Daily Digest: California drought and drainage bills could collide on Capitol Hill; Odds of La Niña increase for next winter, bringing concerns the drought may drag on; Millions of chinook salmon released into California waterways; Restored wetlands could be a source of greenhouse gases; and more …

In California water news today, California drought and drainage bills could collide on Capitol Hill; Odds of La Niña increase for next winter, bringing concerns the drought may drag on; Drought fears ease but don’t vanish with the rain; Millions of chinook salmon released into California waterways; Restored wetlands could be a source of greenhouse gases; Metropolitan’s $175 million land deal raises alarms in the Delta; Bills advance on water markets, groundwater management; Feds: EPA fails to protect water from oilfield contamination; Big data could influence water rates in drought regions; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • Peter Moyle speaking tonight at the Yolo Basin Foundation’s Flyway Nights: Aquatic California: endemic fishes, endemic problems, endemic solutions  Click here for more information.

In the news today …

California drought and drainage bills could collide on Capitol Hill:  “The politics of California water is becoming three-dimensional chess in Congress as lawmakers balance competing anti-drought ideas with a proposed San Joaquin Valley irrigation drainage settlement that’s going to get bigger.  In a fresh gambit, a key House subcommittee on Wednesday approved controversial California water provisions that would steer more water to farmers. Soon, some of these same farmers will be seeking additional legislation to settle a long-running drainage dispute.  While the California drought and drainage proposals are distinct, they involve many of the same lawmakers, incite similar regional tensions and in the end could become entangled in each other’s fate. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  California drought and drainage bills could collide on Capitol Hill

Odds of La Niña increase for next winter, bringing concerns the drought may drag on:El Niño, the warming of the Pacific Ocean that brought Northern California its wettest winter in five years, easing the drought, is continuing to weaken and appears to be giving way to La Niña conditions, which historically have increased the chances of drier-than-normal weather in much of the state.  On Thursday, scientists at NOAA — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — and Columbia University said that there is a 71 percent chance of La Niña conditions being present in the Pacific Ocean by November, up from 57 percent a month ago.  “At this point, odds favor the development of La Niña by the fall,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. “And should we see La Niña develop, below-normal precipitation would be favored next winter across central and southern California.”… ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Odds of La Niña increase for next winter, bringing concerns the drought may drag on

Drought fears ease but don’t vanish with the rain: A wetter winter has dampened Californians’ anxiety about the drought, though large majorities remain deeply concerned about ongoing water shortages and committed to consuming less. Well over half of California voters dubbed an enduring lack of water a major problem, with 62 percent of Field Poll respondents calling the state of affairs “extremely serious.” But that still marked a sharp decline from October of 2015, when 76 percent of Californian voters called the drought extremely serious.  “Obviously the high point of public concern was back in October, prior to the current rainy season, because, hey, it hadn’t rained yet,” Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo said. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Drought fears ease but don’t vanish with the rain

Millions of chinook salmon released into California waterways:  “For the first time in years there’s enough water in Northern California rivers to safely release salmon, and it’s all thanks to El Nino.  Some of the salmon will be tracked as they make their way to the ocean.  The federal government is funding the release of millions of Baby Chinook salmon into Battle Creek at the Coleman Federal Hatchery outside Red Bluff. … ”  Read more from CBS San Francisco here:  Millions of chinook salmon released into California waterways

Restored wetlands could be a source of greenhouse gases: Tens of millions of dollars from California’s greenhouse gas reduction program are being used to restore wetlands.   Scientists have long known that wetlands can store, or sequester, carbon dioxide. They can also be a source of methane, a more potent greenhouse gas. A study from the US Geological Survey finds that restored wetlands can release enough methane to reduce or negate the benefits of carbon sequestration. The study looked at restored wetlands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in 2010 and 2011. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Restored wetlands could be a source of greenhouse gases

Metropolitan’s $175 million land deal raises alarms in the Delta:  “In a multimillion-dollar deal, Southern California’s major water provider is acquiring five tracts of land in the heart of the Sacramento Delta, where the state is proposing to re-engineer water delivery systems. With the land purchase, the Metropolitan Water District is also raising suspicions among its new neighbors.  Zurich American, a subsidiary of a Swiss insurance company, is selling Metropolitan about 20,000 acres, including Bacon Island, Bouldin Island, Webb Tract, most of Holland Tract and a piece of Chipps Island. ... ”  Read more from KQED here:  Metropolitan’s $175 million land deal raises alarms in the Delta

Bills advance on water markets, groundwater management: Legislation aimed at creating a centralized online water market platform cleared the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee on April 12.  AB 2304 by Assembly Member Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) in its current form would create the California Water Market Exchange within the Natural Resources Agency with responsibility for providing ready access to information about water available for transfer or exchange. The measure passed the committee on a 10-4 vote and next goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  Bills advance on water markets, groundwater management

Feds: EPA fails to protect water from oilfield contamination: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is failing in its mandate to protect underground drinking water reserves from oilfield contamination, according to a federal review singling out lax EPA oversight in California, where the state routinely allowed oil companies to dump wastewater into some drinking water aquifers.  The U.S. Government Accountability Office review also sampled EPA operations around the country before concluding federal regulators were failing to collect paperwork and make on-site inspections necessary to ensure states are enforcing the Safe Drinking Water Act when it comes to oilfield operations. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Feds: EPA fails to protect water from oilfield contamination

Big data could influence water rates in drought regions:Experts say the so-called “big data revolution” is providing lesson for California during the drought.  Data helps companies estimate what the demand will be for certain products. Matthew Kahn, an economics professor at the University of Southern California, recently explained in an opinion piece in the San Francisco Chronicle that this information could benefit water providers as well by enabling them to adjust the cost of water ... ”  Read more from Water Online here:  Big data could influence water rates in drought regions

In commentary today …

GOP should drop effort to gut the Endangered Species Act, says the Sacramento Bee:  They write, “Once again, House Republicans have proposed to weaken the Endangered Species Act at the expense of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a day after the Metropolitan Water District committed to spending $175 million to buy five Delta islands.  The combination is enough to give some Northern California environmentalists the willies. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  GOP should drop effort to gut the Endangered Species Act

Obsolete California water system lets farmers grow hay in a drought, says Christopher Thornberg:  He writes, “El Niño has brought much-needed rain back to California, but this doesn’t mean we should stop talking about water policy as the state can quickly veer back into drier conditions. Dealing with the problem that lies at the heart of the water crisis now will help ensure the state is able to prosper through the toughest times, because the state has plenty of water — it just uses it in very wasteful ways.  There has been a lot of finger-pointing over the water shortage. Blaming luxurious lawns in the south, rapidly growing acres of nut trees in the Central Valley, or environmental protections that govern wilderness areas and rivers. But blaming users misses the point. It is the broken allocation system itself that is to blame. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Obsolete California water system lets farmers grow hay in a drought

In regional news and commentary today …

Humboldt Bay:  Army Corps announces $7.5 million in funding for dredging:  “Millions of dollars from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will allow for dredging needed to correct unusually heavy winter shoaling that has nearly closed the entrance and channels of Humboldt Bay.  The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District announced Wednesday that the Corps has allocated $7.5 million, which is $5 million more than the amount budgeted for annual dredging.  “The cavalry is on their way,” Peter Mull, a civil engineer and project manager for the Corps, said in a statement. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Army Corps announces $7.5 million in funding for dredging

GCID approves development of Water Resource Plan; holds up supply project:The Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District board of directors unanimously voted at its board meeting last week to create a Water Resource Plan, putting a hold on the Groundwater Supplemental Supply Project.  In a letter to “interested parties” the district stated, “this is to inform you that the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District Board of Directors has made the decision to suspend the environmental review process for the Groundwater Supplemental Supply Project (project) and corresponding Environmental Impact Report, and instead independently pursue the development of a comprehensive Water Resource Plan. … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  GCID approves development of Water Resource Plan; holds up supply project

Yuba River relicensing: Big numbers, big project:  “Millions of dollars in flood control projects, increased in-stream flows to strengthen aquatic habitat and upgrades to campgrounds and boat ramps around New Bullards Bar reservoir — those are the changes in store when the Yuba County Water Agency receives a new federal license to operate its project on the Yuba River.  But when that new license will arrive is an unknown, and it’s likely years away.  The current license for the Yuba River Development Project will expire April 30. Until a new license is issued, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will grant annual licenses to allow the project to continue to legally operate under the conditions of the original license, said Geoff Rabone, program manager for YCWA. … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Yuba River relicensing: Big numbers, big project

Stanislaus River deal avoids water war: Farms, fish & cities taken care of for a year:  “A deal hammered out by South San Joaquin Irrigation District, Oakdale Irrigation District and the State Water Resource Control Board  avoids a major fight over water on the Stanislaus River in the coming  months.  It is in sharp contrast to the animosity that flared up last spring when Sacramento officials  were implying they would commandeer water that SSJID and OID holds legal and superior rights to in order to meet fish flow needs.  And while it doesn’t address long-range proposals by the state to increase unimpaired water flows on the Stanislaus River that in most years can only be accomplished by dipping into OID and SSJID water, it does lay out the an agreement between three agencies for managing New Melones Reservoir through the end of the year. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  Stanislaus River deal avoids water war: Farms, fish & cities taken care of for a year  See also: Local sentiments low over proposed New Melones levels, from My Mother Lode

Turlock and Ceres advance water treatment plant: An engineering firm got the OK on Wednesday to refine plans for a river water treatment plant proposed for Turlock and Ceres.  West Yost Associates will get $2.007 million for a year of work, including an estimate of how much water bills could rise if the project goes through.  The long-discussed plant on the Tuolumne River would supplement wells that now provide all of the cities’ water. The wells can be stressed during drought and exceed health standards at times. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Turlock and Ceres advance water treatment plant

Fresno County Supervisor gets heated at meeting over water rate hike:  “A Fresno County supervisor overflowing with passion in a battle over expensive water in a poor, rural community. The county is considering whether to increase water rates to people in the far west who already pay a steep cost for water they can’t even drink.  Like their neighbors in Cantua Creek, the small Fresno County farm community of El Porvenir is stuck with an expensive water system they can barely use. … ”  Read more from Fresno’s Channel 30 here:  Fresno County Supervisor gets heated at meeting over water rate hike

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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