Daily Digest: New partnership seeks to restore Sierra forests, California is pumping water that fell to earth 20,000 years ago, California senators focus on oil industry & drinking water, California drought negatively impacts California tribes and more …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, New partnership seeks to restore Sierra forests, California is pumping water that fell to earth 20,000 years ago, California senators focus on oil industry & drinking water, California drought negatively impacts California tribes, Drought stricken California communities consider desalination, Bay Area water districts buying Kern County water, Branding the Delta with $300,000 of your money, Short water shifting California crops, farming locations, El Nino not the savior for drought concerns, and more …

On the calendar today …

A joint oversight hearing on oil industry and drinking water: Beginning at 9:30 am this morning, the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and the Senate Environmental Quality Committee will be holding a hearing titled, Ensuring groundwater protection: Is the underground injection control program working? Click here to watch on the Cal Channel.

In the news today …

New partnership seeks to restore Sierra forests:  “The Sierra Nevada is many things to California: a mountain playground in winter and summer, a swath of public land stretching nearly the length of the state, and vital habitat for a broad variety of wildlife. It also provides the majority of California’s freshwater supply.  With a fourth year of drought looming, state and federal agencies have launched an ambitious partnership to improve the Sierra’s ability to store and filter water, as well as reduce fire risks, by restoring its forests.  Called the Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program, it aims to coordinate the diverse activities of government agencies, property owners and nonprofit groups to focus on the Sierra’s most serious problems. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  New partnership seeks to restore Sierra forests

California is pumping water that fell to earth 20,000 years ago:By now, the impacts of California’s unchecked groundwater pumping are well-known: the dropping water levels, dried-up wells and slowly sinking farmland in parts of the Central Valley.  But another consequence gets less attention, one measured not by acre-feet or gallons-per-minute but the long march of time.  As California farms and cities drill deeper for groundwater in an era of drought and climate change, they no longer are tapping reserves that percolated into the soil over recent centuries. They are pumping water that fell to Earth during a much wetter climatic regime – the ice age. ...   Read more from Reveal News here:  California in pumping water that fell to earth 20,000 years ago

California senators focus on oil industry, drinking water:  “A hearing by state lawmakers Tuesday on problems in California’s protection of drinking-water aquifers from the state oil and gas industry also is slated to focus attention on the way oil companies in the state use high-pressure steam to force up petroleum.  State oil and gas regulators have acknowledged “routinely” allowing oil and gas producers to inject steam underground at pressure so high that it cracks open underground rock formations, in violation of state and federal regulation, according to a state Senate report prepared for Tuesday’s joint hearing by the Senate’s environmental quality and natural resources and water committees. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  California senators focus on oil industry, drinking water

California drought negatively impacts California tribes:  “Dams have created issues for Northern California tribes. California’s drought in 2001 left potato fields barren, leading to farmer led protests. The federal government responded by diverting water from the Klamath River Lower Basin to provide additional irrigation for their fields; despite scientific and environmental reports discouraging it.  In September of 2002, as a direct result of this action, more than 30,000 salmon of varied species died and were found rotting on the banks of the river. This mass “Fish Kill” was due to the inadequate amount of water in the river necessary in order to sustain healthy salmon populations.  … ”  Read more from Indian Country Today here:  California drought negatively impacts California tribes

Drought stricken California communities consider desalination:  “As California heads into its fourth year of drought, more communities are looking to tap into the ocean for drinking water through the process of desalination, which removes salt from seawater to make it drinkable. Proponents see the ocean as a “drought-proof water supply,” but desalination is expensive and critics say it’s harmful to marine life.  David Jassby, assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering at the University of California, Riverside, gives Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson an overview of desalination.  We then turn to Sandy Kerl of the San Diego County Water Authority, which is partnering with Poseidon Water on the Carlsbad Desalination Project in Carlsbad, California.”  Listen to the radio show from WBUR here:  Drought stricken California communities consider desalination

Bay Area water districts buying Kern County water:  “Most San Francisco Bay Area residents are facing steep price hikes for water as California’s drought stretches into its fourth year.  Three of the region’s largest water agencies have either newly approved or will soon consider rate hikes of nearly one-third, the San Jose Mercury News reported Sunday.  Beau Goldie of the Santa Clara Valley Water District told the newspaper that conservation efforts by San Francisco-area residents amid the drought already are costing local water agencies tens of millions of dollars in revenue from water sales. … ”  Read more from Bakersfield Now here: Bay Area water districts buying Kern County water 

Branding the Delta with $300,000 of your money:When you try to get anything done in the California Delta, it can be a real jungle. Maybe that’s why the Delta Conservancy and the Delta Protection Commission have picked Jungle Communications of San Francisco to “brand” the Delta.  Watch carefully: This is a tale of your tax money at work — if you can see it. The information became known to the public at a meeting in Walnut Grove dealing with how to market the California Delta. … ”  Read more from the Central Valley Business Times here:  Branding the Delta with $300,000 of your money

Short water shifting California crops, farming locations:  “A day-long Clovis water conference opened with a California official outlining the challenges of a fourth drought year and a prediction that investors in some orchards – notably on the San Joaquin Valley’s west side – are “destined to be stranded by a lack of water.”  It closed with a panel discussion by some at Ground Zero in the crisis, the Valley’s west side, where the region faces what is expected to be its second consecutive year of a zero water allocation from the federal Central Valley Project. ... ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Short water shifting California crops, farming locations

El Nino not the savior for drought concerns around the Bay Area, state:  “El Nino to the rescue of a rain-starved Bay Area, ready to raise reservoirs in a single storm?  Not quite.  “The only thing it will raise is people’s hopes, and then it will dash them,” said Steve Anderson, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.  El Nino — the weather phenomena that can have water managers dancing in the streets when it packs a precipitation punch — has arrived, but with a thud. But for drought-stricken California, it’s too little, too late, meteorologists say. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  El Nino not the savior for drought concerns around the Bay Area, state

California lawmakers face dozens of environmental bills:  “In addition to bills that would set new goals for clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, some lawmakers want to revise regulations for oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing.  A bill that would ban microplastics in personal care products – which failed last session– will be on the agenda as well. ... ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  California lawmakers face dozens of environmental bills

Chile’s water shortage threatens wines and mines:  “Winery De Martino found the clay soil and cool temperatures needed to produce its award-winning Quebrada Seca pale chardonnay in the Andean foothills north of Santiago. Now drought is threatening the grape’s survival. … Chile — a country that resembles an inverted California with a 2,435-mile long Pacific coastline ranging from a desert north to a lush green south — is facing a drought that is every bit as bad as in the Golden State.... ”  Read more from Bloomberg News here:  Chile’s Water Shortage Threatens Wines and Mines

In commentary today …

Salmon experiments continue while farmers beg for water:  Fergus Morrissey writes, “As reported by fresnobee.com Feb. 18, a team of biologists with the National Marine Fishery Service, an agency of the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, placed by bucket brigade 54,000 Feather River Fish Hatchery juvenile salmon into the waters below Friant Dam for a five day “imprint” period.  This exposure is the trick the biologists employ to convince these salmon that Friant Dam is their birthplace and therefore where they must return to spawn when that time comes. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Salmon experiments continue while farmers beg for water

Confusion sets in over groundwater law: Thomas Elias writes, “It’s beginning to look like the hosannas that greeted California’s first-ever groundwater regulation law were premature when it passed late last summer.  For after a tantalizing winter of heavy rains but insufficient snowfall to dent the state’s four-year drought, confusion over the groundwater rules has begun to set in.  One thing is for sure: The rain and snow of the just-concluding winter have not been nearly enough to begin recharging California’s more than 100 significant aquifers. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Transcript here:  Confusion sets in over groundwater law

California’s urban water users must get serious about water conservation, says the San Jose Mercury News:  They write, “California is in the midst of its fourth consecutive drought year, and based on a new study by Stanford scientists, it appears to be a long-time weather pattern. The December downpours were just a nice distraction.  The state has to get serious about conserving water. Suggestions are not enough.Emergency regulations proposed Friday by the State Water Resources Board staff would be a start, but permanent regulations are needed, and communities, at least region by region, need to be on the same page as to how to accomplish goals.  … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  California’s urban water users must get serious about water conservation

We don’t have much choice but to continue with water conservation, says the Appeal-Democrat:  They write, “Wow. The drought continues. This past week, it was about snowpack and Yuba City’s water availability.  Snowpack: bad. The amount of Sierra Nevada snowpack isn’t just below normal … it’s not even close to being below normal. It’s practically not there … and won’t be for very long.  That means a lot to our region, because snow normally makes up about a third of the state’s water supply. Snowpack normally provides runoff that fills California reservoirs and the slow melt-release provides water through summer and into fall. ... ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  We don’t have much choice but to continue with conservation

In regional news and commentary today …

Feds propose levee plan to protect Stockton:  “The federal government has released a long-awaited $800 million plan to protect Stockton from future floods, but the plan is not as ambitious as local officials would have liked.  Engineers propose improving 23 miles of levees from Mosher Slough in the north to French Camp Slough in the south, creating a “western front” that would fortify portions of the city against possible Delta flooding. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Feds propose levee plan to protect Stockton

Modesto Irrigation District farmers may have to get by on 16″ of water: The drought could limit irrigation for Modesto-area farmers to 16 inches of water per acre this year – a little more than a third the normal amount and far less than needed for most crops.  If Mother Nature doesn’t start dumping snow like crazy in the mountains, and no forecast suggests she will, farmers will have to fallow fields, pump lots more groundwater or buy extra through the Modesto Irrigation District’s transfer programs to keep nut trees and other plants alive. Many crops require 30 to 36 inches of water to get by. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Modesto Irrigation District farmers may have to get by on 16″ of water

Taps may run dry in Fresno County town after residents vote down rate increase: “Residents of this tiny western Fresno County town recently told Fresno County supervisors that they don’t want to pay higher bills for water service to their tiny community — even if it means having their water shut off.  If they don’t agree to pay more, Cantua Creek residents will stop getting water as early as mid-May. The town 40 miles southwest of Fresno is in a county service area. Under the rules, residents who live in such areas are required to pay for water purchases, water treatment and repairs and maintenance to their systems. Those costs are rising sharply. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Taps may run dry in Fresno County town after residents vote down rate increase

Well went dry last Easter, but Kingsburg man gets blessed with a new water supply:  “At the usually quiet, rural home of Abelardo De Leon Garcia, a drilling machine hammered the sandy soil all morning Monday, creating a well shaft three times deeper than a dry well only a few yards away.  Garcia, 81, had lost his water well on Easter Sunday last year. Nearly a year later, his water supply has been resurrected, thanks to federal funding and a Visalia-based nonprofit called Self-Help Enterprises. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Well went dry last Easter, but Kingsburg man gets blessed with a new water supply

Grant could solve East Porterville’s water problem:  “Filling up plastic plastic garbage cans full of water every other day from a large tank parked in front of the Tulare County fire station isn’t a pleasant task for Felix Herrera, but it’s not as if he has a choice.  “I could be doing things other than this, but I gotta wash clothes,” said Herrera, who lives down the street from the station.  About four-and-a-half months ago, his home well failed. “One day we had water, and the next day I heard the pump running with no water coming out.” … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Grant could solve East Porterville’s water problem

LADWP’s water customers may see another charge on their bills: Los Angeles’s Department of Water and Power is asking the City Council to authorize creation of a new agency empowered to borrow up to $400 million, which rate payers would have to pay through a new fee on their bills.  If approved, the new Southern California Public Water Authority would be created as a joint powers authority partnering with with Burbank and perhaps some other cities that have 25,000 or more water customers. … ”  Read more from KPCC here:  LADWP’s water customers may see another charge on their bills

weatherPrecipitation watch …

From the National Weather Service:Increasing cloudiness today as a Pacific storm approaches. System will move through tonight into late Wednesday bringing cooler temperatures with some light precipitation to Interior Northern California. A few inches of snow is possible over the higher mountain terrain above 6500 feet with gusty wind. Dry with warmer temperatures Thursday into Friday. Forecast precipitation amounts range from generally less than two tenths of an inch in the Central Valley to mainly below half an inch for the mountains and foothills. A few inches of snow is possible above 6500 feet.”

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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