Daily Digest: Extreme drought causing land to rise upward, groundwater bills stirring debate, tougher sewage rules for Sacramento County and more, plus only in CA: take the #dirtbucketchallenge

Daily DigestIn California water news today, extreme drought causing land to rise upward, GPS tracking West’s vanishing water, California farm groups fret over groundwater bills, Desert water agencies oppose groundwater legislation as currently written, Wolk bill would require reporting of water system leaks, court ruling means tougher sewage rules in Sacramento County, California drought continues to take toll on reservoirs,
UC Davis looks for good grapes and ways to save water, California drought has wild salmon competing with almonds for water, ban on filling swimming pools hits communities in parched California, USGS report says freshwater withdrawals are lowest since the 1960s, and lastly, only in California: the #dirtbucketchallenge, plus more news and commentary

In the news today …

  • Extreme drought is causing the land to rise upward:  “The drought permeating the western United States has gone from bad to worse over the past year and a half — especially in California. As of two weeks ago, more than half of the state is considered to be in an “exceptional drought,” and the conditions are predicted to cost California $2.2 billion this year, as well as more than 17,000 jobs in the agriculture industry.  If that wasn’t enough, researchers are now reporting yet another consequence of the severe water loss in California and its surrounding states. The entire western U.S. has actually started to rise up. No, not in protest — but geographically. … ”  Read more from Popular Science here:  Extreme drought is causing the land to rise upward
  • GPS is Tracking West’s Vanishing Water, Scientists Surprised to Learn:Throughout the western United States, a network of Global Positioning System (GPS) stations has been monitoring tiny movements in the Earth’s crust, collecting data that can warn of developing earthquakes.  To their surprise, researchers have discovered that the GPS network has also been recording an entirely different phenomenon: the massive drying of the landscape caused by the drought that has intensified over much of the region since last year. ... ”  Read more from National Geographic here: GPS is Tracking West’s Vanishing Water, Scientists Surprised to Learn
  • More on the study:  See also: 63 trillion gallons of water lost in drought, study finds, from the Los Angeles Times; California drought is making earth’s surface rise, from Smithsonian Magazine, Epic drought in west is literally moving mountains, from KQED Science
  • California farm groups fret over groundwater bills:  “Farm groups want lawmakers to put the brakes on a comprehensive statewide groundwater management package about to be sent to Gov. Jerry Brown for approval.  Companion bills moving through the Legislature would give the State Water Resources Control Board broad authority to oversee groundwater management and set up local agencies that would charge fees to implement the rules. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  California farm groups fret over groundwater bills
  • California groundwater bills stir debate:  ” … as the Senate and Assembly edge closer to approving groundwater bills, debate has flared over amendments that some water agencies say would undermine the measures.  The Desert Water Agency announced on Thursday that it will oppose the two pieces of legislation – Assembly Bill 1739 and Senate Bill 1168 – unless they are amended to remove “political carve-outs” that have recently been added. The water agency says the changes would allow an opportunity for counties to opt out, and would exempt Native American tribes from groundwater management responsibilities. … ”  Read more from The Desert Sun here:  California groundwater bills stir debate
  • Wolk bill would require reporting of water system leaks:  “In the face of California’s ongoing drought, the state Senate voted unanimously Tuesday in support of strengthening requirements that urban water districts report to the state their water losses through leaks in their water systems.  SB 1420, authored by Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, is now on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. He has 12 days to consider the measure. ... ”  Read more from the Davis Enterprise here:  Wolk bill would require reporting of water system leaks
  • Court ruling means tougher sewage rules in Sacramento County:  “Rules governing the Sacramento region’s treated sewage may have to get a little tougher following a court ruling this week.  Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael P. Kenny ruled Monday that state officials didn’t follow proper procedure in 2012 when they set certain limits on the effluent generated by the Sacramento regional wastewater treatment plant. The plant near Elk Grove treats all the sewage generated in the Sacramento region, from Folsom to West Sacramento, and discharges it into the Sacramento River near Freeport. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Court ruling means tougher sewage rules in Sacramento County See also: Court says Sacramento must improve sewage treatment, from the Central Valley Business Times
  • California drought continues to take toll on reservoirs:  “The severe drought gripping nearly all of California eased ever so slightly this past week, but the state’s reservoirs remain “seriously low,” according to the latest figures released Thursday.  The amount of the state that now falls under the “severe” drought category — the third-harshest on a five-level scale — was down to 97.5%, a slight improvement from the 99.8% share during the same period last week, according to the U.S. Drought Map. … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here:  California dought continues to take toll on reservoirs
  • UC Davis looks for good grapes and ways to save water: Consistently warm temperatures and a lack of rain have caused an early harvest of grapes in California. At the campus vineyard at UC Davis, students have picked the first grapes of the harvest.  For the next several weeks, they will crush the grapes into juice and send the liquid into tanks to begin the fermentation process. Chik Brenneman is the school’s Wine Maker and Winery Manager for the Department of Viticulture and Enology. ... ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  UC Davis looks for good grapes and ways to save water
  • California drought has wild salmon competing with almonds for water: The ongoing has pitted wild salmon against farmers in a fight for water. While growers of almonds, one of the state’s biggest and most lucrative crops, enjoy booming production and skyrocketing sales to China, the fish, it seems, might be left high and dry this summer—and maybe even dead.  Thousands of adult king, or Chinook, salmon are now struggling to survive in the Klamath River of northern California, where waters are running dangerously low and warm due to diversion of river flows into the Central Valley, an intensely farmed agricultural area. If more water isn’t let into the Klamath River within the coming days, the salmon, which are migrating upstream toward their spawning grounds, could succumb to a disease called gill rot. ... ”  Read more from NPR’s The Salt here:  California drought has wild salmon competing with almonds for water
  • Ban on filling swimming pools hits communities in parched California:The California dream of owning a house with a sparkling swimming pool is drying up for would-be swimmers in communities across the state as some local water districts have banned homeowners from filling empty pools in drought-stricken areas. The restrictions come as California struggles through its third year of a catastrophic drought that has threatened a half-million acres of farmland, dried up reservoirs and shrunk the mountain snowpack that provides drinking water for millions of people. … ”  Read more from Rueters here:  Ban on filling swimming pools hits communities in parched California
  • USGS Report: California Freshwater Withdrawals Are Lowest Since 1960s: “California is adding people and growing its economy while taking less fresh water out of rivers, lakes, and aquifers than at any time in the last 45 years, according to U.S. Geological Survey data released Wednesday.  California withdrew 38 billion gallons of salty and fresh water per day in 2010 to grow food, cool power plants, and make a healthy, sanitary urban life possible. Of the 38 billion gallons — a 17 percent decrease from 2005 — roughly 31 billion gallons came from freshwater sources, the lowest tally since 1965. … ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here:  USGS Report: California Freshwater Withdrawals Are Lowest Since 1960s
  • And lastly … Only in California: the #dirtbucketchallenge:  “The #icebucketchallenge doesn’t seem right in a state facing a severe drought.  Two California guys say the better way to call someone out for a charitable donation, and save water, is with their “#dirtbucket challenge.” … ” Read more from USA Today:  Only in California? The #DirtBucketChallenge
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/08/21/6645843/court-ruling-means-tougher-sewage.html#storylink=cpy

In regional news today …

  • Glenn County supervisors approve action to dredge Sacramento River boat launches:Glenn County approved Tuesday the immediate dredging of two boat launch sites to extend out into the main Sacramento River channel in order to address concerns that silt and debris were hampering water rescue operations.  Glenn County Sheriff Larry Jones asked the Board of Supervisors to declare that an emergency condition exists at the Ord Bend Park and Butte City boat launches because conditions on the river have made it inaccessible to Sheriff’s Office’s watercraft. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Glenn County supervisors approve action to dredge Sacramento River boat launches
  • Riverside: Water regulations tightened further:Put down that garden hose. A number of area water agencies have tightened regulations again in the wake of the ongoing statewide drought.  The Eastern Municipal, Lake Hemet Municipal and Beaumont-Cherry Valley water districts, and San Bernardino and Ontario city departments, all announced tougher water-saving rules in the past week. … ” Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here:  Drought: Water regulations tightened further
  • San Gorgonio water manager talks drought:  “Water resources in the San Gorgonio Pass area should be completely exhausted by 2021.At the rate water is being consumed — and not being replaced — that is the ultimate fate projected in this region by the San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency, according to one of its directors, Mary Ann Melleby. ... ”  Read more from the Record Gazette here:  San Gorgonio water manager talks drought
  • Ratepayers challenge higher prices for water in San Juan Capistrano: The city of San Juan Capistrano, which helped pioneer conservation-minded water rates in Southern California, is now the site of a dispute around whether those rates are permissible. Residents have challenged the city’s “tiered pricing” system in a lawsuit that’s being closely watched by other water agencies around the state.  Pricing water to encourage people to save it has been on the rise ever since two Orange County water agencies implemented forms to tiered pricing following a bad drought in the late 1980s. Under tiered pricing, every customer is given an initial allotment of water at the same rate. Those who use more than that allotment are charged higher rates for their extra water. … ”  Read more from KPCC here: Ratepayers challenge higher prices for water in San Juan Capistrano

In commentary today …

  • California needs to manage its groundwater, says the Mercury News:  “Fifty years ago, the rapidly subsiding groundwater throughout the West brought urgent calls for action. Arizona responded. So did Colorado, Oregon, Texas — yes, Texas — and others. But not California. It is the only western state that does not have a groundwater management program.  Now California is paying a heavy price for failing to limit pumping of groundwater, which supplies 60 percent of the state’s water, as it does diverting water from rivers. Corporate agriculture landowners still resist it, but more and more farmers are acknowledging that the rate of pumping has become alarming. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  California needs to manage its groundwater
  • Government worked; water bond essential for California’s future, says Senator Cannella:  He writes: “Water – it’s easy to take it for granted. We use it to make our cup of coffee, shower, water our lawns and, of course, drink.  Our state depends on water for its economy, with our agricultural communities creating thousands of jobs for friends and neighbors, creating billions of dollars in revenues and producing food resources not only for California, but for the world. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Government worked; water bond essential for California’s future
  • Water bond: YES: Water bond measure provides billions for new  water storage, says Senator Wolk: “Two years ago, I introduced a measure to replace the doomed pork-laden water bond from 2009 with a trim, focused and non-controversial bond that could win voter support and address California’s critical water needs, without threatening the delta region by funding the Bay Delta Conservation Plan or the delta tunnels.  Last week, after months of pushing and pulling and tough negotiating — with an injection of leadership from Gov. Jerry Brown — the Legislature finished that work and put a new $7.5 billion water bond on the November ballot.  If approved by the voters, it will be a victory for all of California and produce important benefits for decades to come.  … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Water bond:YES:Water bond measure provides billions for new storage
  • Water bond: NO: Dams provide old-school remedy, says Kathryn Phillips:  She writes: “The Bee’s editorial praising bipartisanship on the updated water bond (“A summer miracle: Finally, bipartisan water agreement,” Aug. 15) rightly saluted state Sen. Lois Wolk for her good work in trying to keep bond funds away from the ill-conceived delta tunnels. But the piece got it wrong when it implied that the delta tunnels issue was the only part of the bond that created concerns for Sierra Club and other environmental groups. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  NO: Dams provide old-school remedy

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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