Daily Digest: Barrier deployed in war on salt, Water Commission hears from supporters of Temperance Flat, Drought pressure creates cracks in Friant Water Authority, The drought isn’t CA’s only water problem, and more …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, Barrier deployed in war on salt, Delta smelt survey tallies one fish, heating up debate over water supply, California Water Commission hears from supporters of Temperance Flat Dam, Drought pressure creates cracks in Friant Water Authority, The drought isn’t California’s only water problem, California salmon outlook is good for 2015; ominous in the long run, How almonds became the scapegoat for the California drought, California’s farmers under attack for heavy water use, 10 things to know about water use, and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board will meet today and tomorrow in  Fresno.  Agenda is posted here.
  • The Delta Protection Commission’s Strategic Plan:  The Delta Protection Commission (DPC) Advisory Committee will conduct a public workshop this afternoon beginning at 5:30pm in Walnut Grove to will provide an overview of the DPC Vision 2030 Strategic Plan Public Draft, answer questions, and receive comments. Click here for the agenda.  If you cannot attend tonight, you can attend a webinar briefing on April 22. Register for the webinar here.

In the news today …

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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Barrier deployed in war on salt: “For the first time since the drought of the late 1970s, state officials will fill a Delta channel with rocks to block saltwater from creeping farther inland later this year. The state Department of Water Resources considered building three such emergency barriers last year, but spring rains rendered them unnecessary. No such luck this year. The $28 million temporary barrier will be installed on False River just off the San Joaquin River, about five miles northeast of Oakley, the state announced on Wednesday. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here: Barrier deployed in war on salt See also:  California to build temporary Delta dam, from the Sacramento Bee

Delta smelt survey tallies one fish, heating up debate over water supply:  “There’s only one place left on Earth where imperiled Delta Smelt are thriving, where their water remains cold and clean.  In the wild, the fish is on the brink of extinction. This month, in their April trawl survey, state Fish and Wildlife scientists caught only one of the pinky-sized, politicized fish with an outsized role in California’s water wars, an alarming indication of just how few smelt are left. And the drought may inflict the final blow. … ”  Read more from The Reporter here:  Delta smelt survey tallies one fish, heating up debate over water supply

California Water Commission hears from supporters of Temperance Flat Dam:  “The California Water Commission came to Fresno on Wednesday to collect comments on how to spend $2.7 billion in bond money for water storage projects. The message the commissioners heard was loud and clear: build Sites Reservoir and Temperance Flat dam.  The nine-member commission listened to community members, elected officials and farmers for more than two hours. Many of them reminded the commissioners about the vital role water plays in the region. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  California Water Commission hears from supporters of Temperance Flat Dam

Drought pressure creates cracks in Friant Water Authority: In the San Joaquin Valley’s frenzied attempts to cope with the drought crisis, five farm water districts have left the Friant Water Authority, the cornerstone of farm water delivery along 1 million acres.  The powerful authority lost a quarter of its membership in the last month over differences in how to battle for more water in an east-Valley farming belt worth several billion dollars annually.  “We don’t know how this will shake out,” said Tulare County farmer Mark Watte, who is chairman of the Friant board. “These are desperate times. We haven’t faced a drought this bad in our 65 years.” ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Drought pressure creates cracks in powerful farm water authority

The drought isn’t California’s only water problem:  “Whether you live in or out of California, you are probably looking for something, anything, just one dang thing that will help you understand this impossibly complicated drought.  You’re not going to find it. No Central Valley almond, Los Angeles swimming pool, Palm Springs golf course, Fresno lawn, Nestle water bottle, Napa wine, Humboldt pot farm, or Merced River salmon is going to satisfy your craving for a culprit. Instead, allow me to divert your attention to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a massive estuary to the east of the San Francisco Bay that is the heart of a story that will at least explain why you’ll never get a satisfying explanation. ... ”  Read more from WIRED Magazine here:  The drought isn’t California’s only water problem

California salmon outlook is good for 2015; ominous in the long run:  “Reflecting optimism about this year’s abundance of chinook salmon, fishing industry regulators on Wednesday approved the longest commercial season in more than a decade. But the state’s record drought has darkened the long-term outlook for one of California’s most valuable fish.  The San Francisco region’s 2015 season will total 139 days between May 1 and Sept. 30, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council decided near the end of a weeklong conference in Rohnert Park. The council also voted to allow 11 days of fishing off Point Reyes National Seashore in October, when the fall-run chinook pass under the Golden Gate Bridge to spawn in the Sacramento River system. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  California salmon outlook is good for 2015; ominous in the long run

How almonds became the scapegoat for the California drought: You may have heard by now that it takes one gallon of water to produce just one almond. And those are considered fighting words in drought-stricken California, which produces 80 percent of the world’s supply of the tasty and nutritious nut.  So when almond grower Daniel Bays hears that, he just shakes his head.  “Almonds really aren’t more thirsty than any of our other crops, ” says Bays, a third-generation farmer in Westley, Calif. It’s a small farming community about 90 minutes southeast of San Francisco where his family has about 700 acres of almond orchards. They also grow tomatoes, melons, beans, wheat and apricots. … ”  Read more from NPR here:  How almonds became the scapegoat for the California drought

California’s farmers under attack for heavy water use:  “If you tuned in to talk radio in Los Angeles last week, you might have heard some screaming.  “The farming industry is using 80 percent of the water, and they’re 2 percent of the economy, justify that!” shouted John Kobylt of KFI radio’s “John and Ken Show.”  Kobylt was ripping into Brad Gleason, who manages almond and pistachio operations in California. When Gleason argued that the actual water usage was lower, and that nuts use less water than other California commodities like dairy cattle, Kobylt wasn’t having any of it.  … ”  Read more from CNBC here:  California’s farmers under attack for heavy water use

Californians are facing more cuts and stiffer penalties for ignoring water use restrictions:  “The effects of California’s prolonged drought are unfolding quickly, and water managers’ actions to conserve supplies could soon hit the wallets of Southern California’s millions of residents.  Metropolitan Water District (MWD), the biggest wholesaler in the state, voted yesterday to cut by 15 percent the allotment of water it gives to its 26 member agencies. Local water authorities will face steep fines for using more.  Metropolitan’s board of directors approved the cut starting July 1 for a yearlong period. Exact numbers for different agencies will vary, based on local supply conditions and how much they’ve previously conserved. ... ”  Read more from E&E Publishing here:  Californians facing more cuts and stiffer penalties for ignoring water use restrictions

Drought’s economic impact ‘limited’: California’s punishing drought has fallowed farmland and yellowed front lawns, yet it will have little noticeable impact on the state’s overall economy or government revenue, at least in the short term, according to a new report by the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal analyst.  “While the drought is affecting many Californians and communities in different ways, we currently do not expect the drought to have a significant effect on statewide economic activity or state government revenues,” Tuesday’s report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office read. “That being said, we acknowledge the drought as a risk factor for the state’s economy, especially if its effects worsen or are prolonged.” ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Drought’s economic impact ‘limited’

10 things to know about water use:  “1. Agriculture uses way more water than cities, but not necessarily 80 percent.  We hear all the time that growers use 80 percent of California’s water. And state officials do say California’s 9 million acres of farmland consume that much. But that’s 80 percent of human water use.  Cities and towns account for the rest. For a long time, that was the dominant way of tallying the state’s water use. But recently, state officials have begun counting environmental uses for water, too ... ”  Continue reading at KPCC here:  10 things to know about water use

Gray’s bill aiming to protect Central Valley water resources advances:  “A water bill written by Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, that would force the state to consider the consequences of diverting water from the Central Valley cleared its first committee Tuesday.  Assembly Bill 1242 would require the state Water Resources Control Board to mitigate adverse impacts of any new water quality control plan. The board recently proposed diverting 350,000 acre-feet of water from the Tuolumne, Merced and Stanislaus rivers to protect certain fish. ... ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here: Gray’s bill aiming to protect Central Valley water resources advances

Drought relief legislation starts slow in Washington:  “Drought relief legislation this year has gotten off to a slow start on Capitol Hill – unlike last year, when bills were floated in both the House and the Senate.  Mendota Mayor Robert Silva, who spent the week meeting with members of Congress, says things are moving…underground.  Silva: Well…there’s a lot of back ground discussions…But I really feel positive about what’s being discussed with us. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Drought relief legislation starts slow in Washington

California’s farms would only need to cut water by 6.6% to match urban restrictions:  “Faced with the worst drought in its history, California has told towns, businesses and private citizens to replace their lawns with plants that aren’t so thirsty and make other changes to reduce water usage by 25 percent. That could save around 500 billion gallons of water a year, which is impressive. But critics say it’s not enough.  Why, when the state’s stored reservoir water supply is at risk of drying up within a year, is Governor Jerry Brown focusing only on ornamental landscaping? Agriculture uses nearly four times as much water as urban consumers. … ”  Read more from Newsweek here:  California’s farms would only need to cut water by 6.6% to match urban restrictions

In record drought, golf course ethically keeps greens green:  “In drought-stricken California, golf is often seen as a bad guy — it can be hard to defend watering acres of grass for fun when residents are being ordered to cut their usage and farmers are draining their wells.  But golf is a $6 billion industry in the state and employs nearly 130,000 workers, according to the California Golf Course Owners Association. So while the greens are staying green, some golf courses are saving every drop of water they can. ... ”  Read more from NPR here:  In record drought, golf course ethically keeps greens green

In regional news and commentary today …

Going with the flow: Volunteer efforts to monitor the health of Big Chico Creek continue:Big Chico Creek, the waterway that originates at an elevation of 5,400 feet in the eastern foothills and flows 45 miles to the Sacramento River, has garnered an increasing amount of attention in the past dozen-plus years from ecologically minded groups looking to monitor its health.  One of those groups is the Big Chico Creek Stream Team, which gathered Saturday (April 11) at Five-Mile Recreation Area for a three-hour lesson in how to gather water-quality data at various spots along the creek. ... ”  Read more from the Chico News and Review here: Going with the flow: Volunteer efforts to monitor the health of Big Chico Creek continue

Property fee among suggestions for new Paso Robles water district: “When it meets Tuesday, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider an application that will help form a new Paso Robles ground-water management district, including details on district boundaries, powers and a possible property fee to cover a $950,000 annual operating budget.  San Luis Obispo County project manager John Diodati laid out the information in a report for the board to consider as part of its application to the Local Agency Formation Commission. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here: Property fee among suggestions for new Paso Robles water district

LA pushes to use shower, bathwater to combat drought:  “Faced with a worsening drought, there is a new push to allow Los Angeles residents to better harness leftover water from daily showers, dish washing and laundry.  It’s part of a larger movement to use this grey water for home plant irrigation to conserve potable water.  Grey water is almost as clean as potable water and can be used for a variety of water-intensive tasks, such as irrigating lawns and flushing toilets. Councilman Paul Krekorian’s motion released Tuesday asks the city to develop standards for gray water treatment systems that would allow wider use. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  LA pushes to use shower, bathwater to combat drought

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.

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

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