Daily Digest: No scapefish in drought wars; Federal amendment takes aim at striped bass; Delta barrier wreaking havoc on Delta currents, ferry service; Filling up on empty: Using depleted aquifers as water banks, and more …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, No scapefish in drought wars, Federal amendment takes aim at striped bass; Delta barrier wreaking havoc on Delta currents, ferry service; Late storms mean more irrigation water for some farmers; Filling up on empty: Can depleted aquifers be used as water banks; and more …

On the calendar today …



Also on Maven’s Notebook today …


In the news today …

No scapefish in drought wars:  “According to the Biblical book of Leviticus, the ancient Israelites designated a goat to bear the weight of their sins. Nowadays, the scapegoat is not required to be a goat. When it comes to assessing blame for the worsening California drought, a scapefish will suffice. Some media outlets, notably the Wall Street Journal in a recent op-ed piece, point to the hapless Delta smelt as a culprit in the state’s water crisis, as well as a prime example of the iniquities of the federal Endangered Species Act.  As is so often the case, though, it’s not that simple. Day-by-day analysis of water exports from the Delta by Jon Rosenfield and Greg Reis of The Bay Institute shows that smelt protection has had very little to do with water export restrictions during the drought. … ”  Continue reading from Estuary News here:  No scapefish in drought wars

Federal amendment takes aim at striped bass:  “An issue at the heart of our water debates – whether nonnative fish prey heavily on salmon and steelhead – wriggled through Congress this week.  The U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment proposed by Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, that would require attention to this issue in any recovery plan for salmon or steelhead under the Endangered Species Act.  Supporters see the amendment as a way to slow efforts to increase river flows for these native fish at the expense of farms and cities that divert the water. Their main target is striped bass, an introduced species that eats the young native fish we are trying to save. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Federal amendment takes aim at striped bass

Delta barrier wreaking havoc on Delta currents, ferry service:  “Bruce Kitchens gunned the engine on the Victory II ferry and backed off this tiny Delta island’s landing, but the fierce Fisherman’s Cut current quickly pulled the old vessel into a shallow tule bank. After two more tries Thursday afternoon, the ferry finally pulled out and away from the fast-moving water.  Earlier in the week, the ferry wasn’t as fortunate, grounding itself three times in the mud, the last time needing a tugboat to rescue it, Kitchens said. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Drought barrier wreaking havoc on Delta currents, ferry service

Late storms mean more irrigation water for some farmers: Late spring storms in the last couple of months have improved the irrigation prospects for some farmers in the Central Valley. The unexpected rain will mean more water to irrigate crops, orchards, and pastureland. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Late storms mean more irrigation water for some farmers

Filling up on empty: Can depleted aquifers be used as water banks? “We are sucking our aquifers dry,” the headline reads. Could this be a good thing?  The bad effects of declining groundwater levels are known: land subsidence, the cost of pumping from deeper wells, the drying up of surface springs and streams. But there is a potential gain as well. Using up one resource, the water stored under the ground, we are creating another: storage space far greater than any conceivable new dam could provide. “Historical overdraft,” writes engineer Jay Lund, “may be an effective means of underground reservoir construction.” If so, we have been building like mad. … ”  Read more from Estuary News here:  Filling up on empty

In commentary today …

Sacrifice the bullet train to the water gods, says John Phillips:  He writes, “There are few things on which Republicans and Democrats in Sacramento seem to agree. Democrats believe that the recession-era cuts to social welfare programs were Draconian and should be restored as soon as possible; Republicans think the cuts didn’t go far enough. Republicans think that public-sector unions have a stranglehold on lawmakers and should have their generous contracts and benefits packages rolled back; Democrats think the unions are peachy.  But there is one thing that everybody seems to agree on – the state’s drought has reached crisis-level proportions, and we need more water ASAP. … ”  Continue reading at the O.C. Register here:  Sacrifice the bullet train to the water gods

Column: Drought: Nuclear power to the rescue: James Conca writes, “The only facility in California that does not use any of California’s precious fresh water is the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant near San Luis Obispo. And it can even produce additional freshwater for the nearby community.  The nuclear plant desalinates ocean water using reverse osmosis and ultrafiltration. The nuclear plant depends on the desalination plant as its sole source of fresh water, used for the plant’s two nuclear reactors as well as all other water needs such as drinking water for its employees and irrigation of its grounds. … ”  Read more from Forbes here:  California’s Mega-drought: Nuclear power to the rescue

In regional news and commentary today …

Three Sacramento agencies get breather on drought cutbacks:  “Conservation has gotten a bit easier for three water agencies in the Sacramento area.  The city of Lincoln, Sacramento Suburban Water District and Georgetown Divide Public Utility District have been told they have to reduce water consumption by 32 percent over the next nine months compared to 2013.  The three districts had previously been in the 36 percent category, the most stringent of the nine tiers assigned by the State Water Resources Control Board. ... ”  Read more from the Sacamento Bee  here:  Three Sacramento agencies get breather on drought

Dublin builds water park amid drought:  “In the midst of the California drought, construction has started on a city water park in Dublin, a suburb of San Francisco.  The City Council approved the 31,000-square-foot water park in February. Work has started on the aquatic center, the Contra Costa Times reported. But not everyone is happy.  The city has received requests to downsize the project or scrap it. Residents want the money spent on parks and other neighborhood amenities in the city. … ”  Read more from the AP via KTVU here:  Dublin builds water park amid drought

Drought exposes Civil War veteran’s grave in Monterey County lake: “Joseph Botts Jr. stepped out of his pickup truck into a scrubby, sunbaked field of salt grass and mustard weed and bent over a granite slab bearing a worn inscription: “Corp’l John McBride.”  The retired park ranger has known about the Civil War veteran’s gravesite for most of his life. But for much of the past half-century, McBride’s remains and the tiny ghost town where he met his fate lay at the bottom of a reservoir, submerged due to a thirsty state’s need to corral every drop that flows through its parched ravines. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Drought exposes Civil War veteran’s grave in Monterey County lake

Santa Cruz: Study links nutrient runoff to fish decline in Elkhorn Slough:Nutrient loading in the ground and surface waters has long been a problem in the Monterey Bay, which is surrounded by major agricultural land and urban areas. Chemical fertilizers spill into streams and the sea, threatening marine ecosystems.  Scientists crunched data collected over the past 40 years in the Monterey Bay and the Elkhorn Slough and found links between nutrient runoff and declines in some fish populations. Their findings were published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  Study links nutrient runoff to fish decline in Elkhorn Slough

Madera family reuses shower warm up water:Rayne Simons of Madera has a novel way of helping save water and putting it to additional use in this fourth year of drought in California.  Each morning he and his wife, Callie, fill buckets with water they capture as their shower heats up. They continue to collect water as they shower. They are able to collect five to eight gallons of water each day.  After showering, they take the buckets outside their bedroom patio door and pour the water into an old tub that is inset into the ground.  ... ”  Continue reading from the Fresno Bee here:  Madera family reuses shower warm-up water 

Fresno water use plummets 24.8% in May over last year: Fresno water customers used 3.3 billion gallons less water in May compared to the same month in 2014, a drop-off of 24.8%, according to the city Department of Public Utilities.  The reduction helps Fresno in the effort to meet a state-ordered 28% cutback in water use between 2013 and the beginning of 2016.  The big water savings was probably influenced by stepped-up water conservation restrictions that began last August. The city began allowing only two days of watering per week, instead of three. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Fresno water use plummets 24.8% in May over last year

Salton Sea:  Deep drought, troubled waters:  “Once-bustling marinas on Salton City’s shallow water in California’s largest lake a few years ago are bone-dry. Carcasses of oxygen-starved tilapia lie on desolate shores. Flocks of eared grebes and  shoreline birds bob up and down to feast on marine life.  An air of decline and strange beauty permeates the Salton Sea: The lake is shrinking — and on the verge of getting much smaller as more water goes to coastal cities. … ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here:  Salton Sea: Deep drought, troubled waters

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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