Daily Digest: Report: Bay-Delta Plan would shrink ag in Merced; 5 surprising winners during California’s drought; Map: See which parts of CA are ditching drought rules; Shasta County supes weigh water basin plan; Residents and growers at odds over groundwater in Cuyama Valley; and more …

In California water news today, Report: Bay-Delta Plan would shrink ag in Merced; Five surprising winners during California's drought; Nine experts to watch on California water reuse; Map: See which parts of California are ditching drought rules; Little Hoover Commission sets August 25th hearing on special districts; Shasta County supervisors weigh water basin plan; Grant to help improve recreational amenities along the Yuba River; San Francisco: Shoring up the city's edge; Imagery of water runs through Stanford art show; Stockton: East Bay MUD water experiment gets broad support; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

Report: Bay-Delta Plan would shrink ag in Merced: A state board’s proposal to help fish populations by increasing water flows down the Merced River would hurt the local ag industry, according to a new report done for the Merced Irrigation District.  If the State Water Resource Control Board’s proposed Bay-Delta Plan is approved, the report predicts Merced County’s economy would shrink by up to $231 million.  “This magnitude of change in long-term surface water supply reliability could lead to a structural change in the agriculture section,” the report said. “Such a drastic reduction could likely result in a countywide contraction in the agricultural sector.” ... ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here:  Report: Bay-Delta Plan would shrink ag in Merced

Five surprising winners during California's drought: Five years of drought in California have meant raging wildfires, dying trees, falling groundwater, dry wells, threatened wildlife and economic losses. It’s hard to imagine that there could be much to celebrate, but it turns out there are some people who are benefiting, even unintentionally, if you look closely enough.  Times of hardship often spur innovation and collaboration, and California has definitely seen some of that, along with some other benefits. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Five surprising winners during California’s drought

Nine experts to watch on California water reuse: While Californians might be tired hearing about the drought, the state’s water problems won’t go away anytime soon. That was the stark message of Pacific Institute co-founder Peter Gleick in an op-ed published last week.  “The problem isn’t that we’re in a temporary drought: The problem is that we live in a world with all the characteristics of a permanent drought, punctuated – ironically – by extreme floods,” Gleick wrote. “We must no longer assume that we have, or can get, enough water everywhere to do all the things we want, and as wastefully as we do them.”  One of the ways to treat water less wastefully is by efficiently reusing stormwater and gray water. In the fourth installment of our “Experts to Watch” series, we look at nine leaders inspiring water reuse efforts throughout the state. ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Nine experts to watch on California water reuse

Map: See which parts of California are ditching drought rules:  “Don’t be too surprised if you see greener lawns in California these days.  The mandatory drought rules in effect throughout the state over the last year have largely gone out the window.  Until recently, state officials set conservation standards between 4-36 percent for the 411 water districts in the state. Now, water districts are setting their own rules and the vast majority are ditching mandatory cutbacks. ... ”  Read more from KQED here:  Map: See which parts of California are ditching drought rules

Little Hoover Commission sets August 25th hearing on special districts:  “The Little Hoover Commission has scheduled a hearing Aug. 25 on special districts as part of a new review getting underway this fall.  The hearing will mark the commission’s first look at special districts since its 2000 report titled, “Special Districts: Relics of the Past or Resources for the Future?” The report’s recommendations included empowering Local Agency Formation Commissions to help consolidate districts, finding ways to make special districts more transparent and accountable to the public, requiring more prudent management of their “considerable financial reserves” and making it tougher for special districts to simultaneously collect fees and property taxes. … ”  Read more from ACWA's Water News here:  Little Hoover Commission sets August 25th hearing on special districts

In commentary today …

Water Fix provides solution to California's water woes, says Mike Mielke:  He writes, “Downtown San Jose sank 13 feet between 1910 and 1970 from excessive groundwater pumping. Repairs to sewers, roads, and bridges, plus the construction of levees to protect land below high tide from flooding, cost the area at least $750 million in 2013 dollars.  The Santa Clara Valley region would still be sinking at a rapid rate if it weren't for the foresight of the Santa Clara Valley Water District and supplies from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. In the 1960s, the State Water project started delivering Delta water to the Bay Area, Central Valley and Southern California. In conjunction, the district expanded their groundwater replenishment program, which helped curb permanent subsidence. Now the Delta supplies 25 million Californians. Nearly half of the water that serves 2 million people here in the region, including 200,000 daily commuters, comes from the Delta, and a quarter of that is used for groundwater recharge. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Water Fix provides solution to California’s water woes

California's water system in need of a fix, says Jim Anderson:  He writes, “Our wet winter increased the state’s water supply and filled many of our reservoirs. But in many ways, the much-needed relief exposed the failure of the current water system and the lack of a cohesive federal and state plan to secure water for California residents and businesses.  Unlike the commonly used phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” our state’s water system is widely recognized as broken, in dire need of a fix. How broken?  California’s aging water system, primarily governed through the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) and the State Water Project (SWP), were designed to meet the demands of a population of 19 million residents. There have been minimal infrastructure improvements in the last forty years, and our state cannot meet the current demands of its 38 million residents including urban, business and agricultural users. ... ”  Continue reading at Capitol Weekly here:  California’s water system in need of a fix

State auditors to look into ‘potentially improper' Delta tunnel transactions:  Barbara Barrigan Parilla writes, “Last week, Northern and Southern California state legislators had a rare breakthrough over one of the state’s most divisive issues — water.  The Joint Legislative Audit Committee voted to instruct the State Auditor to launch an audit of Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed Delta Tunnels. Recent revelations show the project has murky funding and even supporters know the tunnels cannot be built on a financial house of cards.  The Delta Tunnels would be 40-foot tall, 35-mile long tunnels dug beneath the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary. They would deliver fresh Sacramento River water to state and federal projects that send water to agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California cities. California voters rejected the Peripheral Canal proposal in 1982. ... ”  Read more from KCET here:  State auditors to look into ‘potentially improper’ Delta tunnel transactions

California needs more drought-proof water, says the Riverside Press-Enterprise:  “Although it’s not exactly news that California could use some more water, new research has revealed just how extensive the need has become – and at what cost for the state economy. The good news is, new research of a much different kind has revealed the answer: affordable, large-scale ocean desalination.  California’s water problem is so extensive that only a widely scoped solution will do. In a new UC Davis study reported by CNBC, water shortages this year were determined to threaten a whopping $550 million cost to the state’s agricultural industry, plus over 1,800 lost jobs. With other indirect costs, researchers forecasted, the total burden rises to $600 million and some 4,700 jobs. Compounding the misery, last year, the numbers were even worse: a total economic loss of over $2.5 billion and 21,000 jobs. … ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here:  California needs more drought-proof water, says the Riverside Press-Enterprise

In regional news and commentary today …

Shasta County supervisors weigh water basin plan:  “A discussion on groundwater bubbled to the surface at Tuesday's Shasta County Board of Supervisors meeting.  Public Works Director Pat Minturn asked supervisors for direction on a water basin plan for the region.  Handed down by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014 the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act requires local agencies to form plans and agencies to oversee water basins or face state control by 2017. ... ”  Read more from the Redding Searchlight Record here:  Shasta County supervisors weigh water basin plan

Grant to help improve recreational amenities along the Yuba River:  “New parking areas for cars, trucks and horse trailers, plus picnic shelters, informational kiosks, restrooms and more than 7 miles of new trails will be added along a 6-mile stretch of the Yuba River over the next two years, thanks to a grant from the California Natural Resources Agency.  The $312,217 grant was awarded to the Bear Yuba Land Trust to develop multi-use public recreation amenities for the 2,700-acre Rice’s Crossing Preserve.  “We’re thrilled to be awarded this important grant that will allow us to create public-access features that were envisioned when we acquired the property,” Marty Coleman-Hunt, the Bear Yuba Land Trust’s executive director, said in a written statement. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Grant to help improve recreational amenities along the Yuba River

San Francisco: Shoring up the city's edge:  “San Francisco’s Embarcadero and the structures along its bayside edge show why the city’s northeast waterfront has become so alluring — and why its future is at risk.  The piers combine robust history with matchless views. There’s high culture and raffish charm, empty benches and a raucous ballpark. The wide sidewalk attracts pedestrians, joggers, cyclists and even pedicabs.  But the atmospheric structures along the Embarcadero and the piers behind them could be inundated regularly at high tide by 2100 if scientific projections of rising sea levels are correct. In the meantime, the cost of bringing the aged structures up to current building codes is so high that the act of physical preservation can violate the spirit of the past, turning funky relics into posh enclaves. … ”  Read more from the SF Chronicle here:  Shoring up the city’s edge

Imagery of water runs through Stanford art show: Ever since the first flume of the Gold Rush, industrial Californians have been figuring out ways to divert water to their advantage — with photographers and painters there to document these diversions.  Now some of these acts of interference, plus the way the landscape looked before and after, are portrayed in “California: The Art of Water,” a major exhibition at Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.  All 50 works in the show have a viewpoint on water, starting with Albert Bierstadt’s painting “Sacramento River Valley” from the early 1870s, which was exhibited in New York to lure people west. It worked on William Hill, who came all the way from England with his paintbrushes to capture Yosemite’s Bridalveil Fall in 1892. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Imagery of water runs through Stanford art show

Stockton: East Bay MUD water experiment gets broad support:  “San Joaquin County water commissioners took the first formal step Wednesday toward approving an innovative experiment to store water below ground and share a portion of it with Bay Area residents.  The plan sailed through the commission by a 13-0 vote, meaning it now will go before the county Board of Supervisors.  Representatives of the Woodbridge Irrigation District and the city of Lodi, which rely on water downstream of the proposed project, voted in support despite having raised concerns earlier. The experiment will provide “valuable scientific information” and will assist farmers in northeastern San Joaquin County, Woodbridge General Manager Andy Christensen said. ... ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  East Bay MUD water experiment gets broad support

Expert says better chemistry key to solving northeast Fresno's water woes:  “A noted national expert in water-system engineering said Fresno still has considerable work ahead of it as it deals with persistent water problems in the northeast part of the city.  Local, state and federal water officials offered weary – and wary – northeast Fresno residents an update Wednesday night on those persistent water problems.  A growing number of northeast Fresno homes showing discolored water from faucets, and a rise in the number of homes testing positive for lead in the water, spurred 500 residents to the meeting at Clovis West High School. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Expert says better chemistry key to solving northeast Fresno’s water woes

Thirsty for solutions:  Residents and growers at odds over how to protect groundwater sustainability in Cuyama:  “The Cuyama Valley is remote. It’s so remote, that it’s isolated by at least 25 miles in any direction, and newspaper distribution is limited to one or two publications. It’s so remote, that its residents have to rely on one source of water—the Cuyama Valley Groundwater Basin, a precious resource that is rapidly disappearing.  Jim Wegis is the owner of Triangle E. Farms, which sits near the small, unincorporated town of Ventucopa. Although his family has been in the Cuyama Valley for roughly 150 years, Wegis has been farming his current property for less than four decades. He feeds his crops with two wells—one of which recently went dry—that tap into the groundwater basin deep below the valley. Now in the fifth year of California’s drought, farmers are heavily reliant on the aquifers, drilling deeper wells to get the water they need. … ”  Read more from the Santa Maria Sun here:  Thirsty for solutions:  Residents and growers at odds over how to protect groundwater sustainability in Cuyama

Climate change impacts on California's water supply require Metropolitan Water District to prioritize differently:  The Planning Report talks to Jeff Kightlinger:  “TPR: How has California’s four-year drought affected the priorities of the Metropolitan Water District?  Jeff Kightlinger:  It’s affected our priorities in a couple ways. One is that while we typically plan for 25 years out, the severity of this drought has had us scrambling to deal with the current situation on the ground.  This was the most severe drought in California’s recorded history, and it’s been a challenge just to make things work month-to-month these past four years. This drought has also been a little different than past droughts, in that there haven’t been other sources of water available for us to purchase.  In the past, we’ve been able to reach out to the agricultural community and do spot-market transfers to move water around the state as needed. This time around, not only was there very limited water availability around the state, but we also faced restrictions on our ability to move water—for instance, restrictions in the Delta made it harder to move water from Northern to Southern California. As a result, the spot-market transfer essentially vanished. … ”  Read more from The Planning Report here:  Climate change impacts on California’s water supply require Metropolitan Water District to prioritize differently

Garcetti taps public utility veteran to succeed departing LADWP chief:Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday that he has chosen Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Chief Operating Officer David Wright to lead the agency.  If confirmed by the City Council, Wright — who has worked at the DWP for two years and before that had worked for decades at other public utilities in California and Nevada — would replace Marcie Edwards, who is stepping down after less than three years on the job.  Earlier Tuesday, the utility’s board of commissioners backed Wright for the new job, in which he would earn $350,000 a year. Garcetti announced earlier this month that Wright would serve as interim general manager after Edwards’ departure.  … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Garcetti taps public utility veteran to succeed departing LADWP chief

Is the Salton Sea stinking more? Data says yes: If you’ve noticed the Salton Sea seems to be stinking a bit more often lately, you’re right.  Two air monitors near the lake have detected more days this years with high levels of hydrogen sulfide, a gas that smells like rotten eggs, than during either of the past two years.  The South Coast Air Quality Management District’s records show the number of days with levels of the gas above the state odor standard has already surpassed the count for 2015, with more of the summer weather that tends to produce smelly conditions still to come. ... ” Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Is the Salton Sea stinking more? Data says yes

And lastly …

Air Resources Board to rein in cow flatulence:  (Slightly off topic, but sorry, I simply couldn't resist):  “While not a popular or sexy topic of discussion, flatulence is a very natural activity. Who amongst us hasn’t occasionally burped, belched, or otherwise passed a little gas? When guilty of passing waste gases such as hydrogen, carbon dioxide, methane and other trace gases due to the microbial breakdown of foods during digestion, we may say, “Excuse me.”  But for dairy cows and other cattle, manners do not suffice; the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has a low tolerance for such naturally occurring and climate-altering gaseousness. The ARB is planning to mandate a 25% reduction in burps and other windy waftage from dairy cows and other cattle, as well as through improved manure management. … ”  Read more from California Ag Today here:  Air Resources Board to rein in cow flatulence

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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