DAILY DIGEST, New Years Day & Monday edition: No bounceback for Delta fish; Water guzzlers face more fines, shaming under new law; Colorado River crisis hits across the West; and more …

Sunrise at Jackson Lake by Rennett Stowe

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In California water news this weekend, No bounceback for Delta fish; Water guzzlers face more fines, shaming under new California law; California officials say a new plan will make conservation a way of life; Conservation and collaboration: John Fleck on water in the West; Snowy new year expected in areas as low as Auburn and Placerville; Southern California caps off year with more rain and snow; High demand, low supply: Colorado River crisis hits across the West; and more …

In the news this weekend …

No bounceback for Delta fish:  “The Delta smelt has survived 2016, but that's about where the good news ends.  Surveys that wrapped up this month revealed no real increase in smelt numbers despite a wetter year with more freshwater flow in the Delta.  In fact, the smelt's situation may actually have gotten worse: For the first time since the extensive fish surveys began in the late 1960s, officials found smelt just one month out of four. In their many hours spent trawling the Delta with nets from September through December, they found a total of seven smelt, all of them in November. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  No bounceback for Delta fish

Water guzzlers face more fines, shaming under new California law:  “Despite five years of record drought, many Californians have not been required to cut their water use. Some wielded a heavy hand at the tap, enjoying green lawns and showy landscapes even as water supplies dried up.  This could soon change. If the rains fall short this winter — or whenever the next bad drought descends on California — households are in for a far more serious crackdown on water waste.  In response to a state law that takes effect New Year’s Day, water agencies are drafting plans to penalize big residential water users and, in many cases, divulge their names in what amounts to a strategy of public shaming. … ”  Read more from the Bend Bulletin here:  Water guzzlers face more fines, shaming under new California law

California officials say a new plan will make conservation a way of life:  “Here in the land of beauty and make-believe, it’s important to keep up appearances. Tracy Quinn sees it whenever she walks her dog: sprinklers irrigating pretty green lawns and wasted water bleeding across sidewalks during the state’s driest spell in centuries.  “It drives me crazy,” said Quinn, a water policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council.  But now California is preparing for a dramatic change in how its residents use water. A water management plan that could be finalized in January is designed to make conservation “a way of life.”  “I think it’s a really great way to go,” Quinn said. ... ”  Read more from the Washington Post here:  California officials say a new plan will make conservation a way of life

Conservation and collaboration: John Fleck on water in the West: Water. It’s always been a source of conflict and crisis in the West, sparking violent clashes over ownership and, more recently, inspiring drought anxiety. But in the 25 years John Fleck has spent covering environmental issues, he’s observed another narrative surrounding water in the West — one of conservation and cooperation. In his recent book, “Water is for Fighting Over and Other Myths about Water in the West,” Fleck presents a history of collaboration and sharing in the Colorado River Basin and explores current efforts to solve the environmental threats the region faces. Fleck joins us to discuss the complex and often misunderstood history of water in the West.”  Click here to listen to the KQED radio show.  To read an excerpt from the book, go here:  A Radical Idea for Managing Western Water: Cooperate

Snowy new year expected in areas as low as Auburn and Placerville:  “Low elevation areas in the Sacramento foothills are forecast to see snowfall in the first days of the new year, according to the Sacramento National Weather Service meteorologist Tom Dang.  A winter storm is expected to sweep through much of Northern California beginning late Sunday afternoon, with the Sierra bearing the brunt of the storm, Dang said. High elevation areas are projected to see cumulative snow totals of 1 to 2 feet by Tuesday.  Dang said lower elevation communities located between 1,000 to 3,000 feet like Auburn, Shingle Springs, Placerville and Grass Valley are also projected to see snowfall late Sunday night and lasting through Tuesday. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Snowy new year expected in areas as low as Auburn and Placerville

Southern California caps off year with more rain and snow:  “New Year’s Eve revelers braced for a wet celebration as a winter storm brought rain and snow to Southern California, prompting the closure of a major highway Saturday.  Light but persistent rain fell in Los Angeles County but in higher elevations snow made for dangerous driving conditions.  All lanes of Interstate 5 in the Grapevine area north of Los Angeles were closed for about 20 miles on Saturday evening because of snow, the California Highway Patrol said. The highway re-opened several hours later but motorists were cautioned to drive slowly on the snow-covered lanes. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Southern California caps off year with more rain and snow

In commentary this weekend …

California salmon are on the brink of disaster, says Brian Geagan:  He writes, “Sen. Dianne Feinstein just handed the future of California salmon and our fishing economy over to the Trump administration.  During the closing hours of this year’s session, Feinstein worked with congressmen representing big growers in the Central Valley to stick a knife in one of Sen. Barbara Boxer’s greatest accomplishments and also into California’s salmon and coastal communities.  Over the past two years, Boxer painstakingly crafted a bipartisan bill to fund water projects nationwide, a rarity in the age of a gridlocked Congress. That bill included restoration projects for Lake Tahoe and the Great Lakes, funding for the lead contamination disaster in Flint, Michigan and other worthy provisions. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  California salmon are on the brink of disaster

Water problem should be a priority, says Fred Boest:  He writes, “It’s way past time to do something about California's water problem. What we eventually will have to do is build a full-out desalination program. A program big enough that we don't even need to use our rivers and lakes or our pumps either, for that matter. Just desalinate the Pacific Ocean and let everybody turn their yards green and fill their pools.  So, where to start? ... ”  Continue reading in the Redding Record Searchlight here:  Water problem should be a priority

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Napa towns report ample water supplies after storms:  “A driving rain can be the prettiest sight of all – at least to those closely watching local water stocks after half a decade of drought across California.  As 2016 draws to a close, Napa Valley cities are reporting full or nearly full reservoirs following a spate of December storms in the Bay Area. Lake Hennessey, the main feeder to the city of Napa, was essentially full, while reservoirs serving Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga saw their first spill-over earlier in the month.  “The waters are healthier than they were a year ago; they are significantly improved,” said Patrick Costello, a Napa city water analyst, about the state of Lake Hennessey, where the arrival of more than 2 inches of rain Dec. 15 brought it to 96 percent of capacity. … ”  Read more from the Napa Valley Register here:  Napa towns report ample water supplies after storms

Yuba River: Land trust funded to manage forest:  “The Bear Yuba Land Trust received grant funding to conduct a conservancy project south of New Bullard's Bar Dam to help manage a tract of forest preserve and potentially mitigate wildfire effects into the Yuba River Watershed.  BYLT, a nonprofit, membership-supported organization based out of Grass Valley, received $74,550 from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy.  “The grant funding is to create a non-industrial timber management plan (NTMP),” said Erin Tarr, director of land stewardship for BYLT. “Those are for private landowners with 2,500 acres of land or less. It's a way for them to have a management plan to sustainably manage their forest.” ... ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  Yuba River: Land trust funded to manage forest

Sacramento hopes new rules will improve water meter project, but bid protests may end:  “Sacramento’s new system for hiring water meter contractors likely will prevent companies from protesting if they lose out, and some firms say the change is unfair.  Hoping to speed up the project and reduce complaints from residents, Sacramento’s City Council voted in August to stop awarding contracts based predominantly on price. In coming weeks, the City Council will “clarify” whether the change to a more subjective process also means the work hired under the process no longer qualifies for bid protest procedures.  Jennifer Dauer, a local attorney who represents contractors, said removing the ability to protest could lead to unfair contract decisions. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Sacramento hopes new rules will improve water meter project, but bid protests may end

Meeting to highlight Tulare Lake storage project:  “The Semitropic Water Storage District will hold a public scoping meeting to outline plans for a new water storage reservoir and conveyance facilities to be built in the Tulare Lake area.  The public comment meeting will be held Jan. 12 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Bravo Farms in Kettleman City.  The district says the reservoir would be designed to store floodwater and excess water from streams to Tulare Lake, which include the Kings, Kaweah, and Tule rivers, and other waters that may become available for storage and management such as State Water Project flows. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Business Journal here:  Meeting to highlight Tulare Lake storage project

Bakersfield's fluid history with water:  “The Kern River once tumbled out of its canyon, all the way to the valley floor, feeding a network of river channels, sloughs and lakes fringed by thick tule reeds and riparian woodlands. It made “much noise,” Father Garces wrote in 1776, and flowed with “crystalline, bountiful and palatable” waters.  American settlers in the mid-19th century, however, held a different vision for the valley. They imagined an orderly and productive landscape of farms and towns rather than swamps and tules, of sheep and cattle rather than tule elk.  Thomas Baker began diverting water from the river in 1864, and by 1870 the Kern Island Canal became the area's first major man-made irrigation canal. ... ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  Bakersfield’s fluid history with water

Along the Colorado River …

Surveying the Colorado River Aqueduct: During the 1920s, the city of Los Angeles was burgeoning. Demographics were changing and geographic boundaries were being pushed out in all directions. …  The City of Los Angeles began exploring water supply options and soon set its sights east to the Colorado River, it being the only local source to meet their needs. Famed City Engineer William Mulholland set out 16 survey crews in 1923 to survey and map potential routes for a future aqueduct. Their task was to find the safest, most economical route to bring water to a dry and populated Southern California region. These surveyors became the pioneers of today's Colorado River Aqueduct. ... ”  Read more from American Surveyor here:  Surveying the Colorado River Aqueduct

High demand, low supply: Colorado River crisis hits across the West:  “The Colorado River is like a giant bank account for seven different states. Now it's running short.  For decades, the river has fed growing cities from Denver to Los Angeles. A lot of the produce in supermarkets across the country was grown with Colorado River water. But with climate change, and severe drought, the river is reaching a crisis point, and communities at each end of it are reacting very differently.  Just outside Boulder, Colo., surrounded by an evergreen forest, is Gross Reservoir. Beverly Kurtz and Tim Guenthner live just out of eyesight from the giant man-made dam. And that's on purpose. … ”  Read more from NPR's All Things Considered here:  High demand, low supply: Colorado River crisis hits across the West

Precipitation watch …

Wet week ahead for Northern California:  “Colder air will arrive for the beginning of this week, with low elevation snow down towards the foothills, possibly even into the higher elevations of the Valley near Redding. Significant snow accumulations are possible Monday and Tuesday with travel delays likely. Models continue to show a wet, but warmer pattern for Wednesday into at least next weekend, which means additional rain and mountain snow, but warmer overnight temperatures.”

And lastly …

From the webcomic XKCD:

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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.

Maven’s Notebook
where California water news never goes home for the weekend

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