Daily Digest: State prepares for possible Delta barriers, some wells in Central Valley showing high uranium, record setting rainless January and more …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, State revives plan for Delta barriers to combat seawater intrusion, Private wells in California farm area show high uranium, Record-setting rainless January sparks fears & fire, California poised to see driest January on record, A profusion of drought restrictions with varying results, Federal flood control measures cause California to drain some reservoirs, Environmentalists cry foul over fish decision, Farm water agency reacts to drought with changes at top, and more …

In the news today …

State revives plan for Delta barriers to combat seawater intrusion:The drought has spurred California to revive controversial plans to build rock dams across three Delta waterways in an effort to prevent seawater from degrading drinking water for 25 million people — including those in San Jose, Concord, and Livermore.  The quality of state irrigation water for 750,000 acres of farms also is at risk.  Low river runoff in droughts weakens the flows that keep seawater from San Francisco Bay pushing inland and into the water pumps in the Delta, heart of California’s water system. … ”  Read more here:  State revives plan for Delta barriers to combat seawater intrusion

State considers temporary dams on Delta to protect freshwater:  “State water officials say they may dam parts of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in an emergency measure to protect freshwater used by millions of Californians.  The Department of Water Resources said Monday that if the drought persists they may build temporary rocky barriers blocking three channels on the Delta. They say the dams would decrease the amount of water released from upstream reservoirs to keep saltwater from creeping inland from the San Francisco Bay, contaminating the Delta. ... ”  Read more from the AP via NBC LA here:  State considers temporary dams on Delta to protect freshwater

Private wells in California farm area show high uranium:  “One in four household water wells in parts of California’s Central Valley contains potentially harmful levels of uranium, a U.S. Geological Survey study said.  The federal study attributed the higher-than-expected uranium levels to farming in the Central Valley, which is one of the country’s leading agricultural regions. Both heavy pumping of groundwater for irrigation, and man-made efforts to refill underground water aquifers, are leeching more naturally occurring uranium into underground water reserves used for drinking water supplies, the U.S. Geological Survey said. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Private wells in California farm area show high uranium

Record-setting rainless January sparks fears, fire:  “It was an astonishing scene in the heart of winter — dozens of Pacifica residents rushing to grab whatever household valuables they could as flames raced down a coastal bluff toward their homes.  Firefighters halted the blaze early Monday before it could do serious damage, but the evacuations punctuated a January that is poised to go down as the driest in California history, giving rise to summerlike conditions — including the threat of wildfire — even as the Northeast is hit with a paralyzing blast of snow.  The extremes on both sides of the country are connected, weather experts said Monday, by a mass of high pressure over the Pacific Ocean. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Record-setting rainless January sparks fears, fire

California poised to see driest January on record:  “While New York prepared Monday for a historic blizzard, California continued to court the record books due to a lack of precipitation. With just a few days left in the month, January is on track to be the driest on record across much of the state.  San Francisco has received no rain this month. San Jose has seen a scant 0.02 inches. Sacramento has had 0.01 inches. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco CHronicle here:  California poised to see driest January on record

A profusion of drought restrictions with varying results:With 100 percent of California experiencing moderate to exceptional drought conditions last year, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Gov. Jerry Brown mandated the tracking of monthly personal water usage for the first time. In addition, water districts around the state also took up varying degrees of drought restrictions, including such strategies as raising water prices and severely limiting outdoor irrigation. But whether these restrictions will make a dent in California’s water shortage amid the ongoing and historic drought remains to be seen. … ”  Read more from Earth Magazine here: California: A profusion of drought restrictions with varying results

Federal flood control measures cause California to drain some reservoirs:As the drought in California drags into it’s fourth year — punishing farmers and exacerbating unemployment and drug use — federal flood control measures may be worsening the dry conditions in some areas.  Back in 2013, the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) required officials to empty more than 15 billion gallons of water from at least two reservoirs in Northern California: Lake Mendocino and Sonoma Lakes. ACE was following a set of guidelines aimed at reducing the likelihood of flooding — a manual that determines safe water levels at any given reservoir. … ”  Read more from VICE here:  It’s the worst drought in 500 years and California is draining its reservoirs

Environmentalists cry foul over fish decision:  “A decision made quietly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service earlier this month to go along with a request by the Bureau of Reclamation could shove the endangered Delta smelt to the edge of extinction, environmental groups fear.  The Obama Administration decision allows more than twice as many endangered Delta smelt to be killed by the Central Valley Project’s pumps than had been previously allowed, say the California Water Impact Network and the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. … ”  Read more from the Central Valley Business Times here:  Environmentalists cry foul over fish decision

Farm water agency reacts to drought with changes at top:In drought-scarred farm country, there has been a shakeup at the Friant Water Authority, which represents 15,000 east San Joaquin Valley growers who got no river water last year.  The authority board of directors Monday announced the general manager’s duties would be split into two roles, one being the new position of chief executive officer. The new executive would be the face of Friant, pursuing broad strategic and policy issues with legislators and water regulators. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Farm water agency reacts to drought with changes at top

Water panel begins process of considering bond projects:  “A state panel is starting the lengthy task of deciding which projects get funded by some of the $7.5 billion in water bonds approved by California voters in November.  The California Water Commission will conduct an online survey, meet with affected parties and take comments at its hearings on how it should hand out $2.7 billion set aside in the bond for increasing the state’s water storage capacity. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Water panel begins process of considering bond projects

North Carolina man invents low-cost groundwater monitoring system:In a barn off Faucette Mill Road, Steve Judd is constantly looking for ways to improve products that use sound and circuitry to measure groundwater in wells across the world.  Impacted by a drought about seven years ago, Steve Judd and others built a business around devices that use low-frequency waves to measure the depth of groundwater in wells. In 2008, Judd, his wife, Deborah, and a partner founded Eno Scientific and rolled out a simple product that could provide a water depth reading when connected to a well. … ”  Read more here from the News Observer:  Steve Judd invents groundwater monitoring system after drought

In commentary today …

Water bond promises must be kept, say Jim Patterson and Joel Nelson: They write: “If you, like 3.5 million Californians, voted “yes” on the $7.5 billion water bond last year, you should start paying attention to how Gov. Jerry Brown is planning to spend the bond money.  It may not be on building new dams to store water for future dry years like he assured voters, farmers and legislators before the election.  The governor recently divulged how he wants to spend the first $532 million: restoring streams, rivers and watersheds, water recycling projects, upgrading drinking water treatment plants, rebates for people buying water-efficient appliances and, finally, groundwater management and cleanup. Something seems to be missing from this list. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Water bond promises must be kept

In regional news and commentary today …

Feather River levee project gets $44 million:  “California has committed another $44 million to the Feather River West Levee project — not the entirety of the funding the project needs but enough for construction to continue unhindered in 2015.  The new funding leaves about $41 million that the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency still needs to complete all 35 miles of levee improvements from Star Bend in south Sutter County to the Thermalito Afterbay in Butter County. ... ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Levee project gets $44 million

Marin heads towards near-record dry January:  “After the deluges of December, the big spigot in the sky seems to have gone dry.  Since the last of a series of rainstorms on Dec. 18, only 0.23 of an inch of rain has fallen, as measured by the Marin Municipal Water District at Lake Lagunitas.  So far in January, the water district has counted 0.06 of an inch. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Marin heads toward near-record dry January

Coastal district fights California over water: Marina Coast Water District sued the California State Lands Commission to try to stop drilling on a test well for a desalination plant for the Monterey Bay Peninsula.       The California American Water Co. is named as a real party in interest in the Jan. 15 lawsuit in Santa Cruz County Court. The water district’s lawsuit against the California Coastal Commission over the same issue is before the same court. The Ag Land Trust is also a party in that lawsuit against California American Water (Cal-Am) and the Coastal Commission. Cal-Am spokeswoman Catherine Stedman said Cal-Am would likely move to combine this latest suit with the first. … ”  Continue reading at Courthouse News here:  Coastal district fight California over water

New county panel to lobby on Salinas Valley water advocacy: From building a tunnel connecting two south county reservoirs to clearing the Salinas River and dealing with its half-century-old river diversion permit to managing the Salinas Valley groundwater basin — not to mention the promise of a recently approved $7.5 billion state water bond — Monterey County and its water resources agency are facing an unprecedented number of crucial water-related issues.  Now, a new five-member water legislative committee will be charged with seeking help from Sacramento in managing, and paying for, the list of water projects and priorities confronting the county in its battle against seawater intrusion and the ongoing drought. … ”  Read more from the Monterey County Herald here:  New county panel to lobby on Salinas Valley water advocacy

L.A. eyes being first to use new infrastructure funding tool to restore the river:  “When news broke that Senate Bill 628 passed the California Legislature, one Los Angeles City Councilmember was thinking, “I sure hope Governor Brown signs it.”  Mitch O’Farrell shared that memory with CAeconomy.org recently as he was talking about efforts to have the first-ever Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District (EIFD) created in the city of Los Angeles.  O’Farrell thinks this newly enacted piece of local governance authority can help a major City priority to revitalize the Los Angeles River become a reality by helping fund restoration and improvement projects on a 31-mile portion of the river.  ... ”  Read more from the California Economic Summit here:  L.A. eyes being first to use new infrastructure funding tool to restore the river

New Hinkley cleanup order for PG&E:Pacific Gas and Electric Company was issued a new clean up and abate order.  The California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Lahontan Region released the order on Tuesday. The new order was issued to PG&E to clean up and abate the effects of the discharge of chromium waste or “threatened pollution or nuisance.”  … ”  Read more from the Desert Dispatch here:  New Hinkley cleanup order for PG&E

weatherPrecipitation watch …

Tracking towards our driest January:  From the National Weather Service: “Not many days left in the month and the weak system moving into our region Tues-Wed will not bring a lot of moisture. The table shows a few cities with how much precipitation they’ve measured as of Jan 26, 2015 compared to the driest January on record. It is highly likely that many spots in interior NorCal will end up ranking in the top 5 of driest Januarys on record if not the driest.”

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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