Daily Digest: California court rejects city’s tiered rates (& link to court ruling), Activists decry plan to cut habitat aid from Delta project, Strong demand, not drought, drives almond plantings, and more, plus Shatner says build a pipeline to Washington

Daily DigestIn California water news today, California court rejects city’s tiered rates, Activists decry plan to cut habitat aid from Delta project, Strong demand, not drought, drives almond plantings, State funding for larger reservoir above Millerton is a crowded field, The California town with no water: Even an ‘angel’ can’t stop the wells going dry, Bill would require submeters on new apartment buildings, William Shatner’s solution to the California drought: Build a pipeline from Washington to Lake Mead, and more …

On the calendar today …

 

  • The State Water Resources Control Board will meet this morning beginning at 9am.  Agenda items include an update on the ongoing drought emergency and a briefing on the annual compliance report for the statewide sanitary sewer overflow reduction program.  Click here for the agendaClick here for the webcast.
  • Water Storage Investment Program Public Information Meeting will be held in Pleasant Hill beginning at 5:30pmClick here for more information.

In the news today …

[pullquote]

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

[/pullquote]

California court rejects city’s tiered rates:  “A state appeals court ruled on Monday that a southern California city’s tiered water rates, developed in an effort to combat overuse during the state’s ongoing drought, violated the state’s Constitution.  The three-judge panel for the state’s 4th District Court of Appeal sided with taxpayers of the Los Angeles-area city of San Juan Capistrano, who filed a lawsuit against the city’s plan to charge differing rates based on water usage.  The judges said in the 29-page opinion that the cost schedule was unconstitutional because it made some consumers pay more for water than it cost the government to provide it, violating a voter-approved proposition. … ”  Read more from Reuters here:  California court rejects city’s tiered rates

Appeals court rejects higher rates for biggest users:A state appeals court dealt a potentially serious blow Monday to local governments’ attempts to encourage water conservation in drought-parched California, ruling that they cannot charge higher rates to big users simply because those customers guzzle more water.  Instead, the court said, cities and water agencies can charge only as much as it costs them to provide service to customers.  Tiered rates can be legal when additional water costs more to supply — for example, if an agency must build a new recycling plant or turn to high-priced sources — said the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana.  … ”  Continue reading at SF Gate here:  Appeals court rejects higher rates for biggest users

More on the court ruling here: Court: San Juan Capistrano’s tiered water rates are illegal, may hinder conservation, from the O.C. Register, California Court rules water pricing plan violates law, from the New York Times

READ THE COURT RULING HERE:  Fourth Appellate District Court Ruling

Activists decry plan to cut habitat aid from Delta project:  “Environmental groups Monday blasted a proposal by the state to jettison the habitat restoration portion of the massive delta water tunnel project as an ill-conceived “bait and switch” that will only make California’s water woes worse.  The $25 billion twin-tunnel project was supposed to include $7.8 billion to restore 100,000 acres of habitat for fish, birds and other species in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The environmental portion of the plan was designed to minimize the impact of siphoning out water and moving it south, but long-term water guarantees could not be justified, forcing state officials to consider alternatives. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Activists decry plan to cut habitat aid from Delta project

Strong demand, not drought, drives almond plantings: They say money doesn’t grow on trees.  But Rabobank’s recent research report on California’s almond crop suggests otherwise.  With last fall’s crop down 12 percent due to poor pollination conditions and drought pressures, strong global demand has pushed prices to record levels.  At $4 a pound, Rabobank expects growers to continue to increase almond acreage despite water concerns and high land costs.  It’s simple math. ... ”  Read more the Stockton Record here:  Strong demand, not drought, drives almond plantings

State funding for larger reservoir above Millerton? Crowded field competes for it:  “Will there be competition for the state bond money that could help pay for $2.6 billion Temperance Flat Dam near Fresno?  Yes.  That’s probably the only simple answer you may see over the next 18 months as the process unfolds to fund water-storage projects.  But that’s not slowing down folks in San Joaquin Valley agriculture who consider this the best chance in decades to expand water storage above Millerton Lake by more than 1 million acre-feet. The state money could pay for nearly half of it. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  State funding for larger reservoir above Millerton?  Crowded field competes for it

The California town with no water: Even an ‘angel’ can’t stop the wells going dry:  “Water has its own language in this town. Residents talk about nervous neighbors “pulling the hose”, or speculate about which houses on a street are “on the line”. People gripe about how neighbors use “tank water” to hydrate plants.  That water lingo developed in this rural city of 6,700 – mostly poor Latino farm workers – should not be surprising. There has been a preoccupation with the stuff that comes from the tap since residents started running out of it.  East Porterville is the epicenter of individual suffering in drought-stricken California. Nearly 1,000 private wells that once delivered water to homes and small businesses inside Tulare County have dried up, leaving desperate residents with just a few costly options, and no water. In all of California, there are 800 more such wells. … ”  Read more from The Guardian here:  The California town with no water: Even an ‘angel’ can’t stop the wells going dry

Bill would require submeters on new apartment buildings:  “California lawmakers are considering a bill that would require the installation of water meters in each unit of newly constructed apartments.  Democratic Senator Lois Wolk is author of the proposed legislation. She says almost half of all Californians live in multi-family housing. Fewer than 20-percent ever see a water bill.  “The most efficient way of gaining conservation is a price mechanism,” says Wolk. “When people see what they use, and if it’s too much, they’ll cut back.” … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Bill would require submeters on new apartment buildings

Farmers see no shortage of issues with drought:  ” … A study from the University of California, Davis, found that total direct costs to agriculture in 2014 were $1.5 billion. This includes $1 billion in revenue losses and $0.5 billion in additional pumping costs, totaling about 3% of California’s total agricultural value. Statewide, economic costs of the drought in 2014 were $2.2 billion.  While larger farmers are not included in the 25% reduction, they have already had to deal with the drought in their own ways long before the reduction was mandated.  Since the drought began in 2012, the situation and outlook for California farmers has drastically changed. … ” Read more from Food Dive here:  Farmers see no shortage of issues with drought

California drought to get worse, experts say:  “Weather experts received some bad news regarding the drought in Irvine Monday: With no relief this winter and summer ahead, the ongoing California drought is expected to get worse.  “The water situation is about as bad as you can expect it to be after four years of drought,” said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Martin Hoerling. Scientists and experts confirmed the bleak status of California’s dwindling water supply. Researchers, students and state officials gathered at UC Irvine to discuss the causes and possible solutions for the state’s historic drought.  ... ”  Read more from ABC 7 here:  California drought to get worse, experts say

And lastly … William Shatner’s solution to the California drought: Build a pipeline from Washington to Lake Mead:  “Actor William Shatner has a fix for California’s worsening drought: a big pipe and Seattle’s famous rain.  He plans to launch a Kickstarter to raise $30 billion for a water pipeline from Seattle to Lake Mead in Nevada, which feeds water to Arizona, Nevada and California, according to a Yahoo! interview.  “California’s in the midst of a 4-year-old drought. They tell us there’s a year’s supply of water left. If it doesn’t rain next year, what do 20 million people in the breadbasket of the world do?” Shatner, 84, told Yahoo! Tech’s David Pogue. … ”  Read more from USA Today here:  William Shatner’s solution to the California drought: A pipeline to Seattle

In commentary today …

Restoring the Delta must be part of the tunnels plan, says the Fresno Bee:  They write, “As Gov. Jerry Brown tries to salvage the $25 billion project to build twin tunnels through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, he should keep in mind that it won’t be acceptable to give up its environmental goals.  His new tack is understandable; federal agencies have signaled that they probably won’t issue the 50-year environmental permits that were a key element of the old plan. But if he wants to persuade the public that his approach won’t degenerate into a water grab for Southern California and the Central Valley, he has to show resolve. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Restoring the Delta must be part of the tunnels plan

Another fish tale mucks up the water debate, says Bruce Maiman:  He writes, “There’s an old saw in journalism: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”  It’s especially sage advice these days. The constant stream of misinformation about California’s drought is like a bad game of Whack-A-Mole. Just as one falsehood is struck down, another one pops up: California is flushing 4.8 billion gallons of water down the Stanislaus River to save six fish.  I first heard this from a Central Valley radio host who called to interview me about my column last week about water numbers being distorted. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Another fish tale mucks of the water debate

Everything I thought I knew about water in California was wrong:  Nathanael Johnston writes:  “This piece started out as a confident prescription for California’s drought ills. But when I began writing, I kept coming across things that seemed confusing or contradictory. And each time I went to the experts to clarify, they’d explode all my basic assumptions.  So instead of writing that piece, here’s a list of all the (misguided) conventional wisdom I had absorbed set right — or, at least, clarified. ... ”  Read more from The Grist here:  Everything I thought I knew about water in California was wrong

Disagreeable provisions may give Sites a boost, says the Chico Enterprise-Record: They write, “Plenty of people were upset last week when they learned the water bond they voted for in November wasn’t what they thought they voted for.  Proposition 1 was marketed in the north state as a way to provide the money to build Sites Reservoir. The ballot measure didn’t say that though, which is one of the reasons this newspaper was one of the few to recommend a no vote on the bonds.  Last Monday when a couple of state Water Commission members came to town with the unenviable task of delivering the unpleasant news about exactly what a crowded room full of people actually had voted for, the message was not well received. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Disagreeable provisions may give Sites a boost

Stop counting on individuals to solve California’s water crisis, says Janet Vertesi:  She writes, “The drought in California has revealed more than just dry lake beds. As NASA issues dire warnings about the prospects for water in the state, Californians are cutting down on their showers, draining their swimming pools, and berating their neighbors for their neatly manicured lawns. Most distressing about the current crisis, though, is what it has revealed about the assumptions that underlie our environmental policies and technologies. Many believe that saving water starts at home, but in this case it’s not residential consumers but large agricultural customers who use most of the water provided by state utilities. … ”  Read more from TIME Magazine here:  Stop counting on individuals to solve California’s water crisis

In regional news and commentary today …

Siskiyou group urges continued opposition to Klamath agreements: Despite the absence of the guest of honor, the Siskiyou County Water Users Association pressed on Friday night with a meeting about dams on the Klamath River and some of the group’s top issues.  SCWUA President Rich Marshall told the crowd of approximately 50 that Chrysten Lambert, the new federal appointee to the Klamath Basin Compact Commission, had been scheduled to attend the meeting and listen to feedback from Siskiyou residents.  Before the meeting, he said, Lambert expressed concerns that the meeting would too closely border on being a public hearing and require the full commission. ... ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here:  Siskiyou group urges continued opposition to Klamath agreements

Local suppliers may get water cut easement in new water regulations:  “The third time’s a charm.  After hearing concerns from a coalition of local water suppliers and policy makers on the newest set of drought regulations, the State Water Resources Control Board included a clause within its draft rules that would ease up water mandates for areas with prolonged, ample water supplies. ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Local suppliers may get water cut easement in new water regulations

Santa Rosa comes out ahead on water cuts:  “Santa Rosa residents have already satisfied the state’s water conservation requirement and simply “need to keep it up” as the weather warms and the urge to water lawns resumes, a city official said Monday.  “We’re asking our customers to keep implementing the water-saving habits they have picked up,” said Jennifer Burke, deputy director of water and engineering services.  Santa Rosa was the only one of 11 North Bay cities and water agencies that came out ahead of the revised conservation standards issued Saturday by the State Water Board, which is implementing Gov. Jerry Brown’s demand for a statewide 25 percent cut in water consumption this year. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Santa Rosa comes out ahead of revised water cuts

EBMUD receives emergency supplies from Sacramento River:  “The East Bay Municipal Utility District has begun receiving emergency water supplies from the Sacramento River. And while the extra water heading to the San Pablo Reservoir is certainly welcome, it’s also expensive.  Looks will be deceiving this summer. In a couple of months, the San Pablo Reservoir will be brimming with water.  ... ”  Read more from ABC 7 here:  EBMUD receives emergency supplies from Sacramento River

Report:  Bay area ill-prepared for coming superstorms:  “With California stuck in a remorseless drought, most people in the Bay Area probably aren’t worried about getting too much rain. But a new report claims they should be.  In a study released Monday, the nonprofit Bay Area Council argues the region is ill-prepared for a rare but inevitable superstorm powerful enough to drop 12 inches of rain in a week. Flooding from such a storm, predicted to occur once every 150 years or so, would wreak $10.4 billion in economic damage, almost as much as the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, according to the council, a public policy organization backed by some of the Bay Area’s top businesses. … ”  Read more the San Jose Mercury News here:  Report: Bay area ill-prepared for coming superstorms

Lynette Zelezny: Fresno State aims to be the ‘water university’: California State University, Fresno is at the heart of the most important agricultural region in the nation, and is committed to positively addressing water and agricultural issues. The challenges that we’re facing in those areas are increasingly formidable, and it is more important than ever that we align our academic resources with the needs of the Central Valley.  We’re building a national reputation as a leader in applied research on water. In fact, award-winning reporter Charles Fishman, who will be speaking at a water forum at our campus Thursday, wrote in National Geographic that Fresno State is one of three major universities that have advanced “big leaps of progress in water.” … ” Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Fresno State aims to be the ‘water university

Water bills for Cantua Creek to be paid by state:  “The state has provided Fresno County with $120,000 to buy water for residents will Cantua Creek.  The community of about 71 homes and 275 residents was going to be without water beginning next month if funding was not found to pay for Cantua Creek’s water supply.  Fresno County supervisors will be advised about the state funding plan Tuesday and discuss moving ahead with other plans for Cantua Creek’s water issues at a meeting on May 5. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Water bills for Cantua Creek will be paid by state

LADWP’s Owens Valley pumping might suffer without snowpack runoff:  “A possible consequence of another dry winter in California: the water supplies Los Angeles can take from Inyo County may be limited.  The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has oversight of the water it derives from the area. Today, it releases its plan for pumping groundwater out of the Owens Valley over the next six months. In wet times — as in the winter of 2011-2012 — about a quarter of the L.A.’s water supply can come from Owens Valley’s below ground reservoirs. … ”  Read more from KPCC here:  LADWP’s Owens Valley pumping might suffer without snowpack runoff

San Diego farmers pleased at change in water rules:  “After a vigorous effort to alert the state water board about what they saw as the unfairness of proposed drought rules, San Diego County farmers were pleased at how the rules were modified.  “They heard us,” said Eric Larson, executive director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau. “We fared very well.”  By one count, of the 370 letters sent to the Water Resources Control Board about the proposed cutbacks in water, 145 of them were from San Diego County farmers and officials representing water districts that serve farming areas. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  San Diego farmers pleased at change in water rules

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

Click here to read more editions of the Daily Digest.

Daily emailsGet the Notebook blog by email and never miss a post!

Sign up for daily emails and get all the Notebook’s aggregated and original water news content delivered to your email box by 9AM. Breaking news alerts, too. Sign me up!

—————————————-
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

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: