Daily Digest: California officials say Delta tunnels won’t harm north state water users; Another lawsuit filed to block Metropolitan’s Delta island purchase; Why desalination isn’t the answer to water woes; and more …

In California water news today, California officials say Delta tunnels won’t harm north state water users; Another lawsuit filed to block Metropolitan’s Delta island purchase; Why desalination isn’t the answer to water woes; Can California’s water agencies keep up the conservation momentum?; Easing drought boosts California hydropower, for now; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia is hosting a briefing today on unsafe drinking water in schools from 2:30 to 3:30 pm in the State Capitol, Room 125.  Panel features experts from the Community Water Center, the Rural Community Assistance Corporation, and other stakeholders.

In the news today …

California officials say Delta tunnels won’t harm north state water users: With months of contentious hearings ahead this summer, state and federal officials this week filed documents laying out their case that construction of two huge tunnels through the heart of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta would not harm north state water users.  In late July, the State Water Resources Control Board will begin a series of hearings to determine whether work can begin on the $15.5 billion tunnels project championed by Gov. Jerry Brown.  In the first set of hearings, focused on water rights, the state Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will aim to convince regulators that the tunnels won’t take water that belongs to north state water-rights holders, or harm the quality of Delta water. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  California officials say Delta tunnels won’t harm north state water users

Another lawsuit filed to block Metropolitan’s Delta island purchase:  “Another legal challenge has been filed seeking to block the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s $175 million purchase of five islands in the heart of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. This time, San Joaquin County and a group of Delta farmers allege that the pending sale represents a breach of contract.  Delta Wetlands Property, a subsidiary of Swiss financial services conglomerate Zurich Insurance Group, bought the islands 20 years ago with the aim of converting them into giant reservoirs that could store water in wet years and ship it to Southern California when supplies run low. Local governments and landowners sued over the plan. In 2013, they negotiated a series of settlements that restrict what can be done with the land. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Another lawsuit filed to block Metropolitan’s Delta island purchase

Why desalination isn’t the answer to water woes:  “It is easy to assume seawater desalination is the answer to California’s long-term water woes. All you have to do is look west, and the vast Pacific Ocean simply glimmers with opportunity.  But as with so many things involving water, desalination is not that simple. Converting seawater into drinking water is very expensive, it consumes a lot of electricity and it comes with a host of potentially unsavory environmental impacts.  To quantify the opportunities and the risks, the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University hosted a workshop in January on the subject. Over two days, it brought together about 40 experts – scientists, water industry officials, environmentalists and government officials – to discuss and debate the technology’s true potential in California.  In May, the institute published a white paper based on the event to share the results with the world, and it isn’t particularly encouraging. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Why desalination isn’t the answer to water woes

Easing drought boosts California hydropower, for now:   “The easing of California’s drought has boosted the state’s early spring hydropower generation to its highest level since 2011, helping it to recover from a 15-year low reached last year. But hydroelectricity production is not expected to improve much overall this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.  The West’s four-year drought desiccated many reservoirs in California, the nation’s fourth largest hydropower producer, reducing their ability to generate electricity and forcing the state to rely on other renewables and more fossil fuels for its power supply.... ”  Read more from Climate Central here:  Easing drought boosts California hydropower, for now

Water Market Bills Update: AB 1755 Passed on Assembly Floor, AB 2304 Withdrawn from Committee:Water market legislation AB 1755, authored by Assembly Member Bill Dodd (D-Napa), was passed by the Assembly on May 31. The bill now goes to the Senate.  AB 1755, as amended on May 11, would require the California Department of Water Resources to create a statewide integrated water data platform that would bring together existing water and ecological information from multiple databases and provide data on completed water transfers and exchanges. ... ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:

Hearing looks at Clean Water Act enforcement: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is making it tough to farm and ranch as it interprets the federal Clean Water Act, a Farm Bureau member from California said in an appearance before a U.S. Senate subcommittee.  Butte County Farm Bureau member Jody Gallaway, president and senior regulatory biologist for the Chico-based environmental consulting firm Gallaway Enterprises, described to senators the difficulty in obtaining a Clean Water Act agricultural permit in California. She appeared at a Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife hearing in Washington, D.C., last week on expansion of federal control through the “waters of the United States” rule, also known as WOTUS. ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Hearing looks at Clean Water Act enforcement

In commentary today …

‘No drought?’ Well, Trump is right – sort of, says Robert Shaffer:  He writes, “Twice in his Fresno speech on Friday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump declared that in California, “There is no drought!” Reporters, editors and environmentalists were quick to pounce on what seemed, to water-starved Californians, an egregious misstatement of fact. But Trump is right, as far as Southern California is concerned. It’s a drought only if you ignore the area’s history of cyclical precipitation.  If National Geographic’s definition of drought is correct — an extended period of unusually dry weather — Southern California might be in a drought. Have the past five years been “unusually dry”? Do those years constitute an “extended period” of time”? Not if you carefully examine rainfall statistics for Los Angeles over the 139 years since Los Angeles branch of the U.S. Weather Bureau opened in 1877. … ”  Read more from the Los Angeles Daily News here:  ‘No drought?’ Well, Trump is right – sort of

Why Trump is wrong on California’s drought: It’s more than farmers versus fish, says Ken Silverstein:  He writes: “During a stopover in Fresno, Calif., Donald Trump remarked that the state has “no drought” and that the whole thing could be fixed if less water is allocated to save an endangered fish and a lot more water is instead, directed to the farmers. Put that way, he would be right — except that the situation is not quite so simple.  California has been suffering from drought conditions for five years, with almost all of the state affected and especially its mid section where much of the agriculture occurs and its southern cities that are densely populated — occupied by people and businesses that need electricity. It’s a diverse group of stakeholders all competing for water, along with the natural element on which mankind also depends. ... ”  Read more from Forbes Magazine here:  Why Trump is wrong on California’s drought: It’s more than farmers versus fish

In regional news and commentary today …

Humboldt County Supervisors sign Klamath Dam removal agreement:  “The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously today to once again show its support for the removal of four hydroelectric dams from the Klamath River by 2020.  Unlike the previous version of the dam-removing Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA) that was signed by the board and nearly 40 other entities in 2010, the new agreement currently does not include solutions for water rights disputes between Klamath River Basin tribes and farmers.  … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Humboldt County Supervisors sign Klamath Dam removal agreement

Drought, bark beetle killing trees in the Tahoe basin: Trees are dying at a staggering rate in some parts of the west. Nearly 30 million trees are dead or dying in California, according to U.S. Forest Service officials.  In the Lake Tahoe Basin, the mortality rates sits at upwards of 40 thousand, according to a 2015 report. And that number is expected to rise this year.  “It’s increasing over the last few years because of the drought,” said Rita Mastutia, forester/silviculturist with the U.S. Forest Service. … ”  Read more from Channel 4 here:  Drought, bark beetle killing trees in the Tahoe basin

Special mission for weed warriors: Harvesters return early with OK from the feds:  “Saying they wanted to go beyond what they’ve done in the past, state officials resumed water hyacinth removal efforts at the downtown Stockton waterfront earlier than normal on Wednesday with the blessing of federal biologists.  Normally, harvesting is not allowed during May and June to protect endangered fish that might be migrating through the area.  But the state Division of Boating and Waterways recently asked for a limited, one-time exception, and the feds agreed. ... ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Special mission for weed warriors: Harvesters return early with OK from the feds

Residents in Tulare County community open taps to clean water:  “Matheny Tract residents can finally open their taps to clean water.  Water in the low-income community south of Tulare has long been contaminated with arsenic, forcing residents to buy bottled water. In March, the State Water Resources Control Board ordered Tulare to merge its water system with Matheny Tract under a new law.  At a ceremony Tuesday morning, Reinelda Palma and Tim Denney of the community action group Matheny Tract Committee turned the valve to let the municipal water begin flowing. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Residents in Tulare County community open taps to clean water:

Santa Maria groundwater decreases, nitrates increase according to Twitchell Management Authority:  “Not that you couldn’t have already guessed, but a new report issued by the Twitchell Management Authority on May 24 shows that the drought caused a slight dip in groundwater in the Santa Maria Valley Management Area in 2015.  Production of the report is a stipulation of a 1997 lawsuit against Santa Maria by the Santa Maria Valley Water Conservation District, which sought to establish water use limits. The report measures how much water goes into and gets taken out of the Santa Maria Valley Groundwater basin. It’s the eighth such report since the stipulation was made.  The report comes as California enters a fifth year of drought and measures intake from rain flow, and stream and river flow, as well as recharge from the Twitchell Reservoir, according to Randy Sharer, chairman of the Twitchell Management Authority.  … ”  Read more from the Santa Maria Sun here:  Santa Maria groundwater decreases, nitrates increase according to Twitchell Management Authority

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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