Daily Digest: Drought fallowing half-million acres in California; Questions remain when it comes to tunnel plan; Losing water, California tries to stay atop economic wave; and more …

In California water news today, Questions remain when it comes to tunnel plan; Farmers cope with $1.8 million drought impact; Drought fallowing half-million acres in California; Losing water, California tries to stay atop economic wave; El Nino: Reason for hope, but no sure thing; Aging irrigation systems leads to crop losses in the West; and more …

On the calendar today …

 

  • The California Water Commission will meet in Los Angeles on today beginning at 9:30 am. Agenda items include an update on the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, an update on the critically overdrafted groundwater basins list, and an update and working session on the Water Storage Investment Program.  Click here for the agenda and webcast link.
  • The State Water Board will hold a public workshop on the draft proposal of the Stormwater Strategic Initiative on August 19 beginning at 9:00 amClick here for the agendaClick here for the webcast.

 

In the news today …

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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Farmers cope with $1.8 million drought impact:  “California farmers are faring “remarkably well” this harvest season, despite the drought and an overall $1.8 billion hit to the state’s agricultural economy, experts said Tuesday.  Rivers and streams are providing farmers with much less water this year. The shortage is about 8.7 million acre-feet, nearly enough water to fill enormous Lake Shasta twice.  But farmers have mostly made up for that huge shortfall by pumping more water from underground. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Farmers cope with $1.8 million drought impact

Drought fallowing half-million acres in California:  “California’s now 4-year-old drought will cost state agriculture $1.84 billion in 2015, researchers estimated in a study Tuesday from the University of California at Davis.  The biggest chunk of that cost will come from the fallowing of 542,000 acres that lack water for irrigation, the study said. That’s about one-fifth more land than drought forced out of production last year, researchers noted.  Agriculture, water and economic experts at the university stressed the extent to which farmers in California — the country’s leading agriculture state — are relying on groundwater pumping to make up for dwindling stores of water in state rivers, creeks, reservoirs and snowpack. … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Drought fallowing half-million acres in California  Related: South Valley ag takes drought’s brunt, from the Visalia Times-Delta

Questions remain when it comes to tunnel plan:  “State leaders and a panel of experts recently took the opportunity to discuss the unanswered questions about the massive Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta Tunnels proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown.  In an attempt to determine whether the proposal is good for California the Senate Select Committee on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, chaired by Senator Lois Wolk, D-Solano, hosted an informational meeting.  “After years of analysis, at tremendous expense, there remain unanswered questions about what the Delta Tunnels will cost, whether they will improve water supply reliability in the state, and whether they’ll be good for the Delta ecosystem,” Wolk said. ... ”  Read more from The Reporter here:  Questions remain when it comes to tunnel plan

Amid challenges, almond farmers accelerate harvest:  “They’ve faced a variety of challenges this season: the drought, which led to water shortages, removal of orchards and close scrutiny of their irrigation practices, plus concerns about chill hours and, in some cases, an uneven bloom. Now, California almond growers are accelerating harvest and advancing their opinions about whether the crop will meet its preseason estimates.  A close observer of the almond business, David Doll, a University of California pomology farm advisor in Merced County, said the drought has taken a toll. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Amid challenges, almond farmers accelerate harvest

Losing water, California tries to stay atop economic wave: Evert W. Palmer has a vision for this city famous for its state prison: 10,200 new homes spread across the rolling hills to the south, bringing in a flood of new jobs, new business and 25,000 more people.  Yes, Mr. Palmer, the city manager, is well aware that Folsom Lake, the sole source of water for this Gold Rush outpost near Sacramento, is close to historically low levels, and stands as one of the most disturbing symbols of the four-year drought that has gripped this state. And that Folsom is under orders to reduce its water consumption by 32 percent as part of mandatory statewide urban cutbacks. ... ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  Losing water, California tries to stay atop economic wave

El Nino: Reason for hope, but no sure thing:  “Anyone who assumes the “Godzilla” El Niño developing in the Pacific Ocean is our ticket out of this drought would do well to remember the winter of 1965-66.  It was, looking back, one of the four or five strongest El Niño years on record in California.  And nothing happened. Stockton ended up with a hair more than 11 inches of rain, not much more than the city has received even during this fourth year of drought.  On the other hand, anyone who assumes the “Godzilla” El Niño won’t help with our drought ought to remember 1982-83 and 1997-98, when the city received more than twice its normal rainfall and flood damages throughout California collectively topped $1.7 billion. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  El Nino: Reason for hope, but no sure thing

Ranchers remain cautious despite El Nino forecast:  “With talk of a strong El Niño brewing and with it, the potential for above-average precipitation this fall and winter, California livestock ranchers say they are hopeful about getting some relief from the drought. But they remain cautious about their plans for rebuilding their herds.  Poor pasture conditions and high feed costs have pummeled California ranchers during the last four years of drought, forcing many of them to sell their animals, even when market demand gave signals that they should be expanding. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Ranchers remain cautious despite El Nino forecast

Aging irrigation systems leads to crop losses in the West: Farmers across the West are making do with less water than they are used to. But the problem isn’t just lack of rainfall and snowpack. Outdated irrigation systems have led to crop losses and conflict among farmers. … ”  Read more from NPR here:  Aging irrigation systems leads to crop losses in the West

In commentary today …

Senator Dianne Feinstein: Manage water, species scientifically:To the editor: The Times editorial board is absolutely correct: the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta must be managed by science, not Congress — and that’s exactly what the California Emergency Drought Relief Act does. (“Feinstein-Boxer water bill offers real drought relief,” editorial, Aug. 14)  The bill, which I introduced last month with Sen. Barbara Boxer, requires that all decisions about when and how to move water around California must be based on science and existing state and federal law. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Senator Dianne Feinstein: Manage water, species scientifically

LA’s twin grab for San Joaquin Valley, Delta land and water:  Dennis Wyatt writes, “All Californians are created equal unless you’re the little guy in the San Joaquin Valley or the Delta.  The great land grab for the benefit of Los Angeles developers who need water to fuel their profits is drawing near. Just a year after slicing and dicing through family-owned farms and taking property with fast-lane eminent domain for the high speed rail to serve the wealthier Los Angeles-San Francisco business crowd, Sacramento is now preparing to seize 300 Delta farms as a precursor to robbing the Delta of the natural flow of Sacramento River water so it can be sucked into tunnels and the dumped near the Tracy pumps. ... ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  LA’s twin grab for San Joaquin Valley, Delta land, and water

Follow-up: Is California really winning the drought? Reader Q&A:  “In a Sunday Review article last weekend, “How California Is Winning the Drought,” Charles Fishman, author of “The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water,” argued that despite the severe ongoing drought conditions, California’s economy, job market and population are finding ways to thrive. Hundreds of readers responded, posing questions and ideas for the author on Facebook and The Times’ site. Here, Mr. Fishman addresses some of their comments. … ”  Read more at the New York Times here:  Is California really winning the drought? Reader Q&A

In regional news and commentary today …

Glenn County passes six-month moratorium on new wells: The Glenn County Board of Supervisors Tuesday passed a ban on new well permits, which will slow but not halt the number of new wells drilled in the primarily agricultural county.  Existing plans for new wells will be allowed to continue, as long as a permit has already been issued. In fact, there are already so many permits for new wells that drillers have a backlog of work scheduled. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Glenn County passes six-month moratorium on new wells

Fish and Wildlife shuts part of the Merced River to fishing:  “A portion of the Merced River is closed to fishing because of high water temperatures caused by the drought, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has confirmed.  The closure, which began Tuesday, affects 5 1/2 miles of the river from Crocker-Huffman Dam to the Snelling Road Bridge.  The move to close that portion of the river was made to protect rainbow trout, said Dean Marston, a fishery project manager for CDFW, at the Monday evening meeting. The increased water temperatures put more stress on the fish, forcing them to use more energy, he said. … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here:  Fish and Wildlife shuts part of the Merced River to fishing

Paso Robles: Supervisors tentatively approve parcel tax for groundwater management:  “Voters and property owners in the sprawling Paso Robles groundwater basin are one step closer to deciding whether the basin will be locally managed and how much it will cost them.  County supervisors Tuesday gave tentative approval to a parcel tax that would provide nearly $1 million for management of the basin. Approval of the tax was the latest in a series of steps the county is taking to form a water management district for the Paso Robles basin, which has seen dropping aquifer levels in recent decades. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Supervisors tentatively approve parcel tax for groundwater management

State lists several Central Coast groundwater basins as “critically overdrafted”:  “Several Central Coast groundwater basins are on a California Department of Water Resources (DWR) draft list of water supplies that are tagged as being in critical overdraft.  These groundwater supplies include basins serving Los Osos, Paso Robles, Cuyama and a portion of the Salinas Valley. … ”  Read more from KCBX here:  State lists several Central Coast groundwater basins as “critically overdrafted”

DWR adds Paso Robles to Critically Overdrafted Groundwater Basin list:  “The timetable for implementing a sustainable groundwater management plan for the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin is tighter after landing on the state Department of Water Resources “critical” list.  The DWR is responsible for identifying basins in the state that are in critical overdraft and recently added the Paso Robles basin to its list, which triggers an earlier implementation of a groundwater sustainability plan or coordinated groundwater sustainability plans. … ”  Read more from the Paso Robles Daily Press here:  DWR adds Paso Robles to Critically Overdrafted Groundwater Basin list

The next target in Southern California’s water conservation: Renters:  “Southern California homeowners have been hammered by the drought and have responded by replacing 150 million square feet of lawn in an effort to avoid surcharges slapped onto bills. The result amounted to a savings in water use in June of 23 percent, just below the mandate required by the governor.  But while single-family homeowners sacrifice their lawns and are saving water, multi-family residents are lagging far behind. … ”  Read more from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune here:  The next target in Southern California’s water conservation: Renters

Romero and McAdams: Who will plan and fund Los Angeles River revitalization?  “Last month, the Army Corps of Engineer’s Alternative 20—the preferred habitat restoration plan for 11 miles of the Los Angeles River—completed a critical stage of the federal process. In light of this, TPR spoke with two experts on the waterway: Lewis MacAdams, president and co-founder of Friends of the Los Angeles River, and Barbara Romero, Deputy Mayor for City Services and a member of the LA River Revitalization Corporation Board. They commented on funding and implementation challenges still ahead, as well as offering perspectives on Frank Gehry’s recently revealed involvement (at the invitation of the LA Mayor) in river revitalization. … ”  Continue reading from The Planning Report here:  Romero and McAdams: Who will plan and fund Los Angeles River revitalization?

Panel pans eco-friendly option for Poseidon desalination plant in Huntington Beach: Poseidon Water advanced another step toward its proposed Huntington Beach seawater desalination plant Monday with the release of a technical report suggesting that design changes to make the plant’s water intake more fish friendly are economically infeasible.  Poseidon’s proposed design for the plant – which would separate salt from ocean water to produce drinkable water – calls for sucking in water using open-ocean intake pipes. That method is criticized by environmentalists for killing fish and other marine creatures. The report was commissioned to evaluate alternative methods in which water intake pipes are buried in the sand, under the waves. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Panel pans eco-friendly option for Poseidon desalination plant in Huntington Beach

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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