Daily Digest: Fines work best for realizing water conservation, Officials admit they have incomplete water usage data, Jay Famiglietti on how the West was lost, and more news and commentary …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, fines work best for realizing water conservation, Officials admit they have incomplete water usage data, canvassing fairgoers about the drought, Drought fight brings incentives and enforcement, El Nino: The Pacific’s wayward child, Jay Famiglietti on how the West was lost, and states and cities are getting creative about conservation, plus the legislature must not fund the tunnels through the back door, says the San Francisco Chronicle, plus more news and commentary …

Happening today in California water …

  • Brown Bag Seminar: Delta Landscape Metrics: Creating a Spatial Framework to Inform Restoration Planning: On Monday, July 28 from 12 noon to 1 pm, Robin Grossinger, Senior Scientist at the San Francisco Estuary Institute will discuss the Delta Landscapes project,which provides a landscape-scale perspective on restoration opportunities and recommendations founded on a sound understanding of the ecological functions that existed in the Delta prior to substantial human modification.  Click here for an informational flier.  Note: See the event flier for webcast information.

In the news today …

  • Fines work best for realizing water conservation:  “Voluntary conservation measures are not reliably saving water during the worst drought to hit California in a generation, according to data from water agencies across the state. Only mandatory conservation rules, backed by a threat of fines, seem to prompt consumers to save.  California water agencies with mandatory rules alone used 5% less water from January through May this year, compared to an average over the three previous years, according to a Sacramento Bee analysis of the data. Agencies with voluntary conservation measures saw water demand rise 4% over the same period. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Fines work best to save Calif. water
  • California officials admit they have incomplete water usage data:When state regulators tried to tally water use across California recently, they didn’t exactly get a flood of cooperation.  Of the 440 water agencies in the state, only 276 provided water consumption data. And officials in San Diego made a point of formally refusing the request, saying the state’s method for measuring water use in California’s second-largest city was “misleading and technically inappropriate.” … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here:  California officials admit they have incomplete water usage data
  • Canvassing fairgoers about the drought:  “A number of paintings hang behind Dennis Curry, who is sitting in a folding chair, but the image of pale green hills brushed by a golden-hour sun stands out.  “People see this painting and they sigh,” the artist from Paso Robles recounts. “They say, ‘I remember when the hills used to look like that.’”  Nostalgic Californians will debate which era constitutes the good times, but future generations almost certainly will not nominate the year 2014. A nasty drought stifles the nation’s most populous state. In farm towns, like Paso Robles, found halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the gloom is especially pervasive. … ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here:  Canvassing Fairgoers about California’s Drought
  • Drought fight brings incentives, enforcement:  ““Beer without water is very crunchy.”  That slogan appears on the back of the latest craft-beer map from the San Diego Brewers Guild and is the latest attempt to reach residents who might not be thinking about the drought gripping California.  A survey this spring by the San Diego County Water Authority found that adults 18 to 34 were significantly less aware of the ongoing drought than those 55 or older. ... ”  Read more from the U-T San Diego here:  Drought fight brings incentives, enforcement
  • El Nino: The Pacific’s wayward child:  “The drought afflicting California—now heading into its third year—has taken a turn for the worse. It seems that 2014 is shaping up to be the driest in nearly a century. Back in January, Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of drought emergency, and urged Californians to cut their water use by 20%. In February, with a good deal of political capital at stake, President Obama visited Fresno, the heart of the state’s agriculture belt, with an offer of $183m in federal aid.  At the time, there was still hope that the weather pattern causing the prolonged drought—what meteorologists had dubbed a “ridiculously resilient ridge” of high pressure parked off the coast of the Pacific North-west—would break down by late spring. … ”  Read more from The Economist here:  The Pacific’s wayward child
  • How the West was lost: Jay Famiglietti writes: “Just as the settling and development of the arid American West was fueled by harnessing its available fresh water, the growing lack of water availability may well be its undoing.  California’s epic drought is just the latest example of what is shaping up to be the new normal out west.  Last year was the driest on record.  This year, river flows are so low that deliveries of surface water to the southern half of the state, through California’s complex network of aqueducts and canals, were slashed to zero.  Thirsty homeowners and anxious farmers have been forced to dig more and deeper wells to tap into steadily declining groundwater reserves. … ”  Read more from National Geographic here:  How the West was lost
  • States and cities get creative about recycling water: Overwhelmed by severe drought, the Oklahoma legislature passed a law this year to help communities make the most of their water resources by treating and reusing wastewater.  As drought spread over 80 percent of the state, Oklahoma cities expressed interest in reusing water but lacked clear guidance from the Department of Environmental Quality on how to do it. A bill signed by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin at the end of May directs the state agency to design a process for creating water reuse projects and to establish rules and permitting requirements.  “Oklahoma is challenged, not just today but looking down the road,” said state Sen. Rob Standridge, who sponsored the bill along with fellow Republican Rep. Scott Martin.  … ”  Read more from the Pew Charitable Trust here:  States, cities get creative about recycling water

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

In commentary today …

  • Legislature must not fund tunnels through the back door, says the San Francisco Chronicle:  “The state’s plan to build twin tunnels to export water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to places farther south is controversial, contested and very expensive. So may be the way that local water districts choose to pay for it.  Until recently, it had escaped everyone’s notice that local water agencies can raise property taxes to pay for water infrastructure without getting voter approval.  ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Legislature must not fund tunnels through the back door
  • Water bond must recognize Sierra’s importance, says the president of the Sierra Nevada Business Council:  Steven Frisch writes: “Before they left Sacramento for summer recess, legislators said they would work together to hammer out a new water bond bill when they returned in August. This would replace the $11.14 billion proposal currently on the November ballot, which has already been delayed twice.  Although legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown have put forward conflicting ideas that may be difficult to reconcile, we have confidence our leadership can get the job done. But it will be up to us to hold our elected leaders accountable because if they don’t pass a workable water bond deal, we risk devastating consequences. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Viewpoints: Water bond must recognize Sierra’s importance
  • Instead of worrying about more water, how about conserving what we have? says columnist:  Tom Barnidge writes:  “The way Chris Dundon, Contra Costa Water District’s conservation coordinator, tells the story, the customer who called for advice was a transplant from San Francisco with a yard so large it required 28 watering stations. Most were drip irrigation, some were sprinklers, and nearly all were broken. That’s what accounted for his enormous water bill.  “He’d been using 3,000 to 5,000 gallons a day,” said Dundon, who showed him the repairs that were needed. “After that, his water bill dropped from over $300 to about $60.”  The story is an extreme one — a typical household consumes about 250 gallons a day — but it brings home a broader point: Inattention to water usage leads to water waste.  … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Barnidge: Instead of worrying about more water, how about conserving what we have?
  • Leaks: the under-appreciated water conservation strategy, says commentary: Jennifer Stokes and Thomas Henderson write: “California is experiencing a historic drought, requiring water providers to stretch limited supplies to meet our needs. Among our efforts to use water wisely, investments in leak detection, pressure management and water pipe repair deserve more attention.  Why? Because they work and do not depend upon individual behavior changes. … ”  Continue reading at the San Francisco Chronicle here: Leaks – the under-appreciated water conservation strategy
  • Columnist gets busted by the water cops:  David Little writes:  ““Hey, your sprinklers are making water run in the gutter.”  Oh man. It was my neighbor talking, on an otherwise lovely weekend morning. And he had just ruined it.  I looked. There was indeed water in the gutter. It wasn’t a torrent. If you put a tree frog on a small piece of driftwood and let it float down the gutter, it probably wouldn’t even cascade down into the storm drain. (And no, I never did that as a kid. Ever.) ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  David Little: Busted by the Water Cops
  • California drought: Hazardous but profitable, says columnist: Robert Williams writes in the Wall Street Daily:  “Scientists can’t quite figure it out. It’s an unnatural event in every way imaginable.  Off the coast of California, in the middle of the atmosphere, sits an extraordinary region of high pressure in the Pacific Ocean, and it won’t budge.  Experts have affectionately dubbed it, the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge,” but it’s no laughing matter. ... ”  Read more from the Wall Street Daily here:  California drought: Hazardous but profitable
  • America might soon witness a dust-bowl like migration, says columnist:  Pete Saunders writes:  “Debates still persist about the impact of climate change, but from my perspective, the early results are in. We are now reaching the point where cities, metro areas and states will have to consider taking bold and assertive measures to even maintain their current quality-of-life levels. And we are also reaching the point at which alternate futures for our cities must be considered.  That future could very well mean fewer people in the dry West and coastal areas of the East and South, and more people in the comparatively water-rich Midwest. And if you’re looking for a historical analogy that could illustrate the change, look no further than the 1930s-era Dust Bowl. … ”  Read more from Business Insider here:  America might soon witness a dust-bowl like migration

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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