Daily Digest: Precious water starts heading down canals, two natural disasters for Valley citrus growers, farmers turn to dowsers and more news and commentary …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, precious water starts heading down canals, two natural disasters this season for Valley citrus growers, farmers hiring dowsers to look for water, drought threatens ecosystems and widlife, El Nino may return this year, Metropolitan to tap storage in Lake Mead this year and more …

In the news today …

  • Precious water starts heading down canals:  “Today, irrigation canals will start flowing toward Oakdale, Escalon and Ripon. In the weeks to come, the Modesto, Turlock and Merced areas will follow.  In most years, the canals are strong with water that gets the crops through the heat of summer, much like blood carrying oxygen to a marathon runner’s muscles. This year, in many parts of the Northern San Joaquin Valley, they will struggle to the finish line. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Precious water starts heading down canals
  • For valley citrus growers, this season has two natural disasters:  “Grower Brent Doyel held up a shriveled minneola — evidence from the first of two natural disasters at his citrus orchards this season.  A killing freeze in December blasted his minneolas, which are sweet, juicy tangerine hybrids. Then, the second disaster struck. For most of December and January following the freeze, there was no rain.  Now in the grip of an epic dry season, Doyel and his trees face spring and summer with no water from the San Joaquin River — their only source for irrigation. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  For Valley citrus growers, this season has 2 natural disasters
  • Farmers hiring dowsers to find water:  “With California in the grips of drought, farmers throughout the state are using a mysterious and some say foolhardy tool for locating underground water: dowsers, or water witches.  Practitioners of dowsing use rudimentary tools — usually copper sticks or wooden “divining rods” that resemble large wishbones — and what they describe as a natural energy to find water or minerals hidden deep underground.  While both state and federal water scientists disapprove of dowsing, California “witchers” are busy as farmers seek to drill more groundwater wells due to the state’s record drought that persists despite recent rain. ... ”  Read more from the Salt Lake Tribune here:  Drought cure? California farmers hire dowsers
  • Drought threatens wildlife, ecosystems: California’s persistent drought threatens to take a heavy toll on the environment as well as the economy.  Welcome storms that just swept across the state will certainly provide some respite, but more are desperately needed. The latest snowpack readings are coming in at less than a third of normal and March is usually winter’s last gasp.  “The short-term impacts are obvious. But the real question is going to be what the longer term effects will be, especially for terrestrial wildlife. That depends on how long and how severe the drought becomes,” said Dan Yparraguirre, a biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Ultimately all species will be affected. It’s a matter of degree.” … ”  Read more from U-T San Diego here:  Drought threatens wildlife, ecosystems
  • El Nino may return later this year, experts say: El Niño, nature’s most powerful influence on weather around the globe, has been in a lull for two years. But indications suggest that could change as early as fall.  Since spring 2012, the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean has not warmed enough to create an El Niño. Nor has it cooled to form a La Niña. Instead, it has lingered in an in-between state some experts call “La Nada.”  Though it is too early to predict with much certainty, scientists say their observations and computer models show increasing signs of El Niño’s return, which might portend more rain for California. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  El Niño may return late this year, experts say
  • Metropolitan to tap water stored in Lake Mead:  “Punishing drought in California could force that state to make a sizable withdrawal from a virtual water bank in Lake Mead this year, even as the reservoir shrinks closer to an all-time low and an unprecedented shortage declaration.  California’s largest municipal water supply agency, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, took about 80,000 acre-feet from its water savings account in the lake last year. Now the agency is contemplating a withdrawal at least twice that size, enough to cause the surface of the massive reservoir to drop two feet and the shoreline to recede by as much as 60 feet.  “Things are so bad in California, unless it starts raining like crazy we are probably going to take another 150,000 to 200,000 acre-feet this year,” said Bill Hasencamp, Metropolitan’s manager of Colorado River resources. … ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Review-Journal here:  California will tap its water bank, even as Mead shrinks

More news and commentary in the Daily Digest, weekend edition …

In commentary today …

  • If LA’s the gauge, there doesn’t seem to be a drought, says Tom Steinstra:  “Nature turned on the spigot four weeks ago. That has given rise to statements like “Nice storm, but it really didn’t put much of a dent in the drought.”  Really? It depends on how you measure a “drought.” … ”  Read more here:  If L.A.’s the gauge, there doesn’t seem to be a drought
  • Water conservation’s other benefit: It’s a power saver, say Catherine Wolfram and David Zetland:  “California’s drought has everyone talking about ways to save water. Gov. Jerry Brown has implored residents to reduce their consumption by 20%. One writer suggested Angelenos share showers. A nonprofit is encouraging people not to waste even ice cubes that drop to the floor: Don’t toss them, says Save Our Water, use them to water plants.  Our conservation efforts, even the tiniest ones, have a second overlooked benefit: They also save energy. Water is essentially liquid energy. We don’t think about it that way. But every drop must be moved, treated and heated. Each step takes energy. In fact, 80% of the operating costs of a typical water utility are energy-related. … ”  Continue reading at the LA Times here:  Water conservation’s other benefit: It’s a power saver

WeatherPrecipitation watch …

  • More rain and snow today, but who’s complaining … !

For a look at the latest reservoir and hydrologic conditions ….

Today’s special feature on Maven’s Notebook …

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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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