DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: Even with drought, the San Joaquin River will begin flowing year-round for the first time in 60 years; First step taken on setting minimum Sacramento River flows; State letter to farmers demands water to fix nitrate problem; and more …

Fall colors along the South Yuba River

In California water news this weekend, Even with drought, the San Joaquin River will begin flowing year-round for the first time in 60 years; First step taken on setting minimum Sacramento River flows; State releases report for Delta, Sacramento River flows; State letter to farmers demands water to fix nitrate problem; Sites Reservoir marks major milestones;  Groups argue proposal would rescind water rights; Could desalination be a new energy storage market?, and more …

In the news this weekend …

Even with drought, the San Joaquin River will begin flowing year-round for the first time in 60 years:  “A decade ago, environmentalists and the federal government agreed to revive a 150-mile stretch of California’s second-longest river, an ambitious effort aimed at allowing salmon again to swim up to the Sierra Nevada foothills to spawn.  A major milestone is expected by the end of the month, when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says the stretch of the San Joaquin River will be flowing year-round for the first time in more than 60 years.  But the goal of restoring native salmon remains far out of reach.  The original plan was to complete the task in 2012. Now, federal officials expect it will occur in 2022. And the government’s original cost estimate of $800 million has ballooned to about $1.7 billion. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Even with drought, a California river will begin flowing year-round for the first time in 60 years

First step taken on setting minimum Sacramento River flows:  “The first official document has been released in a process that will undoubtedly call for reduced diversions from the Sacramento River and its tributaries, including the Feather River.  The plan is not far enough along to determine a minimum amount of water from the Sacramento basin that has to be allowed to flow through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and out to sea for the survival of fish and other aquatic species. Instead, the report issued this week by State Water Resources Control Board staff is a compilation of the “best available science” on the issue. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  First step taken on setting minimum Sacramento River flows

State releases report for Delta, Sacramento River flows:  “The state’s Bay-Delta water quality and species protection efforts added another piece Friday with the release of the draft report on water flow in and out of the Sacramento River Basin.  California’s Water Quality Control Board is seeking comment on the Scientific Basis Report, from which it will determine the necessary flows to “protect fish and wildlife beneficial uses.”  “The report also acknowledges that non-flow measures should be integrated with flows to protect fish and wildlife,” the board staff said in a statement released with the report. ... ”  Read more from the Fairfield Daily Republic here:  State releases report for Delta, Sacramento River flows

Groups argue proposal would rescind water rights:  “A state proposal to send more water down the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers to benefit fish would harm farms and ranches and could lead to lawsuits, farm groups argue.  The State Water Resources Control Board is taking comments through Dec. 16 on a plan to require up to 75 percent of what would be the rivers’ natural flows to reach the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.  About 48 percent of the rivers’ outflow is now diverted for agriculture and cities, asserts a scientific report by California’s top water panel.  But the plan could lead to “significant lawsuits” because it would essentially rescind water rights, said Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Groups argue proposal would rescind water rights

State letter to farmers demands water to fix nitrate problem: A state water agency has told some farmers in Tulare County that their operations caused nitrates to get into drinking water, and that the contamination must be replaced with a clean source.  If the farmers don’t do it voluntarily, the state will order them to do so, the enforcement division of the State Water Resources Control Board says in a confidential letter obtained by The Bee.  Nitrates in drinking water can harm human health, and in infants causes blue-baby syndrome. Nitrates are a byproduct of nitrogen in fertilizers used in agriculture for decades, although some farmers point out nitrates also occur naturally. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  State letter to farmers demands water to fix nitrate problem

Sites Reservoir marks major milestones:  “A diverse and bipartisan group of state and local elected officials, regional water managers, agriculture, labor and business joined to mark the significant milestones achieved in the development of Sites Reservoir, and to acknowledge the momentum gaining for this important water storage project.  “Sites is an incredibly important project for the State of California that meets many of the public benefits required by the Water Bond” said Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City. “Californians are frustrated that no new major water storage project has been built in decades, and the progress made by the Sites Project shows both momentum and viability for this project.” ... ”  Read more from the Daily Democrat here:  Sites Reservoir marks major milestones

Could desalination be a new energy storage market? A boom in desalination could create new opportunities for energy storage as developers seek to maximize output from assets powered by wind or solar.  “As soon as solar-plus-storage can compete with [traditional] generation prices, there will be a huge market,” said Thomas Hillig, managing director of Dr. Thomas Hillig Energy Consulting, a consultancy focused on off-grid energy markets.  “It’s pretty important to have high utilization, because the desalination equipment is very capital-intensive. After having done the investment, they want to run it as intensely as possible. If we go off-grid, there has to be storage because utilization has to be high.” … ”  Read more from GTM here:  Could desalination be a new energy storage market?

In commentary this weekend …

Why are we sending precious water downstream for fish in the middle of a drought?  Here’s why, says the LA Times:  They write, “California is not merely a political jurisdiction drawn on a map. Even without the human artifice of state lines, it exists as a physically and ecologically distinct place, characterized and enriched by iconic species that live only here — the California condor, the giant sequoia, the golden trout, the coast live oak and hundreds of others. It has entire ecosystems found nowhere else, such as the coastal redwood forests and the chaparral. It is also the beginning and ending point for species that make one of the planet’s most amazing migratory journeys: the salmon.  Those of us who know this fish mostly from the grocery store or on the plate (or on a bagel) may think of salmon as creatures of Alaska, the Columbia River, or perhaps Scotland. But some fish biologists believe that the Chinook salmon, and perhaps all Pacific salmon species, can ultimately be traced to the southern Sierras and the pools of snowmelt that turn into the Stanislaus, Merced, Tuolomne and San Joaquin Rivers, all salmon highways that link the mountains to the open ocean. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Why are we sending precious water downstream for fish in the middle of a drought?  Here’s why

Food does not come from a grocery store, says Jim Costa:  He writes, “‘Whiskey is for drinking. Water is for fighting over.’  In the Valley, we all know the phrase, coined by Mark Twain more than a century ago. It is tired, overused and just as accurate as ever.  The California water debate between farmers, environmentalists and city dwellers, and the legislators who represent them, has gone on for decades.  This regional conflict is the reason California’s congressional delegation and senators have not reached agreement on legislation to modify federal water policy and invest federal resources to fix the state’s broken water system. … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here:  Food does not come from a grocery store

Column: Hundreds rise in defense of the region’s water:  Mike Dunbar writes,The real question facing the people of this Valley is no longer whether they will fight the state’s devastating water grab, but how.  “Have you ever heard of Admiral Yamamoto?” Stanislaus County Supervisor Terry Withrow asked Les Grober. Facing five angry supervisors on the dais with some 300 angrier people sitting just over his shoulder, Grober didn’t answer.  Withrow was speaking about Isoroku Yamamoto, the Japanese marshal admiral who masterminded the bombing of Pearl Harbor. “He’s quoted as saying, ‘I fear we’ve awakened a sleeping giant.’ You’ve awakened the giant. We’re not going to sit back and just let this happen.” … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Hundreds rise in defense of the region’s water

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Changing tides’: Humboldt Bay symposium discusses state of the ocean, coastal progress:  “The Humboldt Bay Symposium at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka presented two days of updates, development and changes that have happened within the region over the last two years.  “Two days was not enough, but I feel like we put together the best group of experts that we possibly could,” said Joe Tyburczy of California Sea Grant, a main sponsor of the symposium. “We put this together in six months and this event happens every two years so we have a lot of thought that goes into proving interesting and thought provoking topics when it comes to research and restoration.” … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  ‘Changing tides’: Humnboldt Bay symposium discusses state of the ocean, coastal progress

Yuba County Water Agency shoots down funds initiative:  “An initiative that would institute a new formula for distributing revenue from water sales was rejected by the Yuba County Water Agency. But the issue isn’t going away.  The proponents of the Groundwater Fairness Act said they won’t let the matter drop and are talking to their lawyers. YCWA said that it rejected it to save time and expense on an initiative that included actions that wouldn’t be legal. Initiative proponents say it wasn’t YCWA’s place to judge the legality of the initiative — the agency is simply supposed to administer the initiative, title it and write a summary. It would then be proponents’ responsibility to gather enough signatures to put it before voters. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  Yuba County Water Agency shoots down funds initiative

Turlock: Water rate increase on tap for 2017: City of Turlock residents will be paying 15 percent more for water starting Jan. 1, should the City Council affirm the scheduled rate increase at their Tuesday meeting.  The 2017 water rate increase is part of a series of six increases adopted by the City Council in 2014. The increases were developed to generate sufficient revenues for current operating costs and also to help fund the construction of a new surface water treatment plant. … ”  Read more from the Turlock Journal here:  Water rate increase on tap for 2017

Tri-Valley doesn’t really like SGMA:  “The state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act wasn’t designed for the idiosyncrasies of the Eastern Sierra. That was very obvious at Wednesday’s Tri Valley Groundwater Management District’s SGMA workshop.  But, given the district’s alternatives, by the end of the two hour session, the audience and district board seemed to lean toward forming a Groundwater Sustainability Agency but joining with Inyo County on the required planning process.  The alternatives: the 11 well owners in Tri Valley could foot the bill for a Groundwater Sustainability Plan running in the hundreds of thousands of dollars or face massive fines and fees imposed by the state Water Resources Control Board. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  Tri-Valley doesn’t really like SGMA

Will flooding put a damper on plans for the LA River?  “Potential flooding may be causing trouble for neighborhoods close to the Los Angeles River.  As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a report that found parcels north of downtown L.A., including Atwater Village, Elysian Valley, Burbank and Glendale, could be flooded if a 100-year storm hits.  This news comes in the wake of a $1.6 billion L.A. River restoration project, which is working to naturalize an 11-mile stretch of river from Northern Griffith Park to downtown L.A. … ”  Read more from KPCC here:  Will flooding put a damper on plans for the LA River?

Southern California: Surfers take to sometimes-tainted water in the name of science:  “More than 600 local surfers played a role in a groundbreaking epidemiological study looking into the risks of surfing in compromised water.  Using a phone app, they logged when they went into the water and how often they got sick.  The participants were enticed into the program with a free bar of surf wax, and were encouraged to follow up with researchers with a free subscription to a surf-condition-and-forecasting service. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Surfers take to sometimes-tainted water in the name of science

Yucca Valley: Wastewater treatment plants start groundbreaking: It was a historic day for Yucca Valley and even for California, public officials said as Hi-Desert Water District broke ground for a wastewater treatment plant Thursday morning.  “You are leading the path for the future and you are truly saving your children,” Senator Jean Fuller said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “Thank you for doing this.”  Located on land south of Twentynine Palms Highway and west of La Contenta Road, the facility should be finished by mid-2018 and cost roughly $30 million, according to the water district. … ”  Read more from the Hi-Desert Star here:  Wastewater treatment plants start groundbreaking

Negotiations moving forward on plan to avert Colorado River ‘crash’:  “The largest reservoir in the country now stands at just 37 percent full.  Lake Mead reached its lowest point on record this year, and federal water officials estimate the odds of the reservoir slipping into shortage conditions in 2018 at nearly 50-50.  The reservoir’s decline reflects a fundamental deficit in how the Colorado River has been divided up for decades. The old system of allotments that sustains farms and cities is doling out much more water than the river can provide, and the strains on the river are being compounded by 16 years of drought and rising temperatures. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Negotiations moving forward on plan to avert Colorado River ‘crash’

And lastly …

The veins of America: Stunning map shows every river basin in the US:  “A stunning new map shows the complex network of rivers and streams in the contiguous United States.  Created by Imgur user Fejetlenfej, a geographer and GIS analyst with a ‘lifelong passion for beautiful maps,’ it highlights the massive expanse of river basins across the country – in particular, those which feed the Mississippi River.  The map visualizes Strahler Stream Order Classification, the creator explains, with higher stream orders indicated as thicker lines. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Mail here:  The veins of America: Stunning map shows every river basin in the US

Precipitation watch …

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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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