Daily Digest: Lawmakers head to Australia; San Joaquin County Supes vote to oppose Delta tunnels; Farmers employ methods to boost groundwater supplies; Why a dry CA will still grow a lot of food; and more …

In California water news today, California lawmakers head to Australia to study drought response; San Joaquin Supervisors vote to oppose Delta tunnels plan; Groundwater: Farmers employ methods meant to boost supply; Coping with conservation; Why a dry California will still grow a lot of food; By the numbers: A drought update; California Closes 33 Injection Wells Used to Dump Oilfield Waste into Aquifers; Western wildfires threaten water supplies, study finds; and more …

On the calendar today …

 

  • The California Water Commission will meet in Yuba City beginning at 9:30am.  Agenda items include consideration of adoption of draft basin boundary regulations and and update on the Water Storage Investment Program.  Click here for the agendaClick here for the webcast.
  • Water Storage Investment Program Public Meeting this evening in Yuba City at 6pmClick here for more information.
  • Webinar: No surface water = No groundwater:  Join Carl Hauge and the Groundwater Resources Association  today for a webinar from 12pm to 1:30pm. Building deeper wells is not a solution to a shortage of surface water. Developing a water budget and managing water use within that budget is a solution. Carl will talk about a number of topics that must be considered when a rational program of water management is developed and he will emphasize that whether the water is above the land surface or below the land surface, it is the same water.  Click here for more information.
  • Delta Conservancy Program and Policy Subcommittee Meeting: The next Program and Policy Subcommittee (PPS) meeting will be held this afternoon from 3:00 pm until 4:30 pm at the Conservancy’s office in West Sacramento. The PPS will receive an update on the Proposition 1 Grant Program and regional planning efforts. The PPS will also receive an overview of State conflict of interest issues. The meeting will be accessible via conference call. The agenda, with call-in information, can be found The agenda, with call-in information, can be found here.
  • Sustainable Groundwater Management Act Implementation Meeting (Los Angeles):  The State Water Resources Control Board and the Department of Water Resources will hold an informational meetings for stakeholders on the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in Los Angeles beginning at 1pm.  The meeting will include technical sessions for agencies and organizations in the afternoon, and a public forum in the evening for residential well owners and the public.  Click here for more information.

 

In the news today …

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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California lawmakers head to Australia to study drought response: While the rest of us hope for a strong El Niño this winter, California lawmakers are looking to farther-flung locales for solutions to the state’s historic drought, now deep into its fourth year.  A bipartisan delegation of legislators, led by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, left Monday for a ten-day trip to Australia, which overhauled its water management policies and cut water use by half during a severe drought that gripped its southeast region from 1997 to 2009.  The trip is paid for by the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy, a San Francisco think tank funded by business groups, labor unions and environmental nonprofits.  … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  California lawmakers head to Australia to study drought response

San Joaquin Supervisors vote to oppose Delta tunnels plan:  “At a meeting on Tuesday, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted to adopt a resolution in formal opposition of California WaterFix, also known as the twin tunnels plan.  “The WaterFix is just a thinly veiled version of the former (Bay Delta Conservation Plan) and continues to push the fatally flawed twin tunnels, which will simply sacrifice one region of California for the benefit of another,” said Supervisor Kathy Miller. ... ”  Read more from the Lodi News-Sentinel here:  San Joaquin Supervisors vote to oppose Delta tunnels plan

San Joaquin County remains opposed to Cal Water Fix: As expected, San Joaquin County will continue to voice its opposition to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.  The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted 3-0 on Tuesday to adopt a resolution affirming the county’s opposition to the BDCP/Water Fix, as well as to approve the county’s comments on a revised draft environmental impact report and supplemental environmental impact statement. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  San Joaquin County remains opposed Cal Water Fix

Groundwater: Farmers employ methods meant to boost supply: With the California drought placing more reliance and focus on the state’s groundwater resources, California farmers and ranchers continue to test innovative techniques to managing the resource through aquifer recharge, groundwater banking and conjunctive use.  At Terra Nova Ranches in southwestern Fresno County, farm manager Don Cameron has been pioneering new approaches to capturing floodwater and diverting it to permanent crops and open land, for percolation into underground aquifers. Cameron said the ranch received a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant in 2011 to assess the impact of standing water on permanent crops. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Groundwater: Farmers employ methods meant to boost supply

Coping with conservation: California’s four-year drought won’t be remedied with a few overnight showers. Even the hoped-for El Niño is likely to have limited effects in helping the region recuperate from the dry years.   Conservation is going to remain a theme, officials say. While attitudes seem to be holding up, from here on it just gets trickier to keep on conserving more and more. Here are some water conservation observations from a few different vantage points: ... ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Coping with conservation

Why a dry California will still grow a lot of food:  “California’s farmers produce the lion’s share of the fruits, vegetables and tree nuts in the U.S. That’s thanks to the warm climate, which permits multiple growing seasons, and the state’s rich soils.  Another advantage? Despite some recent thunderstorms, it doesn’t rain much. Relying on irrigation allows farmers to apply just the amount of water they need to make their crops flourish.  Rain, many experts say, actually screws things up.  … ”  Read more from the Marketplace here:  Why a dry California will still grow a lot of food

By the numbers: A drought update: Every two weeks, the California Office of Emergency Services publishes an official “drought update” highlighting important changes in water supply, emergency assistance, fire risk and other factors.  Here are highlights from the latest report , published on October 16 … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  By the numbers: A drought update

California Closes 33 Injection Wells Used to Dump Oilfield Waste into Aquifers:In an attempt to prevent its oil industry from contaminating groundwater sources that could be used for drinking water, California regulators closed 33 wells last week that were injecting oilfield waste into protected aquifers.  A total of 56 injection wells out of 452 targeted for closure have been shut down by the state in the last 12 months following a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency investigation in 2014 that revealed that the California Department of Conservation had been allowing oil companies to inject wastewater into protected aquifers. Operators of dozens of other wells voluntarily halted injection or converted them into an oil-producing well, which is allowed. … ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here:  California Closes 33 Injection Wells Used to Dump Oilfield Waste into Aquifers  See also: Can oil and water really mix, part 1, from Energy Digital

Western wildfires threaten water supplies, study finds:  “The risk of severe wildfires in the West also threatens the region’s increasingly scarce water supply, a new study finds.  The study, to be released Wednesday by the American Forest Foundation, highlights that wildfires are not just a public lands issue. Private and family lands also are at high risk, the study found, and much of that land is in critical watersheds.  “Unless we figure out how to treat all the lands … we are all at risk,” said Tom Martin, president and CEO of the foundation, noting that efforts to maintain healthy forests as a fire-prevention measure have focused mostly on public lands. ... ”  Read more from the USA Today here:  Western wildfires threaten water supplies, study finds

In commentary today …

Water desalination is here.  But is it sustainable?  Karen Klein writes, “In a very dry state, turning to the sea as a source of water for drinking, bathing and irrigation has its attractions. Desalination is drought-proof — the ocean is one pond we can’t empty so quickly. It’s more expensive, but the cost is relatively stable, and as technology makes the process more efficient, those costs have been trending downward.  But Californians should be leery about desalination as anything more than a backup plan that might be appropriate for a few spots up and down the coast. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Water desalination is here. But is it sustainable?

Northern San Joaquin County: Owens Valley 2.0 via the twin tunnels:  Dennis Wyatt writes, “A little over a century ago Owens Lake was 12 miles long and 13 miles wide. It covered 108 square miles with average depths fluctuating between 23 and 50 feet. There were teeming wetlands.  The Owens Valley itself had fertile farmland made productive by water from the eastern Sierra.  Farther north Mono Lake’s surface elevation was 6,427 feet.  Fast forward to 1982. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  Northern San Joaquin County: Owens Valley 2.0 via the twin tunnels

In regional news and commentary today …

North Coast water board says pot rules subject to change:  “North Coast Regional Water Control Board Chairman John Corbett told the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that water board regulations may require tinkering to encourage marijuana growers to come into compliance.  “What we’re trying to do is change the paradigm,” he said at the supervisors’ regular meeting, adding that input from counties impacted by marijuana will aid in this effort. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  North Coast water board says pot rules subject to change

Calaveras County Water District continues to push for New Melones water storage:  “The Calaveras County Water District (CCWD) has solidified its efforts to obtain water storage at New Melones Reservoir.  In a 4-0-1 vote, with Director Jeff Davidson absent from the special Tuesday meeting, the CCWD’s Board of Directors approved a resolution to get a Warren Act contract for the reservoir that would allow the district to store 100,000 acre feet of water. ... ”  Read more from My Mother Lode here:  CCWD continues to push for New Melones water storage

Secret water sale complaints spill into Oakdale Irrigation District meeting: Irrigation leaders agreed to refund drought surcharges paid by farmers this year, an action that was overshadowed Tuesday by a dispute over a recently unveiled sale of water to outsiders.  “You’re selling water but not giving the public an opportunity to rebut,” Lisa Vandermeer said. “The people who pay taxes should have an opportunity to question this.”  She referred to last week’s announcement that the Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts have agreed to sell 23,000 acre-feet of Stanislaus River water for $11.5 million to the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority. That agency’s 29 member agencies include Westlands Water District of Fresno County. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Secret water sale complaints spill into Oakdale Irrigation District meeting

Fresno-area agencies say they are ready for El Nino storms:  “Fresno-area flood and water agencies say they’ve heard the forecast of a potential gully-washer of a winter but see no need to undertake any extra precautions to prepare for whatever El Niño is going to hurl at them.  The Fresno Metropolitan Flood Control District and the Fresno Irrigation District say they’re busy cleaning canals and drainage basins as they do every year to protect against flooding and hope the predicted storms will refill the area’s depleted lakes, basins and reservoirs. The city of Fresno says it’s cleaning out storm drains and preparing the drainage system for heavier-than-normal rainfall. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Fresno-area agencies say they are ready for El Nino storms

Water Commission meeting in Clovis delivers passion and controversy:  ” … On Wednesday, Oct. 14 in Clovis, the Commission held a public meeting to discuss their Water Storage Investment Program.  Joe Del Bosque, a commissioner on the California Water Commission, as well as a Westside farmer struggling with the zero water allocations, summarized the meeting, “It was very lively, especially at the beginning. A lot of folks are hurting—and rightly so. They have a lot of uncertainties about next year or the year after, or for who knows how many years. … ”  Read more from California Ag Today here:  Water Commission meeting in Clovis delivers passion and controversy

LA DWP, other utilities to raise water rates because of drought: “Enjoying those lower water bills from 3-minute showers and your new drought-tolerant landscaping? Well, prepare to pay a little more to make up for your conservation.  Throughout California, consumers have conserved during this four-year drought and purchased less water from their utilities, leaving some water agencies operating in the red and drawing down reserves. Officials now say they need to pass some of the costs back to customers. … ”  Read more from the LA Daily News here: LA DWP, other utilities to raise water rates because of drought

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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