Daily Digest, early edition: Governor Brown and lawmakers to announce drought-relief package, Judge rules CVWD doesn’t need release individual well data, looming crisis at Salton Sea, the other drought you need to pay attention to and more …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, Governor Brown and lawmakers to announce drought-relief package, Judge: CVWD doesn’t need release individual well data, As California runs out of water, state steps in to promote using towels twice; To fight drought, we need more than just rain, Sugar Bowl ski resort to close early, Drought boosts natural gas use, Farmers take key issues to legislature, DWR seeks input on groundwater implementation plan, Speakers discuss factors affecting water supplies, Water officials hear predictions of looming crisis at the Salton Sea, The other big drought story you need to pay attention to, Snowpack declining in valleys where Colorado River starts, and more …

Note to readers:  It’s an early addition today as I will be out at the California Water Policy conference.  If I missed anything, I’ll include them in tomorrow’s Daily Digest.  There looks to be at least one if not two breaking news items today, which I will post from the conference as they come in.  Check back later to see what transpires, or sign up for daily email service and receive breaking news alerts automatically – click here to sign up.

In the news today …

As drought lingers, California governor and lawmakers to announce drought-relief package: “Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders are set to announce emergency drought-relief legislation as California enters its fourth consecutive dry year.  Brown’s office announced a news conference at the state Capitol for Thursday to present the legislation, but it released no details of the plan.  The announcement with Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon comes one year after Brown signed a $687 million drought-relief package. … ”  Read more from The Republic here: As drought lingers, California governor and lawmakers to announce drought-relief package  See also: Brown, lawmakers to announce $1 billion drought relief plan, from the Los Angeles Times, Brown, De León, Atkins To Unveil Emergency Drought Legislation Thursday, from Capital Public Radio

Judge: CVWD doesn’t need release individual well data:  “A Riverside County Superior Court judge this week ruled that the Coachella Valley Water District doesn’t need to disclose its private customers’ groundwater use data.  The First Amendment Coalition filed a lawsuit against the agency in August to make records of businesses, such as golf courses, accessible to the public. But a judge shot down the request on Tuesday.  “CVWD fought this lawsuit because we believe it is important to protect private customer data, whether that customer is a homeowner, a business or a private pumper,” board president John Powell Jr. said in a statement. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here: Judge: CVWD doesn’t need to ID heavy water users

As California runs out of water, state steps in to promote using towels twice:  “So grim is the threat of California shriveling up (within a year, according to NASA), that the State Water Resources Control Board unanimously voted on Tuesday to immediately enact regulations intended to assuage the Golden State’s epic drought. Now, California restaurants and bars aren’t allowed to serve customers glasses of water upon arrival, according to San Francisco Gate. If you want one, you have to ask for it. … ”  Read more from Newsweek here:  As California runs out of water, state steps in to promote using towels twice

To fight drought, we need more than just rain: As California faces its fourth consecutive year of drought, officials say heavy rainfall alone will not be enough to restore the groundwater we need. Water districts are investing in water recycling plants and looking at strategies ranging from importing water to calls for greater conservation. Most importantly, they are turning to California residents to take the initiative in cutting by up to 40 percent the water they typically use – and rewarding those who do.  “Last spring I decided to remove all grass from my yard and planted California natives,” said Carol Makdissy, who was named a Water Saving Hero for the work she has done on her 650-square-foot yard in San Jose. “These beautiful flowers do not just attract butterflies and hummingbirds, they need only a little water.” … ”  Read more from New American Media here:  To fight drought, we need more than just rain

Sugar Bowl ski resort to close early: Sugar Bowl Resort has become the latest ski mountain to announce it’s closing because of an utter lack of snow.  Snowpack in the Sierra is at a near-record low as California faces a fourth year of drought amid warming temperatures.  “Due to deteriorating conditions and no snow in the forecast, Sugar Bowl’s final day of the 14-15 season will be this Sunday,” the resort near Truckee posted on its website Wednesday. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Sugar Bowl ski resort to close early

Drought boosts natural gas use: In a typical year, California gets almost a fifth of its energy from dams on its rivers and streams. But the last several years have been anything but typical: the ongoing drought has shrunk the state’s reservoirs and cut the amount of hydro power the state can generate by about a third.  And since our consumption of energy hasn’t dropped to make up the shortfall, says a report released this week by the Pacific Institute, California has stepped up its consumption of power from plants that burn expensive, carbon-polluting natural gas to fill the gap left by the drought. ... ”  Read more from KCET here:  Drought boosts natural gas use

Farmers take key issues to legislature:Faced with a multiyear drought and increased cost of doing business amid numerous regulations, taxes and fees, Farm Bureau leaders from throughout California walked the halls of the state Capitol last week, informing members of the Legislature about issues important to farmers and ranchers. Nearly 100 Farm Bureau leaders made group calls at 92 legislative offices as part of the annual California Farm Bureau Federation Leaders Conference in Sacramento. A number of new legislators from urban districts were among those they visited. ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Farmers take key issues to legislature

DWR seeks input on groundwater implementation plan:Outreach to farm groups will be a key area of focus as the state Department of Water Resources takes comments through June 1 on its plans to regulate California’s groundwater, an agency specialist says.  Agency representatives were set to give a presentation during this week’s annual meeting for UnitedAg, a Southern California-based trade association, and has been meeting with affected landowners and organizations for the past several months, said Laura Bisnett, an information specialist for DWR’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Program. ... ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  DWR seeks input on groundwater implementation plan

Speakers discuss factors affecting water supplies:Facing uncertain times for the state’s water supply, a state natural-resources official told Farm Bureau leaders that it’s important to manage through the current drought while at the same time planning for a future water supply system that will withstand longer or more frequent droughts.  Karla Nemeth, deputy secretary for water policy at the California Natural Resources Agency, said that effort will require a solid plan and partnering with organizations such as the California Farm Bureau Federation, which she said has demonstrated both endurance and agility. ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Speakers discuss factors affecting water supplies

Water officials hear predictions of looming crisis at the Salton Sea:  “After listening to seven hours of doomsday predictions, state water officials agreed Wednesday to look at one of California’s largest but often ignored environmental problems: the deterioration of the Salton Sea.  State Water Resources Control Board members asked agency staff to explore what power the agency has to get involved in a dispute that, at its core, involves the state Legislature’s refusal to live up to its 2003 promise to keep the sea from shrinking and wreaking havoc on the region’s environment, economy and public health. ... ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here:  Water officials hear predictions of looming crisis at the Salton Sea

The other big drought story you need to pay attention to:  “With California’s scary, record-breaking drought capturing so much attention lately, an important bit of news about the dearth of water across a much larger region has gotten short shrift.  I’m talking about the Colorado River Basin, which supplies water to 40 million people in seven states — including Californians.  Over the long run, the Colorado has been providing less than it once did, even as demand for its water has risen. And this year, as in most years during the past 15, the water situation in the river basin is not looking good. ... ”  Read more from Discover Magazine here:  The other big drought story you need to pay attention to

Snowpack declining in valleys where Colorado River starts:  “Snowpack in the mountains and valleys where the Colorado River originates has been shrinking since the beginning of March, a federal water expert said Tuesday.  The snow ranged between 89 and 91 percent of the long-term average, depending on which measurement is used.  “We dried out relatively significantly here since the beginning of March,” said Brian Domonkos, supervisor of the Colorado Snow Survey for the U.S. Agriculture Department. ... ”  Read more from the Colorado Springs Gazette here:  Snowpack declining in valleys where Colorado River starts

In commentary today …

Column: California water anxiety: Feel it yet?  Mark Morford writes, “If you live here, you already know: The feeling is inescapable, palpable, more than a little scary.  I’m talking about California Water Anxiety Syndrome (CWAS), of course, that sinking feeling to trump all sinking feelings, that sour knot in the pit of the collective stomach, unnerving and strange and, let’s just admit, unutterably depressing.  California, as you might have heard, is running out of water. Very, very quickly. And there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  California water anxiety: Feel it yet?

California has one year of water left: Hype or reality?: “A Los Angeles Times op-ed penned by NASA senior water scientist Jay Famiglietti last week caused a stir in drought-racked California. In forceful and vivid language, Famiglietti announced that the state has only about a year of water left in its reservoirs, rivers and lakes, as well as in its snowpack and soil.  Based on data acquired from NASA satellites, Famiglietti reported that the persistent drought conditions in the state have led to a 34-million acre-foot deficit in surface water – a volume 50 percent larger than Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir. “… (O)ur strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing,” Famiglietti wrote. “California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.” … ”  Read more from High Country News here: California has one year of water left: Hype or reality?

In regional news and commentary today …

Stockton: Supes to weigh ‘Zone 2’ water fee: “Its name invokes visions of black helicopters and barbed wire, but the “Zone 2” assessment is not quite so conspiratorial.  It’s a relatively small sum that property owners across San Joaquin County have been paying for 25 years, whether they know it or not. The money helps to fund local water planning efforts, including the fight against Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed twin tunnels.  The 15-year assessment is set to expire in June, though. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here: Supes to weigh ‘Zone 2’ water fee

New study, old data in Stanislaus County effort to manage groundwater:A long-awaited tool created to help manage groundwater was unveiled Wednesday to the Stanislaus County Water Advisory Committee, whose members listened politely but seemed less than thrilled.  The 10-year, $1.25 million effort by the U.S. Geological Survey, aimed at understanding and predicting how water moves underground in this region, relies on data at least 11 years old. That was before growers began pumping groundwater in earnest to feed millions of new almond trees blanketing the county’s east side, and before the ongoing four-year drought. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  New study, old data in Stanislaus County effort to manage groundwater

Oakdale water woes linger as irrigation season looms:  “Even as water began filling its canals this week, the Oakdale Irrigation District board discussed ways Tuesday morning to ensure there is enough to last until September.  Among the ideas: A cap on how much each of OID’s 2,900 agricultural customers can use this year – something that has never occurred in the district’s 105-year history.  Allocations are an accepted fact of life in most irrigation districts, especially as the California drought stretches into a fourth year. ... ”  Read more from the Oakdale Leader here:  Oakdale water woes linger as irrigation season looms

Tulare County details top priorities identified in water study:County officials detailed their top priorities after the release of the Tulare Lake Basin Disadvantaged Community Water Study.  Tulare County Supervisor Allen Ishida and Denise England, a senior county administrative analyst, testified before the state’s Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials during an Oversight Hearing last month. The hearing was called to address Tulare County’s drinking water, water quality and water supply challenges. ... ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Tulare County details top priorities identified in water study

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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