Daily Digest, weekend edition: Delta islands sale put back on hold; Critical Temperance Flat agreement signed; 66 million dead trees and nowhere to put the wood; The abandoned plan that could have saved America from drought; and more …

West Sacramento sunset; Photo by Rhea Graham

In California water news this weekend, Delta islands sale put back on hold; Delta interests get another delay on islands sale; Critical Temperance Flat agreement signed; Sailing forward with water storage; California has 66 million dead trees and nowhere to put the wood; Sea level rise could wash away our nation’s cultural and natural history; Pipe Dreams: The abandoned plan that could have saved America from drought; and more …

In the news this weekend …

Delta islands sale put back on hold:  “The sale of four Delta islands to Southern California’s largest water district was put back on hold Friday by an appeals court as Northern California opponents plan to take their case to the state Supreme Court.  Contra Costa and San Joaquin counties, environmentalists, and Delta land owners have opposed the move as linked to the governor’s plans to build twin water tunnels to export pumps near Tracy in the southern Delta. Two of the islands are along the route for the tunnels. ... ”  Read more from the East Bay Times here:  Delta islands sale put back on hold

Delta interests get another delay on islands sale:  “Delta interests won another last-minute, temporary reprieve on Friday in their efforts to block Southern California’s controversial $175 million purchase of about 20,000 acres of land in the fragile estuary.  The deal had been expected to close as soon as next week, after the 3rd District Court of Appeal on Thursday lifted an order that had delayed the purchase for several weeks.  But the court reinstated that order Friday after San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties, along with Delta farmers and environmentalists, pleaded for time to persuade the state Supreme Court to take up the matter. … ”  Read more from the Record here:  Delta interests get another delay on islands sale

Critical Temperance Flat agreement signed:  “Federal and local officials have signed an agreement that could bring the Temperance Flat Dam project one step closer to reality.  On a windswept hill overlooking Millerton Lake, local and federal officials signed an agreement to begin a feasibility study of the project.  The study is necessary to draw down money from the state’s water bond as well as federal matching dollars for the multi-billion-dollar dam. ... ”  Read more from Valley Public Radio here:  Critical Temperance Flat agreement signed

Sailing forward with water storage: The effort to increase water storage along the San Joaquin River took a step forward Friday.  Local and state representatives signed an agreement allowing them to coordinate and complete feasibility studies for the proposed Temperance Flat Dam and Reservoir project, which would significantly increase water storage capacity in the Valley.  Temperance Flat would have an initial double effect, said Tulare County Supervisor Steve Worthley, president of the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority. … ” Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Sailing forward with water storage

California has 66 million dead trees and nowhere to put the wood:  “When Ursula Rowe returned to her mountain home after a hip replacement a few months back, the landscape had changed. Dozens of towering pine trees had browned up and died on her once verdant plot of land near Yosemite, and she had to cough up $25,000 to remove them.  “I couldn’t see that house before,” said Rowe, pointing from her deck across 50 lifeless stumps to the properties of neighbors also littered by downed pines and piles of split wood. “I had to go out and buy blinds for my windows.” ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  California has 66 million dead trees and nowhere to put the wood

Sea level rise could wash away our nation’s cultural and natural history: A 50-minute subway ride connects downtown Manhattan with the Broad Channel neighborhood in outer Queens. On each end sits a National Park Service site that showcases the diversity of what parks can be and how they’re united in common challenges.  On the Manhattan end, the weathered green hue of the Statue of Liberty looms over the blue waters of New York Harbor, a beacon of hope to the world over. The hulking monument greeted more than 12 million immigrants who passed through its neighbor to the west, Ellis Island, from 1892-1954. The Statue of Liberty still serves as a reminder that we all strive for better days ahead, and for the more than 4 million annual visitors who make the pilgrimage to these iconic landmarks, it serves as the defining symbol of a country built almost entirely of immigrants. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Sea level rise could wash away our nation’s cultural and natural history

Pipe Dreams: The abandoned plan that could have saved America from drought:  ” … The pillars of smoke from the Bel Air fire were visible around the city, and as the firefighters struggled through the canyons, most people could simply watch and worry. But Ralph Parsons, the wealthy founder of a wildly successful international engineering firm, was trying to end the Southern California drought — forever.  It was 1961.  The solution Parsons devised, a continental-scale plumbing project called the North American Water and Power Alliance, or NAWAPA, was never built, but it’s never quite gone away, either. Today it persists as a fantastical vision that could have been, and might in some form still be. … ”  Read more from Buzz Feed News here: Pipe Dreams: The abandoned plan that could have saved America from drought

In commentary this weekend …

California needs groundwater protection now, says the Fresno Bee: As if California’s water supplies weren’t already sufficiently imperiled, a bill that would have taken a small step toward groundwater regulation unfortunately has now stalled.  Sen. Lois Wolk’s Senate Bill 1317 would have slowed the speed at which new wells are drilled, and denied permits for wells in critically overdrafted basins until groundwater regulations begin to take effect in 2022. But it ran into opposition from agricultural interests and local government agencies.  Water agencies and farmers should recognize the urgent need to better manage the overuse of this precious resource. Groundwater is a major source of potable water for homes and critical to California’s $54 billion agriculture production. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  California needs groundwater protection now

Column: Changing the rules as the climate changes, too: Ross Clark writes, “Integrating the effects of climate change within habitat-restoration plans is now a standard consideration for project approval. At the same time, state laws and guidelines require we ensure these projects will be maintained and protected as designed far into the future. But as climate conditions change, it is difficult to make such assurances. The question we face is, if climate change is altering in our environment, do the environmental laws and guidelines drafted to protect natural resources need to change as well?  … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Changing the rules as the climate changes, too

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Klamath River: Toxic algae in reservoirs prompts warning: The California Regional Water Quality Control Board is urging swimmers, boaters and recreational users to avoid direct contact with, or use of waters containing blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), which is currently blooming in the Copco and Iron Gate Reservoirs on the Klamath River.  According to a Friday press release by the regional water board, the algal blooms appear as bright green in the water, and blue-green, white or brown foam, scum or mats that can float on the water and accumulate along the shore. ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Klamath River: Toxic algae in reservoirs prompts warning

Huffman updates bill that may improve Lake Mendocino storage:  “An update of a bill that may increase Ukiah Valley’s water supply by improving how Lake Mendocino is managed was introduced this week by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael).  “Unfortunately, even during periods of extreme drought, many reservoirs are still being operated from antiquated, 60-year-old manuals,” Huffman is quoted as saying in a release from his office. “If local water agencies want to work with the (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) to bring their reservoir operations into the twenty-first century, they should be able to do so.” ... ” Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here:  Huffman updates bill that may improve Lake Mendocino storage

Free fishing day brings folks to Lake Oroville, Sacramento River:  “When Niko Schuler reeled in a baby striped bass on the banks of the Sacramento River late Saturday morning, his face brightened. He watched it wiggle on the line for awhile before unhooking the fella and tossing him back into the water.  “I never get to go fishing, so whenever I get to go, I love it,” he said. “There’s not a whole lot of talking. You don’t need to do much. It’s just really simple.” … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Free fishing day brings folks to Lake Oroville, Sacramento River

Yuba-Sutter: Levee work focus of gathering:  “Two speakers recently discussed what local agencies are planning to accomplish in the near future to bolster flood protection.  The Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce hosted the program at its monthly Business Connection Breakfast last Friday.  Mike Inamine, executive director of Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency, began his presentation by highlighting projects his agency anticipates will be completed this year. ... ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Levee work focus of gathering

Grand jury slams Yolo Habitat Conservancy:  “The Yolo County Grand Jury’s opinion of the Yolo Habitat Conservancy’s work is clear in the title of its recent report: “Yolo Habitat Conservancy: A Never Ending Story.”  The conservancy — which is operated by Yolo County and the cities of Davis, West Sacramento, Winters and Woodland through a Joint Powers Agency — has failed to produce an approved plan for protecting endangered and threatened species and its performance over the last 20 years “does not justify the time and money spent,” the grand jury reported last week.  That finding, though, is sharply disputed by the Yolo Habitat Conservancy’s executive director, Petrea Marchand, and Yolo County Supervisor Jim Provenza of Davis, who chairs the conservancy’s board of directors. … ”  Read more from the Davis Enterprise here:  Grand jury slams Yolo Habitat Conservancy

Yolo County: Rural residents with dry wells could get relocation assistance:  “Housing assistance funds are available for rural Yolo County residents who lack access to clean drinking water as a result of the drought. The county has received $150,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding from the California Department of Housing & Community Development for the program. ... ” Read more from the Davis Enterprise here:  Rural residents with dry wells could get relocation assistance

Water is for fighting over in Monterey: Water customers in Monterey County sued a slew of public agencies this week, claiming they allow a private company to make millions of dollars by selling water to which it has no legal right.  The Water Ratepayers Association of the Monterey Peninsula sued Monterey County, the California Coastal Commission, the Monterey County Water Resources Agency and their governing boards, claiming they allow the California American Water Company to run roughshod over the law at citizens’ expense. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  Water is for fighting over in Monterey

Storm drain detectives give the Mokelumne River a checkup:  “In the Discovery Center at Lodi Lake on Thursday, stuffed owls, hawks and deer looked on as three students prepared a water testing kit. Storm Drain Detectives Dylan O’Ryan and Hayley Hower placed the electrode of the pH meter into a packet of buffer solution to calibrate it, while Kyle O’Ryan collected the record sheet and notebook needed to take down all of their data. The students’ preparations were guided by Kathy Grant, the City of Lodi’s watershed education coordinator, Curt Juran, who helps education program, and Brian Bock, the city’s environmental compliance engineer. ... ”  Read more from the Lodi News-Sentinel here:  Storm drain detectives give the Mokelumne River a checkup

Fresno residents raise concerns about lead in their water:  “The water crisis in Flint Michigan has led a lot of people across the country to ask what’s in their water.  Residents of Northeast Fresno are growing increasingly frustrated with their own water problem that’s been a decade in the making, one that they say is threatening their health. When you walk into Mari Rose’s modest northeast Fresno home, you are greeted several friendly cats and given a warning ‘don’t drink the tap water’.  “There it is. Like a yellow…looks like pee,” Rose says. … ”  Read more from Valley Public Radio here:  Fresno residents raise concerns about lead in their water

Lake Cachuma to give much-needed boost to water supply:  “Water purveyors across Santa Barbara County have July 12 marked on their calendars, as that’s when the highly-anticipated water release at Lake Cachuma is scheduled to provide a much-needed boost to the current supply.  “We’re releasing everything we have,” said Bruce Wales, general manager of the Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District, referring to everything except the minimum pool needed to operate the lake. The release is expected to give water purveyors in the Santa Ynez and Lompoc valleys a supply that will help carry them into winter, when officials all hope for plenty of precipitation. … ”  Read more from the Lompoc Record here:  Lake Cachuma to give much-needed boost to water supply

Is it time to think about removing dams on the Colorado River? Abrahm Lustgarten, a reporter for ProPublica, has written a new story about one of the largest dams in the US, Glen Canyon, and a recent push to open up its gates. It’s a remarkable development, he says, given how important the Colorado River dams — Glen Canyon, with its reservoir, Lake Powell, and Hoover with Lake Meade — have been for the development of the West.  In the early 1900s, the US government started building dams up and down the Colorado River to harness its water and distribute it far outside the river’s natural course — hundreds of miles into Arizona and California. The dams, particularly the Hoover Dam, were also intended to control the torrential floods that would come downstream in big water years. ... ”  Read more from PRI here:  Is it time to think about removing dams on the Colorado River?

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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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One Response

  1. J Bradley Burns

    I wanted to read the Chron’s story on the dead tree logging problem but couldn’t get past the headline. Too bad the San Francisco Chronicle continues to use a paywall on their online stories. Can’t even read a few free stories a month like the LA Times offers. It’s a recipe for irrelevancy.


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