Daily Digest: Delta farmers may need to measure water, as drought enters its 4th year – are we doing enough to conserve water?, putting nature on the balance sheet, and more …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, Delta farmers may need to measure water, Drought plays out differently in various regions of the state, as the California drought enters its fourth year, are we doing enough to conserve water?,  how dust might make drought worse or a bit better, dry year means smooth sailing for rice growers – if they had water, UC Davis winery a poster-child for saving water during drought, drought slows sudden oak death around Northern California, New Yorker Magazine on the drought, California Indian tribes honor water at Friday event, Long range forecast: Less snow for skiers, less water for California, putting nature on the balance sheet, Proposition 1, and more news and commentary …

In the news today …

  • Delta farmers may need to measure water: Accused of stealing water released from upstream reservoirs, more than 1,000 Delta farmers may soon be required to report exactly how much water they’ve been diverting — a request that their attorneys argue could be burdensome and unnecessary.  Earlier this summer, the state and federal governments complained to regulators that water released from reservoirs wasn’t making it all the way to giant export pumps near Tracy. The missing water, they reasoned, was likely being pumped along the way by Delta farmers. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Delta farmers may need to measure water
  • Drought plays out differently in various regions of the state:  “Most of California is experiencing a “severe” or “exceptional” drought, impacting more than 37 million Golden State residents, according to the Drought Monitoring Center at the University of Nebraska.  But as Californians know, the state feels more like three states — southern, central and northern — and while there’s a shared response from residents up and down the state, there are also significant differences in how the squeeze on water resources affects each region. … ”  Read more from the Whittier Daily News here:  Drought plays out different in various regions of the state
  • As the California drought enters its fourth year, are we doing enough to conserve water? After a sweaty day outdoors, you’re only halfway through an evening shower with shampoo stinging your eyes when it hits you: You’ve just about used up your water ration for the day. And you still have to water your petunias and wash your dirty socks.  What to do? Though it may sound exaggerated, California is inching closer to a reality just like that in the not-too-distant future if the drought continues at its scorching pace. … ”  Read more from the Contra Costa Times here: As the California drought enters its fourth year, are we doing enough to conserve water?
  • How Dust Might Make Drought Worse (or a Bit Better) in California: As the state’s historic drought drags on, scientists are watching the Sierra snow with intense interest—and they’re worrying that even tiny airborne particles of dust may have a big effect on water supplies.  Here’s how: As California gets drier, it’s getting dustier, and at least some of that dust is landing in the Sierra. Dusty snow, with its darker surface, absorbs more solar radiation than clean snow does, meaning it heats up faster and melts more quickly. … ”  Read more from National Geographic here: How Dust Might Make Drought Worse (or a Bit Better) in California
  • UC Davis winery a poster-child for saving water during drought: With California in the midst of a severe drought, winemakers in need of water are turning to UC Davis for answers.  “It’s used for cleaning equipment,” said UC Davis Dr. Davis Block. “After you use a tank, or use a barrel or you use a crusher/destemer, you’re using water to clean that out. and that’s going down the drain.” ... ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here: UC Davis Winery A Posterchild For How To Save Water During California Drought
  • The Dry Land: Fall means hot mornings, thirsty fields, smoke in the air. There are days when, as John Muir wrote in 1894, the heat seems “to flow in tremulous waves from every southern slope.” This year, the dryness has a menacing, premonitory, permanent feel. Promised deluges turn into ten-minute mists, and a longed-for El Niño doesn’t come. The flies are bad. Lake beds, exposed, are full of old recliners and junked cars. Reservoirs have sunk to half capacity and are falling fast. In year three of a punishing drought, the terrible question arises: What if it just never rains again? … ”  Read more from New Yorker Magazine here:  The Dry Land
  • California Indian tribes honor water at Friday event:  “Indian tribes from across California will converge on the state Capitol Friday for an event meant to draw attention to the drought and celebrate water as a sacred substance.  The annual Native American Day at the Capitol will feature representatives from every American Indian tribe in the state. Members from several tribes will perform traditional songs and dances that pay tribute to water and nature. … ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  California Indian tribes honor water at Friday event
  • A Watershed Moment: Californian Droughts Invite Compromise: It is abundantly clear to anyone visiting California this year that the state is in the midst of a catastrophe. The Central Valley is filled with parched fields; Northern California is wracked with fires; and the Sierras — the source of vital snowpack that feeds rivers and streams throughout the state — are bare. California is in the third year of its worst drought since the state began water recording in 1895. Some scientists have labeled it the worst drought in 500 years. Though catastrophic, the drought’s impact on California agriculture — an industry that depends on roughly 80 percent of the state’s water supply — has not been fully realized. This is thanks to the huge underground aquifers that farmers use to supplement an estimated 75 percent of lost surface water.   … ”  Read more from the Brown Political Review here: A Watershed Moment: Californian Droughts Invite Compromise
  • Long range forecast: Less snow for skiers, less water for California:  “Attention skiers: climate change means fewer trips to Tahoe this century. That’s the word from a first-time study by the Department of the Interior. Less snow also means additional challenges for storing water during drier months.  According to the DOI’s Sacramento and San Joaquin Basins Climate Impact Assessment, the average temperature in California’s Central Valley is predicted to rise by about 3 degrees Fahrenheit by mid-century and possibly more than 5 degrees by the end of the century. It may not sound like much, but it means more rain and less snow in the Sierra. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Long range forecast: Less snow for skiers, less water for California
  • Putting nature on the balance sheet: In a world where money talks, as they say, nature has been at a distinct disadvantage. How do you put a price tag on the existence of a species, or the workings of a watershed, or the presence of a forest?  And yet it’s obvious that nature has value and can do important things for us, other than provide resources to be exploited. For years, conservationists in the public policy arena have tried to make the philosophical argument that undeveloped nature is an asset, economic as well as spiritual and recreational. That is, a tree that isn’t logged provides services such as erosion control, air filtering, and acts as a carbon sink, all of which have an economic value, but just not one that we typically measure. Now, three Bay Area counties —Santa Clara, Sonoma and Santa Cruz — have found a way to put these values of nature onto a balance sheet. ... ”  Read more from Bay Nature here: Putting Nature on the Balance Sheet
  • Drought, fire danger persist despite damp weather:  “With a forecast of rain and rough surf, could the initial week of fall be showing the first signs of a wet winter and a break from drought? Probably not. “You really can’t say there’s a definite change in trends from seeing one or two patterns arrive,” said Diana Henderson of the National Weather Service in Monterey. “I’m not really optimistic.” ... ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  Drought, fire danger persist despite damp weather
  • Proposition 1: A look at the water bond:The water bond proposed for voter approval in November is on its way, and the lines are being drawn by groups on all sides of the issue. Weighing in at $7.45 billion, California’s Proposition 1 asks voters to ok the issuance of $7,120,000,000 in new bonds and transfer $425 million in unissued bonds from other initiatives to finance a “water quality, supply, and infrastructure improvement program for the state.  After identifying the various sources of the unissued bond funds that will be transferred over, the proposition provides a set of findings related to the state of water in California. … ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here:  Proposition 1: A look at the water bond
  • Poll: Strong support for state water bond — and for local water bonds too:An epic drought and wave of wildfires have left California voters thirsty for the $7.5 billion state water bond on November’s ballot — and also anxious to approve local bond measures to supply more water, a wide-ranging new poll finds.  Water-policy experts are cheered by the overwhelming public concern, but worry that it could be washed away if heavy rains return this winter. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Poll: Strong support for state water bond — and for local water bonds too
  • Fracking not as bad as you fear, panelists say; some activists disagree: “Don’t worry, fracking won’t harm you. That was the underlying message from a six-expert information session about the controversial oil drilling technique Tuesday night at Cal State Fullerton. Don’t worry, fracking doesn’t happen much in North Orange County, and the chemicals aren’t really dangerous, panelists said. … ”  Read more from the O.C. Register here: Fracking not as bad as you fear, panelists say; some activists disagree
  • Wild river lands in suspense file:  “Remember that chart showing how a bill becomes a law in your high school civics textbook—all those boxes and arrows? Odds are it didn’t include the Suspense File of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, a legislative limbo where bills can expire without ever coming to
a vote. That was the fate of Senate Bill 1199, a measure introduced by State Senator Loni Hancock (DBerkeley) in April to add portions of the Mokelumne River to the California Wild and Scenic Rivers System. … ”  Continue reading at Estuary News here:  Wild river lands in suspense file

 In commentary today …

  • Marin Voice: Prop. 1 prioritizes conservation and climate change: In the past two years, the California Legislature has made tremendous progress toward creating a long-term sustainable water policy for California.  Water is one of our most precious resources. Without a reliable supply of water, California would not be an amazing natural wonder, the world’s bread basket, and a beautiful place to raise our thirsty families. ... ” Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Marin Voice: Prop. 1 prioritizes conservation and climate change

In regional news and commentary today …

  • Drought slows sudden oak death around Northern California: Prolonged drought curbed the spread of sudden oak death in parts of Sonoma County and 12 other counties near the coast, but some locales — including west Sonoma County — remained hot spots for the disease that has ravaged the region’s woodlands since 1995.  A relatively arid spring deprived the sudden oak death pathogen of the wet winds it typically rides from host bay laurel trees to vulnerable species of oaks and tanoaks, enabling landowners to pinpoint and possibly eliminate the most persistent sources of the infection. … ”  Read more from the Press-Democrat here: Survey: Drought slows sudden oak death around Northern California
  • Dry year means smooth sailing for rice growers, if they had water:Rice fields are looking beautiful this time of year. The tops of the spindly plants are heavy with rice kernels and the straw has turned a slightly chartreuse shade of green. As far as yield and ease of growing, farmers don’t have many complaints.  However, that’s only if there was enough water. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Dry year means smooth sailing for rice growers, if they had water
  • A couple days of actual rain will arrive in the Bay Area — Thursday and Friday: Meteorologist Jan Null says don’t even call this one a storm. The weak cold front swooping in from the Gulf of Alaska is expected to bring trace amounts of rain to the Bay Area through Friday — and also deliver a desperately needed drenching to fire-ravaged parts of the Sierra and Northern California.  One of the state’s largest wildfires, the King fire, which has burned 93,000 acres in the Eldorado National Forest, will get a quarter inch of rain, some cooler temperatures and higher humidity. The Happy Camp fire, near Eureka, will get up to a full inch of liquid relief. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: A couple days of actual rain will arrive in the Bay Area — Thursday and Friday
  • Water board boosts conservation efforts after falling short of targets:The Santa Clara Valley Water District’s board voted to spend millions more on water-use reduction efforts to combat California’s historic drought, after existing conservation programs have fallen far short of their targets.  The water board approved a plan in February to reduce annual water-use rates by 20 percent from their 2013 levels. But so far, monthly water-reduction numbers across the district have lagged. ... ”  Read more from the Silicon Valley Business Journal here: Water board boosts conservation efforts after falling short of targets
  • Amid drought, a water damage bill for Stockton:  “Perhaps only in Stockton might the City Council be asked to declare a Stage 1 Water Shortage Emergency and simultaneously have to shell out nearly $50,000 to repair City Hall rainwater damage at the very same meeting.  Such will be the case, though, when the council convenes this evening. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Amid drought, a water damage bill for Stockton
  • Well-drilling moratorium sought by some Stanislaus supervisors:  “An immediate well-drilling moratorium is being called for by at least two members of Stanislaus County’s Board of Supervisors, and the Water Advisory Committee will debate whether that’s needed to protect declining groundwater supplies.  “It’s irresponsible not to address this,” Supervisor Jim DeMartini insisted Wednesday. “There’s ample evidence of serious groundwater overdraft.” ... ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here: Well-drilling moratorium sought by some Stanislaus supervisors
  • Avenal gets badly needed water boost:Avenal will get an emergency allotment of water to prevent the dire scenario of the city going completely dry this year, a Bureau of Reclamation official announced Tuesday.  The amount – 450 acre-feet – had been requested by Avenal officials. They calculated it was enough to meet the town’s basic needs through March 1, 2015, when the bureau announces the 2015-2016 allocation. …  ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here:  Avenal gets badly needed water boost
  • Group sues State Water Board for study of Ventura River water use:  “An environmental group is suing California’s State Water Resources Control Board, seeking to force officials to conduct a study of Ventura River water. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Group sues for study of Ventura River water use
  • Drought triggers Southern California tumbleweed infestation: “Three years of drought have triggered an infestation of tumbleweeds across Southern California, raising the risk of wildfires, especially in the foothill areas.  “The Los Angeles basin is facing a tumbleweed problem that hasn’t happened in quite some time,” said David Bracken, a deputy commissioner for the Los Angeles County Department of Agriculture. Bracken said tumbleweed infestations are largely cyclical and will diminish in the years ahead. … ” Read more from the Los Angeles Times here: Drought triggers Southern California tumbleweed infestation

weatherPrecipitation watch …

  • Pacific Storm Brings Beneficial Rain to Fire-Ravaged Areas: A storm from the Pacific Ocean brought rain to fire-ravaged areas across northern California after battering the area with gusty winds.  Winds picked up ahead of the storm on Wednesday, aggravating fires across the region and hindering efforts to fight them. Winds will continue to remain strong over California through Thursday but they will be accompanied by rain. ... ”  Read more from Accu-Weather here: Pacific Storm Brings Beneficial Rain to Fire-Ravaged Areas

Comedy Corner …

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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