Daily Digest, weekend edition: Farmers prepare for the prospect of water cuts, Vanishing water supply, fewer jobs, but still hope, EBMUD considers fines for drought thieves, Hanford church prays for rain and more …

A warm, yet disturbing beautiful February afternoon in the Delta …

In California water news this weekend, Farmers prepare for the prospect of water cuts, Vanishing water supply, fewer jobs, but still hope in the Central Valley, Drought lingers, perhaps intensifies in 2015, Photo Gallery: Drought conditions in California’s Central Valley, High hopes from water hearing, Despite drought, Bay Area salmon fishermen see hope for 2015 season, plus more news and commentary …

In the news this weekend …

State farmers prepare for the prospect of water cuts:When it came, the notice was disappointing but not surprising: The state Water Resources Control Board warned farmers, ranchers and other people with water rights to prepare for another round of curtailments in 2015. Coming off a year that resulted in water cutbacks to farms even in the North State that historically enjoyed more secured supplies, some farmers say they are planning early for another year of possible reductions.  “If you are in a water-short area, you should be looking into additional conservation measures and alternative water supplies for your water needs,” the water board notice advised. “Planting and planning decisions should be made in light of possible curtailment of junior rights.” ... ”  Read more from the Daily Democrat here:  State farmers prepare for the prospect of water cuts

Vanishing water supply, fewer jobs, but still hope in the Central Valley: In this region that calls itself “The Cantaloupe Center of the World,” vast fields that once annually yielded millions of melons lie fallow. And, for some farmers, planting tomatoes and other traditional row crops may now constitute acts of courage.  America’s largest agriculture economy is changing because of a lack of water. Amid a prolonged drought and an anticipated third straight year of cutbacks in federal water supplies, the one assured constant is stress. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Vanishing water supply, fewer jobs, but still hope in the Central Valley

Drought lingers, perhaps intensifies in 2015: “We’re in a drought. That shouldn’t be surprising, if you’ve lived in California long enough.  But maybe you haven’t seen one quite like this.  2015 ushers in the fourth year of drought here. We’ve really had only one wet year since 2005-06. And while December’s rains helped bump up some reservoirs, others — including the two most critical to Stockton — have dropped even lower. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here: Drought lingers, perhaps intensifies in 2015

Photo Gallery: Drought conditions in California’s Central Valley:In California’s central valley, farmers are struggling to stay in business because of the drought. These are some of the people affected by the drought, from business owners to those working in the fields.”  Check out the photo gallery at the Sacramento Bee here:  Drought conditions in California’s Central Valley  See also: Faces of Drought

High hopes from water hearing:  “The mood was hopeful after local residents, city and county officials, and nonprofits were invited to testify at the State Capitol Wednesday regarding the area drought and effects.  “I was very, very pleased with the meeting,” Porterville Mayor Milt Stowe said. “I was pleasantly surprised.”  The Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials (ESTM) Committee held an informational hearing on Tulare County’s efforts to address water quality challenges and provide emergency response to communities with diminished water supply due to the drought. … ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here:  High hopes from water hearing

Despite drought, Bay Area salmon fishermen see hope for 2015 season:Bay Area commercial salmon fisherman got a jolt of good news this week in the form of population data that could bode well for the upcoming season.  The Pacific Fisheries Management Council released estimates for the number of chinook salmon that returned from the Pacific Ocean in the fall to spawn in rivers where they were born or released from hatcheries. ... ” Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Despite drought, Bay Area salmon fishermen see hope for 2015 season

In commentary this weekend …

The Sacramento Bee on fighting over trickles on tragically beautiful winter days: They write: “In what passes for winter, the sun burned away the February fog and the thermometer reached 70 in Sacramento.  “Another tragically beautiful day,” Mark Cowin, the Department of Water Resources director, said at a hearing last week focused on the drought and its parched complexities.  With the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Cowin’s department is responsible for supplying water to many of California’s farms and cities. The two agencies submitted a “temporary urgency change petition” seeking greater flexibility in water project operations to better cope with the drought. … ”  Continue reading at the Sacramento Bee here:  Fighting over trickles on tragically beautiful winter days  The Fresno Bee’s version of the editorial is here: With human impacts escalating, Valley needs this water

Oil industry’s toxic wastewater threatens California water supplies, says Hollin Kretzmann:  He writes, “It’s California’s other water problem – and, like the drought, it poses a profound threat to our future. Every year the state’s oil industry produces some 130 billion gallons of wastewater. But where do oil companies put this dirty fluid, and how dangerous is it to human health?  We got some answers recently, and they raise troubling new questions about Gov. Jerry Brown’s support for fracking and his administration’s failure to protect California’s water from oil industry pollution. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Oil industry’s toxic wastewater threatens California water supplies

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Ukiah may build two new wells:The Ukiah City Council this month approved moving forward with plans to build two new wells, one that will be a replacement for the city’s oldest well.  “Hopefully we will be able to go forward with both wells this summer,” Public Works Director Tim Eriksen told the council at its last meeting Wednesday, explaining that the plans for the completely new well, Well No. 9, planned for an area near Brush Street, are on hold while a replacement for Well No. 4, the city’s oldest well on Lorraine Street, is being designed. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Journal here:  Ukiah may build two new wells

Hamilton City: J levee may get more funding:The 100-year-old J Levee, which marginally protects Hamilton City from flooding when the Sacramento River surges its banks, is may be getting a start on its much-delayed reconstruction.  In his 2016 proposed federal budget, President Barack Obama set aside $15 million in federal funding to fix the aged and dilapidated levee, which stands as sentry between the river and Hamilton City’s residents, schools, homes, farms and businesses. … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  J levee may get more funding

Study: Ag is foundation of Yuba-Sutter economy:  “What would happen to Yuba-Sutter’s economy if agriculture suddenly disappeared?  A recent study provided the beginnings of an answer to the question by examining the effects of converting agricultural land into uses that are consistent with being in a floodplain — meaning that higher value crops, such as walnuts and almonds, would not be viable.  The study, by Stephen Hamilton, professor and chair of economics at California Polytechnic State University, reinforces what is already mostly known: Agriculture is the lifeblood of the local economy, the foundation that props up a number of peripheral industries and provides billions of dollars of indirect benefits to the counties. ... ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Study: Ag is foundation of local economy

Delta: Hyacinth control to resume soon:It’s almost water hyacinth season again, not that last season ever really ended. The good news is that state officials will begin spraying herbicides in the Delta three weeks earlier than last year.  That spraying is expected to start on March 4, just a few days after the federal government allows spraying to begin each year.  Last year, the state didn’t start spraying until March 25. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Hyacinth control to resume soon

EBMUD considers fines for drought thieves:  “With tap water becoming an increasingly hot commodity in the drought, East Bay officials say it’s time to turn up the pressure on meter cheaters and others who steal water.  The East Bay Municipal Utility District — like many Bay Area water districts — has never fined people who try to get water without paying for it, in keeping with a philosophy that emphasizes educating rather than penalizing customers. Repeat offenders have had their water turned off and been charged reconnection fees. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  EBMUD eyes fines for drought thieves

New Melones puddle:Tulloch Lake is going to disappear by this fall.  The Stanislaus River is likely to dry up in June or July.  Flows this spring and early summer at Knights Ferry that usually run 600 to 700 cubic feet per second will be at 150 cubic feet per second.  And New Melones Reservoir will “dry up” with only 80,000 acre feet of “dead storage” of water that is below the level of lake outlets sometime before Oct 1. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  New Melones puddle

Turlock Irrigation District to Negotiate Recycled Water with City of Turlock, Stanislaus Regional Water Authority:Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors will meet Tuesday morning and enter into closed session negotiations with both the City of Turlock and the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority (SRWA).  TID currently receives a small amount of water from the City of Turlock’s wastewater treatment plant, located at 901 S. Walnut Rd. The price and terms of payment for the purchase, sale, exchange, or lease of the wastewater treatment plant will be negotiated.  Along with negotiations for Turlock’s wastewater treatment plant, TID will also enter closed session negotiations with the SRWA. … ”  Read more from Turlock City News here: Turlock Irrigation District to Negotiate Recycled Water with City of Turlock, Stanislaus Regional Water Authority

Hanford church prays for rain:  “By now, you’ve probably been bombarded to the point of numbness with news stories covering every conceivable angle of drought: the meteorology, the agricultural effects, the wells, the statistics, etc.  But what about seeing the drought from the point of view of Christian theology, which according to the pollster Gallup, 77 percent of American adults subscribe to? Hanford’s First Christian Reformed Church has that perspective, and it will be on full display — with an invitation to all comers to take part — during an unusual service at 6 p.m. Sunday. … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here:  Hanford church prays for rain

Paso Robles Supervisors must adopt water offset program, says the San Luis Obispo Tribune: They write, “The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors has another opportunity Tuesday to do right by the Paso Robles groundwater basin and the many who depend on it.  We strongly urge supervisors take advantage of that by adopting some form of an offset program to limit pumping from the depleted basin. ... ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Supervisors must adopt Paso water offset program

Inyo County supervisors briefed on groundwater law: “According to the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), the 2013-2014 period is the driest year in the state’s recorded history.  In Inyo County, where water export and disputes are long-running and have often been contentious. water is more precious than gold.  At the February 10 meeting of the Inyo County Board of Supervisors, Water Department Director Dr. Bob Harrington presented the board with an overview of the controversial and intricate legislation known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, passed last September by the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Brown. He noted that California was the last Western state to adopt such a measure. ... ”  Read more from The Sheet here:  Inyo County supervisors briefed on groundwater law

Bakersfield: City, water agency at odds over groundwater:California’s historic drought, now in its fourth year, has come between the city of Bakersfield and the Kern County Water Agency — both of which pump out groundwater in the west.  KCWA wants to connect its 42nd well, and pump groundwater to the Kern River Canal from its Pioneer Project area for agricultural use.  The Pioneer Project is roughly bounded by Cal State Bakersfield in the east, Heath Road in the west, and runs from Stockdale Highway in the north to two to three miles south of the Kern River. ... ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  City, water agency at odds over groundwater

Bakersfield: Officials keep mood light in groundwater spat:The city of Bakersfield wants the Kern County Water Agency to delay connecting what would be its 42nd well in the west and pumping groundwater out, until California’s historic drought eases.  That means attorneys for both sides — City Attorney Ginny Gennaro and KCWA’s general counsel Amelia Minaberrigarai — have been sending letters back and forth.  But water officials on both sides are taking an openly conciliatory tone and said they hope the issue can be resolved. … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  Officials keep mood light in groundwater spat

Southern California: After the lawn:  “Residential lawn is going the way of the gas-guzzler across southern California. In a horticultural version of the cash-for-clunkers program, the bounty on grass offered by water agencies has gone as high as $4 per square foot. But, as the turf goes out, what’s coming in? Poppy-studded cottage gardens? Disturbing tangles of weed cloth, cactus and gravel? What about retrofitting for stormwater capture? What are the ramifications in terms of heat, dust and glare? Above all, as the sprinklers are capped, where will the region’s trees get their water?  The answers are there, they’re always somewhere, but in this case they’re clear as mud. Landscape reform is sweeping California more as an emergency response to drought and less as a considered piece of town planning. ... ”  Continue reading at KCET here:  After the lawn

DWP needs both transparency and investment to fix its problems, says the LA Times: They write, “Last week, an 89-year-old pipe burst in the Hollywood Hills, releasing at least 100,000 gallons of water that flooded the streets, cracked sidewalks and submerged cars. It was another reminder that the city’s aging water infrastructure is increasingly at risk of failure. About 20% of pipes were installed before 1931, and nearly all will reach the end of their useful lives in the next 15 years. The Department of Water and Power has a plan to accelerate pipeline replacement but needs more money to do the work. … ”  Continue reading at the LA Times here:  Editorial: DWP needs both transparency and investment to fix its problems

Thousands of small crabs wash up on beach in Orange County:  “Daniel Stringer had an idea after eying the little lobster-like crustaceans that washed ashore on Balboa Island.  “I’ll get the barbeque,” said Stringer, who has lived on Balboa Island for 47 years and has never seen the small crabs like the ones that showed up Saturday. “I like mine with butter.”  Thousands of mini crabs – which actually look like tiny lobsters or craw fish – created a rim of red along the shoreline, scattered on the sand along the sleepy seaside of Balboa Island in Newport Beach. Most washed up dead at high tide, but some were still alive and swimming near the shoreline. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here: Thousands of small crabs wash up on O.C. coast at Balboa Island

weatherPrecipitation watch …

Gusty winds and showers into Monday: Upper low pressure will bring breezy and cooler weather to Interior Northern California today into Monday. Scattered showers possible in the Motherlode and Sierra Nevada into Monday with a few inches of snow possible over the higher terrain. Isolated showers possible over the Northern San Joaquin Valley 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.

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where California water news never goes home for the weekend

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