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Daily Digest: State sets minimum lake levels in attempt to save salmon; Burning Amazon forests and a rain-drenched California are likely to come with El Nino; Lake Oroville rising; and more …

In California water news today, State sets minimum lake levels in attempt to save salmon; State Water Board officials back off controversial salmon rescue plan; After two bad years, for fish, water officials seek solution; Salmon thrive in some places like the Stanislaus, struggle in others; Lake Oroville rising after missing record low; NASA predicts more rain than snow for California; Waiting for El Nino: Impact yet to be felt; Understanding El Nino; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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State sets minimum lake levels in attempt to save salmon: California regulators set a minimum level of water that should be held behind Shasta and Folsom lakes Tuesday in an effort to avoid another catastrophic die-off of Sacramento River salmon, but they reserved the right to change the limit if El Niño rains fill up the reservoirs.  The State Water Resources Control Board unanimously passed an order that set a minimum target level of 200,000 acre-feet for Folsom Dam and 1.6 million acre-feet for Shasta Dam by the end of October 2016. One acre-foot is enough to cover an acre of land in a foot of water, roughly the amount needed to supply a family of four for a year. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  State sets minimum lake levels in attempt to save salmon

State Water Board officials back off controversial salmon rescue plan: California drought regulators on Tuesday backed off a controversial plan to withhold water from farms and cities next year in an effort to preserve an endangered species of salmon, instead choosing a more flexible approach they said still could do the trick.  The State Water Resources Control Board, after a four-hour meeting, voted 4-0 to require that regulators work to ensure Sacramento River temperatures don’t exceed 56 degrees next year, the maximum at which juvenile winter-run Chinook salmon can survive. But the board decided to give the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation considerable leeway in determining how best to meet that temperature threshold. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  State Water Board officials back off controversial salmon rescue plan

After two bad years, for fish, water officials seek solution:Not content to hope for El Niño storms, state officials on Tuesday approved a plan that — though watered down in the end — could result in better flows next year for endangered fish species decimated by drought.  The State Water Resources Control Board acknowledged that the environment, in particular, has suffered for lack of water. The temporary weakening of science-based water quality standards in the Delta and on upstream rivers preserved hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water for cities and farms this year, but in the process, some fish have careened closer to extinction. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  After two bad years, for fish, water officials seek solution

Salmon thrive in some places like the Stanislaus; struggle in others: Salmon have spawned this fall in the Stanislaus River in numbers not seen in three decades – 11,629 of them as of Monday by one count – but the outlook is worse to the south.  The Tuolumne River had an estimated 350 fish Monday. The Merced River was at about 800 late last week. Both streams have had much less water released from upstream reservoirs during the spawning than the Stanislaus.  “We’re nearing the end of the run and it’s looking pretty bleak,” said Peter Drekmeier, policy director for the Tuolumne River Trust. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Salmon thrive in some places like the Stanislaus; struggle in others

Burning Amazon forests and a rain-drenched California are likely to come with El Nino: The Amazon forests of Central and South America are at increased risk of fires in 2016 due to the ongoing El Niño, according to NASA scientists.  This El Niño, which has helped trigger more than 100,000 fires in Indonesia and spewed an estimated 1.75 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents into the atmosphere, will next threaten tropical forests in Southeast Asia and in southern Mexico, Guatemala and other countries in Central America, said James Randerson, an Earth system scientist at the University of California, Irvine. ... ”  Read more from E&E Publishing here:  Burning Amazon forests and a rain-drenched California are likely to come with El Nino

NASA predicts more rain than snow for California:  “California may need to prepare for less snow and more rain from the El Niño weather system developing in the Pacific Ocean, according to new satellite observations released today.  Scientist Duane Waliser with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab analyzed the historical record of moisture bands known as atmospheric rivers, which account for 40 percent of California’s water supply. Waliser says results suggest El Niño will provide California with an average number of rivers.  … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  NASA predicts more rain than snow for California

Waiting for El Nino: Impact yet to be felt:Forecasters still expect a historically strong El Nino to pelt California with weather systems this winter — and still anticipate the atmospheric phenomenon will be gone by next summer.  This winter’s El Nino — marked by higher-than-normal equatorial sea surface temperatures and robust Southern storms — is still expected to rank among the top three strongest episodes dating back to 1950, the federal Climate Prediction Center reports. … ” Read more from the Capital Press here:  Waiting for El Nino: Impact yet to be felt

Understanding El Nino: Rain in California. Fires in the tropics. Floods in the southern United States. Unseasonably warm weather on the Eastern Seaboard. All have followed El Niño events in past years.  The recurring meteorological phenomenon formed again in 2015, and, according to Martin Hoerling, a research meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it is “ranking up with the biggest in the historical record that we have.” … ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  Understanding El Nino

White House pushes water conservation in wake of climate pact: The White House followed Sunday’s landmark climate pact in Paris with a push Tuesday on water conservation and efficiency, as top administration officials warned that water shortages are among the biggest consequences of rising global temperatures.  Following the same model it used to push solar power, the Obama administration seeks to use federal research, better data collection and private-sector incentives to boost water-saving technologies, Ali Zaidi, associate director of natural resources, energy and science at the Office of Management and Budget, said at a White House round table on water innovation. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  White House pushes water conservation in wake of climate pact

In commentary today …

‘Paper dams’ are blocking state water sharing, says David Festa:  He writes, ” … When accessing water from California’s reservoirs, canals and aquifers, not everyone has the same-size straw.  There are three main ways to get water in California. You hope your surface water rights hold a high enough priority to get a full share of water that’s available. Or your pockets run deep enough to allow you to drill and maintain an expensive well. Or your community has lawyers and lobbyists who can work the state’s complex water system.  The drought has forced everyone to cut back. In 2015, farmers fallowed 500,000 acres of cropland. Cities have imposed restrictions on residents and businesses. But disadvantaged communities and the environment have suffered disproportionately. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  ‘Paper dams’ are blocking state water sharing

Congress points its fingers as it fails California again, says the Sacramento Bee:  They write, “In the midst of the worst drought in memory, California’s congressional delegation has failed once again to compromise on a $1.3 billion water bill that could deliver more water for farms and help the environment.  When it became clear last week that the latest effort on this legislation was kaput, the politicians did what they so often do in the face of failure: point fingers.  Northern California Democrats – sensitive to regional needs and the desires of environmental interests – said they largely had been frozen out of negotiations. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Congress points its fingers as it fails California again

California needs more balanced drought legislation, says the San Francisco Chronicle: They write, “Yet another attempt to assist drought-stricken California with federal funding resulted in a partisan dustup last week rather than a bipartisan plan. The state needs federal funding and scientific expertise to help develop water management programs that will carry us through this drought and the many more that will come. Instead, the first drops of rain provided new water to fight over. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  California needs more balanced drought legislation

In regional news and commentary today …

Lake Oroville rising after missing record low:  “After coming within five feet of a record low last week, water levels on Lake Oroville are rising.  Recent rainfall is responsible for the increase of 3.14 feet since Dec. 9, according to senior civil engineer Kevin Dossey of the state Department of Water Resources’ Oroville field division.  The lake elevation dropped to 649.51 feet on Dec. 9, above the record low of 645 feet set Sept. 7, 1977, according to DWR information online. Last year, the lake dropped to 647.67 feet. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Lake Oroville rising after missing record low

Visalia, CalWater tiptoe towards truce in dispute over drought, rates: The city of Visalia and California Water Service Co. appear to be moving toward a truce in their escalating war over control of the Visalia waterworks.  The water system is owned by Cal Water, a publicly traded company, and the city set off alarm bells last month by ordering an appraisal of the company’s Visalia operation, which was seen as the first step toward the city using its power of eminent domain to acquire the system. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Visalia, CalWater tiptoe towards truce in dispute over drought, rates

Dry wells in Rosedale get a little help:  Lois Henry writes, “Water may be falling from the sky these days but for a number of residents in northwest Bakersfield, getting it out of the ground was a serious problem this summer.  About 20 wells in Rosedale stopped working as the water table sank to new lows during the height of irrigation season.  Unlike well owners in other parts of the county, however, Rosedale residents had the option of a little extra help. … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  Dry wells in Rosedale get a little help

Los Angeles, San Diego reshaping California drought strategy:  “Southern California’s two great cities, Los Angeles and San Diego, are pursuing different but equally cutting-edge solutions to the state’s epic, four-year drought.  The extreme dry spell, called a 500-year event, follows previous droughts in the early 1990s that galvanized local officials to invest in pioneering water delivery and storage systems on an unprecedented scale. ... ”  Read more from the Voice of America here:  Los Angeles, San Diego reshaping California drought strategy

DWP board approves plan to raise customer rates; council must still vote:The board that oversees the Department of Water and Power Tuesday unanimously approved a plan to raise customer water rates over the next five years to help pay for upgrades on the city’s aging pipe system.  The Board of Water and Power Commissioners voted 4-0 in favor of the rate hikes, with one member absent. The proposal now goes to the Los Angeles City Council for consideration.  The typical single-family household could see bills go up by 4.76 percent, or $3 per month, each year, for the next five years, under the rate hike plan. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  DWP board approves plan to raise customer rates; council must still vote

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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