Daily Digest: Groundwater resource remains vast but difficult to define fully; Nestle drawing millions of gallons of California water on expired permit, suit claims; Farmers welcome stay of U.S. ‘waters’ rule; and more …

In California water news today, Groundwater resource remains vast but difficult to define fully; Nestle drawing millions of gallons of California water on expired permit, suit claims; This devastating chart shows why even a powerful El Nino won’t fix the drought; Farmers welcome stay of U.S. ‘waters’ rule; Time to trash those paper plates? Fort Bragg lifts controversial drought rule; Rice growers midway through diminished harvest; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The Delta Independent Science Board will be meeting on October 14 through 16 at a variety of locations throughout the Delta.  Click here for more information.
  • Past and Future Deltas: Literary, historical, and economic perspectives: A public evening with the Delta Independent Science Board on October 14 at 6:30 pm in Knightsen.  Click here for more information.
  • Water Storage Investment Program Public Meeting on October 14 in Clovis at 6pm.  Click here for more information.

 

In the news today …

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …
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Groundwater resource remains vast but difficult to define fully: It’s a vital California resource, but groundwater isn’t easily understood—and during the state’s four-year drought, as groundwater pumping has increased in response to reduced surface supplies, it has been the subject of sometimes-alarming, but not necessarily accurate, public statements about the health of the resource.  The drought has focused attention on groundwater and newly adopted laws aim to ensure the resource is sustainably managed. But water experts say gaps remain in scientific understanding of subsurface water supplies. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Groundwater resource remains vast but difficult to define fully

Nestle drawing millions of gallons of California water on expired permit, suit claims:Environmental groups sued the U.S. Forest Service on Tuesday, alleging that the agency has allowed Nestle Waters to draw water from a creek in the San Bernardino Mountains under a permit that expired more than 25 years ago.  The company, owner of the Arrowhead bottled water brand, has drawn millions of gallons from the west fork of Strawberry Creek under a permit it apparently acquired in 2002.  At a time when residents have been asked to cut back water use during the record-setting drought, the diversion for commercial bottling to consumers once again has put Nestle in the cross hairs of the state’s water squabbles. The company faces scrutiny over its water withdrawal activities elsewhere in the state. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Nestle drawing millions of gallons of California water on expired permit, suit claims  See also: Lawsuit aims to stop Arrowhead Water operations, from the Riverside Press-Enterprise

This devastating chart shows why even a powerful El Nino won’t fix the drought: In California, news of a historically powerful El Niño oceanic warming event is stoking hopes that winter rains will ease the state’s brutal drought. But for farmers in the Central Valley, one of the globe’s most productive agricultural regions, water troubles go much deeper—literally—than the current lack of precipitation.  That’s the message of an eye-popping report from researchers at the US Geological Survey. ... ”  Read more from Mother Jones here:  This devastating chart shows why even a powerful El Nino won’t fix the drought

Farmers welcome stay of U.S. ‘waters’ rule:  “Efforts to overturn new federal regulations governing “waters of the U.S.” will continue, farm leaders say, despite a federal appeals court ruling that has blocked the rule’s implementation nationwide. The rule would bring more waterways and wetlands under protection of the Clean Water Act, and has been criticized by farm organizations for potentially widespread restrictions on farmland and agricultural activities.  The court ruling, issued last Friday, temporarily suspends implementation of the waters of the U.S. rule, known by the shorthand WOTUS, in 37 states that had been unaffected by an earlier ruling. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Farmers welcome stay of U.S. ‘waters’ rule

Time to trash those paper plates? Fort Bragg lifts controversial drought rule: Amid criticism from local business owners and residents, the Fort Bragg, Calif., City Council on Tuesday lifted a requirement that had forced restaurants to save water by serving patrons with disposable plates, cups and flatware.  In a unanimous vote, the council approved a modified law that encourages (rather than requires) the use of compostable materials during the serious stages of the city’s drought emergency. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Time to trash those paper plates? Fort Bragg lifts controversial drought rule

Rice growers midway through diminished harvest: Rice growers in California are midway through a harvest that will be shorter than usual for the many who fallowed portions of their acreage because of the drought.  Growers report decent yields and quality from the rice that’s in the ground — plantings they say total roughly 370,000 acres statewide, a steep drop from the 431,000 acres of rice harvested last year.  Among those already winding down their harvests is Leo LaGrande, a Williams area farmer who left one-quarter of his land bare. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Rice growers midway through diminished harvest

Mystery fish deaths in Clear Lake trigger investigation: Fish die-offs are not uncommon in Clear Lake. Sometimes fish suffocate when oxygen-depleting algal blooms explode. Other times, koi herpes virus attacks carp, causing their carcasses to litter the shoreline.  But two early October incidents, about 3 miles apart at the south end of the lake, are believed to have been caused by a less natural killer, capturing the attention of state Fish and Wildlife officials.  “It’s under investigation,” said Fish and Wildlife spokesman Steve Gonzalez. He did not divulge any other information. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Mystery fish deaths in Clear Lake trigger investigation

Lake County fires could hurt Napa water quality: Massive summer fires to the north, mostly in Lake County, left behind a charred landscape that could pose a threat to water quality in Napa County.  The potential problem isn’t flames, but ash, officials say.  Some 60,000 acres burned in the upper Putah Creek watershed, said Phillip Miller of the Napa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District. Soaking El Nino rains could wash debris and ash into the creek that drains into Lake Berryessa reservoir. … ”  Read more from the Napa Valley Register here:  Lake County fires could hurt Napa water quality

Sonoma County supervisors endorse framework for overseeing groundwater:  “Sonoma County supervisors on Tuesday took their first substantive action to implement California’s landmark groundwater laws, voicing support for a three-pronged governance structure for local public entities that will have broad authority to regulate underground water supplies.  The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved forming one “sustainability agency” for each of the three basins in Sonoma County that fall under the new laws — the Santa Rosa Plain, Sonoma Valley and Petaluma Valley basins. The agencies must be in place by mid-2017. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Sonoma County supervisors endorse framework for overseeing groundwater

Butte County supervisors unanimously back plans to form groundwater sustainability agency: The Butte County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution to have the county act as a local groundwater sustainability agency on Tuesday.  The move clears the way for the county to share responsibility for the long-term health of groundwater in four sub-basins within the county. The sub-basins, Vina, West Butte, East Butte and North Yuba, are all west of the foothills and extend into neighboring counties. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Butte County supervisors unanimously back plans to form groundwater sustainability agency

Yuba City Water District Working To Reduce Bacteria In Wastewater Following Fine: “State regulators have fined the Yuba City Water District for wastewater violations over how the water is treated before it leaves the plant.  Yuba City water officials admit they were not in compliance with state standards for their water discharge, but they say they do not believe they are having any effect on the Feather River. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here: Yuba City Water District Working To Reduce Bacteria In Wastewater Following Fine

Woodbridge Irrigation District investigating stranded fish:Irrigation season is over, and the canals in Lodi are draining until next growing season.  But some hapless fish were caught by surprise as their watery home rapidly disappeared.  “My family went for a walk this evening and we were very saddened to see these poor fish flopping around in puddles, dying,” Lodi resident Heather Tunnell said in an email to the News-Sentinel. … ”  Read more from the Lodi News-Sentinel here:  Woodbridge Irrigation District investigating stranded fish

Yolo farmers plan to bank water:  “Brace yourself, El Niño is (possibly) coming.  As the heat of summer fades to autumn’s crisp, cool air, local farmers are preparing their land to make the most of what could be a hefty rainy season. Craig McNamara — a lifelong advocate for sustainable agriculture — is adding a water-banking and pumping system to his Winters farm, Sierra Orchards, in anticipation of winter rains. “We’re trying to prepare in as many ways as possible,” McNamara said. “Any extra drop counts.” … ”  Read more from the Davis Enterprise here:  Yolo farmers plan to bank water

Mokelumne ‘wild and scenic’ bill signed by Governor Brown:A portion of the Mokelumne River in the Mother Lode may be one step closer to being declared “wild and scenic,” after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill late last week.  Assembly Bill 142, by Republican Frank Bigelow of O’Neals, requires the state to study whether the Mokelumne should receive such protection. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here: Mokelumne ‘wild and scenic’ bill passes

Oakdale Irrigation District reveals big money water sale to outside buyers: Irrigation agencies in Oakdale and Manteca will reap $11.5 million selling Stanislaus River water to outsiders in coming weeks.  Sensitive to pressure from local farmers, government officials and media, the Oakdale Irrigation District kept the deal under wraps until Tuesday’s announcement. It surprised some Stanislaus County leaders who had been urging OID to negotiate with local buyers during the ongoing drought, and angered candidates for the OID board who have railed on secrecy and called for transparency. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Oakdale Irrigation District reveals big money water sale to outside buyers

Valley could see moderate effects of El Nino in winter months: It could be a couple of months until the Valley sees any signs of El Niño, but meteorologists at the National Weather Service are predicting a medium chance of higher than average rainfall for California’s drought-stricken farmland.  Chances for a lot of rain are higher in the lower third of the state, said meteorologist Brian Ochs, but there still is an about 50 percent chance the Merced and Fresno areas could see more rainfall than usual. ... ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here:  Valley could see moderate effects of El Nino in winter months

Bay Area water agencies agree to seismic, drought plan: For the first time in decades, Peninsula customers served by one of the region’s largest water suppliers could soon be sipping from a massive underground aquifer as the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has commenced drilling wells in an effort to diversify its resources.  Nestled between the Caltrain tracks and the Orchard Supply Hardware in Millbrae, officials with the SFPUC and representatives from its partner agencies gathered Tuesday to unveil a drill rig that is working to tap into the South Westside Groundwater Basin source nearly 500 feet underground.  The $113 project that includes 15 well sites and several treatment facilities, is part of a collaborative effort between the SFPUC, California Water Service Company and the cities of Daly City and San Bruno. … ” Read more from the Daily Journal here: Bay Area water agencies agree to seismic, drought plan

Honeybee population plummets on Central Coast during drought: The California drought is having an effect on all plant and animal life, and insects are no exception.  Local experts say there’s been a noticeable drop in the number of bees here on the Central Coast because of the drought.  It’s a hobby and a duty for Ron Barrows. The member of the Lompoc Valley Beekeepers Association fields calls from locals who want bees removed from their property. … ”  Read more from KSBY here:  Honeybee population plummets on Central Coast during drought

Coachella Valley Water District could increase penalty fees:  “If you’re still wasting water, now would be a great time to stop — maybe by deciding not to overseed your lawn.  That was the takeaway from Tuesday’s meeting of the Coachella Valley Water District’s board of directors, which followed the agency’s dismal conservation performance in September. Homes and businesses served by the valley’s largest water agency cut their consumption 16 percent last month, far short of their state-mandated 36 percent target. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Coachella Valley Water District could increase penalty fees

Ray of hope for the Salton Sea:  “After decades of pleas, promises and plans to save the Salton Sea, the planets at last seem to be aligning to make progress possible.  Instead of trying to fund a $9 billion program to rescue the entire, 350-square-mile, accidentally created inland sea, state and regional officials are figuring out ways to begin paying for a bailout in small bites.  Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit, chairman of the Salton Sea Authority board, is in Sacramento today to present what he says is a reasonably priced model for fixing some of the Salton Sea’s pressing problems quickly. … ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here:  Ray of hope for the Salton Sea

In commentary today …

Column: Island water complicated but too tempting to ignore:  Lois Henry writes, “Several local water districts are looking at island property.  Not the kind you might think.  These are islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and instead of beach time, the local districts hope they might yield something far more precious — water.  Semitropic, Rosedale-Rio Bravo and Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa water storage districts are all looking at buying four delta islands known as the Delta Wetlands Project. … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  Island water complicated but too tempting to ignore

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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