DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: More water in reservoirs, but drought persists; SF Bay ecosystem collapsing as rivers diverted, scientists report; Brown signs bill to improve water conveyance in the San Joaquin Valley; and more …

In California water news this weekend, More water in California reservoirs, but drought persists; San Francisco Bay ecosystem collapsing as rivers diverted, scientists report; Brown signs bill to improve water conveyance in the San Joaquin Valley; Measure would give California voters say on mega-projects; Matilija Dam one step closer to coming down; Stable supply of water in the San Gorginio pass a cause for current and future concern; and more …

In the news this weekend …

More water in California reservoirs, but drought persists:  “California’s major reservoirs are holding 69 percent more water than a year ago, the U.S. government announced Friday, but regulators warned that drought conditions continue to plague the state.  In its annual inventory of water in storage, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said the six key reservoirs owned by the federal government’s Central Valley Project held a combined 4.9 million acre-feet of water as of Oct. 1, the beginning of the “water year” that runs through next September.  That figure compared with 2.9 million acre-feet a year earlier. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  More water in California reservoirs, but drought persists

San Francisco Bay ecosystem collapsing as rivers diverted, scientists report:  “Evidence of what scientists are calling the planet’s Sixth Mass Extinction is appearing in San Francisco Bay and its estuary, the largest on the Pacific Coast of North and South America, according to a major new study.  So little water is flowing from the rivers that feed the estuary, which includes the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, Suisun Marsh and the bay, that its ecosystem is collapsing, scientists who conducted the study say.  Human extraction of water from the rivers is not only pushing the delta smelt toward extinction, they say, but also threatening dozens more fish species and many birds and marine mammals, including orca whales, that depend on the estuary’s complex food web. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  San Francisco Bay ecosystem collapsing as rivers diverted, scientists report

Brown signs bill to improve water conveyance in the San Joaquin Valley:  “Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill that citrus industry representatives say will provide added flexibility in moving water to some of their drought-parched groves.  The bill by Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, authorizes the Department of Water Resources to make improvements to pumps on the Friant-Kern Canal in the eastern San Joaquin Valley.  The project, for which up to $7 million is expected to be included in Brown’s next budget, will enable water that was sent to the San Joaquin River for fish flows and recaptured downstream to be pumped back up the Friant-Kern canal to some Friant Division contractors, according to an Assembly bill analysis. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Brown signs bill to improve water conveyance in the San Joaquin Valley

Measure would give California voters say on mega-projects:  “A proposition that a prosperous farmer brought to the California ballot would threaten two ambitious water and rail projects that Gov. Jerry Brown is pushing, requiring voters’ OK before launching any state building project requiring $2 billion or more in revenue bonds.  Proposition 53, if voters approve it on Nov. 8, could force Brown’s administration to hold statewide votes on funding for two controversial mega-projects that he is trying to get well underway before he leaves office in 2018.  Those are a $68 billion Los Angeles-to-San Francisco bullet train, and a $15.7 billion plan to build two giant tunnels to carry water from Northern California’s largest river south, mainly for use by Central and Southern California farms and cities. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Measure would give California voters say on mega-projects

Where the wild things are: We Californians live in direct competition for resources with the wildlife that roam the sky, rivers and land of our Central Valley. Where once there were rolling hills for animals to graze and hunt, now there are freeways. We fill in ditches and build our houses on top of their homes. We leave out poisons that can affect small animals and the birds that hunt them, and we drive vehicles through creek beds, smashing delicate nests and marine life. We often only extend care and concern to the domesticated animals that share our homes with us — but Mittens and Rover aren’t the ones in danger here.  Luckily for the animals, birds and other wildlife in Northern California, there are a few, dedicated nonprofit and volunteer organizations committed to mitigating human encroachment on wildlife habitats and the harm it can cause. Simply by existing in the same space as wild creatures, humans pose a threat. These organizations have made it their mission to care for all animals, big and small — and ensure that their habitat is safe for generations to come — through rescue, rehabilitation and education. … ”  Read more from Comstock’s Magazine here:  Where the wild things are

Matilija Dam one step closer to coming down:  “The Matilija Dam in Ojai will soon become a thing of the past. The main reason why officials plan on tearing the Matilija Dam down is because it is no longer useful.  Plans to tear down the Matilija Dam have been in the works since 1999, but the process has been long delayed because of questions on exactly how and then who’s going to pay for it. Elected officials and community stakeholders gathered at the dam Thursday located off Highway 33 in Ojai to work on strategies and specific plans for funding and actions needed to remove the dam and get rid of the built up sediment. … ”  Read more from KEYT here:  Matilija Dam one step closer to coming down

Stable supply of water in the San Gorginio pass a cause for current and future concern:  “Having a stable supply of water in California is not only a current worry for water agencies but a concern for 30 to 50 years from now, said San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency general manager Jeff Davis at the second annual State of the Supply event on Friday, Sept. 30.  “We, like other public agencies, plan for the future,” Davis said.  The seminar was held in the Banning City Hall council chambers. … ”  Read more from the Record Gazette here:  Stable supply of water in the San Gorginio pass a cause for current and future concern

In commentary this weekend …

We must work together to balance a limited resource – water, says Peter Drekmeier He writes, “In California, water is a public trust resource. It belongs to all of us, not just those who own the infrastructure to impound it and divert it to fields and cities. The state is legally obligated to balance its various beneficial uses, including protecting fish and wildlife species and the associated jobs, recreation and other uses.  This isn’t an easy task in a state where water rights total five times the amount of precipitation that falls on the state.  From an environmental standpoint, the system is obviously out of balance. Before the Tuolumne River was dammed and diverted, an estimated 130,000 salmon spawned in its waters. Last year, fewer than 500 of the iconic fish returned … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  We must work together to balance a limited resource – water

San Francisco to state on water-use cutbacks: How low can we go?  Harlan Kelly Jr. and Nicole Sandkulla write, “Do you think you could reduce your water use by 40 percent? What if we asked for even more than that? This is the type of rationing we can expect during a severe drought if a new proposal from the State Water Resources Control Board is implemented.  The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is the retail water provider for San Francisco and the water provider for 26 wholesale customers in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda counties. Today, 85 percent of the water we deliver to our customers comes from the Tuolumne River. The state water board’s newly released draft update to the Bay-Delta Plan to balance California water uses — drinking, irrigation and fisheries — has potentially serious effects for the 2.6 million people who rely on our water system. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  San Francisco to state on water-use cutbacks: How low can we go? 

San Francisco’s turn to cut back water use to help fish:  Spreck Rosekrans writes, “The contentious struggle to restore threatened fisheries in the San Francisco Bay-Delta and the Central Valley has focused mostly on reducing the amount of water exported from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to farms and Southern California cities. That’s now changed.  The State Water Resources Control Board has asked San Francisco and other communities that withdraw water from rivers that feed into the delta from the south to be part of the solution.  … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  San Francisco’s turn to cut back water use to help fish

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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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where California water news never goes home for the weekend

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