Daily Digest: More trees means less runoff, drought adding stress in the forest, tech and non-tech solutions for drought, and more …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, more trees means less water for California’s mountain rivers, drought adding stress in the forest, drought forcing big changes among California growers, how tech is playing its part to alleviate the California drought, inventor says he has the desalination solution, some businesses apply a dab of green to brown lawns, officials see passage of water bond, how seismic events can make drought impacts worse, Rim Fire recovery brings progress and frustration, fire and water – how global warming is making weather more extreme and costing us more money, and more news and commentary …

Welcome back!  I hope your Labor Day was not too laborious.
For a list of all the posts since Friday, scroll down to the bottom …

In the news today …

  • More Trees Means Less Water for California’s Mountain Rivers: “Scientists working in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range have found a new reason to worry about water availability in the western United States as the planet warms – tree growth.  Climate models predict that southwestern states will become drier in the coming decades and that mountain snowpack, an important natural water bank, will decline. But research published today points out that changes in vegetation will also play a significant role in determining future water supplies. ... ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here:  More Trees Means Less Water for California’s Mountain Rivers See also:  Climate change could soak up California’s fresh mountain water runoff, from KPBS
  • Drought adding stress in the forest:  “Bark beetles are a constant threat to the health of forest, but when there is extreme drought, the beetles can become a serious problem as they did in the early 2000s.  From 1999-2004, California experience several dry years, although nothing like the past three years. Those dry years led millions of pine and fir trees stressed and more susceptible to bark attacks. The result was millions of dead trees and a much higher risk of catastrophic fires. … ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here:  Drought adding stress in the forest
  • Drought forcing big changes among California growers:  “For more than 70 years, Fred Starrh’s family was among the most prominent cotton growers in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Then shifting global markets and rising water prices told him that wouldn’t work anymore.  So he replaced most of the cotton plants on his farm near Shafter, 120 miles northwest of Los Angeles, and planted almonds, which make more money per acre and are increasingly popular with consumers in Asia.  “You can’t pay $1,000 an acre-foot to grow cotton,” said Starrh, 85, crouching to inspect a drip irrigator gently gurgling under an almond tree. … ”  Read more from the Seattle Times here:  Drought forcing big changes among California growers
  • How tech is playing its part to alleviate the California drought: ” …  While rain is the ultimate solution to the problem, no one can predict when the rain will return. And with a changing climate, droughts and other extreme weather occurrences could happen more frequently in the future. Technological innovations in every industry must be harnessed by individuals, corporations, and civic institutions to make positive change and prevent massive environmental and economic damage.  The new policies in place in California are an attempt to spread the burden and get people to take the drought more seriously. But the truth is, we have to harness the right kinds of technology to make a dent — and California’s story can be a lesson for the rest of the world. … ”  Read more from the Tech Republic here:  How tech is playing its part to alleviate the California drought
  • Inventor says he has the desalination solution:  “Joseph Rizzi is a Bay Area inventor who says he has come up with an easier, cheaper way to desalinate ocean water.   So far, his idea exists only on paper, although a major component is made and sold by General Electric, called “Zeeweed.”  Here’s the CVBT Video Report … ”  More from the Central Valley Business Times here:  Inventor says he has the desalination solution
  • Deep irrigation system saves water:  “Jeff Ciudaj is an inventor with a passion for problem solving. With the state of California in its fourth year of drought, Ciudaj says his modified irrigation system can save up to 50 percent of water usage.  “There is more and more demand for water and we keep expecting to keep meeting the demand the same way. Do we get smarter or do we keep fighting over water?” he said. ... ”  Read more from the Napa Valley Register here: Deep irrigation system saves water
  • Seeing discolored lawns, some businesses apply a dab of green:  “The spray-paint nozzle was aimed carefully at the edge as the painter stood back a few inches from the flat metal shovel meant to protect other surfaces. After laying down a couple of thin coats, he stepped back to admire his work.  The patch of grass had gone from a flat, yellowing green to a Wizard of Oz shade of emerald. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  Seeing discolored lawns, some California businesses apply a dab of green
  • Is bottled water shrinking the water supply? California has a lot of companies that bottle water, whether it’s purified water — sourced from a municipal system and filtered some more — or spring water, which comes out of the ground.  Exactly how much water these companies are taking is hard to know, but the industry, environmental researchers, and water officials agree it’s a very small part of the total water used across the state.  How much…or how little? ... ”  Read more from KPCC here:  Is bottled water shrinking California’s water supply?
  • Officials see passage of $7.5B water bond:The $7.5 billion water bond recently approved by the Legislature, with its record $2.7 billion allocation for water storage projects, now faces balloting in November.  Although supporters of the bond don’t have much time to campaign for its passage, most are confident the reduced price from the previous, and unpopular, $11 billion bond proposal and the stark realities of California’s water issues laid bare by consecutive drought years will be enough to win voter approval.  The bond is also backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, which Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Loma Rica, said could make all the difference. … ” Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  Officials see passage of $7.5B water bond
  • Shaken and stirred in California’s recent earthquake: How seismic events can make drought impacts worse:  “At first glance, the 6.0-magnitude earthquake that struck near Napa, California last Sunday seems to have little connection to the state’s “other” major unfolding disaster — the drought. But, in fact, the two are closely linked and illustrate California’s precarious reliance on a complex network of water infrastructure stretching across the state.  The day after the quake, inspectors from the Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation and local reclamation districts examined dams, canals and levees scattered across the area that experienced the heaviest shaking.  … ”  Read more from High Country News here:  Shaken and stirred in California’s recent earthquake
  • Rim Fire recovery brings progress, frustration: Wildfire recovery has become a disturbingly common part of managing California’s 33 million acres of forestland, while firefighting costs run far ahead of the ability to prevent fires. During a tour of areas damaged a year ago in the nearly 260,000-acre Rim Fire, experts outlined the cleanup work accomplished so far and the continuing recovery efforts on both private and public lands.  Registered professional forester Mike Albrecht told California members of the Society of American Foresters during last week’s tour that his crews immediately went to work helping clean and salvage what they could from the fire.  But forest managers estimate about 2.5 million tons of biomass remains dead or dying in the Stanislaus National Forest. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Fire recovery brings progress, frustration
  • Fire and water – how global warming is making weather more extreme and costing us money:Connecting the dots between human-caused global warming and specific extreme weather events has been a challenge for climate scientists, but recent research has made significant advances in this area. Links have been found between some very damaging extreme weather events and climate change.  For example, research has shown that a “dipole” has formed in the atmosphere over North America, with a high pressure ridge off the west coast, and a low pressure ridge over the central and eastern portion of the continent. … ”  Read more from The Guardian here:  Fire and water  – how global warming is making weather more extreme and costing us money

In commentary today …

  • Commentary: Some dam questions about the drought: “For Southern Californians, the current record-breaking drought means letting the lawn fade to a trendy golden brown and making sure the hose doesn’t water the asphalt while you’re washing your car. It does not mean wondering whether anything will come out of the faucet and, unlike in the drought of 1977, it hasn’t stopped most restaurants from automatically serving water to their customers.  The drought is not a constant presence here. ... ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here: Some dam questions about the California drought

In regional news  and commentary today …

  • Q&A: Does Sacramento face a future of water shortages?: “As California weathers a third year of drought, debates have intensified over how to balance competing water needs: urban vs. rural; people vs. fish; north state vs. south. Against that backdrop, The Sacramento Bee spoke with a local water expert about what the drought means for the Sacramento metro area and how the region should adapt and respond.  John Woodling is executive director of the Sacramento Regional Water Authority, a joint powers agency that represents 25 water providers in Sacramento, Placer and El Dorado counties. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Q&A: Does Sacramento face a future of water shortages?
  • Oakdale Irrigation District to hear proposals for fallowing farmland:  “Proposals for fallowing farmland within the Oakdale Irrigation District so the irrigation water saved can be sold elsewhere will be discussed Tuesday morning.  Community objections derailed a similar OID fallowing plan in January. That proposal would have idled Oakdale farms to enable the district to sell water at high prices to drought-stricken farmers in the Southern San Joaquin Valley. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Oakdale Irrigation District to hear proposals for fallowing farmland
  • Stanislaus County: Time to put a hold on all new ag wells, says John Booker:  He writes:  “Stanislaus County is facing one of the most profound droughts in California’s history. Meanwhile, the population and irrigated acreage of the county continues to grow.  You cannot view any media source without being inundated with stories about the severity of our drought, or about a neighbor’s well going dry.  Groundwater is being pumped, well-drilling permits are being issued, and large out-of-town conglomerates are buying or leasing nonirrigated rangeland and planting orchards at the fastest rate in our county’s history. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Time to put a hold on new ag wells
  • Gigantic slip’n slide will come to Los Angeles and all the water will be saved:Plans for a one-day giant version of Slip ’n Slide in downtown Los Angeles cleared a significant hurdle on Friday, with the area’s councilman signing off on the plan.  Councilman Jose Huizar, who had been concerned about the image of L.A. being frivolous with its water while residents weather the state’s unprecedented drought, said he was pleased to have resolved the issue with Slide the City promoters. ... ”  Read more from the LA Daily News here: 1,000-foot Slide the City water slide will come to Los Angeles — and all water will be saved
  • Inland Empire: For businesses, it’s lawns out, conservation in:  “Water that seeps from irrigated pots of red roses, pink geraniums and acres of other plants at a western Riverside County nursery adds up to more than 100 million gallons a year.  With drought gripping California, the owners of Altman Plants near Lake Mathews jumped at the chance when water providers offered to pick up half the $900,000 cost of a recycling system at the nursery. Runoff is captured in plastic-lined ditches and reservoirs then pumped to nursery stock grown for Home Depot, Lowe’s and other retailers across the country. … ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here:  For businesses, it’s lawns out, conservation in
  • Orange County:  MWD Water meter error: $8 million:  “With all this pressure to conserve water, pause to ponder the underpinnings: How exactly do the water lords measure how much is used? And, are they ever wrong?  Welcome to the mysterious world of flow meters – pressurized, electromagnetic, ultrasonic, etc. – and the realization that, yes, indeed, they can be wrong. To the tune of $8 million.  Turns out that water agencies in South Orange County have been overcharged $8.14 million by giant importer/lifeline Metropolitan Water District of Southern California over the years. … ”  Read more from the O.C. Register here: Watchdog: Water meter error: $8 million

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

And posted over the holiday weekend …


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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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