Daily Digest: Loss of water during storms causes frustration; Water cutbacks draw flood of complaints as reservoirs rise; Newly released young salmon face ‘massacre’ by striped bass; and more …

In California water news today,
Loss of water during storms causes frustration; Water cutbacks draw flood of complaints as reservoirs rise; Rain boosts Friant’s chances for water; Newly released young salmon face ‘massacre’ by striped bass; Troubled waters: California’s salmon season facing big restrictions; Delta growers’ voluntary water cuts reap savings; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The California Water Commission meets at 9:30am:  Agenda items include an update on the draft final groundwater sustainability plan regulation and review of public comment received so far, and a public hearing on the draft of the regulations regarding the Water Storage Investment Program and commission guidance to staff on proposed 15-day changes to the regulation. Click here for the full agenda and webcast link.

In the news today …

Loss of water during storms causes frustration: Steady rains during the past week have restored California reservoirs to storage levels not seen in nearly four years, but swollen river flows into the Pacific Ocean renewed concerns from water users and elected officials about lost opportunities as billions of gallons of fresh water headed out to sea.  …  Though encouraged by storage increases in Northern California reservoirs, water experts noted that very little water was being transferred from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta into storage south of the delta for use during the summer and fall. They cited federal agency interpretations of Endangered Species Act restrictions to protect delta smelt as the cause. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Loss of water during storms causes frustration

Water cutbacks draw flood of complaints as reservoirs rise:  “Rick Williams stood on his dead front lawn near Sacramento, California, wondering why he still pays a drought surcharge on his water bill and cannot run his sprinklers as often as he needs when a nearby reservoir is so full it could overflow come spring.  After four years of catastrophic drought and nearly a year of mandatory water conservation measures, Williams is joining a growing chorus of consumers in the wetter parts of the state to call for an end to restrictions they see as overbearing. Their argument is even winning over some of the water utilities charged with implementing the rules. … ”  Read more from Reuters here:  Water cutbacks draw flood of complaints as reservoirs rise

Rain boosts Friant’s chances for water: Shasta Reservoir is filling up fast — at 3.7 million acre-feet of storage – and, for the first time in four years it could rise to 4.5 acre-feet capacity in coming weeks. … Because of the ample March rains and the need to plan for the irrigation season, Friant Water Authority CEO Jason Phillips thinks the Bureau of Reclamation will announce at least an initial water allocation for farms and cities this week. He’s hoping it will include water for Friant’s eastside farmers for the first time in several years. … ”  Read more here:  Rain boosts Friant’s chances for water

Newly released young salmon face ‘massacre’ by striped bass:  “There may be big problems lurking in the Sacramento River for the young fish that officials want some day to hatch in Battle Creek.  That was the message that some river anglers delivered to federal fisheries officials at a meeting in Red Bluff on Tuesday night.  The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is removing dams and other barriers on Battle Creek to restore 42 miles of it as a salmon and steelhead trout spawning stream. ... ”  Read more from the Redding Record Searchlight here:  Newly released young salmon face ‘massacre’ by striped bass

Troubled waters: California’s salmon season facing big restrictions:  “California’s commercial fish industry, already struggling with the devastating loss of the crab season, is likely to see its run of bad luck continue as new and far-reaching restrictions take aim at the state’s salmon opener in May.  Federal fishery regulators unveiled plans this week to limit this year’s chinook salmon catch in an effort to protect the state’s signature seafood amid the growing threats of a warming ocean and drought-parched rivers and creeks.  Three proposals offered this week by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, the agency that regulates West Coast fishing, call for reining in the places and times that commercial fishers can pursue salmon — cutting opportunities by up to one-half, according to some estimates. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Troubled waters: California’s salmon season facing big restrictions

Delta growers’ voluntary water cuts reap savings:  “In the darkest days of the drought last summer, when farmers up and down the Central Valley feared the state would cut off their water supply, a strange thing happened in the Delta.  Hundreds of growers agreed to voluntarily give up a share of their extraordinarily reliable water supply, in exchange for protection from the possibility of deeper, mandatory cuts.  Stranger still, some farmers actually invited state regulators to come and inspect their fields and make sure they were doing as they had promised. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Delta growers’ voluntary water cuts reap savings

In commentary today …

Saving for when March Miracle goes away:  The Sacramento Bee writes, “The snowpack is back and the water is rising. Between last weekend’s storms and this weekend’s forecast, drought-weary California appears to have gotten the March miracle we were all hoping for.  That’s the good news. The bad news is that, between this state’s natural climate and global warming, drought is now perpetually around the corner, and, as usual, people are already beginning to forget that. So as much as we hate to sound like a broken record – or a dripping faucet – it bears repeating: No, California, you can’t stop conserving water just because we have wet weather. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Saving for when March Miracle goes away

As lakes fill, the state squanders a good crisis, says the Chico Enterprise-Record: They write, “The drought soon will be over in the minds of many Californians — as soon as they see water going down the spillway at Lake Oroville and Shasta Lake. And while we will welcome that once-normal occurrence, it’s also a shame in an odd way.  Californians made small yet significant changes during a four-year drought — which, by the way, continues to linger in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.  We all learned to save water. We learned not to let water run down the sink. We learned that it’s OK to let the grass turn brown in the summer, that it’ll bounce back in winter. We learned about rain barrels and drought-tolerant landscaping and more efficient shower nozzles. We learned that you can kill grass without killing trees. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Editorial: As lakes fill, state squanders a good crisis

Californians must demand accountability for all this wasted water, says Lance Johnson:  He writes, “One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. Put into action, that looks like the federal water policy that sends millions of gallons of water to the ocean for the purpose of protecting Delta fish that continue to die.  Since 1992, federal water regulators have increased Delta outflow requirements repeatedly; they now total millions of acre-feet per year. Despite these releases, regulators have never been able to prove, through peer-reviewed science, that any Delta fish have benefited – not even during wet years. But that’s never stopped them from requiring more outflow the next year. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Californians must demand accountability for all this wasted water

In regional news and commentary today …

Groups file suit in Elk River watershed dispute:  “The Environmental Protection Information Center announced Tuesday that it has filed to intervene in a lawsuit to defend the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board’s decision to not authorize sediment discharge and other associated waste from logging operations into the Elk River watershed.  “The time is long past due to address the sources of pollution and recover the Elk River,” Rob DiPerna, EPIC’s forest and wildlife advocate, said in a press release. “The forest, and the watershed and its residents have suffered long enough.” ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Groups file suit in Elk River watershed dispute

Glenn County extends well moratorium: will consider options April 5:  “Landowners who want to put in new wells in Glenn County will need to wait. A moratorium on new wells put into place in late summer was due for a review Tuesday before the Board of Supervisors, but supervisors want to ask for advice from the Water Advisory Committee at least one more time.  The plan, as of Tuesday, is to put the issue on the agenda for the Board of Supervisors April 5. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Glenn County extends well moratorium: will consider options April 5

Bay Area reservoirs far from full: Conservation experts hope drought lessons last: While recent storms restored some of the state’s largest reservoirs to near-normal levels, those that millions of Bay Area residents rely on have yet to come close to recovering from the long-standing drought.  With a promising snowpack and hopeful for continued El Niño showers, state water officials may loosen up on California conservation mandates in the coming months.  Last weekend’s storm pounded much of the Bay Area and forecasters reported some areas — such as the San Francisco International Airport which most accurately reflects San Mateo County — are improving with precipitation hitting 95 percent of normal. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Journal here:  Bay Area reservoirs far from full: Conservation experts hope drought lessons last

Silicon Valley seeks local water sources:  “On August 1, 2015, a massive 8ft (2.4m)-tall pipeline suffered a rupture, sending a gusher of 15 million gallons (57 million liters) of water into a farmer’s field. The spill was not only a “loss” of precious water at the height of the drought but also signaled problems with a key piece of infrastructure for Silicon Valley – a pipeline that supplies drinking water for 1.8 million people in Santa Clara County and imports 40 percent of the area’s water via the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  The pipeline is owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, but Santa Clara Valley Water District (known locally as Valley Water District), the county’s wholesale water provider and manager, is responsible for maintenance and has been left holding the bill, which could top $20 million. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Silicon Valley seeks local water sources

Santa Barbara County reservoirs still waiting on impact from El Nino storms:  “While many Santa Barbara County residents are hoping for another “March Miracle,” El Niño winter rainstorms haven’t caused any runoff into Lake Cachuma, the major reservoir for the South Coast.  That means the only local increase in water supply is the rain that’s falling on the lake itself, said Tom Fayram, deputy public works director for the water resource division.  Fayram says it takes 10 to 15 inches of rain before there’s runoff for the Santa Ynez River. ... ”  Read more from Noozhawk here:  Santa Barbara County reservoirs still waiting on impact from El Nino storms

DWP unveils plan to punish water wasters, but it could take some time to implement:  “The revelation was as shocking as it was incomprehensible: Someone in Bel-Air used 11.8 million gallons of water in a single year.  Appalled officials had no choice but to react when they found out last fall. Councilman Paul Koretz called the consumption “a slap in the face to neighbors” who had conserved during four years of drought and demanded that the Department of Water and Power explain how it planned to deal with such “irresponsible” users.  Now, more than five months later, the city’s water utility has unveiled its plan to punish its most wasteful residents with hefty fines. ... ”   Read more from LA Times here:  DWP unveils plan to punish water wasters, but it could take some time to implement

East Valley Water District water recycling plant passes environmental hurdle:  “A proposal by the East Valley Water District to build a water recycling plant on the eastern edge of Highland crossed its first milestone Tuesday.  By a unanimous vote, the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, a water wholesaler for about 353 square miles of San Bernardino County, certified the proposed Sterling Natural Resources Center project, which would capture and treat East Valley Water District’s wastewater and add the output to the Bunker Hill Groundwater Basin, which is at a historic low level. … ”  Read more from the San Bernardino Sun here:  East Valley Water District water recycling plant passes environmental hurdle

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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