Daily Digest: State Water Board to target Russian River rights in tomorrow’s hearing, tales of CA water rights holders, why some Delta Protection Commission members are uneasy, and more, plus Hanak, Mulroy & others share solutions to water crisis

Daily DigestIn California water news today, the State Water Board to target Russian River water rights holders in Tuesday’s hearing, the AP shares tales of California water rights holders, why some Delta Protection Commission members are uneasy, was it Artistic license? Or accurate portrayal of BDCP?, Drought Has Drillers Running After Shrinking California Water Supply, and could a desalination boom or limiting evaporation help with drought?, plus regional news from Napa County to the Coachella Valley, and Ellen Hanak, Pat Mulroy and others share their solutions to the West’s water crisis

In the news today …

  • State Water Board to target Russian River water rights holders in Tuesday’s hearing:  “State water officials Tuesday will be considering new regulations aimed at cracking down on people who have ignored orders to stop diverting water from several California streams, including the upper Russian River.  Of the 7,910 notices sent to junior water rights holders statewide in May, the state so far has received only 3,500 of the written responses they required, said State Water Resources Control Board spokesman Timothy Moran. He did not know how many of the Russian River water rights holders subject to the curtailments had failed to respond in writing.  Without stronger enforcement tools, “Diverters could potentially delay compliance through procedural measures well into the dry season, or until no water remains,” according to the water board’s notice for Tuesday’s hearing in Sacramento. … ”  Read more from the Press Democrat here: State to target upper Russian River water rights holders
  • Tales of California water rights holders:  “Nearly 4,000 corporations, farms and others hold senior water rights in California, exempting them from government-mandated cuts in water use during the third year of drought. Here is a look at some of them, along with how they obtained the right to draw water from waterways and how they use it: ... ”  Read more from the Reno Gazette-Journal here:  Tales of California water rights holders
  • Why some Delta Protection Commission members are uneasy:The Delta Protection Commission’s stand opposing the proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan with its massive twin water tunnels is making some of its members uneasy to the point where all three abstained from the commission’s vote.  They’re the state appointees to the commission, which is the only state agency to buck Gov. Jerry Brown’s push to spend $67 billion for the massive tunnels to drain Sacramento River water before it can enter the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  “I hope you can appreciate that the state representatives on this commission are in an awkward position,” said Kate White, the alternate from the California State Transportation Agency who has a seat on the board. … ”  Read more from the Central Valley Business Times here:  Why some Delta Protection Commission members are uneasy
  • Artistic license? Or accurate portrayal of BDCP? “Saying the 40,000-pages-plus of the draft environmental impact report/statement for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan are deficient, the Delta Protection Commission has stepped in to plug the hole.  At the heart of the $67 billion BDCP scheme are twin 40-foot in diameter water tunnels to siphon water out of the Sacramento River before it can flow naturally into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  The commission notes that the documents lack artist’s renderings of the proposed three story high water intake plants for the tunnels that are planned for Clarksburg and Courtland.  … ”  Read more from the Central Valley Business Times here:  Artistic license? Or accurate portrayal of BDCP?
  • Drought Has Drillers Running After Shrinking California Water Supply: Steve Arthur practically lives out of his truck these days. He runs one of Fresno’s busiest well-drilling companies, and hustles up and down the highway to check on drilling rigs that run 24 hours a day. “It’s officially getting crazy,” Arthur says. “We go and we go but it just seems like we can’t go fast enough.” Drilling in California isn’t just for oil and gas — it’s for water. And during this severe drought, farmers and ranchers are relying heavily on pumping groundwater. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here: Drought Has Drillers Running After Shrinking California Water Supply
  • A desalination boom in California could help it deal with ‘exceptional’ drought: “Adaptation to changing weather patterns is a principal driver that underpins a multi-decade opportunity when considering investments in the water sector.As the increasing unpredictability of weather patterns leads governments and municipalities to look at new water infrastructure investments, drought-ravaged California could be a large potential contributor to the 19% annual growth expectations in global desalination market.  With an approximate global capacity of nearly 80m cubic meters per day, about 1% of fresh water consumed globally is derived from desalination. … ”  Read more from The Guardian here: A desalination boom in California could help it deal with ‘exceptional’ drought
  • Could Limiting Evaporation Help With Drought?: “Most of the southwestern U.S. is in the midst of some level of drought. Parts of California, Nevada, Oklahoma and Texas are all seeing extreme drought, as rainfall and winter snowpacks have been far below average.  One of the biggest factors affecting water supplies in these hot, dry places is evaporation. Reservoirs can lose as much water to evaporation as the water that’s actually pumped out of them for drinking water.  Can anything can be done about it? From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Matt Largey of KUT explains two different approaches for limiting evaporation: a film of vegetable oil and pumping water underground. … ”  Read more from KUT here: A Tiny Bit of Vegetable Oil Could Save Texas Billions of Gallons of Water

In regional news today …

  • Napa County groundwater pumping will be under county scrutiny this summer:  As residents in cities in Napa County and throughout California sweat out this summer, the third consecutive in a severe drought gripping the state, and wonder whether runoff from the scant snowpack in the Sierra Nevada will be enough, grapegrower Jim Verhey won’t be joining them.  Verhey, who manages vineyards off of Big Ranch Road north of Napa, said his grapes are in great shape going into the hot months of the summer, with good soil moisture and canopy boosted by the rains in February, March and April. Verhey pumps groundwater to supply his vineyards, unlike city residents who rely on melted snowfall in the distant Sierras — via the State Water Project and the North Bay Aqueduct — for their showers and tap water. … ”  Read more from the Napa Valley Register here: Groundwater pumping will be under county scrutiny this summer
  • Santa Cruz water customers overwhelmingly meet rationing limits: “An overwhelming majority of Santa Cruz’s residential water customers have kept their consumption within mandated rationing limits and the city is on target to keep overall production below its drought-driven conservation goal, officials said this week.  As of June 20, the Water Department reported that half of the agency’s nearly 22,000 residential customers have been billed for the May to June service period and 94 percent complied with the rationing limits, which are set by the number of people living in single- and multifamily properties from the North Coast to Live Oak. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here: Santa Cruz water customers overwhelmingly meet rationing limits  See also: Santa Cruz water supply panel begins examination
  • Drought forces Le Grand grower out of farmers markets:Le Grand-based Marchini Farms will not be participating in farmers markets this year, the latest casualty of California’s drought.  Marc Marchini, sales manager for the 1,500-acre farm, said some of the farm’s wells are operating at about half capacity. So all the water resources will be directed toward the farm’s permanent crops, like almonds and walnuts.  “Seeing as the farmers market was something we did for the community and ourselves on the side, it got put on the back burner,” he said. “Not to say we’ll never do it again. It’s just, we’ve got to take off a year.” … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:   Drought forces Le Grand grower out of farmers markets
  • Stockton’s yearly precipitation total just 55%: “Call it a fresh start.  On Tuesday the National Weather Service will turn the page on a hugely disappointing 2013-14 “wet” season that saw Stockton soak up a paltry 7.51 inches of rain, about 55 percent of normal.  It was the city’s driest June-through-July period since 1976-77. ... ”   Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Rain meter reset
  • Modesto’s rainfall year ends with dismal totals:  “The rainfall year that ends Monday looks to be the 10th-driest in the 125 years on record for Modesto.  The final numbers are not in for the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which supplies much of the Northern San Joaquin Valley’s water, but they almost certainly will be even worse than the rain total. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: Modesto’s rainfall year ends with dismal totals
  • L.A. company saving water by offering drought-tolerant lawns for free: “Lorianne and Tibor Baranyai were ready to shell out some serious cash to rip out their thirsty lawn and replace it with low-water landscaping.  Then came a better offer. As a result, a new L.A. company hatched by green investors has torn out their yellowing turf and put in a drought-tolerant yard — for free. And the couple walked away with an $850 cash dividend. … ”  Read more from the LA Daily News here: L.A. company saving water by offering drought-tolerant lawns for free
  • Coachella Valley groundwater pumping holds steady despite calls to cut use:  “Facing one of the worst droughts in California history, Gov. Jerry Brown in January urged people across the state to cut water use by 20 percent. Those calls have been echoed by mayors, city councils and water districts. But the Coachella Valley, like much of California, remains far from reaching that goal.  In fact, data from the Coachella Valley’s five public water agencies show that their combined pumping of groundwater has changed little, increasing slightly during the first five months of this year as compared to the average in those months during the previous three years. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here: Coachella Valley groundwater pumping holds steady

Plenty more news and commentary in the weekend edition of the Daily Digest …

In commentary today …

  • A win-win solution for water and wildfires in Sierra forests: Tom DeVries writes: “We all know where the water isn’t. It’s missing from streams, lakes, reservoirs and the snowpack.  I think I know where the water is, and what to do, plus save money. We need to cut down a lot of trees and plants in the Sierra – half or more. I’ve already started at my place.  We Californians started attacking and extinguishing wildfires pretty aggressively around 100 years ago. When I was younger, I fought fires, covered them for the press and had them at my own Sierra home, so I’m generally in favor of this. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Viewpoints: A win-win solution for water and wildfires in Sierra forests
  • Water crisis in the West: Ellen Hanak, Pat Mulroy and others share their solutions:With water increasingly scarce in the drought-ravaged American West, many states could face drastic rationing without rain.  Even with more sustainable practices, the future of water in the West is not secure. Population growth, conflicting demands for resources, and the unpredictable nature of a changing climate will all exacerbate the crisis of an already parched landscape.  What are the best ways to share the water? And how can we ensure it lasts for the foreseeable future?”  Ellen Hanak, Pat Mulroy, Newsha Ajami, Melissa Meeker and others submit essays.  Read them all from the New York TImes here:  The Water Crisis in the West

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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