Daily Digest: Decision in court case may set water rate precedent, Sites Reservoir not a slam dunk, Delta group blasts Brown for ‘water grab’, Ag water battle goes viral, 4 tech companies fighting drought, and more …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, Decision in San Juan Capistrano case may set water rate precedent, Sites Reservoir not a slam dunk, Delta group blasts Brown for ‘water grab’, Ag water battle goes viral, California’s water problems go way deeper than almonds, California’s rainless summer will dry up drinking water supplies, Drought carries a silver lining: More solar power, California’s cycles of drought, 4 tech companies trying to fight California’s drought, Saving water is not as hard as you think, and more …

On the calendar today …

Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife will hold a special hearing at 9am on  to hear the numerous groundwater billsClick here for more information and an audio link.  Click here to watch on CalChannel.

Notice of Public Workshop: Evaluation of Municipal and Agricultural Beneficial Uses in a portion of the Historical Tulare Lakebed: This afternoon, beginning at 1pm in Corcoran, the Central Valley Regional Water Board will hold a Public Workshop and CEQA Public Scoping Meeting concerning the Evaluation of the Municipal and Domestic Supply (MUN) and Agricultural Supply (AGR) Beneficial Uses in a Portion of the Historical Tulare Lakebed.  This is an initial meeting to discuss and solicit comments and suggestions from the public regarding potential amendments to the Water Quality Control Plan for the Tulare Lake Basin (Tulare Lake Basin Plan).   Click here for more information.

 

In the news today …

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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Decision in San Juan Capistrano case may set water rate precedent:  “An appellate court ruling due by next week could put a glitch in plans to reach Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of slashing urban water use by 25% statewide.  When Brown announced on April 1 his historic order to cut water use from 2013 levels, he told water agencies to use pricing structures that encourage conservation. In other words, he directed them to charge higher rates to people who use the most water.  But those kinds of rate structures are under fire in a San Juan Capistrano case that could affect water districts statewide. … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here:  Decision in San Juan Capistrano case may set water rate precedent

Residents learn Sites Reservoir not a slam dunk:  “The question of how billions of dollars in water storage bond money would be spent drew a standing-room-only crowd Monday night in Chico, and many of them got an unpleasant reality check.  Two California Water Commission members and supporting staff were in town to explain how they would decide how to spend the $2.7 billion earmarked for storage in the Proposition 1 water bond approved by voters in November. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Residents learn Sites Reservoir not a slam dunk

Delta group blasts Brown for ‘water grab’:  “With the apparent elimination of any effort to restore the California Delta’s fisheries and other ecology, the controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan has devolved to a water grab, says the group Restore the Delta.  What may remain of the 40,000-page BDCP environmental impact report, now being rewritten, is a plan strongly backed by Gov. Edmund Brown Jr. to build to massive water tunnels beneath the Delta to suck fresh water out of the Sacramento River before it could flow into the estuary, and ship it 30-35 miles to the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project systems. ... ”  Read more from the Central Valley Business Times here:  Delta group blasts Brown for ‘water grab’

Ag water battle goes viral:  “Seems like everybody is jumping into the red-hot California water debate.  Ever since Gov. Jerry Brown announced on April 1 that cities like Hanford and Lemoore would be forced to conserve in a big way to cut the state’s water use by 25 percent, the accusations have been flying, with major non-California blogs, newspapers and pundits jumping into the ring last week and asking whether California agriculture – the largest private source of jobs in Kings County and a $45 billion industry statewide – is sharing the pain.  That, in turn, has sent agriculture into full defense mode … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here:  Ag water battle goes viral

Almonds really not that thirsty, supporters say:  “As California moves into the fourth year of a withering drought and Gov. Jerry Brown announces mandatory water use restrictions on the state’s 39 million residents, attention has focused on its thirsty agricultural industry and, in particular, rapidly expanding almond orchards.  Pundits point out more water was poured onto the state’s roughly 1 million acres of almonds than consumed for indoor urban uses.  It takes about a gallon of water to produce a single almond, they complain. ... ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Almonds really not that thirsty, supporters say

California’s water problems go way deeper than almonds:  “Policy debates are always easier when there’s a clear villain. And, as California grapples with a brutal drought, a truly diabolical one has emerged: almonds.  The reasoning is simple: California is facing a water crunch. And the state’s almond growers now account for 10 percent of water use in the state — a number that’s soaring as people eat more almonds and chug more almond milk. Almond growers, we’re told, now use three times as much water as the entire city of Los Angeles. So if everyone switched to other snacks, California would have more water to spare. Right?  Well … yes and no. ... ”  Read more from Vox here:  California’s water problems go way deeper than almonds

California’s rainless summer will dry up drinking water supplies:  “Communities in California’s seared Central Valley and arid mountain foothills are expected to end this year’s rainless summer with drinking water supplies so tight they may give out by September, according to state and local water administrators.  The communities drawing ever closer to running out of water are as varied as California’s kaleidoscopic geography: Sierra Nevada foothill villages and Pacific Coast hamlets that draw from a single creek; unincorporated Central Valley farmsteads with gasping wells; lakeside tracts now with sandbar vistas. … ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here:  California’s rainless summer will dry up drinking water supplies

Drought carries a silver lining: More solar power:  “It’s difficult to think of California’s historic drought in anything other than grim terms, but there is one bright side to the state’s dilemma. With less rain and therefore less clouds, California is poised to use its well-established solar power infrastructure to capture an increasing bounty of sunlight. As a result of the drought, hydropower has taken a massive hit in California; the Pacific Institute estimates that the loss in hydropower in a two year period starting in 2012 cost consumers $1.4 billion and increased carbon emissions by 8 percent.  ... ”  Read more from The Weather Channel here:  Drought carries a silver lining: More solar power

California’s cycles of drought:  ” … Scientists say that in the more ancient past, California and the Southwest occasionally had even worse droughts — so-called megadroughts — that lasted decades. At least in parts of California, in two cases in the last 1,200 years, these dry spells lingered for up to two centuries.  The new normal, scientists say, may in fact be an old one.  Few experts say California is now in the grip of a megadrought, which is loosely defined as one that lasts two decades or longer. But the situation in the state can be seen as part of a larger and longer dry spell that has affected much of the West, Southwest and Plains, although not uniformly. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  California’s cycles of drought

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4 tech companies trying to fight California’s drought:  “Cakebread Cellars makes wine the old-fashioned way, employing experts to use their eyes, nose and palate to produce coveted Napa Valley nectar.  But at the root of such success is water, which in California is fast becoming as precious as a rare Cabernet Sauvignon. That’s why behind the scenes here, high-tech tools are helping this cutting-edge winery maximize water through yet another drought. ... ”  Read more from USA Today here:  4 tech companies trying to fight California’s drought

Saving water is not as hard as you think:  “Like many drought-conscious Californians, Angel Winn is trying to save every last drop of water.  When the San Jose woman washes her car, she parks it on her lawn so that the hose also waters the grass. She takes showers at the gym because the grunginess encourages quick ones. She even saves tap water by giving her dog the leftover water from her gym bottle, as well as ice from her water glass.  “He’s OK with it,” said Winn, 39, a high school counselor. “Plus, he likes the ice.” ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Saving water is not as hard as you think

In commentary today …

To respond to California drought, we need to follow the facts, says Bruce Maiman:  He writes, “Beware simple reactions to complex issues. If anything has scarred the drought debate, it’s that.  People on all sides have sharpened their axes to grind on whatever they dislike, distorting data and reality and making it that much harder to find a fair solution. What’s needed is a cleansing moment of clarity.  ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  To respond to California drought, we need to follow the facts

Column: Journalists and farmers flunking drought math: Mike Dunbar writes, “Journalists are notoriously poor at doing math, especially drought math. Consider this quiz:  What’s left when you take nothing from nothing?  A lot of bloggers and commentators believe the answer is 25%. They’ve criticized Gov. Jerry Brown for giving “Big Ag” a drought pass. Unfair, they cry, echoing the wails of urbanites required to cut consumption by 25% (or more, in some cases).  Why aren’t farmers being asked to do more? … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Journalists and farmers flunking drought math

Making sense of water: Mark Bittman writes, “Almost every number used to analyze California’s drought can be debated, but this can be safely said: No level of restrictions on residential use can solve the problem. The solution lies with agriculture, which consumes more than its fair share.  That doesn’t mean homeowners can’t and shouldn’t cut back. … ” Read more from the New York Times here:  Making sense of water

The real reason Californians can’t water their lawns:  Charles Kenney writes, “In response to the ongoing drought, California Governor Jerry Brown has set limits on urban water use—ordering cuts of as much as 25 percent. Cities across the state will stop watering highway median strips and rip up grass in public places. Golf courses and cemeteries will turn on the sprinklers less frequently, and water rates might rise.  In many ways, this is an odd response to a water problem that’s largely about agriculture. But in that, California is a microcosm of an increasing proportion of the world: underpriced water used mainly for agriculture driving shortages that have nasty side effects on urban areas. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg Business here:  The real reason Californians can’t water their lawns

In regional news and commentary today …

Feds to consider protecting fish unique to Clear Lake:  “A federal agency’s decision to consider protection for a large silvery minnow found only in Clear Lake, hailed by environmentalists and Native American tribes, is also renewing concern over its potential impact on water use and economic development around the lake.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday it is initiating a yearlong study of a proposal to designate the Clear Lake hitch as a threatened or endangered species, elevating the level of protection for the fish and its spawning habitat around the 68-square-mile lake. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Feds to consider protecting fish unique to Clear Lake

Two East Bay water boards to vote on cutbacks in water use:Two large East Bay water districts this week will consider becoming the first in the Bay Area to adopt state-ordered cuts in water use — and provide notice of proposed drought rate increases.  The East Bay Municipal Utility District board on Tuesday will consider mandatory districtwide reductions of 20 percent below use in 2013. Currently, the district is asking its 1.3 million customers to voluntarily cut back 15 percent.  The Contra Costa Water District Board on Wednesday will consider mandatory reductions of 25 percent — up sharply from its 15 percent voluntary conservation program. ... ”  Read more from the Contra Costa Times here:  Two East Bay water boards to vote on cutbacks in water use

Stockton:  Symposium set to examine the state of some Valley rivers: How is the drought is impacting San Joaquin County rivers, including the health, management and conservation of the four major Central Valley rivers that provide water to residents – the San Joaquin, Calaveras, Mokelumne and Stanislaus — will be the topic of a public meeting on Thursday.  Conservation organizations, government agencies, policymakers, public-interest groups, the media and concerned citizens are invited to attend the symposium free of charge. … ”  Read more from the Central Valley Business Times here:  Symposium set to examine the state of some Valley rivers

No water, less crops, less jobs: Valley citrus growers rip out trees:  “Several citrus growers in and around Orange Cove are taking drastic steps at saving what little water they have. They are ripping out mature citrus trees and leaving the land bare. For a second consecutive year farmers will receive a zero percent allocation of surface water, and growers say they have no other choice.  David Roth, President with Cecelia Citrus says, “These trees just went through bloom. We had a nice bloom. But then we looked at the numbers and had to do something.” ... ”  Read more from KMPH here:  No water, less crops, less jobs: Valley citrus growers rip out trees

Merced Irrigation District’s Swiegard talks drought with state, federal officials:  “John Sweigard, the Merced Irrigation District general manager, provided local perspective on the state’s historic drought while serving as a panelist during a formal discussion with top water officials from around the nation.  Sweigard was one of dozens of water authorities who gathered last week at Sacramento’s Crest Theatre to discuss the vast effects of the drought, which is in its fourth year, and to propose strategies for limiting the damage to the state’s economy and environment.  Sweigard said farmers understand some pain is inevitable in an arid climate but hope some environmental restrictions can be relaxed on the state’s profoundly limited water supply. ... ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here:  Merced Irrigation District’s Swiegard talks drought with state, federal officials

Santa Clarita has water in the bank:  “Local water officials who began banking water 14 years ago following Santa Clarita Valley’s last multiyear drought took stock of those efforts recently and learned the plan is paying off.  Statistics presented at a Castaic Lake Water Agency committee meeting reflected a bleak picture of the drought state wide, but numbers reflecting water banked locally in preparation for dry times like these are encouraging, said Dirk Marks, the agency’s water resources manager.  ... ”  Read more from the Santa Clarita Signal here:  Water in the bank

SoCal water supplier plans to cut back:  “One of California’s largest water wholesalers moved forward Monday on a plan to reduce the amount of water it delivers to more than two dozen cities and agencies serving 19 million people amid the lengthening drought.  If approved by the board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California today, regional water deliveries would be cut by 15 percent beginning in July. The district serves parts of Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.  The effects of the cuts would vary between local water districts. Places that have done a poor job of conserving would have to crack down on outdoor watering and take other conservation measures and boost water rates to avoid paying a high price for extra water. … ”  Read more from the AP via the Appeal-Democrat here:  SoCal water supplier plans to cut back

Water rationing of 15% in SoCal could bring higher bills:  “Southern California’s water wholesaler Tuesday is poised to impose a 15% cut in water deliveries to local cities and water districts, a move that would bolster Gov. Jerry Brown’s aggressive statewide conservation effort in the fourth year of withering drought.  A committee of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California recommended the reduction Monday, which would come with penalties that would significantly increase water costs for agencies that demand more deliveries than they are allocated. The full MWD board is expected to approve the plan Tuesday. ... ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here:  Water rationing of 15% in SoCal could bring higher bills

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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