Daily Digest: Scientists say many flaws in tunnel proposal, State may curtail diversions, Governor Brown calls for action on climate change and more, plus what’s on webcast today …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, experts see many flaws in tunnel proposal; Groups want more time to review the tunnel project; State may curtail diversions from Sacramento River tributaries; Governor Jerry Brown calls for action on climate change, irks protesters over fracking; Golf courses prepare for long, hot, dry summer; Drought could cost ag industry $1.7 billion, says reportCities that depend on snowmelt for water could face problems, study suggestsEarth Log: 40% losses expected in Friant Dam water releases; North San Joaquin Water Conservation District backs San Joaquin County’s concerns over groundwater reform bill; Nunes: Take water fight to state population centers; Fresno Irrigation District water delivery to last six weeks; Merced Supervisors consider sale of groundwater; Federal court upholds IID-San Diego water transfer

On webcast today …

  • Big couple of days at the State Water Resources Control Board:  It’s a action-packed agenda for the State Water Board, with the agenda changing again just yesterday afternoon.  The main events will be the consideration of the adoption of drought-related regulations for curtailments on three tributaries to the Sacramento River, which will likely happen this afternoon, and then consideration of options for curtailing post-1914 water rights in the Delta, which is now scheduled for tomorrow.  Before they get to all of that, however, the Board will hear an update on the drought, hear an informational update from the Delta Watermaster, consider adoption of a CalTrans stormwater permit, hold a public hearing on amendments to the statewide general aquatic weed control permit, and consider revoking the license of a Mendocino County water district, among other things.  Click here for the third revised agendaClick here for the webcast.
  • US Forest Service webinar on proposed groundwater management directives:  The Forest Service will host a national webinar at 1 pm EST/10:00 am PST on Tuesday, May 20 to discuss the components of the proposed policy to manage groundwater resources on the country’s national forests and grasslands. Forest Service leaders and technical specialists will provide an overview on groundwater issues and information on the intent of the agency’s directives.  Click here to register.

In the news today …

  • Experts: Many flaws in tunnel proposal:  “The scientific foundation for Gov. Jerry Brown’s twin tunnels plan “falls short of what the project requires,” a panel of experts said Monday.  The latest in a series of strongly worded critiques by outside experts finds that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan – as the tunnels plan is formally known – overstates the project’s benefits for fish, fails to recognize uncertainties and fails to identify contingency plans in case the results are less than what supporters expect. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Experts: Many flaws in tunnels proposal  See also:  Panel: Delta tunnel project falls short of standards, from the Sacramento Bee
  • Groups want more time to review the tunnel project:  “More than 30 conservation groups are asking for more time to comment on the proposal to build two giant water diversion tunnels in the Delta.  In a letter dated Friday, the groups asked California officials to extend the public comment period on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which is currently set to close June 13. The letter requests a minimum extension of 60 days. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Groups want more time to review tunnel project
  • State may curtail diversions from Sacramento River tributaries:  “Junior water rights holders on three creeks near here could soon be among the first individual landowners in California to be told by the state to stop diverting because of the drought.  The State Water Resources Control Board is preparing to curtail water use along Mill, Deer and Antelope creeks in the northern Sacramento Valley to maintain minimum flows during the migration period for endangered fish. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here: State may curtail diversions from Calif. creeks
  • Governor Jerry Brown calls for action on climate change, irks protesters over fracking: “Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday called California “the epicenter of climate change,” and he urged other states to work with him to halt the rising temperatures that threaten the planet’s future.  Brown’s comments came during a speech to a University of California agricultural economics group. The address follows recent reports from scientists who warn that hotter temperatures are causing more intense wildfires and that it’s already too late to stop the collapse of a huge West Antarctic ice sheet that will swell sea levels by as much as 12 feet. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Governor Jerry Brown calls for action on climate change, irks protesters over fracking

  • Golf courses prepare for long, hot, dry summer:  “Gripping a hose, Robert Hirsch, a maintenance worker at DeLaveaga Golf Course in Santa Cruz, sprays a dry patch of grass, several feet away from a lush green where a group of golfers practice chipping with their 9-irons.  “In another month, all of this will be brown,” Hirsch says as he splashes another withered spot. “We’re going to sacrifice some fairways.”  DeLaveaga is just one of hundreds of golf courses across the state girding for an especially long, dry summer in the third year of California’s historic drought. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  California’s golf courses gird for long, dry summer
  • Drought could cost ag industry $1.7 billion, says report:  “California’s lingering drought could cost the Central Valley agricultural industry more than $1.7 billion this year, according to preliminary results from a University of California, Davis, study.The study is based on farmers with irrigation receiving only two-thirds of their typical river water deliveries, according to a news release. Many farmers, especially those in the federal Central Valley Project, are receiving no deliveries this year. ... ”  Read more from The Grower here:  California drought could cost ag industry $1.7 billion  See also: Drought could cost Central Valley farms $1.7 billion and 14,500 jobs, from the LA Times
  • Cities that depend on snowmelt for water could face problems, study suggests:Managing water resources in a changing climate may get more complicated for regions relying on melt from mountain snows.  A team of researchers has found preliminary evidence that when an increasing proportion of winter precipitation falls as rain, rather than snow, the amount of water flowing through drainage basins and into rivers in the US undergoes a long-term decline.  The study, published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change, estimates that for a increase of 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.3 degrees F.), increases in the proportion of rain falling at the expense of snow could lead to a decline of 12 percent or more in stream flows. … ”  Read more from the Christian Science Monitor here:  Cities that depend on snowmelt for water could face problems, study suggests
  • Earth Log: 40% losses expected in Friant Dam water releases:  On May 15, the federal government began a first-ever release of water meant for west San Joaquin Valley growers who have water rights dating back to the 1800s. Wildlife refuges also would get some water.  But that was last week. Today’s headline? About 40% of the water will be lost to evaporation and percolation into the dry Valley floor. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:   Earth Log: 40% losses expected in Friant Dam water releases
  • Nunes: Take water fight to state population centers:Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) was in Fresno Friday morning talking water, al-Qaida and immigration reform with local business leaders.  Nunes, speaker for the Fresno Chamber’s Eggs and Issues series, spent much of his time on the water. He said legislation from Sen. Diane Feinstein may help return up to 300,000 acre-feet of surface water to area growers, but that’s far short of the 2.5 million acre-feet he said has been lost in the last several years. …. ”  Read more from the Fresno Business Journal here: Nunes: Take water fight to state population centers
  • North San Joaquin Water Conservation District backs San Joaquin County’s concerns over groundwater reform bill:  The North San Joaquin Water Conservation District has joined San Joaquin County and other water districts in the area in voicing concern over a proposed State Senate bill for groundwater sustainability.  Senate Bill 1168, by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, would establish a mandatory framework for sustainable groundwater supply management throughout the state. … ”  Read more from the Lodi News-Sentinel here: North San Joaquin Water Conservation District backs San Joaquin County’s concerns over groundwater reform bill
  • Fresno Irrigation District water delivery to last six weeks: “Water delivery from the Fresno Irrigation District, affecting some 4,000 farmers, will be the shortest it’s been in 37 years.  An expected six-week water delivery, beginning June 1, was determined this week by the district’s Board of Directors.  “The last time FID was able to run water only six weeks was during the 1977 drought year,” said Gary Serrato, general manager of the Fresno Irrigation District. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Fresno Irrigation District water delivery to last six weeks
  • Merced Supervisors consider sale of groundwater:The Merced County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider an emergency item dealing with the potential sale of 23,000 acre-feet of groundwater from Merced County to two water districts in Stanislaus County. The contract calls for the same amount each year for four years.  The comment period about the proposal was extended 24 hours to allow the Merced County supervisors and the public time to provide feedback. It was originally set to end Monday. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Merced Supervisors consider sale of groundwater  See also this from the Fresno Bee here:  Merced County landowners try to sell groundwater
  • Federal court upholds IID-San Diego water transfer:  “A federal appeals court says environmental reviews were properly done on the nation’s largest farm-to-city water transfer, the latest ruling to uphold a 2003 agreement on how California agencies divide that state’s share of Colorado River water. ... ”  Read more from the Seattle PI here: Federal court upholds California water transfer
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/05/19/6416896/merced-supervisors-consider-sale.html#storylink=cpy

People in the news …

  • Professor Mark Lubell — Quenching the Psychological Thirst: ” …The problem with the drought isn’t just the drought itself. As Mark Lubell, a UC Davis professor of Environmental Science and Policy pointed out, the sensationalist journalism and political theater capitalizing on the drought have caused us to lose sight of the bigger issue – what are we going to do the next time this happens?  Professor Lubell says that “panic politics” demonstrate how climate and weather’s psychological effects have a knack for clouding our judgment. During our interview, he described how when droughts happen, “people panic about it. And the pundits scream about it, but when it starts raining and it gets wet, we forget about it. The amount of risk assigned to drought isn’t going to be realistic when it’s raining. ‘We don’t have to worry about the drought now, it’s raining.’” … ”  Read more from the Davis Political Review here: Professor Mark Lubell — Quenching the Psychological Thirst

In commentary today …

  • Restore the Delta responds to Senator Feinstein:  “A Central Valley environmental group wants eight minutes and 38 seconds of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s time.  That’s the length of a YouTube video argument they’ve created to show alternatives to better use California’s limited water supplies.  Restore the Delta says the video is in response to Ms. Feinstein’s comment last week that “environmentalists are no help” in solving California’s water resources challenges. … ”  Read more from the Central Valley Business Times here:  Environmentalists to Feinstein: Give us 8 minutes

weatherPrecipitation watch …

  • Possible snow: From the National Weather Service: “Low pressure centered near the Bay Area early this morning will shift east into Nevada over the next 24 hours. The threat for showers and thunderstorms will continue across much of northern California into this evening before retreating to mainly over the mountains for Wednesday. Some accumulating snow will be possible over the higher elevations of the northern Sierra Nevada through tonight. Warmer and drier conditions return later this week.

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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