Daily Digest, early edition: Water picture improved for many towns, big money and little oversight in California water, a drought cheat sheet and more …

Daily DigestIn California water news, water picture improves for some California towns; In California drought, big money, many actors, little oversight; Merced Irrigation District seals deal with state for more irrigation water; California citrus groves still at zero water allocation; Cool stuff:  A drought cheat sheet, a new graph; Drought brings new attention to groundwater; Water storage options studied by the Delta Stewardship Council; Tamping down on water use in the dry desert; Climate researchers link climate change, California drought and polar vortex; Dam flows boost Trinity River for now; officials say dry conditions mean less water released into river; Solving Dry Creek’s salmon problem; Drought causing rat problem at San Francisco Park; Coachella Valley water agencies keep groundwater data secret, cite privacy; The New River: An environmental success story

In the news today …

  • Water picture improves for some California towns:  While much of California remains in the grips of extreme drought, spring storms have eased pressure slightly and reduced the number of rural communities considered at risk of running dry.  In February, the California Department of Public Health listed 17 mostly rural water systems as having less than two months water supply in storage.  But in recent weeks that number has fallen to three as February and March rains improved the water picture in some areas. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Water picture improves for some California towns
  • In California drought, big money, many actors, little oversight:In the middle of one of the worst droughts in California’s history, no one knows exactly how many agencies supply the state with water.  While state regulators supervise three companies that provide gas and electricity for most of California, drinking water is delivered through a vast network of agencies which collectively do billions of dollars of business, setting rates and handing out contracts with scant oversight.  There are so many agencies, in fact, that the California Department of Water Resource, which is responsible for managing and protecting the state’s water, concedes that it does not even know the exact number. … ”  Read more from Reuters here:  In California drought, big money, many actors, little oversight
  • Merced Irrigation District seals deal with state for more irrigation water:   Irrigation officials this week closed a complicated deal with state agencies to increase the water supply for drought-plagued farmers. The deal could also help authorities cut the price of irrigation water in Merced County.  The State Water Resources Control Board approved the deal granting Merced County farmers more water, said Mike Jensen, Merced Irrigation District spokesman. … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here: Merced Irrigation District seals deal with state for more irrigation water  Read the State Water Board documents here:  Merced Irrigation District receives conditonal approval on Temporary Urgency Change Petitions
  • California citrus groves still at zero water allocation:A recent announcement that California growers reliant upon surface water from the State Water Project would receive 5 percent of their allocation appeared to be good news for much of the state’s $2 billion citrus industry. In short, some trees could be kept alive on such an allocation.  As with many political decisions, the devil is in the details. News by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) that precipitation from recent storms eliminates the need for rock barriers to prevent salt-water intrusion in the Delta dampened any bit of optimism brought by the announcement. Without the barriers water that could otherwise be transferred and held for agricultural uses will instead be flushed into the ocean to protect fish species and maintain fresh water availability at urban pumping stations. ... ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  California citrus groves still at zero water allocation
  • Citrus group: California water allotment deceptive: “A decision to raise water allocations in part of drought stricken California from 0% to 5% has drawn objections from a citrus trade group that says it helps growers less than it seems to.February and March storms allowed the increase in state water project deliveries south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the California Department of Water Resources reported April 18. About 2 million more acre feet of water have come into storage.  “None of the water they’re talking about is available to the East side of the San Joaquin Valley where the bulk of permanent crops are — stone fruits, vines and citrus,” said Joel Nelsen, president of Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual. … ”  Read more from The Packer here: Citrus group: California water allotment deceptive
  • Cool stuff:  A drought cheat sheet, a new graph:  The California Water Blog has a cheat sheet on the drought, and The Economist graphs a different look of the drought.
  • Drought brings new attention to groundwater:  “Amid California’s deep drought, calls for strengthening groundwater management have gotten louder as water supplies have become tighter. Water experts say they anticipate policy debates on groundwater will pick up speed in coming weeks, and representatives from the California Farm Bureau Federation urged farmers and ranchers around the state to pay attention to the discussions.  Statewide groundwater regulation has been raised as one possibility by some legislators, but most of the voices at a workshop in Sacramento last week stressed the benefits of local or regional management, guided by resources provided by the state government. … ”  Read more from the California Farm Bureau Federation here:  Drought brings new attention to groundwater
  • Water storage options studied by the Delta Stewardship Council:  “A broad range of options for bolstering California’s water storage capacity were examined by the Delta Stewardship Council today when three panels of local, state and federal officials outlined various proposals to build new storage facilities or expand capacity at others.  Several speakers said California needs more water storage capacity to capture water in wet years to use during dry times. … ”  Read more from ACWA here:  Water Storage Options Studied by Delta Stewardship Council
  • Tamping down on water use in the dry desert:  “The Dawn Creek subdivision in Lancaster, 60 miles north of Los Angeles, looks like any other neighborhood scattered across California’s Antelope Valley. Its neatly arrayed modern homes blend into the arid landscape, sporting hues the colors of the desert—burnt umber, sienna and ecru.  But Dawn Creek contains a home like no other in the country—a so-called Double ZeroHouse that is so highly energy and water efficient that it uses zero electricity from the grid and less than half the water of an average home. … ”  Read more from National Geographic here:  Tamping Down on Water Use in Drought Stricken California
  • Climate Researchers Link Climate Change, California Drought And Polar Vortex:A new study set to be published in Geophysical Research Letters has linked climate change, the California drought and the polar vortex. The study was performed to better predict when the next extreme winter weather event such as the polar vortex should be expected.  Assistant-professor of climate at Utah State University Simon Wang said he performed the study with other climate professors at USU and in part with the Utah Climate Center. ... ”  Read more from Utah Public Radio here:  Climate Researchers Link Climate Change, California Drought And Polar Vortex
  • Dam flows boost Trinity River for now; officials say dry conditions mean less water released into river:As Lewiston Dam waters are released into the Trinity River, officials are advising the public to use caution while visiting its banks, even though this year’s flow into the river will be reduced on account of the statewide drought.  ”It’s a relatively rare event, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility,” said Ernest Clarke, a science program coordinator for the Trinity River Restoration Program, a multi-agency program made up of organizations including the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service. “We’re making the appropriate flow release.” ... ”  Dam flows boost Trinity River for now; officials say dry conditions mean less water released into river
  • Solving Dry Creek’s salmon problem:They’re less slimy, and certainly less smelly, than a fish carcass would be. But the dry, brown pellets that biologists distributed Tuesday in a backwater channel of Dry Creek may prove to be the vitamin that once-prolific North Coast salmon streams need.  The goal is to simulate the nutritional boost that used to come from the decaying remains of adult fish, a critical natural supplement for coho and Chinook salmon, steelhead trout and other wildlife. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Solving Dry Creek’s salmon problem
  • Drought causing rat problem at San Francisco Park:  “California’s severe drought apparently has created a rat problem at San Francisco’s Heron Head Park.  Many park visitors report seeing rats running around during the day.  Tina O’Keefe of Dirty Rats Rodent Removal said the drought is driving rats out from hiding underground. ... ”  Read more from NBC Bay Area here:  California Drought Causes Rat Problem at San Francisco Park
  • Monterey County gets ‘worst’ drought rating: “While spring storms eased pressure slightly and reduced the number of rural communities considered at risk of running dry, Monterey County and much of California remains in the grips of extreme drought. The National Weather Service, San Francisco Bay Area in Monterey on Thursday announced the return of all of Monterey County to D4, Exceptional Drought status, the worst level of drought classification. Logan Johnson, warning coordination meteorologist for the NWS, reports that 77 percent of the state is classified at least D3 (extreme drought status) or higher and the rest as D4. One year ago at this time, Johnson said, no area of the state was D3 or higher. … ”  Read more from the Salinas Californian here:  Monterey County gets ‘worst’ drought rating
  • Coachella Valley water agencies keep groundwater data secret, cite privacy:The largest public water agencies in the Coachella Valley have begun withholding information about how much water is pumped from wells by businesses including farms, golf courses, housing developments and resorts.  Annual reports released this month by the Coachella Valley Water District and the Desert Water Agency no longer include the quantities of groundwater pumped by individual entities, a change they say aims to keep confidential details of customers’ water use. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Agencies keep water data secret, cite privacy
  • The New River: An environmental success story:  “In the heart of Imperial County, the New River was long a collection of sewage and trash as it worked its way from Mexico to the Salton Sea.  The river was born out of Colorado River flooding in 1904. But years of feeding agricultural runoff, raw sewage and pesticides into the river left a legendary stench at the port of entry between Calexico and Mexicali. The New River earned the reputation as the most polluted river in America. ... ”  Read more from U-T San Diego here:  The New River: An environmental success story

weatherPrecipitation watch …

  • From the National Weather Service:  “The next Pacific storm will move across interior California tonight through early Saturday. This system with bring colder, wetter weather with snow levels decreasing from around 7000 feet tonight to 4500 to 5000 feet by Friday afternoon. A Winter Weather Advisory has been posted and this system will likely bring 5 to 10 inches of new snowfall to areas above 5000 feet late tonight through Friday night. Snowfall together with breezy conditions may generate poor visibilities due to blowing snow over higher elevations. Carry chains and plan on winter-like road conditions at the pass levels.”

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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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