DAILY DIGEST: Do holiday storms offer glimmer of hope for the end of the drought?; Pot a growing barrier to spawning salmon; Radical change urged for state’s flood risk insurance; Understanding the CV-SALTS program; and more …

In California water news today, Do holiday storms offer glimmer of hope for the end of the drought?; Pot a growing barrier to spawning salmon; Radical change urged for state’s flood risk insurance; Some Californians can drink what the astronauts drink: Recycled waste water; After 24 years working together, Feinstein and Boxer day goodbye to their ‘Thelma and Louise’ partnership; State’s new key research vessel berths in Antioch; and more …

In the news today …

Do holiday storms offer glimmer of hope for the end of the drought?  “A cold winter storm swept into the region on Friday and early Saturday, bringing low snow levels and slippery roads on one of the busiest holiday travel periods of the year.  While the storm made for dangerous road travel and plenty of airport delays, the wet, snowy weather, following a succession of storms to start the rainy season, was more welcome news as California concludes its fifth consecutive year of drought.  “At this point, we’re cautiously optimistic,” said Jeanine Jones, interstate resources manager for the state Department of Water Resources. “We’re in the fingers-crossed, wait-and-see mode.” ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Do holiday storms offer glimmer of hope for the end of the drought?

Pot a growing barrier to spawning California salmon:  “Pot grows and salmon don’t mix, biologist and author Peter Moyle told a small but generally rapt audience Tuesday in Auburn.  Moyle, associate director of the Center for Watershed Studies at UC Davis, has been working on the ecology of California fish since 1969, culminating with his 2002 book “Inland Fishes of California.”  Tuesday’s message to about 15 people at the monthly meeting of the Save Auburn Ravine Salmon and Steelhead non-profit was a mixture of bad news and hopefulness. … ”  Read more from the Auburn Journal here:  Pot a growing barrier to spawning California salmon

Radical change urged for California’s flood risk insurance:  “Across the United States and worldwide, flooding is the deadliest and most costly natural disaster. The U.S. National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is an imperfect framework for reducing flood losses, but currently the best we’ve got. The NFIP is scheduled for Congressional reauthorization in 2017, and this debate promises to be lively. The Natural Hazards Research and Mitigation Group at University of California, Davis has been analyzing NFIP databases, examining patterns over the history of the program and focusing on flood losses and insurance, particularly in California.  Over the history of the NFIP, the state is one of a few that have – through dry years and wet – received only a fraction of payments from the program compared with the premiums it has paid in. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Radical change urged for California’s flood risk insurance

Some Californians can drink what the astronauts drink: Recycled waste water:  “The astronauts drink it, so why can’t Californians? We’re not talking about Tang, but purified recycled wastewater.  Everything you flush or that goes down that sink or shower drain can be recycled. Technology exists that also allows you to drink it. Sound nasty? Most people think so too.  … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Some Californians can drink what the astronauts drink: Recycled waste water

After 24 years working together, Feinstein and Boxer day goodbye to their ‘Thelma and Louise’ partnership:  “In 1992, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer pitched themselves to California voters as the dynamic duo, as “Thelma and Louise,” as “Cagney and Lacey.”  They were trying to convince voters to do something no state had ever done: Elect two women to represent them in the U.S. Senate. When they got to Washington, reporters followed the pair, looking for signs of discord. Boxer and Feinstein derided the attention as bizarre and sexist, but they remained conscious of the intense interest in how the nation’s first female pair of senators would work together.  “It was ridiculous,” Boxer said. “We knew there were people who were ready to say two women can’t get along. We knew we had that responsibility.” ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  After 24 years working together, Feinstein and Boxer day goodbye to their ‘Thelma and Louise’ partnership

State’s new key research vessel berths in Antioch:  “There’s a new boat in town but it’s no pleasure craft.  The Sentinel glided into Antioch earlier this month, the home base of California Department of Water Resources’ newest research vessel that will be dedicated to monitoring the health of the Delta.  Built in Seattle, Wash., the $3.6 million floating laboratory is the second such vessel the state agency has owned and its flagship.  The Sentinel’s predecessor, the San Carlos, turned 40 this year and has exceeded its projected life span by at least five years, said CDWR Information Officer Maggie Macias. … ”  Read more from the East Bay Times here:  State’s new key research vessel berths in Antioch

In commentary today …

Taking water could cost the state, says Mike Dunbar:  He writes, “Lots of angry words were billowing about during the momentous state water board hearings in Stockton, Merced and Modesto. There were vows to fight, to resist and not to accept the second-class-citizen status the state’s proposed rules would impose. One threatened to “unleash the dogs of war.”  Through most of it, board members sat stoically, letting it roll off their backs. They expected anger. But there was one word that probably made board members nervous.  “Taking.” … ”  Read more at the Fresno Bee here:  Taking water could cost the state

Feinstein betrays salmon, fishing jobs, and coastal communities, says Bob Borck:  He writes,  “Salmon fishermen are pissed with Sen. Dianne Feinstein.  Last February, I wrote in this paper about federal legislation attacking Central Valley runs that are the backbone of California and Oregon salmon fishing. Despite our best efforts, Congress threw us under the bus by passing that legislation — in a “midnight rider ” snuck into another bill.  Today, the San Francisco Bay-Delta is a death trap for migrating juvenile salmon as they swim down a dozen Central Valley rivers each the spring. The massive state and federal Delta pumps divert so much water that they literally reverse the flow of rivers before they reach the Bay. Baby fish get pulled off course and die at the pumps or along the way. The midnight rider directs federal agencies to make the terrible current conditions even worse. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times Standard here:  Feinstein betrays salmon, fishing jobs, and coastal communities

To solve the West’s water problems, California needs to solve the Salton Sea, says John Fleck: He writes, “Once dreamed of as a Riviera, the Salton Sea has become a decaying, smelly mess largely written off by the state of California. But in the West’s deeply interconnected water system, a decision to accept the Salton Sea’s decline risks not only the resilience of California’s water supplies, but those of 36 million residents of the United States and Mexico.  Seven U.S. states, the U.S. government and the Republic of Mexico are at the brink of a historic deal to reduce use of water from the overtapped Colorado River system. But without California’s willingness to step up and deal with the problems of the Salton Sea, this vital deal could collapse. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  To solve the West’s water problems, California needs to solve the Salton Sea

In regional news and commentary today …

Ocean changes upend North Coast fisheries:  “In any other year, the large bins of Dungeness crab that are loaded dockside in this busy fishing village and rolled out by truck to be sold and served during the holidays would seem like no big deal.  But after an unprecedented delay in the 2015-16 commercial season forced local crabbers to leave their boats tied up through winter and on into spring, the tons of meaty crustaceans landed in port this month have been a welcome sign of normalcy restored, if only for a moment.  For here on the edge of the Pacific, where commercial fishing remains a way of life, once reliable ocean rhythms have been seriously unsettled of late, confounding those who depend on predictable, seasonal cycles and highlighting future uncertainties. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Ocean changes upend North Coast fisheries

Millions more secured for Oroville Wildlife Area improvements: Another $2.5 million grant has been allocated to revamping the Oroville Wildlife Area.  Planning for projects along Deer Creek in Tehama County also got in excess of $2 million in the latest round of allocations of Proposition 1 funding, announced last week by the state Department of Fish and Game.  The Oroville Wildlife Area grant went to the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency, as part of the area’s Flood Stage Reduction and Restoration Project, said the agency’s executive director Mike Inamine. The money will allow improving the ecosystem for outgoing salmon species. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Millions more secured for Oroville Wildlife Area improvements

Millionaires sue Hillsborough over tiered water rates:  “One of the Bay Area’s wealthiest communities has a small uprising on its hands: a group of millionaires angry about water rates. And local leaders are moving to quash it.  Attorneys for the town of Hillsborough filed court documents this month defending the practice of hitting residents with higher water rates when they use more of the stuff, a policy that helps encourage conservation.  But nine people in the town, where homes go for an average $4.3 million and historically consume three times as much water as elsewhere, say the bigger bills don’t reflect the cost of providing the water — and are therefore unconstitutional. They’re suing the town in an attempt to lower prices and recoup their payments. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Millionaires sue Hillsborough over tiered water rates

Mendocino County property owner fined $37,000 for reservoir breach:  “Escaping water from a bladder used to store water for fire protection has fouled nearby land and run into the Upper Main Eel River in Mendocino County.  As a result, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board reports it has fined the property owners where the bladder was kept more than $37,000. ... ”  Read more from the North County Business Journal here:  Mendocino County property owner fined $37,000 for reservoir breach

Monterey County and Marina Coast argue over water:  “A fight over water has put the Marina Coast Water District at odds with the soon-to-be-created Salinas Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency. Both sides accuse the other of a power grab by including the Monterey sub-basin in their proposals to create state-mandated groundwater sustainability agencies.  Even as an arid state with limited water resources, California has long lagged behind other states by not having a comprehensive plan to manage groundwater and aquifers that support agriculture and many cities. In fact, groundwater is used by 85 percent of the state’s population. … ”  Read more from Monterey County Weekly here:  Monterey County and Marina Coast argue over water

Understanding the CV-SALTS program:  “The Central Valley Salinity Alternatives for Long-Term Sustainability, known simply as CV-SALTS, is a collaborative program to develop sustainable salinity and nitrate management planning for the Central Valley.  Stephanie Tillman is a Soil and Agricultural Scientist for one of the agencies consulting on the project: Land IQ.  The company is based in Sacramento and conducts science-based research in the agriculture industry.  “We have a group of spatial scientists, or what is known as remote sensing and GIS specialists as well,” Tillman said.  Salinity problems can be very complex, especially when dealing with a large geographical area. CV-SALTS is a coalition of agriculture, city, industry and regulatory agencies working together to form a plan for managing salts and nutrients going forward.  “When there’s diverse interests at the table, the potential for success of the regulations is increased because we do things that way and everyone comes to some kind of consensus,” Tillman said. … ”  Read more from California Ag Today here:  Understanding the CV-SALTS program

Soon Valley cities and counties will see impact of new water bill:  “Water is an issue state and local leaders have been battling for years, but new legislation could make some strides forward.  “We have a real positive step in the right direction,” said Rep.Jim Costa.  President Barack Obama signed the Water Infrastructure Improvement for the nation act into law recently and several pages of it addresses ways to help fix California’s water system. … ”  Read more from KFSN here:  Soon Valley cities and counties will see impact of new water bill

A big reason for Southern California’s drought has dissipated; now the ‘door is open’ for more winter storms:  “It’s gone.  The so-called Ridiculously Resilient Ridge, also known as The Blob, once perched off the Northwest coast blocking all storms like a football team’s defensive line, has dissipated, said Bill Patzert, climatologist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge.  Many climatologists believed this was the main reason for the lack of rainfall in Southern California, making the past five years the driest in Southern California history as measured from downtown Los Angeles. … ”  Read more from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune here:  A big reason for Southern California’s drought has dissipated; now the ‘door is open’ for more winter storms

And lastly …

Houston reservoir reborn as public space, canvas for art: Houston’s first underground drinking water reservoir — a decades-old collection of more than 200 concrete columns inside a cavernous space near downtown — had been unused for years and was set for demolition when a nonprofit group reimagined it as something new: a public space.  The 87,500-square-foot-space, dubbed the “Cistern” and reminiscent of ancient European water reservoirs, opened its doors to visitors in May. Then earlier this month, the structure’s darkened pillars and walls became the canvas for a piece of modern art. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Houston reservoir reborn as public space, canvas for art

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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