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Daily Digest: Drought costs CA farms $600 million; How a sheep farmer saves water using a shipping container; NorCal towns are running out of water; Stanislaus River trout at lowest levels since 2009; Salton Sea expert: ‘It’s becoming a biological and public health problem’; and more …

In California water news today, Drought costs California farms $600 million, but impact eases; How a sheep farmer saves water using a shipping container; Northern California towns are running out of water; What’s behind Lake County’s back-to-back wildfire catastrophes? Blame the drought; Stockton: Water sharing plan takes step forward; Stanislaus River trout at lowest levels since 2009; Officials check out Owens River Water Trail site; Pasadena:  Drought is killing Christmas Tree Lane, but there’s a last ditch effort to save it; Coachella Valley: It’s hot but we’re still saving water; Salton Sea expert: ‘It’s becoming a biological and public health problem’; Kim Delfino on why the endangered Delta smelt needs relief; and Desalination plant’s value to San Diego ratepayers is clear, says Mark Weston

On the calendar today …

  • The State Water Resources Control Board will meet at 9am: “Agenda items include an update on the ongoing drought emergency, consideration of a proposed resolution readopting a drought emergency regulation regarding informational orders; consideration of a proposed resolution approving an amendment to the Water Quality Control Plan for the San Francisco Bay Basin to establish a Total Maximum Daily Load and Implementation Plan for bacteria in San Francisco Bay beaches; and an update regarding the status of the Salton Sea Management Program.  Click here for the full agendaClick here to watch on webcast.

In the news today …

Drought costs California farms $600 million, but impact eases:California’s drought is costing farmers an estimated $603 million this year, although the impact is far less than a year ago, according to a study released Monday by UC Davis.  The latest annual survey by UC Davis researchers shows that the reasonably rainy winter has eased the effects of the drought, even though considerable shortages persist in crucial areas of the San Joaquin Valley.  “The drought continues for California’s agriculture in 2016, but with much less severe and widespread impacts than in the two previous drought years, 2014 and 2015,” the researchers wrote. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Drought costs California farms $600 million, but impact eases

Drought costing farmers $600 million this year:  “Monday by UC California’s drought is costing farmers an estimated $603 million this year, although the impact is far less than a year ago, according to a study released Davis.  The latest annual survey by UC Davis researchers shows that the reasonably rainy winter has eased the effects of the drought, even though considerable shortages persist in crucial areas of the San Joaquin Valley.  “The drought continues for California’s agriculture in 2016, but with much less severe and widespread impacts than in the two previous drought years, 2014 and 2015,” the researchers wrote. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Drought costing farmers $600 million this year

How a sheep farmer saves water using a shipping container:  “On Golden Valley Farm north of Madera, Mario Daccarett’s employees are milking 500 sheep in rounds of 12. As they hook up long clear suction cups to each animal’s teats, milk drains down tubes into a cold tank. This creamy milk eventually is turned into cheese and sold at places like Whole Foods or Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco.  “They tell me that our Golden Ewe cheese is the best for grilled cheese sandwich ever,” Daccarett says.  Daccarett says he gets about 800 pounds of milk a year from each ewe. To make that much milk it takes a lot of feed — like oats and hay — to satisfy this herd’s constant appetite. And to cut the cost of all that feed Daccarett says he has a secret ingredient that enriches his cheese while at the same time saves water … ”  Read more from KQED here:  How a sheep farmer saves water using a shipping container

Northern California towns are running out of water:  “Paskenta, population 112, is an out-of-the-way place where rustic ranches grace grass-covered hills rolling west toward Mendocino Pass. Since the lumber mill closed in 1992, the Tehama County community 130 miles (210km) north of Sacramento has been settling into bucolic tranquility.  A water crisis has triggered a rude awakening.  Thomes Creek, the sole source of water for the Paskenta Community Services District, is dropping. A pump that taps the underflow from a pool in the creek is a mere 6ft (1.8m) below the current water level, said Janet Zornig, the district’s manager.  “If it keeps up like this – and no rain in sight – we’ll have to haul in water,” she said. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Northern California towns are running out of water

What’s behind Lake County’s back-to-back wildfire catastrophes? Blame the drought:  “Will it happen every year?  That question hangs in the air as Lake County residents suffer through catastrophic wildfire for the fourth time in two years.  This time, the fire is surging even after a relatively wet winter and spring in Northern California. And experts say it’s a reminder that California’s five-year drought has left communities throughout the state vulnerable.  “This is coming to you,” said Kevin Cann, a Mariposa County supervisor who has been speaking for rural communities on a statewide forestry commission. “All of this has its roots in the drought.” … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  What’s behind Lake County’s back-to-back wildfire catastrophes? Blame the drought

Stockton: Water sharing plan takes step forward:  “Never before has San Joaquin County agreed to share its prized groundwater with outside interests.  That could change in the coming months, as county leaders move closer to finally considering approval of a one-time experiment with the East Bay Municipal Utility District.  It is very modest experiment, involving a very small amount of water.  But, if successful, the experiment could demonstrate that it’s possible for competing interests to cooperate in an era of increasing regulations and intensifying droughts. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Water sharing plan takes step forward

Stanislaus River trout at lowest levels since 2009:  “The once plentiful population of rainbow trout in the Stanislaus River has declined by 75 percent from that of six years ago according to a study by fisheries consulting firm FISHBO communications.  The study, released Thursday, estimated about 5,000 trout remained in the river in 2015. The key reason for the decline is believed to be warmer river temperatures that resulted from the California drought.  As the group prepares to do this year’s survey, it expects to find even worse numbers. That is because trout numbers tend to decline a year after a hot summer. River temperatures were warmer in 2015 than in 2014. ”  Read more from the Central Valley Business Journal here:  Stanislaus River trout lowest levels since 2009

Officials check out Owens River Water Trail site: The Owens River Water Trail has friends in high places. Bishop’s Randy Short serves as vice chair of the California Boating and Waterways Commission, a potential funding source for some of the project’s infrastructure, specifically handicapped-access to the river trail.  Short and the commissioners were in the Eastern Sierra Tuesday to hold their regular meeting and tour both the Owens River project site and Silver Lake’s access solutions. … ”  Read more from Sierra Wave here:  Officials check out Owens River Water Trail site

Pasadena:  Drought is killing Christmas Tree Lane, but there’s a last ditch effort to save it:  “The punishing Southern California drought is claiming its latest victim: Christmas Tree Lane.  The 96-year-old tradition of colorful holiday lights draped over the outstretched branches of 150 deodar cedar trees that line both sides of historic Santa Rosa Avenue may be in trouble.  That’s because 17 percent of the famous trees imported from the western Himalayas in 1885 are stressed and face imminent death unless they receive water quickly, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works Tree Maintenance Department. ... ”  Read more from the Pasadena Star-News here:  Pasadena:  Drought is killing Christmas Tree Lane, but there’s a last ditch effort to save it

San Diego: Sea level rise could redraw the map:  “Many San Diego properties would have a lot more ‘ocean’ in their ‘oceanfront’ if climate predictions come true.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration keeps track of various climate scenarios, and maps what areas would be affected.  Current estimates suggest that in 2100, the sea could rise by six feet, which would look like this: … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  San Diego: Sea level rise could redraw the map

Coachella Valley: It’s hot but we’re still saving water: People in the Coachella Valley continued to save substantial amounts of water in July, even after California regulators relaxed drought measures and gave water districts a reprieve from state-imposed conservation targets.  Customers of the Coachella Valley Water District, the area’s biggest water supplier, used 28.6 percent less in July as compared to the same month in 2013, which state officials are using as the baseline year. That was up more than 5 percentage points from June and above the district’s cumulative average of 25.6 percent for the past 14 months since the state began tracking monthly performance in June 2015. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Coachella Valley: It’s hot but we’re still saving water

Salton Sea expert: ‘It’s becoming a biological and public health problem’:  “The Salton Sea, the state’s largest lake, was born by accident when an engineering mistake sent a flood of water from the Colorado River into a salt sink. But more than a century later, it might be human inaction that causes its death.  At the height of its allure in the 1950s and 1960s, the Salton Sea was surrounded by resorts and visitors. But the lake has been shrinking rapidly as the drought worsens and water resources are diverted away from the region. A 2010 plan approved by California lawmakers was supposed to jumpstart restoration efforts, but according to the Los Angeles Times, funding for the project has not come through until June this year. ... ”  Read more from KPCC here:  Salton Sea expert: ‘It’s becoming a biological and public health problem’

In commentary today …

Kim Delfino on why the endangered Delta smelt needs relief:  She writes, “The delta smelt is a tiny silver fish with an oversized number of problems. To begin with, this fish is on the brink of extinction, and may not survive the next few years. It also faces threats such as getting sucked into giant pumps that divert water south, or being trapped by predators when the pumps pull river flows backward.  As if that was not bad enough, the extended drought has ravaged California over four years, making freshwater scarce, and massive water diversions are making the delta smelt’s habitat way too salty. Add to that the fact that the delta smelt has become the poster child for water wars waged in the halls of Congress, and it all stacks up pretty poorly for the little fish that was once considered a bellwether of the overall health of the San Francisco Bay Estuary, the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas.  We are seeking relief for the delta smelt. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Why the endangered Delta smelt needs relief

Desalination plant’s value to San Diego ratepayers is clear, says Mark Weston:  He writes, “More than two decades ago, the San Diego County Water Authority heard a clarion call from the region’s ratepayers – a call demanding better water supply reliability. A call to never again let our region – our communities, our friends, our neighbors, our businesses – be vulnerable to crippling water shortages, as when the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California cut water supplies to our region in 1991 by 31 percent for more than a year.  Since that time, the Water Authority and its 24 member agencies have dedicated themselves to ensuring our region has safe, reliable water to keep our families healthy and businesses thriving. That dedication – in the form of a multi-decade, long-term strategy to invest in a diversified portfolio of water supply sources and more robust regional water infrastructure, including seawater desalination – is paying immense dividends for our region now. And it will continue to do so for decades to come. ... ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here:  Desalination plant’s value to San Diego ratepayers is clear

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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