Daily Digest: Drought strategies: Save or store more water? plus Santa Barbara fights for desal permits, groundwater, fracking and more

Owens Lake Bed Aug 2012 #34

In California water news today, dueling drought strategies:  Save more water or store more water?; How California can beat the drought; Water-saving techniques should be taught to farmers, study urges; Drought intensifies push for better groundwater management; Farm groups tell officials that state should act deliberately on groundwater; Merced County groundwater export plan raises ire of farmers; Junior water rights curtailed; Healthy rivers: Will wealthy Fresnans block access on the San Joaquin?; EBMUD’s rates to rise 9.5%; Stanislaus County supervisors accept groundwater recommendations, action plan; Santa Barbara fights for desal permits; Study: Water pumping made desert ground sink 2 feet; Not even a severe drought can stop fracking; Obama signs $12.3B water projects bill

In the news today …

  • Dueling drought strategies:  Save more water or store more water?  “There’s no doubt that in California, water is in short supply this year. How to avoid the same situation when the next drought descends is, on the other hand, a matter of debate. Two competing camps have emerged about how to boost California’s water supplies during dry times: conserve more water or build more water storage.  While California has pursued both strategies in the past, two new reports released Tuesday make differing cases for how the state should spend limited resources to solve California’s water woes. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Dueling Drought Strategies: Save More Water or Store More Water
  • California Has Potential to Turn Water Deficit to Surplus:  “Drought-stricken California has more than twice the water capacity needed to erase an annual deficit of more than 6 million acre-feet, through better conservation and management efforts, according to the Pacific Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council.  Almost half of the potential 13.7 million acre-feet in savings could come from agricultural efficiency gains and conservation, with the balance from urban improvements, water reuse and captured storm water, the two groups said in a joint report today. One acre-foot is enough to cover an acre with a foot of water, approximately 326,000 gallons (1.2 million liters)…. ”  Read more from Bloomberg here:  California Has Potential to Turn Water Deficit to Surplus
  • Water-saving techniques should be taught to farmers, study urges: Farmers need to be more water efficient, and government funds should be used to help train them how, according to a new study.  If California approves a water bond, the study’s authors want part of it to pay for “farmer outreach, education and assistance programs for on-farm water-use best management practices.”  “Beyond the Irrigation District: Investing in On-Farm Water Stewardship for California’s Future” was released this week by the Community Alliance with Family Farmers and the California Climate and Agriculture Network. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: Water-saving techniques should be taught to farmers, study urges
  • ‘Pioneer Spirit’ Helping Central Valley Residents Deal With Drought:Verna Ward says she had been putting money away since last summer. Along with money earned after her husband, Al, sold his pickup truck, shey says, they have enough to put in a new 300-foot-deep well for their home. It costs $15,000.  As groundwater levels continue to drop in the Central Valley, many homeowners are finding ways to cope and to prepare — in case their private wells running dry. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here: ‘Pioneer Spirit’ Helping Central Valley Residents Deal With Drought
  • Drought intensifies push for better groundwater management:  “Californians are becoming more reliant on underground water during the drought. But policymakers and environmental groups agree better management of the resource is needed.  Vic Bruno’s home isn’t connected to a public water system. Like most rural homeowners in Madera County, his water comes from a deep hole in the ground.  “It’s a three-quarter-inch pipe that goes all the way down 300 feet,” he says. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Drought intensifies push for better groundwater management
  • Farm groups tell officials that state should act deliberately on groundwater:  “Drought-driven efforts to increase groundwater regulation in California feature a variety of studies, regulatory proposals and legislative solutions vying for attention. But agricultural experts told the state Board of Food and Agriculture last week there’s great economic and environmental peril in hastily adopting rules that could come freighted with unintended consequences.  During presentations before the board meeting in Sacramento, farm group representatives agreed a rigid, one-size-fits-all regulatory scheme would hinder—rather than help—sustainable storage and use of underground water. … ”  Read more from the California Farm Bureau Federation here: Farm groups: State should act deliberately
  • Merced County groundwater export plan raises ire of farmers: While some growers in Central California’s Merced County are none-too-thrilled with a proposal to export water to an adjacent county, others see the deal as vital to keep their permanent crops alive in a year where surface water is unavailable due to state and federal decisions.  Permanent crop grower Jim Jasper, owner of Stewart and Jasper in Newman, Calif., says the need for water is paramount. He has trees to keep alive this year.  “This would be extremely helpful for the farmers in our area to get this water,” Jasper said. ... ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Merced County groundwater export plan raises ire of farmers
  • Modesto Irrigation District board balks at paying owners for well water: “The board of the Modesto Irrigation District balked Tuesday at paying private well owners to pump water into canals, but it did approve another plan for stretching the tight supply.  Directors voted 4-0, with Nick Blom absent, to allow well owners to pump into nearby canals in exchange for an extra water allocation from the MID system, supplied mainly by the Tuolumne River.  The idea is to keep as much as possible in Don Pedro Reservoir in case 2015 brings a fourth year of drought. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Modesto Irrigation District board balks at paying owners for well water
    Read more here: http://www.modbee.com/2014/06/10/3384085/mid-board-balks-at-paying-owners.html?sp=/99/1623/#storylink=cpy
  • Junior water rights curtailed:  “Beginning this week, some state water users will not be able to get water from National Forest System lands in California, State Water Resources Control Board officials announced.  The 18 National Forests in California hold a variety of water rights, many of which are granted by the state.  Under current drought conditions, state water officials determined that water supplies are not adequate to meet anticipated needs. … ”  Read more from the Vallejo Times-Herald here: Junior water rights curtailed due to drought
  • Klamath junior irrigators cut off: “For second year in a row, junior water rights holders in the Klamath Basin find themselves shut off.  Klamath Basin Watermaster Scott White calls it the worst part of his job. “By far,” he says.  This past week, White notified 213 users to stop drawing water for irrigation. The move came after senior water rights holders — those with rights authorized before 1905, in this case — issued a “call” for water because they have not been able to draw the full amount due them. Under Oregon water law, junior water rights are shut off until the senior users get the water to which they are entitled. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here: Klamath junior water rights holders cut off
  • Obama signs bill with Russian River funds:  “President Obama on Tuesday signed authorization for 34 Army Corps of Engineers water-related projects nationwide, including a long-sought green light for restoration projects in Dry Creek, allowing badly needed reservoir water to continue to flow sufficiently to meet the needs in Sonoma and northern Marin counties without an estimated $300 million bypass pipeline. … ”  Red more from the North Bay Business Journal here:  Obama signs water law with Russian River fish-habitat funds
  • Healthy Rivers: Will Wealthy Fresnans Block Access On The San Joaquin?  Even in the middle of a drought, the San Joaquin River is a lush oasis of water and wildlife at the northern edge of sprawling suburban Fresno.  The river begins in the high country of the Sierra Nevada and flows downstream through Millerton Lake, past golden hills into a broad river bottom that’s flanked by tall bluffs on both sides. It’s home to wildlife from spawning salmon to deer, osprey, and red tailed hawks. ... ”  Read more from Valley Public Radio here: Healthy Rivers: Will Wealthy Fresnans Block Access On The San Joaquin?
  • EBMUD’s rates to rise 9.5%:  “Customers in the East Bay’s largest water district will pay 9.5 percent more for water starting next month, the second large rate increase in two years.  The East Bay Municipal Utility District Board voted 7-0 Tuesday to approve the increase that district managers say is needed to step up pipe and equipment maintenance that had been deferred during the lean economic years from 2008 to 2012.  “We are having to replumb our older service areas,” said Abby Figueroa, a district spokeswoman. “Half of our pipes are more than 50 years old. We are shoring up our water system and its finances.” … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  EBMUD’s water rates to go up 9.5%
  • Stanislaus County supervisors accept groundwater recommendations, action plan: “Stanislaus County leaders on Tuesday approved a five-year groundwater action plan that was developed by a committee dominated by agriculture interests.  The board, on a 5-0 vote, accepted the 17 recommendations of the Water Advisory Committee, none of which placed limits on new well permits or groundwater pumping for sprawling orchards on the eastern side of the county. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: Stanislaus County supervisors accept groundwater recommendations, action plan
  • Santa Barbara fights for desal permits: City administrator Paul Casey expressed mixed feelings and cautious optimism that the state regulatory agencies with oversight over the licensing of coastal desalination plants will eventually agree that Santa Barbara’s permits for its long-mothballed desal plant could be deemed valid in case the drought continues. Casey traveled to Sacramento accompanied by Councilmember Dale Francisco to make their case to the California Coastal Commission and the State Water Quality Control Board. … ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here: City Fights for Desalination Plant Permits
  • Lake Elsinore:Water district considering desalination plant:  “Faced with increasing salt content in the region’s water supply, Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District administrators are looking at desalination as a possible solution.  Elsinore Valley’s Board of Directors is scheduled Thursday to hear a staff request for permission to seek a state grant that could finance the planning and designing of a full-scale plant using the reverse osmosis process to desalt water. … ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here:  Lake Elsinore:Water district considering desalination plant
  • Study: Water pumping made desert ground sink 2 feet:  “A new scientific report has determined that as groundwater pumping has led to declines in the Coachella Valley’s aquifer, the surface of the ground sank by between nine inches and 2 feet from 1995 to 2010 in parts of Indian Wells, La Quinta and Palm Desert.  The U.S. Geological Survey conducted the study with support from the Coachella Valley Water District, using satellite-based radar and GPS surveys to track changes in the ground level. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here: Study: Water pumping made desert ground sink 2 feet

  • Not even a severe drought can stop fracking:Critics of fracking may have hoped drought-ridden states might be inclined to shut down the oil and gas abstraction method that uses lots of water.  But just last month, in the midst of the worst drought in California’s history, the state Senate killed a bill that would have put a moratorium on the state’s use of hydraulic fracturing. … ”  Read more from CNBC here: Not even severe drought can stop fracking
  • Obama signs $12.3B water projects bill:  “Capping a rare instance of congressional compromise, President Barack Obama signed a $12.3 billion water projects bill Tuesday, financing improvements ranging from a harbor expansion in Boston to flood control in Iowa and North Dakota.  Obama praised the work of Democrats and Republicans and said he hoped it set a pattern for agreement for more spending on capital works projects across the country.  “Right now we should be putting a lot more Americans back to work rebuilding our infrastructure,” he said. “There are a lot of guys with hardhats sitting at home.” … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here: Obama signs $12.3 billion water projects bill
Read more here: http://www.modbee.com/2014/06/10/3383081/live-coverage-board-of-supervisors.html?sp=%2F99%2F1571%2F&ihp=1#storylink=cpy
Read more here: http://www.modbee.com/2014/06/10/3384285/water-saving-techniques-should.html?sp=/99/1623/#storylink=cpy

In commentary today …

  • Water projects bill shows what bipartisan cooperation can produce, say Senator Barbara Boxer and Congresswoman Doris Matsui: They write: “Congress came together last month to pass the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 with overwhelming bipartisan support in both houses. The Senate approved it 91-7, and the House vote was 412-4; the entire California delegation supported it. On Tuesday, President Barack Obama signed the act.  Its passage demonstrates the broad support for significant investment in America’s flood protection systems and other water projects. It makes important investments and reforms related to our nation’s ports and waterways, which moved more than 2.3 billion tons of goods in 2012. It provides assistance to communities to become more resilient to extreme weather and natural disasters. And it restores vital ecosystems and provides a boost to our economy by creating jobs. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Viewpoints: Water projects bill shows what bipartisan cooperation can produce

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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Photo credit:  Driving the playa at Owens Lake; Owens Lake Dust Control Project.  Photo by Maven.  See more of the Owens Lake Dust Control Project here: The Owens Lake Dust Control Project: The ultimate human-managed landscape; More from Owens Lake; and Owens Lake infrastructure: One last look.

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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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