In California water news today, California Snowpack Measure Could Reveal Future of Drought; Downpours fall short of ending drought; California agriculture has a bright future despite drought; Water bonds compete in legislature; With drought, new scrutiny over fracking’s water use; Drought causes some in Sacramento to rethink lawns as landscaping norm; Kings County jury awards $128.6 million damages to Hanford developers; Who rules the Russian River?, and more …
California Snowpack Measure Could Reveal Future of Drought: “Surveyors will ski into the Sierra Nevada mountains Tuesday to perform what has become an anxiously watched rite of spring in drought-stricken California: measuring snow to determine how much water will flow to the state this year. A critical measure of a precious resource, April’s survey will influence whether the state’s water officials declare that the drought is easing or that it persists. At stake is the fate of summer water deliveries to farms and cities. Trailed by news media, surveyors will traverse a granite ridge on Lake Tahoe’s 6,800-foot-high (2,073-meter-high) Echo Summit—dense with fragrant pine, fir, and cedar—then drive about ten aluminum tubes into the snow to measure depth. They weigh the samples to gauge water content. ... ” Read more from National Geographic here: California Snowpack Measure Could Reveal Future of Drought
Downpours fall short of ending drought: “Snow surveyors are expected to tromp out into the Sierra powder Tuesday under a soft, steady patter of comforting precipitation, but the spring moisture is a cruel oasis in California’s desert of drought, according to leading climate and weather gurus. The pounding rain along the coast and fluffy snow in the mountains this week won’t come close to solving the state’s mounting water crisis, which has forced the state to turn off the spigot in many communities, a scenario that experts say is threatening farms, fish and homeowners. “The drought is not only severe, but it is extensive,” said Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, a nonprofit climate science and environmental research organization. “The demand for water exceeds the supply.” ... ” Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: California drought: Downpours fall far short of ending crisis
California agriculture has a bright future, despite drought: “Most of the major California crops are facing a rosy future, thanks in large part to exports and despite drought that could cut production. That was the consensus as major players in the tree fruit, grape, citrus, nut and dairy industries gathered in Fresno to give presentations for the Outlook 2014 Agribusiness Conference sponsored by the California Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. The scarcity of water seeped into nearly all of the talks but did not wash out hopes for continued growth in production and sales as global appetites — particularly in China – heighten demand. ... ” Read more from the Western Farm Press here: California agriculture has bright future, despite drought
Water bonds compete in the legislature: “As California’s drought drags on, more farmers are being forced to fallow fields, and a growing number of small towns are running out of water. So Republicans and Democrats here finally agree on something: They need to spend billions of dollars to fix California’s broken water system. But that doesn’t mean getting a water bond on November’s ballot for voters to approve is a sure thing. Gov. Jerry Brown hasn’t even decided whether he supports the idea, while the Legislature has come up with seven different schemes aimed at making the next drought less painful. ... ” Read more from The Reporter here: Water bonds compete in Legislature
With drought, new scrutiny over fracking’s water use: “California’s historic drought and shrinking water supplies are putting a spotlight on hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” and its thirst for freshwater. In other states, the controversial technique is a heavy water consumer, using millions of gallons of freshwater to extract oil or gas from each well. In California, fracking uses less water on average than in other states, according to industry data. But that trend is shifting, as oil companies make a play for the Monterey Shale, the largest untapped oil resource in the country. The southern San Joaquin Valley is the site of rising tensions between farming and fracking, as the two industries are increasingly coming into contact. While farmers fallow land and pull up orchards, they’re asking whether there’s enough water to go around. ... ” Read more from KQED here: With Drought, New Scrutiny Over Fracking’s Water Use
Drought causes some in Sacramento to rethink lawns as landscaping norm: “Sacramento gets about as much annual rainfall as arid Flagstaff, Ariz., but its lush lawns are modeled on those of rain-soaked England. The capital’s turf tradition is deeply rooted and is even enshrined in the bylaws of various homeowners associations. That may be starting to change, however. Nudged by local governments worried about water shortages, home builders and homeowners associations are showing increased willingness to embrace the drought-tolerant landscapes that more naturally suit California. … ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Drought prompts some in Sacramento area to rethink lawns as landscaping norm
Santa Clara Valley Water District grapples with retrofit dilemma: “The South Bay’s largest water agency is facing a dilemma. They’re questioning if the current drought is the best or worst time to drain a major reservoir to repair a fragile dam? And what message does this send to customers who are being asked to conserve water? A delay until after the drought may not be an option because the dam is not expected to survive a major earthquake. It’s under federal orders for a seismic upgrade by 2018. … ” Read more from ABC Channel 7 here: South Bay water agency grapples with retrofit dilemma
Kings County jury awards $128.6 million damages to Hanford developers: “A Kings County Superior Court jury has awarded a $128.6 million verdict against McCarthy Family Farms for breach of contract and against Bay Area developer John Vidovich and Sandridge Partners for intentional interference of two contracts involving water for a planned community outside Hanford. The dispute was over water rights for Quay Valley, a proposed 150,000-resident, solar-powered city that would use clean and renewable energy generated from a proposed on-site 600-megawatt power plant. The project’s developers, Kings County Ventures and GROW (Green Renewable Organic and Water) Holdings, sued McCarthy Family Farms, Vidovich and Sandridge Partners after a water deal fell through, causing the suspension of the Quay Valley project. … ” Read more from the Modesto Bee here: Kings County jury awards $128.6 million damages to Hanford developers
Special feature …
Who rules the Russian River? “Who has rightful claim to California’s Russian River? Federal law may protect the river habitat in the name of endangered fish, but on land, grapevines are king. This article is the first in a two-part series about how NOAA scientists are working with partners at other agencies and universities to help find compromise amid local tensions over water supplies. Part 1 describes scientists’ efforts to understand and predict not just the river on land, but its counterpart in the sky—a river that delivers extreme, sometimes drought-busting storms into the heart of California’s wine country. Sometimes these storms can be a blessing. And at other times, a curse. … ” Read more from Climate.Gov here: Who Rules California’s Russian River?
In commentary today …
Ninth Circuit court decision protects people as much as the Delta smelt, say Barbara Barrigan-Parilla and Trip Van Noppen: They write: “Californians who care about a sustainable water future got a big court victory in March that upholds protections for a much-maligned little animal: the Delta smelt. The ruling handed down by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals keeps in place science-based guidelines for managing water flows through the Delta at levels that protect the imperiled fish and help to restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem. This victory isn’t really about the fish, however. The smelt are an indicator species, a canary in the coal mine whose health illustrates the overall well-being of the Bay Delta. … ” Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Delta smelt: 9th Circuit decision protects people as much as fish
California’s groundwater needs better protection, says Lester Snow: He writes: “Mother Nature’s last-ditch effort to make a dent in the drought with last week’s rain and snow won’t make any real difference for California’s water supply in 2014. The state will conduct its final measurement of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada today – an indicator of how much snow will melt and flow into our rivers, ultimately making its way to cities and farms throughout California. We don’t need that measurement to know that the drought persists and water supplies remain scarce. What’s more, we need to recognize that this drought may not be over any time soon. … ” Continue reading at the San Francisco Chronicle here: California’s groundwater needs better protection
Bigger dams won’t make California greener, says Bloomberg View: “California’s northern rivers are so low that young Chinook salmon have to be trucked on their journey to the Pacific Ocean. Yet to listen to some farmers and their political allies, you would think the fish, shielded by environmental law, are doing fine, while the state’s $45 billion agricultural economy is being sucked dry by the epic drought. Their solution: build huge tunnels, expand big dams (federally subsidized, of course) and pipe more water from the relatively wet north to the dry south. But Mother Nature is sending a different message: California can’t count on having bounties of water to meet all the claims on it. Although some new storage plans make sense — especially small-scale, local projects and repairs to existing infrastructure — no new mammoth public works are going to draw more water from the sky. … ” Continue reading at Bloomberg View here: Bigger Dams Won’t Make California Greener
Precipitation watch …
From the National Weather Service in Reno: “Another late season storm is bringing snow to the Sierra tonight with the heaviest amounts this evening. Although this system is colder than the last storm it doesn’t have as much moisture. Snow accumulations of 3-6 inches are possible in northeast California and the eastern Sierra between 5000 and 7000 feet with up to 6-12 inches possible above 7000 feet. Confidence remains high that snow levels will be lower with this storm and that temperatures will be about 10 degrees below normal on Tuesday.”
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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.