Daily Digest: Feds to take new look at Delta, endangered fish species; 5 percenters and endangered fish both may lose; San Luis Obispo County sued over permitting ag wells in Paso Robles basin; and more …

In California water news today, Environmentalists skeptical of California’s $15 billion ‘Water Fix’; Feds to take new look at Delta, endangered fish species; 5 percenters and endangered fish both may lose; San Luis Obispo County sued over permitting ag wells in Paso Robles basin; Suit: California failed to study oil well impact on water; New program pays Central Valley farmers to grow wildlife habitat; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

Feds to take new look at Delta, endangered fish species:  “Scientists from two federal agencies are about to overhaul the rules governing the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, potentially increasing protections for endangered fish populations and limiting the amount of water pumped to Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley.  The National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will re-examine the nearly decade-old environmental regulations covering the Delta water pumps – rules that some experts say have been rendered nearly obsolete by drought and the devastation to endangered species. The old rules will remain in effect during the review, which could take two years or longer. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Feds to take new look at Delta, endangered fish species

Environmentalists skeptical of California’s $15 billion ‘Water Fix’: California’s ambitious $15 billion plan to tunnel below the largest freshwater estuary on the West Coast in hopes of fixing its water woes will “minimize” effects on endangered salmon, state officials said Tuesday — though environmentalists doubt it.  The California Department of Water Resources said the controversial project will give officials more flexibility in monitoring and controlling water temperatures in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, and protect juvenile Chinook salmon from river pumping stations.  The department released its latest biological assessment of the project, which must be approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.  ... ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  Environmentalists skeptical of California’s $15 billion water fix

5 percenters and endangered fish both may lose:  “Will the 5 Percenters—the Federal water users in California who were restricted by a 95% water allocation reduction this year—actually receive the promised 5% allocation? This scenario follows a more-than-average winter rainfall and snowfall throughout the state.  Ryan Jacobsen, executive director and CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, said, “arguably it’s turned out to be much worse. Right now, for the initial 5% allocation to even be questionable right now is just absolutely insane. It all boils down to the amount of water being held up in Lake Shasta for fish purposes, which has put a major stranglehold on what’s happening down here at this point,” noted Jacobsen.  At Shasta Reservoir, a keystone reservoir of the Central Valley Project, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation essentially discharged flood releases earlier this year just to make room for the water that was expected to come in. … ” Read more from California Ag Today here:  5 percenters and endangered fish both may lose

San Luis Obispo County sued over permitting ag wells in Paso Robles basin: A Santa Barbara-based water group has sued San Luis Obispo County, saying the county issued permits for three agricultural wells — including one to Justin Vineyards west of Paso Robles — without the proper environmental review.  The California Water Impact Network filed the lawsuit Thursday, saying the permits violated a 2014 state groundwater law aimed at curbing overpumping in groundwater basins in overdraft. In addition to Justin Vineyards, the lawsuit cites well permits issued to Lapis Land Co. and Paso Robles Vineyards. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Opispo Tribune here:  San Luis Obispo County sued over permitting ag wells in Paso Robles basin

Suit: California failed to study oil well impact on water:  “Environmentalists sued state agencies Wednesday to halt oil well injections into a federally protected aquifer near California’s Central Coast.  California oil and gas regulators failed to assess environmental consequences before forwarding a so-called aquifer exemption to federal officials for final approval, the Center for Biological Diversity said in the lawsuit filed in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.  The Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources in February signed off on granting the exemption to Freeport-McMoRan Oil &Gas that would allow the oil company to inject steam and oil production wastewater into an aquifer beneath rolling hills that are also home to vineyards and homes a few miles outside Pismo Beach. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Suit: California failed to study oil well impact on water

New program pays Central Valley farmers to grow wildlife habitat: California’s drought is taking its toll on wildlife. Years of sub-par precipitation have cut the amount of water available for wildlife refuges that supply critical habitat and food for waterfowl and other migratory birds. Reduced river flows are pushing endangered fish species to the brink. Riparian forests have also been impacted by the drought, as well as by groundwater over-pumping.  As well as the drought, increased development, population growth, pollution and other pressures have almost eliminated most of the vital riparian and wetland habitat that a number of endangered species need to survive.  To combat this, the Environmental Defense Fund, along with a partner organization, has launched the Central Valley Habitat Exchange, a voluntary program that gives landowners – farmers and ranchers – incentives to create wildlife habitats on their land. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  New program pays Central Valley farmers to grow wildlife habitat

In regional news and commentary today …

Hoopa tribe fights feds to keep salmon alive:  “Bungled federal management of stream flows contribute to a lethal disease that’s infected 90 percent of juvenile coho salmon on sections of the Klamath River, the Hoopa Valley Tribe claims in court.  The tribe sued the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the National Marine Fisheries Service on July 29 in Federal Court.  The 2,700-member Hoopa Valley Tribe, in Humboldt County, includes the unincorporated village of Hoopa. Tribal members accounted for 82 percent of the village’s 3,040 population, according to the 2000 census. They have fishing rights on the Klamath River by treaty. ... ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  Hoopa tribe fights feds to keep salmon alive

Glenn County to resume granting permits for new wells:  “As of this week, the ban on drilling new wells in Glenn County has expired.  For the past year, a well moratorium had been in place, originally approved for six months and then extended several times. However, the ban on new wells was not extended at the most recent meeting of the Glenn County Supervisors.  The issue, however, is not entirely dead. Supervisor John Viegas said after the meeting that he’ll ask county staff to look at areas of the county where groundwater is known to be a problem, and provide options for the supervisors to consider. Also, Supervisor Leigh McDaniel was absent from the meeting, and has voted in support of a temporary ban on new wells in the past. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Glenn County to resume granting permits for new wells

San Luis Reservoir at its lowest level in 25 years:  “Despite projections of an adequate water supply this year, one of the Valleys biggest water sources appears to be running dry. The San Luis Reservoir near Los Banos is at it’s lowest level in 25 years.  It’s not unusual to see the San Luis Reservoir low this time of year, but this year is really low. It’s down to just 10-percent of capacity.  “The level is pretty low, the lowest I’ve seen in years,” said Luther Vue, Fresno. ... ”  Read more from KFSN here:  San Luis Reservoir at its lowest level in 25 years

More East Porterville water hookups sought:  “The state Department of Water Resources has made a formal request for the city to increase its immediate water hookups in East Porterville from 40 to 70 residents whose wells have gone dry.  On Tuesday night, the city council will take up the request, although the beginning of that first phase of the larger project to hook up all of East Porterville to the city’s municipal water system has been pushed back again and again.  The city council will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in city hall. … ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here:  More East Porterville water hookups sought

Court rules with Cambria CSD in water project lawsuit: The Cambria Community Services District won a key battle in the ongoing fight over its controversial water project.  After the district approved a $9 million loan and received an emergency permit to build a water facility to treat brackish water (a mix of fresh and salt water) in the oceanside community in 2014, the Cambria-based environmental group LandWatch filed a lawsuit challenging the permit and the emergency pretenses used for its approval. Stanford’s Environmental Law Clinic joined the lawsuit on behalf of LandWatch.  On July 27, San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Ginger Garrett denied LandWatch’s challenge and sided with the Cambria Community Services District (CCSD) and SLO County, which issued the permit. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here:  Court rules with Cambria CSD in water project lawsuit

Can Southern Californians save water without being told to?  “How well are Southern Californians doing at saving water without being told to? The answer in most places is: not great.  In June, state officials ended a mandatory conservation program that had been in place for a year. Absent the program, the state as a whole used 14 billion gallons more this June than June 2015, which was the first month of state-imposed conservation targets. Here in the hottest, most populous part of the state, we used about 2 billion more gallons.  Of nearly 200 local agencies reporting, about 8 in 10 used more water. … ”  Read more from KPCC here:  Can Southern Californians save water without being told to?

San Bernardino Valley water agencies buy record amount of state water:  “Attempting to prepare for a prolonged drought, San Bernardino Valley water agencies are buying a record amount of water from the State Water Project for about $6.5 million, officials said Wednesday.  A total of 54,152 acre-feet of water has been purchased this year by 10 water agencies, an amount that is nearly 35 percent larger than the previous record, which was 40,126 acre-feet purchased in 2012, records show.  The average California household uses between one-half and 1 acre-foot of water per year for indoor and outdoor use, the Water Education Foundation says. ... ”  Read more from the San Bernardino Sun here:  San Bernardino Valley water agencies buy record amount of state water

The O.C. needs desalination like it needs another housing development, says Adriana Maestas:  She writes, “California has never been a stranger to environmental justice problems – at one point or another our communities, including farmworkers, families and students have had to fight against the health impacts caused by poisons in pesticides, persistent industrial contaminants produced by refineries, decades of urban oil drilling and toxic battery recycling operating next to their homes and schools, as well as fracking and poor air quality, to name a few.  In this context, it is perplexing to see some in the community refer to the $1 billion Poseidon desalination boondoggle as an environmental justice priority while irresponsibly mentioning drought stricken Porterville as if the plant would benefit them. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  The O.C. needs desalination like it needs another housing development

San Diego: The drought’s water rate paradox:  “When water use goes down, water prices go up.  It’s a maddening paradox San Diegans have dealt with for the past year.  When Gov. Jerry Brown last year ordered Californians to use 25 percent less water, water agencies saw their sales plunge and holes open up in their balance sheets. So they raised rates. Short showers, brown lawns and dirty cars were rewarded with stubbornly high bills.  The state recently relaxed those water rules because rain and snow this winter refilled rivers and reservoirs. People can now legally go back to using more water, and in anticipation of rising demand, a few water agencies have lowered prices. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here:  The drought’s water rate paradox

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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