Daily Digest: Water managers ease pumping limits, snowpack survey forebodes tough summer, NASA radar watching over Delta levees and more …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, water managers ease pumping limits; Snowpack survey forebodes tough summer: “We knew what was coming”; ACWA calls for statewide conservation in response to drought; NASA radar watches over Delta leveesDrought could hinder job growth for years, say economists; Earthquake preparedness crucial to state water supply; Napa County supervisors balk at Senator Wolk’s water bond, Turlock Irrigation District postpones start of irrigation yet again, & more

In the news today …

  • Water managers ease pumping limits:  “Officials announced Tuesday that they are temporarily waiving an endangered species protection to enable water managers to send more Northern California water south.  The move comes as fishery agencies are under increasing political pressure to take advantage of late winter storms and ramp up pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the center of the state’s water distribution system.  Mark Cowin, director of the state Department of Water Resources, said the rule suspension would remain in effect for the next week or two and would increase delta exports by as much as 10,000 acre-feet a day. An acre-foot is equivalent to a year’s water supply for two households. … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here:  California water managers ease delta pumping limits
  • California snowpack survey forebodes tough summer:  “The Sierra snowpack in drought-stricken California measured at 32 percent of normal Tuesday at a time of year when it’s supposed to be at its peak, the state’s Department of Water Resources announced.  Even the storms dousing Northern California through Wednesday morning are expected to spell little relief this coming summer for farmers and many communities already facing restrictions, said Mark Cowin, the department’s director.  Farmers are deciding to leave fields unplanted, and some cities are scrambling to find water supplies, said Cowin, adding that California’s “storm window” is closing.  “We can hope that conditions improve,” he said. “But time is running out, and conservation is the only tool we have against nature’s whim.” … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  California snowpack survey forebodes tough summer
  • “We knew what was coming”:  Northern California water managers response to snow survey is muted:  ” … A DWR press release said the meager snowpack “promises a gloomy summer for California farms and many communities.” But local water managers were more concerned with the amount of water, if any, they will receive this summer rather than yet another confirmation of the severity of the state’s drought.  “It is what it is. We knew what was coming,” said Lynn Phillips, general manger of the Sutter Extension Water District, which receives deliveries from the State Water Project at Lake Oroville.  The district has been preparing for 50 percent water deliveries (the lowest its contract allows) for months, Phillips said. … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  “We knew what was coming”; See also: Drought’s not over yet: California storms improve Sierra snowpack, but it remains low from the Mercury News
  • ACWA calls for statewide conservation in response to drought:  “With California mired in drought and little relief coming from recent storms, the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) is calling on water agencies throughout the state to request heightened water conservation from their customers in response to drought conditions.  ACWA’s Board of Directors approved a resolution March 28 that recognizes the need for all Californians to do what they can to use water wisely to maximize supplies this year and protect water reserves in case drought conditions continue next year. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  ACWA Calls for Statewide Conservation in Response to Drought
  • NASA radar watches over Delta levees: One morning in 2008, research scientist Cathleen Jones of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., was flying over the San Andreas fault near San Francisco, testing a new radar instrument built at JPL. As the plane banked to make a turn, she looked down to see the Sacramento River delta, a patchwork of low-lying lands crisscrossed by levees.  Jones was using an instrument that can measure tiny movements of the ground on the scale of less than half an inch (less than a centimeter). It’s called the Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR).”It struck me that this new instrument might be perfect for monitoring movement of levees,” said Jones. … ”  Read more from JPL here:  NASA Radar Watches Over California’s Aging Levees
  • Drought could hinder job growth for years, say economists:  “The ongoing drought in California could dampen employment growth in coming years and have a ripple effect on several industries in the state, according to a UCLA report released Wednesday.  Economists said in the quarterly forecast that arid conditions in 2013, the driest year on record for the Golden State, could diminish the fishing and manufacturing sectors in the state. However, the effect depends on whether the drought is “normal” or the beginning of “a long arid period.”  California’s employment could be suppressed about 0.2% during the next few years because of the drought, the report concluded. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Drought in California may hinder job growth for years, economists say
  • Earthquake preparedness crucial to state water supply: April is Earthquake Preparedness Month and California officials are making sure the state’s primary water supply is protected.  Richard Atwater with the Southern California Water Committee says the increased seismic activity in the Los Angeles area the past few weeks is a reminder of how important it is to check on facilities that store our water.  “Our water infrastructure is vulnerable to major earthquakes.  Whether it’s the Colorado aqueduct from the Colorado river to Southern California.  Certainly the state water project.” ... ”  Read more from KFBK here:  Earthquake Preparedness Crucial To State Water Supply
  • Napa County supervisors balk at Senator Wolk’s water bond“The Napa County Board of Supervisors won’t support a $6.8 billion water bond measure carried by State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, until it contains more funding for water storage and recycled water projects.  The board was asked to endorse the package during its meeting Tuesday, but the supervisors said they wouldn’t do so unless it was amended. ... ”  Read more from the Napa Valley Register here:  Supervisors balk at Sen. Lois Wolk’s water bill
  • Turlock Irrigation District postpones start of irrigation yet again: “Thanks to the early spring storms, the Turlock Irrigation District has postponed the start of 2014 water deliveries until at least April 10.  The delay, announced Tuesday, could help farmers stretch a Tuolumne River supply that is expected to be tight because of the drought.  The Modesto Irrigation District, TID’s partner on the river, is scheduled to start deliveries Sunday, but that could be moved to a later date based on weather, spokeswoman Melissa Williams said Tuesday. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Turlock district again postpones start of irrigation

In commentary today …

  • State needs to rethink how it uses water:  Author Tim Palmer writes: “One peril of being human is that we often respond poorly to crises. Because we now face one of the worst droughts in California history, the stage is set to flirt with error on a scale as colossal as the crisis itself.  The House of Representatives, for example, passed HR3964 in February to indiscriminately move additional Northern California water southward, to abandon restoration of the beleaguered San Joaquin River and to hang our imperiled salmon out to dry. For the first time ever, a National Wild and Scenic River designation would be rescinded – the Merced River below Yosemite our unlikely victim. None of this would ease the drought or solve the problems we face, as noted by Gov. Jerry Brown, who called the bill “unwelcome and divisive.” ... ”  Continue reading this commentary here:  California drought: State needs to rethink how it uses water

weatherPrecipitation watch …

  • From the National Weather Service: Showers will end across most of northern California by this afternoon as the cold upper low continues to move south and east away from the region. A brief period of dry weather can be expected into Thursday, then another weaker system will bring a return of shower chances later Thursday into Friday. Stronger high pressure is forecast to return over the weekend leading to dry and milder weather.

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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