Daily Digest: Major habitat restoration project could help Delta fish; The forecast for Lake Mead: Hot and dry and plenty of anxiety; Judge blocks Central California oil development over fracking; and more …

In California water news today, Major habitat restoration project could help Delta fish; The forecast for Lake Mead: Hot and dry and plenty of anxiety; Judge blocks Central California oil development over fracking; Official: Californians netted strong water savings in July; Is rate restructuring in California unconstitutional?; Drought drives energy bill talks; Project aids food supply for Delta smelt; Threatened suit spurs tepid species workplan; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The State Water Resources Control Board meets at 9am.  (really!) Agenda items include an update on Sacramento River Salmon Recovery efforts from the Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries Service, and Northern California Water Association, an update on California’s ongoing drought emergency, and an update on Emergency Water Conservation Regulation.  Click here for the full agendaClick here for the webcast.
  • Dr. Michael Dettinger will discuss the current drought in a Brown Bag Seminar from 12pm to 1pm.  Click here for more information.

In the news today …

Major habitat restoration project could help Delta fish:  If you restore aquatic habitat in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, will the fish come back?  That’s the basic question behind a major restoration project planned at Prospect Island, a 1,600-acre (650-hectare) tract of levee-protected farmland near Rio Vista that is now owned by the state.  The California Department of Water Resources and Department of Fish and Wildlife plan to breach the levees to restore tidal flow to the island, and reshape the terrain to create the kind of shallow habitat that could attract Chinook salmon and delta smelt. The agencies recently released a draft environmental impact report on their project. ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Major habitat restoration project could help Delta fish

The forecast for Lake Mead: Hot and dry and plenty of anxiety:  “A reckoning arrives every August for the Colorado River and the 40 million people across the West who depend on it.  After water managers measure annual inflows and outflows and do their best to estimate future precipitation in places as far-flung as northwestern Wyoming and southwestern New Mexico, they make a pronouncement that once was arcane but has become increasingly prominent — and ominous.  Technically, what they announce is the projected elevation of Lake Mead, the Colorado River’s largest reservoir, on Jan. 1 for each of the next two years. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  The forecast for Lake Mead: Hot and dry and plenty of anxiety

Judge blocks Central California oil development over fracking:  “A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the U.S. Bureau of Land Management from opening more than 1 million acres in Central California to oil drilling because the agency did not properly explore the potential dangers of fracking.  U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald sided with environmentalists who argued that the bureau should have addressed the possible impacts of hydraulic fracturing in an environmental impact statement issued as part of the formal process of opening public lands to drilling.  Instead, the 1,073-page impact statement mentioned fracking only three times and never discussed the controversial practice in depth, according to the judge. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Judge blocks Central California oil development over fracking

Project aids food supply for Delta smelt:  “Efforts to enhance the food supply for the protected delta smelt are showing initial success, according to wildlife and water resources experts. They gathered at the Yolo Bypass to the Sacramento River last week to discuss their work to increase the number of plankton available to the fish.  Cooperative efforts by state and federal agencies, Sacramento Valley farmers and water providers have resulted in the creation of a phytoplankton bloom, the experts said. Phytoplankton are microscopic creatures and the major food source for zooplankton, another minuscule creature that represents the main food source for delta smelt. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Project aids food supply for Delta smelt

Official: Californians netted strong water savings in July:  “Residents of drought-stricken California kept up water conservation in July despite the long, hot days near the peak of summer, officials said.  People are most inclined to water their yards when it is the hottest, so dialing back sprinklers also offers the greatest opportunity for savings, officials said.  “We’re holding steady” on conservations, said Max Gomberg, a senior climate scientist for the State Water Resources Control Board. “It shows that people understand that the drought’s not over.” … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Official: Californians netted strong water savings in July

Is rate restructuring in California unconstitutional?  “Water conservation and a rise in supply costs compelled the Santa Barbara City Council to hike water rates in August.  “With customers using 35 percent less water than they used to, sales revenues are way down. At the same time, drought-related costs have gone up: $55 million to build [a] desalination plant and millions more to buy the supplemental water supplies needed to keep Lake Cachuma from going bone dry,” the Santa Barbara Independent reported.  … In Santa Barbara, rate hike opponents say that the city’s charging scheme does not comply with the California Constitution of 1996. ... ” Read more from Water Online here:  Is rate restructuring in California unconstitutional?

Drought drives energy bill talks:  “There was “a lot of discussion during the recess” about how to address the California drought language House Republicans want to see in an energy bill, Sen. Maria Cantwell, the upper chamber’s lead Democratic negotiator, told reporters in the Capitol Tuesday evening. As Pros remember from Tuesday, water policy has quietly become the linchpin of the energy overhaul Cantwell and Sen. Lisa Murkowski have been pushing for the last year. Democrats seem open to at least a piecemeal approach to help the parched state if GOP lawmakers are willing to budge from the larger drought bill they added to the House negotiating package. … ”  Read more from Politco here:  Drought drives energy bill talks

Threatened suit spurs tepid species workplan:  “A new workplan to tackle the continuing backlog of endangered and threatened species waiting for listing decisions falls short of what is needed, some environmentalists claim. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its workplan for the next seven years, just one week after the Center for Biological Diversity (CBC) conservation group warned the agency it planned to sue them over the backlogged species.  The CBD’s April 23 notice regarding the pending lawsuit claimed that the agency did not make required “12-month finding” determinations for more than 417 species that the CBD and other groups had petitioned for listing between 2008 and 2010, making the findings at least five to seven years overdue. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) mandates a two-year process from petition to final listing. … ”  Read more from Courthouse News Service here:  Threatened suit spurs tepid species workplan

In regional news and commentary today …

Chico: Groundwater report, plans on the table at Water Commission Wednesday:  “A report on county water inventory and a report on water quality trends will be among the topics for the Butte County Water Commission, which meets at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Board of Supervisors Chambers, 25 County Center Drive in Oroville.  Two presentations are planned by Christina Buck.  Butte County is working with other water leaders in the county toward the state-mandated Sustainable Groundwater Management planning effort, http://www.water.ca.gov/groundwater/sgm. This involves agencies that manage water creating plans that maintain water supply and water quality. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Chico: Groundwater report, plans on the table at Water Commission Wednesday

French Meadows protection vital for Placer water supply:  “In an effort to improve the health of the forests and watersheds that source Placer County Water Agency’s (PCWA) water supply, the Agency is partnering with the Tahoe National Forest, The Nature Conservancy, American River Conservancy, and the University of California, Sierra Nevada Research Institute on the French Meadows Forest Resilience Project.  The PCWA Board of Directors authorized staff to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the other stakeholders at its meeting on September 1. … ”  Read more from Rocklin and Roseville Today here:  French Meadows protection vital for Placer water supply

LADWP gets new leader as LA City Council confirms David Wright:  “The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday confirmed David Wright as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s newest general manager.  The council confirmed his post 13-0, with councilmen Felipe Fuentes and Mike Bonin absent from the vote.  Wright, 56, was already serving as the utility’s interim general manager following DWP head Marcie Edwards’ resignation last month. … ”  Read more from the LA Daily News here:  LADWP gets new leader as LA City Council confirms David Wright

Why Lake Elsinore’s boat launch may shut down soon: Engineers designed Lake Elsinore’s huge La Laguna Boat Launch to continue operating, even at low water levels, after it opened in 2012.  The expanded design was due in part to the city’s experience with its older ramp, Seaport Boat Launch, which shuts down when the lake’s surface drops below 1,240 feet above sea level. … ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here:  Why Lake Elsinore’s boat launch may shut down soon

Despite desalination, floating it in by barge, and taking short showers, Catalina islanders are told to cut back even more:  “This quaint resort town has a reputation for making visitors feel as if they’re an ocean apart from the troubled megalopolis 22 miles to the east.  So it figures that the tourists in Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops strolling past Avalon’s restaurants, bars and trinket shops seemed unruffled by the news that has riveted the attention of residents and business owners: As of Tuesday, the utility serving the island has imposed Stage 3 rationing, requiring everyone to slash their water use by 40% to 50%.  … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Despite desalination, floating it in by barge, and taking short showers, Catalina islanders are told to cut back even more

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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