Daily Digest, weekend edition: Gov. Brown signs legislation addressing pot cultivation, leaky pipes, water affordability, and more, says he’s ready to take on Prop 218; New Clean Water rule stayed, Subsidence and Valley flood risk, and more …

The Prado wetlands in Orange County
In California water news this weekend, Governor Brown signs legislation addressing marijuana cultivation, leaky water pipes, water affordability, water conservation, groundwater adjudication, and fake lawns; Restrictions on water rates gets newfound opposition from Governor Brown; 6th circuit stays new Clean Water rule; California is sinking and now could flood; Big rate increases ahead at many water agencies as financial pressures grow; Chances growing for a wet winter in Northern California; ‘H2O Hackathon’ seeks solutions to drought; Rehab centers scramble to keep up as drought exacts toll on wildlife; California pumpkin growers suffering season of heartbreak; and more …

In the news this weekend …

New California laws aim to stop marijuana growers from wrecking the environment: California has finally decided to regulate medical marijuana, taking steps to end a two-decade-long free-for-all that has been blamed for worsening the state’s drought and causing environmental damage, though it remains to be seen whether enough of the state’s black market growers will abide by the new laws to make a significant impact.  Governor Jerry Brown signed three bills into law on Friday that collectively amount to a massive change for the federally illegal industry, which is currently governed in California by a motley collection of city and county laws that range from stringent to wildly permissive. … ”  Read more from VICE News here:  New California laws aim to stop marijuana growers from wrecking the environment

Leaky water pipes losing billions of gallons of water targeted by new state law: With California mired in the worst drought in state history, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed into law a measure aimed at reducing the billions of gallons of water lost every year across the state from leaks in aging and cracked water pipes in hundreds of city water systems.  The bill, SB 555, by state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Vacaville, requires California’s urban water departments and private water companies to audit their systems and report their annual water loss to the state starting in Oct. 1, 2017. ... ”  Read more from the Contra Costa Times here:  Leaky water pipes losing billions of gallons of water targeted by new state law

Brown signs package of water affordability and conservation bills:  “California agencies will develop a plan to help people on low-incomes pay their water bills. It’s one of 24 bills Governor Jerry Brown signed today related to water management and use.  The state Environmental Protection Agency considers it a “high burden” for households that pay more than 1.5 percent of their income for water.  Phoebe Seaton at the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability says that is a lot of Californians. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Brown signs package of affordability and conservation bills

Governor signs groundwater adjudication bills into law: Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed into law two groundwater bills, AB 1390 (Alejo) and SB 226 (Pavley), that establish an improved process for groundwater adjudication in the state. Both bills take effect on Jan. 1, 2016. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  Governor signs groundwater adjudication bills into law

Legislation boosts Salton Sea survival: Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Friday, Oct. 9, that requires identification of shovel-ready projects at the ailing Salton Sea, and also pushed a task force’s recommendation for restoring 37,000 acres of shoreline in the coming years.  The bill by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, calls for a list of rehab projects ready to go by March, so a state spending plan can be developed for use of funds from the Prop. 1 water bond passed by voters last year. … ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here:  Legislation boosts Salton Sea survival

Assemblyman Marc Levine teams up with Fairfax fourth graders to get drought bill adopted:  “A collaboration between Assemblyman Marc Levine and a fourth-grade class at Manor Elementary School in Fairfax has resulted in a new California law.  On Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 606, which mandates that state properties modernize their irrigation systems and install drought tolerant landscaping using native plants whenever possible.  The students in Laura Honda’s fourth-grade class proposed the bill after paying a visit to Levine’s Sacramento office last October. Twenty fourth-graders toured the Capitol, spoke with Levine’s staff, and visited Brown’s office. Levine’s staff talked with the students about the importance of civic engagement and governance. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Assemblyman Marc Levine teams up with Fairfax fourth graders to get drought bill adopted

Fake lawns protected by new law: Cities in drought-stricken California can no longer stop residents from installing fake grass to replace their water-guzzling lawns.  Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed a bill into law preventing cities and counties from banning artificial turf and other drought-tolerant landscaping. … ”  Read more from the Redding Record-Searchlight here:  Fake lawns protected by new law

Restrictions on water rates gets newfound opposition from Governor Brown: Gov. Jerry Brown is picking a fight over a two-decade-old law that can make it difficult to increase water rates, raising the possibility of a new battle over the issue at the ballot box next year.  He’s turning his attention to the issue as he seeks more flexibility to fund infrastructure improvements and use financial incentives to spur conservation, tactics for steering California through the fourth year of a damaging drought.  “Too many Californians still lack affordable, safe drinking water,” Brown said in a statement Friday. “Proposition 218 serves as the biggest impediment to public water systems being able to establish low-income rate assistance programs.” ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Restrictions on water rates gets newfound opposition from Governor Brown

6th circuit stays new Clean Water rule: The Sixth Circuit on Friday stayed a new Environmental Protection Agency rule defining “Waters of the United States” that 31 states accuse of trampling their sovereignty. Attorneys general from 31 states asked the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers in July to delay implementation of a Clean Water Act rule for at least nine months for judicial review.  The rule defines “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. The states claim it asserts federal jurisdiction over streams, wetlands and other water bodies previously considered to be under their jurisdiction. ... ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  6th circuit stays new Clean Water rule

California is sinking and now could flood: California is sinking at a historic rate.  That sinking, which scientists call subsidence, has damaged flood levees intended to protect hundreds of miles of Central Valley farmland. Some levees near the San Joaquin River have sunk more than 6 feet.  If this year’s El Niño produces heavy storms, those sinking levees are now more likely to fail, putting farms and communities at risk. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  California is sinking and now could flood

Big rate increases ahead at many water agencies as financial pressures grow:  “The drought has put California water agencies under an unprecedented variety of financial pressures, according to a new survey. This will eventually require significant rate increases in some communities.  Ann Bui, a managing director at the global water consulting firm Black & Veatch, said many water agencies are feeling the strain because they had already delayed imposing rate increases for a number of years due to the drought and a reluctance to strain ratepayers. The drought aggravates things because water conservation mandates reduce the amount of water they sell, thereby reducing revenues. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Big rate increases ahead at many water agencies as financial pressures grow

Chances growing for a wet winter in Northern California:  “As far as California is concerned, rainfall delayed isn’t necessarily rainfall denied.  Despite the prognosis for a dry October, forecasters are still bullish on the chances that winter will be wetter than normal because of El Nino atmospheric conditions that are among the strongest in decades.  Officials from the federal Climate Prediction Center said last month that El Nino’s southern storm track could bring above-average precipitation to areas as far north as Sacramento. Now it appears Northern California could get soaked as well. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Chances growing for a wet winter in Northern California

‘H2O Hackathon’ seeks solutions to drought: Eight teams. Nine hours. One monster drought.  Stockton’s first “H2o Hackathon” ended Friday with some creative plans to slay that monster drought — ideas like text messages that warn you in real time if you’ve exceeded your water use goals, or games you can play on your smartphone as a reward for taking shorter showers.  If you’ve never been to a “hackathon,” imagine brainiacs buried in their laptops, at tables covered with energy drinks, scribbled-upon notepads and half-empty pizza boxes.  The concept is simple: If you’ve got a problem, 50 heads are better than one. ... ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  H2O Hackathon seeks solutions to drought

Rehab centers scramble to keep up as drought exacts toll on wildlife: Colorful kestrels squawk in an outdoor cage at the California Living Museum in Bakersfield. The cries sound like they could be coming from hundreds of the small falcons — but there are only a few small orphan birds in the cage.  “They’re talkative because they just came out of the infant-rearing process, so they still think they’re supposed to be fed every time they see us,” says curator Don Richardson.  He says he’s seen a big increase in the number of orphaned animals brought into the museum’s wildlife rehab center. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Rehab centers scramble to keep up as drought exacts toll on wildlife

California pumpkin growers suffering season of heartbreak:Growing giant pumpkins is a labor of love — intense, peculiar, aching love. And that love has been tested this year in Napa, the nation’s capital for Godzilla gourds.  Between the drought and powdery mildew, it’s been a season of sighs and grimaces for some of the world’s top growers, who will nonetheless strap their heaviest pumpkins to a pickup bed or trailer and motor down to California’s top weigh-offs Saturday near Morgan Hill and Monday in Half Moon Bay. … ”  Read more from the Daily News here:  California pumpkin growers suffering season of heartbreak

In commentary this weekend …

Water markets would alleviate shortages, says Arthur Laffer:  He writes, ” … California faces a serious, long-term water crisis. But the policies being pursued in Sacramento only focus on the short-term. Does anyone really think that Californians can permanently change water-use patterns by fining businesses, farmers and residents who use too much water?  There’s no panacea to California’s water problem. But there are some commonsense first steps that must be taken to alleviate this vexing challenge that impacts families, businesses, farmers and the environment. One such step is the creation of a statewide water market. … ”  Read more from the O.C. Register here:  Water markets would alleviate shortages

North to Alaska for L.A.’s water? asks the LA Times:  They write:  “There’s a company that owns much of the fresh water in the distant Pacific island nation of Fiji, another with rights to melting glaciers in Iceland, others that tap into lakes and streams in similarly exotic locales. They ship their liquid freight across the oceans aboard carbon-spewing tankers so Californians can drink it from snappy square-bottomed plastic bottles while they flush their toilets with melted snowflakes from crystal clear Sierra streams and shower in water that fell a season or two ago in the Rockies. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  North to Alaska for L.A.’s water?

Steve Lopez: The drought posse is hot on the trail of Bel Air’s water guzzlers: The water-hogging champ of California, a Bel-Air resident who has managed to suck 1,300 gallons of H2O an hour from the state’s scant drought-limited supply, may soon find that there’s no ice bucket for the champagne, no green in the polo turf and nothing but dust in the Versailles fountain.  I now have a drought posse scouring satellite maps, following neighborhood gutter flows and reporting directly to me. I even know someone who has put a camera-equipped drone into service.  So here’s a news flash for the barbarous beast:  We’re going to get you sooner or later, so why not make this easy on yourself? Drop the hose, drain the fountains and step out of the shadows. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  The drought posse is hot on the trail of Bel Air’s water guzzlers

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Drought, community support help save Lake Tahoe shore plant:  “California’s lengthy drought, with all the havoc it has wreaked, has helped save the Tahoe yellow cress, a plant that grows only on the shores of Lake Tahoe.  It was a successful, local 15-year conservation effort to protect the plant and its habitat that led to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s announcement Wednesday that it has been removed as a candidate for protection under the Endangered Species Act. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Drought, community support help save Lake Tahoe shore plant

Groundwater issues: Yuba County Water Agency opposes Marysville’s bid:  “Marysville’s bid for “a seat at the table” in regulating local groundwater usage is being opposed by the Yuba County Water Agency.  The agency, in a letter sent to Marysville City Attorney Nicole Delerio, asks the city not to apply to the state for status as a groundwater sustainability agency. The letter signed by YCWA General Manager Curt Aikens says Marysville becoming such an agency would “result in unnecessary duplication of efforts that probably would result in, among other things, confusion for landowners and other citizens within the North Yuba Subbasin.”  The City Council this week voted unanimously to seek the status anyway. … ”  Read mroe from the Appeal-Democrat here: Groundwater issues: Yuba County Water Agency opposes Marysville’s bid

Groundwater issues: Yuba City pursues treatment plan:  “Yuba City is continuing to move ahead on a project to possibly store treated water underground in an effort to stabilize its water supply.  The Yuba City City Council on Tuesday approved a $240,000 contract with West Yost, based in Davis, to install three monitoring wells to gather information about the aquifer and determine whether it can store water.  Certain conditions could torpedo the project, said Public Works Director Diana Langley. If the gradient of the aquifer is too steep, the water will travel too quickly underground to provide storage. Aquifer water quality and soil types will also play a critical role in the viability of the project. … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Yuba City pursues treatment plant

Russian River testing called off as toxic algae risk subsides: Sonoma County health officials say the risk of toxic blue-green algae in the Russian River has subsided enough that they will suspend weekly testing of water and algae samples taken from 10 popular beaches between Cloverdale and the outskirts of Monte Rio.  Still, health warnings posted at local beaches will remain in place until temperatures drop sufficiently and — with luck — rain arrives to increase river flows, eliminating some of the conditions that nurture algae. … ”  Read more from the Sonoma Press Democrat here:  Russian River testing called off as toxic algae risk subsides

City of Napa delays eminent domain vote on Upvalley land needed for pumping plant:  “Napa will wait another month before deciding whether to claim winery-owned land for an Upvalley water pumping project.  The City Council on Tuesday postponed a vote on declaring eminent domain on a parcel owned by an investment branch of Constellation Brands Inc., the parent of Robert Mondavi Winery. A decision is now scheduled for Nov. 3. … ” Read more from the Napa Valley Register here:  City of Napa delays eminent domain vote on Upvalley land needed for pumping plant

New wells studied for Petaluma:  “The Sonoma County Water Agency is undergoing a three-year, comprehensive study that could reshape the understanding and management of underground water supplies in Petaluma and its surrounding areas.  When completed in 2017, the study will result in a detailed model showing how surface waters in Petaluma and beyond interact with water held in pockets of rock and soil under the earth. … ”  Read more from Petaluma 360 here:  New wells studied for Petaluma

Video: Fresno aims to recharge its dwindling groundwater:  “California is currently in its fourth year of severe drought. In 2014, Gov. Jerry Brown passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, the first ever statewide effort to regulate groundwater use. In this video, we hear water experts discuss invisible costs of the dry spell, and what the city of Fresno is doing to comply with the new law, recharge its groundwater reserves, and develop infrastructure for surface water use. ”  Click here to view the video from High Country News.

Joe del Bosque on Prop 1 water storage, and the California Water Commission coming to Clovis: As California endures a historic drought, we are all feeling its effects in some way. But in the San Joaquin Valley, the suffering is pronounced. My fellow farmers and I are fallowing fields or dealing with sky-rocketing water costs to keep our crops alive. And our rivers and reservoirs are nearly dry, giving everyone in the Valley a stark reminder that things are bad.  There hasn’t been significant state investment in new water storage in California since the 1970s. So when voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 1 last fall, it was a message that we need to be better prepared to deal with future droughts. The passage of Proposition 1 is a promise to make things better. … ”  Read more here:  California Water Commission coming to Clovis

Hanford officials: Use 60 gallons less water daily:  “Hanford officials launched a new citywide water conservation campaign Thursday, urging each Hanford resident to cut his or her water use by 60 gallons a day.  That would get the city close to the 28 percent conservation target it has to hit in order to avoid being fined by the State Water Resources Control Board, according to Lou Camara, Hanford public works director.  The campaign is set to launch a new website, www.60GallonChallenge.com, in the next few days. Officials are also planning to tweet water-saving tips and other information at a newly created Twitter hashtag, #conservehanford. … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here:  Hanford officials: Use 60 gallons less water daily

Bakersfield losing hundreds of trees: By cutting its water usage an average of 55 percent from June through August, Bakersfield’s city parks system saved more than 200 million gallons of water and nearly $459,000, a department official said recently.  Unfortunately, even as parks crews have continued to water city trees, California’s historic fourth year of drought has brought added stress, making them vulnerable to attacks by insects and other pests.  Last month, Dianne Hoover, Bakersfield’s Recreation & Parks director, said crews have removed about 900 dead city trees since the beginning of the year and may need to remove up to an additional 1,000. … ” Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  City losing hundreds of trees

San Fernando Valley leads the way in lawn replacement rebates: When Joe Benson tore out his dying grass in August of last year, he was one of the first in his San Fernando Valley neighborhood to collect a rebate for doing so, he recalls. One year later, four other households on his block, and several more on his street, have followed suit amid the state’s persistent drought.  Valley residents have been among the most aggressive in Los Angeles County in claiming rebate money for lawn replacement, according a Times analysis of data from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  San Fernando Valley leads the way in lawn replacement rebates

QSA vital to Coachella Valley’s future, says John Powell, Jr.:  He writes, “If you live in the Coachella Valley and care about your future, the Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA) matters to you. It is undoubtedly complicated, and it is absolutely vital to our region by providing security of your long-term water supply when you need it most. The extraordinary time and talent it took to reach agreement was visionary and collaborative. As a result, all of us here in the Coachella Valley can enjoy a thriving community and a reliable, sustainable water supply. … ” Read more from the Desert Sun here:  QSA vital to Valley’s future

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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.

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