Daily Digest: State water chief admits mistakes in management, Residents and farmers describe drought impacts, Report: Central Valley leads nation in falling groundwater levels, California’s snowless winter worsens …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, State water chief admits mistakes in management, Residents, farmers describe drought impacts, Insight with Beth Ruyak: Water rights during drought, Report: Central Valley leads nation in falling groundwater levels; crisis blamed on almonds and drought, California’s snowless winter worsens; Oregon also in trouble, Drought likely to get worse, NOAA predicts, Stanford report supports water usage fee, State Water Resources Control Board requires more information from water rights holders, and more …

In the news today …

State water chief admits mistakes in management:  “The head of the watchdog agency overseeing California water said he was “mistaken” last year when he approved emergency actions that harmed threatened fish.  At a 12-hour hearing in Sacramento on Wednesday, Tom Howard, executive officer of the State Water Resources Control Board, made clear the impact of the severe drought on people.  But he also said he was “just wrong” when he concluded last year that temporarily changing the rules to keep more water in reservoirs would not cause unreasonable harm to the environment. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here: State water chief admits mistakes in management

Residents, farmers describe drought impacts:The California Water Resources Control Board heard emotional testimony for at least 12 hours yesterday from people worried about how the state should manage its dwindling supply of water during the drought. Listen to the audio above for a recap of the marathon meeting by CapRadio’s Amy Quinton.”  Click here to listen: Residents, farmers describe drought impacts

Insight with Beth Ruyak: Water rights during drought:California’s State Water Resources Control Board met Wednesday to listen to testimony from Central Valley farmers and farm workers who are asking for more water. The farm workers say they’re starving and out of work, but the water board says it needs the requested water to keep salmon and smelt populations from collapsing. CapRadio’s Amy Quinton was watching Wednesday’s water board workshop and joins us to talk about what happened.”  Click here to listen.

Report: Central Valley leads nation in falling groundwater levels; crisis blamed on almonds and drought:Groundwater levels appear to be sinking faster in the Central Valley than anywhere else in the United States, the U.S. Geological Survey says in a new report.  The paper does not pinpoint causes, but a USGS expert on Thursday blamed, in part, increased agricultural pumping to make up for drought, now entering its fourth year.  While state water officials mull new restrictions on lawn watering and tap water served in restaurants, almond growers enjoying record profits are feeding millions of new trees in the San Joaquin Valley with groundwater. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Report: Central Valley leads nation in falling groundwater levels; crisis blamed on almonds and drought

California’s snowless winter worsens; Oregon also in trouble:California’s unusually high temperatures and shortage of precipitation — especially snow — will probably continue into the spring, federal scientists said Thursday.  And it isn’t just California that is experiencing growing problems, the scientists said: An unusually warm winter in Oregon is creating alarm there about the lack of snowpack to fill reservoirs.  The California drought, now in its fourth year, is “likely to persist or even intensify over a large portion of the Far West,” said Anthony Artusa, seasonal forecaster for the Climate Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  California’s snowless winter worsens; Oregon also in trouble

Drought likely to get worse, NOAA predicts:Federal meteorologists are out with their latest long range forecast for drought and precipitation in California, and it’s not encouraging for the state’s on-going water shortage.  As recently as December, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the entire state of California had at least a one in three chance of above average precipitation this winter. … ”  Read more from KPCC here:  Drought likely to get worse, NOAA predicts

Stanford report supports water usage fee: A newly released report from Stanford University’s Water in the West program recommends a fee on Californians’ water usage to help pay for water infrastructure and management. … A Feb. 18 press release from Stanford’s Water in the West Program describes the report’s findings, saying it details how a “public goods charge (PGC) could be a powerful tool for funding water needs despite obstacles such as the state’s restrictive fiscal regulations and a lack of dedicated funding for “orphan” water projects such as household efficiency initiatives and new technology investments. ... ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  Stanford report supports water usage fee

State Water Resources Control Board requires more information from water rights holders: Several local agencies and landowners who hold senior water rights are facing curtailment threats from the State Water Resources Control Board if additional information about their water use is not provided.  The board on Feb. 4 sent orders to 450 senior and pre-1914 water rights holders requesting property patent dates and diversions made during 2014, among other information, by March 6.  If the requested information is not provided, water rights holders could have their allotments curtailed. ... ”  Read more from the Lodi News-Sentinel here:  State Water Resources Control Board requires more information from water rights holders

In commentary today …

State needs to deliver on water storage promise, says the Chico Enterprise-Record:A chorus of voices is starting to build, demanding accountability in state government, but so far a suddenly important state agency has been tone deaf. It’s time for Gov. Jerry Brown to start singing.  People are getting antsy for good reason. Last fall Brown, many state legislators and a broad coalition of groups and organizations lobbied for the passage of Proposition 1, a state water bond with $7.1 billion in benefits. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: State needs to deliver on water storage promise

Column: Mega-Drought Mega-Trends: Why Rain Is Not the Answer to California’s Desperate Search for Water: Jerry Roberts writes, “Cruel Irony: The nation’s top climate science denier has taken power over environmental policy in Congress — just as actual climate scientists have forecast California’s worst drought since the Middle Ages.  Far more than a shortage of precipitation, the state’s four-year drought represents the start of a 1,000-year event, new research shows, propelled by atmospheric warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions.  “The current California drought is exceptionally severe in the context of at least the last millennium,” concluded a recent study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here: Mega-Drought Mega-Trends: Why Rain Is Not the Answer to California’s Desperate Search for Water

In regional news and commentary today …

Students take to Delta for hands-on science discoveries:Engines thrumming, the boat pulled away from Antioch’s marina and headed toward the open water for another day of discoveries on the Delta.  Sixty-two excited fifth-graders — a number of whom had never set foot on a vessel before — were aboard the Robert G. Brownlee, a 90-foot, three-deck floating classroom that for seven weeks is providing students around East and Central Contra Costa with science lessons they’re unlikely to forget any time soon. … ”  Read more from the Contra Costa Times here:  Students take to Delta for hands-on science discoveries

Mariposa County homeowners confront water needs during California drought: Over 100 residents were in attendance to hear Peter Kampa, CSD General Manager provide an update on the current water/drought situation affecting the Lake Don Pedro Owners Association. Mr. Kampa said this is a very serious situation as beside Lake McClure the district has one well that produces very little water. He noted Lake Don Pedro has upstream reservoirs where Lake McClure has no upstream reservoirs and that Lake McClure rose 10 feet with the last storm system. Mr. Kampa said NOAA predictions are for increasing drought and there is almost snowpack. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Sun Times here:  Mariposa County homeowners confront water needs during California drought

Stanislaus Water Advisory Committee charts course for groundwater management:The Stanislaus Water Advisory Committee convened for their first meeting of 2015 Tuesday morning to discuss taking steps towards establishing a Groundwater Sustainability Agency, one component of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act that was passed in 2014 to allow regional control of local groundwater resources.  Precipitated by the state’s ongoing drought, GSAs must be formed by June 30, 2017 and are responsible for developing and implementing a plan that is considered beneficial to all uses and users of groundwater in a basin.  … ”  Read more from the Turlock Journal here: Water Advisory Committee charts course for groundwater management

weatherPrecipitation watch …

Chance of precipitation over some parts of the north state:A weather system dropping down the east side of the Sierra will bring a little cooler temperatures this weekend although daytime highs will still be several degrees above normal. The weather system will dig westward into central California on Sunday bringing a threat of light showers over the Northern Sierra and areas south of Sacramento.”

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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