Daily Digest: Delta smelt populations plummet 2nd year in a row; Sewage plants are failing to kill lethal superbugs unleashed from hospitals; Pits of drilling waste threaten water, air safety, report charges; and more …

In California water news today, California slammed with rain and snow; more on the way; Rain, flooding hit Sacramento region; Is El Nino finally ending California’s drought?; Delta Smelt Populations Plummet 2nd Year In A Row; Sewage plants are failing to kill lethal superbugs unleashed from hospitals; Pits of drilling waste threaten water, air safety, report charges; There’s a cancer-causing chemical in drinking water, but California’s not regulating it; Why tracking California’s snowpack is important; Bear River dam project discussion heating up in Placer, Nevada counties; Diamond Valley boat ramp a monument to water woes; and Time for the legislature to get serious about water, says Devon Mathis

In the news today …

California slammed with rain and snow; more on the way: Northern California was slammed by powerful storms over the weekend that dumped rain across coastal regions and plenty of snow in the Sierra, while Southern California was expected to see another round of showers and thunderstorms Monday after a rainy weekend.  Rain totals topped 8 inches in the coastal mountains of Monterey, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties between Friday and Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. Cities and suburbs in the Bay Area saw totals ranging from 1.5 inches to more than 4 inches. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  California slammed with rain and snow; more on the way

Rain, flooding hit Sacramento region: Ashalana Mcclanahan and her friend were asleep Saturday night when rising water started seeping into her makeshift house on an island in the middle of Steelhead Creek in Sacramento.  By morning, after a night of raging storms, the house was partially filled with water and the creek was so high that they had to call for the Sacramento Fire Department to come rescue them. Like Mcclanahan, others around the Sacramento region had to deal with wet, stormy conditions again throughout the weekend after a few weeks of dry, sunny days. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Rain, flooding hit Sacramento region

Is El Nino finally ending California’s drought?  “This was supposed to be California’s year.  After three years of an unprecedented drought, a “Godzilla” El Niño formed in the western Pacific. Previous years with strong El Niños had been unusually wet, with the warm patch sending one wet system after another rolling into the region. California had essentially missed two years’s worth of precipitation. Surveying the wet season to come last fall, meteorologists said that El Niño was how it might restore the balance.  Now, six weeks remain in the state’s annual rainy season, and results are mixed. Rain is drenching the Bay Area this weekend, but California as a whole seems on track to have only an average precipitation year. ... ”  Read more from The Atlantic here:  Is El Nino finally ending California’s drought?

Delta Smelt Populations Plummet 2nd Year In A Row:Populations of the threatened Delta smelt have plummeted to the lowest in history.  The three-inch fish is often the focus of California’s water wars.  Every fall and spring, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife conducts trawls to determine populations of the threatened Delta Smelt. This year the department hasn’t netted more than seven fish in each trawl.  … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Delta Smelt Populations Plummet 2nd Year In A Row

Sewage plants are failing to kill lethal superbugs unleashed from hospitals:  “Every day Southern California hospitals unleash millions of gallons of raw sewage into municipal sewers.  The malodorous muck flows miles to one of the region’s sewage plants, where it is treated with the rest of the area’s waste and then released as clear water into a stream or directly to the Pacific.  Scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency recently announced they had discovered a lethal superbug — the same one that caused outbreaks at UCLA and two other Los Angeles-area hospitals — in sewage at one of those plants. They declined to name the facility. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Sewage plants are failing to kill lethal superbugs unleashed from hospitals

Pits of drilling waste threaten water, air safety, report charges: Hundreds of open pits containing toxic waste produced by oil and gas drilling are threatening groundwater in California, and regulators have failed to protect drinking and irrigation water supplies from the danger, an environmental watchdog group concludes in a report set to be released Monday.  Oil industry leaders deny that the pits, which are primarily in the Central Valley, have contaminated any groundwater. But the report by Clean Water Action argues that oversight of the waste is so flimsy that the state should immediately prohibit disposal of wastewater in the evaporation pits. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Pits of drilling waste threaten water, air safety, report charges

There’s a cancer-causing chemical in drinking water, but California’s not regulating it:  “I have to admit, after the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, I’m a little freaked out about what’s in my tap water. So when I opened my water bill from the city of Fresno recently, I decided to actually read the “consumer confidence report” for drinking water. And I found this footnote in tiny print: … ”  Read more from KQED Science here: There’s a cancer-causing chemical in drinking water, but California’s not regulating it

Why tracking California’s snowpack is important:Most of the rain that reaches the ground along the Central Coast actually begins as snow high in the atmosphere where temperatures are less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the freezing point of water.  As the snow falls, it usually encounters warmer air and melts, changing to rain. If the temperature remains below or near freezing, snow will hit the ground.  Much of California’s precious precipitation falls as snow over the Sierra Nevada. This snowpack acts as a reservoir. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Why tracking California’s snowpack is important

Bear River dam project discussion heating up in Placer, Nevada counties:  “Questions and comments about Nevada Irrigation District’s plans for a new dam between Meadow Vista and Colfax promise to heat up the wintry air at meetings this month.  The Grass Valley-based district is moving forward on completion of key environmental studies and approvals by 2017 for a 110,000 acre-foot reservoir on the Bear River. Formerly called the Parker Dam project, the new effort will be the subject of sessions in Grass Valley on March 9 and the Lake of the Pines area on March 10 to determine the scope of topics in an environmental study. … ”  More from the Auburn Journal here:  Bear River dam project discussion heating up in Placer, Nevada counties

Diamond Valley boat ramp a monument to water woes:  “Gabriel Farias lugged his kayak down the steep, massive, concrete launch ramp at Diamond Valley Lake, Metropolitan Water District’s big reservoir near Hemet.  As he reached the end of the 790-foot ramp – recently extended 50 feet by the district – he found a ribbon of dirt.  The ramp still doesn’t reach the water. ... ”  Read more from the Press Enterprise here:  Diamond Valley boat ramp a monument to water woes

In commentary today …

Time for the legislature to get serious about water, says Devon Mathis:  He writes, “For the past year, there has been a lot of optimism surrounding the potential relief from the five-year drought that El Niño could bring to California. But though we have seen our rivers swell and our mountains capped with snow, the precipitation from El Niño is not enough to provide a long-term solution to California’s water crisis.  California’s water woes are not simply from a lack of rainfall and changes in the climate; they exist because of a fundamental lack of infrastructure that even in times of record rainfall is not sufficient for our state’s needs. … ”  Read more from the Contra Costa Times here:  Time for the legislature to get serious about water

More news and commentary in the weekend edition …

Precipitation watch …

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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