Daily Digest: Study shows fault near key CA water supply infrastructure among 4 at risk of major quake, Gov accused of heavy-handed pressure SWP contracts, Calaveras County Supe wants County to cash in on snowpack and more news and commentary …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, study shows fault near key California water supply infrastructure among 4 at risk of major quake, Governor accused of heavy-handed pressure in an end run to build Delta water tunnels, County Supervisor Edson wants Calaveras County to cash in on snowpack, How too many trees contribute to California’s drought, Campaign ad analysis: Prop 1, Prop 2 backers oversimplify wildfire costs, Lake Oroville inches towards record low, San Joaquin River Restoration settlement: Friant’s decision, then and now, California Council Works To Streamline Water Quality Data, Drought taking a bit out of almonds, and more …

In the news today …

  • Study shows fault near key California water supply infrastructure among 4 at risk of major quake:Three fault segments running beneath Northern California and its roughly 15 million people are overdue for a major earthquake, including one section that lies near the dams and canals that supply much of the state’s water, according to a geological study published Monday.  The three fault segments and one other in the region are loaded with enough tension to produce quakes of magnitude 6.8 or greater, according to a geological study published Monday. … ”  Read more from the Star Tribune here: Study shows fault near key California water supply among 4 at risk of major quake; See also: Creep in 4 faults means big quake may be poised to hit, from the San Francisco Chronicle
  • Governor accused of heavy-handed pressure in an end run to build Delta water tunnels:  “Gov. Edmund Brown Jr. and his allies are pressuring local water districts to support a proposed environmental impact report on a long-term extension of State Water Project supply contracts – or possibly lose their water supplies, says a coalition of 26 water policy reform groups opposing the proposed EIR.  They characterize the proposed EIR as an aggressive attempt by the Brown administration to circumvent public input and due process over the disposition of the state’s water. As proposed, contracts that don’t even begin to expire until 2035 would be extended to 2085. … ”  Read more from the Central Valley Business Times here:  Governor accused of heavy-handed pressure in an end run to build Delta water tunnels
  • County Supervisor Edson wants Calaveras County to cash in on snowpack:  “Caring for the annual snowpack would become a core industry in Calaveras County under an economic development vision being championed by county Supervisor Cliff Edson of San Andreas.  The logic goes like this: Snow melts into water. Water is a precious resource in thirsty California. If water users pay to increase the yield from the snowpack, then crews in Calaveras County can do the required thinning of forests. Secondary benefits include electricity plants fueled by wood waste and payments to property owners who manage land to maximize water yield. … ”  Read more from the Calaveras Enterprise here:  Edson wants Calaveras County to cash in on snowpack
  • How too many trees contribute to California’s drought:  “As the historic drought drags on, just about everyone wishes the state had gotten more water this year. That’s largely up to snow and rainfall, but it also depends on trees in the state’s mountains.”  Listen to the radio show from NPR here:  How too many trees contribute to California’s drought
  • Campaign ad analysis: Prop 1, Prop 2 backers oversimplify wildfire costs: “The campaign for a $7.5 billion water bond and a budget reserve measure is running a TV ad that says reserves will help “protect the water and the fire services we need” in future economic downturns.  The 30-second ad, airing statewide, is narrated by Ken Pimlott, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and features images of Pimlott, wildfires and unidentified firefighters. Following is text of the ad and an analysis by David Siders of The Bee Capitol Bureau. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Prop 1, Prop 2 backers oversimplify wildfire costs
  • Lake Oroville inches towards record low:  “Only time and nature will determine whether Lake Oroville will continue its steady drop or begin to climb back.  On Monday, the lake was at a low water elevation of 670 feet. Capacity is 900 feet.  Department of Water Resources officials are concerned. Water Services Supervisor Kevin Wright said Monday the lake will continue to drop until it rains and produces inflow. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Lake Oroville inches towards record low
  • San Joaquin River Restoration settlement: Friant’s decision, then and now:  “Water continues to be a prime topic this year, and the debate over how water is used, and how priorities are determined, continue to be waged. The San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Agreement, and its effect on water users in the Central Valley, was a “fork in the road” moment. The decision to settle was made by the Friant Water Authority Board of Directors in 2006. Today, many question the wisdom of that decision.  To get some background on the decision, we spoke with Fergus Morrissey, engineer-manager of the Orange Cove Irrigation District. ... ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Friant’s decision, then and now
  • California Council Works To Streamline Water Quality Data: “The California Water Quality Monitoring Council was established in 2007 and is part of the State Water Resources Department. The Council has worked to create strategies for monitoring and assessing the state’s water quality. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  California Council Works To Streamline Water Quality Data
  • Drought taking a bit out of almonds:  “The prediction a few months ago was that the 2014 California almond crop would top last year’s. That turns out not to be the case as water issues put a bigger dent in the harvest than forecasters expected.  Water availability – an almost universal concern in the fourth year of punishing drought – might not have been the biggest issue. Growers drilled new wells, lowered pumps in others and generally managed to extract enough of the wet stuff to keep trees alive and productive. … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here:  Drought taking a bite out of almonds
  • California’s giant pumpkin growers undeterred by drought:California’s punishing drought has drawn down reservoirs and fallowed fields in the Central Valley, but it hasn’t stopped giant pumpkin growers from pursuing ever bigger gourds.  The drought had a modest impact on pumpkin cultivators’ water consumption this year, several top growers said. The cutbacks certainly weren’t severe enough to dampen the Bay Area’s annual weigh-offs: Napa grower Pete Glasier set a North American record on Saturday at Uesugi Farms in Morgan Hill, and fellow Napa grower John Hawkley broke it Monday in Half Moon Bay. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: California’s giant pumpkin growers undeterred by drought
  • The hottest six months in history? April to September 2014 were the warmest since records began, NASA claims:NASA has announced that the last six months were the warmest on record since 1880.  April, May, June and August were each hotter than they have ever been before, while the month of July was the fourth-warmest it has ever been.  The findings, experts claim, suggest that the current period is the warmest ever experienced by human civilisation. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Mail here:  The hottest six months in history? April to September 2014 were the warmest since records began, NASA claims

In commentary today …

  • Jane Wagner-Tyack: Why I’ll vote no on Proposition 1: From now on, any major water initiative in California must focus on the most cost-effective ways to do more with less, because we now know that the state has promised five times as much surface water, on average, as nature provides. That’s the case even without drought, which history tells us we can expect a third of the time.  Anyone who says that spending billions on more water infrastructure will solve our problems has figured out how to get more of that finite supply of water for themselves at someone else’s — probably taxpayers’ — expense. ... ”  Read more from the Lodi News-Sentinel here: Jane Wagner-Tyack: Why I’ll vote no on Proposition 1
  • Officials preach conservation but guzzle water, says Bruce Maiman: He writes: “Government bigwigs are once again doing what they do best – bending their own rules. Shocking, right?  The Center for Investigative Reporting analyzed water bills from 2012 and 2013 for roughly 150 local officials and found that nearly half of them used more water than the average household. Nearly 60 percent used more water in 2013 than in 2012, even as drought conditions worsened. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Viewpoint: Officials preach conservation but guzzle water

In regional news and commentary today …

  • Sonoma County unveils proposed new rules for wells:  “Sonoma County planning officials on Monday unveiled the most significant changes in nearly 40 years to the county’s underground well ordinance, which sets in place rules property owners must follow when drilling a new water well.  The proposed changes would prohibit new wells from being installed within 30 feet of streams. They would also prevent new wells from being drilled within between 20 feet and 100 feet of existing wells, depending on the ground water basin. The rules would also ban well drilling into streams. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Sonoma County unveils proposed new rules for wells
  • Santa Rosa: Early quick harvest for grape growers means few worries about rain:  “The threat of rain in mid-October would typically have winemakers and vineyard managers scrambling as they look to limit any damage caused by severe rot or other moisture-related harm to the North Coast’s most valuable crop.  But the rainfall expected to come into the area beginning Tuesday is more of a minor inconvenience due to the fact that most grape growers are done or about to finish this season’s harvest. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Grape growers: Early, quick harvest means few worries about rain
  • Marin:  Green gulch ‘recreated’ to help endangered fish:  “For the past seven weeks crews at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center have been rerouting a creek closer to its original path to help an endangered species’ chance for survival.  They have been using machinery and muscle to reshape lower Green Gulch Creek, a tributary to Redwood Creek near Muir Beach, one of the few remaining bodies of water to support endangered coho salmon. ... ”  Read more from the Marin Indpendent Journal here:  Green gulch ‘recreated’ to help endangered fish
  • Tahoe-Sierra megadroughts:  “The Sierra Nevada water year for 2014 ended on Sept. 30 and the snowfall and precipitation totals aren’t pretty.  The 194.5 inches of snowfall measured last season at the Central Sierra Snow Lab tied with 1924 as third least snowiest since 1879, well under the 409 inch seasonal average. Water is more important than snow and according to the 8-Station Northern Sierra Index established in 1922, the winter of 1924 is the also the driest of record. The index is comprised of eight weather stations from Highway 50 north to Mt. Shasta City. The data from these locations are averaged to provide an overview of how much precipitation fell in any given year over the Northern Sierra. … ”  Read more from the Nevada Appeal here:  Tahoe-Sierra Megadroughts
  • Stockton: As algae problem recedes, here comes the hyacinth:  “Just when it appears Stockton is winning the fight against creeping toxic slime, it’s time for the city’s annual Halloween alien invasion.  For the second year in a row, despite state officials’ efforts to control water hyacinth with herbicides as early as March, another bumper crop is now making its annual fall push into Stockton and other portions of the Delta. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  As algae problem recedes, here comes the hyacinth
  • Modesto Irrigation District farmers capitalize on no-ceiling water sales:Allowing farmers to sell their shares of irrigation water on the open market proved 13 times as popular as receiving a fixed price through a program managed by the Modesto Irrigation District.  Both transfer programs were created this year to help growers combat drought, and both relied on MID canals and workers to move water among customers who were either willing to sell what they had coming to them or who wanted more for thirsty crops. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Modesto Irrigation District farmers capitalize on no-ceiling water sales
  • Second Fresno water forum follows a familiar script:  “Fresno City Hall’s second water forum met a fate all but inevitable — it felt recycled.  About 160 people showed up Monday evening at Oraze Elementary School in east-central Fresno to discuss the city’s water future.  A few more than that had gone to Hoover High School two weeks earlier to discuss the city’s water needs. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Second Fresno water forum follows a familiar script
  • Tulare Farm Bureau supports the water bond: Tricia Stever Blattler writes: “California’s voters will have a historic opportunity this November to make an important commitment to everyone’s future food, job and economic security by voting Yes on the bond initiative now known as Proposition 1 — the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014. This will be a critical measure to create broad, bipartisan support amongst California’s voters this November. Tulare County Farm Bureau’s board of directors, at its Sept. 11 meeting, voted to officially support the bond. … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Tulare Farm Bureau supports the water bond
  • Salinas River winds path to restoration:  “When it rains in California, it pours. And when it pours, it floods.  In March of 1995, Monterey County experienced a hundred-year flood. When El Niño bought heavy rains, water hurtled down the Salinas River, overflowing reservoirs, busting dikes, and washing out roads. More than 1,500 homes and 30,000 acres of farmland were damaged. Losses totaled $240 million. … ”  Read more from the Salinas Californian here:  Salinas River winds path to restoration
  • Paso Robles: Supervisors to discuss water district, drought’s effects:  “With San Luis Obispo County in its third year of extreme drought, the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will hold a water summit to discuss whether to begin the process of forming a water district for the Paso Robles groundwater basin.  The summit is scheduled for the board’s afternoon session. It will also include updates on current drought conditions and state and local water legislation. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Supervisors to discuss water district, drought’s effects
  • Santa Clarita: Popular golf course to close due to drought:  “Golf club members say popular course in Santa Clarita, unable to sustain its grass due to California’s mega-drought, is closing down, and industry experts fear this trend may spread throughout the state.  Club members say Robinson Ranch plans to close one of two available golf courses, because it is unable to afford water. Meanwhile, the fairways of the course continue to dry up. … ”  Read more from CBS Los Angeles here:  Popular golf course to close due to drought
  • San Bernardino: Filling water contract questioned:  “The San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (Valley District), the state water importer for this area, was faced with a problem.  It has contracted to supply water to Highland and Redlands from Big Bear Lake.  However, Big Bear Lake has its own water shortage, so the Valley District was compensated to the tune of about $1 million to get the supply from the State Water Project (or elsewhere) to satisfy the contract. … ”  Read more from Highland Community News here:  Filling water contract questioned
  • Inland water agencies organize to save water:  “As California continues to endure its latest drought, Inland Empire water agencies are planning 20 seminars and sales events that will help residents save water by transitioning their yards to water saving garden friendly landscapes.  The seminars and sales events, which are being coordinated in cooperation with retailers, master gardeners, plant societies and other public agencies, will take place through Nov. 8 in cities throughout San Bernardino and Riverside counties. ... ”  Continue reading at the San Bernardino Sun here:  Inland water agencies organize to save water
  • Salton Sea: Experts Look to Lithium Extraction in the Race to Save California’s Salton Sea:It is easy to imagine the Salton Sea, California’s largest lake, as nothing more than a 350-square-mile puddle. At its deepest point, the silvery inland sea is just 50 feet. By 2030, it will be reduced to a mere 30 feet, and over 100 square miles of lakebed will be exposed and reduced to a noxious dust, swirling in the relentless Sonora Desert wind. … ”  Read more from Earth Island Journal here: Experts Look to Lithium Extraction in the Race to Save California’s Salton Sea

weatherPrecipitation watch …

  • From the National Weather Service:  “A storm system will bring cooler air and some rainfall to the region late Tuesday night and Wednesday. Rainfall amounts are expected to be light with a few inches of snow possible over the higher elevations. Snowfall will generally be above major trans-sierra passes but may produce a slussy mixture on the roads Wednesday morning near pass level.”
  • Fall pattern taking over:  “California has been having temperatures more like summer than fall. It’s been unseasonably warm much of the last 10 days, even in the Great Basin. But changes, they are a-coming.  Out in the Pacific there are two storms today and each one with their own cold front. These storms will bring cooler, and in places, wet weather this week. … ”  Read more from the Accu-Weather Western Weather Blog here:  Fall Pattern Taking Over

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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