Daily Digest: Impressive storm drops plenty of rain, Folsom Lake rises, and more drought news and commentary

Daily DigestIn California water news today, impressive storm drops plenty of rain on Northern California, Folsom Lake rises 6 feet (or 2 feet), snow and rain bring modest relief but is it enough, Uh oh … looks like the new Bay Bridge leaks, farm jobs dry up, southern California sprawl, drought good for gold prospectors, new floodgates for Folsom Dam, Stockton’s debate over water meters continues, and in Pajaro, drought is not the only water challenge

In the news today …

  • Impressive storm drops plenty of rain on Northern California:  “A significant weekend storm disrupted plans across the Northwest U.S., blanketing parts of Washington state with snow while socking Oregon and California with rain.  The National Weather Service says the first significant storm to hit Northern California in 14 months has produced impressive amounts of rain and snow, but forecasters cautioned Sunday that it would take weeks of similar drenching to end the state’s immediate drought worries.  “This event, while it certainly isn’t going to take us out of the drought, we couldn’t have asked for a better storm,” said meteorologist Scott McGuire in Reno. “We are seeing very, very impressive rainfall and snowfall amounts.” … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  ‘Impressive’ Storm Dumps Plenty Of Rain, Need Weeks More For Drought End
  • Folsom Lake rises 6 feetOr 2 feet.  The title says one thing, the story text says another.  From the Sacramento Bee:  “Folsom Lake has risen 6 feet but state water officials say the storm hitting Northern California has done little to ease a severe drought.  “It has gone up a bit, but it’s certainly not anything to dance in the rain about,” said Doug Carlson, spokesman for the California Department of Water Resources. “We still have a long ways to go before we’re anywhere close to normal. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Sacramento rainfall record for date set; Folsom Lake rises over 2 feet  Or 8 feet, according to KCRA:  Water officials: Folsom Lake rises 8 feet in a day
  • Current Reservoir Conditions:  Check out the latest reservoir and water conditions in this post, which does include a graph of Folsom Reservoir levels here:  Reservoir and water conditions for February 10: Storm brings some improvement

  • Snow and rains bring modest relief – is it enough?  Of course, savvy Notebook readers already know the answer is “NO”:  “Rain and snow was sweeping across parts of the thirsty West for a third day Sunday, but experts say it will take much more wet weather for the region to catch up after months of drought. … ”  Read more from USA Today here:  Snow, rains bring modest relief to West.  See also: Is It Enough Rain For Drought-Stricken California?
  • Uh oh, looks like the new Bay Bridge leaks:  “The just-opened eastern span of the Bay Bridge, already beset by questions about flawed welds and cracked steel rods, has a new problem: It leaks.  Rainwater is dripping into the steel structure beneath the road deck on the suspension stretch of the span, which is supposed to be watertight, Caltrans said. Outside experts say that could pose a risk of corrosion on a bridge that cost $6.4 billion and is supposed to last well into the 22nd century. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Bay Bridge’s new problem: leaks
  • Farm jobs dry up in the Central Valley:  “With water supplies at record lows, Central Valley farm workers are bracing for a season without work.  Planting has hardly begun in California’s Central Valley. But farm workers already fear the state’s extreme drought conditions are a forecast for hard times ahead.   … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Farm jobs dry up in the Central Valley
  • Q&A: South-state sprawl isn’t drought’s biggest culprit:  The Merced Sun-Star looks at some of the questions coming up at the Sacramento Bee’s daily drought question.  Read more here:  Q&A: South-state sprawl isn’t drought’s biggest culprit
  • Drought good for gold prospectors:  ” …Consider this the golden lining of California’s . The Golden State is getting some much needed rain this weekend. In many parts of the state, it’s the first rain of the year. The drought is bad for most people, but for others, it’s an opportunity. Curt Timmons, another gold prospector and the owner of the shop Little Digger Mining and Supply in nearby Baldwin Hills, has been walking the riverbanks of the San Gabriel his whole life.  “Yeah, it’s good for the gold prospectors. They love it because they can get down to that bedrock without using any scuba equipment,” he says. “Normally it’d be about 6 feet over your head. And now it’s so low, it’d probably be up to your knees in depth, if that.” … ”  Read more from NPR here:  Prospectors See A Golden Lining In California’s Drought
  • New floodgates soon to arrive at Folsom Dam: After six years of construction, a momentous event is expected later this month at the new flood-control spillway being built at Folsom Dam: The steel flood-control gates – the mechanical heart of the project – will begin to arrive for installation.  This event will be hard to miss, because the gates are so large that 600 miles of roadway between Folsom and Portland, Ore., will have to be closed – in legs – as they make their way south. The journey will require 18 separate shipments. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Giant new floodgates soon to arrive at Folsom Dam
  • In Stockton, debate continues over water meters:  “Like many of us, Dennis Fercho pays the monthly water bill without studying it in great detail.  Sometimes it’s high, and sometimes it’s low, depending on how much water his family uses. Either way, it’s got to be paid.  What the 47-year-old Fercho never realized was that most of the people who live on his north Stockton street – including the neighbors just a couple of doors down – pay a flat rate for water. They could flood their lawns 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and they wouldn’t pay a nickel more.  “That’s not fair,” Fercho said. “Why should I pay more for water than the guy down the street?” … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Running debate over water meters
  • In Pajaro, drought is not the only challenge:  ” …So far, the drought’s impact in the Pajaro Valley has been limited. Watsonville’s wetlands have all but dried up, and the city experienced an unusually high number of brush fires in January. But the region and its economic powerhouse, agriculture, depend almost exclusively on groundwater. That reliance on the underground storage rather than surface water has provided a steady supply of water to consumers, including farmers who use more than 80 percent of Pajaro Valley water. But for decades more water has been pumped from aquifers than is recharged by annual rain. As freshwater levels fall, saltwater is moving in to take its place along the coast, contamination that’s creeping inland and tends to worsen with drought. … ”  In Pajaro, water challenges go deeper than drought

In news and commentary this weekend …

In commentary today …

  • South San Joaquin Irrigation District steps up to sell water to Tuolomne County:  “Jeff Shields says he’s going to sleep well tonight. Thanks to him, and the people who live in the South San Joaquin Irrigation District, about 44,000 Tuolumne County residents should sleep a little better, too.  Shields, the general manager of SSJID, and members of his board were moved by reporting in Wednesday’s Modesto Bee about the water crisis in Tuolumne County. … ”  Continue reading from the Modesto Bee here:  Our View: South San Joaquin Irrigation District works to sell water to Tuolumne County
  • House Republicans muddy the California water crisis, says the Washington Post:  “California saw a bit of relief from its extreme drought this past weekend, when big storms dumped rain on the parched state. But it appears that California won’t be spared from another threat — Washington politicians talking foolishly about the water crisis or, worse, meddling in the state’s efforts to cope.  A week ago, Denis McDonough, President Obama’s chief of staff, sought to connect the drought to global warming. “California,” he said, “is now seeing some pretty serious developments as a result of climate change.” The White House hasn’t pushed this point since, and it has good reason not to: Scientists haven’t yet found any apparent climate change connection to this particular event. … ”  Continue reading this editorial here: House Republicans muddy California’s water crisis
  • The Dust Bowl returns: Every Saturday in late December and January, as reports of brutal temperatures and historic snowfalls streamed in from family in Vermont, New York and even southern Louisiana, we made weekly pilgrimages to our local beer garden to enjoy craft brews and unseasonably warm afternoons.  Normal winters here in Fresno, in the heart of California’s Central Valley, bring average highs in the 50s, steady periods of rain and drizzle, and the dense, bone-chilling Tule fog that can blanket the valley for days and even weeks on end.  But not this year. Instead, early 2014 gave us cloudless skies and midday temperatures in the 70s. By the end of January, it seemed like April, with spring trees in full bloom. … ”  Continue reading this commentary at the New York Times here:  The Dust Bowl Returns
  • Paperwork for thirsty water districts, but no solutions:  “In the torrent of drought news engulfing us daily, I recently saw a bit that struck a chord. Seventeen rural water districts throughout the state will likely run out of water in the next two to four months. … ” Read more from Lois Henry at the Bakersfield Californian here:  Paperwork for thirsty districts, but no solutions
  • Those Fracking Tunnels:  ““Will water pumped from the Delta be used for fracking in the Central Valley?”—a troubling question that appears in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) weekly forum, “Your Questions Answered.”  The answer is “yes.” According to the plan, fracking is a “reasonable, beneficial use” of water. While New York State imposed a moratorium on fracking (at least to 2015), Governor Jerry Brown — applauded by the Western States Petroleum Association — signed legislation that facilitates the fracking boom in California. Brown has already received $2.5 million from oil and gas interests, like Exxon and Occidental Petroleum, in the state. … ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here:  Those Fracking Tunnels

Precipitation watch …

  • From the National Weather Service:  “Another round of precipitation will continue for northern California through early to mid-day Monday. Some showers could be heavy at times, so watch for rapidly changing conditions and never drive into flood waters.”


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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.

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