Daily Digest: State snowpack has changed a lot in the last year – as has Californians attitude about water; Drought rules likely to be relaxed; Can Silicon Valley growth be water smart? and more …

In California water news today, State snowpack has changed a lot in the last year – as has Californians attitude about water; Drought rules likely to be relaxed; Unimpressive El Nino leaves California in water limbo; Improved spring snowpack won’t end drought; Senate Committee OKs bill on excessive water use; A new strategy for drought-stressed cities: graywater recycling; and more …

In the news today …

Drought rules likely to be relaxed:  “With the wettest winter in five years having taken the hard edges off the historic drought and a key Sierra snowpack reading Wednesday expected to show big gains, Californians can look forward to substantial relief from mandatory statewide water restrictions.  “We are likely to ease the rules or lift the rules,” said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board. “We are in better shape.” ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Drought rules likely to be relaxed

State snowpack has changed a lot in the last year – as has Californians attitude about water: One year ago Friday, Frank Gehrke hiked out to Phillips Station and stuck a tube onto a tuft of brownish-green grass. There was no snow, but Gehrke had quite an audience.  A gaggle of reporters and even Gov. Jerry Brown had assembled at the outpost 90 miles from Sacramento to watch Gehrke work and bear witness to the severity of California’s drought.  What followed was a historic executive order from Brown that required a statewide 25% cut in urban water use and set in motion a fundamental rethinking about how Californians use the precious resource.  On Wednesday, when Gehrke hikes out to the field again, he’ll have something to measure. But the snow situation isn’t the only thing that’s changed in a year. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  State snowpack has changed a lot in the last year – as has Californians’ attitude about water

Unimpressive El Nino leaves California in water limbo:The rain storms and blizzards that were supposed to come with El Niño were conspicuously non-biblical in California this winter, leaving the state in an ecological limbo that has regulators thinking about easing water-use restrictions in some places but not in others.  While the weather cheered ski resorts hit hard by the historic drought and brought some reservoirs to their highest points in years, in the end it dropped less snow than average in the Sierra, where more than a third of the state’s water comes from. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Unimpressive El Nino leaves California in water limbo

Improved spring snowpack won’t end drought:  “State drought surveyors will trudge through deep snow Wednesday to manually measure what could be close to a normal Sierra Nevada snowpack for this time of year. … An El Nino weather system has delivered considerably more wet weather this year — mostly in Northern California — but not enough to end the drought, said Doug Carlson, a state Department of Water Resources spokesman. ... ”  Read more from the Associated Press here:  Improved spring snowpack won’t end drought

Senate Committee OKs bill on excessive water use:  “Legislation aimed at curbing excessive water use during droughts cleared the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee on Tuesday. SB 814 by Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) now heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee.  As amended March 17, the bill would prohibit excessive water use when a statewide drought emergency has been declared and require urban water suppliers to identify and restrict excessive use through one of two methods: adoption of an excessive water use ordinance or establishment of a rate structure that includes tiers, water budgets and penalties or surcharges for excessive water use. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  Senate Committee OKs bill on excessive water use

A new strategy for drought-stressed cities: graywater recycling:Many regions of the United States are struggling with water shortages. Large areas of the West are contending with moderate to severe drought, while California is now in the fifth year of one of the most extreme droughts in its history. Even non-arid regions, such as the Southeast, are not exempt from water shortages. At the same time, rapid population growth is increasing water demand in many of the nation’s most water-scarce regions, including California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas and Florida.  In these conditions, some state and local governments are looking for innovative ways to save water. One strategy gaining increasing attention is using graywater ... ”  Read more from the Conversation here:  A new strategy for drought-stressed cities: graywater recycling

In regional news and commentary today …

Mountain Counties water purveyors rescind emergency drought declarations:While the drought conditions that formed the basis of the Governor’s proclamation and Emergency Urban Water Conservation Restrictions exist in some parts of the state, water suppliers within the watersheds of the Mountain Counties yield normal water supply conditions.  The El Dorado Irrigation District (EID), Georgetown Divide Public Utility District (GDPUD), Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) and Nevada Irrigation District (NID), have lifted their drought emergency declarations because of normal water supply conditions. Due to the present hydrologic conditions each district has declared the drought in their service area over, and has called upon the State Water Resources Control Board to remove the drought restrictions in their region. … ” Read more from the Mountain Counties Water Resources Association here:  Mountain Counties water purveyors rescind emergency drought declarations

Sacramento City Council passes water, wastewater increases: The Sacramento City Council voted Tuesday to increase water and wastewater utility rates by nearly 45 percent by July 2019.  There will be a 10 percent hike in water rates and a 9 percent increase for wastewater annually for the next four fiscal years, starting July 1, 2016.  City Manager John Shirey joined Department of Utilities Director Bill Busath and Financial Services Manager Susan Goodison to present the rate increases to the council.  “I know that these rate increases are not easy for you to vote on, but they are nonetheless necessary if we are going to continue our investments, continue to upgrade our infrastructure,” Shirey said. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Sacramento City Council passes water, wastewater increases

In search of mud to save San Francisco Bay:  “Along the San Francisco Bay, just beyond the din of gridlock, industry and residential lawn mowers, an ecological transformation is quietly unfolding. A glance at satellite images or out of the flight window reveals a striking quilted landscape of green, red, orange and yellow colors hemmed to Silicon Valley.  The colors are from solar evaporation ponds used to make salt—greens from algae in low salinity ponds, orange hues from brine shrimp as the water gets saltier, and deep reds from pigments formed on the Dunaliella algae in the ponds where it’s so salty it’s called pickle. These are the remnants of the Bay’s centuries-old industry of evaporating water to refine salt. And they are slowly yielding to a curious human-driven experiment. … ”  Read more from Scientific American here:  In search of mud to save San Francisco Bay

San Jose cleans up decades old trash and e-waste from dry creeks:  “There’s at least one silver lining to California’s four-year drought. In San Jose, volunteers have been able to clean out decades old garbage stuck at the bottom of dry creek beds.  “This past year, the creek levels were really low, because it was the fourth year of drought. And so, in some places there was no water in parts of the creek,” Emily Kurth of the city’s Environmental Services Department told KCBS.  Kurth said that was a good thing for one reason: volunteers were able to clean out tons of old garbage that’s been waterlogged for decades. … ”  Read more from CBS News here: San Jose cleans up decades old trash and e-waste from dry creeks

Can Silicon Valley growth be water smart?  “The 12-acre (4.85-hectare) lot at the intersection of Delaware Drive and Concar Street in San Mateo has been reduced to dirt, with the rubble of its previous incarnation (a Kmart) hauled away. Behind the chain link fence cloaked in green cloth are cement mixers and bulldozers preparing for what comes next.  Near the confluence of Highways 92 and 101, and next door to the Hayward Park Caltrain station, this is prime real estate in coveted Silicon Valley where development is trying to keep pace with expanding tech companies and increasing population. Soon this will be Station Park Green, a mixed-use development with 599 residential units, 10,000 square feet (930 square meters) of office space and 60,000 square feet of retail space. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Can Silicon Valley growth be water smart?

Santa Cruz County water agencies to change inconsistent basin boundaries:  “Under a historical law passed in 2014, water agencies in California must replenish troubled basins by 2040.  But the state and local water managers have different maps that say which basin belongs to which agency. Years ago, the Department of Water Resources separately defined the boundaries for basins that now require management under the new law.  The deadline to correct any inconsistencies is March 31, so Santa Cruz County water agencies are asking the state to modify its boundary designations to match the local designations. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  Santa Cruz County water agencies to change inconsistent basin boundaries

Modesto Irrigation District & Turlock Irrigation District extend agreement on operating Don Pedro reservoir:  “The Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts have added five years to their 1990 agreement on how to manage Don Pedro Reservoir.  The extension will maintain the status quo at the massive Tuolumne River impoundment while it completes the renewal of its federal license, said Wes Monier, strategic issues and planning manager at TID, in a memo to his board.  That process was expected to be complete this year, but will go on for at least a couple more years as flows for fish downstream and other issues are hashed out. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Modesto Irrigation District & Turlock Irrigation District extend agreement on operating Don Pedro reservoir

Santa Barbara: Environmental watchdog urges Santa Barbara City Council to redo desal plant intake study: As Santa Barbara city’s desalination plant moves closer to activation, a local environmental watchdog is asking the city to revise a study on the feasibility of alternatives to make the plant less environmentally harmful. The City Council rejected Santa Barbara’s Channelkeeper request to re-do the study last week.  Channelkeeper’s Executive Director Kira Redmond said, “We’ve been urging the city to look at more environmentally sound ways of getting water into the desal plant,” said Kira Redmond. … ”  Read more here:  Santa Barbara: Environmental watchdog urges Santa Barbara City Council to redo desal plant intake study

Water issue could cost Coachella millions of dollars:  “The presence of a metallic element that at high levels has been linked to kidney and liver damage in Coachella’s drinking water could cost the city millions of dollars a year as it works to comply with new state regulations.  In 2014, the California Department of Public Health approved a maximum contaminant level of 10 parts per billion for chromium-6 in drinking water, making it the only state to regulate the specific chromium compound. All five of the Coachella Water Authority’s wells have chromium-6 levels slightly above the state standard. ... ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Water issue could cost Coachella millions of dollars

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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