Daily Digest: Public comment period opens on Prop 1 water bond ballot arguments, groundwater legislation, dry wells, irrigation irritation, dead salmon at Trinity Lake, and more …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, public comment period opens on Prop 1 water bond ballot arguments, more on groundwater legislation, dry wells, irrigation irritation over water wasters, dead salmon at Trinity Lake, and more …

In the news today …

  • Public comment period opens on Prop 1 water bond ballot arguments:  “Draft ballot arguments on Proposition 1 – a $7.5 billion water bond set to go before voters Nov. 4   – are now posted for public review on the Secretary of State’s website until Sept. 12.  The ballot arguments for and against the $7.5 billion water bond are available here. The arguments are part of the draft copy of the Official Supplemental Voter Information Guide for the Nov 4 election. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here: Public Comment Period Opens on Prop. 1 Water Bond Ballot Arguments
  • Groundwater reform approved in major policy shift:  “In the rush to close up this year’s session, the state Legislature passed a raft of bills covering everything from a statewide plastic bag ban to Hollywood tax credits. One could be forgiven for failing to notice a trio of bills on groundwater — but they constitute an earth-shaking shift in California water policy, one of the biggest in decades.”  Listen to the show here (about 4 1/2 minutes):
  • Assembly member Kristin Olsen and the Farm Bureau call for veto of groundwater bills:Three groundwater regulation bills passed by the California Legislature are predicted to have a number of consequences for family farmers, ranchers, and other landowners and their passage provoked strong opposition from both Democrat and Republican legislators representing the Central Valley.  The bills in question are Assembly Bill 1739, Senate Bill 1168, and Senate Bill 1319—three bills that California Farm Bureau Federation, an agency that supports family farms and ranches, said were rushed. ... ”  Read more from the Turlock Journal here:  Assembly woman and Farm Bureau call for veto of groundwater bills
  • Salinas Valley growers fret passage of groundwater legislation:  “A bill that could pit Salinas Valley urban water users against agricultural interests passed the state Legislature late last week and is awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature.  AB 1739 would require the Department of Water Resources, or DWR, to manage any groundwater basin that is at risk of “significant economic, social and environmental impacts due to an unsustainable and chronic pattern of groundwater extractions exceeding the ability of the surface water supplies to replenish the subbasin.” … ”  Read more from the Salinas Californian here:  Salinas growers fret passage of groundwater legislation
  • September Song: Expect more dry wells in the San Joaquin Valley:  “Dry-well desperation in the San Joaquin Valley’s rural communities is beginning to peak — and East Porterville in Tulare County is the epicenter.  Bee reporter Lewis Griswold broke the story in August about nearly 1,000 people in East Porterville who are without water. Wells for the 290 homes have gone dry.  Other media have been following The Bee’s lead. Make no mistake, there will be more stories about people living without wells as this miserably dry year moves into autumn. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  September Song: Expect more dry wells in the San Joaquin Valley
  • Global warming: How rising alpine vegetation could hit California water supply: A warming-climate-induced march of alpine vegetation up a large river basin on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada could slash by one-fourth the annual flow of water the basin delivers to California’s thirsty Central Valley by the last two decades of this century, a new study says.  The results of the Kings River Basin study imply that the same type of risk holds for another 10 major river basins along the western Sierra, although to varying degrees, say the researchers involved in the study. It also could hold similar implications for other regions around the world that rely on alpine snows for much of their fresh water. ... ”  Read more from the Christian Science Monitor here: Global warming: How rising alpine vegetation could hit California water supply

  • Irrigation irritation rampant over water wasters: Call it irrigation irritation.  Bay Area water watchers have a bad case of it. The expanse of verdant lawn ringing a large vacant construction site in Santa Clara sets off Brian Johns.  For Vickie Chang, it’s the city of Albany’s sprinklers that spray her when they go off each night along her street. And Dave Pearce is peeved by the water he sees gushing straight into San Francisco Bay from the leaky Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct pipeline while he kayaks along the Peninsula. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Irrigation irritation rampant over water wasters
  • California to cool off gradually in September:Temperatures may cool off a bit this month in northern and central California, but no real chance of rainfall appears on the horizon.  Some long-range weather forecasts suggest that the Sacramento area may already be done with triple-digit temperatures for the summer, making for balmy or even pleasant conditions as many crops enter their fall harvests. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here: Calif. to cool off gradually in September
  • Limited water presents challenge for natural gas fracking:  “Extracting natural gas for energy from shale rock deep underground requires lots of water, but much of the world’s shale gas is in regions where water is already scarce, including part of California, according to a study issued Tuesday.  The amount of recoverable natural gas from shale formations would increase global reserves by nearly half, the report from the World Resources Institute found. That’s a potentially enormous boost for the international economy and for reduction of greenhouse gases that cause climate change, as gas used for power generation burns more cleanly than coal. But increased oil and gas development raises thorny questions about how to allocate water in areas where it’s limited. … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here:  Limited water presents challenge for natural gas fracking

In commentary today …

  • Delta spats making water experts of us all, says the LA Daily News:  They write: “Here in the third year of our great drought, it’s as if we all are supposed to have the technical savviness of an MWD engineer.  Except that we don’t. We can’t, really. It can take a lifetime of learning to suss out the complexities of the provenance and the delivery systems of water in California. But laypeople are having to develop at least a surface-level understanding of how water works if they are to be at all competent in making the kinds of decisions the body politic is charged with during this era of climate change on the one hand and cyclical drought periods on the other — the former probably compounding the latter.  … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Daily News here:  Delta spats making water experts of us all: Editorial
  • Governor should sign historic groundwater legislation, says the Mercury News: They write: “The most important water legislation in California this year isn’t the $7.5 billion water bond voters will decide in November. It’s the historic package of bills approved Friday by the Legislature designed to regulate for the first time the pumping of groundwater. Gov. Jerry Brown should sign the legislation, which gives the state a crucial tool to ensure a long-term adequate water supply.  Central Valley farmers have fought groundwater regulation for years, wanting to hold on to the right to be able to pump as much water from the wells underneath their land as they needed to water their crops. It’s a reasonable strategy if the state had an unlimited supply of water. Every other Western state except California realized the folly of that approach years ago.  … ”  Read more from the Mercury News here:  Governor should sign historic groundwater bill
  • Congress must agree on drought legislation, says Farm Bureau official:  Rayne Pegg writes:  “Two weeks: That’s how long Congress will meet between now and Election Day. That short session starts next week, and it’s paramount for the House and Senate to reach agreement on federal drought legislation.  The House of Representatives passed its version of drought-relief legislation in February. The Senate followed suit in May. Since that time, leaders from both houses of Congress have been working to reconcile the two versions, to present a package that can win approval.  The stakes couldn’t be higher: … ”  Continue reading at Ag Alert here:  Congress must agree on drought legislation
  • Legal commentary: The California Water Crisis: Policing vs. Pricing:  Kathryn Shelton and Robert B. McKenzie write:  “California is facing a water crisis of historic proportions. Water reservoirs in parts of the state are drying up. Lake Mead is less than two-fifths full, a record low, and is falling. The snowpack in the Sierra Mountains remains a fraction of what it was years ago, and aquifers from which Californians draw a major share of their water are being depleted. Vast acreages of crops have withered; many acres of rich farmland in the Central Valley (and elsewhere) are going unplanted; and truckloads of cattle are being shipped to rendering plants or out of state for grazing. The economic costs of the current water shortage are piling up by the week.  … ”  Read more from the Library of Economics and Liberty here:  The California Water Crisis: Policing vs. Pricing
  • CNN Reporter John Sutter with six ways to save the San Joaquin – America’s most endangered river: I recently spent three weeks traveling down California’s San Joaquin, which was named this year by the advocacy group American Rivers as the “most endangered” river in the United States. It’s a river that all of us depend on — 40% of U.S. fruits are grown in the Central Valley, where the river is located, as well as 80% of the world’s almonds — but that very few people care about.  I hope my trip will be some supertiny part of changing that.  But for the San Joaquin to once again flow to the ocean — and support a salmon population, as it once did — it needs plenty of help.  Here are six ways you can support this neglected waterway. … ”  Read more from CNN here:  Six ways to save the San Joaquin – America’s most endangered river

In regional news and commentary today …

  • Drought impacting salmon in Trinity Lake:  “The drought taking a toll on the fishery.  I was in the Lewiston area today where I saw hundreds of dead kokanee salmon in Lewiston Lake.  While Native Americans were celebrating higher releases into the Trinity River for Chinook salmon downriver. … ” View the news report from KRCR here:  Drought impacting salmon in Trinity Lake
  • However, locals challenge the estimates of dead fish: Agency estimates grossly understate the number of kokanee salmon from Trinity Lake that died when they were swept through the power plant and into Lewiston Lake, according to people who spend a considerable amount of time at Lewiston Lake.  State Department of Fish and Wildlife information officer Andrew Hughan, quoted in last week’s article in the Journal, said estimates ranged from 200 to 400. From the federal Bureau of Reclamation, Area Manager Brian Person said agency estimates range from a few hundred to 2,000. … ”  More from the Trinity Journal (subscription required, sorry) here: Locals challenge dead fish estimates
  • Montague struggles to keep the water flowing:All summer, Montague has been a town in trouble. The city sits half an hour south of the Oregon border, in a rugged patch of Northern California that offers little refuge from the scorching sun.  For water, the roughly 1,500 people who live here depend on snow melting from the slopes of Mount Shasta, about 20 miles to the south. But the snowpack this past winter was, by all accounts, pitiful. ... ”  Read more from Jefferson Public Radio here: Drought-Stricken California Town Struggles to Keep the Water Flowing
  • Glenn County drought task force formed: The Glenn County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday formed a County Drought Task Force ad hoc committee to help monitor the effects of the driest year in recorded state history.  The Task Force committee was formed at the request of Glenn County Sheriff Larry Jones, at the urging of the state Office of Emergency Services.  Jones said the state has expressed the need for consolidated information from counties, so they can map out where the drought problems are. ... ”  Read more from the Glenn County Transcript here:  Glenn County drought task force formed
  • Oakdale considers fallowing land to save water, but promises not to sell it elsewhere:  “Pasture owners may be asked to voluntarily fallow their land to save water should the drought continue next year, but Oakdale Irrigation District directors on Tuesday assured that they would not then sell that water to outsiders.  OID’s staff was told to develop a framework for how a fallowing program might work. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Oakdale considers fallowing land to save water, but promises not to sell it elsewhere
  • Oakdale Irrigation District board member review drought plan options:  “Even a winter blessed by above-average Valley rain and Sierra snow won’t be enough to eliminate the ongoing effects of the three-year drought in California, Oakdale Irrigation District directors were told Tuesday morning.  A fourth dry winter could lead to widespread water shortages, voluntary land fallowing and, in the worst case, the possibility that the district could be out of water by the middle of next summer. ... ”  Read more from the Oakdale Leader here: OID Meeting – Directors Review Drought Plan Options
  • Rim Fire recovery plan calls for little salvage logging: “In the aftermath of the Rim Fire—the largest conifer forest fire in California history—recovery plans for the Stanislaus National Forest were issued last week, drawing criticism from agricultural and timber interests, and from some environmental groups as well.  The federal recovery plan was finished in about a year and included consideration of four alternative approaches to addressing damage on about 260,000 acres of public and private forestland. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Rim Fire recovery plan calls for little salvage logging
  • San Jacinto water district chief dubbed ‘the right guy at the right time’:He has served on regional water boards for more than a decade and finds himself chairman of giant water wholesaler Metropolitan Water District at a crucial time in the state’s water history, but Randy Record still considers himself a farmer at heart.  The third generation San Jacinto resident spends much of his time in meetings, but when time allows, he prefers to be outside. ... ” Read more from the Press Enterprise here: SAN JACINTO: Water district chief dubbed ‘the right guy at the right time’
  • El Niño forecast is up in the air for Southern California: With the summer winding down, weather officials say the winter forecast is wide open.  While a mild-to-moderate El Niño weather pattern is widely expected to develop in the fall, forecast models have “projected many different outcomes,” said Eric Boldt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.  “The odds of drier than normal winter are just as high as a wetter than normal winter,” he said in a video released Tuesday. … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here: El Niño forecast is up in the air for Southern California
  • Salton Sea: Inaction would cost billions, report finds:Failure to revitalize the ailing Salton Sea would cost the region as much as $70 billion over the next three decades from lost habitat, plummeting property values and health problems caused by blowing dust, a new report finds.  The study, “Hazard’s Toll: The Costs of Inaction at the Salton Sea,” was released today by the Pacific Institute, a nonpartisan think tank based in Oakland. It is the first work to assess the financial toll of not fixing the salty, fast-shrinking lake that straddles the Coachella and Imperial valleys. … ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here:SALTON SEA: Inaction would cost billions, report finds

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.

hard_working_on_computer_anim_150_clr_7364Maven’s Notebook
The diary of a confessed obsessive-compulsive California water news junkie

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