Daily Digest: Central Valley farmland on last legs, Congress focusing on dams, plus Greg Gartrell on where the water went and groundwater on webcast today

Daily DigestIn California water news today, Central Valley farmland on its last legs; Congress focuses on dams amid drought; Experts call for long view on California drought rules; Storms return to Sacramento, but no “March Miracle”; Roseville declares mandatory conservation; and farmers prepare for groundwater testing rules plus Greg Gartrell on where did all that water go?

On webcast today …

  • California Water Action Plan: Groundwater Workshop: The California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal EPA), California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA), the California Department of Food and Agriculture
    (CDFA), and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR), are holding a public workshop today beginning at 9AM to receive public input and discuss potential legislative solutions to promote sustainable groundwater management in California. Click here for the agendaClick here for the webcast.

In the news today …

  • Central Valley farmland on its last legs:  “Even before the drought, the southern San Joaquin Valley was in big trouble.  Decades of irrigation have leached salts and toxic minerals from the soil that have nowhere to go, threatening crops and wildlife. Aquifers are being drained at an alarming pace. More than 95 percent of the area’s native habitat has been destroyed by cultivation or urban expansion, leaving more endangered bird, mammal and other species in the southern San Joaquin than anywhere in the continental U.S. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  California drought: Central Valley farmland on its last legs
  • Congress focuses on dams amid drought:  “California’s drought has sparked a new push by federal lawmakers to create or expand a handful of reservoirs around the state, ramping up a political battle that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger once referred to as a “holy war in some ways.”  Government agencies have been studying five major water storage projects for nearly two decades, with nothing to show for the effort so far.  Meanwhile, the state’s water problems have only grown worse. … ”  Read more from ABC News here:  Congress Focuses on Dams Amid California’s Drought
  • Experts call for long view on California drought rules:  “April 1, 2014, was to be the day that mandatory water rationing would begin in Marin County’s largest water district, following a 2013 that “proved to be the driest year in 135 years,” according to General Manager Krishna Kumar.  In a region heavily dependent on rainwater runoff, officials at the Marin Municipal Water District were starting to draw comparisons to the most intense drought in recent memory, a two-year period from 1976 to 1977. The region had seen no rain since December of 2012, and planned to ratchet up its mandated rationing if those conditions were to continue. … ” Read more from the North Bay Journal here:  Experts call for long view on California’s drought woes
  • Storms return to Sacramento, but no “March Miracle”: “Rain and snow will return to Northern California this week, but there will be no drenching “March miracle” this year.  “It’s a fairly decent system trailing subtropical moisture, but it won’t end the drought,” said Chris Hintz, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.  “Most of the rain will be on Tuesday and Wednesday, with higher amounts of rainfall and snow on Wednesday. .. ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Storms coming to Sacramento metro area, but no March Miracle for drought
  • Roseville declares mandatory conservation:  “Roseville city officials are expected to call for water cutbacks today, but the announcement comes with little teeth.  The city will ask customers to reduce water use by 20 percent, but it will not impose a surcharge or penalty on residents who do not meet that target. Despite a lack of strict enforcement, the city is calling the reduction “mandatory.” ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Roseville declares mandatory conservation, but measures lack teeth
  • Farmers prepare for groundwater testing rules: “In the coming months, farmers in Tulare County and other parts of the Valley will begin monitoring their groundwater for fertilizers, pesticides and other contaminants.  On top of that, some may also have to come up with better ways to irrigate and apply their farming chemicals, which could add additional costs beyond those to test their groundwater.  In recent weeks, farmers who irrigate their land have been learning about these requirements at a series of seminars detailing these additions to California’s Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program. … “  Read more from the VIsalia Times-Delta here:  Farmers prepare for groundwater testing rules

Plenty more news and commentary in the Daily Digest, weekend edition …

In commentary today …

  • Greg Gartrell on where did all that water go?  Greg Gartrell writes in the California Water Blog (in a commentary worthy of the mainstream press, which is why I am including it here):  “Various water interests lately have been blaming operators of California’s state and federal water projects for worsening this year’s drought. The claims appearing in news stories run along these lines:  They exported far more water than they said they would; They drained Northern California reservoirs to fill Southern California reservoirs;They should have held water in storage last year so they would have enough this year to a) meet water quality requirements, b) protect the environment, c) meet senior water rights, d) any combination of the above.  Comments such as these are fueling public mistrust of water project operators – the state Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) – and that mistrust is thwarting the collaboration we need to get through the epic drought today. … ”  Continue reading at the California Water Blog here:  Where did all that water go? Some dry numbers on today’s drought

Check out the latest reservoir and water conditions …

weatherPrecipitation watch …

  • Rain tomorrow:  From the National Weather Service:  After a period of warm, dry weather, a series of cool storms arrive starting Tuesday. This first storm will bring precipitation across the area, with snow above 4500 feet. Snow amounts above 6000 feet could reach 2 feet, along with gusty winds causing travel problems. Valley thunderstorms possible Wednesday. Showers could continue through Friday, with another, possibly stronger storms on the weekend, and potentially into next week. Total liquid equivalent precipitation through this week could reach around 2.5 inches in the mountains, up to around 0.50 to .75 inches in the Valley.

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

Tune up your calendar with this list of water-related meetings and events …

Reader survey: What should Maven work on next?

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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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