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Daily Digest: State Water Project allocation increased, thanks to El Nino storms; Silicon Valley leaders skeptical of Delta tunnels plan; First of its kind groundwater project begins in Siskiyou County; and more …

In California water news today, California to release more water reservoir water, thanks to El Nino storms; Snowpack hits five-year high; Silicon Valley leaders express skepticism of Governor’s Delta tunnels plan; First of its kind groundwater project begins in Siskiyou County; California’s desert towns struggle with water reduction targets; Officials talk toilet-to-tap water recycling at Long Beach conference; Thinning improves forest health but can impact wildlife, study says; Board adopts reporting rules for water rights; Q&A with John Pujol: Tackling arsenic-tainted water; and more …

In the news today …

State Water Project allocation increased, thanks to El Nino storms:  “California officials offered some good news Tuesday amid the throes of the continuing drought, announcing they’ll probably have a little more water to release from the state’s mountain-fed reservoirs this year because of wet weather.  The Department of Water Resources, mindful of the fruits of the El Niño weather pattern, boosted expected water deliveries to cities and farms from last month’s scant projection of 10 percent of what was requested to a slightly better 15 percent. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  California to release more water reservoir water, thanks to El Nino storms

Snowpack hits five-year high:  “Recent El Nino storms have boosted the Sierra Nevada snowpack to 115 percent of normal — more than the drought-stricken state has seen in five years, officials said Tuesday.  The electronic reading by the state Department of Water Resources was the highest since it reached 129 percent in 2011.  The Sierra snowpack contributes nearly one-third of California’s water when it melts in the spring. … ”  Read more from ABC News here:  Snowpack hit five-year high

Silicon Valley leaders express skepticism of Governor’s Delta tunnels plan:  “Three of Gov. Jerry Brown’s top water lieutenants came to Silicon Valley on Tuesday to make the case for his $17 billion plan to build two huge tunnels under the Delta to more easily move water from north to south.  But rather than embracing the idea, five of the seven board members of the Santa Clara Valley Water District — whose support is considered critical to the controversial project — instead voiced skepticism. Their concerns ranged from the price tag to environmental impacts to whether Santa Clara County property owners could be left with property tax increases without a public vote to pay for future cost overruns. ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Silicon Valley leaders express skepticism of Governor’s Delta tunnels plan

First of its kind groundwater project begins in Siskiyou County: Some Siskiyou County farmers will be deliberately flooding their fields in the next two months with high winter flows from the Scott River, in an effort to replenish groundwater and improve river flows in the summer to help fish and wildlife.  Through a temporary groundwater-storage permit from the State Water Resources Control Board, the Scott Valley Irrigation District will be allowed to divert up to 5,400 acre-feet of water during high flows until the end of March.  The water board said the temporary permit is the first issued for this type of water diversion and use. Working with the University of California, Davis; California Farm Bureau Federation; Scott River Water Trust and others, the district secured the permit just as heavy storms drenched the state. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  First of its kind groundwater project begins in Siskiyou County

California’s desert towns struggle with water reduction targets:  “California’s drought-ridden cities are on track to collectively meet Gov. Jerry Brown ’s call for a 25% reduction in water usage. But there is a notable laggard: the state’s desert resort areas.  Many desert water agencies continue to miss their targets, even after some have been slapped with fines. Officials in desert communities—which as heavy water users were given tougher goals than many other municipalities—say they face unique challenges, such as irrigating grass in the extreme summer heat. … ”  Read more from the Wall Street Journal here:  California’s desert towns struggle with water reduction targets

Officials talk toilet-to-tap water recycling at Long Beach conference: The idea of turning waste water into drinking water is gaining momentum among government bodies in Southern California and across the nation, but regulators question how and when the concept will become palatable to the widespread public.  Local, state and federal officials discussed the environmental, health and financial impact of the sometimes derisively called “toilet to tap” technology, or recycled water reuse systems, during a panel session Tuesday at Renaissance Long Beach Hotel, as drought conditions and population concerns are pressing public agencies to come up with cost-effective and safe solutions to water supply problems. ... ”  Read more from the Long Beach Press-Telegram here:  Officials talk toilet-to-tap water recycling at Long Beach conference

Thinning improves forest health but can impact wildlife, study says:  “Clearing shrubs and woody debris from forest floors can improve tree growth efficiency and reduce the severity of wildfires, University of California scientists concluded after a 10-year study of forest management.  However, forest managers must also consider a thinning project’s impact on wildlife that rely on dense forest areas for habitat, the scientists observed. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Thinning improves forest health but can impact wildlife, study says

Board adopts reporting rules for water rights:  “Despite concerns voiced by agricultural organizations that the requirement will be impractical, water right holders in California will face new rules for measuring and reporting their diversions beginning next year.  The State Water Resources Control Board adopted emergency regulations last week requiring all surface water right holders and claimants who divert 10 acre-feet or more a year to electronically report their diversions annually. That means everyone from rural homeowners to small farmers to large water districts to the federal government will need to install metering devices or use approved measurement methods at points of diversion, and report data electronically to the state. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Board adopts reporting rules for water rights

Q&A with John Pujol: Tackling arsenic-tainted water: The way some people look at it, California has plenty of water to survive its periodic droughts. The problem is much of that water isn’t drinkable, and can’t be made drinkable, because it is too contaminated.  This is how John Pujol sees the situation. As CEO of SimpleWater, he has helped develop a new method to remove arsenic from groundwater. Arsenic is a naturally occurring element, but beyond a certain concentration it can cause a variety of health problems, including cancer, and can even be fatal when it arises in excessive quantities. More than 2,200 California drinking water sources are tainted by arsenic, and 600 of these exceed the state’s regulatory standard for arsenic contamination. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Q&A with John Pujol: Tackling arsenic-tainted water

El Niño Means It’s Warmer Than Usual. Take Away the El Niño? That’s Warmer Than Usual, Too.:The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center creates all kinds of forecasts for the United States. Familiar and unfamiliar variables, short-term and long-term timescales, pretty much anything you might wonder about and lots of things you probably don’t, the CPC has an outlook for it: drought, rain, monsoon, El Niño and La Niña, Madden-Julian Oscillation, storm tracks, and of course, temperature.  The temperature outlooks for the United States are based on estimating the probabilities of three-month mean temperatures being above or below a 30-year average. The output is a series of groovy, swirly maps that look like this one, for December-January-February 2016 … ”  Read more from Bay Nature here:  El El Niño Means It’s Warmer Than Usual. Take Away the El Niño? That’s Warmer Than Usual, Too.

Coverage of the Flint crisis by the New York Times: When the water turned brown: Standing at a microphone in September holding up a baby bottle, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a local pediatrician, said she was deeply worried about the water. The number of Flint children with elevated levels of lead in their blood had risen alarmingly since the city changed its water supply the previous year, her analysis showed.  Within hours of Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s news conference, Michigan state officials pushed back — hard. A Department of Health and Human Services official said that the state had not seen similar results and that it was working with a much larger set of data. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  When the water turned brown

In commentary today …

On water, let’s stop pointing fingers and start solving problems:  Suzanne Redfern-West writes, “I am responding to “California’s farmers try political force to open taps in drought,” a New York Times story that appeared in The Bee on Jan. 17.  A a farmer in the region spotlighted, I was disheartened to find another rehashing of old water grudges masquerading as news. My family has farmed in the area since 1927. We grow almonds, tomatoes, prunes and dairy-grade alfalfa hay in five different water districts, one of which is Westlands, the focus of the article. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  On water, let’s stop pointing fingers and start solving problems

In regional news and commentary today …

Water fill means big Folsom Dam spillway project hits milestone:  “A significant milestone toward completion of the $900 million, years-long undertaking to improve flood control and the safety of Folsom Dam was reached Tuesday.  The process to place water against an auxiliary spillway control structure began in earnest Tuesday morning. The process, called impoundment, will continue until water reaches the same elevation on the spillway side and the other side of a temporary earthen dam that has kept the construction area dry. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Water fill means big Folsom Dam spillway project hits milestone

Water levels on the rise in Monterey County – but slowly:  “As Northern California was pelted with rain to start the new year, there seemed to be reason to celebrate as the critically low levels at some lakes and reservoirs rose quickly.  …  But that wasn’t the case everywhere, including the two Southern Monterey County lakes, Nacimiento and San Antonio, key bodies of water in recharging Salinas Valley aquifers. … ”  Read more from the Monterey News Herald here:  Water levels on the rise in Monterey County – but slowly

Not enough water: Even in normal years, New Melones struggles:  “Rain and snow are currently running ahead of average on the Stanislaus River watershed.  No one that manages water that depends on the run-off and Sierra snow melt is getting giddy in hopes that water shortages will soon be a non-issue. Besides the declaration of hydrologists that California needs above average rainfall and snowpack through at least 2019 to get reservoirs back to normal levels to break the severe drought that has lingered for four years, there is a move afoot in Sacramento to increase unimpaired water flows on the Stanislaus River from the current 30 percent between January and June to between 40 and 50 percent. ... ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  Not enough water: Even in normal years, New Melones struggles

Paso Robles groundwater basin advisory committee disbands:Just days before ballots for the formation of a water management district for the Paso Robles groundwater basin will be mailed out, the county Board of Supervisors voted to disband an advisory committee for the basin.  The Paso Robles Groundwater Basin Advisory Committee was scheduled to sunset on Jan. 28 after two years of advising the supervisors on the management of the basin where groundwater levels have dropped precipitously in recent years. Supervisors unanimously voted to allow the group to disband, saying it had done its job. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Paso Robles groundwater basin advisory committee disbands

Paso Robles secures additional Nacimiento water:  “At the most recent Paso Robles City Council meeting, the council unanimously adopted necessary environmental findings and approved the acceptance of the city’s full Nacimiento reserve water allocation. This means that the city has secured access to an additional 2,488 acre feet of Nacimiento water at no additional cost. since the delivery system infrastructure already exists.  No additions or expansion to the water delivery system are proposed, and no operational changes would result from this action. … ”  Read more from the Paso Robles Daily News here:  Paso Robles secures additional Nacimiento water

Navajo lawmakers approve water rights settlement with Utah:  “Lawmakers on the Navajo Nation approved legislation Tuesday to settle the tribe’s claims to water in the upper Colorado River basin in Utah.  The bill passed 13-7 Tuesday without any debate and with few people in attendance at the Navajo Nation Council chambers in Window Rock. Lawmakers debated the settlement in executive session Monday and held a work session last week.  The settlement would give the tribe 81,500 acre-feet annually of Utah’s unused share of water. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Navajo lawmakers approve water rights settlement with Utah

Precipitation watch …

weather 1From the National Weather Service:After several days of dry weather, NorCal will return to a colder, wet pattern. Expect several bands of moderate to heavy precipitation between Thursday into Sunday and snow levels lowering towards the foothills on Saturday.”

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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