Daily Digest: El Niño arrives too late to be of any help, salmon leave Yolo Bypass, rising temperatures, lack of snow, and more …

Lake McClure at a historic low by FishBio. Click on the picture to see more …
In California water news today, The El Nino California needed arrives, but too late to be of any help, Salmon leave Woodland rest stop after a month-long stay, Rising temperatures amplifying drought’s effects, Lack of snow leaves California’s water tower running low, ACWA Legislative Symposium focuses on groundwater adjudication, Prop 218 changes, YC-backed Valor Water helps utilities keep the water running, and more …

On the calendar today …

  • Decision expected soon from the State Water Board: So we are STILL waiting to hear from the Executive Director of the State Water Resources Control Board about the state and federal water project’s Temporary Urgency Change Petition.  The exact wording here says, “The Executive Director of the State Water Board anticipates releasing a Revised Order on or before March 4, 2015.”  That has yet to happen, so when it does, I’ll be posting that here and sending out emails to my subscribers, so either sign up for email service if you’re not already signed up or check back later …
  • The Delta Independent Science Board will meet on today from 9 am to 4 pm.  On the agenda, an update on the State of the Bay Delta Science Update, a briefing on the Data Summit White Paper, planning for the review of the recirculated BDCP, and update on the Fish, Flows and Other Stressors Program Review. Click here for more information.
  • Professor Jay Lund is speaking in Fresno this afternoon on groundwater and California’s water future: Can we stop undermining our water supplies? (Fresno): Today at 4:00pm, join the Central Valley Chapter of the Groundwater Resources Association and hear from Jay Lund on groundwater issues.  Click here for more information.

In the news today …

The El Niño California needed arrives, but too late to be of any help:  “A long anticipated El Nino has finally arrived. But for drought-struck California, it’s too little, too late, meteorologists say.  The National Weather Service on Thursday proclaimed the phenomenon is now in place. It’s a warming of a certain patch of the central Pacific that changes weather patterns worldwide, associated with flooding in some places, droughts elsewhere, a generally warmer globe, and fewer Atlantic hurricanes. El Ninos are usually so important that economists even track them because of how they affect commodities. … ”  Read more from Fox News here:  The El Nino California needed arrives, but too late to be of any help

Salmon leave Woodland rest stop after a month-long stay: There’s a crop on its way down the Yolo Bypass to the Sacramento River, but the crop isn’t fruit or vegetable. It’s salmon.  More than 18,000 juvenile salmon or smolt from the Feather River Hatchery have spent the last month living and feeding on 20 acres of flooded prime agricultural land at Knagg’s Ranch just outside Woodland. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Salmon leave Woodland rest stop after a month-long stay

Rising temperatures amplifying drought’s effects:  “Climate change is increasing the risk of severe drought in California by causing warm periods and dry periods to overlap more often, according to a new study.  Rising temperatures resulting from increased greenhouse gas emissions mean warm and dry periods are coinciding more frequently, the study authors say. And that is amplifying the effects of low precipitation. … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here:  Rising temperatures amplifying drought’s effects

Lack of snow leaves California’s water tower running low:  “Snowpack—which essentially serves as a water tower for the western United States—produces vital meltwater that flows off the mountains each spring. Like a time-release capsule, snowpack refills streams and reservoirs and waters crops and cities through the dry summer in this largely semiarid region.  But the snowpack is becoming more like a snow gap, as temperatures in the Cascades and Sierra Nevada become too warm for the snow that replenishes the ecosystem each winter. Temperatures in the West are rising, and winter storms—which have been in infrequent for years—are bringing more rain and less snow. … ”  Read more from National Geographic here:  Lack of snow leaves California’s water tower running low

ACWA Legislative Symposium focuses on groundwater adjudication, Prop 218 changes: ACWA’s 2015 Legislative Symposium held in Sacramento today focused on key water issues being addressed this legislative session, including the streamlining of groundwater basin adjudications and possible changes to Proposition 218.  The day-long conference, held at the Sacramento Convention Center, offered more than 140 attendees an opportunity to hear differing perspectives on water issues facing lawmakers this term. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  ACWA Legislative Sympoisum focuses on groundwater adjudication, Prop 218 changes

YC-backed Valor Water helps utilities keep the water running:  “Disrupt Battlefield finalist Valor Water is graduating out of Y Combinator just in time to help solve the world’s water crisis. Valor provides a suite of business-intelligence tools for water utilities.  In a drought, consumers are encouraged to conserve water and they often do. In California this past December, conservation was up from 10 percent in November to 22 percent in December, in year-over-year water-use comparisons done by the State of California. Since July 2014, consumers saved 134 billion gallons of water or enough to supply 1.8 million residents with water for a year.  But with that conservation comes a challenge for utilities: decreasing revenue. … ”  Read more from Tech Crunch here:  YC-backed Valor Water helps utilities keep the water running

In commentary today …

How California’s aging water system puts everyone at riskRon Miller writes,Sixty years ago, the state of California had a population of fewer than 15 million people, minimum wage was $1 per hour, and a singer named Elvis Presley was making waves with newfangled rock and roll music. Around that time, California also built a system to distribute water to regions throughout the state, including Southern California.  A few things have changed since then, including California’s population growing to 38 million people, more than 60 percent of whom live in the southern part of the state. What hasn’t changed over time is our aging water distribution system. … ”  Read more from the LA Daily News here:  How California’s aging water system puts everyone at risk

State proves the value Sites Reservoir could have, says the Chico Enterprise-Record:  They write, “There was a paradox in the flood of recent drought news. In the midst of grimness, there was a flicker of light, the significance of which was likely lost to most people.  To update, the feds announced Friday that they weren’t supplying any water to almost everyone who relies on it. On Tuesday a snow survey found there wasn’t much water up in the mountains. And between those two announcements, the state said Monday that it would be providing more water to its contractors.  Huh? How’d they pull that off? … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  State proves the value Sites Reservoir could have

The choice: Historic fishery or historic family farms, says Fergus Morrissey: He writes, “On Feb. 18, National Marine Fishery Biologists placed 54,000 juvenile salmon into the waters below Friant Dam for a five-day “imprint” period. The plan is to truck these 54,000 fish to the San Joaquin River’s confluence with the Merced River, 150 miles downstream of Friant Dam, so they can attempt to navigate through the Delta to the Pacific Ocean.  So goes the progress on the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, six years after experimental water releases were diverted from the agricultural economy in the south eastern San Joaquin Valley from Chowchilla to Bakersfield. … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times Delta here:  The choice: Historic fishery or historic family farms

Water shortages mean more rural suffering, says the California Farm Bureau Federation:  They write, “Continued drought and problems in water management combine to extend the suffering in rural communities, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation. CFBF President Paul Wenger said the recent announcement that the federal Central Valley Project will likely deliver no water to most of its agricultural customers — for a second straight year — reinforces the need to move quickly on water projects authorized by the Proposition 1 water bond and on congressional reform of environmental laws.  “The CVP announcement is both saddening and maddening,” Wenger said. … ” Continue reading at the Glenn County Transcript here:  Water shortages mean more rural suffering


In regional news and commentary today …

Redwood Valley turns ag water back on:  “Water is running again for nearly all of the about 200 people who get agricultural water from the Redwood Valley County Water District, General Manager Bill Koehler said Wednesday.  “There might be one or two exceptions, but most were on by Monday,” said Koehler, explaining that the district started opening the valves on Feb. 23. “For a couple of people, we had to replace the valves.” … ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here:  Redwood Valley turns ag water back on

Glenn County gets ready for action on groundwater: Just a few months ago the state announced that new local groundwater sustainability plans will be required throughout California.  The goals include preventing levels from dropping, retaining groundwater storage, preventing saltwater from wells, preventing land subsidence and keeping a connection between groundwater and surface water.  Under the new rules, regions of the state are asked to come up with ways to manage all of the above. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Glenn County gets ready for action on groundwater

DWR and USACE seeking public comment on Sacramento River basin watershed study:  “The Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Sacramento District seeking input from interested stakeholders for a jointly-led watershed study covering the Sacramento River Basin called the Central Valley Integrated Flood Management Study. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  DWR and USACE seeking public comment on Sacramento River basin watershed study

Yuba City demand may exceed supply: Yuba City’s water supply outlook in 2015 is grim, and there is a possibility that water demand may exceed supply.  Public Works Director Diana Langley spelled out the city’s options to the Yuba City City Council at Tuesday’s meeting and recommended the city continue to implement mandatory water use restrictions for the rest of the year. In the worst case scenario, demand could exceed supply by an estimated 1,000 acre-feet. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  Yuba City demand may exceed supply

Sacramento business fined $1000 for water waste: A fast-food restaurant in Sacramento has become the first to pay a $1,000 fine for wasting water, according to city officials.  The Kentucky Fried Chicken and Long John Silvers combination restaurant on Meadowview Road was issued the fine for excessive watering and watering on the wrong days, officials with the Department of Utilities said. … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here:  Sacramento business fined $1000 for water waste

Salinas Valley groundwater data to go public: The agency that oversees aquifers in the Salinas Valley is finally on track to publicly disclose detailed groundwater levels there, a move that comes after years of delays.  With California’s inexorable drought punishing local groundwater supplies, the Monterey County Water Resources Agency on Friday submitted a highly anticipated groundwater monitoring plan to the state. The move paves the way for a better understanding of the dire water situation in America’s salad bowl, where persistent over-pumping is a source of concern. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  Salinas Valley groundwater data to go public

Tulloch Lake lowering dominates Oakdale Irrigation District meeting:  “With each passing week without a significant storm, the grip of the four-year California drought squeezes more tightly on water agencies up and down the state. And members of the Oakdale Irrigation District board are feeling the pressure. … After lengthy discussion, OID directors voted to: formally declare a drought, which could lead to a one-time surcharge; start filling OID’s canals March 16 so farmers can irrigate thirsty crops and pastures; and likely delay the On-Farm Conservation Funding Program for one year in the face of poor hydrology and a legal threat.  The OID board also heard concerns from worried Tulloch Lake homeowners ... ”  Read more from the Oakdale Leader here:  Tulloch Lake lowering dominates Oakdale Irrigation District meeting

“Devastating” water news for Merced County farmers:  “Merced Irrigation District officials on Tuesday said no water will be available from Lake McClure this year and some Merced County farmers may not receive any water at all from the district this year.  Mike Jensen, spokesman for the the district, said four straight years of drought conditions have forced lake levels to just 8 percent of capacity. “Under federal and state regulations, no stored water can be diverted for irrigation once the reservoir has fallen below 11.5 percent, or 115,000 acre feet,” Jensen said in a news release. … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here:  “Devastating” water news for Merced County farmers

Photo essay of Lake McClure:  “A few weeks ago, we heard that Lake McClure, the largest and principal source of water for the lower Merced River, was lower than it has ever been since New Exchequer dam was constructed and the lake was first filled in 1967. This sounded like quite the photo opportunity, so we had to get out and see the notable event firsthand. Just by luck, the day we visited (February 3rd) was the day the reservoir reached its lowest point, a mere 63,489 acre feet , or about six percent of the lake’s capacity of just over one million acre feet. To help put that into perspective, the average monthly storage for the reservoir in February is 533,755 acre feet. ... ”  Read more and check out the photos at the FishBio blog here:  A historic low

An old drought solution is new again: Santa Barbara looks to restart it’s desalination plant: The news this week from the California Department of Water Resources is alarming, sobering and thirst-inducing. New electronic sensor surveys of the Northern Sierra snowpack on March 3 found the water content is only 16 percent of average for the date.  … With that in mind, it’s not surprising that the city of Santa Barbara is reaching back to that same time period, and preparing to take a barely used desalination plant out of mothballs.  I visited that plant, formally known as the Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant, back in 1992  … ”  Read more from the Riggs report here:  An old drought solution is new again

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

Science news and reports: El Niño is here, Drought and climate change linked, Dutch lessons on levee design, beavers saving salmon, CA precipitation summary, and more …

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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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The diary of a confessed obsessive-compulsive California water news junkie

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