Daily Digest, early edition: Sac Valley farmers are asked to help the ducks, New Melones ‘pulse flows’ now underway, Why the Delta no longer works for wildlife, the hyacinth cavalry is coming, and more …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, Sacramento Valley farmers are asked to help the ducks, Fish benefit from controversial ‘pulse flows’ now underway, Why the Delta no longer works for wildlife, Supervisor Larry Ruhstaller says the hyacinth cavalry is coming, Despite drought, grape harvest the third largest ever, Dozens of dams found to put fish in danger, Water scarce but porta-potties plenty, Will California’s ongoing drought have national consequences?, Global groundwater crisis may get worse as climate warms, and more … 

In the news today …

  • Sacramento Valley farmers are asked to help the ducks:  “Farmers in the Sacramento Valley are being asked to lend a hand to migrating waterfowl arriving this winter to a drought-parched landscape.  Valley rice farmers normally flood about 300,000 acres after harvest to decompose the leftover rice straw. This flooded land then becomes vital habitat for ducks and geese.  But the California Rice Commission estimated earlier this year that only about 50,000 acres of rice fields would be flooded due to the drought. As a result, millions of birds traveling the Pacific Flyway this winter will find a hard time finding habitat. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Sacramento Valley farmers are asked: Help the ducks
  • Fish benefit from controversial ‘pulse flows’ now underway: Despite an ongoing drought and uncertain weather outlook, pulse flow releases are underway from New Melones Reservoir. The releases are intended to stimulate salmon and trout in the Stanislaus River, and the flows are expected to total 23,000 acre-feet by Nov. 11, according to the federal Bureau of Reclamation.  “They’re creating a flow in the river where the fish can feel a wave of water coming, and they have to respond,” Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Louis Moore said. “It’s to create dynamics in the river, to decrease water temperature, and create more migration, upstream or downstream.” … ”  Read more from the Union Democrat here:  Fish benefit from controversial ‘pulse flows’ now underway
  • Why the Delta no longer works for wildlife:  “California’s historic drought has put the state’s water problems in the forefront this year and those problems aren’t likely to be solved when the clouds open up again. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the water system’s central hub — the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  California’s Delta is the flashpoint for the state’s water politics. For decades, its ecosystem has been in ecological free fall, prompting fierce battles over how much water should be left in the environment, and how much pumped to farms and cities hundreds of miles away.  Now, a new report from the San Francisco Estuary Institute documents why the Delta’s ecosystem is failing for many of its endangered species. ... ”  Read more from KQED Science here: Why California’s Largest Estuary No Longer Works for Wildlife
  • Supervisor Larry Ruhstaller says the hyacinth cavalry is coming:  “In response to a blog lamenting that government do-nothings are blowing the water hyacinth eradication campaign, Supervisor Larry Ruhstaller called to report he has made substantial efforts.  “We’ve been working on it for about a year now,” said Ruhstaller. “It all started last January when I was at the Stewardship Council and I made a offhand remark, “If we don’t control the invasive weeds, it won’t matter if we build twin tunnels because the whole damn tunnel will be overtaken.” ... ”  Read more from Michael Fitzgerald’s blog here:  Ruhstaller: the hyacinth cavalry is coming
  • Despite drought, grape harvest the third largest ever:  “Despite California’s lingering drought, this year’s wine grape harvest was the third-largest ever, at an estimated 3.9 million tons.  That’s down 8 percent from last year’s record 4.24 million-ton crop, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture data reported Monday by the San Francisco-based Wine Institute. However, it still qualifies as “the third largest on record.” ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Business Journal here:  Despite drought, grape harvest the third largest ever
  • Dozens of dams found to put fish in danger:  “A screening of California’s more than 1,400 dams has found that 181 dams are potentially imperiling native fish downstream.  The study of the dams and rivers, conducted with tools developed at the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis, seeks to identify where native fish and fish species are most endangered because of low or inconsistent river flows. A total of 753 large dams in California were evaluated in the study, whose results were published last week in the journal BioScience. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Dozens of dams found to put fish in danger
  • Water scarce but porta-potties plenty: Visitors to Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California, who need a bathroom have to use portable toilets. Washing up is done with hand dispensers.  Those who throw up tents at the nearby state-operated campground have to forego the outdoor shower stalls. The water is turned off.  It’s like that for most of the other 279 state parks as water conservation methods during California’s extreme drought mean some of the usual niceties for tourists are in short supply. … ”  Read more from CNBC here:  Water scarce but porta-potties plenty
  • Will California’s ongoing drought have national consequences?  “After suffering a relatively “dry winter” for a third year in a row, the traditional dominance of California’s role as America’s most productive agricultural state is increasingly threatened.  This downturn in such basic cash crops as rice, alfalfa, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, etc., previously plentiful, are now suffering from an ongoing drought, indicating no signs of lessening. Prevalent aquifers that traditionally contain tons of subterranean water reserves are quickly drying up. The indifference to this problem by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and current Sacramento chief executive Jerry Brown is now calling for drastic action. ... ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here: Will California’s Ongoing Drought have U.S. National Consequences?
  • Global groundwater crisis may get worse as climate warms:  “From India to Texas, people are rapidly depleting their valuable stores of groundwater — leading to the possibility that aquifers may be emptied within decades, a NASA researcher has warned.  In a commentary published Wednesday in the journal Nature Climate Change, Jay Famiglietti, who has helped lead the use of a NASA satellite system to detect groundwater changes around the world, warned of dramatic consequences to come if changes are not made to the way that societies manage water supplies.  Currently, Famiglietti told Mashable, management of global groundwater stores is inadequate to nonexistent, as governments focus on regulating surface water supplies while tapping underground aquifers as much as they want to.  “Our overuse of groundwater puts our overall water security at far greater risk than we thought,” Famiglietti says. … ”  Read more from Mashable here: Global groundwater crisis may get worse as the world warms

In commentary today …

  • Yes on Prop 1 says Tito Sasaki, president of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau:  He writes: “For the past half-century, California has fallen behind in adequately planning for our water future by not investing in water storage and improved infrastructure.  This failure, combined with the persistent drought, has led to the current statewide water crisis and threatens the future of our agriculture. That could change on Tuesday with voter approval of Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion bond measure titled the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014. It would provide funds for critically needed investments such as $2.7 billion for water storage, $725 million for water recycling and $1.5 billion for streams and watershed protection. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Yes on Prop 1
  • No on Prop 1: It’s a bad deal for taxpayers, say Jane Nielsen and Sandra Lupien:  They write: “Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond, gathered the reluctant hold-your-nose support of The Press Democrat editorial board. But you should vote no on Proposition 1. Here’s why:  Proposition 1 is not a solution to our water shortages or drought. But it does burden us with $14.4 billion of real debt obligations including interest — $360 million per year for 40 years. That’s paid with general fund money that could be invested in other priorities such as education, health care, parks, public safety and transportation. With a taxpayer investment like that, we have a right to expect results; instead, Proposition 1 squanders billions on corporate benefits. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: No: It’s a bad deal for taxpayers
  • Stockton Record says, It ain’t easy being green:  “Throughout the area, our waterways look as if they are covered with hideous green shag carpeting.  At least we think there is water underneath that plant life that lurks at the surface. In places, it’s actually impossible to see the ripples of water. … The mess that is water hyacinth has choked our waterways. And, now that the calendar is about to turn to November, and the main part of the boating season is over, it seems as if the state is starting to kick in some resources to battle the problem. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Our view: It ain’t easy being green

In regional news and commentary today …

  • Glenn County: Committee to look into dry wells: Yes, Virginia, there is a reason wells are drying up in Artois.  Exactly what that reason is, however, no one seems to know, according to members of the Glenn County Water Advisory Committee and Technical Advisory Committee, who met in a joint session last week to discuss the area’s ongoing water crisis.  What they do know is that Virginia Freeman, who made her water troubles public last month, was turned away from the Glenn County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 16 with little more than a shrug of their shoulders. … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Committee to look into dry wells
  • Stanislaus County:  Questions arise on plan to keep groundwater data secret: To figure out how to protect Stanislaus County’s groundwater resources, county officials know they must calculate how much groundwater is being pumped.  But most of the county’s water wells are privately owned, and those doing the pumping currently don’t have to tell anyone how much water they’re using.  And many of them don’t want people – especially lawyers – to find out. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: Questions arise on plan to keep groundwater data secret
  • Fresno council members Brand, Caprioglio will unveil bill to spur water conservation:Two council members are tackling the third and perhaps final part of City Hall’s effort to make Fresno drought resilient forever — consumption.  Council Members Lee Brand and Paul Caprioglio have written what they’re calling the Water Conservation Act, a bill whose title explains all.  The act would offer rebates for certain water-saving devices, consider a payment assistance program for low-income customers and advocate for smarter irrigation practices across the city. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Fresno council members Brand, Caprioglio will unveil bill to spur water conservation
  • Lake Mission Viejo not feeling the drought – yet:  “Lake Mission Viejo is Southern California at its most idyllic and, when it comes to water, its most extravagant. Multimillion-dollar homes surround a 1.2-billion-gallon lake created solely for recreation, where sailboats sway under sunny afternoon skies as children frolic on pristine sandy beaches.  Since its creation in the 1970s — in the middle of a drought — the manufactured lake has become so ingrained in south Orange County’s identity that it is the backdrop to Mission Viejo’s city seal. … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here:  Lake Mission Viejo not feeling the drought – yet

Precipitation watch …

  • Rain to reach California by the weekend:  “Rain will finally make a return to drought-stricken California by the weekend with rain reaching all the way down into Southern California.  Rain has made an appearance on multiple occasions across northern California during the month of October, but has very seldom made it far enough south to reach cities such as San Francisco.  Things will be different heading into the weekend, however, as a cold front swinging over the region brings rain to nearly all of the state with only the deserts in the southeast corner of the state remaining dry. ... ”  Read more from Accu-Weather here:  Rain to reach California by the weekend

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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