Daily Digest: Feinstein’s water negotiations with GOP angers Democrats; Moving toward a better way to ration water; Snowpack at 111% of normal; Tribes hold wild card in high-stakes water game on Colorado River; Dishwashers versus washing by hand; and more …

In California water news today, Feinstein’s water negotiations with Republicans anger Democrats; Moving toward a better way to ration water; Rethinking how to manage California’s water for the next drought; Snowpack measures an encouraging 111% of normal; American River steelhead numbers rebound from last season; UC Davis joins UC effort to improve state’s water security; Storms dent drought; could bring Christmas snow to Bay Area peaks; Avalanche warnings spread across the Western US as snow piles up; Colorado River: Tribes hold wild card in high-stakes water game; Dishwasher versus handwashing debate finally solved – sort of; and more …

In the news today …

Feinstein’s water negotiations with Republicans anger Democrats: Democratic House members from Northern California demanded Tuesday that Sen. Dianne Feinstein divulge the details of secret water talks she had with San Joaquin Valley House Republicans during their failed effort to slip California drought legislation into a must-pass year-end spending bill.  “We are deeply concerned that secret drafts, closed meetings and other efforts to develop a California water bill that could affect our districts are continuing, without any outreach to or input from us,” the six members of the Northern California delegation wrote in a letter dated Monday and released publicly Tuesday. “We still do not know exactly what type of water legislation you are negotiating.” … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Feinstein’s water negotiations with Republicans anger Democrats

Moving toward a better way to ration water: With a serious El Niño winter looming, state regulators are preparing small but significant tweaks to California’s strict water conservation mandates.  The shift is in response to responses from local water districts — some of which have been reasonable and some of which have not been so reasonable. It’s up to the state’s regulators to find a balance between tough mandates that encourage people to save as much water as possible, and flexibility in response to the realities that communities are facing. For the most part, the small changes proposed are a good balance. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Moving toward a better way to ration water

Rethinking how to manage California’s water for the next drought: As the drought drags on and fiscal pressures remain, rethinking how to better manage every drop of water on a large scale keeps moving up the priority list for California.  At the 2015 California Economic Summit, we talked to water problem solvers for the 21st century from both the public and private sectors and included them in the video above: Celeste Cantú, general manager of the Santa Ana River Watershed Authority (SAWPA) and Robin Gilthorpe, CEO of the water utility software company, WaterSmart Software.  With a water system built for the last century, water experts are acknowledging that we can’t keep managing water the same way especially since we’ve hit the 39-million population mark in an era of climate change. Businesses and residents alike must find ways to achieve a more sustainable water balance. … ” Read more from the California Economic Summit here:  Rethinking how to manage California’s water for the next drought

Why isn’t desalination the answer for California’s drought? Desalination just took a huge leap forward in California. The biggest plant in North America, able to purify tens of millions of gallons each day, is now pumping water near San Diego.  The $1 billion Carlsbad facility is a “test case” to backers like Cal Desal executive director Ron Davis, who quipped last year, “Only the entire future of desal is riding on this project. No pressure.”  Now the plant’s completion is a feather in the cap for the builder, Poseidon Water, which hopes to follow suit with a similar desalination project in Huntington Beach. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Why isn’t desalination the answer for California’s drought?

Snowpack measures an encouraging 111% of normal: It’s far too early to declare an end to California’s historic drought, but the state’s snowpack now measures an encouraging 111 percent of normal for this time of year, state water officials say.  “California gets about half its water in December, January and February, so we’re about a third of the way into the season,” Department of Water Resources spokesman Doug Carlson said Tuesday, Dec. 22. “We’d be pleased to have this (level) in a non-drought year.” … ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here:  Snowpack measures an encouraging 111% of normal

Lake Tahoe gets 6.4 billion gallons of water in 24 hours:More than 6 billion gallons of water have poured into Lake Tahoe in less than two days, helping the lake begin to recover from four years of crushing drought. Since midnight Monday, the lake has gone up 1.92 inches, the equivalent of 6.39 billion gallons of water. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Lake Tahoe gets 6.4 billion gallons of water in 24 hours

American River steelhead numbers rebound from last season:  “The number of steelhead showing now at Nimbus Fish Hatchery is greatly improved from last season, in spite of continuing low releases of 500 cfs from Nimbus Dam into the lower American River.  This year is much different from last season, when a total of only 154 steelhead were trapped by hatchery staff from December through mid-March.  In contrast, the hatchery has trapped over 148 steelhead as of December 22. Last season only 10 steelhead had been trapped by December 29. … ”  More from the Daily Kos here:  American River steelhead numbers rebound from last season

UC Davis joins UC effort to improve state’s water security:  “It’s hard to manage what you don’t measure.  UC Davis is playing a major role in solving California’s biggest water woes by joining forces across the University of California system. The UC Water Security and Sustainability Research Initiative aims to account for all of California’s water, better understand how and where it flows, and help demonstrate how water can be managed differently to allow for greater water security.  “Our goal is to learn more about our entire water system so we can concretely begin to restructure it, especially with regard to smarter management of groundwater and surface water,” said Graham Fogg, a UCD hydrogeology professor and co-principal investigator of UC Water for the Davis campus. … ”  Read more from the Davis Enterprise here:  UC Davis joins UC effort to improve state’s water security

Storms dent drought; could bring Christmas snow to Bay Area peaks: Recent storms have been kind to drought-stricken California.  Lake Tahoe rose nearly 2 inches in less than 48 hours. Rivers and creeks surged enough that salmon are returning from their long ocean journeys to spawn. And snowpack in the Sierra is above average — with forecasters saying a few Bay Area peaks may even get a dusting of snow for Christmas Day.  The only bad news is that the wet, stormy conditions, after a brief respite Wednesday, are expected to whip back up when people take to the roads on the eve of the holiday. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Storms dent drought; could bring Christmas snow to Bay Area peaks

Drought increases risk of destructive mudflows during El Nino storms:  “An intense October rainstorm that pounded the Grapevine’s barren hillsides offered a sober preview of what El Niño might unleash in the rest of drought-stricken Southern California.  The rain hit the dry, hardened terrain where the drought had shriveled vegetation. The topsoil easily gave way, with mudflows cascading onto Interstate 5 and local roadways and trapping motorists, many overnight, in several feet of debris.  Heavy rains often bring mudflows. But experts warn that the deluges expected this winter with El Niño are likely to be exacerbated by the dry conditions in countless hillside and canyon communities.  … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Drought increases risk of destructive mudflows during El Nino storms

Avalanche warnings spread across the Western US as snow piles up: Floods, avalanches and snow storms are all on nature’s holiday gift-giving list for the western U.S. as more storms pour in off the Pacific. On Tuesday, parts of 11 western states were dotted with flood and avalanche warnings, wind advisories and numerous winter weather outlooks. Because the National Weather Service uses a full palate of colors to designate trouble, the map looked like Jackson Pollock had a hand in decorating it. ... ”  Read more from Bloomberg BNA here:  Avalanche warnings spread across the Western US as snow piles up

Colorado River: Tribes hold wild card in high-stakes water game: It’s not just modern engineering that made Arizona’s desert bloom.  Thirty miles south of downtown Phoenix sits dusty land that was once farmed by one of the most advanced agricultural civilizations of prehistoric times. As far back as 300 B.C., the Hohokam people hand-dug a network of canals through the Gila River’s rich floodplains, diverting spring runoff to nourish their fields.  But by the end of the 19th century, their descendants’ fields were parched and dead, thanks to upstream diversions by white settlers. … Read more from E&E Publishing here:  Colorado River: Tribes hold wild card in high-stakes water game

And lastly … Dishwasher versus handwashing debate finally solved – sort of: In the realm of domestic affairs, few things seem to generate as much universal contention as the argument over washing dishes by hand versus washing them in a dishwashing machine. Which method gets dishes cleaner? Which uses less water? We reached out to Houzz users in eight countries — Russia, Italy, Spain, France, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia — and, through a series of discussions and polls, tried to determine what, if anything, other cultures and communities can teach us about this common dilemma. Here’s how the dirty-dish debate stacks up around the world. … ”  Read more from Houzz here:  Dishwasher versus handwashing debate finally solved – sort of

In commentary today …

El Nino isn’t a drought-buster; it’s a missed opportunity, says Mark Gold:  He writes, “The weather phenomenon known as El Niño tends to mean different things to different people. As a native Angeleno, I associate El Niño with destruction. After all, the 1978 event led to mudslides that closed PCH —  which meant I had to take the school bus from Malibu through the San Fernando Valley to Santa Monica High School for months. In 1983, half of the beloved Santa Monica Pier was destroyed by El Niño storms. And in 1997/98, over 40 storms pounded California from December to March.  This year’s impending “Godzilla” El Niño, on the other hand, is being heralded as a savior for California’s water woes. And, indeed, a wet year after the worst drought in California’s recorded history is welcome news. Since the El Niño is classified as very strong by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as opposed to merely moderate (like 2003 and 2010), there is a high likelihood that we will have elevated rainfall this winter. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  El Nino isn’t a drought-buster; it’s a missed opportunity

weather 1Precipitation watch …

Cold winter storm moves in tomorrow:  “The next system will move through Thursday through Thursday night (Christmas Eve). This system is cold and fairly quick-moving but will likely be high impact given holiday travel and low snow levels. Moderate accumulations will likely affect Sierra Nevada foothill communities. Holiday travel will also be impacted with significant travel delays and chain controls over the foothills and mountains. Dry weather outside of a few lingering mountain showers is expected for Christmas Day with below normal temperatures. Cold overnight Friday into Saturday with widespread sub-freezing temperatures.”

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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