Daily Digest: Will CA be on the hook for the Delta tunnels?; San Luis Reservoir at lowest level in 27 years; Feds aim to restore water, return fish to the San Joaquin; CA’s summer of slime; The lake that left town; and more …

In California water news today, Will California be on the hook for the Delta tunnels?; San Luis Reservoir at lowest level in 27 years; Feds aim to restore water, return fish to the San Joaquin; California’s summer of slime: Algae blooms muck up waterways across the state; Does the new La Nina forecast mean a dry winter for California?; How Israel manages its water better than California; Drug cartels and illegal pot farms: Yurok battling for ancestral lands; The lake that left town: Why is this California community drying up?; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The California Water Fix hearings resume at the State Water Board today at 9am.  Click here to watch on webcast.
  • The Delta Stewardship Council and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board will hold a joint meeting from 10am to 1pm today. The Delta Stewardship Council and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board will discuss the Delta Levee Investment Strategy.  Public comment will be heard.  Click here for more information.  Click here to watch on webcast.

In the news today …

Will California be on the hook for the Delta tunnels? Critics and a state lawmaker say they want more explanations on who’s paying for a proposed $16 billion water project backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, after a leading California water district said Brown’s administration was offering government funding to finish the planning for the two giant water tunnels.  Critics said the government funding described by the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District on Thursday could run counter to longstanding state assurances that various local water districts, not California itself, would pay for Brown’s vision of digging twin 35-mile-long tunnels to carry water from the Sacramento River south, mainly for Central and Southern California. … ”  Read more from CBS 2 here:  Will California be on the hook for the Delta tunnels?

San Luis Reservoir at lowest level in 27 years:  “Robert Haskins walked across a vast expanse of cracked mud, littered with old beer bottles and millions of tiny clam shells, that in most Augusts would be 50 feet underwater.  But the San Luis Reservoir, the vast inland sea along Highway 152 that is a key part of Silicon Valley’s water supply, is only 10 percent full, its lowest level in 27 years.  “Normally that’s an island,” the Santa Clara Valley Water District maintenance supervisor said, pointing to a towering hill.  The nation’s largest off-stream reservoir is high and dry this summer, and it’s not really because of the drought. Northern California received its most rain in five years this winter. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  San Luis Reservoir at lowest level in 27 years

U.S. aims to restore water, return fish to the San Joaquin: California’s San Joaquin River flows out of the mountains above Yosemite, clear and bubbling until it abruptly stops just north of Fresno, its water diverted to irrigate farms.  Environmentalists have cheered a plan to reconnect the river this fall. But it is over budget, overdue and vehemently opposed by local farmers and some Republican lawmakers. U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a 2016 Republican presidential hopeful, once joked about eating its protected fish with crackers.  “For somebody who doesn’t really understand about the issue it seems very simple – just reconnect the river and water will flow,” said Cannon Michael, a sixth-generation farmer whose family settled in the San Joaquin Valley in the 1800s. “But the river was disconnected for a reason.” … ”  Read more from WSAU here:  U.S. aims to restore water, return fish to the San Joaquin

California’s summer of slime: Algae blooms muck up waterways across the state: Surrounded by barren brown hills and cracked, dry clay, San Luis Reservoir was so empty this week that the nearly milelong, meandering path from the old high-water mark to the waterline could have doubled as a set in the post-apocalyptic “Mad Max” film franchise.  Down at the water, far below two dry boat ramps, Don Weber and Bob Lewis sat in lawn chairs beside their pickup. The fishermen, both from Carmel Valley, said they had not noticed that the wind-whipped water had a slightly green hue. Nor had they read the warning that state water officials issued a week earlier, recommending that people and their dogs stay out of the reservoir – the state’s fifth largest – because of potentially toxic blue-green algae.  “You sure can’t see it,” Weber said. … ” Read more here: California’s summer of slime: Algae blooms muck up waterways across the state

Does the new La Nina forecast mean a dry winter for California?  “According to a new forecast from the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center, it’s likely that the La Niña weather pattern will show up this winter.  The likelihood that it will show up this winter is the same as last month: a 55 to 60 percent probability. That’s a downgrade from June, when it was 75 percent.  While El Niño is associated with warmer waters in the equatorial Pacific and warm, wet winters in Southern California, La Niña can be tied to cooling waters, and is better known for keeping things drier in the southern part of the state.  … ”  Read more from KPCC here:  Does the new La Nina forecast mean a dry winter for California?

How Israel manages its water better than California: California and Israel share a climate of perpetual drought. As far as water is concerned, however, that’s where the similarities end.  Israel has a water surplus, while California struggles to manage. Among other reasons, the Jewish state owes its water wealth to technology such as drip irrigation and water reclamation, which have yet to win wide popularity here. But different rules on water use pose one often overlooked answer to why California remains parched while Israel thrives. … ”  Read more from the Jewish Journal here:  How Israel manages its water better than California

In commentary today …

Federal water bills would harm our salmon, say Patty Unterman and Alice Waters:  “Today, one of our state’s most iconic local foods, chinook salmon, is in critical danger, threatened by drought and Congress.  This week, 39 leading Bay Area chefs and restaurant owners joined the Golden Gate Salmon Association in opposing antisalmon bills in Congress. Instead, we urge legislators to support rebuilding salmon runs.  Although many link this magnificent fish with rivers to the north, the most important California salmon habitat is closer to home. San Francisco Bay and its rivers represent the biggest salmon system south of the Columbia River.  Historically, this ecosystem produced millions of salmon annually. Young salmon emerge from the gravel in cold Central Valley rivers every spring. They spend the next few years in the ocean, returning to spawn where they were born. … ” Read more from SF Gate here:  Federal water bills would harm our salmon

Column: Robin Abcarian: A tour of California’s water supply lays bare the tension between farmers and fish: She writes, “The offer was too tempting to refuse: Westlands Water District, the ethically challenged agency that often finds itself in the news for all the wrong reasons, invited me on an aerial tour of its watershed.  From high above, I would be able to see the public works projects that have allowed the San Joaquin Valley to bloom, cities to explode and the natural environment to implode.  As someone who spends every flight between Los Angeles and Northern California with her nose pressed against the window, checking out reservoir levels, snow lines and lately, plumes of wildfire smoke, how could I say no? The engineering of water is the ultimate California story. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  A tour of California’s water supply lays bare the tension between farmers and fish

Time for more water storage, says John Kingsbury:  He writes, “As most of California recovers from this historical drought, one thing we can count on is that history will repeat itself.  Californians can take full credit for willingly sacrificing landscape and adjusting habits to save water supply for another year.  Toilets have been replaced, lawn has been converted to plastic, leaks have been fixed, prime agricultural land has been fallowed, and we have learned to be more efficient with our water supply.  So, fast-forward to the next drought.  What’s next?  There are powerful environmental activists that support dam removal, oppose new and expanded surface storage, and are demanding permanent and more strenuous conservation restrictions, both on indoor use and outdoor irrigation, as well as more water cutbacks on agriculture.  Unfortunately, this environmental movement is a myopic approach that ignores the statewide efforts to improve the California’s integrated water system. … ”  Read more from the Mountain Counties Water Resources Association here:  Time for more water storage

For water policy, hot and cold contradictions:  The LA Daily News writes, “In the end, it will be state and local officials, not scientists, who put forward the ways Southern California deals with the effects of both the drought and man-made climate change.  But we expect policy-makers, even when they are not exactly brainiacs themselves, to keep up with the science on these subjects in order to make informed decisions.  It’s scientists who discovered global warming and who now are studying its effects on the planet, as well as offering diverse ways to respond to the crises that will come with sea-level rise, dangerous weather patterns, disruption of agriculture and other problems. … ”  Read more from the LA Daily News here:  For water policy, hot and cold contradictions

In regional news and commentary today …

Drug cartels and illegal pot farms: Yurok battling for ancestral lands:  “They’re armed, they build dams to divert entire creeks for irrigation, and they desecrate sacred lands and animals.  But this is not a history lesson about colonial practices. Illegal marijuana growers are the modern-day scourge on tribal lands.  While the legalization of marijuana for medicinal and other uses have prompted some tribes to explore potential business opportunities, many tribes have a completely different relationship with cannabis cultivation. In California the Yurok and Hoopa in particular are contending with pot farms that sap an already drought-taxed water supply, desecrate ancestral lands and poison sacred animals. ... ”  Read more from Indian Country Today here:  Drug cartels and illegal pot farms: Yurok battling for ancestral lands

The lake that left town: Why is this California community drying up?  “Val Aubrey parked her boat trailer on the shore of Eagle Lake, in north-eastern California. She walked to an overlook where a sign warned against swimming and diving. “This” – she opened her arms wide – “used to be the marina.”  Down below, docks sat among nettles and thistles growing on what used to be the lake bed. The boat ramp led to sunbaked dirt, and squirrels skittered across the concrete.  “They put a tombstone right in the middle of it,” said Aubrey, pointing into the undergrowth. Sure enough, a small Halloween decoration had been erected in the former harbor. … ”  Read more from The Guardian here:  The lake that left town: Why is this California community drying up? 

Russian River gets all clear on algae scare for now:  “Kelly Bertoli debated Thursday whether to take her dog to the Russian River, where signs at beaches warn visitors about potentially toxic blue-green algae lurking in the water.  But the Santa Rosa woman didn’t see how she could keep Bear away. The black Labrador retriever mix dove again and again into the river after a tennis ball at Steelhead Beach Regional Park.  “I figure I’ll just rinse him off when we get home,” Bertoli said.  Bertoli was relieved to learn that test results released Thursday found no detectable amounts in the river of the harmful toxins produced by blue-green algae — a week after similar tests triggered the public health warnings. … ” Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Russian River gets all clear on algae scare for now

Turlock City Council approves extending service to RAM farms: The R.A.M. Farms pumpkin patch and Fields of Ice skating rink will once again be open for business this fall and winter seasons, following a decision by the Turlock City Council on Tuesday to extend water service to the east Turlock farm that lies just outside of the city limits.  The operation is required to secure a public water system to meet a condition of use on its permit issued by the Stanislaus County Planning Department. The condition was added to R.A.M. Farms’ permit to comply with California Health and Safety Code, which requires businesses that operate more than 59 days of the year with 25 individuals or more on site daily to provide a system for the provision of water for human consumption. … ”  Read more from the Turlock City Journal here:  Turlock City Council approves extending service to RAM farms

State is years behind on projects to protect wildlife at the Salton Sea, officials and activists say: The Salton Sea is in big trouble and plodding state officials are to blame, local authorities and environmentalists say.  The California Legislature appropriated money to start designing projects to restore wildlife habitat and control dust at the steadily receding salt lake in 2010.  But lawmakers did not approve funding to actually begin construction on those conservation efforts until June of this year, when they included $80.5 million in the state budget for a few modest habitat projects scheduled for sometime next year, state officials said. Those projects comprise the first phase of a proposed long-term Salton Sea restoration effort estimated to cost about $3 billion. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  State is years behind on projects to protect wildlife at the Salton Sea, officials and activists say

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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