Daily Digest, holiday weekend catch-up edition: Storm to bring rain and flooding, Water officials begin negotiations to modify SWP Contracts, Feinstein’s drought bill, Man vs. fish, and much more …

Welcome back!  I hope your Thanksgiving holiday was a good one.  In California water news this holiday weekend, Pacific storm to bring rain and flooding to California, Water Officials Begin Negotiations To Modify State Water Project Contracts, Drought impacting Christmas trees, Water supply ebbs and flows with climate: Natural archives show there may be a link between rainfall declines and warm periods, California drought foreshadows crisis for Montana, Wyoming, rest of West, plus plenty of commentary and a lot of regional news, too …

In the news this weekend …

  • Pacific storm to bring rain and flooding to California: Much-needed rain will spread over California by the middle of the new week, bringing some relief to the ongoing drought.  A system moving in from the Pacific Ocean will begin to spread rain over the Golden State on Tuesday with rain forecast to continue through much of Wednesday.  While a series of storms have brought rain to parts of northern and central California over the past few weeks, this is going to be the first significant rain event for Southern California since the the spring. … ”  Read more from Accu-Weather here:  Pacific storm to bring rain and flooding to California
  • Storms bring rain, snow to parched California:Drenching storms moving across Northern California on Saturday were helping the state catch up on normal rainfall totals for the year, but forecasters stressed that one rainy weekend would barely move the needle on California’s three-year drought.  In the south of the San Francisco Bay Area, television crews turned out to record the sight — uncommon lately — of authorities in Contra Costa and San Mateo counties opening sandbag stations to help residents guard against any local flooding. Across Northern California, the National Weather Service was predicting 1 to 3 inches of rain in low-lying regions and up to 5 inches in the Sierra Nevada mountains. ... ”  Read more from the AP via the U-T San Diego here: Storms bring rain, snow to parched California
  • Water Officials Begin Negotiations To Modify State Water Project Contracts:California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) will begin negotiations next month to determine what changes would be needed to water supply contracts should the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) be implemented.  In a Nov. 24 news release, DWR Director Mark Cowin said the objective of the talks with the 29 public agencies that purchase supplies from the State Water Project is to develop proposed amendments to the contracts that define the rights and obligations under both the DWR and the 29 public agencies that would benefit from the BDCP. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg News here: California Water Officials Begin Negotiations To Modify State Water Project Contracts
  • Drought impacting Christmas trees:  “The day after Thanksgiving generally means the hunt is on for the best Christmas tree. But California’s severe drought has some tree farms warning customers that they may not see the quality they have in past years.  The Meyer family was out shopping for a Christmas tree on Friday in the Santa Cruz Mountains. They saw first hand how the drought has impacted the quality of the trees. … ”  Read more from NBC Bay Area here: California’s Severe Drought Impacting Quality of Christmas Trees
  • Water supply ebbs and flows with climate: Natural archives show there may be a link between rainfall declines and warm periods:  “Ask where our water comes from and a young child might say from “the faucet.” Most adults would probably tell you it comes from “a river, lake, reservoir or well.” Of course we all know that our water actually comes from the sky. Enough rain and snow must fall on land to sustain native ecosystems and our many needs.  We seldom think much about the water we use, and it takes a drought to remind us that our faucets are connected to the sky. No one knows when the current drought will end, but researchers predict that our sky could be drier in the future. ... ”  Read more from the U-T San Diego here: Water supply ebbs, flows with climate
  • California drought foreshadows crisis for Montana, Wyoming, rest of West:The worst drought in California’s history is a forewarning of problems for the entire West, including Montana and Wyoming. “There’s every chance this phenomenon will increase in frequency and severity,” said Leon Szeptycki, executive director of Water in the West, a program of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment in California.  Water in the West is collaborating with other researchers to find ways to help the region deal with what is predicted will be an all-too-scarce resource in the future — water. … ”  Read more from the Montana Standard here: California drought foreshadows crisis for Montana, Wyoming, rest of West

In commentary this weekend …

  • Column: Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s drought relief bill needs closer scrutiny: Michael Hiltzik writes: “No one is more adept at turning crises into opportunities than representatives of special interests in Washington. And there are few better opportunities-in-disguise than the California drought.  Addressing the drought is complicated, technical and politically charged. Billions of dollars in business investments are at stake, so millions are available to push legislators in one direction or another — especially if the key discussions are held behind closed doors.  That’s why it’s probably a good thing that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) last week abandoned her effort to craft a drought relief bill in haste and through private conversations with Central Valley Republican members of Congress and lobbyists for well-heeled water users. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s drought relief bill needs closer scrutiny
  • California water wars: Man vs. fish and the fish are winning, says Greg Jarrett: “If You Give A Mouse a Cookie”… well, you know what happens.  Chaos.  It reminds me of what happens when you give a little power to a federal agency.  It’ll run amuck and do its best to ruin lives and livelihoods.  Take the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which was given a little power under the Endangered Species Act.  It decided a three-inch translucent fish called the Delta smelt needed protecting.  So the agency went about inflicting economic and agricultural disaster by shutting off the water valves to some 25 million Californians.  ... ”  Read more from Fox News here:  California water wars: Man vs. fish and the fish are winning
  • Column: Drought talk around Thanksgiving table: Farmers versus urbanites: “Would your Thanksgiving table be ruined if the stuffing or side dishes did not contain almonds?  No, of course not, notwithstanding Martha Stewart’s recipe for chorizo-almond stuffing or your sister-in-law’s infamous green beans amandine.  Then why are our water policymakers treating the almond farmers like they were producing a life-sustaining staple?  In a severe drought, urban users like you and I are asked to cut back on water use, but farmers, who get close to three-quarters of the water pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, don’t have to change their ways. … ”  Continue reading at the San Gabriel Valley Tribune here: Drought talk around Thanksgiving table: Farmers versus urbanites
  • No room for waste in the water bond, says the Sacramento Bee:More than two-thirds of California voters authorized the state to borrow more than $7 billion to improve a water system strained by more than three years of drought. Now the difficult job of smartly targeting problems and effectively implementing projects is beginning.  With that huge amount of money on the table, many government and non-governmental agencies began salivating before the polls opened Nov. 4. The fear of wasting billions of taxpayer dollars unwisely on poorly conceived plans that do not lead to a more sustainable water system was the most salient argument heard from the nearly 2.3 million Californians who voted against Proposition 1. We hope those fears do not bear out. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  No room for waste in the water bond, says the Sacramento Bee
  • Water bond will help shape agriculture’s future, says Jack Hamm:  He writes:  “With election season behind us, it’s now time to focus our energy on decisions that will shape the future of agriculture in California. As many of you are aware, the voters passed Proposition 1, commonly referred to as the water bond.   The bond discussion has been ongoing since 2009, when we were presented with a bond that would have funded the flawed Bay Delta Conservation Plan project and was full of pork barrel spending. Too large to garner any real support, legislators were given until the end of this past session to draft a replacement that would appeal to the varied interests of stakeholders and voters while also addressing cost concerns. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Water bond will help shape agriculture’s future
  • Tom Campbell: Thanks for conserving water – but please don’t stop!:Remember way back in 1991, when four years of drought were seemingly brought to a screeching halt by the so-called “March Miracle,” a month of persistent rain that joyously drenched California?  This time, a month wouldn’t do it.  The impacts of our state’s current drought are deep, as reservoirs around the state, including our own Castaic Lake, have been drawn down to low levels never before seen. … ”  Read more from the Santa Clarita Signal here:  Tom Campbell: Thanks for conserving water – but please don’t stop!

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

  • Water decision good news for Paradise:The drought is far from over, but Paradise residents can breathe a little easier, because water curtailments that were implemented during the summer have been lifted.  The announcement came on Nov. 12 after PID officials and the Northern California Water Association, a group that lobbies the state on behalf of water agencies, met with the state water board.  The decision means the district doesn’t have to release extra water from Little Butte Creek downstream into the Sacramento River. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Water decision good news for Paradise
  • Muir Woods coho salmon vanish, fanning fears of extinction: “The cherished coho salmon that historically wriggled their way past beachgoers up Redwood Creek into Muir Woods vanished this year and are now on the verge of extinction, prompting a last-ditch attempt by fisheries biologists to save the genetically unique species.  No salmon eggs were spotted in the shade of the world-famous redwood grove this past winter, and not a single baby coho could be found in the summer. The situation was so bad in August that 105 juvenile salmon had to be removed from the creek and brought to a hatchery.  “It’s a crisis in terms of this kind of intervention has never happened before” in Redwood Creek, said Laura Chariton, the director of the Watershed Alliance of Marin. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Muir Woods coho salmon vanish, fanning fears of extinction
  • Woodland-Davis water project wins $2 million grant:  “A new Sacramento River water intake that will serve Woodland and Davis has been approved for a $2 million state grant to build fish screens to protect migrating salmon and steelhead.  An existing intake at the site, located about a half-mile north of the Interstate 5 overcrossing on the river’s west bank, serves Reclamation District 2035, an farm irrigation agency that serves Conaway Ranch in Yolo County. It is the largest unscreened water intake remaining on the Sacramento River north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Woodland-Davis water project wins $2 million grant
  • Peace amid the water wars: S.J. County, East Bay MUD reach deal:Here’s something to be thankful for today: A landmark peace treaty in one of this region’s most enduring water wars. San Joaquin County and the East Bay Municipal Utility District are the primary players behind a deal announced late Tuesday.  “This has been in the works for decades,” county Supervisor Larry Ruhstaller said Wednesday. … ” Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Peace amid the water wars: S.J. County, East Bay MUD reach deal
  • Marina Coast Water District sues California Coastal Commission over approving Cal Am test well:Just as California American Water was feeling thankful that the California Coastal Commission came through for them, on permission to drill a test well, the Coastal Commission and Cal Am got slapped with a lawsuit. Marina Coast Water District filed a lawsuit in Sacramento County Superior Court on Monday trying to block the proposed test well from going through. …”  Read more from Monterey County Weekly here:  Marina Coast Water District sues California Coastal Commission over approving Cal Am test well
  • The water bond: What’s next for Salinas Valley?  “On Nov. 4, California voters passed a mammoth $7.5 billion water bond that had been written and re-written for five years.  From a bird’s eye view, its purpose is relatively straightforward: increase the state’s water supply, water access, and watershed protection. But the bond’s impact on the Salinas Valley is far from certain, and a snag in complying with state regulations may make some county projects ineligible. … ”  Read more from the Californian here: The water bond: what’s next for the Salinas Valley?
  • MID, Stanislaus supervisors moving in the right direction, says the Modesto Bee:  “The wheels of government grind exceedingly slowly at times, or so it seems to many who want and need help. So when we see elected officials responding to the concerns of the public, we applaud.  Two actions taken Tuesday – one by the Modesto Irrigation District Board of Directors and one by the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors – show that our elected officials are not only listening, they are responding. No doubt, some would prefer they both move faster; others, just as certainly, would prefer no action at all. That’s why such processes take so long.  But in these two cases, we appear on the road to getting something done. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  MID, Stanislaus supervisors moving in the right direction
  • Stanislaus County: Oakdale Irrigation District doesn’t mine groundwater, says Frank Clark:  He writes: “The Bee published a story Nov. 20 (“OID sale proposal ignites criticism”) about a discussion at a recent Stanislaus County Water Advisory Committee meeting. The article focused on two unrelated subjects – the Oakdale Irrigation District’s proposed sale of surplus water and its pumping of groundwater.  I would like to address those issues as well as some ill-informed comments made by County Supervisor Terry Withrow and Modesto Irrigation District Director Larry Byrd.  First, let me make it clear: OID does not pump groundwater and then sell it. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Frank Clark: OID doesn’t mine groundwater
  • Drought aftermath in Terra Bella: ‘We survived … we’re hurting’:  “Citrus growers Brent Doyel and Geoffrey Galloway strolled between two vastly different orchards of mandarins — one vibrant, the other dead.  “This is a pretty good view of what happened around Terra Bella this year in the drought,” said Doyel, 50, a second-generation farmer here. “We survived, but there’s no money being made. We’re hurting.” … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Drought aftermath in Terra Bella
  • Cambria pulls together through drought: Water conservation in Cambria has become not only a way of life for its 6000 residents, it’s become an absolute necessity to save the town’s water supply from going dry. While the ongoing drought has affected all of California, it has hit this popular tourist destination along the north of San Luis Obispo County particularly hard.  “It’s extremely critical,” says Jerry Gruber, general manager of the Cambria Community Services District. “Just like the rest of California, we’re dependent upon our water source from two separate aquifers, the San Simeon aquifer and the Santa Rosa aquifer and we’re on the tail end of a three year drought and right now our water situation is extremely critical right now.” ... ”  Read more from KEYT here:  Cambria pulling through drought
  • Upland man facing possible jail time for failure to water lawn: “A jury could decide Monday if resident Fernand Bogman will get jail time or a fine for failing to water his lawn.  The homeowner is being charged with two misdemeanors for failing to properly maintain his front yard and parkway space.  Bogman claims he was just trying to preserve water while city officials say they have been in a yearlong battle to get the homeowner to water his brown grass. … ”  Read more from the Daily Bulletin: Upland man facing possible jail time for failure to water lawn
  • Southern California:  Where the grass is greener, a push to share drought’s burden:  “In these hills overlooking San Diego, the only indication of the continuing drought — now among the worst in California’s recorded history — is the perpetually cloudless sky.  Private lemon groves hark back to the area’s agricultural past, before it became home to some of Southern California’s wealthiest residents; horses roam through grassy pastures; palatial homes are surrounded by rolling grass lawns and, in at least one case, a three-hole putting green owned by the golfer Phil Mickelson. And all that greenery sucks down hundreds of gallons of water each day. ... ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  Where the grass is greener, a push to share drought’s burden
  • Southern California in need of a water usage behavioral shift:  “Not long after 9/11, going to the airport included taking off your shoes and getting body scanned.  With the advent of the smartphone, talking is giving way to texting.  As almost all of California slips into a fourth year of severe, extreme or exceptional drought, are there similar benchmark behavioral changes we can expect regarding water?  Most experts say no, not unless the 400 retail water agencies insert draconian penalties for water gluttons, or the state Legislature passes outright bans on “nonbeneficial” water uses such as lawns, fountains and swimming pools. … ”  Read more from the San Bernardino Sun here: Southern California in need of water usage behavioral shift
  • Southern California:  Experts offer recommendations for coping with drought:  “A group of water experts recommended this week that Southern California should do much more to address the region’s long-term water problems.  The group, which met at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, included about a dozen scientists and water managers from the National Weather Service, the University of California, the University of Arizona, NASA and other agencies. They came up with a list of proposals ranging from improving management of groundwater to setting water prices that encourage conservation. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here: Experts make recommendations for coping with drought

weatherPrecipitation watch …

  • Storm today; stronger storm coming on Tuesday:  “It will be another wet day across Northern California. Look for rain off and on today in the Valley with heaviest rains in the northern part of the valley. Snow in the Sierra will cause hazardous travel at times above 6000 feet today as well. After today’s storm, attention will shift to the next storm on Tuesday/Wednesday which will be stronger, wetter and warmer. Rain from this storm combined with today’s storm will make mud/debris flow’s possible in the mountains, especially near burn scar areas.”

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

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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.

Maven’s Notebook
where California water news never goes home for the weekend

no weekends

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