Daily Digest: Gov. Brown talks tunnels and drought in SoCal, Drought relief money going unspent, cuts in Shasta flows increases water concerns, and more, plus CEQA fast track could include tunnels, says the Mercury News

Daily DigestIn California water news today, Gov. Brown says fixing Delta important for entire state; says fires & diseases loom if water system is not fixed; Drought relief money still unspent a year after being awarded; Lake Shasta releases delayed, increases water concerns; San Francisco ad campaign makes water conservation sexy; California Senator proposes 300% tax for the worst water wasters; Why is some California water being used to feed hamsters in Japan?; Are marijuana growers sucking California dry?; and more, plus CEQA fast track for Silicon Valley could include Delta tunnels, says the Mercury News, and State Board unfairly taking water away from San Joaquin Valley, says Adam Gray

In the news today …

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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Governor Brown says fixing Delta important for entire state:  “Gov. Jerry Brown called on California to support a plan to transform the heart of one of the state’s most important water systems, saying failure to take action on the delta could risk disaster for not only Southern California but the San Francisco Bay Area as well.  “It’s something that affects Los Angeles, that affects farmers … it affects all of Southern California … and it affects Silicon Valley,” the governor told the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on Tuesday. “What’s there is a very vulnerable system.” ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Governor Brown says fixing the Delta important for entire state

Governor Brown sees California getting through drought:  “Even as the state struggles through an epic water crisis, Gov. Jerry Brown assured residents Tuesday that technology, adaptation and “a more elegant” way of living would ultimately preserve the California dream for generations to come.  In a broad-ranging conversation that touched on the “existential threat” posed by man-made global warming, as well as the arcane laws delineating state water rights, Brown said Californians must learn to live more frugally when it comes to their most precious resource.  If they did so, the state would not only support its current population of 39 million, but probably could accept at least 10 million more residents, he said. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Governor Brown sees California getting through the drought

Brown: Fires, Diseases Loom for California if Water System not Fixed:Warning that California could face a future of “fires, disease and all sorts of things we don’t ordinarily have to deal with,” Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday called for quick action to modernize the state’s water delivery system.  Speaking for about 20 minutes before the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Board of Directors meeting in downtown Los Angeles, Brown said the current drought represents the first time in the state “that a natural phenomenon has risen to this height of concern.”  ... ”  Read more from the Times of San Diego here:  Brown: Fires, Diseases Loom for California if Water System not Fixed

Analysis:  Crisis or not?  Jerry Brown avoids offering stern advice on drought:  “In his latest iteration as California’s governor, Jerry Brown seems to have cracked the code of the state’s quirky politics. The code: We’ll elect you, if you promise to fix the mess and leave us alone.  That is what Brown has done, scurrying to Sacramento after his 2010 election and taking on the state’s faltering economy with little in the way of public splash. He only barely resurfaced during his reelection campaign. And in many ways it has worked: Californians’ confidence in both their own economic futures and the state’s finances are up, polls show, and Brown is at near record popularity.  But on Tuesday night, elaborating at length about the drought, Brown offered a glimpse of the limits to that approach when a crisis demands crisp marching orders from a leader. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Crisis or not:? Jerry Brown avoids offering stern advice on drought

Watch: Gov. Brown discusses drought with Times publisher Austin Beutner: Amid one of the worst droughts in modern California history, Gov. Jerry Brown and Los Angeles Times Publisher Austin Beutner met at USC on Tuesday night to discuss water and the state’s future. Watch their conversation above and read key points and analysis below.”  Continue at the LA Times here:  Watch: Gov. Brown discusses drought with Times publisher Austin Beutner

Drought relief money still unspent a year after being awarded:  “More than $320 million that was supposed to be rushed to drought-stricken California communities sits unspent in government bank accounts more than a year after lawmakers voted to use the money to provide water, protect wells from contamination and upgrade outdated water systems.  Although millions of dollars from the same drought-assistance package have helped parched communities across the state, the amount of money that remains untapped shows how slowly the wheels of government can turn even in a crisis. … ”  Read more from the AP via the Huffington Post here:  Drought relief money still unspent a year after being awarded

Lake Shasta releases delayed:  “An unexpected twist in the Sacramento River has shattered summer water operations, leaving local water districts fearful of cuts to the water supply.  The State Water Resources Control Board halted a planned increase in releases from Lake Shasta last week in response to new data that the water in the reservoir was warmer than anticipated.  Warm water is deadly to incubating eggs of winter-run salmon. Winter-run salmon are federally protected by the Endangered Species Act, and threats to the fish are hampering California’s $1.4 billion salmon industry, which relies mostly on fall-run salmon. … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Lake Shasta releases delayed

Cut in Shasta flows increases water concerns:  “Uncertainties have grown about the state’s ability to deliver water for multiple uses, as officials reviewed river and reservoir temperature models for cold water being released from the state’s largest reservoir, Shasta Lake, to protect salmon.  The State Water Resources Control Board has temporarily suspended releases from Shasta Lake into the Sacramento River. Officials said after four years of drought and very little snow melt, water temperatures are higher than expected.  Salmon and their eggs are very sensitive to water temperatures and are damaged or destroyed when water temperatures rise above 56 degrees. ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Cut in Shasta flows increases water concerns

San Francisco ad campaign makes water conservation sexy:Sex sells, even it when it comes to water conservation.  The city of San Francisco credits its provocative water-savings campaign last year, thick with double entendres, with helping residents achieve among the lowest levels of water use in the state. Remember the billboards and bus placards that read, “Make it a quickie” and “Get paid for doing it”?  Now, city officials are trying to one-up themselves. On Tuesday, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission announced it’s throwing another $300,000 into its ad blitz as well as a few more racy conservation slogans. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  San Francisco ad campaign makes water conservation sexy

California Senator proposes 300% tax for the worst water wasters:  “California’s worst water-guzzling residents and businesses could get slapped with 300 percent taxes on their bills under drought-inspired legislation that was proposed Tuesday but faces a tough path before it could actually affect local water bills.  SB789 would authorize local water departments to go to voters to encourage conservation by taxing overconsumption and using the money to fund local conservation efforts. It’s the latest proposal to add teeth to mandatory conservation rules in California, calling for cities to slash water use by as much as 36 percent. ... ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  California Senator proposes 300% tax for the worst water wasters

Why is some California water being used to feed hamsters in Japan?  “Despite a record drought, a few California desert communities are blooming year round with the thirstiest crop in the state, alfalfa.  About 100 miles from San Diego, the Imperial Valley and Palo Verde — part of the Sonoran Desert — see about 3 inches of rainfall a year. The region is in its 15th year of drought conditions, but that hasn’t slowed its output of alfalfa, wheat, cotton, grass and hay.  While the area is also a significant source of winter vegetables, alfalfa is the top crop. University of California at San Diego professor and water use expert Steve Erie estimates that in Palo Verde, more than half the water and more than half the acreage goes to alfalfa. ... ”  Continue reading from Al Jazeera America here:  Why is some California water being used to feed hamsters in Japan?

PBS News Hour: Are marijuana growers sucking California dry?  “Thousands of marijuana farms are depleting California’s streams at the height of a historic drought, according to state scientists. Special correspondent Spencer Michels follows along as game wardens, biologists and engineers go in search of marijuana on privately-owned lands — not to eradicate the plants, but to see if growers are stealing and polluting water.”  Watch the show by clicking here:  Are marijuana growers sucking California dry?

In commentary today …

CEQA fast track for Silicon Valley water recycling could include Delta tunnels, says the Mercury News:  They write, “The governor’s obsession with building massive tunnels under the Delta could muck up what should be a simple issue: granting CEQA exemption requests for emergency drought projects such as the advanced water recycling plant proposed for Silicon Valley.  The request in the form of Trailer Bill 831 is part of the budget process for dealing with the drought. Specific projects to deal with water shortages should get a fast track. But the vague language of this bill could allow the governor to build his massive, controversial Delta twin tunnels without completing extensive environmental studies. That cannot happen. ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  CEQA fast track for Silicon Valley water recycling could include Delta tunnels

State Board is unfairly taking water away from San Joaquin Valley, says Assemblyman Adam Gray: He writes, ” … I represent one of California’s most economically challenged areas. It is also one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions. While all Californians have to overcome the drought’s impacts and the depletion of our groundwater basins, my district faces an additional, state-imposed challenge to its water supply – the emptying of our rivers into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  In 2012, the State Water Resources Control Board decided to require a 35 percent increase in flows to the Delta from the Merced, Stanislaus and Tuolumne rivers. No such demands were made on other rivers. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  State Board is unfairly taking water away from San Joaquin Valley

In regional news and commentary today …

Sacramento Valley rice farmers in survival mode:  “Rice growers in the Sacramento Valley just north of Sacramento say the drought has forced them to cut down the size of their crops.  “I’ve left out 150 acres of rice out of 600 acres…it’s pretty much survival mode,” said Natomas Basin rice grower Mike Daddow.  The California Rice Commission says about 370,000 acres was planted this year, down from 500,00 acres, which is a 32 percent reduction. ... ”  Read more from Fox News here:  Sacramento Valley rice farmers in survival mode

Hundreds of fish dying in Clear Lake:  “Hundreds of carp carcasses have been found in and along Clear Lake, a sign that the deadly koi herpes virus may once more be infecting the lake.  In 2008, hundreds of thousands of carp died from the disease in Clear Lake. Last year, thousands of carp died in Lake Mendocino. The virus was suspected, but could not be confirmed in that case.  Lake County officials estimated the number of dead fish found so far in Clear Lake to be in “the low hundreds.” … ”  Read more from the Press Democrat here:  Hundreds of fish dying in Clear Lake

EBMUD approves higher water rates to reduce use and buy extra supplies:  “As East Bay water officials on Tuesday were about to increase rates and impose the toughest penalties yet against water wasters, Raven Brown had one concern.  She’s held off from bathing her dog, which has fleas, for fear her water bill would go up and she might be fined.  They told her to wash the dog.  Frugal water users such as Brown won’t be hit hard with higher costs, but everyone else could see substantial increases. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  EBMUD approves higher water rates to reduce use and buy extra supplies

Santa Cruz new hookup fees to increase nearly double:  “The one-time cost to hook up new development projects to Santa Cruz city water services will increase dramatically in coming years, after a unanimous Santa Cruz City Council vote Tuesday afternoon.  The council took the first of two needed votes on the proposal, which is the first such rate increase since 2004, city Water Director Rosemary Menard said.  … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  Santa Cruz new hookup fees to increase nearly double

San Joaquin:  More water may flow for some:  “The Stockton East Water District might send more water to farmers than originally expected next month, despite the fact that the reservoir on which the district relies has dwindled to 18 percent of capacity.  Only the most senior growers within the district have received river water this year, but those who did used less than expected, officials said.  That opens the door to sending more water to everyone — including those who had previously been told they would not get any. … ”  Read more from the Stoctkon Record here:  More water may flow for some

Stanislaus leaders seek to pump up resources to solve water problem:  “Stanislaus County supervisors said Tuesday they want to commit more staff to work on groundwater problems and consolidate the county’s activities concerning groundwater, recycled wastewater and stormwater.  The drought and widespread planting of almond orchards have placed unprecedented pressure on local aquifers; in addition, the county needs to comply with state mandates to form local agencies for managing groundwater resources. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Stanislaus leaders seek to pump up resources to solve water problem

Tulare County declares emergency as jail wells fail in drought:  “The ongoing California drought has caused two key wells to go dry at the Bob Wiley Detention Facility and neighboring jail farm north of Visalia, prompting the Tulare County Board of Supervisors to declare an emergency.  The declaration allows the county to skip the normal competitive bidding process so new wells can be drilled as soon as possible.  Last week, supervisors voted unanimously to appropriate $2.9 million for three new wells, citing worries that the cooling system at the Bob Wiley complex could run short of water and other concerns. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Tulare County declares emergency as jail wells fail in drought

Open house planned to answer questions about Paso Robles Basin:San Luis Obispo County water officials will hold an open house Wednesday evening in Paso Robles to update the public on efforts to stabilize the Paso Robles groundwater basin. … The meeting is intended to be an opportunity for the public to learn about the various efforts to stabilize dwindling aquifer levels in the basin, find out how to get involved and ask questions of county and state water officials. ... ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Open house planned to answer questions about Paso Robles Basin

LA City Public Works Commissioners: Collaboration Among Departments Generates ‘One Water’ Innovation: “The City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works recently welcomed a new commissioner, Heather Repenning. TPR spoke with her and with Commissioner Monica Rodriguez about the board’s priorities, from wastewater treatment, to sidewalk repair, to solar energy. Repenning and Rodriguez reflect on partnerships with the Bureau of Sanitation and with other agencies through the mayor’s recently created Water Cabinet. … ”  Read more at The Planning Report here:  LA City Public Works Commissioners: Collaboration Among Departments Generates ‘One Water’ Innovation

Riverside sues over water use rules:The city of Riverside has sued a state agency over water restrictions intended to combat the drought, claiming the rules are unfair because the city has ample groundwater supplies.  The Southern California city argues it has been unfairly ordered to cut water use by 24 percent even though it has groundwater supplies for four years and does not rely on any imported water, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday in Fresno County Superior Court. … ”  Read more from the AP via TribTown here:  Riverside sues over water use rules

weatherPrecipitation watch …

Cool & showery today:  “Much cooler weather today as low pressure tracks across Central CA. Moisture from Blanca interacting with that low is producing a band of showers from the Sierra into the Bay Area. Isolated thunderstorms are possible. Showery conditions will continue through much of today then diminish by tonight. Dry and much warmer weather returns Thursday into the weekend. Friday will be the hottest day with widespread triple digit heat again in the valley.”

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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