Daily Digest, weekend edition: A first for Delta pumping: Voluntary cutback to protect fish, BDCP refined to lessen impacts, and state celebrates 100 years of administering water rights system, plus Peter Gleick, Jeff Kightlinger, and more …

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In California water news this weekend, A first for Delta pumping: Voluntary cutback to protect fish, Bay Delta Conservation Plan refined to lessen impacts on local landowners, California celebrates 100 years of administering water rights system, December rainfall breaks records, but California needs more, Tahoe celebrates snow but braces for dry times,  Five key facts about the California drought – and five ways we're responding to it, Drought, then deluge pits neighbor against neighbor over water rates in Santa Cruz Mountains, Wild fish make a comeback in Putah Creek, plus an argument for better dam management, Peter Gleick, Jeff Kightlinger and more …    

In the news this weekend …

A first for Delta pumping: Voluntary cutback to protect fish:  “On New Year’s Eve 2012, the Sierra had 140% of the normal December snowpack and rivers swelled with storm runoff. But strangely, a crippling reduction of water pumping had already begun in Northern California.  The muddy Sacramento River and mammoth water pumps had created a death trap for the protected delta smelt. Under the federal Endangered Species Act, the pumps had to be slowed, even though California was flush with water. Farmers and Southern California lost 800,000 acre-feet of precious water in the process —followed by months of almost no storms. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  A first for Delta pumping: Voluntary cutback to protect fish

Bay Delta Conservation Plan refined to lessen impacts on local landowners: In an effort to lessen impacts on Delta landowners and preserve sandhill crane habitat, the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown and its federal partners today announced several significant changes to the water conveyance portion of the proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan, including eliminating a proposal to build three new pumping plants along the Sacramento River. … ”  Read more from ACWA's Water News here:  Bay Delta Conservation Plan refined to lessen impacts on local landowners

California celebrates 100 years of administering water rights system:  “Today marks 100 years of state-administered appropriative water rights in California – the hierarchy of which was demonstrated this year as the state responded to severe drought conditions.  The California State Water Board issued a press release Thursday celebrating 100 years since the state began administering water rights in order to reduce conflicts in a system driven by personal claims to the use and amounts of water in a stream. … ”  Read more here:  California celebrates 100 years of administering water rights system

December rainfall breaks records, but California needs more: Record December rainfall has shaken the dust off California’s four-year drought by piling up snowpack in the Sierras and returning flows to near-empty reservoirs.  But a forecast of dry, sunny weather for the next 10 days has left drought-watchers concerned that the old weather pattern — a stubborn high-pressure ridge that deflected storms to the north and the Midwest — may return. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Breeze here: December rainfall breaks records, but California needs more

Tahoe celebrates snow but braces for dry times:  “Snow has been falling at Tahoe at long last, and nearly all of the major ski resorts expect to open by the end of the weekend.  But behind the season’s promising start, California’s billion-dollar ski industry is trying to fortify itself for a future that may include higher temperatures and less snow, to allow it to thrive even during dry times like the past three years of drought.  As resorts rev up chairlifts weeks earlier than last year, their concern that snow levels will continue to fall across the West have led them to invest more heavily in snow-making — while also pursuing new ventures that don’t involve skiing. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Tahoe celebrates snow but braces for dry times

Five key facts about the California drought – and five ways we're responding to it:  “Drought has gripped much of the western U.S. this year, with a particular stranglehold in California. In 2014, the majority of the state was classified as experiencing “extreme” to “exceptional” drought. Even recent large storms, while welcome, have not made much of a dent in the state’s water deficit after several hot, dry years. This drought, ongoing for three years and counting, presents several complex, important issues: 1.  Reliance on Snowpack: California’s current water infrastructure depends largely on snowpack. But this dependency will pose significant challenges in the future. ... ”  Continue reading at Hippo Reads here:  Five key facts about the California drought – and five ways we’re responding to it

Drought, then deluge pits neighbor against neighbor over water rates in Santa Cruz Mountains:All this rain is causing a revolt in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  It's a little one, in a little neighborhood of 118 households. But the tensions are deeper than the slowly rising Lexington Reservoir just below, and as turbulent as Los Gatos Creek after a month of storms.  A small group of residents in the community of Aldercroft Heights is protesting strict water limits and severe penalties imposed by the volunteers who run the neighborhood water board, which fears the creek that supplies their water could still run dry. … ”  Read more from Inside Bay Area here: Drought, then deluge pits neighbor against neighbor over water rates in Santa Cruz Mountains

Wild fish make a comeback in Putah Creek:  “Putah Creek, an often-muddy stream that meanders through Yolo County, has been through a lot in the past 150 years.  In 1871, settlers literally moved the stream by digging a new course to prevent flooding in the town of Davis. In the 1940s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built levees along that course. In the 1950s, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation blocked the creek with a 304-foot-high wall of concrete – the seventh-largest dam in California – to create Lake Berryessa. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Wild fish make a comeback in Putah Creek

In commentary this weekend …

Bring better science to dam management, says the Santa Rosa Press Democrat:  “Is the drought over?  We won’t match wits with meteorologists or second guess climate scientists. For now, we’re just grateful to see Lake Pillsbury, Lake Mendocino and other reservoirs rising again after three exceedingly dry years. … If the lakes keep filling, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may be forced to open the spillways at Coyote Dam to fulfill flood-prevention mandates — even if weather forecasters say the storm window is closing.  Federal law doesn’t leave any option. … ”  Read the full editorial here:  PD Editorial: Bring better science to dam management

The answer to human caused climate change is in, says Peter Gleick:  “As our planet warms, scientists and the general public are increasingly asking if human-caused climate change influences the extreme weather events we see all around us. Until recently, the answer was always “we don’t know yet.” Today, the answer is increasingly “yes.”  Earth is in a remarkable transition from a world in which human influence on climate has been negligible to one in which our influence is increasingly dominant. One of the most active research areas in the climate sciences is the field of detection and attribution: the effort to see and identify the fingerprint of climate change in our extremes of weather. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: The answer on human-caused climate change is in

Jeff Kightlinger defends Southern California's water conservation efforts:  “This paper recently questioned Southern California's commitment to water conservation based on a single month (“Southern California's Sad Conservation Record” — Dec. 13). Had the editorial examined roughly 50 years of Southern California's conservation performance — success over the past generation and plans for no additional supplies from Northern California in the generation ahead, perhaps the conclusion would have been different.  In California water, it is important to take the long view. For all of us to make progress, it is important to avoid the temptation to pit one region against another. Many readers of this newspaper rely on the same outdated statewide water system as does Southern California. … ”  Read more from the Contra Costa Times here: Guest commentary: Southern California and conservation: Respecting water’s limits

The California drought isn't over? U-T San Diego writes:  “The week’s rain has gone away, hopefully to come again another day soon with lots more. But isn’t the drought over, you ask? Let’s go to the dictionary.  The “Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition,” defines drought as “a prolonged period of dry weather; lack of rain.” ... ”  Continue reading at the U-T San Diego here:  The California drought isn’t over?

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Hoopa Valley: Drought conditions not expected to improve by summer: Even with the recent rain, Hoopa Valley remains under severe drought conditions that aren’t expected to improve by summertime and the Hoopa Valley Drought Task Force recommends that residents be prepared.  Families are urged to put aside enough drinking water to provide 3 gallons per family member, pet or farm animal per day for a minimum of three days in case of emergency, which a Hoopa Valley Tribe news release states could happen in the event of water getting cut off. ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Hoopa Valley: Drought conditions not expected to improve by summer

Yuba-Sutter: Huge rainfall deficit remains:  “Friday's rain washed away a road in Yuba County but failed to wash away the drought that continues to grip the area.  The storm, which dropped more than a half inch inch of rain on Marysville, capped off a wet week and helped nudge Yuba-Sutter down a notch from “exceptional” drought to “extreme” drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a weekly map issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies. Since Monday, but not including Friday, 1.4 inches of rain fell at the weather station at the Yuba County Airport. ... ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Huge rainfall deficit remains

Davis family not letting rainfall go to waste:  “A Davis man decided it was his turn to do his part in conserving water, so he built a 1,100-gallon rain recycling system.  Most folks in Davis can’t hose down their driveway or wash their car whenever they like, but that’s not the case for the Montijos, that’s because they have recycled rainwater they can use.  “This is the first part of it. It starts here from the gutters and goes down here,” said David Montijo. … ”  Read more from CBS News here:  Davis family not letting rainfall go to waste

Madera County water dispute settled:Half a million dollars and the right to purchase water for 25 years from Madera Irrigation District was awarded to a water bank financier to settle a dispute.  The dispute arose over a 2012 financial agreement regarding plans for the district’s new water bank, Madera Ranch.  Madera Ranch, which remains under development, could hold as much as 250,000 acre-feet of underground water southwest of Madera, according to estimates. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:   Madera County water dispute settled; water bank financier gets money, purchase rights

Metropolitan to sell replenishment water to Central Basin for the first time in three years:  “Recent rain storms in California has made it possible for Metropolitan Water District to sell water to replenish the underground aquifers in Southeast Los Angeles County for the first time in three years.  Central Basin Municipal Water District is handling the transfer of 25,000 acre feet of water – that’s enough to serve 50,000 families in a year – to the Water Replenishment District. The water will be delivered from January through April. ... ”  Read more from the Whittier Daily News here:  Metropolitan to sell replenishment water to Central Basin for the first time in three years

Precipitation watch …

From the National Weather Service:  “Scattered rain showers expected, mainly for the mountains and foothills, diminishing through the day. The northern mountains may see a few lingering showers through tonight. Warmer and drier air is moving in with Patchy fog could develop the next few mornings. A system passing through Wednesday into early Christmas day may bring precipitation to the area.”

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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.

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