Daily Digest: Feinstein’s revised California water bill, Delta hangs in the balance, Sacramento sets rainfall record and more

Daily DigestIn California water news today, Feinstein’s revised California water bill designed to woo GOP; Feinstein applauds decision to pump more water in Central Valley, seeks more; Future of the Delta hangs in the balance, but few Californians realize what’s at stake; Drought may make for a scary fire season; California Farmers: Drill, Baby, Drill (for Water, That Is); Hydrogeologist warns of politics in water policy; Water transfer proposal in Butte County ruffles some locals; Some in ag community would like local water needs met first; Sacramento sets rainfall record; American Canyon may get Lake Berryessa water; Stockton Earth Day festival will focus on water and the BDCP; Escondido votes for water recycling; and Water crisis looks a lot like last one, only worse, says Lois Henry

In the news today …

  • Feinstein’s revised California water bill designed to woo GOP: “In a move designed to lure Republican support, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein has introduced a revised California water bill that could move lawmakers closer to meaningful negotiation.  The new bill drops spending proposals that had been included in the original California water bill introduced by Feinstein and Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer on Feb. 11. The $300 million in spending, in turn, had stuck in the craw of some Senate Republicans. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Feinstein’s revised California water bill designed to woo GOP
  • Feinstein applauds decision to pump more water in Central Valley, seeks more: “Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Wednesday applauded a decision by federal and state officials to release more water in the Central Valley, and pushed for much more supplies to be made available to the parched farming region.At a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing that she presided over, the California Democrat said the latest fish surveys show a negligible number of deaths among endangered species like chinook salmon and the Delta smelt. ... ”  Read more from the Salinas Californian here:  Feinstein applauds decision to pump more water in Central Valley, seeks more
  • Future of the Delta hangs in the balance, but few Californians realize what’s at stake:  “I stand in flooded farmland on a dead end dirt road in California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta. Overhead, dozens of greater sandhill cranes make a jagged line against the gray winter sky, descending into the beige fields with an eerie clatter. Snowy egrets and great blue herons stalk the shallow water, while flocks of starlings launch from the roadside and coalesce into great swarms.  The wild avian display here on Staten Island – one of 60 islands scattered across the Delta’s waters – is a jarring contrast to the human drama unfolding across the region. For most people outside this watery region, where the state’s two largest rivers end and its greatest water engineering projects begin, the Delta is typically seen through a veil of conflict – one pitting endangered fish against the needs of water-starved farms in the Central Valley and cities in southern California. … ”  Read more from High Country News here:  The future of the Sacramento Delta hangs in the balance but few Californians seem to grasp what is at stake.
  • Drought may make for a scary fire season:As state firefighters grapple with an already overactive fire season, a consultant group came back from a fire safety inspection of the Yuba Foothills with a dismal assessment.  “They said what they saw scared them, and it should scare us, too,” said Glenn Nader, facilitator for the Yuba County Watershed Protection and Fire Safe Council. … ”  Continue reading at the Appeal-Democrat here:   Drought may fan year’s flames
  • California Farmers: Drill, Baby, Drill (for Water, That Is):California is locked in an epochal drought—and yet produce aisles nationwide still brim with reasonably prices fruit and vegetables from the Golden State. How does California continue proving half of US-grown vegetables under such parched conditions?  Peter Gleick, president of the president of the Pacific Institute, one of the world’s leading think tanks on water issues, broke it down for me. He says that despite the drought, California farmers will likely idle only about a half million acres this year—less than 10 percent of normal plantings, which are about 8 million acres. And most of the fallowed land will involve “low-value” crops like cotton and alfalfa (used as a feed for the dairy and beef industries)—not the stuff you eat directly, like broccoli, lettuce, and almonds. … ”  Continue reading at Mother Jones here:  California Farmers: Drill, Baby, Drill (for Water, That Is)
  • Hydrogeologist warns of politics in water policy:The three-year drought in California has focused attention on water rights (and wrongs) and, according to some, exposed the fact that water management in the state is complex, confusing and ill-defined. And too often politics, rather than science, dictates policy.  That message was brought home March 25 by Carl Hauge, who came to Chico State as part of a lecture series on groundwater resources. Hauge, a registered geologist and retired chief hydrogeologist for the California Department of Water Resources, addressed a packed Holt Hall classroom and basically said that though not regulated the same by the state, there is no difference between surface water and groundwater. That discrepancy has led to problems not just in California but in a number of other Western states as well. … ”  Continue reading at the Chico News & Review here:  Groundwater woes:Hydrogeologist warns of politics in water policy
  • Water transfer proposal in Butte County ruffles some locals; Some in ag community would like local water needs met first:Farmers with surface water rights are scrambling to decide if they will pump groundwater to make up for cutbacks from the state water supplies along the Feather and Sacramento rivers.  In the meantime, a “relatively quiet” proposal to transfer water from Biggs-West Gridley Water District to south of the delta has some farmers in the Sacramento Valley upset.  Mark Kimmelshue, a rice trader, said he’s not opposed to water transfers as a general rule. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Water transfer proposal ruffles some locals
  • Sacramento sets rainfall record … !The National Weather Service says 1.3 inches of rain fell in the city, breaking the record for April 1.  Drew Peterson is a meteorologist with the Weather Service in Sacramento. He says the rain was also significant for another reason … ”  Find out what that was and check out some pictures from Capital Public Radio here:  Sacramento Sets Rainfall Record
  • American Canyon may get Lake Berryessa water: “The only thing keeping Lake Berryessa water from flowing out of faucets in American Canyon this summer is a new pipe and red tape, officials said this week.  David Okita, general manager of Solano County Water Agency, said by telephone Wednesday his agency has come up with a plan to share water from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reservoir, which, despite its Napa County location, has sent water exclusively to Solano County since its construction in the mid-1950s. … ”  Read more from the American Canyon Eagle here:  American Canyon may get Lake Berryessa water
  • Stockton Earth Day festival will focus on water and the BDCP:  “Months before Gov. Jerry Brown declared drought in California, organizers of Stockton’s annual Earth Day Festival were already planning a water-oriented theme for this year’s event.  “It was one of the first things we did,” said coordinator Matt Beckwith.  As it turns out, they could not have chosen a more timely topic. The free festival takes place in Victory Park on Sunday, two weeks earlier than normal because of conflicts with Palm Sunday and Easter. About 10,000 people typically attend. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  A spotlight on water
  • Escondido votes for water recycling:  “The Escondido City Council endorsed a plan Wednesday to spend an estimated $285 million over the next 15 years on infrastructure that would allow the city to transform all its sewage into irrigation water.  Council members said it was the best option for the city, where lack of sewer capacity threatens to stymie future commercial and residential development. … ”  Read more from U-T San Diego here:  Water recycling may cost city $285M

In commentary today …

  • Water crisis looks a lot like last one, only worse, says Lois Henry:Groundwater has officially become the “new black” in California. As the drought drags on, it is this season’s “must have.”  Wells are being dropped like mad, people are worried about subsidence and now the state is talking about ginning up legislation to finally gain some oversight of the wild west that is the world of groundwater.  It’s enough to make your head spin.  But like almost every fashion craze, this one’s just another retread.  Oh, yeah — we’ve been here before, almost exactly. … ”  Read more from Lois Henry here:  Water crisis looks a lot like last one, only worse

Video extra …

  • California can adapt to the drought without major harm to the economy, says Jeff Mount, senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). He offers two reasons why:

 

weatherPrecipitation watch …

  • From the National Weather Service: “A weaker system affects the region today into Friday. Only light amounts of precipitation are expected from this system. Temperatures will trend warmer by this weekend with lower to mid 80’s possible by Sunday and into early next week across the Central Valley.”

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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