DAILY DIGEST: The worst of the storms is over. Here’s what’s next; Storms add 350 billion gallons to parched reservoirs; New bill for safe drinking water in rural schools; Sacto Valley congressmen sound off on federal water plans for CA; and more …

In California water news today, The worst of the storms is over.  Here’s what’s next for California; California storms add 350 billion gallons to parched reservoirs; Storms are making a dent in California’s drought; 7 feet of snow expected in some areas; Wine Country among areas hit hard by California storms; Boils could foretell levee breach; Group looks for weak spots in levee system; California gets rains, but drought means fewer lawns in the future; Meet the Minds: Laura Tam on creating resilient cities; San Joaquin County supervisors will discuss intentional non-ag Delta flooding; New bill for safe drinking water in rural schools; Sacramento Valley congressmen sound off on federal water plans for California; Proposed federal water bill will streamline new dam projects; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

The worst of the storms is over.  Here’s what’s next for California:  “Northern California’s major rivers swelled and then began receding during a pause between rainstorms Monday, leaving a trail of toppled trees and damaged roadways but no major urban flooding in Sacramento or elsewhere. The weekend’s big rainfall, the most Sacramento has seen in a two-day stretch since 2000, put another dent in the drought and left precipitation totals for the season at twice the average for this time of year.  With a second storm expected to hit late Monday or early Tuesday, emergency officials remained watchful. Some rivers were expected to rise again to levels at or near flood stage, including the Cosumnes River in south Sacramento County and the Russian River near Guerneville in Sonoma County. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  The worst of the storms is over.  Here’s what’s next for California

California storms add 350 billion gallons to parched reservoirs: The powerful storms that soaked Northern California over the past week did more than trigger power outages, mudslides and flash floods.They sent roughly 350 billion gallons of water pouring into California’s biggest reservoirs — boosting their storage to levels not seen in years, forcing dam operators to release water to reduce flood risks and all but ending the five-year drought across much of Northern California, even though it remains in the south, experts said Monday.  “California is a dry state and probably always will be in most years, but we certainly don’t have a statewide drought right now,” said Jay Lund, a professor of engineering and director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  California storms add 350 billion gallons to parched reservoirs

Storms are making a dent in California’s drought; 7 feet of snow expected in some areas:A lull in a series of powerful winter storms gave Northern California a chance Monday to clean up from widespread flooding while also assessing how all that moisture is altering the state’s once-grim drought picture.  A few big storms alone won’t end the six-year drought, but there were growing signs that the so-called atmospheric river was making a major dent.  Officials released water from the Folsom Lake reservoir and several others as a flood control measure. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Storms are making a dent in California’s drought; 7 feet of snow expected in some areas

Wine Country among areas hit hard by California storms:  “Emergency crews in rescue boats and helicopters rushed to take advantage of a one-day break between storms Monday to rescue stranded people and assess damage after the heaviest rain in a decade overwhelmed parts of California and Nevada.  Wine country in Sonoma County was among the hardest hit areas, with up to 13 inches of rain since Friday. Rolling hills and vineyards along the scenic route known as River Road were submerged Monday with just the tips of vines visible in completely flooded fields.  The Russian River in Sonoma rose to its highest level since 2006, spilling over its banks and forcing the closure of schools and roads. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Wine Country among areas hit hard by California storms

Boils could foretell levee breach:  “The torrential rains in Northern California this week are testing the health of its flood control system, which features an extensive network of levees. Boils are a sign of a levee on its way to failing.  The danger of a boil is well expressed by the old children’s story in which a little Dutch boy saves Holland by plugging a small leak in a dike with his finger to stop it from becoming a big leak. Once water has started to pipe its way through or beneath an earthen barrier, the leak will only get worse until it ends in the complete failure of the barrier. … ”  Read more from ABC 10 here:  Boils could foretell levee breach

Group looks for weak spots in levee system:  “As the National Weather Service forecasts call for more rain and snow in northern California, a group of people are out looking for weak spots in the levee system.  As Sacramento County workers struggled to shore up a boil in a Cosumnes River levee at the Wilton Road Bridge, employees of reclamation districts throughout the state are patrolling their sections of levees. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Group looks for weak spots in levee system

California gets rains, but drought means fewer lawns in the future:  “Deborah Butler spent three years apologizing for her lawn. After buying a corner property in Studio City with her husband over three years ago, they inherited a ragged front lawn they didn’t particularly want or need – not with a park across the street, and especially not amidst a five-going-on-six year drought.  Now the former eyesore is curved and contoured around two water-absorbing dips called “bioswales,” and covered in green and silvery plants and trees that sprout from a thick layer of mulch. Ms. Butler doesn’t anticipate the drought-tolerant yard transforming again any time soon.  “I’ve had more and more people say, ‘Oh, you live in the beautiful house,’ ” she says. “It’s been a joy.” … ”  Read more from the Christian Science Monitor here:  California gets rains, but drought means fewer lawns in the future

Meet the Minds: Laura Tam on creating resilient cities:  “2017 is shaping up to be an important year at SPUR, the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association. As the U.S. prepares for a new administration, the urban policy think tank vowed to continue its focus on finding solutions for the challenges the Bay Area faces – especially measures to combat and mitigate the effects of climate change.  As SPUR’s sustainable development policy director, Laura Tam coordinates the organization’s work in five crucial policy areas in that field: green buildings, water supply, wastewater, energy and climate change. “We’re at a critical juncture with climate change and we only have a limited window to prevent ecological collapse,” Tam told Water Deeply. “We’re going to have to take collective action and we’re going to have to take it urgently,” she said. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Meet the Minds: Laura Tam on creating resilient cities

San Joaquin County supervisors will discuss intentional non-ag Delta flooding: The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors will conduct a public hearing Tuesday to consider extending an interim urgency ordinance that would prohibit the flooding of agricultural land in the Delta in manners considered inconsistent with common practice.  One year ago, supervisors adopted a 45-day emergency ordinance prohibiting flooding in the Delta. At the end of the 45 days, the board granted an initial extension to last 10 months and 15 days, according to Tuesday’s agenda.  If adopted, the prohibition of flooding would last another 12 months. It will be the last time supervisors will be allowed to extend the ordinance, according to Tuesday’s staff report. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  San Joaquin County supervisors will discuss intentional non-ag Delta flooding

New bill for safe drinking water in rural schools:  “Assemblyman Devon Mathis introduced a new bill primarily for the children and staff of new schools built in rural areas.  The bill, AB68, guarantees schools have a safe and reliable supply of drinking water.  It requires that any new school –built on or after Jan. 1, 2018 – must get its water from an already existing public water system, not ground water.  Groundwater, in areas near an operating farm, can have high concentrations of pollutants like uranium and nitrates. … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  New bill for safe drinking water in rural schools

Sacramento Valley congressmen sound off on federal water plans for California:  “News last week from the nation’s capital could impact water supply throughout the state of California.  An order from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell provided a renewed call for construction of the $15.7 billion twin tunnels to carry water under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, as well as guaranteeing up to 250,000 acre-feet of increased flow through the Sacramento River to help endangered delta smelt.  The Sacramento Valley’s two congressmen quickly issued statements reiterating the opposition to the twin tunnels plans. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Sacramento Valley congressmen sound off on federal water plans for California

Proposed federal water bill will streamline new dam projects:  “Decades of planning for dams that could capture storm runoff in parts of Northern California has yet to lead to the building of such structures, a situation a Central California congressman hopes to change with a new bill that would cut through existing legal requirements and environmental regulations.  Republican Congressman David Valadao is the bill’s sponsor. His district includes the farms visible along Interstate 5 from Bakersfield north for 160 miles. Those farmers want water, and his new bill, HR 23, is designed to streamline the dam approval process. … ”  Read more from KPCC here:  Proposed federal water bill will streamline new dam projects

In commentary today …

Rain is here; what’s the plan to capture it? asks Dean Flores:  He writes, “It’s finally raining in California.  With rain and snow falling on a state in the midst of focused preparation efforts to withstand a 10-year drought — including starting up desalination plants, drinking recycled “toilet to tap” water and tearing out lawns and other water conservation efforts — Californians should be in the streets collecting water by the buckets.  The National Weather Service has labeled upcoming storms as very severe and larger than most in the last 10 years. Instead of measuring snowpack with a ruler, today we see an upcoming crisis with worries of rivers breaching, reservoirs overflowing, roadways flooding and dry, barren burn areas caused by global warming preparing for severe mudslides. … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  Rain is here; what’s the plan to capture it?

In regional news and commentary today …

Roughly 500 homes flooded along Russian River near Guerneville:  “Melba Martinelli, like many living in the lush forests along the Russian River, awoke Monday to surging water outside her mobile home.  The weekend storm that soaked most of California had passed, but the river that winds through Sonoma County’s wine country was still swelling, locked into its routine of steadily rising with mountain runoff — and was beginning to spill its banks in the Guerneville area west of Santa Rosa.  By the afternoon, roughly 500 homes, including Martinelli’s, were estimated to be taking in water as the river crested above 35 feet, 3 feet past flood stage. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Roughly 500 homes flooded along Russian River near Guerneville

Napa’s flood control bypass does its job:  “Napa’s new flood control bypass passed its first test as it took on water during a big storm while nearby homes and businesses remained flood-free.  The weekend’s storm sent a brown torrent of Napa River water streaming over the bypass weir for a quarter-mile journey. That marked the first time the $18.5 million project completed in 2015 has acted as a flood safety valve.  “It went great,” said Phillip Miller of the Napa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District on Monday. “Basically, everything we built worked like it was supposed to.” … ”  Read more from the Napa Valley Register here:  Napa’s flood control bypass does its job

$350 million bond would start process of fixing San Francisco’s seawall:  “San Francisco voters will be asked to allow $350 million to be spent on a first round of improvements for the city’s crucial but fragile Embarcadero seawall, officials said Monday.  That’s not nearly enough to strengthen the entire century-old structure, which runs from Fisherman’s Wharf to Mission Creek and protects such areas as the Financial District from bay tides. But it would be an enormous boost for a project that eventually could cost anywhere from $2 billion to $5 billion. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  $350 million bond would start process of fixing San Francisco’s seawall

Nevada Irrigation District says climate change is the reason for new dam on the Bear River:  “Americans have had one primary reason for building dams over the past century: capturing water for growth, whether on farms or in cities.  Now a new dam proposed on California’s Bear River offers another reason: adapting to climate change.  The Centennial Dam project, proposed by the Nevada Irrigation District, is intended to capture rainfall at lower elevations to make up for declining snowpack at higher elevations. It would be built at an elevation of about 2,000 feet between two existing reservoirs on the Bear River – Rollins and Combie – in a region of the Sierra Nevada where winter rainfall can be prolific but snowfall is light. … ”  Read more from YubaNet here:  Nevada Irrigation District says climate change is the reason for new dam on the Bear River

Recycled water celebration planned in Woodland:  “A dedication and celebration are being planned for Woodland’s Recycled Water Project and Water Pollution Control Facility later this month.  The dedication spotlights Woodland as being one of the few recycled water permittees in Northern California, according to Kim Floyd, a communications officials for the facility.  … “The projects are designed to maximize the use of the City’s water supply, increase wastewater treatment capacity, reduce facility costs and protect the environment,” Floyd stated. “Facility tours will begin immediately following the event for those interested.” … ”  Read more from the Woodland Daily Democrat here:  Recycled water celebration planned in Woodland

Engineers open Sacramento Weir floodgates:  “Round two of a major winter storm arrived early Tuesday in Northern California and Nevada where downpours have already flooded roads and homes and toppled a storied giant sequoia tree.  Parts of Northern California were soaked by more than a foot of rain over a 72-hour period that ended early Monday. But another strong storm system began bearing down on the region earlier this morning.  On Tuesday morning, engineers with the state Department of Water Resources opened some of the Sacramento Weir gates to direct water through a bypass and protect Sacramento from flooding. Forecasts show the amount of water heading downstream in the river will reach levels capable of overtopping riverbanks in the urban areas of Greater Sacramento. … ” Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Engineers open Sacramento Weir floodgates

How the Sacramento weir works: The Sacramento Weir is the only manually operated weir on the Sacramento River system.  While the system’s five other weirs overflow automatically once the river reaches a certain elevation, the 1,920-foot-long Sacramento Weir consists of 48 gates that must be opened with a long hooked pole. The gates are opened when the river level at the I Street Bridge reaches 29.87 feet. The weir, built in 1916, was last opened in December 2005. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  How the Sacramento weir works

Flood worries not over yet:  “Here we go again: Another atmospheric river is expected to saturate Northern California starting today.  And while last weekend’s storm wasn’t as severe as expected in Stockton, local rivers are at their highest level in five years and it’s too early to relax, officials say.  This storm may be even windier than the last, with gusts ranging from 40 to 50 mph, potentially toppling trees clinging to already saturated soil. Gusts this past weekend peaked at 41 mph. ... ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Flood worries not over yet

Yosemite Valley cleanup underway after storm leaves a mess, but not much damage: Yosemite Valley’s cleanup got underway Monday after the storm-swollen Merced River reached its flood peak early in the morning and began receding. Visitors can begin returning Tuesday, although for a while services will be limited, Yosemite National Park officials said.  Park officials had closed the valley to visitors Friday night and braced for the possibility of a 17-foot flood stage Sunday that could put many areas of the valley under water. Most employees were evacuated.  But the Merced River flood peaked at 12.7 feet – well below the anticipated peak – at 4 a.m. Monday, then began pulling back, according to the National Weather Service. Still, there remained plenty of water swamping meadows, lapping against bridges and rippling through Housekeeping Camp and Half Dome (formerly Curry) Village. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Yosemite Valley cleanup underway after storm leaves a mess, but not much damage:

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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