governor’s Delta Water Plan
  • Jerry Meral to retire:  The Fresno Bee confirms what regular Notebook readers already know:  “Jerry Meral, Gov. Jerry Brown’s top water official and a major figure in the controversial, $25 billion water project proposed by the governor, will retire at the end of the month, the Brown administration confirmed Saturday.  Meral, deputy secretary of the state’s Natural Resources Agency, told Brown of his retirement in a letter Monday – the same day the Brown administration released its latest environmental analysis of a plan to build two tunnels to divert water around the Delta to the south.  “While additional permits will be required,” Meral said in the letter, “it is virtually certain that the plan will be implemented.”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Top water official linked to tunnel plans to retire
  • More of Skagg’s Island land acquired for restoration:  “A large puzzle piece in the patchwork of North Bay marsh restoration sites fell into place Friday with the acquisition of a longtime hay farm at the northern end of Skaggs Island.  Following years of negotiations, the Sonoma Land Trust announced it had bought Haire Ranch, which will lead to the restoration of up to 4,400 acres of wetlands west of Vallejo.  “It’s our holiday gift to the public and to the fish and birds and the clean water,” said Wendy Eliot, land trust conservation director. ... ”  Read more from the Vallejo News-Herald here:  Vallejo: ‘Holy Grail’ of Bay Area wetlands plan acquired
  • Trial begins in San Diego County Water Authority – Metropolitan Water District lawsuit over water rates:  “For San Diego’s regional water agency, its largest supplier is also its biggest adversary.  A trial beginning Tuesday in San Francisco will test the San Diego County Water Authority’s claim that the region’s 3.1 million residents are subsidizing nearly all the rest of Southern California. Its lawsuit against the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California brings to a head a long-running dispute in the epic quest to bring water to parched terrain, and the outcome may affect the pocketbooks of 19 million people. … ”   Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  San Diego agency enters high-stakes water fight
  • “Grand challenge” envisions LA’s water as 100% local:  “In this installment of our coverage of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, Mark Gold — formerly of Heal the Bay and now assistant director of UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability — discusses a UCLA initiative to boost L.A.’s use of local water.  UCLA announced the initiative last month, whose goal is for L.A. “to use exclusively renewable energy and local water by 2050 while protecting biodiversity and enhancing quality of life.” ... ”  Read more from KPCC SoCal Public Radio here:  UCLA’s first ‘Grand Challenge’ envisions 100 percent local water supplies for LA
  • Contract awarded in Woodland-Davis supply project:  “CH2M HILL, a consulting, design, construction and operations firm, recently received a $141.2 million contract from the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency in California for the design, construction and long-term operation of a new surface water treatment system, largely helping to replace groundwater with treated surface water from the Sacramento River by 2016.  The decision by the joint powers authority, representing the cities of Woodland and Davis, Calif., culminated a nearly three-year competitive process. The contract cost about $10.3 million less than its original estimate — a 25-percent reduction. The contract will provide for improved water supply reliability and water quality and help the cities comply with increasingly strict state and federal water quality and wastewater discharge regulations, WDCWA officials say. ,,, ”  Read more from Water Online here:  Major DBO project to provide two CA cities with viable water supply
  • Coast Guard wants barges to ship fracking water:  “The U.S. Coast Guard wants to allow barges filled with fracking wastewater to ply the nation’s rivers on their way toward disposal. Many environmentalists are horrified, but industry groups say barge transport has its advantages. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Coast Guard wants barges to ship fracking water

In commentary this weekend …

  • The BDCP doesn’t prove the need for the tunnels, says the Merced Sun-Star:  “Despite the state’s 34,000-page draft environmental impact study, fundamental questions remain unanswered about the proposal to build two huge tunnels to divert water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to points south.  The basic financial framework, for example, remains unresolved. Yet to be determined is how the multibillion-dollar cost would be split among water agencies that would benefit, and the state and federal governments. What would be the role be of the Delta counties, such as San Joaquin and Sacramento? … ”  Read the full editorial here from the Merced Sun-Star: Our View: Study doesn’t prove need for two Delta water tunnels  Pretty much the same editorial is in the Modesto Bee here:  Our View: Bay Delta Conservation Plan doesn’t consider tunnel alternatives
  • BDCP appears unworkable, says the San Diego Union-Tribune: Simple fact: Nothing is more important to the economy of San Diego and all of California than a reliable supply of water. But the intensely controversial proposal of Gov. Jerry Brown to achieve greater reliability through environmental restoration of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta — the hub of California’s massive water system — and re-engineering of the delta’s intricate plumbing increasingly appears unworkable.  Brown’s plan has two central components. … ”  Read more here: Brown’s tunnel vision on state water plan
  • Don’t bury us under your 34,000 pages, says Mike Dunbar at the Modesto Bee:  “The 34,000-page Bay Delta Conservation Plan was released last week. If you printed it out and stacked it up, it’d be 11 feet tall.  As an old saying goes, if you can’t blind them with brilliance, then bury them in bull-something. Let’s call it bull-science.  That’s not to say that everything in this report is suspect. The overwhelming (and it is overwhelming) majority of this report, I’m sure, is based on solid research and (obviously) voluminous data. There’s no doubt the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and many of its native species, such as the longhorn fairy shrimp and the Delta mudwort and elderberry beetle are in danger. Something must be done. … ”  Read more of this commentary at the Modesto Bee here:   Mike Dunbar: Don’t try to bury us under your Bay Delta Conservation Plan
  • Twin tunnels convey promises, not water, says C-Win’s Carolee Krieger:  “There’s no way around it: Santa Barbara is on the State Water Project’s hook. The question is whether we willingly sink the steel deeper.  By now, most of us understand the essential details of our dilemma. In the 1990s, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) promoted construction of the Coastal Branch, an aqueduct designed to deliver water from the State Water Project to the Central Coast. Santa Barbara County took the bait. After all, it looked like a good deal. DWR promised the project would cost no more than $270 million and would deliver 97 percent of contacted water allotments. … ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Indpendent here: The Waterless State Water Solution
  • Congress should undo the Raker Act, say former superintendents of Yosemite National Park:  “2013 marks the centennial of a decision that allowed the destruction of one of America’s wilderness treasures: Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park.  On Dec. 19, 1913, President Woodrow Wilson signed the ill-conceived Raker Act, which turned the spectacular, glacier-carved valley into a mere “water tank,” in the words of naturalist John Muir.  As former superintendents of Yosemite, we call on Congress to amend this legislation to better reflect the best interests of the American people, drain Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and heal the greatest blemish in all our national parks. ... ”  Read the full commentary here:  Read more here:  Hetch Hetchy: Congress should undo the destructive Raker Act

Precipitation watch …

  • Dry spell to continue, says the California Weather Blog:  So is there any hope?  ” … Later in the week, though, a weak low will ride down the eastern side of the seemingly ever-present Northeast Pacific ridge, perhaps bringing a few showers but more likely initiating yet another offshore wind event. In any case, any precipitation (if any) would be extremely light.  Looking even farther ahead: it looks like the possible eastward eastward progression of the Madden-Julian Oscillation in the West Pacific has not transpired as was projected in the medium-term models, and West Coast weather has not become subsequently more active. Unfortunately, there is actually quite good model agreement on the overall pattern over the East Pacific through the end of the month: the huge ridge over the Eastern Pacific is expected to persist and perhaps grow even more, continuing the extraordinarily dry pattern over California but allowing for occasionally large swings in temperature as a very cold airmass over Canada is occasionally able to spill westward in weak or even slightly retrogressive (east to west) zonal flow. In short: California (and, in fact, much of the Pacific Coast region) is in for more of the same for the foreseeable future. … ”  Get it all from the California Weather Blog here:  The extraordinary California dry spell continues: 2013 will probably be the driest year on record

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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. 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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