Daily Digest: Winter rains not likely to ease drought, Feds sued over dead steelhead, modernizing drought water allocations, and more news and commentary …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, Winter rains not likely to ease drought, Temperance Flat Dam plan is flawed, say critics at Fresno forum, Feds sued over dead steelhead,  Native American communities most at risk in California drought, Drought creates an unexpected casualty: sports, Is California heading towards another Dust Bowl?, New website explains water bond funding,$7.5 billion question faces California water users, and more news and commentary …

In the news today …

  • Winter rains not likely to ease drought:  “Drought conditions will likely ease in much of the West this winter, but not in most of California, according to a new climate report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  The report, released Thursday, indicates that conditions in the Pacific Ocean, which include a developing El Niño weather pattern, may prompt above-average rainfall for the southern third of California over the next three months.  The Bay Area, however, as well as most of the rest of the state, stands only a one-third chance of seeing above-average rain — and equal chances for below-average rain and a normal amount. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Winter rains not likely to ease drought  See also: No end to Southland drought seen in winter rain forecast, from the Los Angeles Times
  • Feds sued over dead steelhead:  “The Environmental Defense Center (EDC) has filed an endangered species act lawsuit against the Bureau of Reclamation on behalf of California Trout Inc., charging that remedial steps taken by the federal agency to prevent further accidental deaths of steelhead trout along Hilton Creek — which feeds into the Santa Ynez River — are insufficient.  Since March 2013, 393 steelhead have died because of 11 malfunctions of the pumps operated by the bureau to feed water into Hilton Creek. … ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here:  Feds sued over dead steelhead
  • Native American communities most at risk in California drought:  “Forecasters announced on Thursday that the intense drought that has plagued California in the last month is likely to persist throughout the winter – what is usually California’s rainy season – while experts say Native American communities throughout the southwest are likely to be the most affected.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 44 Native American communities in California are in danger of running out of water, while those communities in Arizona and Nevada are also suffering extreme drought conditions.  … ”  Read more from TeleSur here:  Native American communities most at risk in California drought
  • Drought creates an unexpected casualty: sports:  “A year ago, Lauren Porter worked out twice a week at dawn with a women’s soccer club on the main recreational field at the University of California-Santa Cruz (UCSC). The field commands a view of scenic Monterey Bay. “Every morning, it was so great,” says 21-year-old Porter, a fourth-year environmental studies major.  But this academic year there will be no workouts on that field for Porter or anybody else, thanks to the California drought. Under a sharp cutback in irrigation to meet tough city water-rationing rules imposed last spring, the 10-acre grass turf became too dry and brittle for safe play. ... ”  Read more from Food and Environment Reporting Network here:  Drought creates an unexpected casualty: sports
  • Is California heading towards another Dust Bowl? The Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s caused catastrophic farm and livestock failure throughout the central United States. New research reveals that it was not just the worst dry spell in memory — it was the worst in North America in the past millennium.  The drought of 1934 was so-named for the dust from the Midwest that was blown by winds to as far east as North Carolina and Florida.  “Not only did 1934 [the first year of the Dust Bowl] stand out in terms of extent and intensity, but it was the worst by a fair margin,” says Benjamin Cook, a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and a co-author of the study.  … ”  Read more from the Daily Digest here:  Is California heading towards another Dust Bowl?
  • Temperance Flat Dam plan is flawed, say critics at Fresno forum:  “Auberry resident Shannon Lodge told federal officials Thursday that a new Temperance Flat Reservoir would swamp a gem of an outdoor recreation area upstream of Millerton Lake — and the property where she lives.  “My grandmother is buried on that property,” she told the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as she commented in opposition to the proposed $2.6 billion project. … ”  Continue reading from the Fresno Bee here:  Temperance Flat Dam plan is flawed, say critics at Fresno forum
  • New website explains water bond funding:  “The California Water Foundation has released an informative site on the various projects that would be funded under this year’s $7.5 billion water bond proposal.  Proposition 1 would fund treatment and storage projects across the state. The Sacramento region would receive $37 million in ‘water reliability funds’ and a portion of $13 million provided to the surrounding ‘mountain counties overlay’ area, according to the site. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Business Journal here: New website explains water bond funding
  • $7.5 billion question faces California water users: “Seventh-generation farmer Phil Sites is caught in the middle of a statewide debate over a proposed reservoir that would bear his family name.  The Sites family settled in a little valley west of here in the 1850s, and the tiny town of Sites was named after it. Now Sites, a rice, walnut and cattle producer, is the only family member who still lives there, although his cousins and his wife’s family also own property in the area.  But the proposed Sites Reservoir is on the short list of projects that could get funding from Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond on the Nov. 4 ballot.  ... ”  Read more from the Capital Press here: $7.5 billion question faces California water users
  • Siskiyou County supervisors join opposition to Prop 1:  “At the urging of constituents, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday joined the opposition to the water bond measure on this year’s ballot, Proposition 1.  If approved by voters in November, the measure would allow the state to sell $7.1 billion in general obligation bonds to pay for water projects around California. It would also allow the sale of approximately $425 million in unsold bonds previously approved by voters. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that the state would have to pay $360 million per year until the bonds are paid off. ... ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here:  Siskiyou County supervisors join opposition to Prop 1
  • Woodland: Pipeline would pump recycled water to Woodland businesses: “Recycled water could be pumped to Woodland industrial businesses in the likelihood the city receives a state grant later this month.  The Proposition 84 grant is one of 23 recommended by the state Department of Water Resources to be awarded.  Mayor Tom Stallard said the $2 million grant will help build a recycled water system that will pump some of the water currently going back into the Sacramento River through the city’s wastewater treatment plant to the businesses. … ”  Read more from the Daily Democrat here:  Pipeline would pump recycled water to Woodland businesses
  • San Luis Obispo’s water use didn’t jump 26% after all, officials say:  “A clerical error by the city of San Luis Obispo led to an inaccurate report by the state that the city’s water use surged 26 percent in August compared to the same month last year, city officials say, noting that usage actually declined by 9 percent that month.  Water use also declined in September by 8 percent year over year, according to the city. … ”  Continue reading from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  San Luis Obispo’s water use didn’t jump 26% after all, officials say
  • Business, Finance Leaders Address U.S. Water Policy: “Three years ago the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency asked a big question: What is the value of water to the American economy?  After two years of meetings and multiple studies, the results were conclusive in the all the wrong ways.  Water was clearly valuable – energy production, drinking water supply, and agriculture account for 94 percent of U.S. water withdrawals – but the numbers necessary for the sort of detailed evaluations that policy wonks crave were not widely available. ... ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here:  Business, Finance Leaders Address U.S. Water Policy 

In commentary today …

  • It’s time to get extremely serious about saving water, says the Sacramento Bee: They write: “The message that California is in severe drought is being heard. But more must be done.  We are getting better at conserving water. Many lawns have turned brown. Many of us have put a bucket in the shower to capture water for use on plants. Our cars are dirty. But mandatory cutbacks and threats of $500 fines will go only so far.  The few drops of rain that fell this week aren’t even drops in a bucket. What if very little rain falls this winter and snowfall is light in the Sierra? Are we ready to get extremely serious about conserving water? ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  It’s time to get extremely serious about saving water
  • There’s much more we can do to save water in the Valley, says the Fresno Bee: They write: “The message that California is in severe drought is being heard. But more must be done.  We are getting better at conserving water. Many lawns have turned brown. Many of us have put buckets in the shower to capture water for use on plants. Our cars are dirty. But mandatory cutbacks and threats of $500 fines will go only so far.  What if very little rain falls this winter and snowfall is light in the Sierra? Are we ready to get extremely serious about conserving water? … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  There’s much more we can do to save water in the Valley
  • Californians can save a lot of water by retrofitting wasteful older homes, says Dave Codgill: He writes: “The reduction of water use in new homes has long been a focus of California’s homebuilding industry. In fact, our industry has been at the forefront of innovative designs to increase efficiencies.  But while new homes have been built and designed to reduce water consumption, not enough has been done in older homes.  When Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation in March that promised nearly $700 million in immediate drought relief, the funds were earmarked mainly to address infrastructure improvements, ease emergency water shortages and provide assistance to farmworkers. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Californians can save a lot of water by retrofitting wasteful older homes
  • Modernizing drought water allocations: Ellen Hanak, Jeffrey Mount, Jay Lund, Greg Gartrell, Brian Gray, Richard Frank and Peter Moyle write: “This past year’s severe drought conditions meant that most users of surface water flows —agricultural, urban and environmental — had significant unmet demands. In May, the State Water Resources Control Board ordered curtailment of water rights for the first time since the drought of 1976-77 – 37 years ago.  The board followed the seniority of water rights, with riparian right-holders having first claim on the available water and appropriative right-holders following by the dates of their appropriations. Many junior appropriators were prohibited from diverting any water. With few exceptions, the board did not factor in other considerations, including the needs of fish and wildlife and public health and safety.  The experience provides valuable lessons for California, which needs to modernize drought water allocations to improve the use of scarce water resources. This will require some urgent actions for the coming year, which also may be dry. … ”  Continue reading at the California Water Blog here:  Modernizing drought water allocations
  • Roseville Mayor warns residents of Bay Delta Conservation PlanRoseville Mayor Susan Rohan released a statement on Friday warning of dire consequences if the Bay Delta Conservation Plan were to be implemented as is.  The BDCP is a comprehensive conservation strategy aimed at protecting dozens of species of fish and wildlife, while permitting the reliable operation of California’s two biggest water delivery projects. The “Twin Tunnels Plan,” as it’s referred to, will provide Central and Southern California with a reliable water supply, while at the same time restoring the delta. … ”  Read more from the Celebrity Examiner here:  Roseville Mayor warns residents of Bay Delta Conservation Plan
  • Yes on Prop 1, says the San Mateo Journal:  “California has rapidly changed since many components of its water systems were constructed in the mid-20th century. Though its population and farming centers remain the same, there are about twice as many people living here than 50 or 60 years ago. With its Mediterranean climate, California has long been a draw for those who want to live and visit here. Unfortunately, that same climate has times of drought and times of excess water that must be managed. And so far, the current system has proven to be insufficient.  ... ”  Read more from the San Mateo Daily Journal here:  Editorial: Yes on Proposition 1

Precipitation watch …

  • Light showers for Northern California today and tonight:  From the National Weather Service: “A weak storm system will move into NorCal today and linger overnight. Expect up to a third of an inch of rain across the Coastal Mountains including higher terrain in the western half of Shasta County with showers starting this morning. For the Sacramento valley into the western Sierra slopes, showers will start this afternoon into evening, but rain amounts will only be a few hundredths of an inch. Daytime highs today are forecast at 5 to 10 degrees below normal. Drier and warmer this weekend, then another round of wet weather arrives Monday.”

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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