Daily Digest: Congress running out of time to reach compromise on drought relief legislation; a new water plan for California?, study examines link between earthquake and drought, what CA can learn from Idaho’s water rights review, and more …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, Congress running out of time to reach compromise on drought relief legislation, A new water plan for California?, Study examines link between earthquakes and drought, water districts ask judge to stop Klamath Basin water releases meant to help salmon, bill on water districts takes aim at corruption, parched West can learn from Idaho’s water rights review, says panel, and Nevada project aims to build resiliency to drought, plus more news and commentary … 

In the news today …

  • Congress running out of time to reach compromise on drought relief legislation:  “It’s summer recess in Washington. Congress has been gone all month, but talks continue behind the scenes to try to find a compromise on drought legislation. The House and Senate each passed their own version of drought legislation earlier this year; but the two measures are very different and members left town before reaching a compromise. … ”  Read more from KPCC here:  Congress running out of time to reach compromise on drought relief legislation
  • A new water plan for California?  “San Joaquin County cannot survive in isolation.  So says farmer and prominent developer Fritz Grupe, who spent the past year quietly helping experts across the state develop a 15-year, $40 billion-plus plan to address California’s perpetual water problems.  The final report, published without fanfare earlier this month, takes no position on Gov. Jerry Brown’s controversial twin tunnels. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here: Grupe: Messing with Delta hurts all users
  • Study examines link between earthquakes and drought: “In the wake of Sunday’s 6.0-magnitude earthquake in Napa Valley, scientists are now questioning whether or not there is a connection between earthquakes and the drought.  A study earlier this year in the journal Nature found that a lack of water in the San Joaquin Valley is decreasing the weight on the San Andreas Fault, which could lead to more earthquakes.  “Much of this would be smaller earthquakes but theoretically you could get a larger quake,” said Adrian Borsa with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. … ”  Read more from San Diego’s Channel 5 here:Study examines link between earthquakes and drought
  • Water districts ask judge to stop Klamath Basin water releases meant to help salmon: “Agricultural water providers in the Central Valley of California asked a federal judge to stop releases of extra water intended to help salmon in the Klamath Basin survive the drought.  The petition for a temporary injunction was filed late Monday in U.S. District Court in Fresno by Westlands Water District and the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, which supply farmers.  At issue is water held in a reservoir on the Trinity River, which has been divided between the Trinity and Sacramento river basins for more than 50 years. ... ”  Read more from the Oregonian here: Water districts ask judge to stop Klamath Basin water releases meant to help salmon
  • Drought: Tough choices for water managers:  “A federal agency is releasing water from a northern California reservoir to help a salmon run on the Klamath River. The extreme drought conditions are making for tough choices. The added water flowing into the Klamath River comes from the Trinity Reservoir. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation water release is intended to help the fall run of adult Chinook salmon, which has entered the lower Klamath to spawn earlier than normal.   … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Drought: tough choices for water managers
  • Bill on water districts takes aim at corruption:A bill aimed at reining in political corruption occurring in near-invisible water boards like the Central Basin Municipal Water District made its way to the governor’s desk last week.  Assembly Bill 1728, which limits campaign contributions from entities with business before the board, is in response to indictments of former state Assemblyman Tom Calderon, D-Montebello, and his brother, Ron, a Democratic state senator, who face charges of money-laundering and bribery, respectively, in a massive federal corruption case. Both have pleaded not guilty. … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Daily News here: Bill on water districts takes aim at corruption
  • Parched West can learn from Idaho’s water rights review, says panel:  “After the largest-ever review of water rights was signed Monday night, Idaho attorneys, lawmakers and others reflected Tuesday about what the achievement means to the parched West.  More important is what other arid states, particularly drought-stricken California, could learn from Idaho’s historic marshaling of water rights.  The 300,000-page final decree of the Snake River Basin Adjudication resolved a “staggering” 158,000 Idaho water rights and is the envy of western states, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Monday night in Boise. … ”  Read more from the Times-News here:  Panel: Parched West can learn from Idaho’s water rights review
  • Nevada project aims to build resiliency to drought:  “Three straight dry winters have left several Western states with extreme drought conditions. In Nevada, the drought, extreme heat and the potential for the trend to continue has officials looking for answers. The threats to farmers and ranchers, and an increased danger of destructive wildfires, were the basis for a $3.8 million grant for a project called Water for the Seasons. ... ”  Read more from Emergency Management here: Nevada Project Aims to Build Resiliency to Drought

In regional news today …

  • Plumas County supervisors object to Bay Delta Conservation Plan:  “Fair taxation and senior water rights are the top two concerns Plumas County leaders address in a letter regarding the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.  The letter, which was submitted to meet a July 29 deadline and ratified by the Board of Supervisors on Aug. 12, recommends that both the plan and its environmental documents be “withdrawn, redesigned, reanalyzed, and recirculated for at least 120 days of public comment.” ... ”  Read more from the Plumas County News here:  Supervisors object to Bay Delta Conservation Plan
  • Antioch adds new water restrictions to drought management plan:With no end to the statewide drought in sight, Antioch officials on Tuesday reaffirmed the city’s ordinance against squandering water.  Councilmembers approved a resolution that adds four wasteful practices to Antioch’s drought management plan even though the prohibited activities have been on the books for five years. ... ”  Read more from the Contra Costa Times here:  Antioch adds new water restrictions to drought management plan
  • San Francisco:  Big water customers in San Francisco to see rates double for overages: Big water customers in San Francisco, such as universities, shopping centers and the city itself, will have to reduce their outdoor watering by 10 percent starting Oct. 1 or see their rates double for any overage, according to new penalties city utility officials approved Tuesday. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Big water customers in San Francisco to see rates double for overages
  • San Jose declares water shortage, but won’t fine water wasters:More than seven months into the California drought, San Jose has officially declared a city-wide water shortage, asking the city’s 1 million residents to cut their water use by 20 percent — but there will be no new consequences for those who don’t.  The drought declaration, which the San Jose City Council unanimously approved Tuesday, makes it illegal for property owners to use potable water to irrigate their lawns or landscaping between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. through April 2015. It comes on top of several state and regional rules already in effect, such as bans on cleaning vehicles without a shut-off nozzle and filling non-recirculating decorative fountains with potable water. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  San Jose declares water shortage, but won’t fine water wasters
  • Soquel Creek board weighs six supply options: Soquel Creek Water District leaders evaluated six options Tuesday for generating new supply in case the agency can’t build a suspended seawater desalination project with drought-stricken Santa Cruz.  As a bulwark against saltwater intrusion near coastal groundwater wells, the district hopes to reduce its pumping by a third for a 20-year period, and in the absence of generating more water, is considering a mandated residential rationing and commercial landscaping proposal to ease overdraft. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  Soquel Creek board weighs six supply options
  • Stanislaus County supervisors approve dry well loan program: “Stanislaus County supervisors approved an emergency loan program Tuesday for homeowners with dry wells, after amending the proposal to lower the income limit and removing a strict credit score requirement.  The county will make $200,000 available for low-interest loans to owner-occupied residential properties in unincorporated areas. With a cap set at $20,000 for each loan, the program could assist 10 homeowners at the maximum amount. More residents could benefit if the loan amounts are smaller. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: Stanislaus supervisors approve dry well loan program, lower income limit
  • Applying pressure to conserve: Plan would reduce overall SSJID water use by 10%:  “The South San Joaquin Irrigation District is studying a pressurized water system between Woodward Reservoir and the Van Groningen Road reservoir near Escalon that could save enough water to supply all of the current needs of Manteca and Lathrop.  The SSJID board Tuesday was told a pressurized line replacing the district’s main canal that is uncovered and unlined is feasible. Engineers estimate such a pressurized system would save 26,400 acre feet of water a year or roughly 10 percent of the water the district currently uses for all urban and farm uses. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  Applying pressure to conserve
  • San Luis Obispo: Woman proposes 5 gallon challenge: In the past month, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has raised more than $88 million to help fund research for ALS — a neurodegenerative disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease — but some critics in drought-stricken California have said the trend, though for a good cause, is a waste of a disappearing resource: water.  San Luis Obispo photographer Brittany App, 35, has a compromise: Instead of dumping a bucket of ice water on one’s head, she is challenging people to live on only 5 gallons of water for a day. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here: Conscious of drought, SLO woman proposes Five Gallon Challenge
  • Newhall County Water District launches drought education plan: This week, Newhall County Water District’s 10,000 customers can expect to receive resources on California’s drought directly in their homes and mailboxes. Following the adoption of its own Drought Action Plan, District officials are taking extensive education measures to ensure residents are aware of how they can help during this historic drought. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Clarita Signal here: Newhall County Water District launches drought education plan
  • Redlands breweries keep eye on water use during drought: “California’s current drought has raised doubts about the practices and future of the craft brewing industry in the state. Local brewers however, are looking to counter these assumptions, and say that they are doing as much as they can to maintain their businesses and conserve water.  “There’s been some statements made by small brewers that were unfortunate, pointing out some inefficiencies in brewing, and brewing does use water, and there’s some small brewers that frankly aren’t doing what they can do to take care of the water,” said Steve Dunkerken, co-founder of Redlands-based Ritual Brewing Co. … ”  Read more from the Redlands Daily Facts here: Redlands breweries keep eye on water use during drought

In commentary today …

  • Water is our state’s lifeblood, says Mike Chrisman:  “Our state lawmakers accomplished a huge feat two weeks ago by passing a new, more palatable water bond to put on the November ballot.  The slimmed-down $7.5 billion version includes new money for reservoirs, groundwater storage and habitat restoration.  The drought has focused everyone’s attention on California’s water problems. My hope is that a heightened awareness will move California voters to pass the bond. Our state’s future depends on it. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Mike Chrisman: Water is our state’s lifeblood
  • Given better information, California can wisely manage its water resources, says Roger Bales: He writes: “Everyone’s counting on the predicted El Niño to break this year’s excruciating drought. But it’s not time to start placing your bets.  Yes, there is a 70 percent to 80 percent chance we’ll see an El Niño pattern. However, there’s also a growing likelihood it will bring little to no extra rain.  Our moisture arrives from the Pacific Ocean and is carried to the Central Valley in storms. The moisture that feeds these storms comes from the warm equatorial Pacific Ocean water that evaporates and is transported with the jet stream. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Given better information, California can wisely manage its water resources  Note: As it so happens, you can hear more from Roger Bales in today’s special content on the Notebook blog:  The importance of upper watershed management to California’s water supply
  • We can’t allow California’s double-whammy on water-storage shortfall during drought, says Assemblyman Adam Gray:  He writes: “California has made significant progress in addressing our water-storage shortfall with the placement of the water bond on the November ballot. All Californians should join Gov. Jerry Brown and all but two of our 120 state legislators in supporting this measure in November.  Our future water needs will not be met without its passage.  But the bond won’t be enough. We also need to establish sustainable groundwater basins if we are to provide that margin of safety required during drought years, especially if they are prolonged. …  ”  Read more from the Merced Sun Star here:  We can’t allow California’s double-whammy on water-storage shortfall during drought
  • Water is California’s buried treasure that no one’s watching, says the San Francisco Chronicle: They write:”California is pumping itself dry. As the drought deepens, desperate farmers are turning to groundwater, using the supply at nearly double the normal rate. It’s a short-sighted practice that needs thought and planning, not the open-tap treatment groundwater now gets.  Two bills on the topic are before the Legislature in its final days of lawmaking. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Water is California’s buried treasure that no one’s watching

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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