Daily Digest: Valley farmers, others come out against rail-water initiative; Endangered fish released into the Sacramento River; Farm groups mostly praise latest Feinstein water bill; and more …

In California water news today, Valley farmers, others come out against rail-water initiative; Endangered fish released into the Sacramento River; Farm groups mostly praise latest Feinstein water bill; Opposition – and an alternative – key to stopping the tunnels, GOP candidate says; Fact check: Gavin Newsom stretches impact of bond initiative; Many agree: hyacinth’s a gas; State Water Board releases Prop 1 groundwater grant draft guidelines; El Niño was supposed to bail out parched California, so what happened?;  How climate change will affect Western groundwater resources; Why water costs 10 times more in Flint than in Phoenix; and more …

In the news today …

Valley farmers, others come out against rail-water initiative:  “A group of central San Joaquin Valley agriculture, government and Latino leaders is raising an alarm about a proposed ballot initiative to take money away from high-speed rail and use it instead for water-storage projects in California.  Their opposition to the initiative – which is now being circulated for signatures to qualify for the November ballot – is rooted not in support for the controversial bullet-train project, but because the measure would also divert $2.7 billion in water-storage money from Proposition 1, a water bond act approved by more than two-thirds of California voters in 2014. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Valley farmers, others come out against rail-water initiative

Endangered fish released into the Sacramento River: For the second year in a row, federal officials on Wednesday released hundreds of thousands of endangered salmon into the Sacramento River in Redding to compensate for a massive summer fish die-off.  Wednesday’s release of fingerling winter-run chinook salmon was the first of two batches — both about 200,000 fingerling-size fish — being released this week.  This year’s release is about twice as many as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service typically releases into the river annually. … ” Read more from the Redding Searchlight Record here:  Endangered fish released into the Sacramento River

Farm groups mostly praise latest Feinstein water bill:  “Farm groups are offering guarded praise for a new drought-response bill by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein that would provide funding for water storage and encourage more capturing of storm waters during wet winters.  The San Francisco Democrat proposes devoting $1.3 billion to long-term projects, including $600,000 in federal funds to augment potential Proposition 1 projects as the proposed Sites Reservoir near Maxwell, Calif., or the planned Temperance Flat Reservoir near Fresno. … ” Read more from the Capital Press here: Farm groups mostly praise latest Feinstein water bill

Opposition – and an alternative – key to stopping the tunnels, GOP candidate says:  “Politicians who oppose the plan of Gov. Jerry Brown for twin tunnels in the Delta lose labor money, a Republican candidate for the 3rd state Senate district said Wednesday – so an out is available for them to just state they don’t support the tunnels.  Greg Coppes said at the Vaca Valley Tea Party evening meeting that people should demand that politicians oppose the twin tunnels and have a plan to stop them.  “If we do nothing,” Coppes said, “the tunnels are going in.” … ”  Read more from the Fairfield Republic here:  Opposition – and an alternative – key to stopping the tunnels, GOP candidate says

Fact check: Gavin Newsom stretches impact of bond initiative:Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a candidate for governor in 2018, came out recently against a ballot measure that, if adopted, would force large public works projects to go before voters for approval.  The immediate effect of the measure is the impact it could have on Gov. Jerry Brown’s $15.5 billion plan to build two tunnels to divert water southward under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. But it’s unclear how many other projects the initiative could affect, a point critics are hammering to raise concerns about the measure. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Fact check: Gavin Newsom stretches impact of bond initiative

Many agree: hyacinth’s a gas:  “Water hyacinth, the invasive water weed that carpets San Joaquin Delta channels in the warm season, choking out native species, degrading water quality, blocking recreational boaters and interfering with commercial ship traffic, holds promise as a biofuel.  That’s the premise of a $300,000 pilot project sought by a diverse group of Delta interests, which in some cases have clashed over other issues but now have coalesced around the issue of combating hyacinth.  Stockton Port Commission members Tuesday, taking the lead for the Water Hyacinth Ad-Hoc Committee, voted to pursue a $300,000 grant from the San Joaquin Delta Conservancy to test turning water hyacinth into methane gas. … ” Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Many agree: hyacinth’s a gas

El Niño was supposed to bail out parched California, so what happened?:With one of the strongest El Niño events ever observed peaking in the tropical Pacific Ocean, this was supposed to be an unusually stormy — possibly even destructive — winter, with a parade of storms rolling into central and southern California, one after the other.   At least this is the picture conjured up by many media outlets, and the expectation of people who experienced flooding and mudslides during last powerhouse El Niño event in 1997-98.  This event, as measured by meteorologists using satellites, buoys, aircraft observations and other tools, is slightly stronger than the 1997-98 event, which brought an extremely wet rainy season to the Golden State.  … ”  Read more from Mashable here: El Niño was supposed to bail out parched California, so what happened?

State Water Board releases Prop 1 groundwater grant draft guidelines:The State Water Resources Control Board has released its Proposition 1 Groundwater Grant Program Draft Guidelines and scheduled a series of public meetings throughout the state to accept public comment on the draft. ... ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  State Water Board releases Prop 1 groundwater grant draft guidelines

How climate change will affect Western groundwater resources: By 2050, climate change will increase the groundwater deficit even more for four economically important aquifers in the Western U.S., reports a University of Arizona-led team of scientists.  The new report is the first to integrate scientists’ knowledge about groundwater in the American West with scientific models that show how climate change will affect the region.  “We wanted to know, ‘What are the expectations for increases and decreases in groundwater as we go forward in this century?'” said lead author Thomas Meixner, a UA professor and associate department head of hydrology and water resources. “In the West, 40 percent of the water comes directly from groundwater.” … ”  Read more from the University of Arizona here:  How climate change will affect Western groundwater resources

Why water costs 10 times more in Flint than in Phoenix:  “There’s something wrong with this picture: You’ll find some of the cheapest water in the U.S. in a desert metropolis, and the priciest within 40 miles of the Great Lakes.  According to a new report by Washington-based advocacy group Food & Water Watch, households in Phoenix, Arizona, paid an average of just $84.24 annually as of January 2015. Those in Flint, Michigan, paid $864.32—more than 10 times* as much. (The average in Michigan was $323.47, just a little over the national average.) These cities bookended the report’s cost-ranking of the 500 largest community water systems in the country. Their counterintuitive rankings—costly by the lakes, cheap in the desert—say a lot about how the U.S. values water. … ”  Read more from CityLab here:  Why water costs 10 times more in Flint than in Phoenix

In regional news and commentary today …

State officials report discovery of invasive New Zealand mud snails in Feather River in Oroville:  “The discovery of an invasive mudsnail downstream of the Table Mountain Boulevard bridge in Oroville, has prompted state officials to urge Feather River users to decontaminate equipment.  Although the long-term impact of the New Zealand mudsnail is undetermined, the tiny creatures’ high reproduction rate and lack of local predators has officials concerned about them changing the river’s bug composition.  … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  State officials report discovery of invasive New Zealand mud snails in Feather River in Oroville

Award-winning wildlife habitat project protects Butte County’s endangered species:  “Riley Swift drove on the road he designed and built, pointing out different vernal pools.  “Those two are created, so is that one, but that big pool back there is natural,” he said.  Swift and his company, Restoration Resources, designed, built and continue to maintain the 468 acre-property his Toyota Highlander rolled through Tuesday.  The land — bordered by Highway 149 on the western edge, Highway 70 to the east, and the Wick’s Corner interchange at the southeast corner — is a mitigation project that replaces the natural vernal pools and wetlands that were plowed over when Caltrans expanded the lanes on Highway 149 and the interchanges at Clark Road, Highway 149 and Highway 70. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Award-winning wildlife habitat project protects Butte County’s endangered species

Bay Area weather: New radar better predicts just where and just how much rain to expect:  “As a wet and windy storm blows in off the Pacific, a new San Jose-based radar system is watching it with the greatest precision ever, estimating rainfall in individual communities rather than providing a more general Bay Area forecast.  Discrete patches of incoming moisture are detected by a humming “X-band” radar unit on the rooftop of a treatment plant owned by the Santa Clara Valley Water District, predicting precipitation and flood risk with much greater accuracy than current technology. Four more units will be phased in over the next five years for the Peninsula, East Bay and North Bay.  … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  New radar better predicts just where and just how much rain to expect

Tri-Valley warming up to the idea of drinking treated sewer water: After suffering through four years of drought, East Bay residents appear willing to swallow the idea of getting some of their drinking water from the sewer.  Some 63 percent of residents in Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin and part of San Ramon would be willing to drink tap water mixed with highly purified effluent from a sewage treatment plant after it is stored and aged underground, according to a telephone poll of 600 registered voters in November. … ”  Read more from the Contra Costa Times here:  Tri-Valley warming up to the idea of drinking treated sewer water

Roseville offers water rebates to commercial users: The City of Roseville is offering $100,000 in rebates to encourage organizations to become more water efficient.  Maurice Chaney, with the City of Roseville, says projects, large and small, indoors and outdoors, qualify for the funds. “We want customers to continue to save water during a wet year or dry year,” says Chaney. “We want customers to achieve sustainable savings, meaning that they replace their grass, they replace their infrastructure with something a bit more sustainable so that they’re fixing it for good.”  ... ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Roseville offers water rebates to commercial users

Groundwater running on a deficit in San Joaquin County:  “Our water “savings account” hasn’t exactly gone broke, but it’s sure getting harder to make a withdrawal.  To the surprise of no one, groundwater levels in the fall of 2015 plummeted to new historic lows in portions of San Joaquin County, worse even than the previous “low-water” year of 1992.  There are still untold volumes of water beneath our feet. But the lower the water level drops, the more expensive it is pump it to the surface and use it. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Groundwater running on a deficit in San Joaquin County

How other Modesto-area irrigation districts see supplies: Here’s how things stand for major water suppliers other than the Turlock Irrigation District, which announced a tentative boost in deliveries Tuesday:  Modesto Irrigation District: It has not yet projected 2016 supplies but will update farmers at meetings on March 8 and 9, spokeswoman Melissa Williams said. Last year, it capped deliveries from the Tuolumne River at 16 vertical inches, about 40 percent of the level in normal years. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  How other Modesto-area irrigation districts see supplies

Santa Clarita:  Water board member alleges Brown Act violation:  “A Newhall County Water District board member has filed a complaint with the District Attorney’s Office against her colleagues, saying they held illegal closed-door talks regarding a proposed merger of two Santa Clarita Valley water districts.  Lynne Plambeck, longtime local environmental activist and Newhall County Water District board member, hand-delivered the complaint to her fellow board members Friday and also sent it to the District Attorney’s Office, she said Wednesday. … ”  Read more from the Santa Clarita Signal here:  Water board member alleges Brown Act violation

For Lake Mead water supply, El Nino translates as ‘average’:Even one of the strongest El Ninos on record can’t seem to dent the drought on the Colorado River.  The Pacific Ocean climate pattern that typically soaks the Southwest has so far only managed to produce an average year on the river that supplies 90 percent of the Las Vegas Valley’s water supply.  The latest federal projections released Friday call for the Colorado to carry about 94 percent of its average flow during the all-important April-July time frame, when snowmelt in the western Rockies collects in Lake Powell on the Utah-Arizona border.  But forecasters insist there’s plenty of time for the snowpack to grow and the river’s outlook to improve. ... ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Review-Journal here:  For Lake Mead water supply, El Nino translates as ‘average’

El Niño rains fail to replenish lakes in the Colorado River basin:  “So far this winter, El Niño has not delivered the predicted rains needed to replenish the parched Colorado River Basin, conservationists say.  A 15-year drought in the region – which includes Arizona, California, Colorado and other western states – has left storage reservoirs Lake Mead and Lake Powell at historic low levels. Gary Wockner, executive director of the environmental advocacy group Save the Colorado, said the river needs more than a single year of good rain to replenish the lakes. … ”  Read more from the Public News Service here:  El Niño rains fail to replenish lakes in the Colorado River basin

weather 1Precipitation watch …

Showers continue today: From the National Weather Service: “The frontal system which brought rain and mountain snow Wednesday evening will be moving east of the state today. Behind it are numerous showers which will be moving through the north state through this evening. Conditions are unstable enough that isolated thunderstorms are likely as well. Another, much weaker storm will be moving across norcal on Friday. At this time…the weekend looks dry.”

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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