Daily Digest: The latest on H.R. 3964, plus more drought news, and rain is on the way

Daily DigestGovernor Brown says GOP proposal is ‘unwelcome and intrusive’, Republicans seek changes to Endangered Species Act, San Joaquin River restoration flows cut, hydropower production affected by drought, what happens when a town runs out of water, Tulare County farmers prepare for no water from Friant, drought and water bonds loom large at PCL symposium, plus webcasts, commentary, and rain on the way!

Today on webcasts (and other places) …

  • Expect news out of Washington today:  The USDA will be announcing assistance for farmers this morning, and H.R. 3964 will be before the House Rules Committee.  Surely, the Rules Committee meeting will be webcast, although I haven’t tracked down where exactly yet, but if you’re interested in watching, email me and I’ll send you the link once I have it. Meanwhile, click here to read the bill language and submitted amendments.  And check back here for announcements and other breaking news!  (Daily email subscribers will be notified of any breaking developments in a special email alert.)
  • State Water Resources Control Board will meet this morning beginning at 9amClick here for the agenda, click here for the webcast.

In the news today …

  • Governor Brown says GOP proposal is”unwelcome and intrusive”:  “Gov. Jerry Brown said Monday that a Republican effort in Congress to address California’s unprecedented drought is an “unwelcome and divisive intrusion” in the state’s efforts to address the crisis by pitting water users against one another.  Brown, a Democrat, sent a letter Monday to leadership of the House Committee on Natural Resources and California’s entire congressional delegation asking them to oppose HR3964, which is scheduled to be taken up this week. … ” Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here:  Brown calls congressional drought bill ‘divisive’  See also:  California governor pans Republican water plan in face of drought, from Reuters

  • Republicans seek changes to Endangered Species Act:  “Republicans in Congress on Tuesday called for an overhaul to the Endangered Species Act to curtail environmentalists’ lawsuits and give more power to states, but experts say broad changes to one of the nation’s cornerstone environmental laws are unlikely given the pervasive partisan divide in Washington, D.C.  A group of 13 GOP lawmakers representing states across the U.S. released a report proposing “targeted reforms” for the 40-year-old federal law, which protects imperiled plants and animals. … ”  Read more here:  APNewsBreak: Changes sought for endangered act
  • San Joaquin River restoration flows cut:  “Federal authorities are shutting down water releases for the San Joaquin River restoration, making the water available for 30,000 people in small communities who face the possibility of summer with dry taps.  The restoration releases, which began in 2009, won’t resume until at least March 2015, according to the federal Bureau of Reclamation, owner and operator of Friant Dam at Millerton Lake. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  San Joaquin River restoration flow stopped early to save water
  • Drought cuts hydropower production: Never mind the restrictions on watering your lawn. The drought is drying up California’s supply of hydroelectricity, prompting SMUD and other utilities around the state to scramble.  With summer’s peak electricity demand season looming, officials who oversee California’s power supply say they don’t expect blackouts but are getting nervous about the meager snowpack. Few states rely on hydro as much as California, where water accounts for about 15 percent of the total power supply in a normal year. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Drought cuts into state’s hydro power supplies
  • Drought and water bond looms large at Planning & Conservation League symposium:  “There may be no more reliable indicator of where the state’s political conversation is headed—or what the hottest topics in Sacramento will be in the year ahead—than the Planning and Conservation League’s annual symposium, an event that has served as the starting point in recent years for a series of statewide conversations on issues ranging from reforming CEQA to regulating fracking.  As California begins to face up to its next big challenge—what may be the state’s worst drought in 500 years—there may also be no better, more deserved time for a group of environmental leaders that have spent the last four decades pushing for water conservation and responsible environmental policy to say “I told you so.”  To their credit, this doesn’t seem to have occurred to many of the several hundred environmental attorneys, land-use planners, and nonprofit advocates who gathered here this weekend for a meeting on how to build a more sustainable water future for the state. … ”  Read more from the California Economic Summit here:  California drought and water bonds loom large at environmental meeting
  • What happens when a town runs out of water:  “Lompico, California, is running out of water. The idyllic community of around 1,200 is tucked into a canyon in the Santa Cruz mountains, where majestic redwoods are common features of people’s backyards. Last week, Lompico appeared on a list of 17 rural districts that the state says may completely deplete their water supply in 60 to 120 days. “As the drought goes on, there will be more that probably show up on the list,” Dave Mazzera, acting drinking-water division chief for the state Department of Public Health, told reporters. … ”  Read more from Newsweek here:  What happens when a town runs out of water
  • Tulare County farmers prepare for no water from Friant:  “Some time in the next two or three weeks, Tulare’s Mark Watte and other farmers who normally depend on water from the Friant-Kern Canal will find out how much they’ll be allocated this year.  But considering the Valley and the rest of California is embroiled in the worst drought ever recorded in the state, Watte isn’t expecting good news. He grows cotton, alfalfa, wheat, corn, pistachios and black-eyed peas west of Tulare. … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Tulare County farmers prepare for no water from Friant Water Authority
  • Science and California’s drought:  The California Academy of Sciences looks behind the drought headlines:  “However welcome the change in weather, the bit of rain and snow we received last week does little to affect the drought status and state of emergency in effect for California.  “This could potentially be the driest water year in 500 years,” says Lynn Ingram, a professor at UC Berkeley. Ingram, an Academy fellow and co-author of The West Without Water: What Past Floods, Droughts, and Other Climatic Clues Tell Us About Tomorrow, was featured last fall in our video about Atmospheric Rivers. And she knows her droughts. As a paleoclimatologist—a scientist who studies changes in climate by teasing data out of rocks, sediments, shells, microfossils, trees, and other sources—she’s accustomed to looking deeply into Earth’s past. … ”  Read more from the California Academy of Sciences here:  California’s Drought

In commentary today …

  • Congressman McCarthy should whip a new water deal into shape, says the Sacramento Bee:  “In this severe drought, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy wants to “ensure any water that does move down the Sacramento River ultimately flows to Kern County and Central California.”  The Bakersfield Republican ought to use his clout and ability to help craft a statewide solution. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Editorial: McCarthy should whip a new water deal into shape
  • House bill is just another water grab, says Congressmembers Thompson and Matsui:  “California has an innovative history. We solve big problems and the results have ripple effects all over the world. But when it comes to water policy, we’re unable to make progress.  Unfortunately, the latest proposal made by some California members of Congress makes progress even more difficult. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Viewpoints:  House emergency bill is just another water grab
  • Dan Walters:  Drought complicating water politics:  “A crisis, it’s been said, is a terrible thing to waste.  Economist Paul Romer originated the aphorism a decade ago, but it’s since entered the political lexicon.  California is facing a water crisis, the third – and by far the worst – year of drought, with the all-important Sierra snowpack just 12 percent of normal and man-made reservoirs drawn down to historically low levels. … ”  Read more from Dan Walters here:  Dan Walters: Drought complicates already dicey water politics

weatherPrecipitation watch …

  • From the National Weather Service:  “A cold low pressure system will bring some showers to the area Wednesday night through Friday, with snow levels likely in the foothills. A wetter system will likely arrive over the 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
California water news. I can’t help it. It’s just what I do.

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