DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: To save SF Bay and its dying Delta, the State aims to re-plumb California; Sides brace for hearing over river flow plan; Drought hits another crop – Christmas trees; Trump win churns US-Mexico water talks; and more …

In California water news today, To save the San Francisco Bay and its dying Delta, the State aims to re-plumb California; Sides brace for hearing over river flow plan; Drought hits another crop – Christmas trees; Trump win churns US-Mexico water talks; Environmental groups brace to fight Trump over climate change; Trump seems ready to fight the world on climate change, but he’s likely to meet resistance; Photo gallery:  Dreams of dust; and more …

In the news today …

To save the San Francisco Bay and its dying Delta, the State aims to re-plumb California:  “The report’s findings were unequivocal: Given the current pace of water diversions, the San Francisco Bay and the Delta network of rivers and marshes are ecological goners, with many of its native fish species now experiencing a “sixth extinction,” environmental science’s most-dire definition of ecosystem collapse.  Once a vast, soaked marsh and channel fed by the gushing Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, the Delta has diminished dramatically over the previous century as those rivers and their mountain tributaries have been diverted to irrigate Central Valley farms and Bay Area urbanity. With winnowing supplies of Chinook salmon available for food, Orcas off the coast are starving. So, too, are seals and fish-eating birds. And the Gulf of the Farallones, a national marine sanctuary, is suffering from a lack of freshwater fed by the Bay. ... ”  Read more from Cal Matters here:  To save the San Francisco Bay and its dying Delta, the State aims to re-plumb California

Sides brace for hearing over river flow plan: Fishing and environmental groups will get the first say Tuesday about how much water should run down the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers.  The session in Sacramento will be the first of five before the State Water Resources Control Board, which is considering a major boost in the flows. Irrigation districts, city water suppliers and other critics will get their chance as the public hearing moves to Stockton, Modesto and Merced next month.  The board Wednesday released a detailed agenda for the hearing, which will be webcast live. Its staff already has heard plenty of informal comment since the proposal came out in September. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Sides brace for hearing over river flow plan

Drought hits another crop – Christmas trees:  “Like a Grinch, the drought may put a damper on local Christmas celebrations. For one, years of sub-normal precipitation mean fewer big trees available at local farms for the holiday season.  “Come early if you can,” said Dee Kobervig, president of the El Dorado County Christmas Tree Growers. “We’ll be open until we’re sold out, but demand will surpass what we can grow.”  At Sierra foothills farms as well as in the national forest, lack of sufficient rain and snow for the past five years has greatly slowed growth of firs and other traditional Christmas trees. Farmed trees usually are harvested when six to 10 years old, so trees in the current crop have had to cope with drought conditions most of their lives. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Drought hits another crop – Christmas trees

Trump win churns US-Mexico water talks:  “Negotiations between the U.S. and Mexico to seal a water-sharing deal over the dwindling supplies on the Colorado River are confronting a new deadline: the inauguration of Donald Trump.  A 16-year drought has sent water levels at the river’s most important reservoir, Lake Mead, to their lowest point since it was first filled in the 1930s, threatening supply cuts for 40 million people across seven U.S. states and two Mexican states. It’s also raising the stakes for the two countries as they try to hammer out an extension of a four-year-old agreement on how to share the water. … ”  Read more from Politco here:  Trump win churns US-Mexico water talks

Environmental groups brace to fight Trump over climate change: A block from the imperiled beaches of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Bob Edwards and his wife, Anita, had the same reaction on the night of Nov. 8 as they sat watching America elect a president who had dismissed climate change as a hoax.  “We were physically ill, because of the steps backward we were going to take on global warming, on health care and many other areas where we’ve made progress over the last years,” Edwards, the Democratic mayor of Nags Head, said of Donald Trump’s election.  Edwards and fellow property owners have fretted for years about gradually rising seas – even more so about scientists’ warnings that heat-trapping gases could melt enough Arctic ice in the decades ahead to send the waters several feet higher and submerge much of the barrier islands.  With Trump’s triumph, many folks along North Carolina’s coast – from fishermen to farmers to hotel operators and restaurateurs who rely on tourism – are nervous. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Environmental groups brace to fight Trump over climate change

Trump seems ready to fight the world on climate change, but he’s likely to meet resistance:  “Donald Trump is branded with all manner of unflattering labels, but one that hasn’t seemed to much bother him is “climate pariah.”  The president-elect is unabashed in his disdain for America’s global warming policy. He has placed a staunch climate-change doubter and antagonist of mainstream science in charge of reshaping — or as Trump has suggested, dismantling — the Environmental Protection Agency. He has talked frequently about reneging on the historic Paris global climate treaty the U.S. took a lead in drafting. And he has said he wants every federal green-energy program eliminated. … ” Read more from the LA Times here:  Trump seems ready to fight the world on climate change, but he’s likely to meet resistance

Photo gallery:  Dreams of dust: How Central Valley communities are coping with prolonged water shortages.  View the photo gallery from High Country News here:  Photo gallery:  Dreams of dust

In commentary today …

Desert and farm, water drainage and a new deal in the Central Valley:  Mark Arax writes, “The helicopter landed in the western hills above the San Joaquin Valley and out of the dust walked President John F. Kennedy.  It was Aug. 18, 1962, and the sun would not let go. In the hollow of the mountain, where California was about to build its newest reservoir, the air felt like a blast furnace. Summer had baked the earth to a tan and shrunken form. The hills turned to hide. Though not a drop of rain had fallen from the sky since spring, no one in the assembled crowd, certainly not the cotton kings, thought of this as drought.  Going dry for eight months was California’s condition. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Desert and farm, water drainage and a new deal in the Central Valley

Keep a close eye on North state water, says the Chico Enterprise-Record:  They write, “The upcoming Donald Trump presidency will reshape people’s lives in ways large, small or not at all, depending on each person’s circumstances. But we can think of nothing that can affect our entire region more than Trump’s position on water.  As is the case with many issues, it’s hard to know exactly where Trump stands.  The indications we get so far from the president-elect, however, have us concerned the Sacramento Valley could become a much larger version of the Owens Valley. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region has good reason to worry as well. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Keep a close eye on North state water

Tuolumne River is sick and only higher flows can cure it:  Jody Hallstrom writes, “The Stanislaus Audubon Society fully appreciates the economic value of water to our region and especially the value of our priceless farmland. However, we have found it increasingly difficult to ignore the effects when water is diverted beyond amounts sustainable for native wildlife.  Some of our longtime members remember when bald eagles gathered near the town of La Grange to feast on expired salmon during the fall salmon runs. Today, those salmon runs are gone and perhaps lost forever.  While there is plenty of controversy about the causes of disappearing salmon runs, there is agreement that 80 percent of the water from the Tuolumne River is diverted for urban and agricultural use. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Tuolumne River is sick and only higher flows can cure it

Precipitation watch …

weather-1From the National Weather Service: Snow overnight in the Sierra resulted in 1 to 2 feet of snow over the higher elevations. CalTrans is still requiring chain controls early this morning so any mountain travelers should check road conditions before driving. Showers are almost out of the NWS Sacramento forecast area and we will have dry, mild weather for the rest of today. However, another round of rain and snow arrives late tonight into Monday, but amounts will be light and should not have significant impacts.”

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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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