Daily Digest: Klamath Dam removal could boost water supplies; Putting every drop of water to use; State Water Project increases water allocations; Extreme and exceptional drought decline in CA; and more …

In California water news today, Klamath Dam removal could boost water supplies; Putting every drop of water to use; State Water Project increases water allocations; Extreme and exceptional drought decline in California; Could more Delta pumping end groundwater overdraft?; Committee approves spending bill with California drought provisions led by Valadao and Calvert; Groundwater regulatory bill advances; Republican Senate effort again fails to block water rule; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The Central Valley Flood Protection Board will meet beginning at 9am at Sacramento City Hall Council Chambers.  Agenda items include a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) presentation on American River Common Features – General Reevaluation Report and Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report and DWR maintenance area budgets for fiscal year 2016–17. Click here to watch on webcastFor more information and the full agenda, click here.

In the news today …

Klamath Dam removal could boost water supplies: It doesn’t seem possible that removing four dams could actually improve water supplies. But that is one potential result of the recently approved deal to remove dams on the Klamath River.  The agreement, announced on April 6 by the U.S. Department of Interior, will likely become the largest dam removal project ever undertaken in the United States. It involves removing four dams owned by PacificCorp on the Klamath River by 2020: Iron Gate, Copco 1 and Copco 2 (all in California) and J.C. Boyle (in Oregon).  One of the unusual facts about these dams is that none serves as a water supply. Instead, they function solely to produce hydroelectric power. But modernizing them to satisfy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission relicensing rules requires a greater investment than their energy output is worth, which is why PacifiCorp supports dam removal. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Klamath Dam removal could boost water supplies

Putting every drop of water to use:  “As El Nino was producing some powerful storms this winter, officials from a water district serving farms just outside of Sacramento got an idea.  They opened the gates of a swelling Cache Creek and let the flood waters flow into the Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District’s system of irrigation canals.  The canals’ dirt lining is porous enough to allow the water to seep into the aquifers, recharging a groundwater supply that’s becoming more and more important to growers.  “Normally in wintertime they keep the side gates closed,” said Rachael Long, a University of California Cooperative Extension farm adviser in Yolo County. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Putting every drop of water to use

State Water Project increases water allocations: With runoff and spring rains filling reservoirs, State Water Project officials have increased the amount of water allocations to most of its recipients to 60 percent.  State Department of Water Resources officials today announced they increased allocations to State Water Project customers from 10 percent to 60 percent.  The city of Redding, Bella Vista Water District and other North State Water agencies receive water allocations from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project, which includes Lake Shasta, Whiskeytown and Trinity lakes.  Lake Oroville is the State Water Project’s northern-most reservoir. … ”  Read more from the Redding Searchlight-Record here:  State Water Project increases water allocations

Extreme and exceptional drought decline in California:  “The U.S. Drought Monitor says extreme and exceptional drought was reduced slightly in California last week and, for the first time since the week of July 2013, there is no exceptional drought in Nevada.  “Little or no precipitation fell on the areas of dryness and drought in the Far West from the southeastern fringes of Washington southward through Oregon, California, and Nevada, but with the wet season winding down (especially in California), its impact on the long-term drought situation and the conditions being set up for the summer dry season are coming into better focus,” according to the report released April 21. ... ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Extreme and exceptional drought decline in California

Could more Delta pumping end groundwater overdraft?Is the drought over or not?  For the sinking aquifer underneath Kings County that keeps all those crops alive on the surface, the answer is a resounding “no” despite improved rainfall this past winter.  Based on a recent entry in the California WaterBlog, a site where University of California, Davis, academics post research on the state’s complex water issues, putting a serious dent in the groundwater overdraft problem in western Kings County would require both more water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River delta and more water set aside for groundwater recharge instead of going to crops. … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here:  Could more Delta pumping end groundwater overdraft?

Committee approves spending bill with California drought provisions led by Valadao and Calvert:  “The House Appropriations Committee approved a spending bill on Tuesday that includes measures led by U.S. Reps. David Valadao (R-CA) and Ken Calvert (R-CA) to address the California drought crisis.  The committee-approved fiscal year 2017 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill outlines $37.4 billion in federal spending on national defense nuclear weapons activities, the Army Corps of Engineers, and energy and water infrastructure projects.  The bill also includes key provisions addressing the California drought crisis that were spearheaded by Valadao and Calvert, including delta pumping requirements and authorization to increase pumping to capture storm water runoff. ... ”  Read more from the Ripon Advance here:  Committee approves spending bill with California drought provisions led by Valadao and Calvert

Groundwater regulatory bill advances: A Sen. Lois Wolk bill that faces opposition from the counties, the cities and agriculture passed the Finance and Governance Committee on a 5-2 vote this week.  Wolk, D-Davis, said the legislation is a reaction to a sharp increase in the draw of groundwater through new and deeper wells across the state, and the need to protect those aquifers.  “This is a serious problem that affects everyone, and it’s getting worse,” Wolk said in a statement released through her office. … ”  Read more from the Fairfield Republic here:  Groundwater regulatory bill advances

Republican Senate effort again fails to block water rule:  “Democrats have again blocked a Republican proposal that would have forced the Obama administration to withdraw a federal rule to protect small streams and wetlands from development and pollution.  An amendment sponsored by North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven did not get the 60 votes needed to stop the provocative rule.  Thursday’s vote was the latest effort by Republicans to check the water rule, which they call an example of President Barack Obama’s overreach. Most Democrats support the Environmental Protection Agency rule, saying it will safeguard drinking water for 117 million Americans. … ”  More from the Fresno Bee here:  Republican Senate effort again fails to block water rule

In commentary today …

California lifestyle relies on Delta water, says John Laird:  He writes, “State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, earlier this month called for a “Plan B” to replace WaterFix, the state’s proposal to upgrade 50-year-old infrastructure to deliver water in a more environmentally protective manner. Wolk suggests reducing water demand through efficiency and conservation, metering all uses of water, better managing groundwater and modernizing levees. On these things, we agree. The state is doing all of that, and more.  Wolk referred to a hearing she conducted in San Francisco without including my testimony there. I made this simple point: Independence from the delta is not possible for most regions. In some parts of Northern and Southern California, more than 80 percent of the water supply comes from the delta. The Bay Area is no exception. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  California lifestyle relies on Delta water

In regional news and commentary today …

Lawsuit filed over Yuba River fishery:Friends of the River opened a new front Wednesday in the war over the Yuba River, suing the federal government.  The environmental group filed a 43-page lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Sacramento against the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Land Management and others.  At issue is the effect Englebright and Daguerre Point dams have on fish — spring Chinook, steelhead and green sturgeon — in the river. Both dams are under Army Corps jurisdiction. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  Lawsuit filed over Yuba River fishery

Groundwater supply improved at Amador County vineyards:  “The drought is now in its fifth year in California, but winter 2015-16 brought near normal precipitation to northern California.  When we walked the two vineyards in Amador County a year ago, there were concerns about water supply. What a difference a year makes. … ” Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Groundwater supply improved at Amador County vineyards

Woodland City Council seeks to avoid unnecessary water-conservation rules: All this activity designed to protect or divert water has Woodland city officials worried that their conservation efforts — as well as the millions of dollars spent to provide new surface-water sources — will be swept aside like so much spray in a storm.  As a result, earlier this week the Woodland City Council signed off on a “long-term water management policy” to make it more difficult for the state to intercede when it’s not necessary.  In a report to the council, Greg Meyer, the city’s public works director, noted that recently, state Water Resources Control Board staff has indicated interest in pursuing permanent conservation regulations that could “affect the ability of local agencies to determine appropriate water management strategies at the local level.” … ”  Read more from the Daily Democrat here:  Woodland City Council seeks to avoid unnecessary water-conservation rules

Kings water districts to get 60%:  “One of the largest irrigation districts in Kings County will get 60 percent of the water supply it is requesting this year from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River delta.  The State Water Project estimated Thursday that most of its 29 contractors will receive 60 percent of their requested water deliveries.  Among those contractors is the Tulare Lake Basin Water Storage District, which manages water for the huge farms in the former Tulare Lake bottom near Corcoran, among them JG Boswell Co. … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here:  Kings water districts to get 60%

Precipitation watch …

From the National Weather Service: Rain will begin late tonight in the far northern portion of the state and continue through late Friday. The Valley will receive between a tenth and three quarters of an inch. The foothills are expected to receive between a half and one inch of rain, with the mountains getting 1-2 inches. Snow levels will drop to around 6,000 feet Friday afternoon, bringing snow below Sierra pass levels.  Highest peaks could see 12-18 inches of snow.

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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