Daily Digest: Experts say California farmers lost $2.2 billion in 2014, Western Drought Tops the List of 2014 Billion-Dollar Disasters; Sacto sends SWAT team after disgruntled water customer, and more …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, Experts say California farmers lost $2.2 billion in 2014, Western Drought Tops the List of 2014 Billion-Dollar Disasters in US, Drought tracking satellite to blast off this month, 2014 was California’s hottest year, and it wasn’t even close, Floating weather station will measure evaporation, Los Angeles looks to capture rains to solve its problems, and more …

In the news today …

Experts say California farmers lost $2.2 billion in 2014: “A new study by the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences estimates some stunning losses to California agriculture last year, and indicates losses in 2015 could be even worse if drought conditions do not improve.  “We estimated about $2 billion, $2.2 billion worth of damage, economic damage to the State of California. About 17,000 jobs were lost, just in agriculture,” Watershed Sciences Director Jay Lund, Ph.D., said. ... ”  Read more from News 10 here:  Experts say California farmers lost $2.2 billion in 2014

Western Drought Tops the List of 2014 Billion-Dollar Disasters in US: “Of the eight different billion-dollar weather and climate disasters that occurred across the United States in 2014, the Western drought has been the most economically damaging, despite the silent nature of its stranglehold on one of the country’s most productive agricultural hubs.  “Even though California has been somewhat resilient [by utilizing groundwater for agriculture], the western drought will be the most expensive,” NOAA National Climatic Data Center Applied Climatologist Adam Smith said, adding that final assessments on the data are currently being conducted. ... ”  Read more from AccuWeather here: Western Drought Tops the List of 2014 Billion-Dollar Disasters in US

Drought tracking satellite to blast off this month:  “A new satellite expected to launch this month will improve drought monitoring in the United States and around the world, NASA scientists said Thursday (Jan. 8).  The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite will provide the best maps yet of soil moisture levels from pole to pole, mission scientists said. Soil moisture is one of the key factors in estimating drought severity; it also influences local weather, adds to hazards such as flooding, and plays a role in how plants store and release carbon. … ”  Read more from Live Science here:  Drought tracking satellite to blast off this month

2014 was California’s hottest year, and it wasn’t even close: “California not only sweated through its hottest year on record in 2014 but obliterated the previous mark by nearly 2 degrees, federal scientists said Thursday, while experiencing firsthand some of the worst fears of a warming planet — from intensified drought to melting snowpack.  The state’s average temperature last year was 61.5 degrees, more than 4 degrees above the 20th century average, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported. The previous hottest year was 1934, at 59.7 degrees, though many of the balmiest periods have come more recently, with seven of the 10 hottest years within the past two decades. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: 2014 was California’s hottest year, and it wasn’t even close

Floating weather station will measure evaporation:Scientists from the Desert Research Institute in Reno are placing a buoy in Folsom Lake that’s loaded with all kinds of equipment…temperature sensors, humidity sensors, net radiometers.  But its primary purpose is to measure water evaporation. Justin Huntington, a hydrologist at DRI, says not knowing how much water evaporates over reservoirs, means not knowing how much could be available for cities and farmland. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Floating weather station will measure evaporation

Los Angeles looks to capture rains to solve its problems:Walk the glaring streets of Los AngelesSan Fernando Valley on a sun-soaked afternoon in a drought year, the dry, brush-covered mountains rising behind you, and it can be easy to feel that you’re in arid country. “Beneath this building, beneath every street, there’s a desert,” said the fictional mayor in the Oscar-winning 1974 movie Chinatown. “Without water the dust will rise up and cover us as though we’d never existed!” ... ”  Read more from the Christian Science Monitor here:  Los Angeles looks to capture rains to solve its problems  See also this from CNN here:  Los Angeles can teach us how to conserve water

In commentary today …

Water savings must continue, says the Stockton Record:California has endured four consecutive years of drought, including historically dry conditions in 2014.  San Joaquin and Calaveras counties weren’t immune. Dead lawns and plants in San Joaquin County and virtually dry reservoirs in the Mother Lode were textbook examples of how thirsty the area was as a whole.  It appears progress — slow but steady progress — is being made in regard to water conservation. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Our view: Water savings must continue

In regional news and commentary today …

City of Sacramento sends SWAT team after disgruntled water customer:  “Patrick Lee O’Kane grew up preparing for war. The 66-year-old came of age during the Vietnam conflict, reading his destiny on the caskets of the slightly older boys returning home. But combat operations ended before he was drafted, and O’Kane’s war would have to wait. “Your life is not a normal life when you grow up like that,” he said, “and I’m probably not a normal person.”  On Monday, O’Kane and wife, Melissa Jean Andrews, 68, appeared in Sacramento Superior Court as defendants in a bizarre case that started with a disagreement over city utility fees, turned on questions about O’Kane’s constitutional beliefs and climaxed with a police standoff outside the couple’s home. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento News & Review here:  City of Sacramento sends SWAT team after disgruntled water customer

Earthen dike at Folsom Dam to be repaired:One of the earthen dikes that forms Folsom Lake will undergo repairs, starting Tuesday, to prevent seepage.  Dike 1 is the northernmost of eight earthen dikes that enclose Folsom Lake. It lies on the lake’s western shore, along Vogel Valley Road in Granite Bay. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Earthen dike at Folsom Dam to be repaired

Proposal: Make Carmel River cutback more gradual:A Monterey Peninsula bid to relax the state-ordered cutback in Carmel River pumping would request credit for already realized pumping reductions and river improvements as part of an extended ramp-down.  According to a proposal announced by Carmel mayor Jason Burnett at Thursday night’s Peninsula water authority meeting at Monterey City Hall, local officials would ask the state water board to back off the existing cutback order set to take full effect by the start of 2017. Instead it asks the state water board to recognize the Peninsula’s success in cutting river water use by 1,000 acre feet per year quicker than it was supposed to and its efforts to enhance the river’s health through projects already underway, including the San Clemente Dam removal. … ”  Read more from the Monterey County Herald here:  Proposal: Make Carmel River cutback more gradual

Visalia: Training to help the drought-impacted:  “Only one person showed up earlier this week for an information session on a College of the Sequoias course soon to be offered free to workers and employers affected by the drought.  The course will prepare participants for an entry-level position as a production technician.  “I saw this being offered. I saw it’s all free. I’m amazed I’m the only person here today, ’cause the economy — the world outside this room is rough right now,” said Visalia resident Richard Nava, the only prospective student at the orientation on Wednesday. … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Training to help the drought-impacted

LA, looking for water wherever it can, targets freeways:  “As Los Angeles looks for any way it can to save water, City Council members turned their attention Wednesday to how Caltrans irrigates its landscaping along freeways.  And they found a willing partner.  Caltrans offered assurances Wednesday that it tries to use as much recycled water as is available for its freeway landscape operations and said conservation has reduced the agency’s water use by 45 percent from a decade ago. But the problem has been finding enough of the recycled water. ... ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Daily News here:  LA, looking for water wherever it can, targets freeways

Huntington Beach desal plant gets a boost:The Orange County Water District, which manages the groundwater basin in north and central county, gave a much-needed boost this week to a proposed desalination plant in Huntington Beach by agreeing to purchase its water.  At nearly $2,000 per acre-foot, desalinated water costs about twice as much as water imported from Northern California. Until this week, the steep price tag for what Poseidon Water calls a drought-proof water supply has failed to attract water agencies. … ”  Read more from the O.C. Register here: Huntington Beach desal plant gets a boost

El NinoEl Nino watch …

From the National Weather Service in Sacramento:The latest El-Nino forecast is still not clear on if an El-Nino will form this year in the Equatorial Pacific but models favor a weak El-Nino forming this winter. The Climate Prediction Centers latest three month combined forecast for January-February-March calls for above normal precipitation.”

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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