Daily Digest: GOP bill would boost Delta pumping and suspend San Joaquin River Restoration and more drought news and commentary, plus what’s on webcast today

Daily DigestGOP drought bill would boost Delta pumping and suspend San Joaquin River Restoration, SWP and CVP to combine during the drought, Governor Brown to talk drought in today’s speech, scientists puzzled by ridge, Stockton residents turn out for BDCP meeting, Matsui introduces levee bill, plus Dan Walters says Governor is taking ownership of drought, Thomas Elias says expect changes due to drought, and fracking during drought is crazy says another commentary, plus nudity and other conservation tips

Today on webcast …

  • Tune in for the State Water Resources Control Board public workshop on its draft Groundwater Workplan Concept Paper beginning at 9:00 a.m. For the Groundwater Workplan Concept Paper and additional reference information, click here: State Water Board Groundwater Page.  View the webcast here:  Webcast Page
  • The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA)  will be holding a public meeting on California’s climate adaptation strategy on  from 9:00 to 12:30.  The CNRA is holding this meeting to receive input on the draft Safeguarding California: Reducing Climate Risk – an update to 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy. This meeting is a public forum to provide input into updating the state’s plan for preparing for climate risks. The meeting is open to the public and full participation by all parties is encouraged. The broadcast can be accessed here: Climate Change Adaptation Webcast 
  • The Governor’s speech will be covered live on the California Channel beginning at 9AM.

In the news today …

  • GOP drought bill would boost Delta pumping, suspend San Joaquin River restoration: Three San Joaquin Valley Republican congressmen will join House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday in Bakersfield, where they will announce emergency drought legislation intended to bring more water to the region.  If approved, the bill would allow the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta pumps to operate as long as water is available, said Rep. Devin Nunes, a Tulare Republican who will be in Bakersfield on Wednesday.  It would also stop the San Joaquin River restoration, said Nunes, who has been a critic of the restoration in the past. The restoration’s goal is to reconnect the river with the Pacific Ocean and reintroduce salmon runs.  Both legislative actions would remain in effect until summer 2015, Nunes said. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  GOP drought bill: Boost Delta pumping, stop San Joaquin River restoration  and be sure to check back in at the Notebook blog as I’ll be watching and will post any developments as they occur …

  • State Water Project and Central Valley Project to combine during drought: The Governor’s drought declaration allows the two projects to consolidate operations in order two streamline operations: ” … the temporary consolidation of the two enormous water networks — 80 percent of Californians get at least some of their drinking water from the SWP  and the CVP serves much of the farm belt — raised concerns and prompted discussions among water districts, environmentalists, farmers and lawmakers. The issue in the north is uncertainty about how the water would be distributed, whether environmental safeguards will be suspended and whether there would be a shift of priorities to move more water south. In the south it is equally basic: How much water will be available?  How ever the alliance plays out, the arrangement will be temporary. … ”  Read more from Capitol Weekly here:  Drought: The behemoths combine
  • Governor Brown expected to address drought in State of the State address today:  “California Governor Jerry Brown, in his state of the state speech on Wednesday, is expected to address problems of drought and economic recovery while continuing to call on fellow Democrats to embrace fiscal restraint. … ”  Read more from KPCC here:  California governor seen addressing drought, economy in speech  You can watch the Governor’s speech live at 9AM on Cal Channel.
  • Scientists ‘puzzled’ by Ridiculously Resilient Ridge: The Christian Science Monitor explores the unusually dry conditions:  ” … The unseasonal balmy but dry weather is the result of an equally unprecedented high pressure ridge lurking offshore and blocking the typical winter storms needed to drop precipitation all along the West Coast.  This ridge has persisted for 13 months and the longer it lingers, the less likely it is to leave, points out climatologist Brian Fuchs, from the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. This high pressure ridge system is feeding on itself, “creating a sort of perfect environment for perpetuating the dry conditions” it creates, he says.  High-pressure systems are not uncommon, but it is abnormal for them to hang around uninterrupted for so long. “This makes it even harder as winter storms approach for them to break through and change that pattern,” he adds. … ”  Read more here:  California drought: Scientists puzzled by persistence of blocking ‘ridge’ (+video)  Meanwhile, scientists will be looking into the link between the drought and climate change.
  • More drought news Irrigation officials discuss ‘dire’ drought, drought brings out the crooks, Sacramento likely to break record for most days in a row without rain, and the City of Sacramento says water meters will not be used to penalize water wasters
  • Stockton residents turn out for BDCP public meeting:  “At times, there were more government employees and consultants in the room than there were members of the public.  Still, more than 100 citizens turned out in Stockton on Tuesday evening to ask questions – or, as some might put it, demand answers – of the experts who are writing Gov. Jerry Brown’s controversial, $24.7 billion twin tunnels plan. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Residents have say on Delta planMat
  • Matsui introduces bill to preserve trees on levees:  “A bill introduced today by Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, would require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to create regional policies to manage trees on flood-control levees.  Dubbed the Levee Vegetation Review Act, the bill is cosponsored by 26 other members of the California Congressional delegation, including John Garamendi and Ami Bera, both Democrats from the Sacramento region. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Matsui introduces bill to protect trees on levees

In commentary today …

  • Governor Brown taking political ownership of the drought, says Dan Walters:  ” … Having issued the declaration, Brown now owns the drought politically, and while he needn’t necessarily worry about its affecting his all-but-certain re-election bid this year, the situation complicates his policy agenda.  It comes as Brown is attempting to clear the way for what he hopes will be a landmark accomplishment, the construction of twin tunnels to carry Sacramento River water to the head of the California Aqueduct, thus completing the state water project that his father began more than a half-century ago. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Dan Walters: Jerry Brown assumes political ownership of drought
  • Record drought sure to bring changes, says Thomas Elias:  ” … It shapes up as an unmitigated disaster, one that some call as catastrophic as a major earthquake. This is a bigger problem than any wildfire, because it has the potential to cause multiple massive blazes. Some analyses indicate the ongoing drought was one major reason the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park burned so widely last summer. The state had gotten a record-low 4.58 inches of precipitation from January to June of last year, and then a major July heat wave added to tinderbox conditions sustaining that wildfire, the 14th most damaging in United States history.   So far, this drought has produced no major changes in state policy and practices, although some cities are already telling restaurants to serve water only on request, a 1970s-era tactic. But if past is prologue, as historians often tell us, we can count on bigger changes. … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel:  California Focus: Record drought sure to bring changes
  • Nudity and other water-saving tips:  Patt Morrison at the LA Times thinks conservation should be mandatory: ” …  This bugs me about Brown’s news conference Friday announcing the state of emergency: He called on all of us to cut back our water use “at least 20%” but also said it would be “voluntary.” Not mandatory.  Maybe he’s keeping mandatory on his emergency options list if things get worse, and that his subliminal message is really “volunteer — before we draft you.” But things seem pretty dire already.  Don’t for a second fool yourself into thinking this doesn’t matter. A harrowing drought in Civil War-era California destroyed the state’s cattle-based economy, and when the cattle died, it killed off the grand, seigneurial California rancho lifestyle. Such an upending could happen again. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Nudity and other water-saving tips for California’s epochal drought
  • Fracking during a drought is crazy:  The Governor’s drought procalamation left out one thing, says Robert Gammon in this commentary:  ” … According to estimates by the environmental group Oil Change International, which closely monitors fracking nationwide, there soon could be thousands of fracking wells in the state. Oil and gas companies are intensely interested in exploiting California’s Monterey Shale deposit, which holds an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil that can only be accessed through fracking. Getting that oil will cost California billions — perhaps tens of billions of gallons — of water.  And yet Brown has not announced any plans to curtail fracking during the drought. “It seems kind of crazy to be asking Californians to be conscious of their water usage at a time when oil companies can apparently use as much as they wish,” said David Turnbull of Oil Change International. … ”  Read more from the East Bay Express here:  Fracking During a Drought Is Crazy

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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