Daily Digest: State Water Board approves Russian River restrictions; Hatcheries hurt by drought & disease; Rep. Huffman crowdsources the drought; Mountain House – running out of water – or not, and more, plus spiders, Bigfoot, and other weird drought side effects

In California water news today, State regulators approve water restrictions to aid Sonoma County salmon streams, California hatcheries hurt by drought and disease; Rep. Jared Huffman tries crowdsourcing to battle California drought; House Democrats float new California water bill; Mountain House at risk of losing all water within days – Or maybe not … ?  Mountain House:  Water will flow; Water supplies ‘alarmingly low’;  California environmental board fines first pot farm; Shasta releases to be even lower, and more, plus this drought may be having some very weird side effects:  A kitten boom. Succulent swiping. And, er, Bigfoot?

In the news today …

[pullquote]

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

[/pullquote]

State regulators approve water restrictions to aid Sonoma County salmon streams:  “With fish perishing in drought-diminished Sonoma County streams, state regulators said Wednesday they felt pressed to approve sweeping new limits on water use affecting thousands of rural landowners.  But farm representatives attending the State Water Resources Control Board meeting said part of the measure was regulatory overreach, while some west county residents said it didn’t go far enough. Others said the whole thing was rushed.  Water board members said they appreciated some of the complaints, but voted unanimously to establish the new restrictions ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat here:  State regulators approve water restrictions to aid Sonoma County salmon streams

State imposes well water cuts on users near Russian River:Winemakers, small farmers and rural residents near the Russian River, accustomed to reveling in Mother Nature’s bounty, were slapped with restrictions on well water use Wednesday, including a ban on lawn watering, in the latest effort by the state to cope with a fourth year of drought.  The emergency regulation passed by the State Water Board requires 13,000 Sonoma County property owners near four Russian River tributaries to cut back on water use and report how much water they suck up from their wells beginning July 3. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  State imposes well water cuts on users near Russian River

California hatcheries hurt by drought and disease:The tanks in one secluded area at the Mount Shasta Fish Hatchery teem with nearly 1,000 immensely precious trout.  These are redbands, a rare relative of rainbow trout. Biologists with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife rescued them late last summer from three nearby creeks that had become little more than a trickle after years of drought.  In the same hatchery, nearby holding ponds brim with wriggling masses of more common trout species. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  California hatcheries hurt by drought and disease

Rep. Jared Huffman tries crowdsourcing to battle California drought:After three years of failure by Congress to address California’s drought, Rep. Jared Huffman invited every Californian on Wednesday to provide ideas and comments on a big new water bill he is drafting, a novel application of crowdsourcing to federal legislation.  The San Rafael Democrat introduced the legislation on his website, soliciting comments from the public and interested parties.  Huffman’s approach is in contrast to secret talks that have been under way since last year between House Republicans from the San Joaquin Valley and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., which have focused on getting more water to farmers.  “Backroom deals and secret water grabs just don’t work,” Huffman said in an interview. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Rep. Jared Huffman tries crowdsourcing to battle California drought

House Democrats float new California water bill: California water bills continue to fill the Capitol Hill hopper, and now one comes with a new twist.  It’s crowd-sourcing drought solutions, in a long-shot bid to break a congressional stalemate.  On Wednesday, House Democrats from Northern California who have complained about being shut out of drought negotiations took matters into their own hands. They unveiled a sprawling proposal and, in a pointed gesture, opened it for public suggestions before it’s formally introduced.  … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  House Democrats float new California water bill

Mountain House at risk of losing all water within days: When the state last week took the rare step of curtailing the water rights of more than 100 irrigation districts and growers, it appeared that agricultural areas would be the hardest hit.  But now, an upscale master-planned community of 15,000 residents in San Joaquin County is facing the loss of all water supplies within days — prompting a frantic search for new sources.  Unlike the vast majority of communities in California, Mountain House purchases all its water from a single rural irrigation district. And that agency was covered by the state’s order curtailing water rights for some of those who have held them for more than century due to the state’s worsening drought. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Master-planned community at risk of losing all water within days

Or maybe not … ?  Mountain House:  Water will flow: Residents heard at a town hall meeting Tuesday that water will still flow to their homes, despite reports that the state would be shutting off their water in two days’ time.  “Are they going to cut the water off to this community? Not at all,” General Manager Edwin Pattison said. “Right now, I am probable that we’re going to obtain an alternative water supply. We’ll get this community through the end of this year and through conservation efforts. You can be assured you will be OK.” ... ”  Read more from the Tracy Press here:  Mountain House: Water will flow

Drought:  Water supplies ‘alarmingly low’:The U.S. Drought Monitor report released June 18 shows “Severe Drought” increased slightly in California and “Exceptional Drought” decreased in Nevada.  The Drought Monitor categories range from Abnormally Dry to Exceptional Drought. Extreme and Exceptional are the highest levels on the Monitor’s intensity scale. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Drought: Water supplies ‘alarmingly low’

California environmental board fines first pot farm: A California board that protects water from degradation by marijuana farms has issued its first fine: $297,400 against a landowner and a contractor in Shasta County. It’s the first penalty issued by the multi-agency Cannabis Pilot Project, staffed by state and regional water boards and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board announced the fine Friday. The Cannabis Pilot project was formed specifically to address adverse environmental impacts caused by marijuana cultivation in California ... ”  Read more from Courthouse News here:  California environmental board fines first pot farm

Shasta releases to be even lower:  “Releases from Lake Shasta will be up to 20 percent less than originally planned this summer, although the impact to local farmers’ water supply from that change is still uncertain. State and federal officials announced the outline for a revised release plan on Tuesday. Water releases into the Sacramento River were capped at 7,250 cfs in order to preserve cold water in the reservoir to control temperatures in the river for winter-run Chinook salmon. ... ” Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here: Shasta releases to be even lower

Sacramento River flows decreased to save cold water for fish:  “State and federal fish and water managers are trying to find a way to avoid a massive die-off of young fish in the Sacramento River. Tuesday night a decision was announced to decrease the flow of water in the Sacramento River to retain cold water in Shasta Reservoir. That water would then be released at key times for endangered fish.  The changes in river flow might further impact the amount of water that Sacramento River Settlement Contractors are able to draw from the river for farms. … ” Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Sacramento River flows decreased to save cold water for fish

NASA Satellites show world’s thirst for groundwater:  “New data from NASA’s GRACE satellites show that many of the world’s biggest aquifers are being sucked dry at a rate far greater than they are being replenished. Although scientists don’t know how much water is left, they hope their findings will serve as a “red flag” for regions that may be overusing water.  Globally, scientists estimate that roughly 2 billion people rely on water supplied from underground aquifers as their main source of freshwater. Groundwater is also used for farming, especially during times of drought. ... ”  Read more from NPR here:  NASA satellites show world’s thirst for groundwater

And lastly … This drought may be having some very weird side effects:  A kitten boom. Succulent swiping. And, er, Bigfoot? Unless this is your first time on the internet, you probably know that the West is experiencing a pretty serious drought right now—perhaps the worst in more than 500 years—and there are dire consequences: To name just a few, water restrictions are being enforced for the first time in history, the farms that grow close to half the nation’s fruits and vegetables are being forced to curtail water use, groundwater drilling has caused the state to sink, and dry conditions are creating prime conditions for devastating wildfires.  And just when you thought things couldn’t be any worse—bam!—here’s another crop of drought-related stuff to keep you awake at night. … “  Continue reading at Mother Jones here:  This drought may be having some very weird side effects

In commentary today …

State wrong to restrict senior water rights, Oakdale Irrigation District argues: A commentary-ish article: “With the State of California curtailing water rights for senior users, the Oakdale Irrigation District is speaking out, calling the move by the State Water Control Board unjustified and illegal. … According to OID General Manager Steve Knell, the State Water Control Board has never before curtailed pre-1914 water right holders, those holding senior rights.  “There is a reason for that,” Knell said, “it does not have jurisdiction to issue, manage, oversee or curtail pre-1914 water rights.” … ”  Read more from the Oakdale Leader here:  State wrong to curtail senior water rights

The tragedy of California’s bureaucrat-made drought:  David Williams writes, “Now rolling into its fourth year like a lazy tumbleweed, California’s drought has reached such terrifying proportions that federal disaster monitors now consider 95 percent — fully 55 of the state’s 58 counties — in a state of emergency. And if a band of restless local regulators get their way, it’ll be only a matter of time until the entire state suffers this bone-dry fate.  Before you tune out, understand this isn’t simply a California problem — it’s a national one. … ”  Read more from the Washington Examiner here:  The tragedy of California’s bureaucrat-made drought

In regional news and commentary today …

Marin: Mediator may hold key to Tiburon fisheries flap:  “An independent mediator might provide a way to resolve issues prompting San Francisco State University to boot a popular Marin fisheries program from the Romberg Center for Environmental Studies, officials agreed.  As protests mounted about the university’s eviction of the Tiburon Salmon Institute from the Romberg campus, where the institute manages a 42-year-old fish-rearing and release program involving schoolchildren, Romberg’s director agreed mediation might be helpful after months of fruitless negotiation. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Mediator may hold key to Tiburon fisheries flap

Bay Area beach water quality improved due to drought:  “It’s safe to go in the water this summer, thanks to a lot of sewer upgrades and maybe thanks just a little bit to the drought.  Bay Area beaches are in great shape, with 98 percent of them getting top marks in the annual Beach Report Card survey announced by the environmental watchdog group Heal the Bay.  And then there’s Candlestick Point. For the third straight year, the beach at Candlestick Point flunked. The Sunnydale Cove area near the Highway 101 off-ramp was ranked the seventh-worst beach in California on the group’s annual Beach Bummer list. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Bay Area beach water quality improved due to drought

Preserving Solano’s Cullinan Ranch:  “Early this year, saltwater came gushing through a levee that had kept a vast pasture at the north edge of San Pablo Bay dry for more than a century. The breach was no accident.  Cullinan Ranch, a large piece of federal property at the southwestern corner of Solano County, was used for hay farming and rangeland beginning in the 1880s, when the wetland was dyked and drained — a fate that has befallen most of the marshes surrounding San Francisco Bay. But a group of local citizens began lobbying in the 1980s for a restoration project that would protect the land from development and also restore the land to its historic state as a vast tidal zone. … ”  Read more from Comstock’s Magazine here:  Preserving Solano’s Cullinan Ranch

Santa Barbara: Pulling the $53 million desal trigger:  “Even with unprecedented unanimity among meteorological experts that a powerful El Niño looms ahead, not one Santa Barbara city councilmember felt they could risk another year without rain. Backed into an ominously parched corner by the most intense drought in California’s recorded history ​— ​and with new deliveries from Lake Cachuma and the State Water Project effectively shut off ​— ​the council voted to reactivate the desalination plant it built 25 years ago as an emergency response to the last big drought. No sooner was that plant built than the South Coast was pummeled by the “Miracle March Rains,” and Santa Barbara’s desal facility has sat idle since. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here:  Pulling the $53 million desal trigger

San Juan Capistrano to pay $4.1 to refund customers for illegal water rates:  “San Juan Capistrano has set aside $4.1 million to refund residents and businesses who paid for water under steep tiers recently deemed illegal by an appellate court panel.  Each of the city’s approximately 11,300 water customers must complete a form from City Hall to be refunded for money paid for the city’s top tiers.  The rates were implemented in 2010, but only money paid from Aug. 28, 2013, when an Orange County Superior Court judge declared them illegal, to when new rates were implemented after June 30, 2014, will be repaid. ... ”  Read more from the O.C. Register here:  San Juan Capistrano to pay $4.1 million to refund customers for illegal water rates

Millions of crabs invade Southern California beaches:  “It’s a red tide along the Southern California coast as millions of red tuna crabs can be seen coming ashore. Scientists say it’s an unusual sight that could be a sign of big changes to come in the weather.  The tiny tuna crabs are so thick in places that Johnny Fotsch had to clear a path with his paddle.  “It looked like a red carpet — a good foot-to-16 inches thick,” he said. “It kinda took me back a little because I never seen anything like this before. … ”  Read more from CBS 10 News here:  Millions of crabs invade Southern California beaches

Southern California: Drought devastates cherry crop; puts some growers out of business: Dave Shields started the engine of his tractor on a recent weekday and began toppling the hundreds of drought-stricken cherry trees he and his wife planted 15 years ago in this north Los Angeles County foothills community.  A winter heat wave, late frosts and marauding ravens and bark beetles devastated much of this year’s cherry crop; then came monthly irrigation bills of up to $900. Shields’ 2 1/2-acre C & D Cherries had become a financial burden the family could no longer afford. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Southern California: Drought devastates cherry crop; puts some growers out of business

Drought’s silver lining: Improved water quality along Southern California beaches:  “From dead lawns to water rationing, California’s four-year drought has brought its share of misery. But despair not, a light shines in the darkness: cleaner ocean water.  Heal the Bay’s annual beach report card, released Wednesday, was filled with A and B grades as the state’s historic dry conditions — which created less polluted runoff — were credited with keeping coastal waters mostly healthy for swimmers. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Breeze here:  Drought’s silver lining: Improved water quality along Southern California beaches

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: