Daily Digest, weekend edition: Salmon die-off fears at the heart of the latest water conflict; Drought worries not enough to force agreement on water bill; Who gets the water storage money? and more …

In California water news this weekend, Salmon die-off fears at the heart of the latest California water conflict; Drought worries not enough to force agreement on California water bill; Who gets the water storage money?; Wintry storm falling on the Sierra with more moisture on the way; Almond board steps up effort to boost efficiency and stewardship; California could learn drought lessons from Israel; U.S. Court to decide federal water permit dispute; and more …

In the news this weekend …

Salmon die-off fears at the heart of the latest California water conflict:  “Jittery water regulators who worry that projected El Niño rains won’t fill reservoirs want to hold back additional water in Shasta and Folsom lakes next summer to prevent another catastrophic Sacramento River die-off of salmon, which need cool flows of mountain water to survive.  But neither thirsty farmers nor environmentalists are happy about the plan, underscoring continued tension over the damage wrought across California by the historic drought. … ” Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Salmon die-off fears at the heart of the latest California water conflict

Drought worries not enough to force agreement on California water bill:  “California lawmakers’ repeated failures to agree on legislation to resolve the state’s seemingly endless battle over how to use its water resources raise new questions about whether they’ll ever be able to find a compromise.  This year, the climate looked ripe for an agreement. The state endured another year of drought. The tracks seemed greased, with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, conducting. The staffers worked tirelessly, and in Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Central Valley Republicans had an experienced negotiating partner.  Now, cold rain and snow have returned to California, dampening the sense of urgency. ... ”  Read more from McClatchy DC here:  Drought worries not enough to force agreement on California water bill

Who gets the water storage money? There are a crippling drought, a climatic future that looks more uncertain than ever and $2.7 billion in public funds that aren't nearly enough to go around.  Welcome to the world of water storage construction in California.  The prospect of constructing new water storage projects was a much ballyhooed component of the $7.5 billion water bond approved by voters in 2014 and a focal point of Republican lawmakers, who threatened to withhold votes unless funding was set aside for water storage. … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Who gets the water storage money?

Wintry storm falling on the Sierra with more moisture on the way: The biggest storm to hit the slopes of the Sierra Nevada this season triggered cheers Friday from the snow-starved ski resorts of Northern California and the businesses that surround them.  Elsewhere in the drought-stricken state, rain and wind gusts prompted high surf warnings and repeated cautions from highway patrol to slow down when driving. The state needs all the snow and rain it can get, given four years of drought that have dried up reservoirs and left trees parched. … ”  Read more from the AP via the Minneapolis Star Tribune here:  Wintry storm falling on the Sierra with more moisture on the way

Almond board steps up effort to boost efficiency and stewardship: The Almond Board of California is stepping up its goals of helping growers use more efficient farming methods and practice better environmental stewardship as it continues to try to bolster the industry’s image among consumers.  The board has launched an initiative called Accelerated Innovated Management, a pledge to devote more of its resources to research and training in sustainable farming practices — and to seek partnerships with other organizations in doing so. ... ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Almond board steps up effort to boost efficiency and stewardship

California could learn drought lessons from Israel:  “California produces half the nation’s fruits, nuts and vegetables.  Now that the state is headed into its fifth year of drought, it’s looking at more water-efficient ways to grow food.  California may be able to learn some lessons from Israel. The arid country averages less than 25 inches of rain a year and still produces almost all of its food.  One Israeli is producing food without much water in the drought. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  California could learn drought lessons from Israel

U.S. Court to decide federal water permit dispute:  “The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to decide whether property owners can challenge the federal government in court when told they need sometimes costly permits required under a national water protection law.  The court will hear an appeal brought by the Obama administration, which is contesting a lower court ruling that said Hawkes Co Inc could file a lawsuit over whether it needs a permit to open a peat mine in Minnesota.  Whether a particular plot of land falls under the jurisdiction of the landmark 1972 U.S. Clean Water Act is of major importance to developers and other property owners because a finding that it does triggers a lengthy and expensive permitting process. ... ”  Read more from Reuters here:  U.S. Court to decide federal water permit dispute

In commentary this weekend …

Collaborative efforts needed to save Central Valley salmon, say Jacob Katz and John Brennan:  They write, “These drought years have been tough on Central Valley salmon. While struggling winter-run Chinook salmon dominate the headlines, the fall-run Chinook that support the state’s ocean and inland fisheries have also been hit hard. We know that all fish need water. But more water alone will not save endangered populations, nor will an over-reliance on hatcheries or the proposed effort to truck fish above Shasta Dam. To save California’s salmon, we need broader solutions that foster self-sustaining populations and address the entire salmon life cycle. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Collaborative efforts needed to save Central Valley salmon

California needs a strategic water plan, says Ian Lamont:  He writes, ” … Much of California’s current water storage issues are a result of state leadership’s failure to follow through on a number of well-developed water solution/storage strategic plans that would have solved this issue.  This failure hit home with one reader, David Bolton of Brea, who forwarded information of California’s ineptitude, bringing some interesting history to my attention. David was born before the start of World War II and witnessed California’s population boom after WWII ended, when many veterans, who either trained in California or came through California on their way to the war in the Pacific, saw that the state was full of opportunity and was a great place to raise a family. … ”  Read more at the OC Register here:  California needs a strategic water plan

Inside the mind of a wise water ruler: Imagine what might happen if a wise ruler was put in charge of dealing with California's statewide water issues. One who was unfettered by today's political gridlock.  First, he or she would take stock of the strengths and weaknesses of the present system. The ruler would wisely realize that much is right. California has developed a massive, creative water storage and distribution system that has served the state well. But the wise ruler would see how the changing landscape — population growth, climate change, the use of water for environmental purposes — has created a situation where there is simply not enough water for all of the competing uses. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Inside the mind of a wise water ruler

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Russian River estuary on the rise, floods buildings and parking lots in Jenner: Rising water in the Russian River estuary, its mouth sealed shut by heavy surf, has flooded low-lying areas of Jenner, making an island of the community visitor center on Friday and disrupting access at the post office as well as several neighboring businesses perched on the river shore.  Thigh-high water in the visitor center parking lot, located at the south end of town between Highway 1 and the river, entered the small building Friday, reaching 1 ½ to 2 feet high, outside allowing boaters to float over ground usually traveled by cars and pedestrians, witnesses said. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Russian River estuary on the rise, floods buildings and parking lots in Jenner

California Conservation Corps groups train for Delta flooding: The crews who will protect your homes from flooding this winter visited the delta — to demonstrate how they’ll respond to floods, especially if the promise of El Niño brings continuous rain.  The California Conservation Corps (CCC) brought in more than 200 teams from across the state to run through emergency flood controls.  How do they plan to protect the levees? … ”  Read more from CBS News here:  California Conservation Corps groups train for Delta flooding

Ocean acidification, the evil twin of global warming, threatens Monterey Bay: Ocean acidification has been called the “evil twin” of global warming because the same carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change also dissolve into seawater, threatening the world's oceans. And the biologically rich Monterey Bay is more at risk than most bodies of water.  The reason is that the California Current, spanning the west coast of North America, is acidifying twice as fast as the rest of the world's oceans. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Ocean acidification, the evil twin of global warming, threatens Monterey Bay

Drought forces Pismo Beach to issue building moratorium:  “The city of Pismo Beach recently issued a tiered building moratorium aimed to conserve water during the state’s historic drought.  The first tier is effective immediately — the city will not issue new building permits. Planning and building permits already in the pipeline will move forward and new planning applications will be accepted. But the construction of new projects on vacant land will be delayed until the city accrues more water. Businesses that look to redevelop property must also show that they will use equal amounts of water or less. ... ”  Read more from the Pacific Coast Business Times here:  Drought forces Pismo Beach to issue building moratorium

Santa Barbara County to debate long-term water sustainability: With the drought in its fourth year, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will tackle water supply reliability and sustainability at Tuesday's meeting in Santa Maria. “By some measures, the last four years have constituted the most severe drought of modern record, both in Santa Barbara County and statewide,” said Fray Crease, county interim water agency manager, in a staff report.  And the evidence backs up that claim, she said. ... ”  Read more from the Lompoc Record here:  Santa Barbara County to debate long-term water sustainability

Southern California desalination plant will help ease crunch, but price is steep: The newest weapon in the war on drought in California has arrived, an engineering marvel that will harvest drinking water from the ocean on a scale never before seen in the Western Hemisphere.  A giant water desalination plant will open this week north of San Diego, tucked behind a power plant across the street from Tamarack State Beach. It will produce 50 million gallons of fresh water each day, meeting 7 percent to 10 percent of the San Diego County Water Authority’s demands and buffering the region against supply shortages for decades to come. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Southern California desalination plant will help ease crunch, but price is steep

Low level pumping station work begins on Lake Mead:  “As a companion to Intake No. 3 on Lake Mead, the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) is building the low lake level pumping station, a project whose cost is estimated at $650 million, in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, just 500 ft. (152.4 m) from the new intake.  “To ensure access to southern Nevada’s primary water supply is maintained and water demands are met,” stated a press release, “the SNWA Board of Directors approved an initial construction agreement in May 2015, to begin the development of a low lake level pumping station. The new pumping station, which was recommended for construction by a citizen’s advisory committee, will work alongside the SNWA’s third intake. ... ”  Read all the details at Construction Equipment Guide here:  Low level pumping station work begins on Lake Mead

Precipitation watch …

Winter storm moves in today/tonight:  From the National Weather Service: “Pacific storm will move through Interior Northern California today into tonight bringing moderate to heavy precipitation and strong wind. Heavy snow is likely for the mountains of Western Plumas county, including Lassen Park, and the Northern Sierra Nevada, where a Winter Storm Warning is in effect until early Monday. Locally moderate to heavy snow is also possible in the Shasta mountains and Coastal Range today where a winter weather advisory is in effect until this evening. Travelers into the mountains should be prepared for winter weather driving. Precipitation and gusty wind decrease by tonight with lingering mountain showers possible on MondayRainfall amounts up to around an inch are possible in the Central Valley with 1 to 3 inches forecast for portions of the foothills and mountains. Heavy snow expected in the higher elevations.”

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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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