Daily Digest, weekend edition: Lawsuit over Delta flows: Feds fail in oversight role, environmental groups say; What’s eating the salmon; Storm to deliver desperately needed rain to California mid-week; Four water-related bills to watch in Sacramento; and more …

In California water news this weekend, Lawsuit over Delta flows:  Feds fail in oversight role, environmental groups say; Lawsuit accuses regulators of loosening Sacramento Delta water rules; What's eating the salmon; Storm to deliver desperately needed rain to California mid-week; Researcher looking at social impact of drought in Porterville; Four water-related bills to watch in Sacramento; and more …

In the news this weekend …

Lawsuit over Delta flows:  Feds fail in oversight role, environmental groups say:  “Environmental groups sued federal regulators on Friday for allowing river flows in the fragile Delta to decline below levels that would normally be required even in the driest of years.  Repeatedly since 2014, state officials have elected to loosen flow and water quality standards in order to hold back more water in upstream reservoirs for later use by cities, farmers or wildlife.  This, despite the fact that the normal rules that determine how much water must flow through the Delta already contain provisions for drought years.  Friday’s lawsuit, filed at the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, blames the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to oversee the state’s actions. ... ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Lawsuit over Delta flows: Feds fail in oversight role, environmental groups say

Lawsuit accuses regulators of loosening Sacramento Delta water rules:  “Three environmentalist groups filed a lawsuit Friday alleging that to increase water flowing to farms and cities, state and federal regulators in the drought have repeatedly relaxed water-quality standards on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the detriment of its wild fish species.  The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco claims the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency failed to enforce the Clean Water Act. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Lawsuit accuses regulators of loosening Sacramento Delta water rules

What's eating the salmon:  “Water managers have been saying for years that California’s salmon population is under attack by non-native predatory fish. Now there is science to prove it.  In a report on April 19 to the State Water Resources Control Board, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sean Hayes, whose doctorate is in ecology and evolutionary biology, talked about the multiple stressors that affect the life cycle of salmon. Hayes and his team from the NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center conducted acoustic tagging of baby salmon over the course of five years. … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here:  What’s eating the salmon

Storm to deliver desperately needed rain to California mid-week: A slow-moving storm will bring several days of beneficial rainfall to the southwestern United States beginning at the middle of the week.  Showers are expected to move into northern California on Wednesday morning, before gradually spreading into central and Southern California, Nevada, Utah and northern Arizona late on Wednesday into Thursday. … ”  Read more from Accu-Weather here:  Storm to deliver desperately needed rain to California mid-week

Researcher looking at social impact of drought in Porterville:  “An assistant professor of Sociology at Durham University in England is in Porterville doing research on the social impacts of climate change and the drought.  Dr. Christopher Lawless is part of a network of academic researchers brought together by the United Nations University to study and address the social impacts of environmental issues. In this instance, it is the drought’s impact on East Porterville.  Lawless was part of a group that collaborated to write a policy briefing paper requested by the White House National Security Council on the California drought. … ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here:  Researcher looking at social impact of drought in Porterville

Four water-related bills to watch in Sacramento: As legislation to address California’s water woes have been offered in Washington by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. David Valadao, there is still much work under way in Sacramento. Proposed legislation in California looks at everything from drinking recycled water to creating new storage.  Here’s a closer look at a few bills that are gaining some traction and attention right now … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Four water-related bills to watch in Sacramento

In commentary this weekend …

California desperately needs new surface storage, says Aubrey Bettencourt:  She writes, “Californians deserve rational and complete answers to their questions: Why has our state failed to initiate a meaningful response to not just one or two, but three catastrophic droughts we’ve experienced over the last 45 years?  California simply needs more water. Its people, fish, wildlife, food producers and others – all have been harmed by delays in our response to periodic droughts and climate change. What was an inconvenience in 1973 and a severe shortfall in the 1980s became an economy-stopping, public-health-threatening assault on our state’s residents in 2012-15. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  California desperately needs new surface storage

Was water conservation just a fad? asks the Chico Enterprise-Record:  They write, “One question that’s been in a lot of people’s minds as the drought ran on is whether attitudes were changing for good about water conservation, or if it was just a fad, a passing fancy. The evidence is building up that it’s the latter.  In the past few days, we’ve seen the homeowners association for a gated Bay Area enclave order residents to water their lawns or face fines.  The manager of the Blackhawk subdivision near Danville wrote in a letter to the 2,000 homes there that, “We believe there is no longer any reason that all landscaping in the community cannot flourish as it once did.” ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Was water conservation just a fad?

Why the thinking and planning around drought is often wrong:  “April 1, 2016, passed with less fanfare in California than a year ago, when the state announced its first mandatory statewide water restrictions after record low snowpack. This year, El Nino conditions brought relatively wetter conditions with snowpack now at 87 percent of normal.  Although 55 percent of California remains in extreme or exceptional drought conditions, other issues now compete on the busy agenda of policymakers and business leaders (even as shortages remain front of mind for many Californians). The memory of drought is even more faint in Canada, where the summer of 2015 brought drought and wildfires to British Columbia and the Prairie provinces. How can our memory – and the attention span of policymakers – be so short? … ”  Read more from OpenCanada.org here:  Why the thinking and planning around drought is often wrong

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Feds announce increased flow releases on the Trinity River: Flow releases from the Lewiston Dam into the Trinity river began gradually increasing Thursday, the Bureau of Reclamation announced in a release.  According to the Thursday release, the flows will change from 300 cubic feet per second to 4,500 cfs by May 7. Starting May 8, flows are set to increase to 10,000 cfs on May 9 through May 10. After that, the flows will be gradually decreased to 5,600 cfs before rapidly increasing back to 10,000 cfs through May 14.  From there the release rates will gradually decrease over approximately 11 weeks to the 450 cfs summer baseflow rate, the release states. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Feds announce increased flow releases on the Trinity River

Crystal Geyser, Siskiyou County prevail in W.A.T.E.R. lawsuit:  “The We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review lawsuit against Crystal Geyser has been successfully blocked, with Judge Karen Dixon denying for a second time the group’s arguments against the company’s proposed water bottling plant in the Mount Shasta area.  W.A.T.E.R. had originally filed with the Siskiyou County Superior Court a complaint seeking declaratory judgement and injunctive relief regarding Crystal Geyser’s proposed bottling plant.  The group’s suit asked the court to declare that the proposed plant is inconsistent with the county’s General Plan and the zoning for the area, and to enjoin Crystal Geyser from operating the bottling plant if the court were to make the declaration. In particular, the group contended that a Woodland Productivity Overlay on the county’s zoning map restricts the site to light industrial, rather than heavy industrial, use. … ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here:  Crystal Geyser, Siskiyou County prevail in W.A.T.E.R. lawsuit

Drought eases so guzzler penalties should end, says EBMUD:The East Bay's largest water supplier may soon drop its pioneering rule that led to fines and public shaming of homeowners who used too much water in the drought — including celebrities, sports stars and business titans.  In another sign the drought is easing, East Bay Municipal Utility District managers recommended Friday that the district suspend its excess water-use ordinance on May 3. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Drought eases so guzzler penalties should end, says EBMUD

Oro Loma: Can wastewater save the Bay from sea level rise? “Everything we’re doing here is illegal, infeasible, and unfundable,” Jeremy Lowe tells me with a rakish grin, as we watch a couple dozen volunteers, including several small children in galoshes, planting grasses in the mud. They’re working on an experimental levee near the Bay’s edge in San Lorenzo, just west of Hayward, innocently enough, and Lowe soon confesses that he and his colleagues aren’t outlaws after all. But this prototype levee, situated a half-mile from the Bay, is so innovative that building it on the shoreline is prohibited, even though it could help mitigate a looming environmental crisis: the rising sea levels brought on by global climate change.  ... ”  Continue reading at Bay Nature here:  Oro Loma: Can wastewater save the Bay from sea level rise?

Tulare County: Cities get wise with water deal:  “Water from Packwood Creek flowed into the recharge basin just east of the city limits Monday morning, marking the start of the exchange between the Tulare Irrigation District and the city of Visalia.  Visalia Natural Resource Conservation Manager Kim Loeb said the agreement calls for TID to deliver from 5,500 up to 6,500 acre-feet of water from its federal allocation in exchange for as many as 11,000 to 13,000 acre-feet of recycled water earmarked for crop irrigation. ... ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Cities get wise with water deal

Dry soil to absorb some snowmelt heading to the Colorado River:  “Storms brought deep snow to the mountains that feed the vital Colorado River this winter and spring, but the dried-out landscape will soak up some of the runoff before it can reach the river and the 40 million people depending on it for water.  The snowpack in the vast Upper Colorado River Basin — encompassing almost 110,000 square miles of mountains, valleys and tributaries from Wyoming to New Mexico — hit its seasonal peak this month, federal data show. It reached about 94 percent of the long-term average.  But the melted snow that makes it into the river and eventually to Lake Powell in Utah, the second-largest reservoir in the nation, is expected to reach only 74 percent of average, forecasters say. … ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Review-Journal here:  Dry soil to absorb some snowmelt heading to the Colorado River

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

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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.

Maven’s Notebook
where California water news never goes home for the weekend

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