Daily Digest: Water cutbacks loom, Auburn Dam – the project that will not die, groundwater, salmon and more, plus that $1 trillion Colorado River water

Delta boatIn California water news, water cutbacks looming for California farmers, water agencies; California water managers bracing for more bad news from snow survey; Auburn Dam: the project that will not die; Groundwater crisis looms for the state; Assembly Committee approves groundwater legislation; This year’s salmon catch may be the last good one for awhile; Trinity Board of Supervisors supports minimum pool for Trinity Lake; Benicia calls on residents to cut water use by 20 percent; EBMUD’s Sacramento River supply arrives; Morro Bay considering rate hikes to cover costs to buy state water; Kaweah and Success lakes’ dismal water levels affect recreation, farming; How much is the water in your faucet worth? More than $1 trillion if it’s from the Colorado River

In the news today …

  • Water cutbacks looming for California farmers, water agencies: “California water officials are on the verge of making an unusually drastic pronouncement in response to the ongoing drought: Ordering hundreds of water agencies, farmers and other property owners to stop diverting water from rivers in which they have longstanding water rights.  Within a matter of days, the State Water Resources Control Board is expected to issue curtailment orders to “junior” water rights holders, meaning they would be required to stop diverting water from streams and rivers, or reduce those diversions. The intent is to heed state law, which requires that available water, during times of scarcity, be reserved for those with “senior” water rights and for the environment. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Water cutbacks looming for California farmers, water agencies
  • California water managers bracing for more bad news from snow survey:  “State water managers were expecting more bad news Thursday as they take the season’s last measurement of the Sierra Nevada snowpack, a key source of water in drought-stricken California.  The Department of Water Resources survey is meant to gauge the amount of water that has begun melting from the mountain snowpack into streams and reservoirs. … ”  Read more from The Republic here:  California water managers expect more bad news from final snowpack survey amid drought
  • Auburn Dam: the project that will not die:  “In California, it’s as dependable as the rainy season. Okay, more so. Whenever there’s too much water or not enough, people start talking about Auburn Dam. It’s California’s biggest dam that has never been built — and probably never will be.  The latest revival occurred at a recent show-and-tell for the new spillway under construction at Folsom Dam. Congressman Tom McClintock, R-Auburn, seized the occasion — not so much for congratulations — but to decry recent releases of water from dams on the American River.  “It infuriates me that for the past three days, we have seen releases of water out of dams on the American River triple in order to meet environmental regulations that place the interests of fish above those of human beings.” … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Auburn Dam: The Water Project That Won’t Die
  • Groundwater crisis looms for the state:  “While the day when dust comes out of the tap instead of water may not be imminent, Californians are rapidly draining the state’s known available groundwater as the drought continues, a new report from the Department of Water Resources says.  In many areas, Californians are pumping out water from their wells faster than nature can replenish the underground supplies. It’s no small matter: 39 percent of the water used in California comes from wells, most of which tap into underground alluvial deposits – gravel, clay and the like, permeated by water collected over the centuries. … ” Read more from the Central Valley Business Times here:  When the wells run dry: State’s groundwater nearing crisis
  • Assembly Committee Approves Groundwater Legislation: Legislation aimed at achieving sustainable management of the state’s groundwater basins advanced Tuesday, clearing the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee on a 9-5 vote.  AB 1739 by Assembly Member Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento) as currently written would establish a statutory definition of groundwater management and provide for enhanced minimum requirements for local groundwater management plans. It would also enhance and clarify tools and authorities for local agencies to improve groundwater management and outline specific steps for monitoring and reporting groundwater data. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  Assembly Committee Approves Groundwater Legislation
  • Stanislaus County groundwater proposal sets thresholds, monitoring levels:  “A 20-point proposal for managing Stanislaus County groundwater – including possible financial help for families whose wells go dry and requirements that farmers report how much they’re pumping – was unveiled Wednesday.  The county’s recently formed Water Advisory Committee reviewed the draft framework, which currently includes only broadly written concepts rather than specific details. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: Stanislaus County groundwater proposal sets thresholds, monitoring levels
    more here: http://www.modbee.com/2014/04/30/3317956/stanislaus-county-groundwater.html?sp=/99/1571/&ihp=1#storylink=cpy
  • This year’s salmon catch may be the last good one for awhile:  “The 2014 California king salmon season that begins May 1 is predicted to be one of the better years recently, despite this winter’s drought. But we’d better enjoy it while we can.  It’s been a long, rocky road for the California salmon. This year, you can take that literally. Because of the severe drought conditions in much of the salmon’s natural habitat, state and federal officials this year started trucking young salmon from their inland spawning grounds to the ocean. The plan is that by the time the program ends, as many as 30 million fish will have hit the road.  But that’s actually a fish story for another year – those immature salmon smolts will have to spend a couple of years in the ocean before they are big enough to harvest. This year’s salmon were the ones who journeyed to sea in 2011, a relatively wet year. … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here: This year’s California salmon catch could be the last good one for a while
  • Trinity Board of Supervisors supports minimum pool for Trinity Lake:  “Noting it is “gravely concerned” about the prospect of an empty reservoir otherwise known as Trinity Lake, the Trinity County Board of Supervisors on Monday endorsed a proposed Assembly bill that would establish a minimum cold-water storage level in the reservoir to ensure compliance with temperature objectives to protect salmon and steelhead survival in the Trinity River.  AB 1914 was authored by District 2 Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro as the Trinity River Water Rights Conformance Act and was scheduled to be heard this week in the state Capitol by the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee. … ”  Read more from the Trinity Journal via C-WIN: Board supports minimum pool for Trinity Lake
  • Benicia calls on residents to cut water use by 20 percent: Residents here are being urged to cut water use by 20 percent as the city launches a public outreach campaign and considers tougher measures to achieve conservation goals.  The resolution approved Tuesday by the City Council formalized the council’s call for voluntary conservation in February as California faces one of its most severe droughts on record.  Officials who operate the State Water Project, which typically delivers 85 percent of Benicia’s water supply, announced in January that zero supply would be provided this year. Earlier this month, state officials announced that because of recent rainfall, very limited amounts might be available later in the year. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Benicia calls on residents to cut water use by 20 percent
  • EBMUD’s Sacramento River supply arrives:  “An emergency supply of Sacramento River water arrived at the East Bay’s largest water district Wednesday, culminating a mission sidetracked for decades by a regional water war.  East Bay Municipal Utility District leaders welcomed the water gushing into San Pablo Reservoir as drought insurance for 1.3 million people in Contra Costa and Alameda counties.  The 32-day supply of water — enough to fill the Oakland Coliseum 24 times — will allow the district to stick with voluntary rationing this year instead of requiring mandatory rationing and raising rates. … ”  Read more from Inside Bay Area here: EBMUD’s new emergency water supply arrives from Sacramento River
  • Morro Bay considering rate hikes to cover costs to buy state water: Water rate increases could be coming soon to Morro Bay residents to cover water costs and to help the city comply with an agreement with its water delivery provider.  The Central Coast Water Authority, which handles the infrastructure and bond issuance related to the city’s state water supply, sent the city a warning letter dated April 8, saying that it was undercharging customers because the charges fail to cover all water costs plus funding for an emergency reserve.  Morro Bay hasn’t increased water rates since the mid-1990s and rates now only cover about 78 percent of the city’s annual $1.125 million payment for state water. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Morro Bay eyes water rate hikes to cover costs to buy state water
  • Kaweah and Success lakes’ dismal water levels affect recreation, farming:  “When Phil Deffenbaugh thinks about the nearly 20 years he has worked at Lake Kaweah, he said it’s hard to remember a time when the water has been as low as it has been in recent days.  As of last week, Lake Kaweah was at about 25 percent of its capacity, thanks in large part to the statewide drought.  “We are low; today we have 46,000 acre feet,” Deffenbaugh, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s manager for the lake, said Friday. … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:   Kaweah and Success lakes’ dismal water levels affect recreation, farming
  • You think Delta water is expensive?  Try $1 trillion for Colorado River water:  “How much is the water that came out of your faucet this morning worth? The answer is about $1 trillion dollars, if its from the Colorado River, according to new report released this morning.  The Greater Phoenix Economic Council and Central Arizona Project estimate the economic impact of canals that bring 500 billion gallons of Colorado River water into the state each year $1.1 trillion over a 24-year period. … ”  Read more from the Phoenix Business Journal here:  How much is the water in your faucet worth? More than $1 trillion
  • The global demand for water will soon outstrip supply. What’s the solution? Simple, say some business leaders and economists: Make people pay more:  Sarah Woolf’s 1,200-acre farm in Cantua Creek, Calif., sits in the Central Valley, which runs in a narrow stretch more than 400 miles through the middle of the state, covering an area about the size of West Virginia. Hemmed in by the Cascade Range to the north, the Tehachapi to the south, and the Sierra Nevada to the east, the valley has long been one of the most bountiful farming regions in the country. Though it has less than 1% of America’s farmland, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, it supplies a quarter of the nation’s food. … ”  Continue reading from CNN here:  What is water worth?

In commentary today …

  • Senate majority leader Ellen Corbett urges water conservation:  “Although precious rain recently fell on our local communities, I have had scores of conversations over the last few weeks and months with local residents at farmers’ markets, town halls and community events about a topic that remains at the forefront of our minds: California’s drought.  Unfortunately, the recent rainfall has only minimally impacted our depleting water supply. Further aggravated by a low snowpack, California’s severe water crisis has prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a Drought State of Emergency. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Other Voices: Senator urges water conservation
  • Drought shadows the start of California’s salmon season, says John McManus:  “Today, California’s commercial salmon season begins off our coast. From Santa Barbara to Fisherman’s Wharf and beyond, commercial fishermen will soon be delivering one of nature’s most healthy and delicious foods – California wild king salmon.  The king salmon caught off our coast are the best anywhere in the world, and markets all over the U.S. and beyond will bid for these fish. Here in California, thousands of workers will benefit from this fishery. In addition to boosting the economy, the health of our salmon runs also tells us about the health of Central Valley rivers where salmon spawn and rear. … ”  Continue reading this commentary at the Sacramento Bee here:  Viewpoints: Drought shadows the start of California’s salmon season

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.

Photo credit:  Photo of the Delta by Maven. I’m just posting recent pics to pretty it up around here.  I took this one while waiting for the ferry …

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