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Daily Digest: State water system stretched to the limit, officials say; Some water agencies consider defying state cuts; Obama turns up the dial on drought aid, and more …

In California water news today, State water system stretched to the limit, officials say; Attorney General’s office says curtailment notices merely ‘advisory; managers call situation “chaotic”; Some water agencies consider defying state cuts; South San Joaquin Irrigation District won’t sign curtailment notices; Obama turns up the dial on drought aid; California adopts emergency regulation for removing dead or dying trees; Groundwater sustainability slippery to define; 9 sobering facts about California’s groundwater problem; Water conservation amid the drought:  Who made the grade? and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The Delta Stewardship Council will meet this morning at 9am.  Agenda items include an update on the Delta Levee Investment Strategy and an update on the Bay Delta Conservation PlanClick here for the agendaClick here for the webcast.
  • Delta Conservancy Board Meeting & Joint Meeting with the California Coastal Conservancy:  The Delta Conservancy Board will meet this morning from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm at the Delta Conservancy offices in West Sacramento; agenda items include approval of the Prop 1 Grant Program Guidelines, and a review of the FY 2015-16 implementation plan.  Following the Delta Conservancy’s Board meeting, the Delta Conservancy and the California Coastal Conservancy will meet jointly from 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm at Cal EPA headquarters to discuss opportunities for collaboration between the two conservancies and the passage of a joint resolution stating our intention to work together on projects benefitting state priorities, the Delta, the San Francisco Bay, and the Bay-Delta ecosystem.  Click here for more information.

In the news today …

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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State water system stretched to the limit, officials say:  “State and federal water regulators said Wednesday they’re struggling to hold California’s fragile water system together amid dwindling supplies and increasing anger from farmers, lawmakers, environmentalists and others.  At an informal hearing of the State Water Resources Control Board, a host of state legislators implored regulators to make more water available for agriculture and rural Californians. Environmentalists, however, said several fish species could go extinct if more water isn’t made available to them.  … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  State water system stretched to the limit, officials say

Attorney General’s office says curtailment notices merely ‘advisory; managers call situation “chaotic”:  “The California Attorney General’s office backtracked Tuesday, surprising senior water rights holders by saying in court that the curtailment notices they received were merely advisory and not compulsory.  The turnaround happened in San Joaquin County Superior Court during a hearing in Banta Carbona Irrigation District’s challenge of curtailment notices the State Water Resources Control Board issued to 114 senior rights holders in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta region on June 12. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  California hedges on water cuts; managers call situation chaotic

Some water agencies consider defying state cuts:  “A handful of Central Valley water agencies that have been warned to stop pumping water from rivers to farms, in light of the drought, say they’re considering running their pumps anyway.  The defiance comes after state officials this week presented a legal case for their conservation crackdown — a framework that irrigation districts see as a retreat from tough talk of cutbacks and fines.  Many suppliers stopped drawing water from rivers and creeks this month, for the first time ever, when the state water board took the extraordinary step of sending curtailment notices to some of California’s strongest water rights holders. Now, agencies with those historic claims say that state regulators, by their own admission, don’t appear to be in a position to penalize people who keep taking water. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Some water agencies consider defying state cuts

South San Joaquin Irrigation District won’t sign curtailment notices:  “The South San Joaquin Irrigation District is not going to sign documents that say they will comply with the curtailment order issued to pre-1914 water right holders nearly two weeks ago by the state Department of Water Resources.  SSJID General Manager Jeff Shields responded with an emphatic “no” when asked whether he would be putting his signature on the state generated document that carries the full force of prosecution for perjury.  That decision comes on the heels of the state Attorney General Office’s response to lawsuits — this time in Stanislaus County Superior County on Wednesday — that the curtailment orders were only “advisory” and were basically “courtesy notices.” … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  South San Joaquin Irrigation District won’t sign curtailment notices

Obama turns up the dial on drought aid: The Obama administration is boosting its support for drought-stricken California, escalating a relief effort that congressional Republicans still consider misdirected and insufficient.  In a splashy announcement Wednesday, two leading administration officials unveiled a fresh federal package that totals nearly $150 million over the next two years.  “There’s a lot of needs,” Deputy Interior Secretary Mike Connor told reporters. … ”  Read more from McClatchy News here:  Obama turns up the dial on drought aid

California adopts emergency regulation for removing dead or dying trees:  “With a historic drought and wildfire season in full swing and eight blazes currently being battled in the state, the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection has adopted an emergency regulation for removal of dead and dying trees.  “It’s a way to expedite the process,” said George Gentry, California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection executive director, “and minimize the cost to the landowner.”The emergency regulation will allow individual landowners or professional foresters to apply for an exemption to cut dead and dying trees of any size without the typical timber harvest plan, submission requirements, and completion and stocking report requirements. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  California adopts emergency regulation for removing dead or dying trees

Groundwater sustainability slippery to define:  “Where surface water is easy to see, calculate, and sell, the rivers that flow beneath the earth are much more of a quandary. In a world of regulation of resources the laws that apply to groundwater are like that of the Wild West. It is a free for all and whoever has the deepest or largest amount of wells dipping into an aquifer wins.  In an effort to explain the impactful Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) of California, a panel of experts visited Exeter’s Memorial Building on June 17. SGMA is a collection of three laws (SB 1168, AB 1739, SB 1319) meant to curb the over drafting of groundwater. Mark Larson the General Manager of the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District (KDWCD), Dennis Keller a consulting engineer of Keller/Wegley Engineering, Aubrey Mauritson an attorney with Kaweah Lemon Company and basin land owner, and Denise England, Water Resources Programs Manager with Tulare County were all members of the panel. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here:  Groundwater sustainability slippery to define

9 sobering facts about California’s groundwater problem: With an alarmingly dry winter and California reservoirs dropping fast, groundwater increasingly is keeping the state hydrated. It now accounts for about 60 percent of California’s water supply. But unlike its rivers, lakes and reservoirs, the state does not consider groundwater part of the public good. It does not regulate groundwater like it does surface water. Landowners can pump as much water as they want.  So for nearly a century, Californians have drained an incredible amount of water from the ground to grow crops and water landscaping. It is not sustainable. The water has not returned. The result is a sinking state. Here are some startling facts about California’s groundwater depletion … ”  Read more from Reveal here:  9 sobering facts about California’s groundwater problem

Water conservation amid the drought:  Who made the grade?  “On April 1, as California entered a fourth year of drought, Gov. Jerry Brown stood in a barren field that should have been smothered in snow and demanded a 25% cut in urban water use.  To comply with Brown’s mandate, the State Water Resources Control Board developed reduction targets that each of California’s more than 400 urban water districts must meet over the next several months. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Water conservation amid the drought: Who made the grade?

In commentary today …

LA Times editorial: Protecting all of California’s water:  They write, “Rivers and streams in California and much of the rest of the West are different from those in other parts of the nation. It’s not uncommon for streams here to swell with winter rain and spring snowmelt but dry up completely in the summer. The Los Angeles River is a good example. Even in the wetter northern part of the state, watercourses that continue to flow in summer are so rare that when Spanish explorers found one in what is now Santa Clara County, they named it Permanente Creek to spotlight its perennial nature. In California, intermittent streams are the norm.   ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Protecting all of California’s water

Pray for rain as Sacramento isn’t going to save California, says Dennis Wyatt of the Manteca Bulletin:  He writes, “It may surprise Sacramento and its bureaucratic hordes that large segments of California are in danger of lapsing into death throes due to a fourth year of severe drought.  But in fairness to Mother Nature and the forward thinking of leaders like Gov. Brown —not Jerry but his father the late Edmund G. Brown — the fact the Golden State is turning brown has more to do with government ineptness and myopic vision than anything else.  If you doubt that, let’s recap the drought follies. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  Pray for rain as Sacramento isn’t going to save California

Pick your battles, ‘water wars’ veteran advises:  Lance Sullivan writes, “Being retired from 35 years in the California “water wars” and having sometimes been referred to as “water warrior” and “Delta warrior,” I as much as anyone understand and appreciate the frustrations of Stanislaus County’s Board of Supervisors, water agencies, farmers and citizens regarding fish having a higher priority than farms and people.  And I applaud the stand being taken by the supervisors with their resolution.  But as described in Ken Carlson’s article (“Governor should reduce water to fisheries and the environment, county officials say,” June 14, modbee.com), some of the fingers are being pointed at the wrong targets. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Pick your battles, ‘water wars’ veteran advises

California action stripping due process, no help with drought, says Patricia Bates:  “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste” is a popular saying said in one form or another by various people in the political arena. It is popular because it epitomizes the desire of some to take advantage of a crisis – such as California’s drought – to permanently expand the reach of government into our daily lives that they would not normally get away with.  Recently, legislative Democrats approved the final California state budget for 2015-16 with Gov. Jerry Brown’s blessing. While there are some things to like, such as increased funding for K-12 and higher education, there were many provisions that I could not support. A prime example is the “drought trailer bill” called Senate Bill 88 that will make major and permanent policy changes to our state’s water laws. … ” Read more from the U-T San Diego here:  California action stripping due process, no help with drought

Mountain House becomes poster child for California drought, says the Stockton Record:  They write, “The tumultuous birth of a San Joaquin County community has ongoing labor pains.  Yes, we’re talking about Mountain House.  More than 20 years ago, on Nov. 10, 1994, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors approved the project that would turn mostly empty land at the western edge of the county into Mountain House.  Some people scratched their heads over this endeavor, claiming that the area — and ultimately the residents — would identify far more with Alameda County. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Mountain House becomes poster child for California drought

Like solar energy, use public financing to spur water efficiency:  Cynthia Koehler and Peter Yolles write, “Gov. Jerry Brown’s unprecedented call for cities and towns to cut water use by 25 percent was a vital response to California’s extreme drought. However, it stopped short of providing the vision and support necessary to finance a new decentralized water efficiency industry the same way we created a now-thriving clean energy industry. We know what a decentralized energy system looks like — solar panels to harvest the power of the sun, windmills to capture the breeze, and Smart meters to encourage energy-efficient behavior. Public financing programs, including property assessed clean energy (known as PACE) and investment tax credits, provided much needed support to accelerate the growth of these industries.  So, why don’t we do the same for decentralized water programs? ... ”  Continue reading here:  Like solar energy, use public financing to spur water efficiency

In regional news and commentary today …

Oregon tribes demand their water rights:  “After riding horses on and off for about 250 miles from Chiloquin to the Capitol, tribal members and allies demanded their voices be heard on Wednesday.  Protesters said they are speaking out against the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreements (KBRA), Senate Bill 133, and a proposed liquid natural gas pipeline. Traveling so far on horseback was a way to demonstrate their dedication to the cause, rally leaders said.  On the steps of the Capitol Klamath tribe members Quinten Bettles and Jay Nelson raised an Oregon flag in the air. The horses — Angel, Cookie, Donkey and Wocus — rested from their journey in the shade at the base of the stairs. … ”  Read more from the Statesman Journal here:  Oregon tribes demand their water rights

Governor Brown rejects $1 million for Clear Lake:  “Funding approved earlier this month by the state legislature’s Budget Conference Committee for the protection and restoration of Clear Lake didn’t make Gov. Jerry Brown’s final budget signed on Wednesday.  Brown has instead directed the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to work with Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) and Rep. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) to identify sources of state or other funding to help address the significant water quality problems plaguing Clear Lake. ... ”  Read more from the Record Bee here:  Governor Brown rejects $1 million for Clear Lake

Monterey considers alternative water sources: Before much of Monterey’s grass goes brown, the City Council met Wednesday to find ways to use as much non-drinkable water for irrigation as possible.  There weren’t a lot of great options.  Monterey could run into legal issues if it starts shipping groundwater from one area to another, the city’s roughly 60 wells don’t produce much and there’s already some opposition to its plan to stop watering some parks. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Monterey considers alternative water sources

Water to be hot topic at Knights Ferry meeting, says the Modesto Bee:  They write, “Water and the drought are the hottest topics in California. So it’s likely the conversation could get a little heated tonight at the Knights Ferry Community Center.  Stanislaus County Supervisor Bill O’Brien, Oakdale Irrigation District General Manager Steve Knell, county groundwater manager Walt Ward and at least one representative of the county’s most visible hedge-fund farming operation have agreed to talk about water at 7 p.m.  It could get loud. But we hope everyone realizes the people at the front of the room don’t have to be there. If they leave, those remaining will just be yelling at themselves. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Water to be hot topic at Knights Ferry meeting

State grants Merced money to install water meters:The state Department of Water Resources on Wednesday announced $28 million for 25 projects around the state expected to save water and energy, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The projects include $2.5 million for Merced homes to install water meters, which can be read and tracked by satellite. The city made a move earlier this year to put meters into about 10,800 homes, which makes up about half of the city. … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here:  State grants Merced money to install water meters

Mono Lake ecological crisis a blow to wildlife, LA water supply: As this drought-stricken body of salt water recedes, the repercussions mount: Its exposed alkaline flats are giving rise to dust storms. A haven for endangered migrating birds has become more vulnerable to predators. And Los Angeles’ ability to divert snowmelt from the region — which it has done for seven decades — could be cut off.  In recent months, the Department of Water and Power has reduced its take from Mono’s tributaries by more than two-thirds. Still, the 1-million-year-old lake is within two feet of the level that state officials say threatens the alpine ecosystem at the base of the eastern Sierra Nevada. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Mono Lake ecological crisis a blow to wildlife, LA water supply

Southern California Interactive Map: A district by district look at proposed drought restrictions  From the LA Times: Interactive Map

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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