Daily Digest, early edition: Jerry Brown warns of wildfire dangers, Tree fruit industry concerns, groundwater reports, and much more news and commentary, plus a Delta rap and the State Water Board TUCP workshop on webcast

Daily DigestIn California water news today, Jerry Brown warns of dangerous fires in the coming months; Almond output threatened by drought; Water issues are serious concern for tree fruit industry if drought lasts another year; Groundwater at historic lows throughout California; Interior secretary: East Bay conservation efforts are a model for the nation; New Bullards Bar FERC relicensing docs filed; Milpitas accepts Santa Clara Valley Water District’s reduced delivery plan; Bureau of Reclamation Forecasts lower water release from Lake Powell to Lake Mead for 2014; An innovative conservation fund for the Colorado River; Climate change assessment paints stark picture of potential damage; and the man inside Fresno’s Friant Dam
Note to readers:  It’s another early edition as I’m on the road to Monterey today to attend the ACWA convention tomorrow.  If you are there, look for me and say hi!    If I missed anything, it will be included tomorrow’s Daily Digest …

On webcast today …

  • State Water Board Workshop on SWP/CVP Temporary Urgency Change Petitions: The State Water Board will hold a workshop on today starting at 9AM to receive public input on a Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) filed by the California Department of Water Resources and United States Bureau of Reclamation  to modify water right requirements of the State Water Project and Central Valley Project to meet flow and water quality objectives included in the Water Quality Control Plan for the San Francisco Bay-Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta Estuary and the Executive Director’s Order approving the TUCP, including the various modifications to each. Click here for more informationClick here for the webcast.

A special invitation to today’s Science Action Agenda Workshop …

  • Sea Grant State Fellows Meiling Roddam and Jennifer Bigman tell you why you should be at the Science Action Agenda Workshop being held today from 12:30pm to 4:30pm  (Click here for more information):

In the news today …

  • Jerry Brown warns of dangerous fires in the coming months:  “Gov. Jerry Brown said Monday it’s going to take more money and manpower to combat wildfires this year as a severe drought creates dangerous conditions around California.  “Fire is an ever-present danger, and it’s never been, in the lives of anyone around today, as dangerous as it is,” he told reporters at a Cal Fire hangar near Sacramento. “Hopefully, sometime we’re going to get more rain, but we don’t know.”  With the vast majority of wildfires caused by humans, Brown warned residents to be careful. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Jerry Brown warns of dangerous wildfires in coming months
  • Almond output threatened by drought: Federal estimates that California could produce nearly 2 billion pounds of almonds this year comes with a big maybe, spelled D-R-O-U-G-H-T.  The U.S. National Agricultural Statistics Service last week pegged this fall’s nut haul at 1.95 billion pounds, based on a survey of growers statewide.  That would be down 2.5 percent from the 2 billion pounds harvested in 2013, as well as the record 2.03 billion-pound crop of 2011.  But an industry expert and San Joaquin County growers said Monday the lack of water due to near-record drought conditions could take an uncertain toll. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here: Almond output threatened by drought
  • Water issues are serious concern for tree fruit industry if drought lasts another year: “It’s all about water right now,” said Barry Bedlow, president of the California Grape & Tree Fruit League in Fresno, CA, when asked about the major issues currently facing the industry.  In reality, for 2014 the tree fruit industry in California is better off than many with regard to water, because most growers have enough to get them through the current season. But if California’s three-year drought continues another year and some regulatory relief is not found, the impact on all of California agriculture, including the tree fruit industry, could be severe. ... ”  Read more from The Produce News here: Water issues are serious concern for tree fruit industry if drought lasts another year
  • Groundwater at historic lows throughout California:  “Groundwater levels throughout California – and particularly the Southern San Joaquin Valley – are at historic lows, a Department of Water Resources report released Friday shows.  In many areas of the San Joaquin Valley, groundwater levels this spring are more than 100 feet less than the previous historic lows, according to the 51-page report.  Water levels in many parts of Stanislaus and Merced counties have fallen by 10 feet or more since spring 2010, the report’s maps show.  Groundwater concerns began escalating last summer in Stanislaus after a cluster of domestic wells near Denair stopped working. … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here:  Groundwater at historic lows throughout California
  • Group says state regulations needed to preserve Valley groundwater:  “A key advisory group told Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration Monday that regulation must be part of the fight against overdrafting precious groundwater — the state’s declining safety net in drought crisis.  The nonprofit, independent California Water Foundation recommends control of underground water by local groups under the authority of state regulations. But if the local groups failed, state authorities should enforce the rules, the foundation recommended.  The Water Foundation spoke to groups and individuals all over California before making the recommendations. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Group says state regulations needed to preserve Valley groundwater  See also this from ACWA’s Water News: Report Outlines Recommendations for Sustainable Groundwater Management in California
  • Interior secretary: East Bay conservation efforts are a model for the nation:  Making her second visit to East Contra Costa in less than two months, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Monday lauded the region as a model for the nation in the area of habitat conservation.  Her visit, sandwiched between a speech at Stanford University and a San Francisco appearance, sought to shine a spotlight on the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan, which was launched more than a decade ago to preserve wetlands, endangered species and open space while standardizing the collection of fees from developers.  “What (the plan has) done here is a really good illustration of multiple local and state agencies working together with federal agencies and nonprofit partners,” she said. “You’re setting a really great tone and tenor.” … ”  Read more from the Mercury News here:Interior secretary: East Bay conservation efforts are a model for the nation
  • New Bullards Bar FERC relicensing docs filed:  “The Yuba County Water Agency is one step closer to a new project license that will bring with it improved recreation facilities, new flood control structures and increased stream flows to protect aquatic life.  The agency filed its final application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a new, 50-year license that will dictate how the agency operates the Yuba River Development Project, which features New Bullards Bar Dam.  The new license is still several steps, and many years away. The drought has left the agency unable to complete several fish monitoring studies and that delay will mean the relicensing process will be delayed a year. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  FERC relicensing papers filed, hailed
  • Milpitas accepts Santa Clara Valley Water District’s reduced delivery plan:  “Santa Clara Valley Water District’s informational meeting held with City of Milpitas staffers last week has apparently silenced criticism here about a plan to reduce by 20 percent, the amount of treated, potable water the city receives from its wholesaler due to the statewide drought.  The one and a half hour staff-level meeting, held April 23 and orchestrated by water district Director Richard Santos and Milpitas City Manager Tom Williams, involved district representatives explaining to city staffers the water district Board of Directors’ unanimous Feb. 25 adoption of a resolution calling for a mandatory water use reduction target of 20 percent of 2013 water use, through Dec. 31, 2014, under what’s known as the 80-percent water delivery schedule. … ”  Read more from the Mercury News here:  Milpitas accepts water district’s reduced delivery plan
  • Bureau of Reclamation Forecasts lower water release from Lake Powell to Lake Mead for 2014: As part of its ongoing management of Colorado River reservoirs, the Bureau of Reclamation has determined that, based on the best available data projections of Lake Powell and Lake Mead reservoir elevations, under the 2007 Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead (2007 Interim Guidelines) a release of 7.48 million acre-feet (maf) from Lake Powell is required in water year 2014 (Oct. 1, 2013 – Sept. 30, 2014). ... ”  Read more from the Lake Powell Chronicle here: Bureau of Reclamation Forecasts lower water release from Lake Powell to Lake Mead for 2014
  • An innovative conservation fund for the Colorado River:  “The four largest cities that get their drinking water from the Colorado River are gearing up to pilot an innovative conservation scheme that pays farmers, industries and municipalities to reduce their use of the river’s water.  The main aim of the new initiative is to keep the levels of Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the giant reservoirs behind Hoover Dam and Glen Canyon Dam, high enough to delay or avoid the declaration of a water shortage, which would trigger potentially costly reductions in water deliveries.  Called the Colorado River System Conservation Program, the fund would be seeded to the tune of $11 million — $3 million from the federal Bureau of Reclamation and $2 million each from the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA, which includes Las Vegas), the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (which includes Phoenix), the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (which includes Los Angeles), and Denver Water. … ”  Read more from National Geographic here:  An innovative conservation fund for the Colorado River
  • Climate change assessment paints stark picture of potential damage:  “The warming of Earth, with human consumption of fossil fuels as the main cause, will have severe consequences for every region of the United States, according to the Third National Climate Assessment released Tuesday morning by the Obama administration.  Mandated by Congress and published every four years, the report is a science-based resource that is meant to inform public policy and private sector decisions.  The report concludes that extreme weather events influenced by climate change have grown more frequent and intense, including heat waves, drought and severe precipitation. “These and other aspects of climate change are disrupting people’s lives and damaging some sectors of our economy,” the report said. … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here: Climate change assessment paints stark picture of potential damage

People in the news …

  • Voices Of The Drought: The Man Inside Fresno’s Friant Dam:  “This past weekend’s summer-like temperatures mean the state’s already meager snowpack is quickly melting. And for much of the Central Sierra, those waters will eventually find their way into Millerton Lake, behind Friant Dam. But as FM89’s Ezra David Romero tells us in our series Voices of the Drought, managing those waters is a tough job, especially this year.Deep inside Friant Dam, Nick Zaninovich pulls out a ring of keys and opens a small gray door. We’re about to descend to the very bottom of the 319 foot tall concrete structure, to the original bed of the San Joaquin River.  “It’s nice and cool down here, watch your step,” Zaninovich says. … ”  Continue reading at Valley Public Radio here: Voices Of The Drought: The Man Inside Fresno’s Friant Dam

In commentary today …

  • In California drought, fortunes are made: Agribusiness planting huge groves of trees, says columnist:  Froma Harrop writes:  “This summer, even drinking water may be hard to find in some Central California towns. This region is in its third year of drought, among the worst in recorded history.  Yet agribusinesses are planting huge new groves of thirsty almond and pistachio trees. Bear in mind, these are permanent plantings. A quick crop such as alfalfa can be plowed under during a water crisis. Trees and vines, on the other hand, need years to mature. An acre could be a $3 million investment.  So what gives? … ”  Continue reading at the Seattle Times here:  In California drought, fortunes are made
  • Protect the Endangered Species Act, says Scientific American:  “The ESA has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of the 2,000 listed species. It is widely considered the strongest piece of conservation legislation ever implemented in the U.S. and perhaps the world.  Yet for years the ESA has endured attacks from politicians who charge that it is economically damaging and ineffectual. Opponents argue that environmental groups use the legislation to file frivolous lawsuits aimed at blocking development. Moreover, they contend that the ESA fails to aid species’ recovery. As evidence, they note that only 1 percent of the species that have landed on the protected list have recovered to the point where they could be delisted.  The latest assault comes in the form of the Endangered Species Management Self-Determination Act, a bill introduced by senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Dean Heller of Nevada and Representative Mark Amodei of Nevada. … ”  Read the full commentary here: Protect the Endangered Species Act

weatherPrecipitation watch …

  • Lingering showers, says the National Weather Service:A low pressure system will exit to the southeast today with remaining showers ending by later today. Breezy northerly winds will develop in the Central Valley. Dry and warmer weather returns Wednesday. A weak weather system may bring showers for far northern CA areas Thursday into Friday.”

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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