Daily Digest, catch up edition: Sierra snowpack one-third of normal despite one of the Bay Area’s wettest Decembers, plus leaping baby squirrels, salmon hit dead ends, new algae threatens lakes, and more …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, Sierra snowpack one-third of normal despite one of the Bay Area’s wettest Decembers, Amid flakes, snow levels don’t jettison drought worries, Warm temperatures mean less snow for the Sierras, Drought’s Heavy Impact On California’s Wildlife; Starving Baby Squirrels Leaping From Trees For Food, Water; California drought could have dangerous ripple effects; Salmon stuck in dead end waters; Tehachapi-Cummings Water District expresses interest in Bay Delta Conservation Plan; New algae threatens California lakes; Biggest Cloud-Seeding Experiment Yet Only Sparks More Debate; Nevada – the driest state – has no statewide water plan; A preview of the 2015 regulatory agenda  

In the news today …

Sierra snowpack one-third of normal despite one of the Bay Area’s wettest Decembers:All that December precipitation? It didn’t fall where we most needed it.  Even as the Bay Area stays soggy, surveyors who tested snow in the Sierra Nevada on Tuesday found disappointing news: the snowpack is only one-third of the average for this time of year.  While that’s better than last December’s results, it shows the state has a long way to go to recover from the drought. ... ” Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Sierra snowpack one-third of normal despite one of the area’s wettest Decembers

Amid flakes, snow levels don’t jettison drought worries: “Snow levels that didn’t quite measure up turned a snowshoe party in the Sierra into an exercise in hand-wringing on Tuesday as it became clear that recent storms have done little to end California’s historic drought.  The snowpack is only 50 percent of normal across the Sierra and reservoir levels are still well below the average for this time of year, according to the California Department of Water Resources. The cold facts came out almost in defiance of the heavy snow that fell on department workers as they tromped around Tuesday near Echo Summit taking measurements for the winter’s first snow survey. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Amid flakes, snow levels don’t jettison drought worries

Warm temperatures mean less snow for the Sierras:  “Today, officials announced this winter’s first manual snow survey, which shows snowpack in the Sierra is 50 percent of what is average for this time of year. December’s storms boosted water levels in state reservoirs, but unusually warm temperatures meant rain instead of snow for parts of the Sierra Nevada. “We still have a long ways to go,” says Roger Bales, Director of U.C. Merced’s Sierra Nevada Research Institute. … ”  Read more from KQED Science here:  Warm temperatures mean less snow for the Sierras

Drought’s Heavy Impact On California’s Wildlife; Starving Baby Squirrels Leaping From Trees For Food, Water:  “California’s ongoing drought is having a major impact on wildlife, experts said.  Wildlife experts told the Los Angeles Times there has been a big increase in the number of starving baby squirrels, which are so hungry and thirsty that they’ve been jumping out of their tree top nests in search of food and water – then losing their way trying to get home. ... ”  Read more from CBS News here: Drought’s Heavy Impact On California’s Wildlife; Starving Baby Squirrels Leaping From Trees For Food, Water

California drought could have dangerous ripple effects:Epic droughts like the one gripping California for three years now may become more frequent in the future due to climate change, according to new research.  This will not only strain the drinking-water supplies for California’s 38 million people, but will also induce a cascade of other hazards — including fires, floods and poor water quality — as populations continue to grow statewide, scientists say. … ”  Read more from Live Science here:  California Droughts Could Have Dangerous Ripple Effects

Salmon stuck in dead end waters: It may seem like a miracle that migrating salmon are able to navigate from the ocean, through the bay, and upstream for hundreds of miles through a complex maze of ditches, rivers, canals, and sloughs in the Sacramento Valley in order to spawn in the gravel beds in which they were born. And, in fact, this miracle of nature is becoming even more difficult for salmon because of the drought and government inaction. Currently, many salmon are failing to complete the journey, and are winding up lost in dead-end backwaters. And if they can’t quickly find their way out, the salmon die or become too weak to spawn. ... ”  Read more from the East Bay Express here:  Salmon stuck in dead end waters

Tehachapi-Cummings Water District expresses interest in Bay Delta Conservation PlanAn ambitious and controversial state water project received a tentative nod of participation from the Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District’s board on Nov. 17.  District general manager John Martin said the district’s decision to participate in the Bay Delta Conversation Plan could potentially impact water deliveries through the State Water Project.  Martin said the the district had participated in an initial agreement, but bowed out of a supplemental agreement offered later. … ”  Read more from the Tehachapi News here: Water district expresses interest in twin tunnel project

Column: New algae threatens California lakes: George Van Zant writes: “There is a new bad kid — algae — in town. He has wracked up a couple of lakes already and things are not looking good for the near future. It is a new algae called Golden Algae, because it turns the water golden yellow as it blooms, not turning the water to golden brown like all the algaes typically do.  The new algae blossoms as the water temperature reaches somewhere from 65 to 80 degrees.  ... ”  Read more from the Long Beach Press Telegram here:  New algae threatens California lakes

Biggest Cloud-Seeding Experiment Yet Only Sparks More Debate: “In the nearly 60 years since meteorologists first conceived of seeding clouds as a way to increase rainfall, it has remained unclear whether human attempts to make it snow actually work.  Now, the results of the most scientific study of cloud seeding done yet are in. Researchers found that seeding clouds with droplets of silver iodide does slightly increase precipitation, boosting levels by 5 to 15 percent. However, experts disagree about whether this small increase means cloud-seeding efforts should expand. … ”  Read more from NBC News here: Biggest Cloud-Seeding Experiment Yet Only Sparks More Debate

Nevada – the driest state – has no statewide water plan:  “Nevada is suffering from a debilitating drought, experiencing the impacts of a warming climate and, some say, is deficient when it comes to long-term water planning for the state as a whole.  Debate is mounting over the need to begin development of a comprehensive water plan taking into account available water supplies, drought, climate projections and development that will tap limited water resources across the nation’s most arid state. ... ”  Nevada – the driest state – has no statewide water plan

A preview of the 2015 regulatory agenda:  “Federal agencies release regulatory schedules for 2015. The EPA hands out a record Clean Water Act penalty. A Bureau of Reclamation study looks at tribal water use in the Colorado River Basin. President Obama signs a bill for drinking water and sanitation in poor countries. … ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here:  A preview of the 2015 regulatory agenda

In commentary today …

Common sense needed for water future, says Mike Wade of the California Farm Water Coalition:  He writes:  “The series of storms that swept across our state this month will not end the three-year drought. They will help replenish aquifers and restore some water to our reservoirs, but more is needed.  The unknown is how much rain and snow California will receive during the remainder of the winter. Farmers are still deciding how many acres and which crops they will plant next year.  The recent storms have led to some troubling trends. Some city residents around the state have cut back on their conservation efforts. … ”  Continue reading at the Contra Costa Times here:  Common sense needed for water future

State needs solid drought solutions, not mindless bills, says Marjorie Mulhall with Earthjustice: She writes: “Northern California received a blessing of rain this December. The storms may have knocked the lights out in half of San Francisco and taken down trees and flooded streets, but the state has needed this deluge like never before.  The rain is a welcome but only temporary respite from the serious water problems the Golden State faces. Even the downpours early in the month are just drops in the bucket. More than 90 percent of the state remains in severe drought. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Examiner here:  State needs solid drought solutions, not mindless bills

In regional news and commentary today …

Colusa County rice farmer finds ways to adjust:  “When herbicides swept from farms into rivers, George Tibbitts adopted better water-management strategies.  With field burning phased out, the Colusa County farmer, like many rice growers, flooded his fields to dissolve the straw remaining after harvest.  When water was scarce, he fallowed. But now that a possible fourth year of drought threatens his crucial water allocations, Tibbitts is at a loss. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Colusa County rice farmer finds ways to adjust

Yuba County water official: Groundwater rules won’t mean much:  “Yuba County water officials and groundwater users should be only minimally affected by an increase in state oversight of groundwater use, a local water resources manager said.  “In Yuba County, groundwater basins are already being managed and are sustainable,” Scott Matyac of the Yuba County Water Agency said. New statewide groundwater laws taking effect Jan. 1 will have more relevance in communities where groundwater has been critically overdrafted, Matyac said. Three bills, opposed by local legislators, overhauled statewide groundwater policy that was largely unregulated. … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Official:  Groundwater rules won’t mean much

Lake Tahoe:  Boat channel at Keys Marina narrowing as lake level drops:  “Getting boats in and out of the Tahoe Keys is not getting any better as winter progresses.  Buoys for navigation and speed limits at the main channel are sitting to the side, in muck because the water level is so low.  If the lake level rises — especially in any significant way, it won’t be until the spring from runoff. ... ”  Read more from Lake Tahoe News here:  Boat channel at Keys Marina narrowing as lake level drops

Sonoma County: Grape growers could alleviate Occidental’s wastewater issues:  “Occidental’s embattled wastewater treatment system needs a multimillion-dollar upgrade completed within three years, and nearby grape growers are likely part of the solution.  If that plan — expected to cost $5 million to $6 million and bump up rates for the sewer district’s roughly 100 customers — doesn’t work out, the small west county community’s wastewater might be trucked out of the area for treatment, officials said. ... ”  Read more from the Press Democrat here:  Sonoma County: Grape growers could alleviate Occidental’s wastewater issues

Voters voice concerns about Lompico-San Lorenzo Valley water merger:A merger between Lompico and San Lorenzo Valley water districts, four years in the making, will be decided in February by Lompico voters, but not before Lompico residents opposing the deal take a final stand.  A lawsuit filed by Lompico customer Mark Meacham against the Santa Cruz County elections office may delay the vote on a $3.2 million bond, if a ruling is not delivered at a Monday superior court hearing. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here: Voters voice concerns about Lompico-San Lorenzo Valley water merger

Valley farmers preparing for frost:Some of the coldest weather to hit the Valley in more than a year is on the way, and citrus farmer Bob McKellar is hoping he’s ready for it.  He said he has protected his fruit the past two nights through a combination of wind machines and applying water to his groves or portions of his groves near Ivanhoe and Woodlake to boost temperatures in the air around his trees. … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Farmers preparing for frost

Livingston water well receives $2.3 million water filter: One of the city’s largest water wells previously plagued by a major contaminant now runs with a new filtration system, city officials announced this week.  The $2.3 million project took more than a year to complete, but the well now has a filtration system with computer monitoring and four large tanks to remove all traces of TCP contamination from water. The project also increased the well’s water capacity. … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here:  Livingston water well receives $2.3 million water filter

Bakersfield water use down 20 percent: With about two weeks until the city water board considers voluntary odd-even watering days, statistics show many local residences used significantly less water last month — though officials said that’s partly due to colder winter weather.  In his weekly memorandum to Mayor Harvey Hall and members of the Bakersfield City Council, City Manager Alan Tandy revealed total water usage for all residential and commercial customers served by the city declined 19.5 percent last month compared to November 2013. ... ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  Bakersfield water use down 20 percent

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

Survey Finds More Snow in Mountains, but Water Content Is Still Far Below Average for Date

California Weather Blog: Windy and cold weather on the way, with low elevation snow possible in SoCal, then a dry and cold start to the new year

 

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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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