Daily Digest: Fields and farm jobs dry up, optimism in the water debate, court ruling may change water contracts and more …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, fields and farm jobs dry up with California’s worsening drought; Water debate leading somewhere unexpected: optimism; Court ruling may change water contracts approved a decade ago; California edging closer to groundwater regulation; Get control of your sprinklers; Flows to increase in the American River; Lodi water supply to be cut as East Bay Municipal Utility District declares dry year; Kings County could buy water for Lemoore NAS; and Workers discover part of L.A.’s first municipal water system

On webcast today …

In the news today …

  • Fields and farm jobs dry up with California’s worsening drought:On a recent afternoon on the main drag of Orange Grove, Calif., about a dozen farm workers gathered on the sidewalk in front of a mini-mart.  One man sits on a milk crate sipping a beer. A few others scratch some lotto tickets. Salvador Perez paces back and forth with his hands stuffed in the pockets of his jeans.  If there is no water, there’s no work, he says in Spanish.  Perez was laid off when the citrus farmer he worked for ran out of water. He has five kids to support, and though the family is getting unemployment, it’s about to run out. So he’s been hanging out there hoping to hear of some work. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Fields And Farm Jobs Dry Up With California’s Worsening Drought
  • Water debate leading somewhere unexpected: optimism:  “This word is not often associated with water debates in California, but as the rainy season comes to a close and the window for legislative action this year shrinks, it is starting to be used by a surprisingly array of stakeholders: optimism.  “More than any other time in the last 30 years, I’m optimistic that there is a level of scarcity in this drought—with the depletion of water resources at basically every level,  from water delivered by the state or federal water projects to water contractors north and south of the Delta, to cities, and even riparian water rights holders—that it’s prompting a dialogue that hasn’t happened before,” says Jay Ziegler, director of external affairs and policy at the Nature Conservancy, a longstanding Economic Summit environmental partner. The Summit has made investing in water infrastructure a top priority, outlining 11 actions the state can take this year to respond to the drought in sustainable ways. … ”  Read more from the California Economic Summit here:  Water debate leading somewhere unexpected: Optimism
  • Court ruling may change water contracts approved a decade ago:The Natural Resources Defense Council won a victory in court last week that may send water users along the Sacramento River back to the negotiating table for contracts approved a decade ago.  All this time the case has been working its way through the court system, with appeals. The recent news is that the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed the process to renew the 40-year contracts should have gone through an Endangered Species Act review. Specifically, the case was concerned about delta smelt.  “It’s a step toward potential changes in the contracts,” explained Doug Obegi, staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Court ruling may change water contracts approved a decade ago
  • California edging closer to groundwater regulation:  “We hear a great deal about California’s reliance on its “frozen reservoir,” a reference to the (currently anemic) Sierra snowpack. We hear a lot less about the Golden State’s invisible reservoir, the water that resides in underground aquifers beneath our feet.  That’s about to change. Today, state Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) rolls out a trio of water conservation bills, the centerpiece of which (SB 1168) is a frontal assault on the management of California’s groundwater, which, compared to other western states, is almost unregulated. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  California Edging Closer to Regulating Groundwater for the First Time
  • Get control of your sprinklers:  “Ignorance shouldn’t be an excuse for wasting water. Yet irrigation systems (particularly those complicated-looking controllers) often baffle homeowners.  “It’s the same people who had ’12:00′ flashing forever on their VCR,” said expert Richard Restuccia, a “water management evangelist.” “It’s not lack of ability to figure it out; it’s lack of motivation.”  Now, in drought-weary California, we’re motivated. In the Sacramento, Calif., area, “water cops” are watching – and handing out tickets. And such water-waste violations can be expensive. After an initial warning, fines in the city start at $50 (for a second offense) and quickly escalate to $1,000 for four or more offenses. … ”  Read more from Sacramento Bee here:  Get control of your sprinklers
  • Flows to increase in the American River:  “Water flows in the American River are scheduled to increase through the Sacramento region starting tonight to help salmon and steelhead.  The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates Folsom and Nimbus dams on the river, will maintain the increased flow for three days to help juvenile steelhead and Chinook salmon migrate downstream, and to help improve in-river conditions for young steelhead. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: American River flow to rise for salmon
  • Lodi water supply to be cut as East Bay Municipal Utility District declares dry year: “The city of Lodi’s water supply from the Mokelumne River will be cut almost in half this summer. The East Bay Municipal Utility District’s Board of Directors will declare 2014 a dry year at its meeting today in Oakland.  That means the water supply from the river to Woodbridge Irrigation District will be cut by 35 percent, from 60,000 acre-feet to 39,000 acre-feet. As a result, Lodi’s allotment from WID will be reduced by about 42 percent, from 6,000 acre-feet to 3,500 acre-feet. ... ”  Read more from the Lodi News-Sentinel here:  Lodi water supply to be cut as East Bay Municipal Utility District declares dry year
  • Kings County could buy water for Lemoore NAS:  “Make sure the $654 million goose has enough water to outlast drought.  That’s the basic argument county supervisors will hear Tuesday as they face a decision whether to become part of a water buying pool among State Water Project contractors to ensure Naval Air Station Lemoore has enough of the wet stuff to survive.  NASL, the generator of hundreds of millions of dollars in annual economic activity, is no joke for Kings County.  And water shortages are no joke for the jets at NASL. … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here:  County could become water-buyer for NASL
  • Workers discover part of L.A.’s first municipal water system: Workers excavating the site of a $100-million Chinatown development have discovered a 100-foot section of Los Angeles’ first municipal water system, an ancient maze of brick and wooden pipes and conduits that once fed the city.  The 4-foot-diameter brick pipe that was found beneath what once was Little Joe’s restaurant is part of the so-called Mother Ditch, or Zanja Madre, that carried water from the Los Angeles River to the young city, its channels twisting and bending along a 90-mile network. … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here:  Workers discover part of L.A.’s first municipal water system

In commentary today …

  • Feinstein’s bill risks further damage to the Delta, says the Mercury News:  “California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s willingness to do Big Ag’s bidding at the expense of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is increasingly alarming. Last week she released a revised drought bill that has environmentalists up and down the state fuming — with good reason.  Feinstein stripped out the best part of her original legislation: $300 million for conservation and efficiency measures and aid to low-income farmworkers hurt by the drought. She admits she did it to attract Republican support. It raises the question of how far she is willing to go to maximize the amount of water sent from the Delta to Central Valley farmers, even if it causes catastrophic harm to the estuary. … ”  Read more from the Mercury News here:  Mercury News editorial: Feinstein bill risks further damage to Delta

weatherPrecipitation watch …

  • From the National Weather Service: “A fast moving weather system will move through NorCal today and exit to the east by tonight. Showers will continue into the afternoon – mainly over the northern Sierra Nevada – before ending. A few showers will be possible in the valley – mainly along the eastern foothills. Cooler temperatures along with locally breezy/windy conditions are expected.”  

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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