Daily Digest: Snow survey results (with video), Delta residents unhappy with BDCP media coverage, Richard Frank on unreasonable use of water in wine country, and more, plus exploding whales and an update on Portland’s urine tinged reservoir water

Delta canal by HoodIn California water news today, final snow survey’s dismal results (with video); Drought prompts likely limits on tapping rivers; Water rights curtailments result from abysmal California snow pack, Delta Stewardship Council discusses water storage; Mark Ghilarducci and California brace for epic drought and fire; Large almond crop projected despite drought; Drought could affect the price of your rodeo ticket; Report: Well water under strain across California; Delta residents express malcontent with media coverage of twin tunnels; Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee Holds Inaugural Meeting; Suisun Marsh Management Plan Unveiled; Water rights detailed for the El Dorado Water and Power Authority, and more news and commentary, plus just for fun, what not to do when a rotting whale washes up on your beach and an update on Portland’s urine-tinged reservoir water!

In the news today …

  • Final snow survey’s dismal results:  Just 18% statewide. You can read the press release here, but better yet, I’ll let Frank tell you and show you – himself:
  • Drought depletes snowpack, aquifers:  “Drought in California is taking its toll both above and below ground as a minuscule amount of snow remains in the mountains and aquifers in many areas are becoming depleted. The state Department of Water Resources’ final snow survey of the year on May 1 found the water content at just 18 percent of normal for the date despite early spring storms that raised hopes for at least a little relief from the dry conditions. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Drought depletes snowpack, aquifers
  • Drought prompts likely limits on tapping rivers:  With summer approaching and California’s snowpack measuring a fraction of normal, state officials said Thursday they will likely order farmers and other big water users to limit the amounts they take from rivers.  The State Water Resources Control Board projected the curtailment letters would be sent out later this month for users on 10 different rivers and their watersheds. It would mark the first such directive since 1977. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:   Drought prompts likely limits on tapping rivers
  • Water rights curtailments result from abysmal California snow pack, Delta Stewardship Council discusses water storage: “California’s drought, despite recent rains persists as the summer grows near, and snow pack levels are dangerously low. Thursday’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) snow survey made it clear that the Golden State is currently in a world of hurt for water. While snow pack provides around 1/3 of the state’s water annually, a warming trend has shown more rain and less snow.  The state’s main reservoirs of Shasta, Oroville and Folsom are 62, 66 and 75 percent of normal levels for this time of year, but snow pack levels are well below that. This has caused concern amongst officials, as reservoirs will eventually run low as the summer heats up. DWR has increased its State Water Project deliveries from zero to five percent, but that won’t be allocated until September.  … ”  Read more from the River News-Herald here: Water rights curtailments result from abysmal California snow pack
  • Mark Ghilarducci and California Brace for Epic Drought, Fire:California is experiencing the worst drought in its history, despite a few storms of late. Officials, including Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, are planning for a hot, dry summer and an intense fire season.”
  •  Large almond crop projected despite drought:  “California could produce its third-largest almond crop in history despite the severe drought this year, a federal agency reported Thursday.  The 1.95 billion-pound estimate, announced at the Modesto headquarters of the Almond Board of California, trails only the 2.03 billion pounds harvested in 2011 and the 2 billion last year. … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here: Large almond crop projected despite drought
  • More water than 1977 but less allocation? ” … Due to recent storms, the water supply is in a better position today than in 1977. Lake Shasta currently has double the amount of water than in 1977. Lake Oroville has 25 percent more water than in 1977. Yet, Friant users have received 0 percent allocation.Due to this, Ed has made the difficult decision to remove 40 acres of 108 year-old orange trees which have produced a crop every year until now. “This problem was not created by Mother Nature,” says California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen. “It is the result of the bureaucratic mess in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. Now, Valley citrus growers, the people they employ, and the communities that rely on a vibrant citrus industry are at the mercy of their lack of decision. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  More water than 1977 but less allocation?
  • Drought could affect the price of your rodeo ticket: As the annual pro rodeo is set to take place here May 14-17, organizers have more than just big crowds and buckin’ broncs to worry about.  Much as it is with other livestock-related industries in California, drought is complicating matters for the rodeo circuit, too. Redding Rodeo organizers fear rising feed costs for horses and rough stock could eventually force rodeos to raise ticket prices to make ends meet.  “It started last year,” ranch owner Rick Williams said of drought’s impacts on rodeos. “They’re not getting moisture in the mountains, so we’re not getting hay like we used to. Everyone’s out.” … ”  Read more from Capital Press here:  California drought impacting pro rodeo circuit
  • Report: Well water under strain across California:  “A new analysis of groundwater levels across California has found historically low water levels in thousands of wells in all areas of the state, another telltale of the drought’s intensity.  The report by the California Department of Water Resources, released Wednesday, was ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown as part of his January emergency drought proclamation. It analyzes thousands of wells across the state, based on available data submitted by well drillers and owners.  In examining about 5,400 wells that represent a subset of the total, about half have shrunk since 2008 to water levels lower than any seen over the preceding century. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Report: Well water under strain across California
  • Delta residents express malcontent with media coverage of twin tunnels: Husick’s Country Store and Clarksburg Brewery teamed with North Delta C.A.R.E.S. Action Committee, continue to make an impact on the Delta community.  On Thursday, April 24, Associate Editor at the Sacramento Bee, Pia Lopez came to speak to residents and find out what they think is important for the Bee to cover on a regular basis.  Discussion ensued prior to Lopez’ presentation on the Freeport Intake Facility, which is now up and running, pumping a maximum of 300 cfs to East Bay Municipal District. While this is only the beginning of Sacramento River water being exported elsewhere further up in the system, it is a preview to what is yet to come if the Bay Delta Conservation Plan is not defeated. … ”  Read more from the River News-Herald here: Delta residents express malcontent with media coverage of twin tunnels
  • Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee Holds Inaugural Meeting: “The heads of several state and federal agencies affirmed their commitment to work collaboratively on a number of Delta-related projects and issues at the inaugural meeting of the Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee (DPIIC) on April 9 in Sacramento. The committee of 15 agencies responsible for implementing the Delta Plan is a requirement of the Delta Reform Act (Water Code Section 85204) following the adoption of the Plan by the Delta Stewardship Council (Council) in May, 2013.  “It was valuable to publicly discuss the key challenges shared by member agencies and to highlight progress on projects and collaborative efforts. My initial takeaways include that we identified several issues for this group to address such as levees, habitat, and financing, identifying common ground through the Delta Science Program “One Delta, One Science” concept, and receiving unanimous agreement to designate staff to work on implementation priorities,” said Randy Fiorini, Chairman of both the DPIIC and the Council. … ”  Read more from the Delta Stewardship Council here:  Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee Holds Inaugural Meeting
  • Suisun Marsh Management Plan Unveiled: “A 30-year comprehensive plan that addresses habitats and ecological processes, public and private land use, levee system integrity, and water quality through tidal restoration and managed wetland activity in the Suisun Marsh is now a reality and moving into the implementation phase.  After 15 years of development, the Suisun Marsh Habitat Management, Preservation and Restoration Plan (Suisun Marsh Plan or SMP) was officially unveiled on Thursday, April 24, 2014.  … ”  Read more from the Delta Stewardship Council here:  Suisun Marsh Management Plan Unveiled
  • Water rights detailed for the El Dorado Water and Power Authority: Members of the El Dorado Water and Power Authority listened to a short history on state water rights at their meeting on April 9.  Related to current efforts by EDWPA to pursue an additional 40,000 acre-feet of water rights from the State Water Quality Control Board, the presentation, called ”Water Rights 101,” was made by attorney David Aladjem.  Aladjem works for the legal firm that’s been hired to litigate the water rights application for EDWPA. … ”  Read more from the Mountain Democrat here: Water rights detailed for EDWPA board
  • Water agencies oppose SB 1199 – Wild & Scenic designation for the Mokelumne:  Rich Farrginton writes in the Amador Ledger Dispatch:  “Protect Our Water, the rest of the story.  SB 1199, the just-proposed Wild & Scenic River designation of the Mokelumne River, threatens Amador’s water supply and should be withdrawn. Here’s why. 1) Opposed – Amador Water Agency, Jackson Valley Irrigation District, Calaveras County Water District, Calaveras-Amador Mokelumne River Authority, California Farm Bureau, and Amador Board of Supervisors oppose SB 1199. ... ”  Continue reading here:  Water agencies oppose SB 1199 Wild & Scenic Mokelumne
  • Groundwater deadline looms for most Kings County growers: Possible restrictions on groundwater pumping have become a hot topic as drought worsens, but another kind of groundwater regulation is already here.  May 19 is the deadline for growers to sign up with the Kings River Water Quality Coalition to join a state-mandated program designed to prevent the nitrate-polluted groundwater that plagues several disadvantaged San Joaquin Valley communities.  The new program is the outgrowth of a 2012 University of California, Davis, study that found that agricultural fertilizer application was the main culprit. … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here: Groundwater deadline looms for most Kings County growers
  • Las Vegas Casinos Conserve Water Amid Drought:The drought that has plagued California and other areas of the western U.S. has not left Las Vegas unscathed, putting the city’s primary water resource in jeopardy.  The water levels in Lake Mead, which supplies 90 percent of the city’s water, have been steadily decreasing over the past 14 years primarily due to the ongoing drought conditions on the Colorado River.  Currently, the lake’s water levels are just below 1,100 feet above sea level and approaching the elevation mark for the first water intake straw, which is one of two that supplies water to the city. The intake sits at an elevation mark of 1,050 feet. … ”  Read more from Accu-Weather here:  Las Vegas Casinos Conserve Water Amid Drought

In commentary today …

  • Richard Frank: Turning Water Into Wine: An “Unreasonable Use” of Water in California?  Today a California appellate court in San Francisco heard arguments in a case that is likely to affect how broadly–or narrowly–California’s State Water Resources Control Board can apply the state’s most powerful water law.  The case, Light v. California State Water Resources Control Board, involves a challenge by wine grape growers in the Russian River watershed of Northern California to a SWRCB rule limiting growers’ ability to divert water from the Russian River in order to spray their vineyards for frost protection purposes.  The Board adopted its “Frost Protection Regulation” in 2008, following complaints from federal wildlife officials that the grape growers‘ water diversions during cold spells resulted in rapid lowering of Russian River water levels and the resulting death of migrating salmon in the river.  (Federal biologists estimate that the growers’ 2008 diversions resulted in the deaths of 25,000 salmon, several species of which are threatened with extinction.) ... ”  Read more from the Legal Planet blog here: Turning Water Into Wine: An “Unreasonable Use” of Water in California?
  • Any water bond should have room for migratory birds, says Brigid McCormack:  She writes:  ” … Acknowledging the massive impacts to wildlife from federal and state irrigation projects, Congress in 1992 passed the Central Valley Project Improvement Act to support habitat for birds, fish and other wildlife. This legislation mandated minimum water allocations to the network of federal wildlife refuges, state wildlife areas and private wetlands in the Central Valley. This is a promise we need to keep.  In many ways, the state’s water future will be determined in the water bond that will be put before the voters in November. At the moment there at least 10 different bond bills being debated in Sacramento. Only some would require the state to meet its obligations to the refuges, providing long-lasting ecological benefits at a minimal cost of water. If the final bond doesn’t have that requirement, it could create an ecological disaster. … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here:  Any water bond should have room for migratory birds

And just for fun …

  • Another dead whale washed up on the beach … so what to do?  Well, history has a few things to say about what NOT to do.  About every five or so years, it seems there’s a story about a whale washing up on the beach, which, after a few days rotting in the sun, tends to make its presence well-known. Seems that has happened now to the north in Newfoundland. Check out that picture – it’s hugely bloated … So what to do with the rotten, smelly mess?  Well, In 1970, a town in Oregon tried dynamiting the creature with, uh, less than ideal results – a YouTube classic!  Another town sent in a poor soul to lance the rotting beast, an experience which ILFS describes as “a whale-sized fart/cat pee/egg bomb with blood and entrails flying at your face” … good thing he was wearing a raincoat.  Ick!
  • Pee in Portland reservoir, epilogue:  The City says now that the water wasn’t dumped:  “Instead, about 35 million gallons have been diverted from kidney-shaped Reservoir 5 to an empty reservoir to determine how long its quality can last as a public water feature. … “We’re going to be monitoring it and see how long it stays fresh and clear,” Portland Water Bureau spokeswoman Jaymee Cuti said. … ”  Seriously … Read more from the AP via the Star here: Urine-tinged Oregon water diverted to another reservoir
  • Novato locals surprised after 900,000 gallon tank drained:  Lest you think that wackiness is all up in Oregon, consider this:  “Some water district customers in Marin County on Thursday were questioning the logic of officials who dumped out 900,000 gallons of water after the locks securing a Novato tank were found cut, even though tests determined the water wasn’t contaminated. …Neighbor Kathy Leham said the water should have been used for other purposes other than drinking.  “They shouldn’t have drained it because they’re always on us about watering our flowers,” argued Leham. “We shouldn’t waste water like that.” … ”  Residents are being asked to cutback their water use by 20%.  Read more here:  Locals surprised after 900,000 gallons of water dumped from Novato tank

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:  Irrigation canal outside of Hood, picture by Maven …

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