Daily Digest: How CA’s water rights system makes it tough to manage drought, El Niño may be getting too much credit for California rainfall, Water supply at risk from abandoned Sierra mines, and more …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, how California’s water rights system makes it tough to manage drought, El Niño may be getting too much credit for California rainfall, California water at risk from abandoned Sierra mines, intense storm to wallop the Bay Area on Wednesday, drought dries rural wells – residents carry water in buckets, California taking up ‘safe’ drinking water plan, rains ease Marin’s drought concerns, provide good start for endangered coho run, Oakdale Irrigation District proposes fallowing farmland and selling water to outside agencies, and  a dangerous fight over the Salton Sea, says the U-T San Diego

In the news today …

  • How California’s water rights system makes it tough to manage drought:  “After three years of historically dry and hot weather, the images of California’s drought have become familiar: empty fields, brown lawns, dry stream beds. But for every one of those scenes, there are other parts of the state where water has been flowing freely and the effects of drought are hard to see.  It’s all tied to California’s system of water rights — the complex hierarchy that governs who gets water during a drought and who doesn’t. After unprecedented cutbacks this year that left many farmers scrambling for water, some critics say the hierarchy is a historical relic that makes it harder for the state to deal with drought. ... ”  Read more from KQED here: How California’s Water Rights Make It Tough to Manage Drought
  • El Niño may be getting too much credit for California rainfall: “Few things in the world of Southern California weather generate more curiosity, research, debate and occasional trash talk than El Niño.  El Niño storms have brought some of the region’s heaviest drenchings, but experts say they are also among the most fickle, misunderstood and misinterpreted of weather phenomena.  With California in a severe drought, El Niño is often mentioned longingly as a savior. But it’s not that simple. … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here: El Niño may be getting too much credit for California rainfall
  • California water at risk from abandoned Sierra mines:  “Along the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, runoff pollution from abandoned mines in “Gold Country” could threaten California’s primary water supply. A pilot project at one mine site is intended to prevent contaminated runoff from reaching the Yuba River. The Sierra Nevada Conservancy said more than 60 percent of California’s water supply comes from forests in the Sierra Nevada. The state agency says the health of many of those forests is in decline. ... ”  Continue reading from Capital Public Radio here:  California water at risk from abandoned Sierra mines
  • Intense storm to wallop the Bay Area on Wednesday:  “An intense storm — expected to cause widespread damage and flooding — will slam the Bay Area with heavy rain and high winds midway through the week, forecasters said.  The blast, the likes of which only hit Northern California once every few years, will swing in sometime around Wednesday evening and continue into Friday. Winds in some areas will gust up to 50 mph and close to 4 inches of rain may drench urban areas, said Steve Anderson, a forecaster with the National Weather Service. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Intense storm to wallop the Bay Area on Wednesday
  • Drought dries rural wells; residents carry water in buckets:  “The water vanished from Olivia Vargas’ modest East Porterville home on an ordinary morning as she was rinsing her breakfast dishes. It left Yolanda Serrato’s house just as suddenly, sputtering, then stopping, as she held a garden hose. Soon, the faucets at Iglesia Emmanuel went dry as parishioners tried to clean up after Sunday services.  Ten miles away, Ron and Cheryl Perine poured two glasses of water to drink — and watched in disbelief as sand settled to the bottom. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  Drought dries rural wells; residents carry water in buckets
  • California taking up ‘safe’ drinking water plan:  “Across California, the water that comes out of the taps in many mobile home parks and other small rural communities often doesn’t meet safe drinking water standards. Some wells are contaminated with arsenic, nitrates or other hazardous contaminants.  The State Water Resources Control Board has drafted a plan aimed at addressing those problems. It’s the first such plan since 1993. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  California taking up ‘safe’ drinking water plan
  • Rains ease Marin’s drought concerns, provide good start for endangered coho run: The bonanza of rain over the last week has boosted Marin’s totals to above average, filled reservoirs and has allowed endangered coho salmon to make their way back to local streams sooner than normal.  “It shows how quickly things can change,” said Libby Pischel, spokeswoman for the Marin Municipal Water District.  And the rain is far from over with more predicted for the weekend and early next week. ... ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Rains ease Marin’s drought concerns, provide good start for endangered coho run
  • Oakdale Irrigation District proposes fallowing farmland, selling water to outside agencies:  “A plan to sell the water saved by fallowing Oakdale farmland will be voted on Tuesday by the Oakdale Irrigation District.  Some of the money received from selling that water would go to farmers to make “conservation improvements” on their land.  OID’s board of directors also will consider approving its 2015 budget, which includes selling $4 million worth of irrigation water to outside agencies. The proposed budget projects the district will end next year with $43.6 million in reserves. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Oakdale Irrigation District proposes fallowing farmland, selling water to outside agencies

In commentary today …

  • A dangerous fight over the Salton Sea, says the U-T San Diego:  They write:  “It’s easy to sympathize with Imperial County officials frustrated over the Salton Sea, once an environmental and recreational wonderland that is now heavily polluted and shrinking, if not dying. The state made a financial commitment a dozen years ago to restore the sea, and has done little since. But the giant Imperial Irrigation District is now playing a dangerous game to force the state’s hand — a game that could cost San Diego County a significant chunk of its drinking water supply and could potentially unravel the landmark “peace on the river” agreements reached in 2003 between all the southwestern states that tap into the Colorado River. … ”  Read more from U-T San Diego here:  A dangerous fight over the Salton Sea

Plenty more news and commentary in the weekend edition of the Daily Digest …

weatherPrecipitation watch …

  • From the National Weather Service:  “A major storm is still on track to impact Northern California later this week. This storm still looks like it could be the strongest storm we’ve seen in years. We’ve begun to hone in on a critical time…primarily between Wednesday night and Thursday…when winds will be strongest and precipitation most intense. High wind and winter storm watches have been issued.”  The storm will arrive in Southern California on Thursday and Friday.

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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