Daily Digest: Senate moves $1B water plan, Lawmakers intent on overhaul after oil regulator lapses, Drought forces salmon trucking, $700 an acre-foot – any takers? and more …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, California Senate moves $1 billion water plan amid drought, Lawmakers intent on overhaul after oil regulator lapses, Drought forces salmon trucking to the Bay Area, UC Davis summit focuses on drought, California farmers selling water to the state instead of growing crops, Farmers may sell water meant for crops during drought, $700 an acre-foot, but will the water be sold?, Most in California see drought as a major problem, State issues report on California’s significant droughts, State bill would require water providers assess earthquake risk, and more …

On the calendar today …

The Delta Stewardship Council will meet this morning beginning at 9am.  On the agenda, a discussion of Council priorities and the Delta Levee Investment Strategy.  Click here for the agenda.  Click here to watch the webcast.

In the news today …

California Senate moves $1 billion water plan amid drought:  “The state Senate on Wednesday approved a $1 billion proposal to speed up spending on water projects and offer about $75 million in immediate aid to residents and wildlife in drought-stricken California.  The legislation accelerates water infrastructure spending, some of which can boost local water supplies in future years. It includes $267 million to give out grants for water-recycling projects and expand drinking water in small and poor cities.  “It’s step one in responding to this really extraordinary drought,” said Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  California Senate moves $1 billion water plan amid drought  See also: Senate approves California drought relief bill amid Republican complaints, from the Sacramento Bee; Senate approves water legislation to address drought, funding, from the LA Times

Lawmakers intent on overhaul after oil regulator lapses:The agency that regulates the oil industry in California is — by its own admission — in disarray. After a series of embarrassing disclosures about regulatory lapses that allowed drilling in protected aquifers, officials at the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources are trying to untangle years of chaotic operation.  But the fixes aren’t happening fast enough to satisfy many state lawmakers. In recent weeks, elected officials have publicly chided the agency, launched their own investigations and introduced at least a half-dozen bills that aim to recast DOGGR’s mission to prioritize protecting public health and the environment over promoting energy development. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Lawmakers intent on overhaul after oil regulator lapses

Drought forces salmon trucking to the Bay Area:  “Dave Lunsford doesn’t usually wake up for work at 1 a.m., but then Thursday was not a typical day for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife technician.  By 3 a.m. Lunsford was loading his tanker truck with about 140,000 fingerling Chinook salmon to haul from Coleman National Fish Hatchery in Anderson to Rio Vista in the Bay Area.  The fish and the truck drivers were on a schedule dictated by the moon and Mother Nature, said Scott Hamelberg, project leader at the hatchery. ... ”  Read more from the Redding Searchlight-Record here:  Drought forces salmon trucking to the Bay Area

UC Davis summit focuses on drought:  “California farmers gathered at UC Davis Wednesday to discuss the most pressing issue currently affecting agriculture — the drought.  “The agricultural sector needs to be a part of climate change to help come up with solutions and make a difference,” said keynote speaker Ken Alex, senior policy adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown.  Alex’s statement set the tone for the daylong event, hosted by the California Climate and Agricultural Network, a coalition formed out of concern for climate change and its effect on agriculture. … ”  Read more from the Daily Democrat here:  UC Davis summit focuses on drought

California farmers selling water to the state instead of growing crops:  “California is in trouble. According to a much-discussed recent L.A. Times article, the state has only about a year’s worth of water in its reservoirs, which, if depleted, would leave the state reliant on groundwater and praying for heavy snows in winter. Already, the state is tightening water use restrictions, especially for uses like watering lawns, but many think that won’t nearly be enough to dig California out of its dry, parched, cracked hole. … ”  Read more from Modern Farmer here:  California farmers selling water to the state instead of growing crops

Farmers may sell water meant for crops during drought:  “Instead of growing crops, some California farmers will sell their water to other farms during the fourth year of the state’s drought.  Not all farmers will use their allocated amount of water this year, and several irrigation districts will allow farmers to sell their extra water.  Canals are currently dry, but Central Valley farmers will start pumping in water soon. But not everyone will need it, as some annual crops can survive a year without water. Others, including almond orchards and vineyards can’t. ... ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  Farmers may sell water meant for crops during drought

$700 an acre-foot, but will the water be sold? Southern California water agencies are reportedly offering up to $71 million for Northern California water, but until local water allocations are final, it’s not known how much, if any, Yuba-Sutter water will be sent south.  The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is the major buyer, and local rice farmers would be the main willing sellers of the proposed transfers.  At the reported price of $700 for an acre-foot of water, some rice farmers could make more money selling water than planting rice. … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  $700 an acre-foot, but will the water be sold?

Most in California see drought as a major problem: Is California’s drought turning us against each other?  It might be, according to a new poll that finds most Californians don’t believe people in their region are doing enough to conserve water.  Rather than coveting thy neighbor’s lawn, two-thirds of Californians are starting to resent those verdant swards of sod, the Public Policy Institute of California found. … ”  Read more from the LA Daily News here:  Most in California see drought as a major problem

State issues report on California’s significant droughts:  “The state managers of California’s water resources have published a report reviewing their own data recounting the drought episodes over the past 86 years.  Severe droughts are nothing new to California, home to the highest variable precipitation in the United States, the report from the Department of Water Resources notes.  California’s most significant droughts stretched from 1929 to 1934, 1976 to 1977 and 1987 to 1992. The report also details the current drought, which began in 2012. … ”  Read more from the Central Valley Business Times here:  State issues report on California’s significant droughts

State bill would require water providers assess earthquake risk: Sen. Bob Hertzberg proposed a Water Seismic Safety (SB664) bill on Tuesday requiring local water agencies to evaluate their earthquake risks and suggest ways to keep the water flowing in the event of a disaster. In a state where much of the public water supply runs underground in aging, brittle pipes, or in aqueducts that cross earthquake faults, too little is known about the risks to water systems. Hertzberg’s proposal aims to change that. … ”  Read more from KPCC here:  State bill would require water providers assess earthquake risk

The Salton Sea: A time bomb amid California’s drought:At first sight the Salton Sea looks putrid, with dead fish scattered among patches of fetid water in a vast salty lake in the middle of the Californian desert.  In the fourth year of a historic drought in the western United States, some say the wetland is an environmental time bomb.  But, on closer inspection, its beauty and fertility come through.  As the sun sets on the —a former upscale vacation playground—hundreds of pelicans, seagulls and ducks perform an aerial ballet against the iridescent sky, reflected in the mirror-like water. … ”  Read more at PhysOrg here:  The Salton Sea: A time bomb amid California’s drought

In commentary today …

Access to well drilling logs is vital during a drought, says the Fresno Bee:  They write, “In time of drought, when leaders tell us every drop of water counts, Californians ought to be able to count every drop. The concept seems so simple, but because the issue is water, it’s not.  For the third year running, Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, is pushing legislation to provide public access to otherwise confidential reports about groundwater wells. Her Senate Bill 20, which cleared its first committee Tuesday, clearly warrants approval by the full Legislature.  The bill would alter decades-old practices that lie at the confluence of private property rights and scarce water, and so lobbyists representing agriculture oppose it. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Access to well drilling logs is vital during a drought

Why almonds aren’t the water enemy:  Brad Gleason writes, “A quarter-century ago, when I first started farming the fertile ground of western Fresno County, my crop was cotton.  I wasn’t alone. Back then, the San Joaquin Valley had more than 1 million acres of white gold. Federal water cost me — hard to believe today — only $25 an acre-foot. And there was plenty of it. My neighbors and I irrigated inefficiently by sprinkler and furrow. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Why almonds aren’t the water enemy

In regional news and commentary today …

Zone 7 unblocks Yuba water deal for Dublin-San Ramon Services District:Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD) and Zone 7 Water Agency have worked out an agreement to help ensure that DSRSD will have enough water to meet the needs of its customers in Dublin and the Dougherty Valley portion of San Ramon during this calendar year.  Zone 7 had blocked DSRSD’s proposal to purchase water from the Yuba County Water Agency, sending an objection to the Federal Bureau of Reclamation. Zone 7 stated in its objection that its contract with DSRSD requires that the district buy water from Zone 7. ... ”  Read more from the Livermore Independent here:  Zone 7 unblocks Yuba water deal for DSRSD

City of Oakdale opposes federal plan: With the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation planning to release significant water flows down the Stanislaus River during a time of continued drought in the area, the City of Oakdale took a stand and opposed the agency’s planned actions, expressing serious concerns with its 2015 Drought Contingency Plan.  According to city officials, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation drained approximately 60,000 acre-feet of water from New Melones reservoir on the Stanislaus River in April and May, 2014 in order to comply with environmental laws. Meanwhile, water agencies are continuing their own discussions regarding the issue. … ”  Read more from the Oakdale Leader here:  City of Oakdale opposes federal plan

Ceres: Water on the minds of legislators: The state’s water crisis and possible remedies dominated the dialogue of area legislators who addressed Friday’s Legislative Breakfast hosted by the Ceres Chamber of Commerce.  State Senator Anthony Cannella and Assemblyman Adam Gray appeared at the Howard Training Center event, as did Stanislaus County supervisors Terry Withrow and Jim DeMartini and Ceres Mayor Chris Vierra. Congressman Jeff Denham did not attend but sent a video message. ... ”  Read more from the Ceres Courier here:  Water on the minds of legislators

Visalia, Tulare, TID team up to form Groundwater Sustainability Agency:  “The county’s two largest cities and the Tulare Irrigation District have agreed to establish a Groundwater Sustainability Agency, a move to comply with a state mandate on legislation adopted last year.  The cities of Tulare and Visalia and TID are the perfect partnership because they all are located in the Kaweah Sub-Basin.  “We have an extensive contractual relationship with TID,” Tulare City Manager Don Dorman said. “The City of Visalia also have contracts with TID.” ... ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Visalia, Tulare, TID team up to form Groundwater Sustainability Agency

Grant helps Guadalupe’s water access:  “Over Memorial Day weekend 2013, Guadalupe’s one functioning groundwater well pump stopped working. Luckily, California hadn’t yet admitted to its full-fledged drought problem and was fulfilling more than 5 percent allocations of state water that year, so Guadalupe floated until the city could fix the pump.  Should that same scenario happen this year, the city would be up a dry creek bed, and it wouldn’t matter if it were with or without a paddle. Basically, with state water supplies being iffy at best, Guadalupe wants to ensure the city can get what it needs out of the groundwater basin.  … ” Read more from the Santa Maria Sun here:  Grant helps Guadulupe’s water access

Water pipeline to Nipomo nears completion:  “Drought-weary Nipomo will soon be getting some relief via a water pipeline from Santa Maria that is nearing completion.  The first delivery of supplemental water to the Nipomo Mesa area is expected to begin this summer.  “The importance is getting more and more obvious as time goes on”, says Nipomo Community Services District board member Ed Eby, “when we see areas like Cambria, which is out of water essentially, and rationing their water severely, we still have a supply of groundwater that’s diminishing rapidly.” … ”  Read more from KEYT here:  Water pipeline to Nipomo nears completion

Desal, the climate crisis, and our children’s future:  Brad Smith writes, “Desalination is a desperate choice for Santa Barbara, but fortunately it’s not necessary. With its huge cost, risk, and climate footprint, it assumes water users put lush landscapes ahead of our children’s future. I disagree. Let’s slow down, take a deep breath, and look at the facts.  Desal adds fuel to the climate fire; climate-friendly landscaping doesn’t. The fossil-fuel-fed climate crisis has made this drought the driest on record. Desal’s huge power demand, which can’t be met by renewables, sharply increases fossil fuel burning. Is it sensible to solve any problem by worsening its cause? … ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here:  Desal, the climate crisis, and our children’s future

The epic journey from snowmelt to Topanga Canyon’s tap water:  “As California enters its fourth official year of severe drought, it is worth noting that Topanga has not always had a steady supply of fresh water. In the early days, farmers, ranchers and homesteaders used the creek, dug wells or tapped into natural mountain springs. In the 1920s, Fernwood subdivisions were advertised with a brochure proclaiming, “Pure mountain water under pressure is accessible to each lot.”  Brochures for Topanga Oaks advertised one share of stock per lot of “pure mountain water, piped to every lot in the tract.”  … ”  Read more from the Topanga Messenger here:  The epic journey from snowmelt to tap water

Fontana Water Co. seeking alternatives after shutdown:Fontana Water Co. officials say they are “working diligently” to find new drinking water supplies in the wake of a court decision that has taken four wells out of production as the system enters its period of peak demand.  A San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge has forced Fontana Water Co. to shut down its four wells which draw water from the troubled Rialto-Colton water basin, which is down significantly from full capacity.  The basin is approaching historic low levels of groundwater, officials say. ... ”  Read more from the San Berardino Sun here:  Fontana Water Co. seeking alternatives after shutdown

L.A.’s share of river restoration could hit $1.2 billion:Returning the Los Angeles River to a more natural state has long been a dream of city officials, who see it as a way of adding parkland, restoring habitat and attracting investment along its curving path from Griffith Park to downtown.  That effort seemed to get a big boost last year when Mayor Eric Garcetti announced support from a high-level federal official for an ambitious plan to remake the river. City leaders had been hoping to split the expense evenly with the federal government by contributing about $500 million over the life of the project. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  L.A.’s share of river restoration could hit $1.2 billion

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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