Daily Digest, weekend edition: Atmospheric rivers: A blessing and a curse; More hard work ahead for water management, says Felicia Marcus; Lessons for California as a dam falls and a river moves; and more …

In California water news this weekend, Atmospheric rivers: A blessing and a curse; West Coast awash in water for first time in a long while; More hard work ahead for water management, says Felicia Marcus; Lessons for California as a dam falls and a river moves; Timely snowstorms help avert another disastrous year for California ski industry; El Nino hasn’t helped the Colorado River basin much; and more …

In the news this weekend …

Atmospheric rivers: A blessing and a curse:  “An atmospheric river is a recently coined weather feature that is both a necessity and, all too often, a destructive menace particularly for those near the West Coast of the United States.  Put simply, an atmospheric river (AR) is a thin, but long plume of moisture in the atmosphere that stretches from the tropics or subtropics into higher latitudes.  The term was first used in a 1994 research paper and is now widely used by meteorologists.  A more recent study published in August 2015 by the University of Reading and University of Iowa questions whether the term “atmospheric river” is misleading. … ”  Read more from The Weather Channel here:  Atmospheric rivers: A blessing and a curse

West Coast awash in water for first time in a long while:  “The first West Coast waves of a week of powerful storms arrived to provide strong evidence March will not be as parched as the month that preceded it.  Steady rain fell in Northern California on Saturday and was expected to go statewide Sunday. Fresh and growing snow blanketed the slopes of the Sierra Nevada, ending a dry spell and raising hopes the drought-stricken state can get much needed precipitation.  Droves of snowboarders, skiers and sledders packed Sierra slopes while tourists braved wet weather and visited San Francisco landmarks before an even more blustery storm arrived later in the day. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  West Coast awash in water for first time in a long while

More hard work ahead for water management, says Felicia Marcus: California has water problems. Even before the drought, fish in rivers were struggling, groundwater is polluted and there is not enough water to meet demand.  That’s all reality, said Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, who was in Chico on Friday to talk water.  The event was the 24th annual meeting of Northern California Water Association attended by several hundred people at Sierra Nevada Brewery. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  More hard work ahead for water management, says Felicia Marcus

Lessons for California as a dam falls and a river moves:  “The glassy, cold Carmel River surged through a little valley in the Santa Lucia Mountains, cascading in front of a half-dozen workers and observers one day last week down a series of rock outcroppings, as if its sinuous path had been designed by nature.  Nature, of course, had nothing to do with it. The half-mile section of river, with steppingstones, pools and a tableau of freshly planted trees and bushes along the bank, flows through what was once the flooded plain of the San Clemente Dam, a Monterey County landmark for 94 years until it was removed last year.  The Carmel was diverted around the dam site into a channel fashioned out of a historic creek bed. The $83 million dam removal and river restoration project was the most ambitious in California history — and could now provide lessons in a state beset by aging infrastructure and reliant on balancing environmental needs with a thirst for water. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Lessons for California as a dam falls and a river moves

Timely snowstorms help avert another disastrous year for California ski industry:Peter Smith is dreaming of a white Independence Day. … If big snow dumps continue through spring, Smith said, his ski club could schedule an extra trip to Mammoth Mountain for the Fourth of July weekend.  “The past couple of seasons have been difficult for us, but this season every one of our ski trips has been sold out,” said Smith, president of the Burbank-based Wailers Ski Club. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Timely snowstorms help avert another disastrous year for California ski industry

El Nino hasn’t helped the Colorado River basin much: El Niño has been a washout so far for the Colorado River Basin, which has led to a lower than normal forecast for the all-important spring-summer runoff into Lake Powell.  This week, the federal government’s Colorado River Basin Forecast Center predicted that the lake at the Utah border will get 80 percent of normal runoff between April and July. That was a lower forecast than in earlier months. In large part, that’s traced to a warm, dry February across the seven-state Colorado River Basin. … ” Read more from the Arizona Daily Star here:  El Nino hasn’t helped the Colorado River basin much

In commentary this weekend …

Dirty water isn’t just a Flint problem, points out the LA Times:  They write, “From a California vantage point, Flint’s water troubles can appear a bit alien. Those folks in Michigan have seen lots of hard times, with the decline of the U.S. auto-making industry collapsing the state’s economy, vaporizing jobs and shrinking the tax base. But clean water — they have plenty of that, right? They are barely an hour’s drive from Lake Huron, one of the planet’s largest virtually inexhaustible freshwater supplies. Parched California should be so lucky. With our crystal clear snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada, the Rockies and the Cascades, our problem is volume, not quality.  Or is it? … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Dirty water isn’t just a Flint problem, points out the LA Times

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Poor season forecast for Klamath salmon:  “A dismal crab season may soon be followed by a poor turnout of fall run Chinook salmon in the Klamath River this year.  The California and Oregon Departments of Fish and Wildlife estimate there to be 142,200 Klamath River fall run Chinook salmon in the Pacific Ocean this year, which is nearly a third of last year’s estimate and the second lowest predicted run size since at least 1996.  For Stillwater Sciences senior fish biologist Joshua Strange, the low prediction is yet another indicator of the combined effects of climate change and the ongoing California drought. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Poor season forecast for Klamath salmon

South San Francisco:  SFPUC to remove 35 trees as part of groundwater project: Beginning as early as Monday, 35 trees will be removed along El Camino Real between Orange Avenue and Southwood Drive as part of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s regional groundwater storage and recovery project. The utility said the trees need to be removed so that it can install an 8-inch diameter pipe, which would provide customers with water during a drought or other emergency. The work could damage the root systems of the trees, some of which are in poor health, and pose a hazard.  The trees will be replaced, according to the utility. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  South San Francisco: SFPUC to remove 35 trees as part of groundwater project

Residents north of Clovis could face eminent domain by city for water project: Residents north of Clovis are concerned about the city’s plans to pay them for letting highly treated sewage from its water recycling plant flow through a channel bordering their properties.  The Clovis City Council on Monday night will consider approving a “resolution of necessity” to move toward eminent domain proceedings so the city can use the channel and send water to the San Joaquin River.  Since the plant opened seven years ago, the city has sent the treated water into Fancher Creek to recharge underground supplies without any complaints from residents or growers, said Luke Serpa, the city’s public utilities director. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Residents north of Clovis could face eminent domain by city for water project

Orange County relies heavily on the withering, over-allocated Colorado River: For the past five years, as drought sucked dry California’s water sources and depleted its reservoirs, Southern California water managers have turned increasingly to the region’s large out-of-state water source: the Colorado River.  Now, Orange County, which draws up to half its annual supply from the river that snakes from the Rocky Mountains to Mexico, and other thirsty coastal communities are facing increased competition for reduced flows from the drought-strangled Colorado.  Experts warn that if water availability and demand aren’t balanced through conservation, recycling plants and water desalination facilities costing billions of dollars, everybody’s cut of the river will shrink and consumers’ water rates will inevitably rise. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Orange County relies heavily on the withering, over-allocated Colorado River

Southern California bighorn sheep get water to guzzle at marine base:  “They scale mountains, sprint across rocky terrain and can withstand the Mojave Desert’s extreme heat and cold, all with horns attached to their heads that can weigh as much as 30 pounds.  Desert bighorn sheep, one of the most iconic animals of California’s vast desert, may seem like an unlikely resident of the nation’s largest marine combat training center. And yet the animal is at home in a place about building endurance.  “They can survive in one of the harshest environments we have,” said Regina Abella, desert bighorn sheep coordinator for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “They’re very agile.” … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Southern California bighorn sheep get water to guzzle at marine base

Precipitation watch …

From the National Weather Service: Storm #1 is now exiting the region, but Storm #2 will quickly follow on its heels. The biggest impact with Storm #2 will be over the mountains, as very high snowfall rates, much lower snow levels, and gusty winds will likely cause dangerous travel conditions. The Valley and foothill locations will likely see less rain than Storm #1 brought, but creeks and streams are still running high and localized flooding will still be possible. Gusty winds won’t be quite as strong as on Saturday, but could still cause localized power outages.”

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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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