Daily Digest: Capitol hearing explores Sustainable Groundwater Management Act implementation; California water politics could get choppier with new House bill; ‘Murky’ rail measure could hurt Sites; Nigiri project mixes salmon and rice fields; and more …

In California water news today, California says locals must police groundwater; Capitol hearing explores Sustainable Groundwater Management Act implementation; California water politics could get choppier with new House bill;  ‘Murky’ rail measure could hurt Sites; Nigiri project mixes salmon and rice fields; Ship that sank more than 60 years ago still causing marine chaos; A nice glass of seawater? Drought forces Australia to rethink desalination; Colorado, Wyoming plan for Colorado River water share;  Flint scandal is already changing the water utility business; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • Science and Scientists Informing Public Policy in California: A Professional Development Workshop at 3pm: The Capital Science Communicators invite you to a lively panel discussion with staff members and consultants from the California State Legislature specializing in policies relating to health, environmental safety, natural resources, and other topics. Our panelists will share their experiences and tips on how scientists can better communicate their research—and make broader impact for public good.  Click here for more information.

In the news today …

California says locals must police groundwater:  “With California on the verge of “bankrupting” some of its most important aquifers, state officials Tuesday reiterated the responsibility local water agencies have in enforcing the state’s new groundwater-monitoring laws.  During a legislative oversight hearing, state officials updated implementation plans for the newly enacted Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, telling lawmakers it will largely be up to local communities to monitor and prevent further depletion of California’s vital underground water supply.  “Our job is to write the rules of the game,” David Gutierrez, groundwater project manager for the California Department of Water Resources, said. “Groundwater should be managed at the local level; we’ve certainly bought into that.” … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  California says locals must police groundwater

Capitol hearing explores Sustainable Groundwater Management Act implementation:  “Lawmakers received an update on California’s landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act today during a Capitol hearing in which state officials and stakeholders described the implementation of the measure intended to stem the overdraft of California’s groundwater basins.  Both stakeholders and lawmakers highlighted the timeline in implementing the SGMA. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  Capitol hearing explores Sustainable Groundwater Management Act implementation

California water politics could get choppier with new House bill:  “A Sacramento Valley Democrat revealed plans on Tuesday for a big new California water bill that likely will upset some of his colleagues and potentially affect water politics in the U.S. capital.  Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, said his proposal would provide for new dams, spur water transfers and fund emergency drought aid.  “I want to lay down a marker,” Garamendi said in an interview Tuesday evening, adding that “we can stake steps to address the drought immediately, and to take long-term measures.” ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  California water politics could get choppier with new House bill

‘Murky’ rail measure could hurt Sites:  “At first glance, a proposed initiative to reallocate bond funds from the controversial high-speed rail project to fund water storage projects seems tailor-made for Northern Californian water leaders who have been pushing for such projects, particularly Sites Reservoir, for decades.  But the North State has staunchly opposed the proposal being circulated for signatures to qualify for the November ballot, saying it would not only delay projects such as Sites Reservoir for years, but would also change the state constitution in a way that would jeopardize the Sacramento Valley’s mostly senior water rights.  Backers of the initiative say those concerns are unfounded, and the proposed initiative would not change existing water rights or delay projects such as Sites Reservoir … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  ‘Murky’ rail measure could hurt Sites

Nigiri project mixes salmon and rice fields: An annual experiment to “plant” salmon in the rice fields of Knaggs Ranch fields aims to better explain how floodplains support strong salmon populations.  Dubbed the “Nigiri Project” for its sushi-like marriage of fish and rice, the research is a collaborative project among the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, the California Department of Water Resources and nonprofit organization California Trout.  This year, for the first time, the agricultural floodplain habitat experiment will compare food web productivity and fish growth in three different kinds of river habitat. … ”  Read more from the Daily Democrat here:  Nigiri project mixes salmon and rice fields

Ship that sank more than 60 years ago still causing marine chaos: The S.S. Jacob Luckenbach sank more then 60 years ago after colliding with another ship 17 miles southwest of the Golden Gate Bridge, but the 469-foot freighter is still posing an environmental hazard from its ocean grave, leaking hundreds of thousands of gallons of bunker oil that has left birds coated in the gunk, officials said Monday.  The sunken ship has been the source of several large oil spills along the Northern California coast since the 1970s, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and it is being blamed for another plague, long after officials believed they had gotten a handle on its spewing cargo. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Ship that sank more than 60 years ago still causing marine chaos

A nice glass of seawater? Drought forces Australia to rethink desalination:  “On the southeast coast of Australia, a A$5.7 billion ($4.1 billion) processing plant to turn the ocean into a source of drinking water has sat idle since it was built in 2012. That could change soon. The state of Victoria will decide by April whether to switch it on, sucking water from the Bass Strait through an underground tunnel into a complex of more than two dozen buildings in a seaside town south of Melbourne. At the heart of the facility is technology that can remove salt and supply as much as 150 billion liters (40 billion gallons) of water a year, or about a third of the city’s consumption. ... ”  Read more from Bloomberg News here:  A nice glass of seawater? Drought forces Australia to rethink desalination

Colorado, Wyoming plan for Colorado River water share:  “Here’s a question people in the west have long struggled over – who owns the water? It’s a question that came up in Colorado when landowners wanted to stop rafters from floating through what they believed was their property, and it’s now a pressing question on the Colorado River, which runs from the Rockies into Mexico. Two states, Wyoming and Colorado, are thinking of building reservoirs to store water, perhaps leasing it to a state that needs it more. Here’s Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards. ... ”  Listen to the story or read the transcript here:  Colorado, Wyoming plan for Colorado River water share

Flint scandal is already changing the water utility business:  “For Carrie Lewis, superintendent of Milwaukee Water Works, the Flint water crisis is a history lesson.  In the spring of 1993, two years before Lewis was hired to oversee the water treatment process in Wisconsin’s largest city, Milwaukee’s water system failed. Cryptosporidium, an intestinal parasite, entered the distribution pipes through the city’s Lake Michigan water intake. The bugs should have been killed by a battery of common purification measures: chlorination, flocculation, filtration. They weren’t.  The mistake resulted in the largest waterborne disease outbreak in United States history, and the consequences were grave. … ”  Read more from Circle of Blue here:  Flint scandal is already changing the water utility business

In regional news and commentary today …

City of Weed fears water shortage:  “The mayor of Weed has declared the need for an emergency city council meeting that is scheduled for Feb. 24 at 5:30 p.m. at Weed City Hall, 550 Main St.; the meeting is an opportunity for discussion regarding the city of Weed’s lease with Roseburg Forest Products for the city’s use of the of the Beaughan and Little Beaughan Springs water that will discontinue as of June 29.  The 50 year long lease that began in 1966 allowed the city of Weed to use 2.0 cubic feet per second of the Beaughan Springs water for the city’s principal water source. According to a press release from the city, in 1959 the lumber mill was owned by International Paper. … ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here:  City of Weed fears water shortage

Lake Almanor part of Sierra Institute project:In a continuing effort to preserve the health of the Upper Feather River Basin Watershed, the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment has selected Vincent Rogers to develop a basin-wide Fish Assessment and Restoration Plan.  Rogers is a Sierra Fellow based out of Chester and is a native Northern Californian, having grown up while moving between the small foothill and farm towns of the north state. … ”  Read more from Plumas County News here:  Lake Almanor part of Sierra Institute project

Hoping drought lessons stick for Sacramento water users despite rain:  “At the depth of California’s four-year drought, water-use experts found plenty of stark images to illustrate the urgent need to conserve. They pointed to half-empty Folsom Lake or once-floating boat docks aground on caked clay. Fallow fields and dying orchards echoed the dire message: Save water or perish.  Motivated by such examples, many residents got the message and turned off their taps. Homeowners let their lawns die and retooled their irrigation. They took shorter showers and converted bathrooms with low-flow toilets.  Then, it started to rain, and all those drought-driven lessons seemed to wash away. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Hoping drought lessons stick for Sacramento water users despite rain

Low voter participation so far in Paso Robles water district election:  “Voter participation has been light in the election to decide whether to form a Paso Robles groundwater basin management district, according to San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong.  Gong said Tuesday that his office mailed out about 7,200 ballots to registered voters in the basin and 4,800 ballots to property owners on Feb. 8. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Low voter participation so far in Paso Robles water district election

San Luis Obispo County: Diablo desal expansion, South County sewage recycling plant get official support:  “Two South County water projects — that could provide some 2,000 acre-feet of supplemental water for the Five Cities area each year — enjoyed broad support among San Luis Obispo County Supervisors and city officials on Tuesday.  “Our water supplies are in critical condition,” said Greg Ray, Grover Beach Public Works director. “The time to act is upon us.” ... ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Diablo desal expansion, South County sewage recycling plant get official support

Aging pipes causing leaks and wasting water in Kern County:  “There just seems to be leaks popping up everywhere across the county, and it just so happens that some of the leaks can be linked to a 50-year-old mistake made by local water companies.  The state of California has undergone four years of extreme drought. After seeing snowpack and lake levels at record lows, dying trees across the state and the many other impacts people are still discovering every day, state legislators began urging people to conserve water. That’s why Governor Brown issued his state of emergency to decrease state water use by 25 percent. February, the State Water Control Board decided to extend this regulation until October 2016 with minor adjustments. ... ”  Read more from Bakersfield Now here:  Aging pipes causing leaks and wasting water in Kern County

Metropolitan budgets no money for popular ‘cash for grass’ program:The Metropolitan Water District has no plans at the moment to continue funding an extremely popular turf removal program that has been credited with helping Southern Californians replace more than 100 million square feet of lawn.  Last year, in response to the continued drought, the district added a major injection of funding for conservation programs from its reserve funds. The injections turned what is typically a $20 million conservation budget into a whopping $450 million.  On Tuesday, the MWD’s Finance and Insurance Committee held a workshop aimed at developing a proposed budget for the next two fiscal years. ... ”  Read more from KPCC here:  Metropolitan budgets no money for popular ‘cash for grass’ program

Precipitation watch …

Two small systems to pass through California, otherwise dry and mild through the weekend:  From the National Weather Service: “Dry and mild conditions are expected to continue through Friday. On both Friday and Sunday night, weak systems will brush Northern California bringing little precipitation. Otherwise, the weekend is expected to be mostly dry and mild.”

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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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