DAILY DIGEST: Westlands Water District may get win with controversial drainage plan; Sustainable groundwater: It’s not a universal standard in California; San Joaquin County Supervisors assail state water flow plan; and more …

In California water news today, Election over, Westlands Water District may get win with controversial drainage plan; Sustainable groundwater: It’s not a universal standard in California; San Joaquin County Supervisors assail state water flow plan; Better Water Decisions in the Age of Deep Uncertainty; Ballots due Thursday for Hamilton City’s new levee project; Abandoned mine by Russian River has alarmingly high levels of mercury; Cloud seeding resumes over the Sierra; Stanislaus County: Hard rain could create severe flooding downstream of orchards, says Vance Kennedy; Kettleman water project poised to start; Study: Fill Mead first idea needs more scrutiny

On the calendar today …

  • SGMA Best Management Practices meeting at 4pm in Clovis. 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. 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 for meeting notice.

In the news today …

Election over, Westlands Water District may get win with controversial drainage plan:  “The politically resurgent Westlands Water District is set to win House committee approval Wednesday of a big irrigation drainage plan that is opposed by Northern California’s Democrats.  Years in the making, the plan forgives a roughly $375 million debt owed by the nation’s largest irrigation district. The Rhode Island-sized district also locks in favorable terms on future water contracts and will retire some land. In return, the deal relieves the federal government of the multibillion-dollar obligation to construct irrigation drainage facilities for the San Joaquin Valley’s west side. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Election over, Westlands Water District may get win with controversial drainage plan

Sustainable groundwater: It’s not a universal standard in California:  “Next year, a new California law will revolutionize how the state manages its groundwater.  By June 30, 2017, according to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), many groundwater users must form new agencies and begin drafting plans to “sustainably manage” their aquifers. Three years later, they must begin operating aquifers according to those new plans, which will dramatically change how groundwater is used.  There is an entirely different category of California groundwater, however, that is exempt from SGMA. These are the “adjudicated” groundwater basins, so-called because the rules for managing them has been decided in a court of law. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Sustainable groundwater: It’s not a universal standard in California

San Joaquin County Supervisors assail state water flow plan:  “San Joaquin County has joined several local water districts and boards in opposing a state plan to increase pulse flows in the lower San Joaquin River.  The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously expressed its opposition to proposed changes in the Water Quality Control Plan presented by the state.  Supervisors said the state’s plan, which involves increasing flows out of the lower San Joaquin River in an effort to protect fish and wildlife in the southern portion of the county and much of Stanislaus County, doesn’t have benefits at all. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  San Joaquin County Supervisors assail state water flow plan

Better Water Decisions in the Age of Deep Uncertainty:The old ecological and political order is crumbling. When calculations are complete, 2016 will be the hottest year on record, surpassing a mark set one year ago. The oceans are rising at an increasing rate. In the American West, it is too warm and dry this month for snow, delaying the accumulation of a natural water reserve that cities, farms, and fisheries rely on during the summer. Politics are no less turbulent. After the U.S. election, domestic regulations affecting energy development, infrastructure spending, and water supplies are in flux. Allies in the struggle to slow global carbon pollution ponder America’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, which went into effect earlier this month.  To navigate the peril, managers need to understand the concept of “deep uncertainty,” argues Robert Lempert, the president of the Society for Decision Making Under Deep Uncertainty, whose mission is to help leaders make better decisions for water, energy, and food systems in a time of rapid environmental and social change. … ”  Read more from Circle of Blue here:  Better Water Decisions in the Age of Deep Uncertainty

In commentary today …

San Francisco Bay estuary needs more fresh water, say Gary Bobker and Jon Rosenfeld:  They write, “The San Francisco Bay Estuary and the rivers that feed it face an existential crisis. The signs of impending collapse include six endangered native fish species, shrinking wetlands and beaches, and more frequent cyanobacteria blooms that generate neurotoxins powerful enough to kill pets and sicken people.  Just outside the Golden Gate, Orca whales feeding on Chinook salmon go hungry, while commercial fishermen cope with another shortened fishing season.  As documented in our report “San Francisco Bay: The Freshwater-Starved Estuary,” the productivity of the largest estuary on the Pacific Coast of the Americas depends on getting enough fresh water, especially during the winter and spring. Incredibly, California diverts more than half the winter-spring runoff destined for the Bay in a typical year and two-thirds or more during droughts. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  San Francisco Bay estuary needs more fresh water

In regional news and commentary today …

Ballots due Thursday for Hamilton City’s new levee project:  “So far so good on the project to keep Sacramento River flood waters from flowing toward Hamilton City and nearby farmland.  However, less than half of the construction funds have been approved and there is still uncertainty about future funding for maintenance of the project.  This week, landowners in the flood zone have a chance to vote on the levee maintenance tax. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Ballots due Thursday for Hamilton City’s new levee project

Abandoned mine by Russian River has alarmingly high levels of mercury:  “When it rains in Guerneville, people keep a close watch on the Russian River, because rising waters can flood the town. But just upstream, there’s another threat when it rains, found in the large piles of red dirt bordering a creek that runs into the River.  They’re part of what remains of the Mount Jackson mine, once one of the largest mercury mines in California.  It closed in the early 1970s, after operating for more than a century. The mine owners are long gone. But large piles of dirt and rock tailings remain. … ”  Read more from CBS Bay Area here:  Abandoned mine by Russian River has alarmingly high levels of mercury

Cloud seeding resumes over the Sierra:  “Cloud seeding has resumed over the Sierra Nevada in hopes of increasing the winter snowpack, but La Nina might have other plans for the central California rainfall season.  The Northern California Power Agency, which has conducted cloud seeding every year since 2006, has begun seeding a 74-square-mile watershed above New Spicer Reservoir in Tuolumne County above 6,500 feet, according Randy Bowersox, hydroelectric facilities manager for the power agency.  The cloud seeding project, which commenced on Nov. 1, hopes to augment the winter snowpack runoff by at least 2 percent. But Bowersox conceded that achieving that goal depends largely on the mood of Mother Nature, since “storm systems suitable for seeding are needed.” … ”  Read more from the Calaveras Enterprise here:  Cloud seeding resumes over the Sierra

Stanislaus County: Hard rain could create severe flooding downstream of orchards, says Vance Kennedy:  “While there has been extensive ripping of foothill soils several feet deep to allow planting of nut trees, there has been little discussion of the effects on storm runoff from those soils. There are potential pluses and problems.  First, the pluses: Ripped soils become more permeable to rainfall penetration and root growth, so light to moderate rainfall infiltrates rather than runs off. That contributes to soil moisture storage and perhaps some very small contribution to groundwater storage, in an area of generally little rainfall.  There has been no really hard and prolonged rainfall since the extensive ripping has been done in the foothills of Stanislaus County, so everything seems fine so far. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Hard rain could create severe flooding downstream of orchards

Kettleman water project poised to start:  “Kettleman City’s long-delayed clean water plant appears to have cleared all obstacles that have been standing in the way of construction starting.  The latest holdup was a search for endangered species at the future plant’s site next to the California Aqueduct. Water from the aqueduct will be purified and then delivered to Kettleman City homes and businesses.  The tap water in Kettleman, which comes from local wells, is contaminated with arsenic. ... ” Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here:  Kettleman water project poised to start

Study: Fill Mead first idea needs more scrutiny:  “Environmental advocates want to use water from the nation’s second-largest reservoir to fill its largest one. But new research suggests the benefits might not be as obvious as they say.  Jack Schmidt, a watershed scientist at Utah State University, recently explored the idea of drawing down Lake Powell to store more water in Lake Mead 300 miles downstream.  Environmentalists say that would reduce evaporation, but Schmidt says the science isn’t clear cut. … ”  Read more from KUER here:  Study: Fill Mead first idea needs more scrutiny

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

DELTA STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL: Water Year 2016 in review; Overview of Delta levee assessment district feasibility study

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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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