Daily Digest: Hundreds of pits filled with oil wastewater found in Kern County, Upcoming storm won’t dent drought, San Juan Capistrano case challenges legality of tiered water rates, and more …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, Hundreds of pits filled with oil wastewater found in Kern County, Storm heading into Northern California won’t dent the drought, Resolution introduced in Congress to give boost to Sites Reservoir, San Juan Capistrano case challenges legality of tiered water rates, Central California farmers anticipate no federal water, Warm weather threatens way of life at Lake Tahoe, Alarming consequences of the drought you may not have realized, and more …

On the calendar today …

CVP allocation to be announced today … Look for breaking news later this morning as the Bureau of Reclamation will be announcing the 2015 Central Valley Project allocation, which is expected to be dismal …  (If you’re not already a subscriber, you can click here to sign up for daily email service and receive breaking news alerts delivered to your email box.)

The Central Valley Flood Protection Board meets this morning beginning at 9amClick here for the agendaClick here for the webcast.

In the news today …

Hundreds of pits filled with oil wastewater found in Kern County:  “Unbeknown to state officials, oil producers in Kern County have been disposing of chemical-laden wastewater in hundreds of unlined trenches in the ground without proper permits, according to an inventory that regional water officials completed this week.  The Los Angeles Times obtained the results of the survey conducted by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, which uncovered more than 300 pits that officials previously didn’t know existed. Expected to be released Friday, the survey also revealed that more than one-third of the region’s active waste pits are operating without required permits. ... ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here:  Hundreds of pits filled with oil wastewater found in Kern County

Storm heading into Northern California won’t dent the drought: “A storm system heading to Northern California may bring only a fraction of an inch of rain to the Bay Area, but skiers and snowboarders turned desperate by the drought are stoked after learning that nearly a foot of fresh powder could fall in some parts of the Sierra.  “I heard it’s going to dump, and I’m thinking that’s pretty awesome,” said Duffy Taber, who works as a ski technician at San Francisco’s MountainWest shop and said he checks the ski report “20 times a day.” … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Storm heading into Northern California won’t dent the drought

Resolution introduced in Congress to give boost to Sites Reservoir: “A resolution has been introduced in Congress to speed up federal studies necessary to build Sites Reservoir, proposed for west of Maxwell.  Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, and Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, Thursday introduced HR 1060, which in a press release they said would accelerate the completion of a feasibility study of Sites Reservoir and authorize the project should it be found feasible. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Resolution introduced in Congress to give boost to Sites Reservoir  See also: Sites bill introduced, from the Appeal-Democrat

San Juan Capistrano case challenges legality of tiered water rates: In drought-ridden California, many water bills are calculated using a basic principle: The more water a customer uses, the higher the rate. It’s a strategy water districts employ to boost conservation.  But this long-standing practice is now under attack in the courts. A group of San Juan Capistrano taxpayers sued their local water provider, arguing the tiered rate structure violates state law that prohibits agencies from charging more than water actually costs — no matter how much customers use. … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here:  San Joan Capistrano case challenges legality of tiered water rates

Central California farmers anticipate no federal water:  “Farmers in parts of California’s Central Valley say that for a second year running they anticipate receiving no irrigation water from a federally operated system of canals and reservoirs.  The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is expected to announce Friday how much water it will release for farming. This comes as California enters its fourth drought year. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Central California farmers anticipate no federal water

Warm weather threatens way of life at Lake Tahoe:  “It would not be an odd sight in the spring. But there is something depressing about a closed ski slope in the middle of winter. The trails are bare and grassy. The chairlifts just hang there, waving a little with the breeze. It’s like walking into an empty restaurant on a Friday night.  That is the mood at Lake Tahoe these days. Everyone is talking about this strange weather — on the radio, in the shops, on local TV. You can’t escape it. This is the fourth lousy winter season in a row for the ski industry, and it has been economically devastating for the area.  ... ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Warm weather threatens way of life at Lake Tahoe

Alarming consequences of the drought you may not have realized:  “What happens when America’s most populous state runs low on its most precious resource for the fourth year in a row? A lack of rainfall doesn’t just result in problems for farmers, the food industry and people with sprawling lawns. It can have serious consequences that aren’t so obvious. While there have been concerns about California’s relentless drought creating weird-tasting beer and driving a sudden surge in succulent thievery, there are lesser-known side effects that are pretty alarming.  ... ”  Read more from the Huffington Post here:  Alarming consequences of the drought you may not have realized

In regional news and commentary today …

Sonoma County grape growers use technology to battle frost: Call it “Moneyball” for the vineyards.  Just as Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane used data analysis to find bargain baseball players to put his team into the playoffs, local grape growers now can benefit from similar analytics to help them with frost and heat protection as well as water management.  “It doesn’t care who you are or what you do. If you are better informed, you can make better decisions,” said David Reynolds, senior research meteorologist with the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Sonoma County grape growers use technology to battle frost

Sacramento region uses less water, despite warmer, drier weather:  “The Sacramento region used less water in January compared to the previous two years despite the dry and warm weather, according to local water use data submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board and the Regional Water Authority.  According to a press release from RWA, water use in January 2015 dropped 18% compared to the same month last year, and dropped 3% compared to January 2013, the year the State Board uses for comparison. RWA represents water providers in Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado and Yolo counties. ... ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  Sacramento region uses less water, despite warmer, drier weather

Ripon cuts water use by 34%:Even though January was a dry month, the City of Ripon still did its part to conserve water.  According to Ted Johnston, who is the director of public works, folks cut water use by 34 percent in January as compared to a year prior.  He’s putting together a water usage comparison report that he’ll soon provide to the Ripon City Council. ... ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  Ripon cuts water use by 34%

Dennis Wyatt on the Little Red Hen and Tulloch Lake: He writes, “Copperopolis residents are worried sick.  They don’t like the idea “their” lake may be drained this summer as part of a strategy for fish, as well as the South San Joaquin Irrigation District and Oakdale Irrigation District to survive the drought.  They fear their property values will drop, especially those who own $1 million lakefront homes. They worry businesses in their small community will suffer. And they worry that they will have to pay more for water as the Calaveras County Water District may have to put in place a $100,000 pump to reach water so it can continue to flow through their taps.  Here’s a news flash for the good people of Copperopolis. Not only is there a severe drought going on but “their” lake isn’t really theirs. ... ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  The Little Red Hen and Tulloch Lake

Stricter water restrictions could be in Merced’s future:  “Water conservation efforts in Merced have had some success as the city tries to reach the 20 percent reduction goal, and now leaders are bracing for what is predicted to be another dry year.  Leaders said they believe it’s likely the state will call for more stringent conservation efforts from cities.  Michael Wegley, director of water resources for the city of Merced, said the city has reduced water use by an average of about 10 percent to 12 percent since new water restrictions were instituted about a year ago. … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here:  Stricter water restrictions could be in Merced’s future

Fresno council votes 6-1 to approve $429 million water project:  “The Fresno City Council approved Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s historic water project Thursday night, assuring a secure supply of the liquid gold well into the 21st century.  The 6-1 vote was actually for a five-year rate plan. But its effect is to set in motion a $429 million upgrade of a crumbling system that for too long has relied on a much-abused aquifer. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Fresno council votes 6-1 to approve $429 million water project

Quay Valley new town project re-emerges in Kings County:The massive Quay Valley new town proposal in western Kings County is suddenly alive again after being left for dead at the start of the Great Recession.  Last week developer Quay Hays of Los Angeles submitted an application to the Kings County Planning Department seeking to rezone 7,500 acres of grazing land for housing and commercial development. … In drought-stricken California, a key unanswered question for Quay Valley is where its water will come from. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Quay Valley new town project re-emerges in Kings County

Paso Robles: Supervisor’s vote on Paso Robles basin a good move, says the San Luis Obispo Tribune: They write, “The shrinking Paso Robles groundwater basin got a slight reprieve Tuesday. The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to begin drafting a long-term agricultural water offset program for that huge underground basin. But it won’t be a permanent ordinance.  It also won’t stop the current, ongoing overpumping of water from the Paso Robles basin. The basin is a major source of water for much of the North County, but for years more water has been pumped out of it than nature could replace. ... ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Supervisor’s vote on Paso Robles basin a good move

Amid drought, a turf war between residents and homeowner’s associations:  “Rancho Pacifica, a gated community of spectacular multimillion dollar homes in the hills east of Del Mar, is not immune to the ravages of the California drought. Residents, who can easily afford massive water bills, have sought to reduce their water consumption — not just because they have to, but because they want to.  Brian and Frances Holloway, retired custom home builders who live in a palatial 9,000-square-foot Mediterranean, installed artificial turf in their backyard five years ago. … ”  Continue reading at the LA Times here:  Amid drought, a turf water between residents and homeowner’s associations

Replace grass with drought-tolerant landscaping before possible water rationing:The turf flew high under the watchful eye of Los Angeles climate guru Bill Patzert on Thursday, as Van Nuys homeowners watched their water-guzzling grass being swapped out for California-friendly landscaping.  With the Golden State now in its fourth year of drought and residents facing possible water rationing this summer, he championed conservation rebates that allow homeowners to rip out their lawn and replace it with low-water shrubs — for free. … ”  Read more from the LA Daily News here:  Replace grass with drought-tolerant landscaping before possible water rationing

Southern California:  Rain, heavy snow on the way:  “A powerful late winter storm will move ashore Friday night and drop an inch of rain at the coast, twice as much in the valleys and foothills and as much as 16 inches of snow on Palomar Mountain, says the National Weather Service. A winter storm watch goes into effect in East County at 4 p.m. on Friday.  Most of the rain and snow will fall on Saturday when winds kick up, further complicating travel in East County, especially I-8. Winds could gust to 50 mph or higher in some spots. The system won’t fully clear out until early Monday. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  Rain, heavy snow on the way

Top official delivers bleak forecast for Lake Mead: Nevada faces “significant possibilities” of water shortages if drought on the Colorado River persists into the next two years, according to an ominous forecast delivered Wednesday by a top government official.  Michael Connor, deputy secretary of the Interior Department, said there is a 20 percent chance of shortages in Nevada and Arizona in 2016 if levels of Lake Mead and Lake Powell continue to drop, “and it goes up to almost 50 percent after that.”  … ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Review-Journal here:  Top official delivers bleak forecast for Lake Mead

weatherPrecipitation watch …

Winter storm system arrives tomorrow:One more day of dry weather (and breezy winds) is expected today, before a system drops out of western Canada toward California tomorrow. This wintry system has colder origins than the last several, and snow levels will be lower as a result. Between Friday and Saturday, we’re expecting 4-8″ of snow to fall above 5500′, with up to a foot possible at the highest peaks.

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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