Daily Digest, weekend edition: State Supreme Court decision clears the way for Delta islands sale; War of words over Delta tunnel payments in the East Bay; and more …

In California water news this weekend, State Supreme Court won’t hear Delta appeal; State Supreme Court sides with Southern California in epic water war over Delta islands; Delta tunnels: War of words erupts over payments; Staying focused on the state’s water needs; Less water in Sierra rivers is ‘new normal’: Three Rivers author; Delta smelt report features Solano County projects;  Martinez misses lead water test, new test prove safety; Owens Valley:  State decision on groundwater basin boundaries puts Tri-Valley water in a bind; Federally reserved rights and interstate groundwater allocation; and more …

In the news this weekend …

State Supreme Court won’t hear Delta appeal: The state Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal by Delta interests attempting to block the sale of roughly 20,000 acres of land to a Southern California water agency.  The court’s decision appears to clear the way for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to finalize its controversial $175 million purchase.  San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties, Delta farmers and environmentalists fought the deal and were able to delay it twice, but their last-ditch request for the Supreme Court to get involved did not succeed. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  State Supreme Court won’t hear Delta appeal

State Supreme Court sides with Southern California in epic water war over Delta islands:  “The state Supreme Court has cleared the way for Southern California’s powerful Metropolitan Water District to buy five islands at the epicenter of the delta’s water system, officials said Friday.  Some officials and environmentalists in Northern California had fought to halt the sale, worried about what the MWD planned to do with the land. The agency has said it might use some of the land to provide access for the construction of a proposed delta tunnel system, a controversial project some oppose amid California’s five-year drought. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  State Supreme Court sides with Southern California in epic water war over Delta islands

Delta tunnels: War of words erupts over payments: A spat over an East Bay water supplier’s payments to help plan the state’s twin tunnels through the Delta has spilled into the public arena in a whirling cloud of accusations and misunderstandings.  If anything is clear, it’s how divided public opinion is over the governor’s $16 billion twin tunnels plan, which some people see as threat to the Delta environment and others see as helping the ecosystem and protecting the stability of Delta water supplies pumped to 23 million Californians.  In the latest dustup, a citizens group called Restore the Delta rebuked Alameda County Zone 7 Water Agency last week in a statement — later found to be wrong — of using property taxes to pay its share of state costs for planning the tunnels. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Delta tunnels: War of words erupts over payments

Staying focused on the state’s water needs: Eric Averett was loathe to say it, but he told hundreds of attendees Thursday at the Forbes AgTech Summit in downtown Salinas a secret he normally wouldn’t share.  “There is a small part of me that wanted the drought to continue,” Averett said as he and other water experts water in a morning panel titles “Life After Water.” They discussed how agriculture is adapting and innovating to the new “norm” of limited water in the Western States, particularly in California, now entering its fifth year of severe drought.  The panel was put on during the last day of the two-day summit, which brings together farmers and agricultural businesses with with developers of new technology for agriculture and potential investors. ... ”  Read more from the Salinas Californian here:  Staying focused on the state’s water needs

Delta smelt report features Solano County projects: A $130 million research and fish technology center in Rio Vista, as well as five Solano County tidal wetland restoration projects are among the action plans listed in the recently released report on the protection and enhancement of the Delta smelt.  The 12-page Delta Smelt Resiliency Strategy has 13 plans of action, including the construction of the long-discussed Rio Vista Research Station and Fish Technology Center.  The facility, proposed for the site of the old Army Reserve base near the Coast Guard station south of town, has also been called the Estuary Research Station and Technology Center. ... ” Read more from the Daily Republic here:  Delta smelt report features Solano County projects

Less water in Sierra rivers is ‘new normal’: Three Rivers author:  “John Austin of Three Rivers visited the Tulare County Water Commission last week to relay his new presentation about droughts and water availability in California.  The latest research shows less water in Sierra rivers than previous dry and wet years and higher average temperatures, he said.  The double whammy of higher temperatures and drought has helped cause massive tree mortality. At least 66 million conifers in California have died since 2010 because of water stress, he said. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Less water in Sierra rivers is ‘new normal’: Three Rivers author

Martinez misses lead water test; new test prove safety: The city failed to properly test its municipal water supply in 2015 for lead and copper, as mandated by state law, but tests done in June show local drinking water comfortably meets state safety standards.  Martinez residents have received letters over the past two weeks from city Water Superintendent Tom Campbell stating that the lead and copper testing — required by the state every three years, using samples from at least 30 local households — wasn’t performed in 2015 as required. … ”  Read more from the East Bay Times here:  Martinez misses lead water test; new test prove safety

Owens Valley:  State decision on groundwater basin boundaries puts Tri-Valley water in a bind:The California Department of Water Resources rejected a multi-agency request for a basin boundary modification that would separate the Tri-Valley (Hammil, Chalfant and Benton) water basin from the Owens Valley basin.  In addition, DWR identified Fish Slough as a sub-basin, the majority of which lies in the Tri-Valley area.  Only dedicated water-watchers and a handful of farmers off Hwy. 6 fully understand what that means. Briefly: … ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  State decision on groundwater basin boundaries puts Tri-Valley water in a bind

Federally reserved rights and interstate groundwater allocation:  “This post explores the intersection of two topics that have historically been neglected in interstate water allocation, and in particular in interstate compacts: groundwater and tribal reserved rights to water.  Against the backdrop of the Agua Caliente case currently before the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, which raises the potential for broader recognition of tribal reserved rights to groundwater, this post focuses on interstate dimensions of recognizing such rights.  Interstate waters may be allocated in three ways: 1) an equitable apportionment decree from the U.S. Supreme Court; 2) legislation by the U.S. Congress that allocates water between states; or 3) interstate compacts.  This piece focuses on how tribal reserved rights have been dealt with under interstate compacts. … ”  Continue reading at the University of Denver Water Law Review here:  Federally reserved rights and interstate groundwater allocation

In commentary this weekend …

Environmental perfectionism can kill people, says Dennis Wyatt:  He writes, “Arboga is a sleepy Yuba County farming community.  Peach trees are the preferred crop of farmers, although healthy sprinklings of dairies also bolster the local economy.  The countryside is dotted with five-acre parcels, many owned by retirees and young families living in pockets amid sweet smelling orchards and the open pastureland typical of the eastern Sacramento Valley.  Claire Royal, Marion Anderson and Winston Nakagawa were typical of the residents who called Arboga home. They could see the Sutter Buttes to the north rising above the banks of the Feather River. The Arboga trio — a retired school teacher, grandmother and World War II veteran — were “murdered” by bureaucratic red tape on Jan. 2, 1997.  Their lives were sacrificed to save a beetle. ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  Environmental perfectionism can kill people

Tackling America’s water challenges with science:  Dr. Kathryn Sullivan writes, “We are approaching the peak of summer, a season when droughts, heat waves, thunderstorms and tropical systems occur more frequently and at a higher intensity than any other time of the year. Extreme weather events like these not only put people and communities in great danger, they can also spell disaster for America’s water supply.  Too much water, too little water, water of poor quality, or water simply in the wrong place can shut down roads and harbors, ruin crops and pastures, contaminate drinking water, sicken wildlife, and inflict other damages with costs that can soar into millions or billions of dollars. In the U.S. and indeed around the world, water security is increasingly in jeopardy with consequences that pose systemic risk to the viability and fabric of society.  Across America, we see water challenges unfold in many forms: … ”  Read more at the NOAA here:  Tackling America’s water challenges with science

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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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