Daily Digest: California drought and climate warming: Studies find no clear link, migrating birds in for a tough winter, low flows a danger to salmon, CA water debt seen safe from drought’s grip, and more, plus water wars, literally …!

Daily DigestIn California water news today, California drought and climate warming: Studies find no clear link, Migrating birds in for a tough winter in the Central Valley, Low flows a danger to salmon, coming and going, Drought-conscious residents turn the water tables on public agencies, Early snow blankets Sierra Nevada, delighting drought-weary California, Exploring water solutions for California’s drought with Peter Gleick, Governor’s tunnel push gets personal, Rebates for replacing lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping won’t be taxed, Groundwater legislation implementation still in the works, Can Proposition 1 help preserve California’s precious water?, Support for water bond appears strong, Almond boom has downside in fewer farm jobs, less crop diversity, EPA releases ‘salmon mapper’ for 12 pesticides, California water debt seen safe from drought’s grip;  Drought in California. Floods in Colorado. Doubt, now in scientists minds, and more news and commentary plus water wars, literally  …

 In the news today …

  • California drought and climate warming: Studies find no clear link:Global warming contributed to extreme heat waves in many parts of the world last year, but cannot be definitively linked to the California drought, according to a report released Monday.  The third annual analysis of extreme weather events underscored the continuing difficulty of teasing out the influence of human-caused climate change on precipitation patterns.  One of three studies examining the California drought in 2013 found that the kind of high-pressure systems that blocked winter storms last year have increased with global warming. ... ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here: California drought and climate warming: Studies find no clear link
  • The Connection Between California’s Drought and Climate Change:Climate change is making the weather pattern that’s responsible for California’s drought more likely, according to a new study from Stanford.  The phenomenon, known as the “ridiculously resilient ridge,” is a huge, hard bubble of high pressure air parked in the Pacific Ocean. In the rainy season, it pushes storms that could’ve been headed to California up north, to Canada. High pressure ridges that cause California to dry out happen naturally — there have been plenty of long droughts in the past — but climate change is likely to make them more frequent, according to the study published Monday in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Swain’s study was published as part of a collection of papers that focused on the links between climate change and extreme weather events. … ”  Read more from KQED Science here: The Connection Between California’s Drought and Climate Change; See also: California’s drought linked to greenhouse gases, climate change in Stanford study, from the San Jose Mercury News
  • Migrating birds in for a tough winter in the Central Valley:  “If the millions of birds that migrate to the Central Valley each winter look forward to the equivalent of a cozy bed and a warm meal, this year they could find themselves sleeping under a bridge.  That’s a crude analogy, but experts agree that those waterfowl — winging their way to drought-stricken California as we speak — will find their favorite wetlands shrunken and depleted and will be forced to crowd into smaller pools where they may suffer from high levels of hunger and disease. … ”  Read more from The Record here:  Migrating birds in for a tough winter in the Central Valley
  • Low flows a danger to salmon, coming and going:  “While waterfowl are winging toward Central Valley skies, salmon will simultaneously be splashing up Central Valley streams. And like the birds, they’ll have a drought to deal with when they get there. Closest to Stockton, officials are planning to release “pulse flows” of water down the Mokelumne and Stanislaus rivers in coming weeks to help fish find their way upstream.  … ”  Read more from The Record here:  Low flows a danger to salmon, coming and going
  • Drought-conscious residents turn the water tables on public agencies:  “The scene captured on video by a onetime aspiring filmmaker had neither actors nor dialogue, but it spoke volumes:  A stream of water from a leaking sprinkler pooled on the ground, creating a miniature marsh. Above the glistening pond, silver block letters on the building in the backdrop spelled out: “Department of Water and Power, City of Los Angeles, Receiving Station K.”  To Matt Chapman, who gave up his film dreams for a software engineer’s more reliable paycheck, it was a case of hypocrisy worth documenting on YouTube. And he’s not the only one scrutinizing how public agencies use water. ... ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here: Drought-conscious residents turn the water tables on public agencies
  • Early snow blankets Sierra Nevada, delighting drought-weary California: An unusual early snowstorm blanketed the Sierra Nevada over the weekend, but the welcome sight isn’t expected to last long as a warming trend spreads across California.  The first snow of the season dumped up to 3 inches along the Lake Tahoe Basin, forcing authorities to shut down California 108 at Sonora Pass, which remained closed Monday, said Tom Dang, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Sacramento.  It was the first time in several years that a storm had dropped so much snow on the Sierra this early in the year, he added. … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here: Early snow blankets Sierra Nevada, delighting drought-weary California
  • Exploring water solutions for California’s drought with Peter Gleick: Is our current drought in California part of a natural weather pattern, an aberration, or climate change?  This week, KCBS In Depth cohosts Jan McMillan and Ed Cavagnaro posed this question to Dr. Peter Gleick, a globally recognized scientist who is an expert in water and climate issues.  “The current drought is bad. It’s part of our natural cycle of droughts but it’s certainly worsened by climate change that we know humans are causing,” he said. … ”  Read more from KCBS here: KCBS In Depth: Exploring Water Solutions For California’s Drought
  • Governor’s tunnel push gets personal:A former top aide to the governor, now head of the pro twin tunnels group Natural Heritage Institute, and the executive director of a Delta environmental group opposing the governor’s $68 billion twin tunnels plan, are taking the debate over the tunnels to a personal level.  Former state Deputy Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency Jerry Meral has accused the group Restore the Delta of being funded by an attorney for farmers in the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta who would lose much of their water if the tunnels plan were implemented.  … ”  Read more from the Central Valley Business Times here:  Governor’s tunnel push gets personal
  • Rebates for replacing lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping won’t be taxed:Rebates received by homeowners for replacing their lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping will not be counted as income, according to a bill authored by a Los Angeles lawmaker and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday.  By not being taxed on the rebate, which can range as much as $3,000, more people will take advantage of turf-removal incentives being offered by cities and local water districts and help save water during the state’s severe drought, said Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles. ... ”  Read more from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune here: Rebates for replacing lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping won’t be taxed
  • Groundwater legislation implementation still in the works: On Tuesday, Sept. 16, California Governor Jerry Brown signed three new bills legislating groundwater regulation into law, SB-1168, SB-1319 and AB-1739.  A significant line in SB-1168 says, “Groundwater resources are most effectively managed at the local or regional level.”  Paul Carlson, information officer for the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) said in an email to the Redwood Times that DWR is still developing the implementation plan for this new legislation. It may take a couple of weeks for the first draft of the roll-out, he said. … ”  Read more from The Redwood Times here:  Groundwater legislation implementation still in the works
  • Can Proposition 1 help preserve California’s precious water?: “On the September 29th edition Your Call, we’ll have a debate about Proposition 1, the ballot initiative that would authorize a 7-and-a-half billion dollar state bond for water infrastructure projects. Proponents say Proposition 1 will clean up groundwater, expand recycling and storage capacity. Opponents say it’s too vague and does nothing to address long-term water shortages in California. It’s six weeks from Election Day – what questions do you have about Proposition 1?” Listen to the radio show here: Your Call: Can Proposition 1 help preserve California’s precious water?
  • Support for water bond appears strong:  “Public support for the new state water bond is said to be strong, as California residents grapple with a prolonged drought that has had reverberations throughout the state.  Rare bipartisan support, favorable polling numbers and the backing of Gov. Jerry Brown have water bond supporters optimistic that voters will pass the legislation, which contains funding provisions that could help build Sites Reservoir — a water storage project that Northern California leaders have sought for decades. … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Support appears strong for the water bond
  • Almond boom has downside in fewer farm jobs, less crop diversity:  The remarkable expansion of almond orchards in Stanislaus County has been an economic boom for growers, but it’s come at a price: fewer farm jobs and less crop diversity.  Literally millions of almond trees have been planted in the county during the past decade. Stanislaus agriculture officials calculate 160,200 acres of almonds were harvested last year, which is about double the acreage harvested 15 years ago. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Almond boom has downside in fewer farm jobs, less crop diversity
  • EPA releases ‘salmon mapper’ for 12 pesticides:  “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Sept. 26 released a mapping system showing where no-spray buffer zones apply in California, Oregon and Washington for 12 pesticides.  The system, called “Salmon Mapper,” includes the most recent data depicting salmon supporting streams, according to an EPA news release. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here: EPA releases ‘Salmon Mapper’ for 12 pesticides
  • California Water Debt Seen Safe From Drought’s Grip: Muni Credit: While California’s water reserves are dwindling amid an intensifying drought, there’s no dry spell when it comes to buyers of debt issued by the agency running the water system supplying 25 million people.  The California Department of Water Resources, which oversees a network of reservoirs and aqueducts known as the State Water Project, is refinancing about $640 million of tax-exempt bonds today, said Perla Netto-Brown, the agency’s Sacramento-based chief of fiscal services. It’s the department’s biggest offering since 2011, she said. ... ”  Read more from Bloomberg News here: California Water Debt Seen Safe From Drought’s Grip: Muni Credit
  • Drought in California. Floods in Colorado. Doubt, now in scientists minds:  “By now, smart shoppers know that “natural” flavors and “artificial” flavors overlap in ways that challenge the meaning of the word natural.  Something similar is happening to the weather. Every year, scientists dissect extreme events for their natural causes and any trace of manmade global warming. A new report put out jointly by American and British scientists tours some of the most extreme weather of 2013, and finds climate change lurking behind some of them. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg News here: Drought in California. Floods in Colorado. Doubt, Now, in Scientists’ Minds
  • And lastly … water wars, literally:  Eeesh, let’s hope it doesn’t come to this: Feud over water well leads to stabbing with sword in Santa Fe, Texas

In commentary today …

  • Climate change is increasing the chances of drought, say Daniel L. Swain and Noah S. Diffenbaugh: They write: “Whether viewed from a dry-as-dust ground level or from a sky-high planetary perch, the ongoing drought in California is remarkable. As this slow-moving meteorological disaster intensifies, burning forests, fallowed agricultural fields and critically low reservoirs show the increasingly high-stakes interactions among scientists, policymakers and everyday Californians. This year is California’s third consecutive dry year, but the severity of the drought has dramatically increased over the past 12 to 18 months. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Viewpoint: Climate change is increasing the chances of drought
  • Another water year ends; so begins new weather era, says the Appeal Democrat: They write: “It’s pretty likely we’ll never be the same again.  While that might be a sort of philosophical truism, we’re talking about how it relates to water.  Officially, according to a press release from the California Department of Water Resources, water year 2014 ends today. It goes into the record books as one of the driest ever, “with no promise that the new water year beginning Wednesday will be any wetter.” ... ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here: Our View: Another water year ends; so begins new weather era

In regional news and commentary today …

  • San Francisco: Water conservation likely in 2015:San Franciscans have learned to save water during California’s epic drought.  Unless the winter brings a deluge of rain and snow, The City may be asked to save even more next year.  If the winter does not brings “buckets” of rain — quite a bit more than the half-inch that fell on parts of the Bay Area last week — the 10 percent voluntary water-use cutbacks that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s 2.6 million customers have largely achieved will be only the beginning, water officials said last week. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Examiner here:  Water conservation likely in 2015
  • Groundwater: Protecting Silicon Valley’s Buried Treasure: California made history this month by ending its “Wild West” policy of allowing uncontrolled groundwater pumping by nearly any landowner in the state. Three bills by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento) and Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) passed in the final days of the legislative session, despite objections from Republican lawmakers and Central Valley Democrats, and they were signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Sept. 16.  Agricultural interests that increasingly depend on pumping from wells drove the opposition. ... ”  Read more from San Jose Inside here: Groundwater: Protecting Silicon Valley’s Buried Treasure
  • Oakdale almond grower shares his vision:  “More than 30,000 acres of almond orchards have been planted in eastern Stanislaus County the past decade, most of them on what had been dry rangeland.  Thanks mostly to groundwater pumping, millions of leafy green trees now cover those rolling hills. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Oakdale almond grower shares its vision
  • Long, difficult summer at Millerton Lake:The drought summer of 2014 is in the rear view mirror at Millerton Lake, but it will long be remembered — east San Joaquin Valley farmers were left without water from this lake for the first time in many decades.  As part of an agreement dating back to the 1930s, the lake’s water has been released all summer long to a group of west Valley farmers who have rights to the water dating back to the 1800s. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Long, difficult summer at Millerton Lake
  • Kern County poised to freeze development over ag water: County supervisors will consider freezing all agricultural development in the Indian Wells Valley around Ridgecrest while the extent of the desert basin’s water crisis is explored.  The moratorium on growth, which supervisors will discuss Tuesday, would be temporary. … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here: County poised to freeze Ridgecrest-area ag development over water
  • How the drought has changed water use in Southern California:  “The once-shimmering emerald lawns across Southern California were first starved of water, then left to wither to a tawny scruff.  But out of the ashes of a four-year drought has popped up a Phoenix of native landscaping and conservation, with businesses and homeowners laying down low-water textured gardens from Los Angeles to San Bernardino — saving tens of millions of gallons of precious water. ... ”  Read more from The Daily Breeze here:  How the drought has changed water use in Southern California

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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