Daily Digest, weekend edition: Atkins says legislature has until Monday to reach water bond deal, lawmakers consider groundwater legislation, problems for Bay Area water agencies getting their water from water banks, and more

Thunderbird Lodge, Lake Tahoe.  Photo by Chris Austin.  All rights reserved.
Thunderbird Lodge, Lake Tahoe
In California water news this weekend, Speaker Toni Atkins says legislature has until Monday to reach water bond deal, lawmakers consider historic rules to limit groundwater pumping, problems for Bay Area water agencies getting their water from water banks, Farmers moving to tree nut crops despite drought, record waterfowl population may run out of food due to drought, some growers awash in water while neighbor’s crops die, water goes to those who drill deepest, and more water news and commentary

In the news this weekend …

  • Speaker Toni Atkins says they have until Monday to reach water bond deal: As California’s drought drags through its third straight year, lawmakers in Sacramento have yet to reach agreement on how to tackle the Golden State’s water crisis.  That could change on Monday. Some say it has to.  Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, said on Friday that Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature have until Monday to agree on a slimmed-down water bond before an $11.1 billion measure approved for the ballot years ago, and now seen as bloated, lands in voter information guides in coming weeks. … ”  Read more from the U-T San Diego here: Still no answer to CA water crisis in Sacramento
  • Vidak offers $8.7B water bond:  “Call it a last-gasp effort. Call it a Hail Mary.  That just about captures the essence of an 11th-hour water bond proposed by state Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, and his Republican colleagues Friday. The amount — $8.7 billion – basically splits the difference between the $6 billion plan proposed this week by Gov. Jerry Brown and the $11.1 billion original deal that was supposed to go on the ballot in 2010. … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here: Vidak offers $8.7 billion water bond
  • Lawmakers consider historic rules to limit groundwater pumping:  “In what would be the most significant water law passed in California in nearly 50 years, lawmakers in Sacramento are working with Gov. Jerry Brown on a landmark measure to regulate groundwater pumping for the first time.  With an Aug. 31 deadline until the end of the session and billions of dollars at stake, negotiations among farmers, environmentalists, cities and elected officials are reaching a crescendo. … ”  Read more from the Contra Costa Times here:  Lawmakers consider historic rules to limit groundwater pumping
  • California lawmakers consider historic shift in groundwater policy: “As California continues to endure a calamitous lack of water from the sky, the state could, for the first time, start to regulate water drawn from the ground.  Groundwater regulation has been politically poisonous since the state’s founding. But lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration are hoping to capitalize on the current parched conditions, and cautious cooperation from once-resistant interest groups, to pass a plan for a groundwater management system by the end of the month. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: California lawmakers considering historic shift in groundwater policy
  • Problems for Bay Area water agencies getting their water from water banks: Three Bay Area water agencies have stored enough water in a huge underground “water bank” to supply nearly a half-million families with a year’s worth of water.  But it’s uncertain whether they’ll be able to bring it to their customers’ taps. That’s a big problem, especially if the drought extends into a fourth year.  “We’re stranded,” said Jim Fiedler, chief operating officer with the Santa Clara Valley Water District. “We can’t get the water back to us.” … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Water exchange at risk
  • Despite drought, farmers moving to tree nut crops: “Yes, there is a drought forcing California farmers to leave fields fallow or, in extreme cases, tear out orchard crops.  But there has also been strong demand for nut crops – including walnuts, pistachios and almonds – and the resulting high price and profits have led to a surge of new plantings, industry experts said.  Federal farm officials recently estimated at least 48,000 new acres of almonds were planted in the year beginning in July 2013, based on a survey of almond tree nursery sales. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  San Joaquin all about almonds
  • Record waterfowl population may run out of food in drought-stricken California:  “Central Valley wetlands are dying up, but the state expects a record number of migratory birds this year.  Biologists say the wet winter in Canada and northern United States created a perfect spring breeding season. Ducks Unlimited estimates the migratory waterfowl population to increase by 8 percent. ... ”  Read more from CBS here:  Record waterfowl population may run out of food in drought-stricken California
  • Growers group awash in water while neighbor’s crops die:  “As cities brace for rationing and many California farmers yank out trees and fallow land for crops, growers and dairy farmers on 240,000 acres along the San Joaquin River near Los Banos are comparatively awash in water.  The property owners and farmers who are within the 80-mile-long territory that falls under the authority of the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors will get 75 percent of the water they historically receive this year from the California State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Growers group awash in water while neighbor’s crops die
  • In dry California, water goes to those who drill the deepest:  “The only sign of life sprouting out of a vast expanse of land in this unincorporated corner of Tulare County is a large drilling rig and two trucks laden with 1,000-foot-long drill pipes.  Men in hard hats work round the clock in sweltering 100-plus degree temperatures and in the still of the night, under the glare of construction night lights. They’re boring down 40 feet an hour to reach their ultimate goal of 2,000 feet into the Tulare Basin aquifer. Once dug and built, the well could eventually pump up to 1,000 gallons of water a minute and turn the arid ground above into the fertile soil that California’s Central Valley is renowned for. ... ”  Read more from Al Jezeera America here:  In dry California, water goes to those who drill the deepest
  • Ten Mile River getting reef-to-ridge makeover to help salmon:  “The deep-blue Ten Mile River snakes down from the mountains through redwood forests and coastal wetlands near Fort Bragg before it flows past rolling sand dunes into the sea.  The little-known waterway along the rugged Mendocino County coast looks, from the air, like an untamed remnant of the nearby Lost Coast, but it is far from pristine. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Ten Mile River getting reef-to-ridge makeover to help salmon

In regional news this weekend …

  • Napa: Drought prompts calls for greater scrutiny of ag wells:California received some discomforting news last week, when the U.S. Drought Monitor classified 58 percent of the state — including Napa County — as being in exceptional drought. That officially rendering this three-year-long abnormally dry period as the most severe drought ever recorded in the state.  It’s also led to swift calls to action from lawmakers in California and in Napa County, and shifted attention to an issue with direct effects to rural homeowners and the Napa Valley’s vintners and grape growers — groundwater pumping. … ”  Read more from the Napa Valley Register here: Drought prompts calls for greater scrutiny of ag wells
  • Bay Area water districts offer rebates for getting rid of the lawn:  “In many parts of the Bay Area, homeowners can get rebates ranging from 50 cents to $4 per square foot for replacing their lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping.  Alan Bennett of Palo Alto had wanted to replace his lawn for some time, but his city’s rebate offer of $4 per square foot spurred him to action. “The incentive program is enough to get you over the barrier,” he says. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Bay Area water districts offer rebates for getting rid of lawn
  • Governor’s Drought Task Force to meet with San Francisco Officials:  “Members of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Interagency Drought Task Force will travel to San Francisco on Monday to meet with local government officials to learn about local efforts to respond to the drought. ... ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here: Governor’s Drought Task Force to Meet with SF Area Officials
  • Santa Cruz: California drought water wasters attend Water School for hosing sidewalks, filling Jacuzzis:Some overindulged their zucchini patch. Others didn’t bother with that dripping kitchen sink. But now every Monday night in this drought-stricken beach town, dozens of residents who violated their strict rations take a seat at Water School, hoping to get hundreds of thousands of dollars in distressing penalties waived.  Nik Martinelli, a Santa Cruz water-conservation specialist who is up before dawn patrolling for overwatered lawns, launched a recent lesson. … ”  Read more from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune here: California drought water wasters attend Water School for hosing sidewalks, filling Jacuzzis
  • Turlock: TUSD Joins Binge Water Wasting Party, Government Not Exempt From $500 Fine: In July, the State of California Water Resources Board implemented a statewide mandatory $500 fine for people and organizations — including taxpayer funded governmental entities like City of Turlock, Turlock Unified School District and California State University, Stanislaus — that waste water, specifically by allowing water to overflow onto concrete sidewalks and gutters. Since the mandatory $500 fine hit the news, Turlockcitynews.com has received dozens of complaints and numerous pictures from residents pointing out obvious pools of water being wasted in the exact same manner as the fine stipulates. … ”  Read more from Tulock City News here: TUSD Joins Binge Water Wasting Party, Government Not Exempt From $500 Fine
  • Los Angeles can do more to reduce costly imported water, activists say: Los Angeles can and should do more to wean itself off of costly imported water, environmental advocates told scores of people who packed a Panorama City forum Saturday.  “It’s not sustainable for us to continue relying on 89% of our local water supply coming from more than 200 miles away,” said Mark Gold, acting director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. ... ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here:  Los Angeles can do more to reduce costly imported water, activists say
  • Improvised devices help water drought-stricken L.A. trees:Los Angeles officials and environmentalists have begun deploying emergency low-tech watering devices to try to save trees in desperate need of water during the drought.  The improvised contraptions, called drought response irrigation pods or “irricades,” are made with hollow, plastic traffic barriers and filled with recycled water that slowly trickles into the soil through attached soaker hoses. … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here: Improvised devices help water drought-stricken L.A. trees
  • Southern California cemeteries saving water during the drought:  “As drought restrictions across the state take hold, customers of water departments are being asked to dramatically reduce their water consumption. One industry has proven remarkably resilient against the drought, however.  Cemeteries, often among the greatest water consumers, have taken drastic measures to end their dependence on water. Many, such as Savannah Memorial Park in Rosemead, have taken the initiative to completely revamp their grounds. … ”  Read more from the San Bernardino Sun here: Southern California cemeteries conserving water during drought
  • Soaking up Catalina, tourists pose a dilemma:  “Just an hourlong ferry ride from Los Angeles, Catalina Island is enjoying a renaissance. After years of declining tourism, businesses here have spent more than $40 million updating this quaint island town. Hotels have been remodeled and new restaurants added. A zip line overlooking the ocean was installed. The beach — long among the dirtiest in California, befouled by an aging sewer system — was cleaned up.  The plan worked. Tourists have been flooding off ferries here in near-record numbers this year.  There is just one problem: Catalina is quickly running out of water, a situation that is threatening to curtail the island’s economic resurgence. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here: Soaking Up Catalina, Tourists Pose a Dilemma

People in the news …

  • Compton mayor Aja Brown joins the Delta Stewardship Council:  “Compton Mayor Aja Brown announced on August 1 that she has been appointed by California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins to serve on the seven-member California Delta Stewardship Council.  “At a time when our state is coping with emergency drought conditions and water conservation is a state mandate, I am proud to join the members of the Delta Stewardship Council to work cooperatively to fulfill its mission and achieve its goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California, and protecting, restoring and enhancing our state’s Delta ecosystem,” she said. … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Register here:  Mayor Aja Brown joins the Delta Stewardship Council

In commentary this weekend …

  • Compromise is key in creating a workable water bond, says the Sacramento Bee:  They write: “Does Gov. Jerry Brown want to place an effective water bond on the November ballot?  Do Republicans want to blow up a bond that would improve California’s water system by refusing to accept a penny less than $3 billion for new dams and reservoirs?  Do advocates for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta want to forgo millions of dollars in habitat restoration that could help the failing heart of California’s water system? … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Editorial: Compromise is key in creating a workable water bond
  • California needs to effectively manage its groundwater basins, says Craig McNamara:  “If you look closely at the economic impact of California agriculture, it’s staggering how much the nation – and even the world – relies on our farmers and ranchers. The state accounted for 15 percent of national receipts for crops and 7.1 percent of the U.S. revenue for livestock and livestock products in 2012, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Our farms and ranches exported $18.18 billion in value that same year. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Viewpoints: California needs to effectively manage its groundwater basins
  • State sediment study would be a waste of time and money, says the Chico Enterprise-Record:  They write: “The state Legislature seems willing to do just about anything to avoid addressing California’s ongoing water problem.  …  Now the Legislature is studying another idea that is infeasible on so many levels. They want to see whether it makes sense to dig reservoirs deeper. And they’re talking about spending $10 million just to study the idea.  They shouldn’t waste our money.  Evidence is already out there that tells legislators all they need to know.  … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  State sediment study would be a waste of time and money

weatherPrecipitation watch …

  • Thunderstorms in the forecast for Northern California: From the National Weather Service: “Thunderstorms are the weather threat for the next few days. Mountain thunderstorms are possible from this afternoon into Tuesday. Thunderstorms may spread from the mountains to include all of the Sacramento Valley, Northern San Joaquin Valley and Delta Monday afternoon into early Tuesday. Fuel conditions remain very dry so fire starts are possible from the thunderstorms. By mid-week another low pressure system may bring slightly cooler temperatures and breezy conditions for the mountains for interior NorCal.

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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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where California water news never goes home for the weekend

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