Daily Digest: Settlement contractors push for more supplies, groundwater issues loom large in Central Valley, and more, plus Dan Walters says water bond a ‘tough slog’

Daily DigestSettlement contractors push for more water supplies; Tulare County judge orders landowner to stop pumping, exporting groundwater; Emergency convoy trucking salmon hatchlings to safety downriver; Ready for a reservoir at Sites; Groundwater overdraft issues looms large in Kings County; Local leaders ask for extension on Carmel River pumping; Assembly water bond advances, but differences remain; Water conservation bill clears first committee; State and federal agencies seek to boost water for ag; Update on the Delta smelt case; Speed of drought confounds planners; Clean Water Act proposal would protect more water sources in the West, and more, plus Dan Walters says 2014 water bond will be a tough slog

In the news today …

  • Settlement contractors push for more water supplies:  “Sacramento River water contractors continue to meet with federal water officials in the hopes of increasing their initial water allocation.  The Bureau of Reclamation announced the initial Central Valley Water Project allocation in late February. The announcement included a 60 percent cut to settlement contracts.  But the contractors claimed the bureau cannot cut their supply by more than 25 percent. The two parties have been meeting since to examine the bureau’s project operations to determine if the initial allocation can be increased.  The latest meeting was Monday, and the two sides are making progress, said Thad Bettner, general manager of the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here: Drought Watch: Water contractors press for more supplies
  • Tulare County judge orders landowner to stop pumping, exporting groundwater: “A Tulare County judge has ordered a landowner to stop pumping groundwater in the southern San Joaquin Valley and moving it off the property, to the relief of an irrigation district that wants to keep water available for landowners fighting the drought.  The preliminary injunction will stay in effect until a trial determines whether the pumping and movement of water violates state water law, visiting Judge Harry N. Papadakis ruled last week.  Last year, Lower Tule River Irrigation District based in Tipton sued Sandridge Partners, LP, alleging that the partnership pumped thousands of acre-feet of water from wells on an unfarmed parcel it owns and moved it 25 miles through pipes and canals to an almond farm on the west side of Kings County. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Tulare County judge orders landowner to stop pumping, exporting groundwater
  • Emergency convoy trucking salmon hatchlings to safety downriver:Desperate to save chinook salmon from the drought, wildlife managers have begun an unprecedented rescue convoy to truck more than 30 million hatchlings to safer waters in the Sacramento River. State and federal fishery agencies are hauling the fish downstream from five Central Valley hatcheries to prevent them from perishing in low, overheated rivers or streams, or getting lost in the low-water Delta.  Just 2 inches long at six months old, the silvery smolts are still weak swimmers that need strong river flows to wash them into San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Drought has cut into those flows. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Emergency convoy trucking salmon hatchlings to safety downriver  See also: Photo Gallery
  • Ready for a reservoir at Sites:  “Mary Wells sat in her backyard talking about Sites Reservoir on a piece of property that would be hundreds of feet underwater if the project comes to fruition.  Wells is one of only a handful of property owners who would be displaced if the project is built. A town that is more a collection of houses, Sites is populated by farmers and ranchers — folks who value their rural lifestyle and are not always keen about being the center of the state’s attention. “Take your sights off Sites” is a common saying.  “It’s like living in a tornado zone,” Wells said. “Sites Reservoir is always a possibility, but it hasn’t become a reality yet.” … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat:  Ready for a reservoir at Sites
  • Groundwater overdraft issues looms large in Kings County:  “The 800-pound gorilla in the Kings County water debate is back — what to do about the groundwater overdraft problem that is depleting underground aquifers with no end in sight.  That unanswered question was front-and-center at the Kings County Water Commission meeting Monday night in Hanford. In some ways, it was a replay of discussion in 2010, after the major 2006-09 drought.  Recent satellite measurements indicate that, from 2005 to 2010, the Central Valley lost the equivalent of Nevada’s Lake Mead in overdraft. The state’s response was to direct agencies like Kings River Conservation District to form regional groundwater management plans. ... ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here:  Groundwater overdraft issue looms large
  • Local leaders ask for extension on Carmel River pumping:  “Monterey Peninsula leaders are planning to ask the state water board for a two-year extension of the deadline to reduce pumping from the Carmel River. The request is expected by the end of this year or early 2015.  But officials also believe they must show progress on the project, including a state Public Utilities Commission permit, before they can successfully ask the board for any extension.  At the same time, the Peninsula water authority is using the prospect of such an extension as a key argument against backing a June ballot initiative aimed at promoting public acquisition of the local water system. Members of the authority say if the state water board sees any disharmony on the Peninsula, it could deny the extension because it would assume a lack of support for the project. … ”  Read more from the Monterey County Herald here:  Carmel River pumping: Local leaders plot strategy on asking for extension
  • Assembly water bond advances, but differences remain: A Senate panel Tuesday advanced one of the three competing proposals for water bond measures, but lawmakers acknowledged that more negotiations will be required to reach a consensus on what to put before voters.  Lawmakers have two months to approve a bond measure that would replace an $11-billion water bond currently on the November ballot that is viewed by many as too large and too full of pork projects to win voter approval.  “If we miss the June 26 deadline, then we are stuck with the current bond, which is destined for failure,” warned Assemblyman Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood). … ”  Continue reading from the LA Times here:  California water bond measure advances, but differences remain  See also: Water bond bill emerges from Senate panel
  • Water conservation bill clears first committee“A key water-conservation bill introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) passed the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee today by a vote of 13-0. AB 2636 establishes CalConserve, a revolving-loan program to provide loans to home owners and businesses to help finance water-efficiency projects. The program will reduce urban, per-capita water use and help cities and counties reach their water-use reduction goals. … ”  Read more from California Newswire here:  Calif. 2014 Water Conservation Bill Clears First Committee as Drought Looms
  • State and federal agencies seek to boost water for ag:  “State and federal water agencies say they’re working together to make as much water as possible available for agriculture south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.  As part of this, state Water Resources Control Board executive director Tom Howard issued an order last week that less water be pushed out into the San Francisco Bay for fish so that more can be used for other purposes. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here: State, federal agencies seek to boost water for ag
  • Update on the Delta smelt case:  The Pacific Legal Foundation has the latest developments here:  Status quo for now in the Delta smelt case
  • Speed of drought confounds planners:  “About two weeks ago, three South Coast water agencies — desperate to augment supplies in the face of a withering drought — combined forces to place a bid on surplus State Water from purveyors in Madera County. They offered what they thought at the time was an extravagant amount: $1,600 an acre-foot. They didn’t come close. The winning bid weighed in at a staggering $2,200 per acre-foot, and the three thirsty water districts, Montecito, Santa Barbara and Solvang, came up empty.  The scramble to secure additional water supplies — especially urgent for the Montecito district whose managers have warned about “going dry by July” — is proving problematic at best. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here:  Speed of Drought Confounds Water Planners
  • Infrastructure doesn’t meet water needs:The state’s water management system has faced challenges in the past, officials said, but the current drought, changing ecosystem needs, growing population and changing climate mean the water infrastructure of the past no longer meets the needs of California.  The problems are extraordinary, said Timothy Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, at a recent League of California Cities meeting in Orland.  “This is just an off-the-chart year for unfavorable conditions,” Quinn said. “This year, the drought will cut into the very fabric of our economy.” … ”  Read more from the Colusa County Sun Herald here:  Infrastructure doesn’t meet water needs
  • Clean Water Act proposal would protect more water sources in the West:  “The Obama administration proposed a long-awaited rule on Tuesday to clarify that the Clean Water Act protects wetlands near rivers and waterways fed by seasonal thaws and rains — a decision that could particularly shield water sources in the West.  Proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, the draft Waters of the U.S. rule is aimed at defining the scope of the Clean Water Act after two Supreme Court decisions in the last 15 years led to confusion about which waterways were under federal protection, said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Clean Water Act proposal would protect more water sources in West
  • Long stretch of wet weather predicted for drought-stricken San Francisco Bay Area:Forecasters are predicting that the rain that began to fall in the drought-stricken San Francisco Bay Area on Tuesday morning may be the beginning of the longest stretch of wet weather yet this year. … ”  Read more from the AP via the Chicago Tribune here:  Long stretch of wet weather predicted for drought-stricken San Francisco Bay Area
  • City of Sacramento issues more than 350 water violation notices in 48 hours:  “It’s raining, but we’re still in a drought and more than 350 people are getting a stern reminder about that from the City of Sacramento.  After seeing a spike in water production numbers last Thursday and Friday and an increase in complaints from people about water wasters, the city deployed enforcement officers earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon.  … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here: City Issues More Than 350 Water Violation Notices In 48 Hours
  • Drought means pumps possible in the Sacramento River:  “The Department of Utilities had hoped to avoid installing extra pumps at the Sacramento River Pump Station, but the drought has made it unavoidable. The department’s Dave Brent says the river is four-feet-high now. If it drops below a foot-and-a-half, the pump station probably won’t be able to operate, which is when the City would likely turn on the submersible pumps.  … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Drought Means Pumps Possible In Sacramento River
  • Environmental Group Has Australian Solution to CA Drought: “Trees fight pollution, cool neighborhoods, stop erosion and anchor hillsides, which is why TreePeople is making an effort to ensure trees are protected from the severe California drought. ... ”  Read more from NBC LA here:  Environmental Group Has Australian Solution to CA Drought

In commentary today …

  • Crafting a water bond will be a tough slog, says Dan Walters:  “Anthony Rendon, a first-term Democrat from Southern California who chairs the Assembly’s water committee, is proud of a water bond issue that he wrote after eight public hearings around the state, calling it “an open and transparent process” in contrast to the backroom deals that had marked previous water bonds.  On Monday, his office touted it as “the only current bond proposal that has made it out of its house of origin …” and declared that Tuesday’s hearing in the Senate’s water committee was the “perhaps final” airing before it reached the Senate floor.  Fat chance. ... ”  Continue reading from Dan Walters at the Sacramento Bee here: Dan Walters: Crafting a 2014 water bond will be tough slog
  • Another perspective on damming the Delta:  Nicki Suard writes: “At the meeting in Walnut Grove on March 18, an estimated 150 North Delta farmers, residents and recreation businesses were told DWR plans to install “temporary” rock barriers across Steamboat and Sutter Sloughs.  The informal meeting originally planned by several farmers and the resorts along Steamboat Slough had grown into a full blown informational meeting hosted by the North Delta Water Agency, with so many people spilling out of the Walnut Grove meeting room that even one county supervisor was not able to get inside. ... ”  Continue reading at the Central Valley Business Times here: Damming the Delta – Another perspective

weatherPrecipitation watch …

  • From the National Weather Service: “A series of Pacific storm systems are lined up to impact Northern California into next week. The first wave moved through the region yesterday. The second wave arrives today and will be the stronger, colder, and wetter of the two. Expect locally heavy valley rain, heavy mountain snow, gusty winds, and a chance of thunderstorms. Lingering showers persist into Thursday and Friday ahead of the next approaching storm system.”

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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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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