In California water news today, Rising seas threaten San Francisco Bay and Delta wetlands and land; Westlands farm drainage deal faces Capitol Hill currents; Can California’s arcane water rights system change?; California groundwater law tests state’s capacity to oversee a vital resource; Dry wells linked to mining areas; Change in the Delta: Pivot or Pirouette?; Marijuana’s environmental damage and illegal water use begin to rouse a drought-stricken state; Delta: Scaled Down Plans to ‘Fix and Restore’; USDA funds interns to study drought; and more …
On the calendar today …
The Delta Protection Commission will meet in Walnut Grove on beginning at 5pm. Agenda items include an update on Commission activities related to CA WaterFix environmental document evaluation; a report from Delta water agencies on drought-related activities and current conditions –Dante Nomellini Sr. (Central Delta Water Agency) and Melinda Terry (North Delta Water Agency), and a report on the Delta Narratives project. Click here for agenda and meeting materials.
Public Meeting on Public Input on the Coordinated Long-term Operation of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project: At the end of July, Reclamation released documents analyzing implementing requirements of the biological opinions for the operation of the two major water projects in California. Reclamation will gather input at a public meeting from 6 to 8pm at the Hilton Hotel Irvine/Orange County Airport, 18800 MacArthur Boulevard, Irvine. For links to documents and more information, click here.
Rising seas threaten San Francisco Bay and Delta wetlands and land: “Rising sea levels threaten not only structures around San Francisco Bay and the Delta but the shoreline marshes critical to the environmental health of the estuary, and the results could be “catastrophic” if action is not taken, scientists warned Thursday. Predicted sea level rises of 3 feet or more by 2100 resulting from climate change could wash out and cover shallow tidal wetlands that act as important nurseries and habitat for wild fish, birds and other aquatic sea life, according to the scientific report on the state of the bay-Delta estuary. ... ” Read more from the Contra Costa Times here: Rising seas threaten San Francisco Bay and Delta wetlands and land
Westlands farm drainage deal faces Capitol Hill currents: “A Congress that has stumbled over a California water bill amid record drought now faces a challenging new fight over irrigation drainage. But this time, some of the state’s most politically powerful farmers have the Obama administration explicitly on their side. Together, they will be seeking approval of a far-reaching settlement that satisfies the Justice Department and Westlands Water District but alarms critics. “I think after years of frustration, we’ve finally got something done,” Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., said in an interview Wednesday. “It’s a compromise and, like any, there was give and take on both sides.” ... ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Westlands farm drainage deal faces Capitol Hill currents
Future of water: Can California’s arcane water rights system change? “All week, we’ve been looking at how our relationship to water will likely change in the hotter, drier, more populous California of the year 2040. Today, we look at water rights; who can use water and how much. Much of California’s arcane system of water rights stretches back to the Gold Rush. Basically, people who first claimed access to a water source have the first right to use it. It’s a seniority based system: older claims trump younger ones when water is scarce. But can a 19th Century approach to water allocation survive in the 21st Century? … ” Read more from KPCC here: Future of water: Can California’s water rights system change?
California groundwater law tests state’s capacity to oversee a vital resource: “On September 16, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown, cheerfully triumphant, signed into law the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which many observers assert is the most significant addition to California’s water protection code in a century. Brown’s jubilance appeared justified in a dry, fast-growing, 165-year-old state that relies on prodigious volumes of freshwater from aquifers for its water supply, doesn’t really know how much water lies underground, and where leaders that sought changes to oversee the resource were subject to intense opposition. … ” Read more from the Circle of Blue here: California groundwater law tests state’s capacity to oversee a vital resource
Dry wells linked to mining areas: “Tuolumne County officials tracking the number of private wells going dry due to the four-year drought have found that many areas with the highest concentrations are in parts of the county where historic gold mining activity is known to have occurred. “You can see how these failed wells are following these mining claims,” said county Environmental Health Director Rob Kostlivy. “There is a possibility now that these wells can be connected and the old mines themselves could be acting as water storage that’s been in effect for 100-plus years.” ... ” Read more from the Union Democrat here: Dry wells linked to mining areas
Change in the Delta: Pivot or Pirouette? “Droughts and water shortages, dry creeks, heat waves, snowpack loss, sea level rise, bigger floods, species at risk, scarcer funding for public works and restoration projects, and California’s ever-growing population—as Jeff Mount put it in The New York Times recently, it’s a frightening, uncertain new world. How are Bay-Delta resource managers responding to these changes? Are we pivoting away from old institutional and decision-making structures that need to change or dancing in circles?… We asked nine experienced, opinionated, knowledgeable Estuary experts — scientists, engineers, environmental advocates, and regulators — to share their ideas about what’s working and what isn’t, and to identify old ways of thinking that may need to be re-thought — or “old” ideas that may have become new again. … ” Read more from Estuary News here: Change in the Delta: Pivot or Pirouette?
Marijuana’s environmental damage and illegal water use begin to rouse a drought-stricken state: “Two miles from any trail, 40 people scramble down a steep incline. They are going to dismantle a marijuana-growing operation, and they have a helicopter to meet. The operation is quick and dirty. They step up to a 7,800-gallon cistern, formed by logs and dug-out earth, and clip wires holding the logs in place. A Pave Hawk helicopter, courtesy of the California Air National Guard, descends partway and drops a load of six nets. … ” Read more from E&E Publishing here: Marijuana’s environmental damage and illegal water use begin to rouse a drought-stricken state
Delta: Scaled Down Plans to ‘Fix and Restore’: “Surprising many observers, Governor Jerry Brown announced late in April that the Bay Delta Conservation Program, which had embraced the new water conveyance popularly known as the Twin Tunnels and a broad program for restoring the complex and heavily impacted Delta environment, was being split into two new entities: Cal WaterFix and Cal EcoRestore. This was followed by the release of a Partially Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report/Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement spelling out the changes: on the conveyance side, reduction of the project foot- print and relocation of intakes, and the substitution of Section 10 of the federal Endangered Species Act for Section 7 as authority for permits; on the restoration side, a more modest goal of 30,000 acres, down from the original 100,000. (An additional 2,000 acres would mitigate for impacts from the construction of the tunnels.) … ” Read more from Estuary News here: Delta: Scaled Down Plans to ‘Fix and Restore’
USDA funds interns to study drought: “University and community college students throughout California will try to help solve the state’s water crisis as paid interns beginning next year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing $2 million in grants for 200 underrepresented students attending California State University and California Community College campuses to work over four years in the federal Watershed Management Internship Program. ... ” Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: USDA funds interns to study drought
In commentary today …
Recycle California tax money for state water renewal, says the LA Daily News: They write, “When faced with a crisis, Californians, whether garage tinkerers or civil engineers, are a people of big-idea responses to the big problem at hand. That’s why, in the ongoing environmental crisis that is the four-year drought in our state and throughout the far West, so many citizens come forward with new — or remind us to recycle the best of the old — ideas for working our way through it. … ” Read more from the LA Daily News here: Recycle California tax money for state water renewal
Column: Implications of the California drought on energy use and climate concerns: David Huard writes, “California’s drought is now in its fourth year, and state leaders are faced with making unprecedented decisions further restricting water use. The brown lawns and dying trees are all too obvious and painful examples of the drought’s impact. However, somewhat lost in the public discussion, but of critical importance, is the impact of the drought on the energy sector, including power use, transmission and supply, in addition to several other secondary impacts such as diminished air quality and increased commodity prices. The full impact of this four-year drought is still unknown and will remain so until further studies can be conducted. However, certain interim effects are inevitable in drought years and should be recognized and discussed as state agencies look to address the drought’s implications. ... ” Read more from Energy Manager Today here: Implications of the California drought on energy use and climate concerns
In regional news and commentary today …
Alameda residents told to keep up the conservation: “Despite predictions of a wet winter, East Bay residents must continue to save water because of California’s years of drought. That was the message to Alamedans who attended a Sept. 12 water conservation workshop at Alameda High School. The workshop was sponsored by Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, who represents Alameda and other communities. ... ” Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Alameda residents told to keep up the conservation
Cachuma Lake water level falls to just 17%:“Concerns are rising as water levels fall at Cachuma Lake. The California Department of Water Resources says Cachuma is at just 17 percent capacity. Emergency pumps are being used to get water to the people this lake serves. Cachuma Lake is the primary water source for more than 200,000 people in Santa Barbara County. … ” Read more from KSBY here: Cachuma Lake water level falls to just 17%
The Huntington hosts drought meeting for state and local officials: “State officials stopped in San Marino on Wednesday, Sept. 2 on their Drought Listening Tour to meet with local and county officials at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. Representatives from the various state agencies met with delegates from local water districts, water companies, cities and Los Angeles County. “We have the whole gambit of local agencies that are focused in this meeting on drought, its impacts and what we’re doing to respond to the drought, but also what we should be doing next,” said Bill Croyle, deputy director of statewide preparedness and security for the California Department of Water Resources. “The conservation effort in this region has been huge.” ... ” Read more from the San Marino Tribune here: The Huntington hosts drought meeting for state and local officials
Las Vegas, Metropolitan ink water-for-cash deal: “Water managers in Los Angeles and Las Vegas are poised to adopt a drought-driven deal to send enough water to serve about 300,000 homes annually from the Lake Mead reservoir to Southern California. The Southern Nevada Water Authority board is due on Thursday to consider a water agreement that would have the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California pay $45 million for 150,000 acre-feet of water. ... ” Read more from the Las Vegas Sun here: Las Vegas, Metropolitan ink water-for-cash deal
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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.
The diary of a confessed obsessive-compulsive California water news junkie