Daily Digest: State regulators suggest slight easing of conservation requirements; Rains begin to fill drought dried Lake Oroville; Flowing again, Russian River’s creeks open for spawning salmon; and more …

In California water news today, California water regulators suggest slight easing of conservation requirements; Conservation targets may be relaxed for some; From California to Alaska: algae toxin spreads through food web; Water wars could return in the Northwest as Congress dams Klamath deal; Rains begin to fill drought dried Lake Oroville; Flowing again, Russian River’s creeks open for spawning salmon; Water levels continue to drop at some Calaveras County reservoirs; LA County Public Works prepares for El Nino; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

California water regulators suggest slight easing of conservation requirements:  “As they look to next year, state regulators are suggesting a slight easing of the conservation requirements that slashed urban water use across California.  In a draft released Monday, the staff of the State Water Resources Control Board recommended a few changes to the 2014 drought order, which mandated a 25% cut. The effect of the modifications, which the board will vote on in February, would be to lower that number to 22%. ... ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Times here:  California water regulators suggest slight easing of conservation requirements

Conservation targets may be relaxed for some: California regulators on Monday proposed relaxing water conservation targets that have required communities statewide to cut use by 25 percent during historic drought.  Communities in hot inland regions that need more water to keep trees alive and those using new sources, such as recycled water and a recently built desalination plant, could be eligible for reduced conservation requirements.  The state’s overall water conservation target could come at a cost, dropping to about 22 percent if all of the 411 eligible water agencies apply for adjustments, said Max Gomberg, climate and conservation manager for the State Water Resources Control Board. But Gomberg said Californians have created a buffer, going beyond the target and using 27 percent less water. … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Conservation targets may be relaxed for some

From California to Alaska: algae toxin spreads through food web:  “The algae bloom that flourished off the West Coast, from California to Alaska, had record levels of the neurotoxin domoic acid. It poisoned marine life up and down the food chain, from shellfish to sea lions.  At the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco on Friday, UC Santa Cruz scientists said this is one of the worst toxic algae blooms they’ve seen.  The big blows to Dungeness crab and sea lions dominated the news, but the researchers also detected for the first time domoic acid, which can cause memory loss, seizures and even death in humans, in the muscle tissue or filet of several commercial fish species. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  From California to Alaska: algae toxin spreads through food web

In commentary today …

In regional news and commentary today …

Water wars could return in the Northwest as Congress dams Klamath deal: While members of Congress enjoy their holiday recess, the clock is ticking on an issue that could bring the return of an ugly water war in the West. First, the backstory: The battleground is the 13,000-square-mile Klamath River Basin between southern Oregon and northern California. The listing of salmon and sucker fish under the Endangered Species Act in the 1990s touched off years of fighting over water rights, and anger boiled over in 2001 when the feds shut off water to farmers in the region, in a bid to help endangered fish.  … ”  Read more from Fox News here:  Water wars could return in the Northwest as Congress dams Klamath deal

Rains begin to fill drought dried Lake Oroville: Lake Oroville, which some have called the poster child for the California drought, has seen its water levels rise thanks to the recent storms.  According to Kevin Wright with the Department of Water Resources in Oroville, the lowest level during the drought was 649.5 feet on December 12. That nearly eclipsed the previous low of 645 feet in September 1977.   … ”  Read more from KRCR News here:  Rains begin to fill drought-dried Lake Oroville

Flowing again, Russian River’s creeks open for spawning salmon: A three-day storm has pumped up drought-stricken creeks throughout the Russian River watershed, opening a watery door to the winter spawning run of imperiled coho salmon and serenading rural residents with the sound of rushing water.  All 22 coho spawning tributaries of the Russian River were open Monday, and eight adult coho had made it up Dry Creek to the fish hatchery at Warm Springs Dam, proof that the critical run was under way, said Eric Larson, environmental program manager for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife Bay-Delta Region. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Flowing again, Russian River’s creeks open for spawning salmon

Water levels continue to drop at some Calaveras County reservoirs: Yes, we’ve had a little rain. But water levels continue to drop at several key reservoirs serving Calaveras County.  Blame extremely dry ground, which is soaking up recent rainfall, and the fact that snow at higher elevations hasn’t started melting to refill reservoirs, water agency officials say. Also, the rain so far hasn’t been much. In some locations, it has been less than last year.  Still, many agency representatives are hopeful that water levels in area reservoirs are bottoming out about now. … ”  Read more from the Calaveras Enterprise here:  Water levels continue to drop at some Calaveras County reservoirs

LA County Public Works prepares for El Nino: With extreme rain forecasted this coming winter, after years of record-setting drought, Southern California must prepare to both take advantage of the precipitation and ensure it does not cause harm. Deputy Director of Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Works Gary Hildebrand spoke with MIR about these efforts … With 30 years of experience at the LA County Department of Public Works, share with our readers what your responsibilities include.  Gary Hildebrand: As a deputy director of Public Works, I manage our Water Resources Core Service Area, one of six core service areas here. Within that service area, I oversee the Los Angeles County Flood Control District: a special district within a majority of the county responsible for providing flood protection to the urban areas, along with capturing storm water for reuse and replenishing our groundwater basins.  … ”  Read more from The Planning Report here:  LA County Public Works prepares for El Nino

State might ease targets for cutting water use in some Orange County cities:  “For months, water districts in north Orange County that rely on groundwater have felt that the state’s emergency drought conservation rules were unfair because local districts didn’t get credit for building and maintaining the largest recycling system in the state.  That could soon change.  Regulators at the State Water Resources Control Board are considering easing conservation mandates by 4 percentage points for many local water districts by giving credit for recycling systems such as Orange County’s Groundwater Replenishment System. ... ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  State might ease targets for cutting water use in some Orange County cities

weather 1Precipitation watch …

More snow on the way:  From the National Weather Service: “A much colder winter storm will affect northern California Wednesday night into Thursday with significant snowfall accumulation possible down into the foothill elevations.”

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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