Daily Digest: Thirsty Westlands faces escalating water woes; Meet the polarizing leader who personifies Westlands; Westside and Eastside Valley farmers hope for water; State agencies warn of toxic algal blooms; and more …

In California water news today, Thirsty Westlands faces escalating water woes; Meet the polarizing leader who personifies Westlands; Westside and Eastside Central Valley farmers hope for water; State agencies warn of toxic algal blooms across the state; California pushes ahead with twin tunnels under the Delta; Aquifer poisoning suit against PG&E dismissed; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

Thirsty Westlands faces escalating water woes: Driving down Highway 33 through California’s Central Valley, signs of the state’s ongoing drought — and water wars — are everywhere. Fields of green winter wheat and diagonal rows of almond trees alternate with brown fields. Billboards every few miles read, “No water = No jobs.”  “I don’t know who put that sign there,” said Tom Birmingham, the general manager of Westlands Water District. “But what it says is accurate.”  Westlands, the largest agricultural water district in the country, is at the center of it all; the region has some of the most productive farmland in the world — but very little water. … ”  Read more from E&E Publishing here:  Thirsty Westlands faces escalating water woes

Meet the polarizing leader who personifies Westlands:  “Tom Birmingham’s name is synonymous with the Westlands Water District, the pugnacious California water agency that serves as a self-appointed bulwark against environmental overreach.  As general manager of Westlands, Birmingham has been in charge of the district’s efforts to provide water to its 700 farms for the past 15 years. His methods of doing so have made Westlands a key player in some of the state’s bitterest water battles.  But his management style has begun to ruffle feathers both inside and outside the district. … ”  Read more from E&E Publishing here:  Meet the polarizing leader who personifies Westlands

Westside and Eastside Central Valley farmers hope for water: Local farmers are not happy campers when it comes to federal water policy.  Despite a wet year in Northern California, westside farmers have been promised only a 5 percent allocation. However, they would be plenty more unhappy if the Bureau of Reclamation had not taken recent action to shore up San Luis Reservoir, where these farmers store surface water from northern California. … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Westside and Eastside Central Valley farmers hope for water

California pushes ahead with twin tunnels under the Delta: 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 Courthouse News Service here:  California pushes ahead with twin tunnels under the Delta

State agencies warn of toxic algal blooms across the state:  “Water regulators and public health agencies are warning Californians to avoid contact with water containing blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria.  The algal blooms are occurring all over the state – in San Luis Reservoir, Lake Shasta and Oroville, coastal and inland areas and even in the Sierra.  Greg Gearhart with the State Water Resources Control Board says it’s particularly bad this year because the drought is providing perfect conditions. … ” Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  State agencies warn of toxic algal blooms across the state

Aquifer poisoning suit against PG&E dismissed:  “Residents from the California town portrayed in the movie “Erin Brockovich” can’t sue Pacific Gas and Electric Co. under civil rights laws over the company’s alleged poisoning of an aquifer used for drinking water, a federal court ruled ( Urbina v. Pac. Gas & Elec. Co., 2016 BL 250194, C.D. Cal., No. 2:16-cv-02699, 8/2/16 ).  The federal Safe Drinking Water Act preempts civil rights law because it regulates contaminants in public water systems that can cause harm, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled in 19 separate, but related cases. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg BNA here:  Aquifer poisoning suit against PG&E dismissed

In commentary today …

Oroville drains while Shasta looks fabulous, says the Chico Enterprise-Record: They write, “A drive around the north state these days shows how remarkably fast the fragile water picture can change. It can be confusing as well.  Just three months ago, at the end of an El Niño rainy season, the state’s two largest reservoirs — Shasta and Oroville — looked blissfully the same. They were full for the first time in years, to the point that houseboats on the lakes could tie up to trees on the bank rather than pound a stake into the dirt bathtub ring.  It foretold the beginning of a promising season for boating, fishing, camping and other forms of recreation on the lake. The drought had been driving people away. Rain gave hope, finally, to communities like Oroville, Lakehead and Redding that rely on lake tourism each summer. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Oroville drains while Shasta looks fabulous

Why scoring zero in stress tests is good news:  Tim Quinn writes,The State Water Resources Control Board has just released the first month of conservation data under new state rules that emphasize drought preparedness and local discretion regarding conservation activities. Not surprisingly, the data demonstrate that Californians are using water efficiently both indoors and outdoors.  The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) supported the policy shift from last year’s top-down, state-mandated conservation targets to this year’s “stress test” approach – emphasizing local discretion, subject to a strong standard of drought preparedness. This critical shift in policy has been positive for water agencies across the state, which have for years invested in drought-resilient supplies and water-use efficiency measures. ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Why scoring zero in stress tests is good news

In regional news and commentary today …

Tehama County community on the edge of losing primary water source: The community of Paskenta in rural Tehama County is at a crossroads over water.  They’re about to run out of it for the third year in a row as the drought slowly creeps back into Northern California with the dry summer months.  The issue first came up in 2014, forcing the town to truck water in from Corning and restrict homeowners to just the basic needs.  Janet Zornig, the Secretary of the Paskenta Community Service District, said the water supply relies solely on Thomas Creek and the snow melt that feeds it during the summer. ... ”  Read more from KRCR here:  Tehama County community on the edge of losing primary water source

New Russian River Flood Control District board members appointed:  “The Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District Board of Trustees appointed two new members earlier this year following the resignations of Judy Hatch and Richard Shoemaker.  The new trustees are Will Carson, retired from Pacific Bell, and Matthew Froneberger, the General Manager of the Forestville Water District in Sonoma County.  Tamara Alaniz, general manager of the RRFC&WCID, said she received three letters of interest from community members wishing to serve on the board. … ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here:  New Russian River Flood Control District board members appointed

New San Mateo installation helps public visualize rising sea level: One of the hardest things about fighting climate change is making its future effects, which may seem theoretical or abstract, tangible to people who are busy living in the present.  To address that problem, San Mateo County unveiled a new initiative Thursday to help the public visualize how rising seas will affect Coyote Point Recreation Area and solicit their input on how to respond to water levels that are expected to ascend at least 3 feet in the Bay Area by the end of the century. … ” Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  New San Mateo installation helps public visualize rising sea level

City of Porterville agrees to more hookups:  “Porterville City council got on board Tuesday night with the city hooking up an additional 30 residences in East Porterville who have no working wells on their property.  During the city council meeting, the council approved modifying its agreement to hook up homes in East Porterville to the city’s water system, allowing now for 70 connections instead of 40, to be done as soon as possible. Those 70 connections are part of the Phase 1A Emergency Water Tank Replacement Project.  City Manager John Lollis said right now there is not a definitive date as to when they will be connected, but said it is anticipated that it would be sometime in August. … ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here:  City of Porterville agrees to more hookups

Why can’t LADWP hold on to its top executives?The executive churn at Los Angeles Department of Water and Power continues with the announced departure of General Manager Marcie Edwards after just two years on the job.  The seventh general manager to head up the nation’s largest municipal utility in the past decade, Edwards announced her retirement earlier this week.  DWP spokesman Joe Ramallo pointed out the turnover of top managers has slowed, given that only two GM’s have served in the top spot in the past five years.  David Nahai is an attorney who served two years on the DWP board before serving two years as general manager from 2007-2009. He said Edwards did well in a stressful job reporting to many bosses and stakeholders. … ”  Read more from KPCC here:  Why can’t LADWP hold on to its top executives?

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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