Daily Digest: May water conservation rate is 28%; Shasta Lake water release plan draws mixed reviews; plus water for wildlife refuges, blue-green algae, desalination, and much more …

In California water news today, May water conservation rate is 28%; Big drops in urban water use, state finds; Californians still saving water, even after restrictions loosened; Shasta release plan seeks to sustain fish and farmers, say officials; Shasta Lake water release plan draws mixed reviews; Dying of thirst: For two decades, the U.S. government has failed to deliver enough water to California wildlife refuges, and migratory birds have suffered mightily as a result; What’s being done to assess blue-green algae’s risks to humans; Desalination plants get a reboot to fight water shortages; What the purchase of some islands in the Delta means for California water; Nine experts to watch on California water policy; and more …

In the news today …

California May water conservation rate is 28%:The California Water Resources Control Board says the 28 percent May water conservation rate, compared to May 2013, was “phenomenal.”  The board says cumulatively, local water suppliers have saved 1.6 million acre feet in the 12 months of mandatory conservation, or enough water to supply eight million people for a year.   “The phenomenal ongoing water conservation by state residents as we enter the hottest summer months clearly shows Californians understand we remain in stubborn drought conditions statewide and that saving water is just the smart thing to do,” says State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus. “Rain or shine, drought or no drought, state mandated target or not, Californians should keep conserving.” ... ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  California May conservation rate is 28%

Big drops in urban water use, state finds:  “Californians are saving an extraordinary amount of water, new records show, even after winter rains prompted state regulators to begin easing drought-driven restrictions on cities and towns.  The State Water Resources Control Board reported Wednesday that urban water use dropped 28.2 percent in May compared with the same period in 2013 — the second-biggest monthly reduction since the state’s water rationing program began last year. May’s savings followed an impressive 26.1 percent reduction in April.  With state regulators relaxing water rules, however, some are doubting whether such high levels of savings will continue — and whether they even need to. Already, many water agencies have passed the state’s new “stress test” and are no longer required to save water under a policy being praised by suppliers and criticized by conservationists. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Big drops in urban water use, state finds

Californians still saving water, even after restrictions loosened:  “In May, the month when state officials said they would ease up on a year-old water conservation plan, consumers used less water than they did three years before.  For the month, water consumption statewide was down 28 percent from May of 2013, according to data released Wednesday by the state. In Southern California, water use dropped 24 percent.  The period tracked in May includes a nearly three-week stretch after the May 9 announcement from state water officials that they would let many districts, including most in Orange County, switch from mandatory to voluntary water cuts. ... ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Californians still saving water, even after restrictions loosened

Shasta release plan seeks to sustain fish and farmers, say officials: This year’s temperature management plan for the Sacramento River yields a release schedule from Lake Shasta that should sustain both fish and farmers, but will need to be monitored closely, federal and state officials told members of the State Water Resources Control Board during a briefing today.  Officials from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife briefed members of the State Water Board on the Sacramento River Temperature Management Plan, which schedules releases from Shasta. ... ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  Shasta release plan seeks to sustain fish and farmers, say officials

Shasta Lake water release plan draws mixed reviews: Mixed reviews are in for a plan to release water from Shasta Lake that does not involve any cutbacks to farm water deliveries.  Last week’s proposal from federal officials was hailed as a victory for Central Valley growers, but local organizations said the plan has brought about some concerns and that release levels were not high enough.  The plan also included a stipulation to manage the water release in an effort to protect winter-run Chinook salmon by monitoring water temperatures. Young salmon start to die when water temperatures exceed about 56 degrees. … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Shasta Lake water release plan draws mixed reviews

Dying of thirst: For two decades, the U.S. government has failed to deliver enough water to California wildlife refuges, and migratory birds have suffered mightily as a result:Two herons—one chalky blue, the other snowy white—lift from the reeds beside a gravel road running along the levee. On the other side, a lone mallard lands with a skid on the surface of the Santa Fe Canal, which is filled with water pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.  As Ric Ortega steers his white pickup along these marshy wetlands southeast of Mount Hamilton, he says the patchwork of canals, tule clusters, and grassy bogs comes alive with clouds of birds in the fall, when ducks and geese are migrating south from Canada. “It gets crazy here—flocks of tens of thousands of birds,” he says. “All the songbirds, raptors, falcons, eagles—you name a bird, it comes here.” … ”  Read more from Oakland Magazine here:  Dying of thirst

What’s being done to assess blue-green algae’s risks to humans: When her dog suddenly died after being exposed to toxic blue-green algae at Lake Chabot in the Bay Area, Marcella Schantz wondered whether humans, too, were at risk.  “I see kids going down to the shore there. Little kids,” said Schantz, 59, of Castro Valley, whose dog Ginger fell ill and later died after a hike near the lake in late 2014. “Kids are just going there to have a good time.”  There are no confirmed human deaths linked to toxins produced by cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae, in the U.S., but in the wake of reports of dogs dying from ingesting these toxins, people are worried about the potential harm to humans. … ”  Read more from the Press Enterprise here:  What’s being done to assess blue-green algae’s risks to humans

Desalination plants get a reboot to fight water shortages:  “On an overcast day in May, construction is in full swing on the Charles E. Meyer Desalination Facility in this affluent enclave on the Central California coast. Several workers fine-tune rebar in foundations for processing units, while two others deploy a large spinning plate to melt the edges of an ocean intake pipe so it can be attached to another pipe.  In response to California’s epic drought, the Santa Barbara City Council voted last year to reactivate a desalination plant built in 1992 to fight an earlier drought. It operated for only six weeks before being shuttered. “Something terrible happened right as they were getting that started up,” said Carlos Sanchez, construction manager for the current project, with a twinkle in his eye. “It rained.” The “March Miracle” deluged the region with enough rain to effectively end the drought. The $35 million plant has been in standby mode for nearly a quarter century. … ”  Read more from Take Part here:  Desalination plants get a reboot to fight water shortages

What the purchase of some islands in the Delta means for California water:  “The Sacramento San-Joaquin Delta is the state’s biggest water supply, providing water for 25 million people. It’s also the most contested. Northern and Southern Californians have been fighting over who’s entitled to that water for more than a century. Right now, the latest battle is playing out. The largest water supplier in the country—Metropolitan Water District—has made a bid to buy 20 thousand acres of land in the Delta.   Reporter Nick Stockton covered the issue for Wired magazine. He says the sale could lay the groundwork for the controversial Twin Tunnels project. Nick Stockton sat down with KALW’s Audrey Dilling to explain.”  Listen to the radio show from KALW here:  What the purchase of some islands in the Delta means for California water

Nine experts to watch on California water policy: More than four years of drought in California have made the need for smart and forward-looking water policy initiatives abundantly clear. About 83 percent of the state is currently still in drought, according to the most recent data by the U.S. Drought Monitor.  The state also faces big policy decisions on how to prepare for long-term water shortages resulting from climate change, growing ecological concerns in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, implementation of groundwater law and continued issues with water supply and conveyance.  Meet nine top experts who are driving the conversation on California’s water policy. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Nine experts to watch on California water policy

In regional news and commentary today …

Sites seeks Phase 1 help:  “The Sites Project Authority announced recently it will begin seeking additional entities to participate in Phase 1 of the reservoir project.  Phase 1 of the project includes completing studies that are required for submitting an application under Proposition 1 by June 2017. The proposition is intended to supply up to half of the funding required for surface storage projects in California.  The Sites Project Authority has already started on studies needed for the application but is seeking other entities to help with the process. … ” Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  Sites seeks Phase 1 help

Porterville: Project begins to hook up homes without water: Crews with Self-Help Enterprises will begin Tuesday the project to connect approximately 40 homes in East Porterville to city water lines. The project will take about four weeks to complete.  At the June 23 meeting for residents of East Porterville whose wells have gone dry, state officials announced the first phase, actually Phase 1A, would begin July 5.  The plan is to immediately hook up about 40 homes without water which are adjacent to city water lines in East Porterville. In September, the state plans to begin installing water lines throughout East Porterville with the goal to hook up another 425 homes which have no water by the end of the year. ... ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here:  Project begins to hook up homes without water

Downtown LA’s five-year rain total is the lowest ever recorded:  “Los Angeles has chalked up yet another dreary milestone in its growing almanac of drought.  On Wednesday, experts at the National Weather Service confirmed that the last five years have been the driest ever documented in downtown L.A. since official record keeping began almost 140 years ago.  Having missed out on most of El Niño’s bountiful rains this winter, the Southland experienced yet another dreadfully below-average year of precipitation between July 1 and June 30. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Downtown LA’s five-year rain total is the lowest ever recorded

San Diego County saw major conservation in May:Residents and businesses statewide, including those in San Diego County, continued to save water aggressively as officials began moving forward with loosening emergency conservation standards.   Regulators on Wednesday released their analysis of water consumption in May, the most recent month for verified data. Their reports are issued monthly as part of a program created in response to California’s historic drought, which is deep into its fifth straight year.  Water use in May was 28.2 percent lower than during the same month in 2013 — Gov. Jerry Brown’s benchmark time period for his conservation mandate, which took effect in June of last year. … ”  Read more from the U-T San Diego here:  San Diego County saw major conservation in May

Facing historically low levels, Lake Mead officials are fending off a water war.  Here’s how: This may be what the start of a water war looks like.  Drought is draining the West’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead, to historic low levels. Forecasts say climate change will make things worse. Headlines warn of water shortages and cutbacks. Members of Congress are moving to protect their states’ supplies.  Yet if war is really imminent, why is one of the region’s most experienced water managers doing the same thing he has done for years: tinkering?  “I like to describe this as another incremental step,” said Tom Buschatzke, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Facing historically low levels, Lake Mead officials are fending off a water war.  Here’s how

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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