Daily Digest: As snow fades, California ski resorts face a brown future, Small Placer dam is big barrier to salmon, Ex-marine wages war on water hyacinth, and more news …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, As snow fades, California ski resorts face a brown future, Small Placer dam is big barrier to salmon, Ex-marine wages war on water hyacinth, Green menace forces shutdown of Lighted Boat Parade, Rainfall deficit: Recent rains help but won’t end drought, Record drought reveals stunning changes along the Colorado River, and more …

In the news today …

  • As snow fades, California ski resorts face a brown future: At ski areas up and down the jagged peaks of the Sierra Nevada, where California’s drought has hit historic proportions and the broader threat of climate change hangs heavy over an industry built on optimism, the man-made snow is flying.  A couple of resorts have managed to open a few runs. But beyond the occasional strip of white, the mountains remain mostly bare.  “From a business perspective, I’m a farmer,” said John Rice, general manager of Sierra-at-Tahoe, a ski area south of Lake Tahoe. Last week, he had a small pile of man-made snow, a mountain of naked runs and a hope to open in early December. “I’m not in the ski business,” Mr. Rice said. “I farm snow.” ... ”  Read more from the New York Times here: As Snow Fades, California Ski Resorts Face a Brown Future
  • Small Placer dam is big barrier to salmon:  “On a recent day after a rainstorm, several dozen fall-run Chinook salmon trying to migrate upstream in Auburn Ravine found their progress frustrated. Efforts to complete their long spawning run from the Pacific Ocean were halted by a small dam on the outskirts of Lincoln.  Known as Hemphill Dam, for decades it has blocked fish from accessing more than 5 miles of potential spawning habitat in Auburn Ravine, a creek that runs from the Sacramento River into the Sierra Nevada foothills beyond Auburn. Only in very high flows can salmon manage to jump over the dam and carry on. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Small Placer dam is a big barrier to salmon
  • Ex-marine wages war on water hyacinth:  “On its own, perhaps in a backyard pond, the water hyacinth can be attractive. Massed together by the millions in the California Delta, the weeds become a smelly and dangerous mess.  So California has brought in the Marines for its war on the water weeds. More exactly, a retired Marine colonel, Chris Conlin. He is the acting deputy director for both the Division of Boating and Waterways and Off Highway Vehicle Recreation for the California Department of Parks and Recreation. … ”  Read more from the Central Valley Business Times here:  Ex-marine wages war on weeds
  • Green menace forces shutdown of Lighted Boat Parade: A safety hazard has caused the cancellation of a popular holiday festival that people have celebrated in Stockton for generations.  The problem is hyacinth, a green plant and invasive species that has been menacing boats in the marinas and waterways of the San Joaquin Delta region, making it tough for boats to leave port. ... ”  Read more from KCRA here: Green menace forces shutdown of Lighted Boat Parade
  • Rainfall deficit: Recent rains help but won’t end drought:With rain falling in Humboldt County and winter fast approaching, there’s a natural tendency for people to breathe a sigh of relief, forget about the ongoing drought and turn their attention to other pressing issues. But even with intermittent showers and some moisture still hanging in the air, the drought in California continues, and it’s unlikely to end any time soon.  Humboldt County remains in the “extreme drought” classification, slightly improved from the “exceptional drought” in counties further south, and experts say it will take a few years of above-average rainfall to help make up the deficit. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Rainfall deficit: Recent rains help but won’t end drought
  • Record drought reveals stunning changes along the Colorado River: In early September, at the abandoned Piute Farms marina on a remote edge of southern Utah’s Navajo reservation, we watched a ten-foot (three-meter) waterfall plunging off what used to be the end of the San Juan River.  Until 1990, this point marked the smooth confluence of the river with Lake Powell, one of the largest reservoirs in the U.S. But the lake has shrunk so much due to the recent drought that this waterfall has emerged, with sandy water as thick as a milkshake.  My partner DeEdda McLean and I had come to this area west of Mexican Hat, Utah, to kayak across Lake Powell, a reservoir formed by the confluence of the San Juan and the Colorado Rivers and the holding power of Glen Canyon Dam, which lies just over the border in Arizona.  ... ”  Read more from National Geographic here:  Record drought reveals stunning changes along the Colorado River

Plenty more news and commentary in the weekend edition …

In regional news and commentary today …

  • Chico:  Drought worries deepen for groundwater users:  “California faces a possible fourth consecutive year of drought. The El Nino we await projects to be as wimpy as the Oakland Raider offense. The Raiders can fire coaches or trade players, like water managers can transfer surface water between basins, but we mere humans can’t make it rain. Ah, but groundwater, stored in our underground bank account, is our back-up plan. The problem though is that groundwater basins, like my Maverick’s gas tank, have finite capacities. And we’re not exactly sure where we are on the fill gauge. … ”  Continue reading from the Central Valley Business Times here:  Drought worries deepen for groundwater users
  • San Francisco wants to add groundwater to tap:  “The recipe for San Francisco’s famously delicious tap water is, gulp, about to change.  Most city spigots, which, since the 1930s, have gushed water from Yosemite’s pristine Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, will start delivering the Sierra supply blended with a splash of local groundwater — by many measures, a far inferior source. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  San Francisco wants to add groundwater to tap
  • Modesto Irrigation District subsidy debate may not surface Tuesday: “A full debate over forcing electricity customers to subsidize farmers more than $10 million a year can wait until after Modesto Irrigation District leaders discuss raising electric rates, MID General Manager Roger VanHoy said, but the discussion could begin as soon as Tuesday.  The district quietly dropped a controversial aspect of the inequity, VanHoy admitted – a hidden tax known as the “falling water” charge, referred to by one critic as “voodoo accounting” – but the subsidy itself persists. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: Modesto Irrigation District subsidy debate may not surface Tuesday
  • Modesto Irrigation District must make water pay its own way, says the Modesto Bee:  They write: “Divorces can be ugly and antagonistic. But sometimes they’re necessary.  Modesto Irrigation District needs to divorce its two primary functions, ending once and for all the relationship that has required power customers to subsidize water customers.  Without an ironclad, irreversible promise to start raising water rates – and require those who profit from the water to pay the full cost of getting it – there is no reason to support the district’s request for a 3.5 percent electric rate increase. With such a guarantee, maybe. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Editorial: Modesto Irrigation District must make water pay its own way
  • Goleta to Add Water to Lake Los Carneros in Bid to Offset Drought Impacts: “The warm, oxygen-depleted water in Lake Los Carneros puts local wildlife at risk and the Goleta City Council has voted to add water on a temporary basis.  Without a creek that runs into it, the lake relies on surface runoff and upward percolation from the groundwater below, but California’s severe drought has resulted in low lake levels, public works director Rosemarie Gaglione said. ... ”  Read more from Noozhawk here: Goleta to Add Water to Lake Los Carneros in Bid to Offset Drought Impacts
  • Burbank fights ‘dirty’ in battle to save water: Thanks to California’s persistent drought, the city of Burbank is resorting to “dirty” tactics in the fight to conserve water.  More than 300 city vehicles — including those used by the Burbank Police Department, Burbank Water and Power and the Burbank Fire Department — will go unwashed for at least two months as part of a new water conservation program.  “Everyone is being instructed to keep their windows clean,” however, said city spokesman Drew Sugars, noting the importance of visibility. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Burbank fights ‘dirty’ in battle to save water
  • Palm Springs makes progress in conserving water:  “Whether it’s cutting back to a five-minute shower, installing a low-flow toilet or pulling up the front lawn, residents in Palm Springs seem to have heard the drought message and have cut back on their water use. ... ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Palm Springs makes progress in conserving water

Precipitation watch …

  • Nice weather through Thanksgiving.  Cooler and wetter weather comes to the Northern part of the state on Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

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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