Daily Digest: Delta land deal clears legal hurdle; Judge finds fault with “Delta Plan”; Many California cities predict no conservation requirements under new water rules; Drought hangs tough as feds predict a dry winter; and more …

In California water news today, Delta land deal clears legal hurdle; Judge finds fault with “Delta Plan”; The Delta is a challenge for all who depend on it; Many California cities predict no conservation requirements under new water rules; Drought hangs tough as feds predict a dry winter; EPA sets new health advisory for PFCs in drinking water; Lake Mead hits new record low; Drought be Dammed: Some are pushing for the enormous Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River to be decommissioned; The value of optimizing data for water management: The WaterSmart view; and more …

In the news today …

Delta land deal clears legal hurdle:  “A San Joaquin County Superior Court judge on Thursday cleared the way for a Southern California water district to complete its purchase of 20,000 acres of land in the Delta, ruling that it was too soon to say how the property would be used. San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties, along with two environmental groups and Delta farmers, had sued to block the purchase, arguing that state law requires environmental studies to be conducted first. But Judge Barbara Kronlund called their challenge “premature.” … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here: Delta land deal clears legal hurdle

Judge finds fault with “Delta Plan”:  “A plan that was supposed to serve as a comprehensive roadmap for the Delta through the year 2100 now must be partially rewritten, after a judge this week ruled on complaints stemming from no fewer than seven lawsuits.  The “Delta Plan,” as the document is known, had been challenged by players on multiple sides of California’s water battle — by environmentalists, by Delta farmers, and by Southern California water users who rely on the Delta for a portion of their water supply.  In the end, the 73-page decision by Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny rejected the water exporters’ arguments entirely, while granting some of the requests made by Delta interests. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Judge finds fault with “Delta Plan”

The Delta is a challenge for all who depend on it:  “Michael George often finds himself in the middle of political firestorms.  It’s part of his job.  As the state-appointed watermaster for the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, George serves as a water rights referee for between 1,500 and 2,000 water diversions each year. Operating in an area about the size of Rhode Island, many of the landowners have the state’s oldest water rights, and they can move their diversion points, further complicating George’s job.  With the many demands on its water blamed for the Delta’s crippling environmental degradation, the area is rife with political infighting and disputes, the most notable of which is a pitched debate over the project called the California WaterFix, Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed tunnel bypass for the Delta that is estimated to cost as much as $18 billion. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  The Delta is a challenge for all who depend on it

Many California cities predict no conservation requirements under new water rules: The new rules adopted Wednesday by the State Water Resources Control Board allow more than 400 urban water agencies to propose their own conservation standards. Agencies will “self-certify” a target based on their assessments of the health of their water supplies and anticipated local demand.  On Thursday, several California water agencies told The Sacramento Bee that, based on the new rules, they expect their assessments to show they have plenty of water, and to largely back away from requiring customers to reduce water use tied to a specific target. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Many California cities predict no conservation requirements under new water rules

Drought hangs tough as feds predict a dry winter: The end of the historic California drought appears increasingly unlikely, at least anytime soon, with new long-range forecasts hinting at a warm, dry winter for much of the state.  The monthly outlook released Thursday by the U.S. Climate Prediction Center cites a 33 percent chance that significantly below-average precipitation will arrive in San Francisco and points south between December and February.  The outlook also identifies a higher probability of above-average temperatures in California south of Monterey Bay over the same period. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Drought hangs tough as feds predict a dry winter

EPA sets new health advisory for PFCs in drinking water:  “The Environmental Protection Agency Thursday issued a new health advisory level for exposure to toxic chemicals linked to firefighting foam.  The agency set the advisory at 70 parts per trillion of lifetime exposure to two perfluorinated compounds called PFOS and PFOA. That means people should not drink water with detections of the chemicals above that level over a lifetime. The new level is nearly six times stronger than the previous health advisory level issued by the EPA in 2009. … ”  Read more from NBC Bay Area here:  EPA sets new health advisory for PFCs in drinking water

Lake Mead hits new record low: For the next two months, the news from Lake Mead could sound like a broken record.  The nation’s largest man-made reservoir slipped to a new record low sometime after 7 p.m. Wednesday, and forecasters from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation expect see its surface drop another 2 feet through the end of June.  The latest dip into record-low territory comes as officials in Nevada, Arizona and California consider a new deal to prop up the declining lake by giving up some of their Colorado River water. ... ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Review-Journal here:  Lake Mead hits new record low

Drought be Dammed: Some are pushing for the enormous Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River to be decommissioned:  “Wedged between Arizona and Utah, less than 20 miles up river from the Grand Canyon, a soaring concrete wall nearly the height of two football fields blocks the flow of the Colorado River. There, at Glen Canyon Dam, the river is turned back on itself, drowning more than 200 miles of plasma-red gorges and replacing the Colorado’s free-spirited rapids with an immense lake of flat, still water called Lake Powell, the nation’s second largest reserve.  When Glen Canyon dam was built — in the middle of the last century — giant dams were championed as a silver bullet promising to elevate the American West above its greatest handicap — a perennial shortage of water. … ”  Read more from Pro Publica here:  Drought be Dammed

The value of optimizing data for water management: The WaterSmart view:  “Combatting the historic drought in California has meant benchmarking water usage for all sectors and aggressively cutting down on water waste throughout the state—but a lack of data on water use could hamper progress. Robin Gilthorpe, CEO of WaterSmart Software, seeks to improve water-use and operational efficiency for municipal and investor-owned water utilities globally by using utility meter data to better communicate with residential customers. In this MIR interview, Gilthorpe explains WaterSmart’s science-based method of engaging with customers, utilities, and regulators to update how water is managed. He also opines on the water catastrophe in Flint, Michigan, and affirms the need for modern-day municipal water infrastructure to work together with rapidly advancing data science. ... ”  Read more from The Planning Report here:  The value of optimizing data for water management: The WaterSmart view

In regional news and commentary today …

Russian River summertime flows help salmon habitat:  “The Sonoma County Water Agency has received authorization from the State Water Resources Control Board to reduce flows in the Russian River this summer to comply with a federal mandate to improve habitat conditions for juvenile salmonids. Studies have found that juvenile salmonids, such as steelhead and Coho, which are both classified as endangered on the federal endangered species list, thrive in lower velocity water habitats, thus improving their chances of survival and ultimately the recovery of the species in the Russian River watershed. ... ”  Read more from the Sonoma West Times here:  Russian River summertime flows help salmon habitat

Salinas: Sustainable groundwater agency sought:  “Water was the lone topic on the table.  A consortium held a public forum in the county’s Board of Supervisors Chambers Thursday evening to solicit community input on creating a Groundwater Sustainability Agency or agencies.  If created, the governing body would devise and implement a plan for sustainable groundwater water in Salinas Valley through 2040. This would include everything from monitoring wells to regulating extractions. … ”  Read more from the Salinas Californian here:  Sustainable groundwater agency sought

Oakdale Irrigation District board member should be booted for illegal vote, lawsuit says: A judge should throw Gary Osmundson off the Oakdale Irrigation District board because he voted for a money-for-fallowing program in hopes of putting $119,700 in his own pocket, says a lawsuit amended this week to personally name him as a defendant.  Also, the entire fallowing program should be scrapped if OID tries to pay selected farmers with money belonging to the entire district, the lawsuit says.  A judge on Wednesday appeared unlikely to halt the fallowing program at this stage of the lawsuit, which could carry on several months. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Oakdale Irrigation District board member should be booted for illegal vote, lawsuit says

Turlock Irrigation District continues fish passage discussion:  “Local irrigation districts held a meeting on Thursday to discuss a number of fish passage field studies planned in the Tuolumne River as part of the La Grange Dam licensing process.  The Turlock Irrigation District and Modesto Irrigation District jointly constructed the La Grange Dam between 1891 and 1893 to raise the height of the Tuolumne River to a level that would enable them to divert and deliver water by gravity flow to their irrigation canals, located on opposite sides of the river. In 1924, Turlock Irrigation District built a two-unit powerhouse on the south bank of the Tuolumne River, which it has continued to own and operate for power generation. ... ”  Read more from the Turlock Journal here:  Turlock Irrigation District continues fish passage discussion

Tulare County to discuss groundwater sustainability agencies: Communities and water systems across California have until June of next year to form groundwater sustainability agencies to develop strategies to preserve groundwater, and on Monday the progress of those efforts will be discussed.  Farmers, business operators, homeowners and anyone else who draws water from wells is invited to the public meeting starting at 4 p.m. at the Wyndham Hotel — formerly the Visalia Holiday Inn — to find out about the development of these agencies here and about the California law that’s initiating their development, the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Tulare County to discuss groundwater sustainability agencies

Tulare County health suffers from drought’s effects, says report: Tulare County residents say four years of drought have taken a toll on their physical and mental health.  That’s according to the results of a survey released recently by the California Department of Public Health. About 400 people responded to the survey, which was administered last October in East Porterville and Cutler-Orosi.  County officials announced the results on Monday. The state health department did not respond to requests for comment. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Tulare County health suffers from drought’s effects, says report

San Bernardino: State investigating Nestle’s water rights: Activists who are trying to block Nestle’s bottling of water from a national forest have questioned the company’s claim that it holds water rights dating to the 1800s. Now California regulators are conducting an investigation to get to the bottom of the dispute.  Nestle Waters North America has long been piping water out of the San Bernardino National Forest to produce Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water. … ”  Read more from The Desert Sun here:  California investigating Nestle’s water rights

San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District buys into new water:  “As a long term, sustainable solution to the continuing water requirements of thirsty Southern Californians, the state is dusting off plans for a Sites Reservoir.  Water would be siphoned from the Sacramento River to create a 1.3 to 1.8 million acre feet of reserve water.  On Tuesday, May 17, Doug Headrick, general manager of the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, explained the plan for the Valley District Board of Directors. Valley District is the state water importer for this area. ... ”  Read more from the Highland Community News here:  San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District buys into new water

Precipitation watch …

From the National Weather Service:  “A low pressure system dropping out of the Pacific Northwest will bring an unsettled weather pattern over the weekend. Showers and Isolated thunderstorms are likely today and Saturday. The low will lift northward on Sunday bringing a shift in an shower potential northward. Daytime temperatures will remain below normal.  Snow possible in the higher elevations.”

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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