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Daily Digest: Delta island sale runs into problems, 58 million trees threatened by drought, 7th Circuit tosses limits on water analyst report, Hoopa Valley tribe seeks protection of water rights, the year in San Diego water wars, and more …

In California water news today, Controversial sale of Delta islands runs into problems; Study: 58 million dry California trees threatened by drought; Aerial imaging shows the dramatic effect the drought has had on California’s trees; 7th Circuit tosses limits on water analyst report,  says DWR can publish; Hoopa Valley tribe seeks protection of water rights; Rain driven salmon run in Marin brings hope, but coho still hurting; Salmon run in bountiful numbers on the Mokelumne River; and the year in San Diego water wars

In the news today …

Controversial sale of Delta islands runs into problems:  “A controversial plan that would put Southern California’s most powerful water agency in control of a group of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta islands has run into a potentially significant hurdle.  The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has been working for months with three Kern County agricultural water agencies to buy five strategically placed islands now used for farming. The move has sparked accusations that Metropolitan, which serves 19 million Southern Californians, is looking for a way to extract more water from Northern California. Metropolitan says it’s interested in conducting environmental restoration on the islands as a means of shoring up existing water deliveries. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Controversial sale of Delta islands runs into problems

Study: 58 million dry California trees threatened by drought:  “Beneath the canopy of snow that recently blanketed California’s mountainsides are vast swaths of forest struggling to survive the drought.  A study released Monday by the Carnegie Institution for Science counts as many as 58 million trees statewide experiencing severe water loss, whose ruin would not only turn massive stands of pristine green to ugly brown but upset vital watersheds and wildlife.  The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, follows a U.S. Forest Service report last spring that identified 12 million trees killed by drought but left questions about how many more might wither. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Study: 58 million dry California trees threatened by drought

Aerial imaging shows the dramatic effect the drought has had on California’s trees: A combination of laser-imaging technology and satellite data has shed new light on the devastating impacts of California’s ongoing drought. In a study published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers conclude that 888 million trees have experienced drought-related water losses since 2011, putting them at an increased risk of dying or catching fire.  The state of California takes its dying trees seriously. In October, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency over what he referred to as the “worst epidemic of tree mortality in its modern history.” The proclamation calls for the mobilization of more resources to safely remove dead and dying trees, which can pose risks by falling over and can significantly increase the chances of wildfire in the state. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here:  Aerial imaging shows the dramatic effect the drought has had on California’s trees

7th Circuit tosses limits on water analyst report; says DWR can publish:A nonprofit whose focus is water crises across the U.S. cannot prevent an analyst it once employed from publishing the details of a report on water demand during droughts, the Seventh Circuit ruled.  The Alliance for Water Efficiency is a Chicago-based nonprofit that “serves as a North American advocate for water efficient products and programs,” according to its website.  It hired defendant James Fryer to analyze urban water usage and how municipal programs affect the elasticity of demand for water during droughts. However, it was dissatisfied with the results of the analysis and decided not to publish them. The California Department of Water Resources, one of the Alliance’s sponsors and an agency facing one of the nation’s most serious water crises, felt differently, and sought to present the findings on its own. … ”  Read more from Courthouse News Service here: 7th Circuit Tosses Limits on Water Analyst Report

Hoopa Valley tribe seeks protection of water rights:  “Members of the Hoopa Valley Tribe attended a public meeting of the Klamath Basin Coordinating Council in Arcata to voice their concerns about water quality and dam removal in the Lower Klamath Basin.  The tribe opposed the Klamath River agreements as it did not assure adequate water flows in the Lower Klamath Basin to help sustain the fish population there. The Yurok Tribe already pulled out of the agreements in September.  One of the main points of contention is dam removal on the river. The tribe wanted Pacificorp, the owner of the hydroelectric dams in the Klamath basin, to re-license the dams. … ”  Read more from KRCR here:  Hoopa Valley tribe seeks protection of water rights

Rain driven salmon run in Marin brings hope, but coho still hurting: The celebrated coho salmon of West Marin are leaping up waterfalls and wriggling around the rain-animated rapids of Lagunitas Creek this week in numbers that might make people think the end is no longer near.  The local coho run, long the bellwether of wild salmon health in Central California and the Bay Area, is still in peril, but the annual winter blitz is nevertheless giving fisheries experts, watershed managers and the creekside communities where the fish lay their eggs renewed hope. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Rain-driven salmon run in Marin brings hope, but coho still hurting

Salmon run in bountiful numbers on the Mokelumne River:  “Here’s a little good news amid the gloom cast by drought over the last four years: Salmon are again returning to spawn in record numbers on the Mokelumne River.  Biologists for the East Bay Municipal Utility District report that 12,451 adult salmon had returned to the Mokelumne River above Woodbridge as of Dec. 21. That’s significantly more than the 8,000 average for the date over the past 70 years and the fifth highest count since dams closed off the upper reaches of the river decades ago, said Tracie Morales-Noisy, a spokeswoman for EBMUD. ... ”  Read more from the Calaveras Enterprise here:  Salmon run in bountiful numbers on the Mokelumne River

The year in San Diego water wars: In the world of water politics, there are few relationships as fraught as the one between the San Diego County Water Authority and its larger rival, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.  The groups, two of the country’s largest water agencies, fought each other again and again this year over policies that affect the water supplies of 19 million Californians.  San Diego relies on Metropolitan for most of its water, which Metropolitan brings into Southern California from Northern California and the Colorado River. San Diego is also Metropolitan’s biggest customer and has seats on Metropolitan’s board, which meets in Los Angeles. … ” Read more from the Voice of San Diego here:  The year in San Diego water wars

Reservoir evaporation a big challenge for water managers in Western US: Water managers in Colorado and the West scrambling to meet the growing demand for increasingly scarce water supplies caused by large populations far from water resources, climate change and drought need to focus more effort on conserving water, including addressing reservoir evaporation, say University of Colorado Boulder researchers.  While reducing water consumption has been successful in places like Denver and much of California, the loss of water from reservoir evaporation is an issue already affecting the growing population of the West, said CU-Boulder Associate Professor Katja Friedrich. The reservoir water loss is becoming even more important as broad uncertainties in precipitation projected by climate change and early snowmelt require more reservoir storage, she said. … ”  Read more from Colorado University here:  Reservoir evaporation a big challenge for water managers in Western US

In commentary today …

America’s ‘Can’t Do’ state:  California’s man made drought continues, says Investors Business Daily:  They write, “The first desalination plant in a state dragging itself through a drought has finally opened — a welcome event but also instructive in how nearly impossible it is to build anything useful in California.  The Claude “Bud” Lewis Desalination Plant was dedicated Dec. 14 in Carlsbad north of San Diego. It will remove salt from seawater, turning it into fresh water fit to consume. The $1-billion facility should churn out 50 million gallons of drinking water each day.  With an ocean of water sitting there for the taking, this plant — and several others like it — should have been built years ago. If so, California’s man-made drought could have been avoided.  But California has become a can’t-do state. ... ”  Continue reading at Investors Business Daily here:  America’s ‘Can’t Do’ state: California’s man made drought continues

Precipitation watch …

weather 1Shift to wetter pattern next week:  From National Weather Service: “Mainly dry weather is expected for Northern California for the next week (except a very weak system Wednesday). It currently looks like we’ll shift back toward a wetter pattern by the middle of next week.”

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.

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The diary of a confessed obsessive-compulsive California water news junkie

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