Daily Digest: CA water agencies say Reclamation violated the ESA; Harris asks state High Court to stem the effects of water ruling; Scrambling to save endangered salmon in Wine Country; Use it or lose it: Across the west, exercising one’s right to waste water, and more …

Daily DigestIn California water news today, California water agencies say Reclamation violated the ESA; Harris asks state High Court to stem the effects of water ruling; California scrambles to save endangered salmon in Wine Country creeks running dry; Californians look to Sierra Nevada Native Americans for drought solutions; Drought threatens oaks and giant sequoias; Dying trees may force a new outlook on irrigation; Extreme drought expands in California; Field crops to bear the brunt of continued drought; El Niño muscles up, a promising sign for a wet winter in California; Appellate Court grants review of Coachella Valley water rights decision; Can solar panels help solve California’s drought?; Pelosi says California Drought Not Necessarily Climate Change But ‘Cyclical’ Lack of Rain; Assemblywoman Shannon Grove blames drought on God’s anger with abortion; Use it or lose it: Across the west, exercising one’s right to waste water; Seven lessons in groundwater management from the Grand Canyon state; and more …

In the news today …

California water agencies say Reclamation violated the ESA: Two California water agencies want the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to comply with provisions of the Endangered Species Act and stop releasing water from Trinity Reservoir in northern California until consultations with other regulatory agencies can be made.  Westlands Water District and San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority are challenging three years’ worth of increased flows to the Trinity River that the USBR made in alleged violation of the ESA.  The water districts filed a “notice of violation” with U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on June 10, alleging the USBR violated federal law by unilaterally releasing 120,000 acre feet of water from Trinity Lake in northern California over a three-year period. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  California water agencies say Reclamation violated the ESA

Harris asks state High Court to stem the effects of water ruling:  “The office of California Attorney General Kamala Harris has asked the state’s Supreme Court to strictly limit a lower court’s ruling that local water rates designed to encourage conservation are unconstitutional.  In a letter to the Supreme Court, Harris’s office said the April decision by the 4th District Court of Appeal contains “unnecessary and overbroad language” that could hurt the state’s efforts to combat the drought. The language echoes earlier comments from Gov. Jerry Brown that the ruling would put a “straitjacket” on local governments in their drought fight. ... ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here:  Harris asks state High Court to stem the effects of water ruling

California Court, Despite Drought, Questions Popular Water Pricing Tool: It was not the sort of tremor that Californians prepare for with flashlights, evacuation plans, and Hollywood scripts. But a state appeals court ruling on April 20 hit the state’s water utilities with earth-shaking force.  The 4th District Court of Appeals ruled that the tiered water rates used by San Juan Capistrano, a mission town in Orange County, were illegal under California law because those residents using the most water were paying more than it cost the city for treatment and delivery. The court found that the pricing strategy violated Proposition 218, an initiative approved by voters in 1996 to limit government fees. … ”  Read more from Circle of Blue here:  California Court, Despite Drought, Questions Popular Water Pricing Tool

California scrambles to save endangered salmon in Wine County creeks running dry: California is taking desperate steps to save the last endangered salmon in Wine Country creeks that are going dry because of over-pumping and the drought, officials said Thursday.  Water has run so low in the four tributaries of the Russian River in Sonoma County that state workers have been dispatched with nets and buckets to rescue the last surviving coho salmon.  Threatened steelhead trout are also being pulled from drying stretches of the waterways. … ”  Read more from the AP via Trib Town here:  California scrambles to save endangered salmon in Wine Country creeks running dry

Californians look to Sierra Nevada Native Americans for drought solutions:  “In the Sierra Nevada above Fresno, a Native American tribe is working to thin the forest. The approach has been used for centuries to restore meadows, and now California’s severe drought means these ancient techniques are a possible long-term water-saving solution. From Valley Public Radio, Ezra David Romero has the story.  EZRA DAVID ROMERO: Ron Goode knows the Sierra Nevada unlike most people. He belongs to the North Fork Mono Indian Tribe that calls the Sierra home. He and I are hiking to a clearing of forest he calls the unnamed meadow about one hour southwest of Yosemite. ... ”  Read more from NPR here:  Californians look to Sierra Nevada Native Americans for drought solutions

Drought threatens oaks and giant sequoias:The drought in California has killed millions of trees in the Southern Sierra Nevada. But the problem is more widespread. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, some ecologists say the state could lose some of its iconic trees.  A US Forest Service aerial survey in April found 20 percent of the trees in a 4.1  million acre area in the Southern Sierra were dead. Jeff Moore conducts those surveys. … ”  Read more from Valley Public Radio here:  Drought threatens oaks and giant sequoias

Dying trees may force a new outlook on irrigation:  “The needles on the redwoods that welcome visitors to Griffith Park have faded to brown over the last two years. Laura Bauernfeind has watched the trees slowly die and workers eventually arrive, chain saws buzzing, to fell the husks one by one.  “I would be lying if I said it was not disheartening,” said Bauernfeind, principal forester with the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. “We dedicate our careers here to sustaining our park trees.”  The unrelenting drought that has ravaged parts of California’s forest land is now taking a toll on the trees that line urban parks, boulevards and backyards. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Dying trees may force a new outlook on irrigation

Extreme drought expands in California:  “The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report shows that conditions worsened in two California counties in the midst of a fourth year of drought.  The report released Thursday, June 11, shows the moisture from the remnants of Pacific Hurricane Andres “triggered showers and thunderstorms in the Four Corners region … and with much of the region experiencing an unseasonably cool May and wet spring, some impacts have been observed.” ... ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Extreme drought expands in California

Field crops to bear the brunt of continued drought:  “California is in the midst of one of the worst droughts in its history, putting farmers and ranchers in an increasingly stressful position. Now entering a fourth consecutive year of drought, farmers face tough choices in managing available sources of water. CoBank’s analysis suggests that farmers will most likely opt to protect their permanent plantings, such as citrus and nut crops, leaving annual field crops such as corn and rice in the proverbial dust. Overall, we project the drought to cost California’s agricultural industry upwards of $2 billion this year. … ” Read more from Ag Professional here:  Field crops to bear the brunt of continued drought

El Niño muscles up, a promising sign for a wet winter in California: “Will California get a wet winter and maybe a little drought relief? Scientists are beginning to think so.  A new forecast seems to suggest that El Niño could start showing some strength in the fall.  That could be good news down the road for California’s rainy season, according to the latest report from the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  El Niño muscles up, a promising sign for a wet winter in California

Appellate Court grants review of Coachella Valley water rights decision:  “A federal appellate court has agreed to review a key issue in a lower court ruling that granted the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians a reserved right to the Coachella Valley region’s groundwater. Petitions seeking the review were filed by the Desert Water Agency and Coachella Valley Water District.  According to press release from DWA, If the lower court ruling is upheld on appeal, the tribe could gain virtually exclusive use of water in the Coachella Valley basin – the water that is used to supply drinking water to all Coachella Valley residents. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  Appellate Court grants review of Coachella Valley water rights decision

Can solar panels help solve California’s drought?  “From a distance, they almost look like a massive mosaic swimming-pool cover. They are photovoltaic panels, half-millimeter thick silicon wafers that are erected over reservoirs. Their function: Generate power while also conserving water.  For years, the technology was just a niche product. Now, with drought concerns growing in many places across the planet, it’s showing signs of taking off. ... ”  Read more from Bloomberg here:  Can solar panels help solve California’s drought?

Pelosi: California Drought Not Necessarily Climate Change But ‘Cyclical’ Lack of Rain:House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) did not link California’s drought to climate change when pressed on the issue at her weekly press conference today. … Pelosi said she thinks “there certainly is a relationship between climate and weather conditions — climate conditions in the world.”  “However, the reason we have a drought in California is because we don’t have enough rainfall and that’s a cyclical phenomenon,” she said. … ” Read more from PJ Media here: Pelosi: California Drought Not Necessarily Climate Change But ‘Cyclical’ Lack of Rain

Assemblywoman Shannon Grove blames drought on God’s anger with abortion:  “The power of God disrupted normal weather patterns and meted out California’s ongoing drought as retribution for abortion, according to statements attributed to Assemblywoman Shannon Grove.  Speaking before the California ProLife Legislative Banquet last week in Sacramento, Grove, R-Bakersfield, noted that Texas was in a long period of drought until Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill banning late term abortions.  “It rained that night,” Grove is quoted as saying in an article by RH Reality Check, a news website specializing in sexual and reproductive health issues. “Now God has His hold on California.” ... ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  Assemblywoman Shannon Grove blames drought on God’s anger with abortion

Use it or lose it: Across the west, exercising one’s right to waste water:  “… Thickly built, wearing overalls and a four-day beard, Ketterhagen has a degree in biology and natural resource management and once worked in a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He knows his fields could thrive with much smaller amounts of water — he’s seen them do so in dry years — but the property owners he works for have the legal right to take a large supply, and he applies the water generously.  “When we have it, we’ll use it,” he said. “You’ll open your head gate all the way and take as much as you can — whether you need it or not.” … ”  Read more from ProPublica here: Use it or lose it: Across the west, exercising one’s right to waste water

Seven lessons in groundwater management from the Grand Canyon state:  “As California struggles through its fourth year of drought, it is worth remembering that other parts of the West are much drier than California and have been coping with water shortages for decades.  As the first state in the country to pass a comprehensive set of groundwater regulations in 1980, Arizona offers a potentially useful lens for its western neighbors managing increasing water demands and diminishing groundwater resources in an arid climate.   Arizona’s Groundwater Management Act (GMA) took a centralized approach in establishing active management areas (AMAs) to protect groundwater resources.  AMAs cover 23% of the state’s land area but contain 80% of the state’s population, 50% of its total water use, and 70% of its groundwater overdraft. ... ”  Read more from Water in the West here:  Seven lessons in groundwater management from the Grand Canyon state

Some answers to your questions about water use: As California endures its fourth year of drought, water restrictions are taking effect across the state. On April 1, Governor Jerry Brown signed an executive order implementing a mandatory 25 percent water cutback in cities and towns across the state from 2013 usage levels. It took effect June 1.  Brown’s executive order, and the hundreds of other water guidelines throughout the state, can be confusing. NPR asked listeners what questions they have about California water restrictions. We took those questions to experts to get to the bottom of what all these rules actually mean. ... ”  Read more from NPR here:  Some answers to your questions about water use

International Monetary Fund warns underpricing water is fostering shortages: The International Monetary Fund has already declared the world isn’t paying enough to emit greenhouse gases and energy consumption.  Now it is worried that water isn’t priced right either.  Governments should be charging consumers higher prices to encourage more sustainable water use and improve access for the poor, the IMF says in its latest staff discussion note. ... ”  Read more from the Wall Street Journal here: International Monetary Fund warns underpricing water is fostering shortages

In commentary today …

The Chico Enterprise-Record says state bureaucracy doesn’t do well with emergencies, gives the state an F- on the drought: They write, “California’s drought has dragged on for four years. It’s a good thing droughts, by definition, are lengthy, because maybe in another four years our somnolent state government will get around to formulating a response to the drought.  Even when something is declared an “emergency” by the government, it’s no guarantee anything will get done. But it does guarantee that citizens will be watching the government’s performance — and in the case of the drought, the state’s grade is an F-minus. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: State bureaucracy doesn’t do well with emergencies

The California Secretary of Agriculture couldn’t be more wrong about the drought, says Tom Philpott:  He writes, “In a recent Los Angeles Times’ op-ed, California agriculture secretary Karen Ross took a bold stand on the No. 1 threat menacing her state’s beleaguered farmers: bad PR.  I’m being facetious. Water scarcity, obviously, is the specter haunting California agriculture. But Ross didn’t go there. Instead, she defended her state’s farms against charges by media pundits of irrigation profligacy, asserting that the farms are “worth” the 80 percent of the state’s managed water that they require. ... ”  Read more from Mother Jones here:  The California Secretary of Agriculture couldn’t be more wrong about the drought

You can’t blame immigrants for the drought, says Ben Adler:  He writes, “Every political consultant knows better than to let a good crisis go to waste. With that in mind, an anti-immigration group called Californians for Population Stabilization has been running TV commercials linking California’s drought to immigration.  In a 30-second spot that’s been airing recently in the Sacramento and Los Angeles markets, a shaggy, young white boy asks a series of questions in a high-pitched voice: “If Californians are having fewer children, why is it so crowded? If Californians are having fewer children, why are there so many cars? If Californians are having fewer children, why isn’t there enough water?” … ”  Read more from Grist here:  You can’t blame immigrants for the drought

Column: A water park during California’s drought?  Let it slide:  Robin Abcarian writes, “On the first day of April, for many Californians, the drought finally hit home.  They saw a photo of their governor in a brown meadow that should have been buried under five feet of snow. The snowpack, which eventually fills our reservoirs, had disappeared. Gov. Jerry Brown announced a 25% mandatory reduction in water use.  In a case of what seemed like spectacularly bad timing, Dublin had just broken ground on a new water park. When the project is complete, there will be two pools. A water playground with a fake beach. And six 125-foot water slides shooting off a main tower. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: A water park during California’s drought? Let it slide

In regional news and commentary today …

Siskiyou County: PacifiCorps status report sparks backlash:  “PacifiCorp’s annual update on the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement has sparked outrage in Siskiyou County.  The KHSA is a multi-party agreement allowing for possible removal of four PacifiCorp dams on the Klamath River. The company is required to annually provide an update on the agreement to the California Public Utilities Commission.  PacifiCorp’s update notes that the surcharge on customer bills that would fund a portion of dam removal has raised $90,638,633.54 since it was instituted in 2012 for both California and Oregon ratepayers. ... ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here:  PacifiCorps status report sparks backlash

Sacramento:  River dangers grow as water levels drop lower:  “Bystanders at a popular jumping cliff on Lake Natoma had to help an injured man who leaped from China Wall, but never made it into the water.  “Kids like to jump off of it. You have to jump quite a ways out to clear the actual cliff. So if you don’t jump out far enough, you hit the cliff,” Folsom firefighter Clint Madden said. ... ”  Read more from News 10 here:  River dangers grow as water levels drop lower

Sierra storms send extra water down the Mokelumne:  “In the midst of a lingering drought, Lodians are seeing an unexpected sight on the Mokelumne River: High water flows.  The water is being released in the high Sierra at a rate of about 1,200 cubic feet per second, or 775 million gallons per day, according to Nelsy Rodriguez, a public information officer with East Bay Municipal Utility District.  “That’s the equivalent of 27 average-sized backyard swimming pools per minute,” she said. … ”  Read more from the Lodi News-Sentinel here:  Sierra storms send extra water down the Mokelumne

California drought grips tourist magnet Yosemite: It is one of America’s most popular natural wonders. But even Yosemite National Park cannot escape the drought ravaging California, now in its fourth year and fueling growing concern.  At first glance, the spectacular beauty of the park with its soaring cliffs and picture-postcard valley floor remains unblemished, still enchanting the millions of tourists who flock the landmark every year.  But on closer inspection, the drought’s effects are clearly visible. … ”  Read more from MSN here:  California drought grips tourist magnet Yosemite

Mono County finding ways to save water:  “Mono County officials said the county is doing its part to save water during the California drought.  County staff is addressing drought-related issues on many fronts, from implementing water use reductions to providing information to our visitors.  The county public works department’s facilities staff is taking measures to reduce water consumption at or beyond the governor’s 25percent mandate. … ”  Read more from the Record Courier here:  Mono County finding ways to save water

Santa Maria looking for a new allocation of state water: Santa Maria is looking to obtain an allocation of state water that has been suspended since 1981. The Santa Maria City Council passed a resolution calling for as much during its meeting on June 2 and authorized Mayor Alice Patino to seek such a deal with the Central Coast Water Authority.  “We would be remiss if it went out of Santa Barbara County,” Councilmember Jack Boysen said during the meeting. … ”  Read more from the Santa Maria Sun here:  Santa Maria looking for a new allocation of state water

San Luis Obispo County school districts gets $3 million for water conservation:Three San Luis Obispo County school districts and the county education office will receive a total of $3.5 million in grants from the state of California to use for water conservation projects.  Atascadero Unified, Lucia Mar Unified and Paso Robles Joint Unified school districts have each been awarded nearly $1 million through California’s Drought Response Outreach Program for Schools. The San Luis Obispo County Office of Education will receive $628,566 under the same program. ... ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  San Luis Obispo County school districts gets $3 million for water conservation

Bakersfield: Drought forging new water partnerships:  “The California Water Service Co., which serves about two-thirds of Bakersfield, and the Rio Bravo Country Club, in the city’s northeast, are in discussions to acquire months of additional water, Bakersfield officials said Wednesday at the city water board meeting.  Cal Water, which may have only enough water to run its treatment plant southwest of Ming Lake through October, is in talks with the Kern County Water Agency and the Kern Delta Water District to replace water it normally would get from the city’s share of the Kern River. ... ”  More from the Bakersfield Californian here:  Drought forging new water partnerships

Commentary: Why the drought means more water cuts for the Inland Empire:  Jay Obernolte writes: “As California enters its fourth year of a historic drought, the governor and Legislature have both called for a sweeping reduction in water use. Recently, Gov. Brown signed an executive order requiring water districts to reduce their water use in order to reach a statewide savings of 25 percent. While conservation is important, this mandate unfortunately does not treat all communities equally.  The Inland Empire has always appreciated that water is one of our most valuable resources. We’ve made incredible strides in reducing water use long before the governor’s mandate was even issued. ... ”  Read more from the San Bernardino Sun here:  Why the drought means more water cuts for the Inland Empire

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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