Daily Digest: Water thefts on the rise as supplies become more scarce, Adjudicated water decisions often not best for growers, Scientists target mercury in Cache Creek, and more …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, Water thefts on the rise as supplies become more scarce, Winter storms soak Valley, bring snow to the Sierra, Rain didn’t help drought, Adjudicated water decisions often not best for growers, Field Poll: Jerry Brown riding high, but not his big projects, Scientists target mercury in Cache Creek, Drought could mean another bad year for West Nile virus, and more …

In the news today …

Water thefts on the rise as supplies become more scarce:  “As California’s drought drags on, officials are cracking down on thieves who wrench open fire hydrants and ignore or tamper with meters to access one of the state’s precious commodities — water.  In some cases, wells dry up and scofflaws start stealing water from hydrants. In other cases, trucks in need of water for dust control and construction tap hydrants without using meters that charge them. Sometimes people just help themselves to water from natural resources. … ”  Read more from The Republic here:  Water thefts on the rise as supplies become more scarce

Winter storms soak Valley, bring snow to the Sierra:  “The first winter storm in two weeks has dropped nearly two-thirds of an inch of rain on Fresno through Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service said.  The rain, which began Sunday, has totaled 0.64 of an inch, the weather service said. That brought Fresno’s seasonal total to 4.51 inches since Oct. 1 — well short of the 7.34 inches the city normally records by this time of the year. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Winter storms soak Valley, bring snow to the Sierra

Rain didn’t help drought:  “Two days of rain in Southern California was a nice break from the usual “sunny and 80 degrees,” but its impact on the drought was nil.  So says Jeanine Jones, interstate resources manager with the California Department of Water Resources.  “It has no effect. It would take a very substantial amount of precipitation to recover from dry conditions at this point,” she said Monday. ... ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here:  Rain didn’t help drought

Adjudicated water decisions often not best for growers:  ” … With California’s drought on everyone’s mind, the International Agri-Center hosted a groundwater management workshop during World Ag Expo to help growers understand California’s new groundwater law, or in political terms – the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 (SGMA).  Much of the discussions in the workshop centered on the basics of the law, including timelines established for the formation of groundwater sustainability agencies (GSA) and deadlines for the mandated reports those agencies must produce. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Adjudicated water decisions often not best for growers

Field Poll: Jerry Brown riding high, but not his big projects: “Gov. Jerry Brown remains popular, according to a new poll.  But not the big projects he supports, which appear to weigh him down.  Although 56 percent of California voters approve of the job Brown is doing, according to a Field Poll released Tuesday, a majority fault him for favoring “too many big government projects that the state cannot afford right now.” … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Field Poll: Jerry Brown riding high, but not his big projects

Scientists target mercury in Cache Creek:  “Just northeast of Woodland, a half-mile from the intersection of Interstate 5 and Highway 113, Charlie Alpers assembles his team.  It’s a typical Sacramento Valley morning: The tule fog hangs low and thick, obscuring Cache Creek, its riparian forest and neighboring farms. Alpers, a U.S. Geological Survey chemist, and his two technicians are investigating the presence of mercury in the Cache Creek settling basin, which collects debris from the creek before it washes into the Yolo Bypass. ... ”  Read more from the Davis Enterprise here:  Scientists target mercury in Cache Creek

Drought could mean another bad year for West Nile virus:  “Abbey Murphy never felt the mosquito bite that eventually swelled her brain and left her unable to walk for weeks.  “I had uncontrollable vomiting, severe migraines,” said Murphy, a sophomore at UC Berkeley. “I couldn’t get up to get breakfast.”  Murphy eventually recovered from her West Nile virus infection, though it took months. She was one of roughly 800 Californians infected last year during the worst West Nile outbreak in a decade, new state figures show. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Drought could mean another bad year for West Nile virus

In regional news and commentary today …

Sacramento to speed up water meter installations:  “Sacramento utilities officials are proposing to speed up the years-long process of installing water meters in every home and business in the city.  Citing severe drought conditions that show no signs of letting up, utilities officials will ask the City Council on Tuesday to shave four years off the project. Meters can encourage conservation by allowing residents to track water consumption – and by forcing everyone to pay for the water they use instead of flat rates. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Sacramento to speed up water meter installations

Sacramento Bee editorial on a smarter way for Sacramento to install meters: They write: “It is way past due, but the Sacramento City Council should seize the chance Tuesday night to put in water meters faster and cheaper – saving four years and $65 million.  By completing the massive project by Dec. 31, 2020, instead of the state deadline of Jan. 1, 2025, the cost would be about $250 million instead of $315 million. The accelerated schedule would mean a more immediate boost to the local economy, no small matter. And it would end sooner the unfairness of some residents being billed for how much water they’re using and others paying a flat rate. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  A smarter way for Sacramento to install meters

Continuing drought could lead to draining of Lake Tulloch:  “As the drought continues in California, fears that Lake Tulloch Reservoir might be drained for irrigation and fish flow may become a reality.  Oakdale Irrigation District General Manager Steve Knell on Feb. 15 released a statement outlining a plan to deal with the district’s fifth year of drought conditions. The plan included the draining of Tulloch Reservoir by July or August of this year.  ... ”  Read more from the Calaveras Enterprise here:  Continuing drought could lead to draining of Lake Tulloch

Fresno’s water recharge plan deserves support, says the Fresno Bee:  They write, “Fresno residents have enjoyed bargain water rates for decades. But  the reality of the San Joaquin Valley’s dry climate, an increasing reliance on groundwater pumping and the need to preserve water for future generations dictate that the city invest in its water system.  Paying for these infrastructure improvements would require rate hikes. Bluntly put, ratepayers don’t like their bills to go up and leaders are hesitant to approve rate hikes because of the potentially negative impacts on their political careers. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Fresno’s water recharge plan deserves support

Drought prompts Santa Barbara to consider firing up desalination plant:The last time California was this parched, Santa Barbara built a desalination plant – an expensive fix that immediately paid off when it started to rain.  The plant was completed in 1991, turned on for a test run and then shut down when the skies opened up and dumped what has since been known as the “miracle rain” on California. For the last 24 years, the Charles Meyer Desalination Plant in the city neighborhood known as the Funk Zone has sat idle.  … ”  Read more from Fox News here: Last resort: Drought prompts California city to consider firing up desalination plant

Is drought the new normal for Southern California? Increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is altering Earth’s most important atmospheric weather cell, drawing more moisture into the deep tropics and broadening areas of drought at higher latitudes, according to a new study.  The U.S. west, including Southern California, as well as swaths of subtropical Brazil that are suffering from acute drought lie in the heart of the decreased rainfall band shown in 33 climate scenarios run over a 140-year span, according to the study published online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ... ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here:  Is drought the new normal for Southern California?

Court orders Fontana Water Company to stop overpumping groundwater in west San Bernardino County:  “The continuing drought is forcing water suppliers across California to tighten their belts in the face of limited supplies.  Those limitations hit home in the Inland Empire this month as a Superior Court judge ordered Fontana Water Company to stop pumping three times its allotted share of water in the Rialto-Colton groundwater basin.  San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Bryan Foster issued a ruling early this month in which he granted a request for preliminary injunction from the cities of Colton and Rialto and West Valley Water District and ordered Fontana Water Company to comply with the court’s 1961 decree, which was designed to maintain water levels in the Rialto-Colton Basin. ... ”  Read more from the Highland Community News here:  Court orders Fontana Water Company to stop overpumping groundwater in west San Bernardino County

Yes, you can drink it – and you probably are: O.C. toilet-to-tap recycled water program is expanding:Three thin streams of water fall into a row of steel sinks at Orange County Water District’s Groundwater Replenishment System facility in Fountain Valley: one crystal clear, one slightly yellowed, one a brackish brown-black.  Don’t drink the yellow water, and stay away from the black water. The clear water? Totally fine, even if it tastes a little flat from lack of minerals. And if you live in north or central Orange County, you are already drinking the clear water, with 70 million gallons pumped underground every day as part of the Groundwater Replenishment System. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here: Yes, you can drink it – and you probably are: O.C. toilet-to-tap recycled water program is expanding

Precipitation watch …

Wet and cool system expected later this week: From the National Weather Service: “A winter storm is expected to move into Northern California by early Friday, bringing rain to the lower elevations and snow for the mountains. The system will bring precipitation to the area through the weekend. The greatest impact is expected to be Friday and Saturday, with moderate snowfall amounts possible above 6000 ft, with snow levels dropping to around 4000 ft and potentially as low as 3500 ft by Saturday. Thunderstorms are possible for Friday.”

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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