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Daily Digest: Second disastrous year for endangered salmon; CA weighs extending water conservation rules; Enviros want to tear Hetch Hetchy and other dams down; LA River regualtory quagmire; and more …

In California water news today, Second disastrous year for endangered California salmon; Northern California salmon run devastated again by drought; California weighs extending drought conservation rules; A century ago San Francisco dammed a pristine Yosemite valley. Now environmentalists are fighting to tear down that dam, and hundreds of others; Drought’s harm to forests more severe than feared, study finds; Clean Water Rule: Concrete-lined LA River seen as regulatory quagmire; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The State Water Board meets today beginning at 9am: Agenda items include the latest urban water conservation numbers, Status of the Division of Drinking Water’s maximum contaminant level development, and the Division of Water Quality-Program status and update.  At 1pm, the Board will consider a proposed resolution amending and readopting drought-related emergency regulations for urban water conservation.  Click here for the agendaClick here for the webcast.
  • Legislative oversight hearing on Prop 1 beginning at 9:30am:  The Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee and Budget Subcommittee No. 3 will hold a legislative oversight hearing on February 2nd at 9:30 am in the State Capitol, Room 4202, on the implementation of the Prop 1 the water bond.  Click here to watch on CalChannel.

In the news today …

Second disastrous year for endangered California salmon:  “Endangered native salmon suffered a second straight disastrous year in California’s drought, with all but 3 percent of the latest generation dying in too-shallow, too-hot rivers, federal officials said Monday.  Survival rates for California’s endangered native fish regularly are a flashpoint in the disputes among fishermen, farmers and others about how federal and state authorities divvy up the state’s water supplies.  Just 318,000 juvenile winter-run salmon survived last year, or 3 percent of nearly 10 million eggs, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries agency said Monday. That compares to just 5 percent survival the previous year — and 41 percent in 2011, just before California’s drought set in. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Second disastrous year for endangered California salmon

Northern California salmon run devastated again by drought:  “One of California’s last great salmon runs tallied a perilously low number of surviving offspring in 2015, scientists said Monday, marking a second year of drought-driven problems for the Sacramento River chinook, which loom on the verge of extinction.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service reported that just 3 percent of the run’s juvenile salmon survived their historic migration to sea, again dying in large numbers because the river was simply too shallow and too warm to tolerate. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Northern California salmon run devastated again by drought

See also: Only 3 percent of juvenile salmon survived California drought in 2015, from the Sacramento Bee

California weighs extending drought conservation rules: Following a welcomed parade of El Nino storms drenching drought-stricken California, state officials on Tuesday will decide whether to extend emergency conservation orders, and reveal how much water Californians saved in December.  The figures are expected to show that for a third straight month, Californians missed a mandate to use 25 percent less water. State regulators, however, say they are confident residents will meet the long-term goal that requires the savings over a nine-month period ending in February, a more important target.  State water managers remain focused on April 1 — when the Sierra Nevada snowpack is historically at its deepest. Its depth then will signal whether drought conditions are easing after the state’s driest four-year period on record. ... ”  Read more from the AP here:  California weighs extending drought conservation rules

The Valley Below: A century ago San Francisco dammed a pristine Yosemite valley. Now environmentalists are fighting to tear down that dam, and hundreds of others:Over an unseasonably warm weekend this past October, Spreck Rosekrans, the executive director of Restore Hetch Hetchy, led his board members on a hike through a rarely visited corner of Yosemite National Park.  The air was hot and breathless, and all around Yosemite, the drought was on full display: where waterfalls still fell, they had thinned from ribbons to threads. Reservoirs in the surrounding foothills had dried up, revealing acres of cracked earth. Because of meager rainfall, the pines that survived 2013’s Rim Fire — the largest ever recorded in the Sierra Mountains — were too desiccated to produce sap, making them vulnerable to a booming bark beetle population. As the tiny insects march through the forest, trees yellow and perish in their wake. … ”  Read more from The Verge here:  The Valley Below: A century ago San Francisco dammed a pristine Yosemite valley. Now environmentalists are fighting to tear down that dam, and hundreds of others

Drought’s harm to forests more severe than feared, study finds:  “Worsening drought conditions may be doing more damage to forests in California and throughout the West than their ecosystems can handle, causing a spiral of death that could have a devastating impact, a U.S. Forest Service study concluded Monday.  The 300-page report, “Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands in the United States,” outlines how hotter, drier and more extreme weather will spark massive insect outbreaks, tree and plant die-offs, bigger and more costly wildfires, and economic impacts to timber and rangeland habitat. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Drought’s harm to forests more severe than feared, study finds

Clean Water Rule: Concrete-lined LA River seen as regulatory quagmire:The Los Angeles River brims with actors, directors and cameramen more often than water.  The wide, concrete chute has appeared as a setting for car chases in the movies “Grease,” “Repo Man,” “Terminator 2” and many others.  And while it usually has very little flowing water, the river figures to play a pivotal role in the implementation of the Obama administration’s controversial Clean Water Rule that defines which wetlands and waterways qualify for federal Clean Water Act protections. … ”  Read more from E&E Publishing here:  Clean Water Rule: Concrete-lined LA River seen as regulatory quagmire

In commentary today …

Obstructionism will destroy our precious Delta, says Robbie Hunter:  He writes:  “Protecting our water supplies and the Delta’s environment requires real solutions and timely action on the California WaterFix. Unfortunately self-serving groups with misleading names such as Restore the Delta are advocating the surest way to destroy the Delta – doing absolutely nothing to protect it while standing in the way of progress.  Almost 10 years ago, the respected Public Policy Institute of California warned of “catastrophic” risks facing the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the water supply for nearly two-thirds of Californians: “If California fails to act on it soon, we risk the loss of native species and important ecosystem services – and face significant economic disruptions.” … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Obstructionism will destroy our precious Delta

With smelt, it’s ‘Groundhog Day’ in the Delta:  Tom Philp writes, “It is Groundhog Day again in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The stormwaters from the Sierra have arrived. That means the tiny Delta smelt are on the move, which means wildlife agencies are slowing down the pumps that sustain the California economy – so the pumps do not take in large numbers of the fish.  This year is the strangest of all. The pumps of the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project hadn’t taken a single smelt when things slowed down. At first, supplies sufficient to run the cities of Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco were going uncaptured every day. Since then, the cutbacks have only increased. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  With smelt, it’s ‘Groundhog Day’ in the Delta

Ventura County: Agreement on groundwater monitoring unique in this state, says the Ventura County Star:  They write, “California is a state whose history is driven by fights over water. In many cases, the battles were won by those who had the water and simply refused to acknowledge how they got it, or who they took it from.  That’s one of the reasons why last week’s vote by the Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency to approve metering of groundwater pumping was remarkable. ... ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here:  Agreement on groundwater monitoring unique in this state

In regional news and commentary today …

Buoyed by recent rains, Folsom Lake levels triple:  “What a difference a month of rain makes.  Two months ago, Folsom Lake stood at its lowest depth in history, and federal officials were engineering a special pumping system to ensure drinking water would keep flowing to Sacramento suburbs.  Following a month of persistent rain and snow in Northern California, lake levels are triple what they were in early December, and the reservoir contains more water than average for early February. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Buoyed by recent rains, Folsom Lake levels triple

Stockton water forum delivers mixed messages:Erin Brockovich entered stage right and applause erupted in the jammed auditorium.  “Thank you for hearing our voices,” a lone local resident shouted out.  The crowd, estimated by Mayor Anthony Silva at more than 1,200, filled every nook and cranny Monday night in San Joaquin Delta College’s Atherton Auditorium. The focus was drinking water and the use of chloramines in north Stockton to disinfect it. ... ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here: Stockton water forum delivers mixed messages  Related:  Fact check: How town hall claims stack up

San Francisco had more rain this January then the last five combined:  “El Niño lived up to its rainy promise in January, delivering locations around California their wettest year-opening month in years — and offering some hope of recovery from the depths of the drought.  San Francisco recorded an impressive 6.94 inches of rain during the month, far above the 4.5 inches it averages in January and the most the city has seen in any January since 2008, according to Golden Gate Weather Services. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here: San Francisco had more rain this January than past 5 combined

How restoring Bay Area wetlands will help prepare for sea level rise: After California’s worst drought in 500 years, we’re finally enjoying a rainy winter thanks to one of the strongest El Niños on record. Droughts interspersed with drenchings are nothing new for us — these extremes are part of our normal weather cycle — and periodic wet years are nothing we can’t handle. But that’s about to change. In coming decades, sea level rise will amplify the storm surges and ultra-high “king” tides that send waves crashing over levees.  Making matters worse, sea level rise will also weaken the Bay Area’s resilience to floods. … ”  Read more from the Bay Area Monitor here:  How restoring Bay Area wetlands will help prepare for sea level rise

After rains, some East Bay lakes free of algae: Recent rains have cleared toxic algae from several East Bay lakes, including Tilden’s Lake Anza, East Bay Regional Park District officials have announced.  That means, unless the algae returns, some popular swimming spots will re-open come April.  “Thanks to heavy rains from El Niño, toxic blue-green algae has cleared from Quarry Lakes in Fremont, Lake Temescal in Oakland and Lake Anza in Berkeley,” park officials announced Thursday. “These popular swim destinations were all closed … due to toxic algae blooms, and we’re thrilled to report that the algae has cleared.” … ”  Read more from Berkeleyside here:  After rains, some East Bay lakes free of algae

Los Gatos: Owner of nudist camp fined for stealing water:  “The owner of Lupin Lodge, a clothing-optional resort in Los Gatos, has been fined and sentenced to community service for stealing water during the state’s historic drought.  The corporation, Lupin Heights, Inc., and the sole owner, 53-year-old Lori Kay Stout pleaded no contest to trespassing, a misdemeanor charge filed after she repeatedly diverted water from a section of a local creek that she did not own. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Owner of nudist camp fined for stealing water

Agencies find new source of water in the sewer:  “In the wake of drought and environmental concerns, more water agencies in California and across the West are finding a new water source for human consumption in an unexpected place: the sewer.  The treated sewer water isn’t going directly to your tap after treatment. In most cases, it’s put into an aquifer and withdrawn later — years later.  Meanwhile, underground microbes and the natural filtration of the aquifer further improve the water quality, said Cindy Forbes, deputy director of the California Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water, in a telephone interview. ... ”  Read more from the San Bernardino Sun here:  Agencies find new source of water in the sewer

Precipitation watch …

From the National Weather Service:  “Some light snow is possible this week, on Tuesday and again Wednesday/Thursday. Low snow levels could bring snow down into the foothills with the first system on Tuesday, though snow amounts will be fairly light. Another weak system on Wednesday-Thursday will bring a little more moisture, with higher snow levels.”

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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