Daily Digest: NorCal skiers and water officials grateful for recovering snowpack; El Niño weakening, stage set for La Niña; Gravel work to aid salmon; How different is wild salmon from hatchery-raised salmon? A lot, DNA shows; and more …

In California water news today, In Northern California, skiers and water officials are grateful for the recovering snowpack; El Niño Weakening, Stage Set for La Niña and Possible Dry Winter Next Year; Gravel work to aid salmon; How different is wild salmon from hatchery-raised salmon?  A lot, DNA shows; As California enters a ‘new era’ on water, cities seek their own solutions; Stormwater, long considered a nuisance, may be parched California’s salvation; California releases draft regulations for groundwater management; Try the treated wastewater, legislator says; Confessions of a wastewater operator; Jennifer Bowles: Building water literacy; Dan Nelson weighs in on Feinstein drought bill; Water markets offer efficiency, analysts say; and more …

In the news today …

In Northern California, skiers and water officials are grateful for the recovering snowpack:  “Here at one of the snowiest places in the country, Ed Bischoff marveled at a view that had been absent for years.  A number of early winter storms, strengthened by El Niño conditions, had covered the northern Sierra Nevada in white. Fresh snow weighed down towering evergreens along Interstate 80. On local roads, street signs peeked out of snowbanks more than 7 feet high.  Bischoff remembered the drive to Sugar Bowl ski resort last year, when the landscape was mostly dirt. The only snow was man-made — narrow strips of powder on the slopes that had managed to stay open. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  In Northern California, skiers and water officials are grateful for the recovering snowpack

El Niño Weakening, Stage Set for La Niña and Possible Dry Winter Next Year:Federal climate scientists say the near-record El Niño conditions in the Pacific Ocean have peaked and are slowly waning.  Forecasters now say conditions are likely to flip to their opposite phase, known as La Niña by late summer or early fall, which could set the stage for another drier-than-normal winter and prolonged drought in California.  “We are reasonably confident that there will be a La Niña,” says Huug van den Dool, seasonal forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, “but we plead ignorance as to whether this is going to be a small, moderate, or strong La Niña.” ... ”  Read more from KQED here: El Niño Weakening, Stage Set for La Niña and Possible Dry Winter Next Year

Gravel work to aid salmon: Mike Memeo was face down in the Sacramento River on Thursday.  The water was cold, but Memeo wore a diving suit to keep him warm. The Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission biologist peered through his diving mask into the murky water, looking for young late fall-run salmon.  Just a few feet from Memeo a bulldozer waited to push a large pile of gravel into the river under the North Market Street bridge in Redding. No fish in sight, the dozer driver shoved the rocks out into the water. … ” Read more from the Redding Record-Searchlight here:  Gravel work to aid salmon

How different is wild salmon from hatchery-raised salmon?  A lot, DNA shows: Looking specifically at the steelhead trout salmon, researchers at Oregon State University, in collaboration with the Oregon Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, found more than 700 genetic variations between farm-raised and wild salmon.  The differences have long been theorized to exist. The survival and reproduction gaps between the two fish point to the rapid adaptation of hatchery fish to their confined environments. When fish born in hatcheries are released to the wild, for instance, they have a far harder time reproducing than compared to their indigenous cousins. ... ”  Read more from the Christian Science Monitor here:  How different is wild salmon from hatchery-raised salmon? A lot, DNA shows

As California enters a ‘new era’ on water, cities seek their own solutions: For California, which has endured four years of extraordinary drought, the state’s wet season is off to an encouraging start.  High in California’s Sierra Nevada, the state’s mountainous spine, El Niño-driven storms have piled snow and the meltwater it represents to above-normal levels. At lower elevations, heavy rains are nudging the water in many depleted reservoirs back toward their historical averages.   Whether this spells the beginning of the end to what some researchers have tagged as the state’s worst drought in at least 1,200 years remains to be seen. What is clear is that the drought has accelerated the onset of a “new era” of water use in the Golden State, some water-policy specialists say. ... ” Read more from the Christian Science Monitor here:  As California enters a ‘new era’ on water, cities seek their own solutions

Stormwater, long considered a nuisance, may be parched California’s salvation: The winter rains finally arrived in Southern California, bringing drenching relief this week to a part of the nation suffering one of the worst droughts in history. But the El Niño storms brought something else as well: a reminder of lost opportunity, on display in this coastal city, as millions of gallons of storm water slipped down the usually dry Los Angeles River and out into San Pedro Bay.  After a year in which Californians cut water use by 25 percent, storm water has become the next front in what amounts to a fundamental restructuring of Southern California’s relationship with its intricate water network. More than 200 billion gallons of storm water, enough to supply 1.4 million households for a year, could be captured statewide — but instead end up spilling down sewers, drains and into the ocean, as was on display Thursday, in the hours after the rainfall had ended, at the spot where the Los Angeles River ends here. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here:  Stormwater, long considered a nuisance, may be parched California’s salvation

California releases draft regulations for groundwater management:  “California’s groundwater provides about 40 percent of the state’s water supply – more during dry years.  The Department of Water Resources has now released the first draft regulations to manage groundwater sustainably. The plan lays out the steps local public agencies will need to take to prevent chronic groundwater overdraft. ... ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  California releases draft regulations for groundwater management

Try the treated wastewater, legislator says: California water agencies could soon be offering you a cool sip of…you.  Water scarcity, always an issue in California, has preoccupied policy makers more than usual during a multi-year drought. Many want the state to consider more opportunities to recycle and reuse water.  One of the touchier ideas is called “potable reused water” – in layman’s terms, treated wastewater. Despite scientists’ assurance that it can be safe, the idea still makes people queasy. State water regulations currently prohibit public water systems from offering it to customers. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Try the treated wastewater, legislator says

Confessions of a wastewater operator:  “A lot of people don’t give much thought to the water that comes out of their tap as long it tastes good, it’s plentiful and it’s cheap. And probably fewer care about where their water goes when they’re done with it. Down the drain is out of sight and out of mind.  Nick Hansen’s wife used to fit that mold. “She says that before she met me she didn’t know where water comes from or where it goes,” Nick says. “She really didn’t care and I find that everyone feels that way.”  Hansen works as a senior wastewater treatment plant operator at Central Contra Costa Sanitary District. He also started the blog RecycledH2O.net, which provides information about using recycled water. ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Confessions of a wastewater operator

Jennifer Bowles: Building water literacy:  “California’s drought has turned public attention to water issues in the state. But Jennifer Bowles is working hard to make sure people gain a deeper understanding of water in California every year.  Bowles is the executive director of the Water Education Foundation, a Sacramento-based nonprofit founded in 1977 – when California was weathering another drought. The organization is focused on water literacy and provides resources to get an overview of California water issues or to take a deep dive.  Bowles and her team publish a range of materials ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Jennifer Bowles: Building water literacy

Dan Nelson weighs in on Feinstein drought bill:  “A new drought relief bill from Senator Dianne Feinstein is getting mixed reviews in the Valley, but at least one water expert says it’s a a sign of progress. … Daniel Nelson recently retired as the Executive Director of the San Luis and Delta Mendota Water Authority, and still works for the group. He says the bill is a good first step.  … ”  Read more from Valley Public Radio here:  Dan Nelson weighs in on Feinstein drought bill

Water markets offer efficiency, analysts say:  “Agricultural producers are competing for water around the world, vying for the limited resource that is also needed for a growing population, economic growth and ecosystem health.  “All of those competing needs must be met, against a backdrop of increasing climate variability. Proper allocation of existing resources is critical,” Rabobank analysts said in their new report, “Agricultural Water — Free Flowing Markets Sustain Growth.”  The challenge is in determining what the proper allocation should be, along with incentivizing investments so efficiency technologies and supply-side infrastructure are not short-changed, they stated. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Water markets offer efficiency, analysts say

In commentary today …

Grading Governor Brown’s response to drought:  Kate Poole writes,Dear California drinkers of water, growers of plants, fishers, boaters, swimmers and river enthusiasts: Here is a progress report on how Gov. Jerry Brown and the state administration are doing to ensure clean, sufficient water for people and the environment during California’s drought, now entering its fifth year.  There is some good news and some bad news. Since this assessment directly impacts your future health, well-being, communities and quality of life in California, we encourage you to use this report to start a meaningful conversation with elected officials about the importance of water in your life and how they can and must do a better job at protecting it. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Grading Governor Brown’s response to drought

In regional news and commentary today …

Humboldt marijuana growers lead in water program participation: Humboldt County accounted for the majority of 51 medical marijuana growers who have chosen to enroll in the North Coast’s mandatory water quality protection program that hopes to serve as a model for California.  As to whether this enrollment number met his expectations, water resource control engineer Kason Grady of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board said there are still several applications to be processed and assured they will have more growers signed up before and after the Monday deadline. ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Humboldt marijuana growers lead in water program participation

Bay Area: Posey says he’s committed to saving water at home:  “Buster Posey would like to clear up one thing about his property landing on a list of excessive water users in the drought-ravaged Bay Area: The San Francisco Giants catcher insists he worked with landscapers to take appropriate measures to save water before he and his wife moved into their suburban home in 2013. “We take the water stuff extremely serious,” he told The Associated Press on Thursday before his first spring-training workout. “As soon as we moved into our home there, our landscapers made adjustments, like changing the sprinkler system to drip, trying to be more efficient. My wife and I are very cognizant about showers and whatnot.” ... ”  Read more from U-T San Diego here:  Posey says he’s committed to saving water at home

Water cheap for some Sacramento-area residents, costly for others: Situated near two major rivers in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada, residents across the Sacramento region share a proximity to drinking water that other Californians can only dream about.  Their water bills, however, are far from similar. Sacramento-area residents pay wildly different amounts each month for the same amount of water, with some Placer County households shelling out four times what those in Galt do.  A Sacramento Bee review of water rates at 19 local agencies found that residents in some cities can pay hundreds of dollars more each year than those who live a few miles down the road. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Water cheap for some Sacramento-area residents, costly for others

Hanford City Council backs Temperance Flat reservoir effort with $5000:  “An effort to back the building of the Temperance Flat Reservoir received some support from Hanford’s City Council, but with no guarantees the city would directly benefit, council members were hesitant to pour a lot of money into the effort.  “Personally I’m all for being a good a neighbor, but I don’t want to break the bank on this issue,” said Hanford Mayor Justin Mendes at the Tuesday night council meeting.  In a 4-1 vote with Councilman Gary Pannett dissenting, the council approved giving $5,000 toward the city of Avenal’s goal to raise $25,000. That money is needed for Avenal to have a voice in a water infrastructure joint powers authority’s fight to build the Temperance Flat Reservoir Project. The reservoir would improve surface water supplies which Avenal officials say they direly need. ... ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here:  Hanford City Council backs Temperance Flat reservoir effort with $5000

City of Bakersfield set to reinstate old water wells due to lack of surface water:  “Local water officials say five new well heads should installed by the summer on existing wells. The $3.5 million project is an attempt to add more water to our city’s water system, because El Niño so far hasn’t produced enough rain and snow to keep city officials at ease heading into the hot and dry months.  Rain and mountain snow, something we know we need more of in the Golden State. But for the City of Bakersfield, the re-opening of five previously tainted wells doesn’t mean we the city is hitting the panic button. … ” Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  City of Bakersfield set to reinstate old water wells due to lack of surface water

Newhall water district disputes claim of violation:  “Newhall County Water District’s board president said Thursday a fellow board member misunderstood proceedings when she filed a claim that the board violated the Brown Act during a meeting it held last month.  “Hers was a misrepresentation and a mis-characterization of what we’ve tried to accomplish,” district Board President B.J. Atkins said Thursday about allegations leveled Wednesday by board member Lynne Plambeck. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Clarita Signal here:  Newhall water district disputes claim of violation

LA water board sues Army Corps over dredging:  “A lawsuit filed by a regional water board accuses the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of violating the federal Clean Water Act during two dredge and fill operations along the Los Angeles River and its tributaries.  The suit announced Thursday by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board alleges the Army Corps failed to obtain required water quality certifications ahead of a 2011 project in Glendale and another a year later at the Sepulveda Basin. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  LA water board sues Army Corps over dredging

Precipitation watch …

Another round of winter weather today for Northern California:  “A weather system approaching the northern California coast bring another round of wintery weather to the north state. Breezy to strong winds will blow over the north state today especially in the northern and central Sacramento valley and over the southern Cascades. Relatively light precipitation is expected with this system but enough snowfall is likely over the Sierra Cascade range to cause some minor travel difficulties.”

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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