Daily Digest, early edition: Farmers sue state over drought water decisions, Report reveals dramatic changes to Delta ecosystem, Local entities start to discuss groundwater implementation, and more, plus a winter storm is on the way!

Daily DigestIn California water news today, Farmers sue state over drought water decisions, Report reveals dramatic changes to Delta ecosystem, Local entities start to discuss groundwater implementation, Prop 1 aims to relieve drought – but not this one, Photo feature: The Decline of California Agriculture Has Begun, Drought means less California rice, but good prices for the rice that was grown, California drought takes a bite out of the rice harvest, and more …

It’s an even earlier edition today as I’m on a panel this morning at the Delta science conference.  If I missed anything interesting, I’ll be sure to pick it up in tomorrow’s edition …

In the news today …

  • Farmers sue state over drought water decisions:East San Joaquin Valley growers are suing state water authorities over drought decisions, claiming east-side communities and farms got no federal water after the state illegally denied deliveries to a separate group of landowners with senior water rights.  The case was filed Friday in Fresno County Superior Court against the State Water Resources Control Board, which issued emergency orders this year to divide California’s drought-strained water supply. The decisions prevented east-siders from getting even a small amount of water, farm leaders say. … ”   Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Farmers sue state over drought water decisions  See also: Friant challenges drought emergency process, from the Porterville Recorder
  • Report reveals dramatic changes to Delta ecosystem: ““Extensive tidal wetlands and large tidal channels are seen at the central core of the Delta. Riparian forest extends downstream into the tidal Delta along the natural levees of the Sacramento River, and to a certain extent on the San Joaquin and Mokelumne rivers. To the north and south, tidal wetlands grade into non-tidal perennial wetlands. At the upland edge, an array of seasonal wetlands, grasslands, and oak savannas and woodlands occupy positions along the alluvial fans of the rivers and streams that enter the valley.” That pastoral description is of the California Delta, also known as the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. ... ”  Read more from the Central Valley Business Times here:  Report reveals dramatic changes to Delta ecosystem
  • Local entities start to discuss groundwater implementation:  “With new state groundwater legislation due to take effect on Jan. 1, a number of counties and local water agencies are already sitting down with political leaders and stakeholders to lay the groundwork needed to create local groundwater-management structures.  Three bills known collectively as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act will bring about a broad, new regulatory framework for managing groundwater, laying out a timetable for compliance during future years. The law’s signficant changes include new authorities for local agencies to manage groundwater basins; the state will have the authority to intervene if local agencies cannot or do not balance rates of water replenishment and extraction during a 20- to 30-year initial implementation period. … ”  Read more from the California Farm Bureau Federation here:  Local entities start to discuss groundwater implementation
  • Prop 1 aims to relieve drought – but not this one:  “California’s stubborn drought helped push a $7.5-billion water bond through the Legislature and onto the November ballot. But even if voters approve Proposition 1, it won’t provide relief any time soon.  “It’s going to be a long time before we see anything really happen from it,” said Paul Wenger, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation, which backs the bond.  A priority of Gov. Jerry Brown, the measure has gained substantial support by spreading money around for a range of water projects that proponents argue are vital to California’s future. The bond measure could bankroll such things as a new dam in the Sacramento Valley, stream protections in the Sierra Nevada and treatment of contaminated groundwater in the Los Angeles Basin. … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here:  Prop 1 aims to relieve drought – but not this one
  • Photo feature: The Decline of California Agriculture Has Begun:If there’s one thing that struck me during my monthlong drought-themed road trip through the American West earlier this year, it was the colossal scale of agriculture in California’s Central Valley. Now it seems there’s nowhere to go but down.  Photographer Matt Black’s life’s work chronicles the plight of his native Central Valley. His work was recently featured in a photo essay and video in the New Yorker and has previously appeared in National Geographic and the New York Times. I spoke with him this week. ... ”  Read more and check out the photos from Slate Magazine here: The Decline of California Agriculture Has Begun
  • Drought means less California rice, but good prices for the rice that was grown: Nothing about this year’s rice growing season has been business-as-usual. Some growers received no water. Others received most of their water. Some rice growers sold water.  By the time all the rice acreage in California was tallied, officials say about 25 percent less rice was planted this year. Last year 550,000 acres was grown vs. an estimated 420,000 acres this year, said Carl Hoff, president of Butte County Rice Growers Association. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Drought means less California rice, but good prices for rice that was grown
  • California drought takes a bite out of the rice harvest:  “California’s deepening drought is shrinking its rice harvest, and that’s bad news for farmers, migratory birds and sushi lovers.  The $5 billion industry exports rice to more than 100 countries and specializes in premium grains used in risotto, paella and sushi. Nearly all U.S. sushi restaurants use medium-grain rice grown in the Sacramento Valley.  The rice harvest is just the latest victim of California’s historic drought … ”  Read more from ABC News here: California Drought Takes Bite out of Rice Harvest

In commentary today …

  • Senator Wolk: Two good measures for the state’s long-term health:  She writes: “Since I first came to the Legislature in 2003, I have been focused on two big issues: water and budget reform.  I’ll admit it has been frustrating at times, on both fronts. Changing the status quo is never easy, especially when dealing with powerful entrenched interests that are skeptical of any change in a system they see as working just fine for themselves, even if not for the greater good.  But even with those challenges, I’ve had successes, including reforming land-use policies in flood zones and including a multi-year budget and infrastructure plans as part of the annual budget.  This year, however, we had big success on both policy areas. ... ”  Read more from the Davis Enterprise here:  Two good measures for the state’s long-term health
  • Yuba-Sutter voters should approve Prop 1, says the Appeal-Democrat:  They write: “We support state Proposition 1 —”The Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014″ — and we recommend it to voters.  The $7.5 billion bond proposal would mean money for agencies throughout the state to upgrade water systems. We think it’s vital to the future of California’s communities, agriculture and environmental concerns.  In fact, we think we should pass Proposition 1 and then resist feeling smug about it, because decades from now, when the storage capacity added via the bond measure is finally built and utilized, we still won’t have begun to store up the reserves we really should have on hand. … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Yuba-Sutter voters should approve Prop 1
  • Water management requires regional collaboration:  “In this year, when drought impacts grip the majority of California, identifying solutions to our water challenges is more imperative than ever.  The water challenges we face affect us on many levels, from the water that comes out of our tap, to the water that irrigates the food we eat, and that which filters back into the ground to restore underground aquifers. Managing this important resource is complicated and is marked by a contentious history. ... ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Water management requires regional collaboration
  • Column: Can water rights be cut with equity and fairness?  Bob Graves writes:  “California’s ongoing drought “has created a water crisis second to none,” says Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is asking residents and businesses to cut their water use by 20 percent over the next two and a half years. Garcetti’s description of the situation as a crisis is well placed: Even though L.A. has already reduced its water use by 17 percent over the last seven years and now uses less water than it did 40 years ago, when it had a million fewer residents, the city still imports more than 80 percent of its water, and those sources are drying up.  Garcetti’s goal is to cut those expensive water imports in half by 2024. ... ”  Read more from Governing here:  Can water rights be cut with equity and fairness?

In regional news and commentary today …

  • Hidden Valley Lake CSD in search of water rights:After issuing a curtailment notice to the Hidden Valley Lake Community Services District (CSD) in May, the State Water Resources Control Board recently sent a compliance order to the CSD requiring the district to prevent new service connections and secure a more reliable, long-term supply of water.  The order follows the board’s issuance of curtailment notices to post-1914 water right holders in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River watersheds in late-May, ordering those junior water right holders discontinue diversion of water unless the water is the only source available for human health and safety purposes. … ”  Read more from the Record Bee here:  Hidden Valley Lake CSD in search of water rights
  • Lake Tahoe clam eradication project comes to an end:Researchers at Lake Tahoe are expected to end a test project Monday that was intended to eliminate an invasive species of clam. At the mouth of scenic Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe’s west shore, thousands of Asian Clams had been spreading for years.The UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center laid down heavy rubber matts on 5 acres of lake bottom to suffocate them. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here: Lake Tahoe Clam Eradication Project Ends
  • Nevada Irrigation District suspends some water deliveries:  “The Nevada Irrigation District has suspended delivery of fall irrigation water for the first time in more than 20 years, a move intended to preserve water supplies during California’s ongoing drought.  The district serves Nevada County and some areas of Placer County. During the fall, it normally delivers irrigation water to several thousand small agricultural customers between Oct. 15 and Dec. 1. But it recently announced that water will not be available this year. District customers who receive treated water are not affected. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Nevada Irrigation District suspends some water deliveries
  • Stockton: Vessel stopped by tangled mats of hyacinth:Tangled mats of water hyacinth delayed the arrival of an oceangoing ship at the Port of Stockton on Tuesday, further evidence that the exotic weed has potential to threaten business and commerce. The Atlantic Rainbow, carrying a cement product from Japan, notified port officials over the weekend that it would be delayed because of hyacinth, Port Director Richard Aschieris said Tuesday. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Vessel stopped by tangled mats of hyacinth
  • State claims it’s doing everything possible to eradicate hyacinth:  “Stockton residents and delta boaters hoping to hear California will step up water hyacinth removal are likely to be disappointed at the following statement:  “At this point, we’re doing everything within our resources to solve the problem,” Chris Conlin, Director of the Division of Boating and Waterways, said. … ”  Read more from Channel 10 here: State claims it’s doing everything possible to eradicate hyacinth
  • Santa Cruz: Drought overcomes newts and frogs in Ben Lomond:  “The drought huffs its way into every California conversation. It dusts everything from business profits to tooth brushing habits.  These dry years are tough on frogs, toads and newts, too. In times of drought, some amphibians dig deeper underground and stay there longer, but evasive action isn’t enough.  When drought attacks their wetland homes, amphibians dry up and die. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here: Drought overcomes newts and frogs in Ben Lomond
  • Supervisors reject Paso Robles basin water offset plan:  “Saying there are too many uncertainties, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors unanimously rejected a detailed agricultural water offset plan for the Paso Robles groundwater basin but directed planning staff to continue granting offsets on a case-by-case basis.  “This program is a good first step, but I don’t think it is ready for prime time,” said Supervisor Frank Mecham, whose district includes much of the basin. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here: Supervisors reject Paso Robles basin water offset plan
  • Column: Golden State Water tries to drown Claremont ballot measure:Self-preservation is the most basic instinct in nature.  For Golden State Water Co., it also has a price: $300,000. That’s about how much the water system is spending to defeat a Claremont ballot measure enabling the city to try to seize its local water system by eminent domain and convert it to a municipal service. The San Dimas-based corporation is overwhelming the opposition, which has assembled a war chest of about $30,000.  For Golden State, that’s chump change: The firm collected $359 million last year from water customers in 75 California communities and recorded a profit of $48.6 million.  “They’re obviously trying to maintain an asset they think is quite valuable,” says Claremont Mayor Joe Lyons. “No doubt it is.” ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Golden State Water tries to drown Claremont ballot measure

weatherPrecipitation watch …

  • Winter storm on the way:  From the National Weather Service:  “A Winter-type storm will move into Northern California Friday and Saturday. Snow will cause hazardous and slow travel over mountain roadways. Snow is possible down to 4000 feet. Rain showers are forecast for the Valley, with isolated thunderstorms Friday afternoon and evening, impacting Halloween activities. Drier and warmer weather expected for early next week.”

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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