Daily Digest, weekend edition: Could those empty reservoirs fill up in one winter?, plus marijuana, Kern Water Bank ruling, small pumpkins and more …

In California water news this weekend, could those empty reservoirs fill up in one winter?, salmon recovery plan IDs Humboldt marijuana cultivation as a threat, Feds call for study of marijuana’s impact on salmon, judge says California water managers must consider ecological impacts of running huge water bank, experts say thinning forests could help increase groundwater supply, in Butte County,  meeting state groundwater rules will mean a lot of work locally, historic drought is backdrop for water bond vote, and more news and commentary …

In the news this weekend …

  • Could those empty reservoirs fill up in one winter?  “In mid-September 1977, the 326 trillion-gallon Pine Flat Reservoir sat nearly empty — holding 6% of capacity in a warm puddle.  The mountains above Pine Flat had just gone through the second-driest year on record. Across 1 million acres in the central San Joaquin Valley, farmers, city officials, industry leaders and everyone else waited desperately for winter.  Five months later, steady storm runoff from the Kings River filled the reservoir so quickly that the U.S. Corps of Engineers released water to prevent Pine Flat Dam from being overtopped. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Could those empty reservoirs fill up in one winter?
  • Salmon recovery plan IDs Humboldt marijuana cultivation as a threat: An extensive coho salmon recovery strategy released Tuesday by the NOAA Fisheries Service names marijuana cultivation in Humboldt County and the surrounding region as a threat to the dwindling species.  From damage to streams and rivers caused by clear-cutting and illegal road grading to water diversions and chemical pollution associated with marijuana grows, the action plan calls for steps to address many of those issues alongside hundreds of other recovery strategies for salmon populations in an area stretching from the Mattole River near Petrolia to southern Oregon, said Julie Weeder, NOAA recovery coordinator for the Northern California office. … ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here: Salmon recovery plan IDs Humboldt marijuana cultivation as threat
  • Feds call for study of marijuana’s impact on salmon:  “Following years of warnings from state Fish and Wildlife and forestry officials, the federal government this week called for further study of the effects of marijuana cultivation on threatened salmon populations in pot-rich areas like Northern California’s Emerald Triangle, which includes Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties.  The recommendations by federal fisheries officials were included in a document released Tuesday that lays out plans to rehabilitate 40 populations of threatened coho salmon in a wide geographic range that includes about 10,000 miles of streams and 13 million acres in southern Oregon and Northern California, including parts of Mendocino and Lake counties. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Feds call for study of marijuana’s impact on salmon
  • Judge: California water managers must consider ecological impacts of running huge water bank:A judge has ruled that state water managers in drought-stricken California must consider the environmental impacts of running one of the nation’s largest water banks.  The Department of Water Resources never looked at the full ecological effects of running the Kern Water Bank when the state transferred the bank to private hands in 1997 and must redo its environmental analysis, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley ruled Thursday. ... ”  Read more from Fox Business News here: Judge: California water managers must consider ecological impacts of running huge water bank
  • Experts: Thinning forests could help increase groundwater supply:Officials with the U.S. Forest Service say there are too many trees in the Sierra, creating a major fire hazard and sucking up much-needed water.  Some researchers say cutting down more trees could help ease California’s water problems.  In a rural piece of forest in Tuoloumne County, an important experiment is underway that could influence California’s future of fire and water. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here: Experts: Thinning Forests Could Help Increase Ground Water Supply
  • Butte County:  Meeting state groundwater rules will mean a lot of work locally:  “The biggest changes to California groundwater law in 150 years are on the way. What it means for local water leaders is a lot of work.  The goal within 20 years is for all groundwater basins in the state to achieve sustainability.  Changing the way Californians manage groundwater has been talked about for decades, said Paul Gosselin, director of the Butte County Department of Water and Resource Conservation, during the most recent meeting of the county Water Commission. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Meeting state groundwater rules will mean a lot of work locally
  • Historic drought is backdrop for water bond vote: “Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers are hoping California’s worsening drought persuades voters to approve borrowing billions of dollars for new water projects, treatment systems and conservation measures.  The $7.5 billion water package to appear on the Nov. 4 ballot as Proposition 1 includes $2.7 billion for new reservoirs along with billions more for recycling water, conservation and groundwater cleanup. It also calls for shoring up levees in the Sacrament-San Joaquin Delta to lessen chances of a catastrophic flood. … ”  Read more from the News-Observer here: Historic drought is backdrop for water bond vote

In commentary this weekend …

  • Proposition 1 will address water needs, says the Sacramento Bee:  They write:  “Severe drought has exacerbated weaknesses in California’s water system, highlighting problems that a $7.5 billion water bond would begin to address and giving voters ample reason to approve Proposition 1 on Nov. 4.  In providing safe and reliable water to 38 million residents and a $44 billion agriculture industry, the state needs a comprehensive and strategic approach to clean contaminated groundwater, restore rivers and streams, encourage recycling, shore up levees and and plan to store more water. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Endorsement: Proposition 1 will address water needs
  • Water bond doesn’t pass muster, says the Chico Enterprise-Record:  They write: “It is with reluctance that we recommend a no vote on Proposition 1, the water bond on the November ballot. It’s likely the best chance our state has to get the badly needed Sites Reservoir built, but we can’t bring ourselves to believe that will happen, based on how the bond is written.Sites is important to the north state because it’s the best way we can help the rest of the state with its water problems without harming ourselves. And it’s naive to assume the rest of the state doesn’t expect us to solve their problems.  You just have to look at reservoir levels to understand that. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Editorial: Water bond doesn’t pass muster
  • Prop 1 water bond deserves voters support, says the Oakland Tribune: One of the easiest decisions for California voters in this bone-dry year should be to pass Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond on November’s ballot.  Don’t confuse it with the proposed $25 billion twin tunnel Delta disaster in the making. Proposition 1 is unrelated to that. It will pay for practical improvements to the state’s aging water infrastructure and add storage so that in wet years, if they ever return, we can better prepare for dry ones.  Amazingly for these times, the plan won unanimous support in the Senate and had only two dissenters in the Assembly. It deserves the same overwhelming bipartisan support from voters to make the required two-thirds threshold. ... ”  Read more from the Oakland Tribune here:  Prop 1 water bond deserves voters support
  • Fishermen ask fish lovers to vote no on Proposition 1: Paul Johnson writes: “When they are served a beautiful piece of wild Chinook salmon, most Bay Area diners do not give much thought to the water quality that fisheries need. When they crack open a crab at one of our many fine local eateries, they don’t think about the near-extinction of these fantastic seafoods due to overpumping our rivers, and the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary to water desert mega-farms. But diners should think about it now, because the salmon and crab that are essential to Northern California diet and culture will eventually disappear from our dinner plates if Proposition 1 passes in the November election. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Paul Johnson: Fishermen ask fish lovers to vote no on Proposition 1
  • Why O.C. cities support Proposition 1: Frank Ury writes: “By now, most Orange County residents are aware: California is in a serious drought. It’s a crisis that threatens the foundation of our economy, our local quality of life and future.  Images of cracked-mud reservoirs, sun-scorched hillsides and fallowed farmland are sobering reminders that California – and especially Orange County – needs a long-term solution to our water crisis, and we need it now.  That’s why the Association of California Cities-Orange County – an educational non-profit representing O.C. cities and their taxpayers – supports Proposition 1, a bond measure on the Nov. 4 ballot that, if approved by voters, will provide a fiscally prudent method to secure our water future. … ”  Read more from the O.C. Register here: Frank Ury: Why O.C. cities back Prop. 1
  • Column: Quest for ag water has wacky outcome: Don Curlee writes: “The search for water to irrigate thirsty crops has led to one of the most twisted, unexpected and bizarre results imaginable, and wouldn’t you know, it involves the Delta.  Because the results of an investigation into this scenario have not been released, it has to be classified as preliminary, perhaps even hearsay. Even so, it serves as a strong reminder of how intense the efforts can be and have been to procure precious water supplies as they dwindle and the need for them intensifies.  A deal was made to sell significant quantities of water (acre-feet) mined from a productive tract of land in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta known as Bouldin Island. … ” Continue reading at the Appeal Democrat here: Ag at Large: Quest for ag water has wacky outcome
  • Column: Water solutions sought throughout the West:  John D. Foster writes: “Texans pride themselves for seldom following in the tracks of Californians, but the prolonged Western drought is forging new ideas on water conservation and resources in the Golden Bear Republic that may be beneficial to the Lone Star State.  Water shortages are increasingly critical in both states. In Texas, for example, Wichita Falls is so desperate for drinking water that the city is implementing a plan to treat raw sewer water for home use.  In California, underground wells in a small town near Bakersfield dried up, leaving 1,000 residents without water. County emergency workers and volunteers are going door to door delivering bottled drinking water. ... ”  Read more from the Longview News-Journal here:  Column: Water solutions sought throughout the West

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

  • State Water Board to lift Eel River curtailments during ‘significant’ storms:  “The State Water Resources Control Board announced Friday that it will temporarily lift curtailments for Eel River junior water right holders during “significant” early-season storms.  The city of Rio Dell and other junior holders lost their ability to divert from the Eel River watershed in June in response to the ongoing drought. Rio Dell’s curtailment was rescinded in August, but restrictions are still in effect on the north fork Eel River and its main stem upstream of where it meets the south fork. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  State Water Board to lift Eel River curtailments during ‘significant storms”
  • Humboldt County:Humboldt water district mulls trans-county pipeline:The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District is considering a pipeline to sell water in and out of the county — a plan proponents say would lower rates for existing customers and help finance the replacement of a 60-year-old water system.  During a special meeting on Tuesday, the district’s board of directors continued discussion on a pipeline reconnaissance study it completed in August. The study looked at the feasibility of several scenarios for pipeline construction, but the board had three main options in mind at its meeting: an east-west pipeline, a north-south pipeline or both. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here: Humboldt water district mulls trans-county pipeline
  • Napa: Drought takes toll on local honeybees:  “Although they don’t have to worry about watering crops, beekeepers are as vulnerable to California’s historic drought as farmers in any other line of agriculture.  Because the hills turned brown early this spring, bees have not been able to forage as much for nectar, food they need to survive and make honey.  Spencer and Helene Marshall, who run Marshall’s Farm Natural Honey in American Canyon, estimate their production this year is down 50 percent from 2013. There is hardly any honey left to harvest as the season draws to a close. … ”  Read more from the Napa Valley Register here:  Drought takes toll on local honeybees
  • Bay Area: Water shortages mean smaller pumpkins this Halloween:The drought in California is even impacting Halloween. Local pumpkin patches are going dry, and that means the Great Pumpkin may not be so great this year.  The pumpkins picked and rolled out of J.E. Perry Farms won’t be nearly as large as the ones in years past. … ”  Read more from CBS Bay Area here:  Water shortages mean smaller pumpkins this Halloween
  • Bay Area: Bay Bridge water woes continue: More rods to be tested: Caltrans will do extensive testing to determine if newly discovered water leaks that dampened metal rods in the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge are a temporary problem easily dried out or a sign of a long-term corrosion threat, the agency reported Tuesday.  Caltrans in the last week discovered water — a potential corrosive threat — was sitting against more than 90 percent of the 424 anchor rods that tie the self-anchored suspension span to its foundation.It’s only the latest water problem to plague the gleaming $6.4 billion span … ”  Read more from San Jose Mercury News here:  Bay Bridge water woes continue
  • Stanislaus County: More time to drill: Water well moratorium vote delayed:  “Stanislaus County’s Water Advisory Committee apparently will postpone next week’s vote on whether to recommend a moratorium on well drilling.  The 21-member group, which has been considering groundwater issues for eight months, was scheduled to vote on a proposed moratorium Wednesday. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: More time to drill: Water well moratorium vote delayed
  • Column: San Joaquin Valley drought photos make splash: Lewis Griswold writes: “Documentary photographer Matt Black of Exeter achieved a career milestone when The New Yorker magazine published four of his photographs illustrating the California drought.  All were taken near Firebaugh and Corcoran.  Four may sound like small number, but it’s a lot for The New Yorker. … ”  Continue reading from the Fresno Bee here:  Griswold: San Joaquin Valley drought photos make splash
  • Porterville: More donations needed for East Porterville residents with dry taps:Dry taps are spreading in East Porterville, say volunteers who are delivering water to hundreds of homes, but donations of water continue to help.  Nearly 1,000 people in East Porterville were coping with dry taps in August. Adam Bohman of the nonprofit Porterville Rescue Mission said the number has no doubt climbed as more wells have gone dry. Volunteers say the number of people affected may have doubled by the end of the dry summer. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  More donations needed for East Porterville residents with dry taps
  • Southern California:  Say goodbye to this tradition:  “A revered fall tradition is in trouble, thanks to the ongoing Western drought.  Apple orchards in Southern California are really struggling due to a severe, multi-year drought that’s showing no signs of letting up. In the town of Julian, located about 60 miles northeast of San Diego, apple orchards that should be filled with apple-pickers aren’t even open, according to Southern California Public Radio.  “The orchard is really parched,” Calico Ranch Orchard owner Conrad Young told KPCC-FM. “For the first time in 30 years, our well is drawn down. The few apples that are on the trees are about the size of small marbles.”  … ”  Continue reading at The Weather Channel here:  Say goodbye to this tradition
  • Southern California: In wake of drought and fires, turtle habitat becomes death trap:Biologists strode along the cracked, dry mud surrounding this evaporating north Los Angeles County lake last week, pausing periodically to pick up an emaciated turtle and wash alkaline dust off its head and carapace.  “A lot of these animals are severely ill and starving,” said Tim Hovey, a state Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, as he gestured toward a group of turtles bobbing in the murky water offshore. ... ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here: In wake of drought and fires, turtle habitat becomes death trap
  • LADWP’s Water Waste Watchdogs Hit a Snag: Residents hoping to flag the department about water waste often gave up after being told they’d be waiting two hours to speak with someone:  “While the the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is tasked with repairing broken water mains that soak streets during California’s historic drought, a push for residents to report water waste has revealed other holes in the department that need fixing, the NBC4 I-Team found.  “There are egregious water wastage problems that you can’t report,” LADWP customer Helen Melville said. … ”  Read more from NBC LA here: LADWP’s Water Waste Watchdogs Hit a Snag
  • Laguna Beach: A drought of solutions for drawing more water:  “Even as Laguna Beach County Water District prepares to raise rates over the next five years to pay for the escalating cost of supplying local customers with 1.5 billion gallons of imported water annually, local resident Michael Beanan sees a solution in what he describes as a “goldmine”: 4 billion gallons of treated sewage that spews into the Pacific Ocean from an outfall pipe off Laguna’s coast each year.  Unlike the alchemists who never succeeded in turning base metals into gold, modern scientists have transformed wastewater into drinking water, which might as well be liquid gold given its increasing scarcity in drought-stricken California.  But that transformation is extremely costly and so far seems to be an undertaking of only huge water districts. … ”  Read more from the Laguna Beach Independent here:  A drought of solutions for drawing more water

Friday’s breaking news, in case you missed it …


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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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where California water news never goes home for the weekend

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