DAILY DIGEST: Delta tunnels: A steady trickle of progress; Can Trump deliver on energy and climate promises?; Lawsuit over Paso Robles vineyard wells reveal growing water fight; and more …

In California water news today, Delta tunnels: A steady trickle of progress; Future look for the Delta?; Can Trump deliver on energy and climate promises?; Fish and Wildlife discusses fishing closure on the Sacramento River; Annual fish closure could become permanent; Public hearing set for Russian River low flow plan; Will Sacramento finally lift its ban on artificial turf?; Lawsuit over Paso Robles vineyard wells reveal growing water fight; DWP customers were overcharged at least $67.5 million, monitor says; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The State Water Resources Control Board will meet beginning at 9am. Agenda items include an annual report on the Clean Water Act Revolving Fund, and a public workshop on the Salton Sea.  Click here for the full agendaClick here to watch on webcast.
  • The California Water Commission meets today at 9:30 am. Agenda items include an informational briefing on DWR’s water loss regulations, an update on DWR’s SGMA best management practices public meeting (see item below), and an action item to review and begin formal public comment period for the Water Storage Investment Program draft regulations.  Click here for the full agendaClick here to watch on webcast.
  • SGMA Best Management Practices meeting at 9:30am. The DWR Sustainable Groundwater Management Program is hosting a public meeting to solicit input regarding the planned BMP topics, as well as other potential GSP guidance information as part of the regular meeting of the California Water Commission.  The meetings are an opportunity to discuss BMPs and GSP guidance information and to provide feedback to DWR.  The draft BMPs are available here: http://water.ca.gov/groundwater/sgm/bmps.cfm  Click here to watch on webcast.

In the news today …

Delta tunnels: A steady trickle of progress:  “Gov. Jerry Brown’s massive Delta tunnels project is moving forward through a series of state and federal environmental reviews. But it still faces an array of major hurdles including public opposition, financing and approvals by state water contractors.  The $15 billion project, known as California Water Fix, is on track to finish the state environmental impact report and federal environmental impact statement by the end of the year, said Cindy Messer, assistant chief deputy with the state Department of Water Resources. ... ”  Read more from Capitol Weekly here:  Delta tunnels: A steady trickle of progress

Future look for the Delta? Its marshes drained and diked, its rivers dredged and diverted, today’s Delta has been called a “brittle skeleton” of what it was 200 years ago.  In fact, scientists concluded in 2014 that the Delta is hardly a river delta at all, anymore.  But in a follow-up report published today, those same experts with the San Francisco Estuary Institute say there is still hope of bringing back at least a portion of the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas.  Their broad plan calls for fundamental changes to the mostly agricultural landscape that exists today. They propose thick bands of forests along Delta waterways, sprawling wetlands much larger than the isolated patches found today, and the rebirth of tiny streams that once ran through the Delta like capillaries, providing refuge for native fish. ... ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Future look for the Delta? 

Can Trump deliver on energy and climate promises?  “President-elect Donald Trump vowed on the campaign trail to topple just about every major energy and environment policy enacted in the past eight years.  From torpedoing the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan and international climate deal to expanding oil and gas development and overhauling the regulatory system, the incoming administration has big promises to keep. But while massive change is expected, Trump will face limits on carrying out his plans.  Even with two friendly chambers of Congress, passing major energy legislation is time-consuming and politically daunting. Writing new regulations is a bureaucratic slog, and those are likely to face protracted legal battles. Trump might also face hurdles unraveling some Obama rules that are already on the books and trying to roll back some executive moves, such as designations of national monuments. … ”  Read more from Greenwire here:  Can Trump deliver on energy and climate promises?

Fish and Wildlife discusses fishing closure on the Sacramento River: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) held a meeting Monday night to discuss a proposed permanent closure along the Sacramento River to protect endangered winter-run Chinook salmon.  CDFW Fisheries Program Manager Curtis Milliron said the proposal is an exact copy of the emergency closure placed over the past two years and affects the river between the Keswick Dam and the Highway 44 Bridge from April 1 to July 31.  The news left mixed feelings with some local anglers. Sacramento River Fishing Guide Dave Jacobs said another closure made him feel robbed. That section of the river is best for rainbow trout and he rarely hooks a salmon by accident. … ”  Read more from KRCR here:  Fish and Wildlife discusses fishing closure on the Sacramento River

Annual fish closure could become permanent: Closing part of the Sacramento River to all fishing in Redding four months a year could become permanent, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  For the past two years the department has asked the state Fish and Game Commision to prohibit fishing on an emergency basis on a 5.5-mile section of the river from April 1 to July 31.  But this year, fish and wildlife officials plan to present the commission with four alternatives, with the preferred one closing the river annually for four months until the threat to winter-run salmon eases, said Jason Roberts, a fisheries supervisor in the department’s Redding office. … ”  Read more from the Redding Record Searchlight here:  Annual fish closure could become permanent

Public hearing set for Russian River low flow plan:  “People who want to give feedback about a plan to cut summertime flows in the Russian River and Dry Creek will have two opportunities to do so in person this week at public hearings.  The sessions, in Cloverdale on Wednesday and Guerneville on Thursday, are being hosted by the Sonoma County Water Agency, which is in the midst of environmental review for a series of proposed changes to water releases from Lakes Mendocino and Sonoma. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Public hearing set for Russian River low flow plan

Will Sacramento finally lift its ban on artificial turf? Now that the state has cleared the way, the Sacramento City Council will again consider finalizing an artificial turf ordinance that would lift a longtime ban on faux grass in front yards.  Last year, the Sacramento Planning Commission approved a measure that would lift a three-decade ban on fake turf in front and side lawns visible from a street.  But when it got to the council last November, the ordinance stalled out of concerns that too much faux turf could harm the city’s lush urban tree canopy. The worry was that too much dense turf below trees wouldn’t allow water to reach their roots. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Will Sacramento finally lift its ban on artificial turf?

Lawsuit over Paso Robles vineyard wells reveal growing water fight: A lawsuit in California’s Paso Robles wine region could impact how vintners in an increasingly thirsty region get their water. The suit raises questions about permits that allow tapping of deep underground aquifers—tapping that geologists and environmentalists argue is causing California farmland to literally sink. In a state plagued by years of drought, one environmental group argues that state and county officials are not looking closely enough at these permits and that the long-term impact could hurt both residents and vintners.  In July, California Water Impact Network (CWIN), a Santa Barbara–based nonprofit, filed the suit against San Luis Obispo County, claiming that the local government had issued permits for drilling agricultural wells without the environmental review required by state law. “The county is currently rubber stamping well permits without any review of the consequences for the water supply in the region,” said CWIN executive director Carolee Krieger. … ”  Read moire from the Wine Spectator here:  Lawsuit over Paso Robles vineyard wells reveal growing water fight

DWP customers were overcharged at least $67.5 million, monitor says:  “An independent monitor reported Monday that Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers were overcharged at least $67.5 million, a number attorneys claim will likely climb.  Customers of the giant utility, which serves Los Angeles and areas west into Santa Monica, were overcharged beginning in 2013 when a new billing system was improperly designed and installed by PricewaterhouseCoopers, according to release from Landskroner Grieco Merriman, the law firm that negotiated the current settlement.  A class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of the customers called for the department to repay the overcharged amounts, and gained preliminary approval in December. … ”  Read more from the Daily News here:  DWP customers were overcharged at least $67.5 million, monitor says

In commentary today …

How California’s water storage project rules are falling short:  Kim Delfino writes, “In California, innovation is the name of the game. Just as we’re leading the way in clean energy development, we can also lead the way in innovative water management.  Yet, we also have a long history of water wars. While we’ve supplied a lot of water to farms and cities, we’ve done a lot of damage to our fisheries and natural ecosystems. We have built many publicly funded dams and reservoirs, which have wiped out native salmon runs, starved wetlands of water, tarnished pristine rivers and inundated sacred lands.  In 2014, voters passed Proposition 1, which charts a different path. It entrusts the California Water Commission with $2.7 billion in bonds for new water storage projects that must result in environmental benefits, such as improved river flows, enhanced flood protection and improved water quality. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  How California’s water storage project rules are falling short

Building the future of water and power in California:  Joe Grindstaff writes, “California is growing. Our population growth remains steady, as more people want to live and work here each year. And our economy continues to expand at a rate that would be the envy of many states in our nation, not to mention nations around the world.  That growth comes with responsibilities, including the important task of ensuring the people of our state can continue to rely on the water and energy supplies and services that utilities in California provide. Water and energy utilities have long shared a symbiotic connection: the “Water-Energy Nexus.” Put simply, it takes a lot of water to make electricity and it takes a lot of electricity to pump, move and, now, recycle and reuse water. … ”  Read more from the Inland Daily Bulletin here:  Building the future of water and power in California

The North Delta Habitat Arc: An ecosystem strategy for saving fish:  “Delta native fishes are in desperate condition. Over 90 percent of fish sampled by diverse means belong to non-native species. Native species such as delta smelt are on a trajectory to extinction. If we are going to reverse this trend, we need to re-create a functioning estuary. This in turn requires more than a piecemeal collection of restoration projects, but an ecosystem-based plan of action, which we present here.  First, we remind you of some basic realities about the Delta:  The Delta is and will continue to be a central node in the California water supply system, which requires moving Sacramento River water through the Delta to pumping plants. … ”  Continue reading at Water Deeply here:  The North Delta Habitat Arc: An ecosystem strategy for saving fish

The Molotov cocktail the state is tossing:  Dennis Wyatt writes, “The State Water Control Board’s 3,500-page plan to dismantle the Northern San Joaquin Valley economy in a bid for a net gain of 1,000 more salmon holds water about as well as a sieve.  The entire premise behind initially upping unimpaired flows from February to June on the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced rivers to 40 percent of the historical average before reservoirs were put in place unravels when they want to dictate keeping the reservoirs they despise with a minimum storage to create cold water pools for fish year-round.  In the case of the 2.1 million-acre-foot New Melones Reservoir, the state plans calls for it never to drop below 700,000 acre feet. Storage as of Sunday was at 512,719 acre feet. … ”  Continue reading at the Manteca Bulletin here:  The Molotov cocktail the state is tossing

Precipitation watch …

Light showers in Northern California:  From the National Weather Service:  “Showers will spread inland across interior NorCal today and are expected to reach the I-80 corridor around mid to late-afternoon. The main impact is expected to be wet roadways, potentially affecting the eastern suburbs of the Sacramento region during the evening commute. Showers will also move through the northern Sierra Nevada, but snow levels will remain too high to affect Donner Pass on I-80 and Echo Summit on US Highway 50.”

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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