Daily Digest: Heavy snows in Sierra raise hopes of relief from drought; Big winter rains pose hidden risk to wildlife; Salmon policy could constrain 2016 deliveries; To build or not to build, that’s the dam question; and more …

In California water news today, Heavy snows in Sierra Nevada raise hopes of relief from drought; Big winter rains pose hidden risk to wildlife; Salmon policy could constrain 2016 deliveries; Drought keeps water delivery companies busy; To build or not to build, that's the dam question in dry California; A few California farmers have lots of water.  Can they keep it?; America's nuttiest billionaire couple: Amid drought, Stewart and Lynda Resnick are richer than ever; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • State Water Resources Control Board meeting at 9AM: Agenda items include an update on the ongoing drought emergency and the latest urban water conservation numbers, a report on cooling water intake structures, and a report on the predictive models of beach water quality project.  Click here for the full agendaClick here for the webcast.
  • Delta Conservancy Board meeting at 9AM: Agenda items include a discussion of the Conservancy’s Proposition 1 Grant Program.  Click here for agenda and meeting materials.
  • Army Corps Yuba River ecosystem restoration public meeting in Marysville at 5pm: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District will host a public scoping meeting discussing the feasibility of ecosystem restoration in Northern California’s Yuba River watershed in late October and early November.  The meetings will present an outline of the study’s purpose, a tentative schedule and provide the first opportunity for public interaction with the project team. The Corps and our non-Federal partners, the Yuba County Water Agency, will be on hand to discuss the study and answer any questions about the process and accept public comments. Click here for more information.
  •  Information meeting for water measurement emergency regulation in Redding at 6pm: SB 88, signed by the Governor, puts new reporting requirements on those who divert more than 10 acre-feet of water per year.   The new requirements go into effect on January 1, 2016. On November 4 from 6-9 pm, the State Water Board will hold a public meeting to provide the public opportunity to help formulate the proposed regulation to implement the measurement and reporting authority under Senate Bill 88.  Click here for more information.

In the news today …

Heavy snows in Sierra Nevada raise hopes of relief from drought:  “A day of heavy snow may have turned swaths of the Sierra Nevada into a winter landscape, but it's too early to tell if it will have a lasting effect on the winter snowpack, forecasters say.  The early November storm dumped more than a foot of snow over Lake Tahoe, according to the National Weather Service, and tourism officials at Mammoth Mountain say that their area received up to 30 inches.  “We're all keeping our fingers crossed that the predictions of a big ol' Godzilla El Niño are true,” said Lara Kaylor, spokeswoman for Mammoth Lakes tourism. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Heavy snows in Sierra Nevada raise hopes of relief from drought

Big winter rains pose hidden risk to wildlife:  “California has endured intense droughts before. The state has also been swamped many times by intense rain and massive floods.  But this winter could bring an unusual event in which a strong El Niño weather pattern follows an extreme dry spell. This, say scientists and officials, could be a recipe for especially damaging floods that cause erosion, landslides and water pollution.  Biologist Kevin Shaffer, at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, says soils have become compacted, much like a dried-up sponge, in the course of the four-year drought. That means the first heavy rain, rather than soaking into the earth, will race downhill. It will scour away soil and debris as it gathers in gullies and rushes seaward, potentially tearing apart the landscape. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Big winter rains pose hidden risk to wildlife

Salmon policy could constrain 2016 deliveries:  “Just as California entered its main precipitation season, federal fishery officials said they doubt whether a rainy winter would be of much benefit to winter-run chinook salmon in the Sacramento River—and raised the prospect that fishery needs will continue to limit water supplies for people in 2016, regardless of the potential storms generated by the El Niño weather pattern.  Irrigation water supplies have been withheld or shifted to protect the salmon, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated last week that 95 percent of 2015 winter-run chinook eggs and juveniles died when Sacramento River temperatures exceeded 56 degrees.  “This situation raises a lot of questions,” said Chris Scheuring, California Farm Bureau Federation environmental attorney. “For example, just how razor thin will the margin of supply be next year for agriculture and urban uses, if the amount of water reserved for fisheries in 2015 didn't help?” … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Salmon policy could constrain 2016 water deliveries

State warns foothills dam could collapse this winter:  “A 99-year-old dam could collapse this winter and cause catastrophic flooding in the city of Jackson, state officials warned Tuesday.  The concrete dam was built in 1916 as part of the now abandoned Argonaut mine off Sutter Street.  The dam does not hold back water, but rather 169,000 cubic yards of arsenic-contaminated tailings left over from decades of gold mining. … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here:  State warns foothills dam could collapse this winter

Drought keeps water delivery companies busy:  “More than 2,000 California homeowners have run out of water in the drought, according to the state website that tracks such data.  But many homeowners whose wells have run dry haven’t reported it. They’re relying on water delivery companies instead.  One Nevada County company is seeing a booming business as a result. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Drought keeps water delivery companies busy

To build or not to build, that's the dam question in dry California:  “A storm swept across California’s Bay Area yesterday. But the inch of rain it brought with it is scant relief for a state that’s experiencing one of the worst droughts on record. One potential solution, building more reservoirs to store unpredictable rainfall, which could mean more dams. NewsHour special correspondent Spencer Michels reports on the viability of such a proposal and the consequences for the Golden State. ... ”  Read more from PBS News Hour here:  To build or not to build, that’s the dam question in dry California

A few California farmers have lots of water.  Can they keep it? “You’ve been to the Grand Canyon, right?” Craig Elmore asks as he pulls his Chevrolet Tahoe to the edge of a field plowed into tidy, straight-as-an-arrow furrows, a section of the 6,000 acres that he farms—land his father and grandfather farmed before him. “Basically, right now, you’re driving over the Grand Canyon.”  Elmore speaks of the Imperial Valley with obvious pride, right down to the origins of the dirt, carried here over millions of years by the Colorado River as it carved the Grand Canyon ever deeper. These fields turn lush green every fall with the lettuce, broccoli, carrots, melons, and other fruits and vegetables that fill U.S. supermarkets all winter. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg here:  A few California farmers have lots of water. Can they keep it?

America's nuttiest billionaire couple: Amid drought, Stewart and Lynda Resnick are richer than ever:  “For over four years a record-breaking drought has scorched central California with Old Testament cruelty. … Yet there is an Eden. It’s a little to the west of Lost Hills, off Route 33. Here there are rows upon rows of green–some 70,000 lush acres of water-hungry pistachio and almond trees Come at the right time of year and you’ll see the almond trees blossoming, covering the valley in a blanket of light pink petals. This land belongs to the billionaire Resnicks, Stewart, 77, and Lynda, 72. It’s the most valuable part of their $4.3 billion fortune. Those crops and the land are worth more than ever before, about $3 billion.. … ” Read more from Forbes here:  America’s nuttiest billionaire couple: Amid drought, Stewart and Lynda Resnick are richer than ever

In commentary today …

Cortopassi's initiative gets in Brown's way, says the Merced Sun-Star:  “The same day we learned that Dean Cortopassi’s No Blank Checks initiative has advanced to the November 2016 ballot, we got a perfect example of why many people believe it is needed.  In Tuesday morning’s print version of The Bee were two side-by-side stories on Page 12A. One detailed Cortopassi’s initiative to require certain types of state project bonds to be approved by a vote of the public before being issued. ... ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here:  Cortopassi’s initiative gets in Brown’s way

California's drought demands better markets, says Bloomberg View: They write,  “California's cities are adapting to the state's worst-in-a-century drought, hitting aggressive targets for water reduction set by Governor Jerry Brown in April. The bigger challenge is to change the behavior of farmers, who consume 80 percent of the state's water and have so far been spared the same magnitude of restrictions. That's not because farmers are any less creative, efficient or environmentally responsible than city dwellers. The problem is that the water used by farms in California, as in much of the Southwest, remains mostly protected from the market price signals that could allocate it most efficiently. ... ”  Read more from Bloomberg View here:  California’s drought demands better markets

Congress needs to create compromise drought bill, says Erin Huston:  She writes, “There is an opportunity before us that should not be put to waste: the prospect of federal drought legislation that would provide California both short-term relief and better policies in the long term.  The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing not long ago, highlighting California and Western drought. The committee spent its time learning about the great economic and social devastation ongoing drought has created for California, and discussed ways the federal government can assist California and the entire West with drought response, preparedness and resiliency. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Congress needs to create compromise drought bill

In regional news and commentary today …

Eel River salmon run has ‘strong start,’ survey suggests: “Despite some troubling signs of disease and blindness, this year’s Eel River salmon run is so far shaping up to be on par with recent annual runs, according to a recent survey by the Eel River Recovery Project.  The project’s Executive Director Patrick Higgins said he and other volunteer divers found more than 2,000 salmon on Oct. 31 and Sunday along the river between Fernbridge and Fortuna, which he said “suggests a strong start.” … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Herald here: Eel River salmon run has ‘strong start,’ survey suggests

California lawmakers conduct listening tours in Wine Country: Wine Country executives and local water regulators asked state lawmakers for help building off-stream reservoirs to better protect endangered coho salmon, one of several ideas floated Tuesday at a special legislative hearing at Sonoma State University.  The leaders of the Assembly and Senate select committees for the wine industry organized the hearing to explore ways to improve water use and sustainability, increase farmworker housing and promote wine education programs. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  California lawmakers conduct listening tours in Wine Country

Geology of the Mother Lode: The well is running dry:Twenty-thousand years ago, the most prominent mineral in the Sierra Nevada was ice. The Sierra, in the ice age, was under a massive burden. Glaciers spawned at the crest traveled far down the mountainsides and polished and gouged the rock as they moved. We can still see their tracks, called striations, in the rocks today.  Glaciers carved Yosemite Valley and the canyons around its rim. John Muir figured that out long before anyone else did and they called him an “ignoramus.” Change, particularly change in science, is one of those things that sometimes moves slower than glaciers. … ”  Read more from the Calaveras Enterprise here:  Geology of the Mother Lode: The well is running dry

Southern California: Planned purification plant would eliminate the need for imported water, officials say:  “As the worst drought in California history threatens to enter a fifth straight year, officials are advocating a variety of water reuse projects they say will reduce Southern California's unquenchable thirst for imported water.  On Tuesday, officials at the Water Replenishment District of Southern California unveiled drawings for the latest such proposal: A $95-million water purification plant they said would make the district entirely self-reliant on local water. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Planned purification plant would eliminate the need for imported water, officials say

New law offers new hope for the New River, America's dirtiest river:  “Two hours east of the San Diego-Tijuana coastline, the rock-studded Mexicali Valley hugs both sides of the international border. Its aridity is punctuated by el Rio Nuevo, which originates in Mexicali. Its waters gush north across the border into the United States via Calexico, where it becomes its English-language counterpart: the New River. The New River continues its flow north, then west, where it grows in flow until it eventually discharges into the Salton Sea. This is a problem.  Because of a confluence of industrial waste, debris, human and animal effluvia, pathogens, and, more recently, the bodies of murder victims, the New River has historically been one of the filthiest rivers in the United States, so polluted that even to test it takes special precautionary clothing and equipment. ... ”  Read more from KCET here:  New law offers new hope for the New River, America’s dirtiest river

Arizona faces challenges, but it's not California, experts say:  “Arizona’s water future is in the hands of today’s leaders and informed voters, just as it was when the state envisioned the big dams and canals now supplying the state, experts said at a water-outlook conference on uesday.  As for the present?  Unlike crisis-stricken California, Arizona cities have years of supply stored in underground aquifers ready to fill in for a number of years if a shortage of Colorado River water occurs. … ”  Read more from Arizona Central here:  Arizona faces challenges, but it’s not California, experts say

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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