Daily Digest, weekend edition: Dry January starts familiar feeling of dread among farm water leaders, ‘Ridiculously Resilient Ridge’ may be making a comeback, Sites Reservoir in a waiting game, and more …

In California water news this weekend, Dry January starts familiar feeling of dread among farm water leaders, ‘Ridiculously Resilient Ridge’ may be making a comeback, Sites Reservoir in a waiting game, Water rights debated at EcoFarm conference, Nation’s largest ocean desalination plant goes up near San Diego,  The massive scale of California’s drought and how it informs the climate change debate, plus commentary on the proposed federal drought legislation, CEQA, State Water Board objectives for the San Joaquin River tributaries, Delta smelt, and more …

In the news this weekend …

Dry January starts familiar feeling of dread among farm water leaders:  “Facing a fourth drought year and maybe the driest January on record, farm water leaders hope storms are on the way, but they saw a dry January last year and got no water from the federal Central Valley Project.  “Last year was critically dry,” said Ron Jacobsma, general manager of the Friant Water Authority, representing 15,000 east San Joaquin Valley growers. “If things don’t change, this year could be a catastrophe.” ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Dry January starts familiar feeling of dread among farm water leaders

‘Ridiculously Resilient Ridge’ may be making a comeback:  “You might’ve noticed a conspicuous absence lately: rain.  In fact, with a scant few days remaining in the month, much of Northern California is on track for a record-dry January. The winter storms that had us scrambling in December have largely dried up, raising the prospect of a fourth year of drought. We had two big bursts that qualify as atmospheric river storms and then … crickets.  If this sounds somewhat familiar, flash back to the beginning of 2013 … ” Read more from KQED here:  ‘Ridiculously Resilient Ridge’ may be making a comeback

Sites Reservoir in a waiting game:  “Sites Reservoir is in a holding pattern as project leaders wait for the state to settle on regulations for distributing funds from last year’s $7.5 billion water bond.  In the meantime, the Sites Joint Power Authority, a group made up of Northern California counties and water districts, has completed its locally preferred alternative report that includes a basic project plan $200 million cheaper than previous versions of the project proposed by state and federal agencies. … ”  Read more from the Apepal Democrat here: Sites Reservoir in a waiting game

Water rights debated at EcoFarm conference:  “Farmers asked tough questions during a water rights workshop Friday at the 35th annual EcoFarm Conference, moments after more bad news about the drought was delivered with a ping to a presenter’s smart phone.  “The state board has given notice that a surface water shortage is likely and get ready for curtailments for 2015,” Jay Lund read out loud. He is director of the Center for Watershed Studies and professor at UC Davis and was one of the presenters at the workshop. … ”  Read more from the Salinas Californian here: Water rights debated at EcoFarm conference

Nation’s largest ocean desalination plant goes up near San Diego:  “On sunny afternoons, this stretch of beach 35 miles north of San Diego presents a classic Southern California backdrop: joggers, palm trees and surfers, flanked by waves rolling in and pelicans soaring overhead.  But just across the road, one more scene, unlike any other in the state’s history, is playing out: Much more than 300 construction workers are digging trenches and assembling a vast network of pipes, tanks and higher-tech gear as three massive yellow cranes labor nearby. … ”  Read more from the National Review here:  Nation’s largest ocean desalination plant goes up near San Diego

The massive scale of California’s drought and how it informs the climate change debate: January is usually San Francisco’s wettest month, averaging four and a half inches of rain since 1850. In January 2015, though, it hasn’t rained at all — and the forecast doesn’t suggest that’s likely to change. Over the past 165 years, that has never happened. Not once. The closest the city came to a rainless month was when it got 0.06 inches — in 2014. ... ”  Read more from the Washington Post here:  The massive scale of California’s drought and how it informs the climate change debate

In commentary this weekend …

Congress proposals could destroy San Francisco Delta and many species, say Jeanette Howard and Jon Rosenfeld:  They write: “The impacts of California’s ongoing extreme drought are felt by everyone in the state. Some in Congress have proposed weakening environmental protections that would divert more of the water flowing to the San Francisco Bay. That would have serious implications for the largest estuary on the Pacific coast of North and South America and the fish, wildlife and people who rely on this unique ecosystem.  ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Congress proposals could destroy San Francisco Delta and many species

Reform CEQA to help live with drought, says Kristina Lawson:  She writes:  “Three years into the longest drought in California’s recorded history, a fourth dry year now looks likely. January has seen no rain and very warm temperatures are expected across the Bay Area this weekend. California took enormous steps to address our water future by passing a water bond and landmark groundwater laws last year, but there’s more to be done. Lawmakers should look to reform the California Environmental Quality Act to ensure we are using water efficiently and sustainably. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Reform CEQA to help live with drought

We must challenge the state’s water grab, says the Merced Sun-Star: They write: “We all know Mark Twain’s three kinds of untruths: Lies, damned lies and statistics.  The State Water Resources Control Board is telling some statistical whoppers as it tries to justify its impending water grab.  The state’s statisticians and computers created their numbers. But we’ll stick to the back of an envelope. See which numbers you find more plausible. … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here:  We must challenge the state’s water grab

No more red herrings in water talks, says the Santa Rosa Press Democrat:  They write: “The delta smelt is an easy target.  It’s small, no more than 3 inches long, and has no unusual features. Few people ever see one. Even anglers aren’t interested in this tiny fish native to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and protected by state and federal endangered species laws.  That makes it a great target in the PR wars over California water. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: PD Editorial: No more red herrings in water talks

John Laird’s letter home to the Santa Cruz Sentinel: This month I start my fifth year as California’s Secretary for Natural Resources. Even though I am home in Santa Cruz every weekend, it’s a strange sensation to log on to the Sentinel early weekday mornings to read about local developments that for the past few decades I would have been otherwise involved with.  But I enjoy the challenging opportunity of managing the state’s natural resources through an agency with a $9 billion dollar budget and 19,000 employees. Add to that working for a governor who is fearless in taking on intractable long-term issues one by one, applying good values in the process, working with stakeholders across the spectrum, and making sure there’s actually an outcome. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  John Laird: A letter home from the state’s natural resources chief

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Montague’s water treatment plant comes online:  “After 12 years, Montague’s new water treatment plant is finally up and running.  The $5.8 million plant came about after many years of the city not meeting water standards. … ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here:  Montague’s water treatment plant comes online

Giant water slide versus drought, round 2: The Bay Area version begins:  Columnist Sal Pizarro writes: “A 1,000-foot-long Slip’N Slide in San Jose? Sounds like somebody’s childhood dream come true, and it’s going to happen in June — unless the droughtshamers get to it first.  Slide the City, a Utah-based outfit, has put together a tour and lists San Jose and Oakland among its June events, with San Francisco and Santa Cruz for July. Riding costs between $15 and $65, depending on how early you buy your tickets and how many times you want to ride (See more information at www.slidethecity.com). … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Giant water slide event planned for San Jose may be all wet

San Joaquin County: Meetings to understand new water quality regulations:The San Joaquin County and Delta Water Quality Coalition has developed an extensive program for water quality in our region. Until now, their focus was monitoring surface water so they would regularly test the water quality in rivers and streams and growers in those areas about those results. Last March the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board approved the waste discharge requirements for the irrigated lands here in the San Joaquin and Delta area. The newly adopted regulations expanded the water quality monitoring program to require monitoring of groundwater as well as surface water. … ” Read more from the Stoctkon Record here:  San Joaquin County: Meetings to understand new water quality regulations

Manteca: Drought a death knell for recreation at Woodward Reservoir?  “The odds for a normal year of snow and rain are rapidly evaporating.  California is settling in for a fourth year of severe drought.  It means Woodward Reservoir in the coming months could be closed to all surface water recreation in order to save 35,000 acre feet that would evaporate or be lost to seepage if the reservoir is operated at capacity. That is enough to cover a quarter of the 12 irrigation runs that occur during the growing season. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  Drought a death knell for recreation at Woodward Reservoir?

Fresno State water center announces $1.1 million grant:Frenos State’s announced today that its International Center for Water Technology (ICWT) received a $1.12 million grant from the Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board (FRWIB) to continue its research and partnership with industry and government agencies.  “We’re excited to continue to support economic development in the Central Valley through expansion of the water cluster and water technology activities,” said Daniel Clawson, project manager for ICWT. “This funding will allow our staff to continue to encourage new innovation and technology in all segments of the water field.” … ”  Read more from the Fresno Business Journnal here:  Fresno State water center announces $1.1 million grant

San Luis Obispo Supes to debate Paso Robles groundwater management:  “With sweeping new statewide groundwater management requirements now in place, the county Board of Supervisors will discuss the best way to manage the dwindling Paso Robles groundwater basin on Tuesday.  At the first of the year, the state Sustainable Groundwater Management Act became law. It requires that an agency be selected by 2017 to manage all basins in the state with dropping aquifers including the Paso Robles basin.  … ” Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  SLO Supes to debate Paso Robles groundwater management

State awards $2 million to Lake Cachuma pumping project:  “Santa Barbara County water agencies announced Friday that they will receive $2 million in state funding for a pumping project at Cachuma Lake — a source of drinking water for 220,000 people on the southern central coast — where water levels have dropped precipitously low.  As the California drought drags on, conditions have jeopardized the lake’s gravity-fed system that supplies water to customers. ... ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here:  State awards $2 million to Lake Cuchuma Pumping Project

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

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