Daily Digest: Twin tunnels protesters decry “darkened forces of political control’; Businesses worry ballot measure could block funding of big projects; Wyoming wind could save California water; Is SoCal sucking NorCal dry? and plenty more …

Freshen up your coffee and settle in – today’s Daily Digest is immense …. ! In California water news today, Twin tunnels protesters decry “darkened forces of political control’; Businesses worry ballot measure could block funding of big projects; Wyoming wind could save California water; Is Southern California sucking Northern California dry?; District manager: Drought curtailments meant wasting 100 million gallons of water; Drought could wipe entire cities off the map if their water runs out; Drought now Californians’ top concern; Drought turns Delta into a tug-of-war between water interests; Emergency drought funding gives California Conservation Corps a chance to cut forest fire risks; Water rights system is a century-old knot that will be difficult to untangle; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • BDCP/California Water Fix Public Meeting on this afternoon from 3:00pm to 7:00pm in Walnut Grove at the Jean Harvie Senior and Community Center.

In the news today …

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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Twin tunnels protesters decry “darkened forces of political control’:In a sterile hotel conference room filled with the conversation of consultants wearing dress shirts and ties, 31-year-old Jon Michelsen abruptly stood on a chair, lifted his guitar and began to sing about the “darkened forces of political control.”  The song, he later said, was his own “public comment” of sorts about Gov. Jerry Brown’s twin tunnels plan, which, after all, was the subject of the meeting.  Suffice it to say, Michelsen’s comment was heard. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Twin tunnels protesters decry “darkened forces of political control’  See also:  Stockton residents attend meeting over Delta tunnels

Businesses worry ballot measure could block funding of big projects:  “A pending initiative that would require voter approval of financing for large public works projects is drawing fire. Some California businesses view it as a potential roadblock to improving infrastructure.  The No Blank Checks initiative, which is now gathering signatures for the 2016 ballot, would require any state revenue bond costing $2 billion or more to appear on the statewide ballot. The issue is timely, as state lawmakers prepare to look at financing options for California’s aging roads and bridges. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Business Journal here:  Businesses worry ballot measure could block funding of big projects

Wyoming wind could save California water:  “California regulators could achieve savings in water use, electricity rates and greenhouse emissions by turning to Wyoming wind power to help offset the natural ups and downs of wind and solar power in their state, according to a University of Wyoming report released Monday.  The reason: Wyoming’s wind patterns tend to be opposite of those in California.   … ”  Read more from the Denver Post here:  Wyoming wind could save California water

Worldwide strengthening El Nino giveth and taketh away:  “In California, they’re counting on it to end an historic drought; in Peru, they’ve already declared a pre-emptive emergency to prepare for devastating flooding. It’s both an economic stimulus and a recession-maker. And it’s likely to increase the price of coffee, chocolate and sugar.  It’s El Nino — most likely, the largest in well over a decade, forecasters say. A lot more than mere weather, it affects lives and pocketbooks in different ways in different places. ... ”  Read more from the Capital Press here: Worldwide strengthening El Nino giveth and taketh away

Is Southern California sucking Northern California dry? It’s one of the most common things we hear about the drought—people complaining about sending all of the water from Northern California to Southern California so they can have green lawns.  … California’s drought, now in its fourth year, has only heightened tensions that naturally exist between a northern water supply and a southern demand. ... ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  Is Southern California sucking Northern California dry?

District manager: Drought curtailments meant wasting 100 million gallons of water:  “It’s a stunning water waste controversy pitting the general manager of a tiny town against the state of California.  McCloud Community Services District General Manager Wayne Grigsby claims 100 million gallons of water went to waste, and it’s all the State Water Resources Control Board’s fault. ... ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  District manager: Drought curtailments meant wasting 100 million gallons of water

Drought could wipe entire cities off the map if their water runs out:  “The epicenter of California’s drought crisis is in the Central Valley, where there are growing fears the drought could wipe entire towns off of the map.  Wells are going dry, jobs are harder to come by and families are already moving, either to different states or even Mexico in search of work. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  Drought could wipe entire cities off the map if their water runs out

Drought now Californians’ top concern:  “Voter concern over California’s drought is “extremely high and intensifying,” according to a new poll, while a majority of respondents said they would willingly pay “a few more dollars a month” to improve state water infrastructure.  As residents struggle to meet mandated cuts in urban water use, voter concern over drought has now eclipsed concern over jobs, the economy and eduction, according to researchers. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Drought now Californians’ top concern

Drought turns Delta into a tug-of-war between water interests:  “When you talk about the Delta, the future of farming, fish and drinking water are all at stake.  Nothing about California’s water system is easy, but this is one of the most complicated parts where solutions are urgently needed, but answers are hard to come by.  Retired firefighter Matt Ost is in no rush on a breezy waterway he first discovered 15 years ago.  “I fell in love with it, I mean, I love the place,” he said. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  Drought turns Delta into a tug-of-war between water interests

Emergency drought funding gives California Conservation Corps a chance to cut forest fire risks: The whine of chain saws fills Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, located just a few miles north of Santa Cruz, Calif., a beach town best known for its surfing. From atop the wooden observation deck, perched on the rare and unique Santa Cruz sandhills — an area of the park that 10 million years ago was part of the Pacific Ocean — two dozen California Conservation Corps (CCC) members wearing brightly colored hard hats can be seen hacking away at everything green down in the forest below.  “This type of flora and fauna is fire-dependent — this sandhill chaparral habitat needs bare sand,” said Tim Reilly, an environmental scientist with the Santa Cruz district of the California Department of Parks and Recreation. “It’s a very rare habitat — probably the most rare in California — and it’s a challenge to know what type of fire we need to use to manage it.” … ”  Read more from E&E Publishing here:  Emergency drought funding gives California Conservation Corps a chance to cut forest fire risks

Water rights system is a century-old knot that will be difficult to untangle:  “The battle over California’s water has centered around a water rights system that experts call the most complicated in the world.  Tucked down a lonely hallway is a place very few visit or even know exists. Behind a locked door in a Sacramento office building is the water rights records room. It’s a room that’s as eye-opening as it is overwhelming. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  Water rights system is a century-old knot that will be difficult to untangle

Sites Reservoir is a 20th century idea trying to fit into the 21st century:  (despite the title, this is really more news than commentary:  “The New Melones Dam and reservoir, which floods a 42-kilometer (26-mile) stretch of the Stanislaus River in the Sierra foothills near Yosemite National Park, is the last big dam and water storage project built in California.  The New Melones Dam and reservoir, which floods a 42-kilometer (26-mile) stretch of the Stanislaus River in the Sierra foothills near Yosemite National Park, is the last big dam and water storage project built in California. ... ”   Read more from the Circle of Blue here:  Sites Reservoir is a 20th century idea trying to fit into the 21st century

How California farmers are coping with drought:  “In water-conscious California, farmers are eschewing vast harvests of fruits and vegetables for crops that fetch more money on less land. The aim for most farmers is to plant crops that need less water, but the most lucrative crops – such as almonds and alfalfa – need lots of water, a fact that presents a challenge to Californians who have already endured four years of drought.  Farming in general accounts for 80 to 90 percent of the nation’s water consumption, and alfalfa and almonds, two of the top crops in California, have been making headlines due to the amount of water needed for each crop to grow. ... ”  Read more from the Christian Science Monitor here:  How California farmers are coping with drought

Does foregoing your glass of restaurant water help the drought? If you’ve dined out in California lately, you may have noticed something missing: your complimentary glass of water.  That’s no accident. Last winter, as the state’s epic drought wore on, the Water Resources Control Board was desperate to reduce water use—so it called on the public to offer up ideas. Someone volunteered what seemed like obvious solution: Restaurants could quit giving out water with meals unless diners asked for it.  Board scientist Max Gomberg recalls, “All of us in the water management part of state government looked at it and thought, ‘Of course. This is such a basic thing.'” ... ”  Read more from Mother Jones here:  Does foregoing your glass of restaurant water help the drought?

Drought renews interest in capturing, recycling stormwater:California’s drought has placed a renewed focus on capturing stormwater and recycling in ways that could transform the state’s urban areas.  The first stop was the largest nursery in Southern California, Altman Plants, but it wasn’t for the plants. It was to see how one of the Los Angeles-area’s biggest water users was able to cut water use in half. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  Drought renews interest in capturing, recycling stormwater

Can we engineer ourselves out of a drought?  “When you hear Dr. Matthew Stuber describe the inner-workings of the HydroRevolution plant being constructed by his company in Firebaugh, California, in the heart of the Central Valley, it sounds like magic, not a much-needed solution to the dire problem of water usage and prolonged drought. When finished sometime next year, this solar-powered desalination plant will treat up to two million gallons a day, boiling out natural minerals and salts “like a kettle on the stove.” As Dr. Stuber puts it, the system is “replicating the natural life cycle of water,” the same ways clouds that form in the ocean from evaporated salt water release clean rain over dry land. Nature finds a way, and perhaps engineers find a better one. … ”  Read more from Curbed here:  Can we engineer ourselves out of a drought?

10 questions with David Malcolm, showerhead innovator:  “David Malcolm is bringing golf course technology to your daily bathroom routine.  As creator of High Sierra Showerheads, Malcolm is saving water with every shower. His patented low-flow technology uses 1.5 gallons of water per minute (GPM), but offers a shower experience that rivals the traditional 2.5 GPM flow that drought-conscious homeowners had given up.  Malcolm and his staff hand-assemble each showerhead at High Sierra Showerheads, a California-certified small business, located in Coarsegold, in Madera County near Yosemite National Park.  ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  10 questions with David Malcolm, showerhead innovator

California’s drought provides fertile ground for Silicon Valley innovation:  “California’s drought is a lucrative business opportunity in Silicon Valley, as a flood of high-tech startups are finding new ways to save water. Everyone’s being told to cut back on watering, but how do you know exactly how much water your lawn and plants need? An array of new products tied to your smartphone can provide that answer, and then some. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  California’s drought provides fertile ground for Silicon Valley innovation

Archinect launches “Dry Futures” competition in response to California’s historic drought:  “The Golden State’s nickname has taken on a grave new meaning. The agricultural and economic powerhouse of the country is in the midst of a historic drought pervading the whole U.S. Southwest, at once turning sprawling front lawns into golden-brown scratch pads and inciting Chinatown-style disputes among developers, farmers, and residents over water rights. The situation is dire, and while conservation efforts are succeeding to a degree, plans must extend into the far future in order to contend with depleted reservoirs and record low-levels of groundwater. Cities can’t always count on free-flowing taps.  Believing that architects are in a unique position to imagine how the built environment must adapt, Archinect is launching “Dry Futures” – a new competition seeking imaginative, pragmatic, idealist, or perhaps even dystopic, design proposals for the future of California’s drought. ... ”  Read more from Archinect here:  Archinect launches “Dry Futures” competition in response to California’s historic drought

California isn’t alone: Historic droughts happening around the world:If you live in the United States, especially if you live on the West Coast, you’re no doubt well aware of the historic, years-long drought in California, which now has spread across 97 percent of the state with nearly half the state falling into the worst category, exceptional drought.  But as USA Today reports this week, other areas around the world appear to be suffering from drought as bad as California’s. Brazil, North Korea, Puerto Rico and South Africa all are in the grip of their worst drought in years or even decades, situations that threaten potentially dire consequences for millions of their citizens. … ”  Read more from The Weather Channel here:  California isn’t alone: Historic droughts happening around the world

In commentary today …

Will El Nino be the excuse that derails water savings?  “It’ll be interesting to see what the state’s water conservation numbers look like for July, because this is the month that we think a lot of people figured the drought is over.  This is the month when the possibility of a strong El Niño this winter became a pretty safe bet, and most people know just enough about that to be dangerous.  El Niño is a warming of water in the eastern Pacific Ocean about at the Equator, which has the potential to bring more rain to California. Strong ones like the one forming now are more likely to bring rain, but only four of the five of the strong El Niños that have been recorded have actually soaked the state. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Will El Nino be the excuse that derails water savings?

Sacrificing the Delta to hose down LA sidewalks:  Dennis Wyatt writes, “The lifeblood of Delta farmers, towns, and fish drains into two series of pumps northwest of Tracy — one feeding the Delta-Mendota Canal and the other the 444-mile long California Aqueduct.  Nothing is natural about it.  The pumps use the equivalent power of 3,828,000 horses to pull water uphill so it can flow southward to fill swimming pools, water golf courses and lawns in the high desert, wash cars, and grow food among other things. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  Sacrificing the Delta to hose down LA sidewalks

In regional news and commentary today …

Ukiah: College teaching water preservation design:  “Although El Niño is raising the hopes of forecasters for a wet winter, California is still in the grips of a historic drought and those on the cutting edge of sustainable water development are working to create drought- friendly environments for local homeowners and a program and curriculum for a water certification program at Mendocino College.  ... ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here:  College teaching water preservation design

Sacramento County Supervisors retain water-waste fines on pot growth:  “Sacramento County supervisors Tuesday broadened a recent ordinance declaring outdoor marijuana cultivation a waste of water, maintaining higher fines despite objections from medical marijuana advocates.  After banning all outdoor marijuana growth in the unincorporated parts of the county last year, the Board of Supervisors two weeks ago categorized that activity as water waste, subjecting it to additional fines of up to $500 per day. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Sacramento County Supervisors retain water-waste fines on pot growth

Stanislaus County leaders approve more drought relief for homes with failed wells: County government will offer more emergency assistance for residents living without a basic service – tap water.  Homeowners with failed wells in Stanislaus County are waiting for nine months or longer for overbooked drillers to sink new wells. In the meantime, there’s no water in the pipes for showers, cleaning the dishes or washing clothes. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Stanislaus County leaders approve more drought relief for homes with failed wells

Water sale agreement gets final OK from Turlock Irrigation District:  “The Turlock Irrigation District gave final approval Tuesday to selling Tuolumne River water to a proposed treatment plant.  The 5-0 vote by the district board came two weeks after it approved the idea of providing the supply for Turlock, Ceres and south Modesto. City representatives approved the agreement Thursday, but with a slight change that required a second TID vote. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Water sale agreement gets final OK from Turlock Irrigation District

Kern County farmers struggle to maintain crops amid drought:  “Central California farmers now maintain their crops with costlier water sources.  Farm manager of Pandol Farms, Andrew Pandol, is not receiving municipal water allotments, but he still utilizes the San Joaquin Municipal Utility water pumping stations. Pandol pays a fee to the water station for distribution of his own well water. … ”  Red more from Bakersfield Channel 23 here:  Kern County farmers struggle to maintain crops amid drought

Tehachapi-Cummings water district has a new agreement for Kern River water: It’s a bit of a risk, but the Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District has approved entering into an agreement to assure water flow during dry and wet years.  “It’s sort of (like asking), do we feel lucky in agreeing to this,” said District General Manager John Martin at the district’s meeting on July 15. “But in the long haul, it could be a cheap way to get water.”  The TCCWD contracts with the Kern County Water Agency for a portion of rights to the Kern River’s lower river water. Martin said previously when the Kern River reached a certain flow point that characterized the water as “Lower River,” that water was available to members. It was offered on an as-available basis. … ”  Read more from Tehachapi News here:  Tehachapi-Cummings water district has a new agreement for Kern River water

Solvang forms committee to explore water independence: In a move that could give Solvang independence and flexibility with regard to its water supply, City Council members decided Monday to form a committee exploring membership in the Central Coast Water Authority.  Eight cities and water districts enrolled in the State Water Project make up the board. Each member receives voting power based on their state water allocations. Solvang appointed council members Neil Zimmerman and Joan Jamieson to the ad hoc committee. ... ”  Read more from the Lompoc Record here:  Solvang forms committee to explore water independence

Keeping up with the Joneses drought-friendly yard boosted MWD’s tab for yard rebates:  “When it came down to it, the number crunchers at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California knew they saved a lot more water for every dollar spent subsidizing low-flush toilets than drought-friendly lawns.  But there was one thing the MWD planners didn’t bank on when they threw an unprecedented $340 million into persuading residents to tear out their lawns: The value of one-upping your neighbor. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Keeping up with the Joneses drought-friendly yard boosted MWD’s tab for yard rebates

Drought cutbacks challenge SoCal water officials at home: Two summers ago, Beverly Hills City Council member Nancy Krasne’s household was consuming more than 1,800 gallons of water a day — far higher than the average single-family home in her city.  In preparation for California’s mandatory water cutbacks, Krasne went straight to the source of her water consumption, her thirsty landscaping.  Asked recently about her lawn, she said, “What lawn? It’s gone. It has evaporated, so to speak, because I’ve shut off every sprinkler outside my house.” … ”  Read more from KPCC here:  Drought cutbacks challenge SoCal water officials at home

Greens want SoCal clean water law enforced:  “California illegally exempts 84 cities in Los Angeles County from stormwater discharge rules and lets them just work on the plans, no matter how long it takes, environmentalists claim in court.  The Natural Resources Defense Council and Los Angeles Waterkeeper sued the State Water Resources Control Board and the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Los Angeles Region in Superior Court on July 24.  “Stormwater is the number one cause of water quality impairment in Southern California,” attorney Steven Fleischli with the National Resources Defense Counsel told Courthouse News. ... ”  Read more from Courthouse News Service here:  Greens want SoCal clean water law enforced

IID, Imperial County want $3 billion to restore the Salton Sea:The new price tag for restoring the Salton Sea: $3.15 billion.  That’s how much money local officials now say they want from California, as detailed in a plan approved Tuesday by the Imperial Irrigation District’s board of directors. It’s less expensive than a $9 billion plan that died in the state Legislature, and local officials hope it will pressure state officials to live up to their promise to restore the lake. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  IID, Imperial County want $3 billion to restore the Salton Sea

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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