DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: After ‘pretty extraordinary’ snowfall, the Sierra Nevada gets ready for another atmospheric river; Pounding by Mother Nature promises spectacular spring; All this recent rain won’t stop California from sinking; and more …
In California water news this weekend, After ‘pretty extraordinary’ snowfall, the Sierra Nevada gets ready for another battering from atmospheric river; NASA ‘pineapple express’ animation gives satellite view of storm’s deluge; Before and after: Photos compare ski resort’s dire drought years with 2017’s epic snow piling up; From drought to deluge: How one California river tells the story of a waning drought; Pounding by Mother Nature promises spectacular spring; All this recent rain won’t stop California from sinking; The solution to California’s droughts could be drinking seawater; Agencies tout accomplishments of California’s water efficiency blueprint; New draft report from DWR shows limited surface water available for groundwater recharge; Supreme Court to mull where challenges to Clean Water Act rule can be heard; and more …
In the news this weekend …
After ‘pretty extraordinary’ snowfall, the Sierra Nevada gets ready for another battering from atmospheric river: “Across the Sierra Nevada this weekend, residents and officials are assessing the damage from a series of powerful storms before a new round from the atmospheric river arrives next week. Some homes in northern Sierra communities have been left without power for more than a week because of this week’s blizzard, which locals say has been the worst in a decade. “We had over 10 feet of snow in portions of the community. Everyone had at least 3 to 5 feet of snow, all in about a two-day period. And that’s a pretty extraordinary level of snow,” said Truckee Donner Public Utility District spokesman Steven Poncelet. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: After ‘pretty extraordinary’ snowfall, the Sierra Nevada gets ready for another battering from atmospheric river
NASA ‘pineapple express’ animation gives satellite view of storm’s deluge: “What’s it like to be hit by the water vapor equivalent of seven to 15 times the flow of the Mississippi River? Amid a series of storms that have deluged California and other parts of the West for more than a week, the folks at NASA have created an animation to illustrate the “pineapple express.” The pineapple express is an atmospheric river of moisture often flowing from the tropical Pacific near Hawaii. The jets streams of moist air, tens to hundreds of kilometers wide, can deliver huge amounts of water to the western United States; indeed up to 50 percent of the region’s annual rainfall comes from atmospheric rivers. ... ” Read more from SF Gate here: NASA ‘pineapple express’ animation gives satellite view of storm’s deluge
Before and after: Photos compare ski resort’s dire drought years with 2017’s epic snow piling up: “At the height of the California drought, the image of a muddy ski slope at a Tahoe resort became the poster child for the state’s dire situation. Photos showing atrocious skiing conditions circulated regularly around social media. Rocks often outnumbered flakes, and the patches of mushy snow that could be found reminded us all of our parched state’s desperate need for rain and snow. Now, after a series of storms pummeled Northern California in early January, images of the snow piling up at ski resorts are becoming symbolic of the end of the California drought. ... ” Read more and view photos from SF Gate here: Before and after: Photos compare ski resort’s dire drought years with 2017’s epic snow piling up
From drought to deluge: How one California river tells the story of a waning drought: “Torrents of meltwater coursed down the granite crevices below the moonscape of the Desolation Wilderness. Just miles from its source in the High Sierra, the South Fork of the American River was already roaring down toward the oaken foothills, bursting over the spillways of dams that humans had erected to control it. As it moved, it gathered streams and rivulets — pink and brown and orange from the minerals they leached. The heavy rain turned dusty creek beds into full-fledged tributaries. Running through narrowing clefts they burst forth as from hydraulic jets. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: From drought to deluge: How one California river tells the story of a waning drought
Pounding by Mother Nature promises spectacular spring: “The past two weeks of relentless storms have left Northern California’s parks battled and bruised, but Mother Nature’s thrashing promises an upside: Spring will be stupendous. The storms temporarily closed Yosemite and many other parks, toppled the historic drive-through Pioneer Cabin tree in Calaveras County, severed trails in the Santa Cruz Mountains and severely mucked up Livermore beaches and picnic areas with tons of mud. The full toll isn’t known as crews wait for the waters to recede so they can locate and repair damage from slides, mud, silt, toppled trees and carved-up trails. … ” Read more from the East Bay Times here: Pounding by Mother Nature promises spectacular spring
All this recent rain won’t stop California from sinking: “The powerful storm that pounded California this week seemed like the break the state so desperately needed. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. In fact, there is probably no storm capable of washing away California’s water woes, according to scientists. The state simply is using too much water – even during wet years. As a result, thousands of miles of prime agricultural area in the Central Valley are sinking. Roads and bridges are cracking, threatening to cause $1 billion in damage. Homeowners are watching their water supply dwindle. … ” Read more from Reveal here: All this recent rain won’t stop California from sinking
The solution to California’s droughts could be drinking seawater: “How does California tackle a five-year-long drought? By turning seawater into the kind you can drink. Carlsbad’s 2.2-hectare desalination plant in San Diego County pumps out 200 million litres of water a day, supplying 300,000 residents and businesses. Further north, in Santa Barbara, a second plant will supply 30 per cent of the city’s water by early 2017. The filtration system – a salt ion-removing process known as reverse osmosis – has been developed by IDE Technologies. “Desalination is not new,” explains Miriam Faigon, the Israeli firm’s COO. “But breakthroughs in membrane manufacturing means reverse osmosis [RO] is popular.” ... ” Read more from Wired Magazine here: The solution to California’s droughts could be drinking seawater
Agencies tout accomplishments of California’s water efficiency blueprint: “Water recycling, farm irrigation efficiency projects and implementing the new groundwater regulations were among the state’s accomplishments under Gov. Jerry Brown’s Water Action Plan in 2016, officials said. Several California agencies are reporting they made “significant progress” in the past year toward achieving the goals set out in the five-year plan that Brown initiated in January 2014. The plan’s major goals include making conservation “a way of life”, increasing regional water self-reliance, preparing for droughts and providing safe water for communities, according to a summary. It is also a blueprint for non-reservoir spending under Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond approved by voters in 2014. … ” Read more from the Capital Press here: Agencies tout accomplishments of California’s water efficiency blueprint
Supreme Court to mull where challenges to Clean Water Act rule can be heard: “The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to resolve a dispute over what court should handle challenges to a 2015 Obama administration regulation that defines waterways protected under a federal anti-pollution law. The justices said they would hear an appeal by the National Association of Manufacturers of a Cincinnati-based federal appeals court’s ruling that gave itself jurisdiction to review challenges to the Clean Water Act regulation. The industry group wants challenges to the rule to be heard in district courts. What constitutes protected waters is hugely important to landowners, industry and environmental groups, as well as government officials. … ” Read more from Rueters here: Supreme Court to mull where challenges to Clean Water Act rule can be heard
In commentary this weekend …
Dan Walters: Droughts and storms prove again California needs more storage: “After a half-decade of drought, California has been buffeted this winter by a series of powerful rain and snowstorms that dumped countless billions of gallons of water on the state’s watersheds. Some of the deluge was captured in the form of mountain snows that will feed rivers and streams during the annual spring melt. But at lower elevations, it was rain, some retained in man-made reservoirs that had become seriously depleted, but most flowing swiftly to the Pacific Ocean. At one point last week, flows on the Sacramento River and its American River tributary were more than 130,000 cubic feet each second, much of which was diverted into bypass channels to protect the state capital from flooding that periodically devastated the city during the 19th century. … ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Dan Walters: Droughts and storms prove again California needs more storage
Is the drought over? Wrong question!, says Peter Gleick: He writes, “Given the massive series of storms bringing rain and snow to California over the past month, people are asking, “Is the California drought finally over?” The term “drought” means different things to different people, but let me suggest that “Is the drought over?” is the wrong question. The end of the drought does not mean the end to California’s water problems. Here are some more appropriate questions and answers. … ” Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Is the drought over? Wrong question!
Court decision may mean California owes billions in water rights, says Aubrey Bettencourt: She writes, “Within hours of the release of a potentially adverse federal court decision in late December, the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) extended by two months the open public comment period for consideration of its Bay-Delta Plan. Elements of its plan include an uncompensated mandate to increase flows on several major California rivers by depriving long-established water-rights holders of access to their water. Now a federal court says the state must pay for water it takes, establishing a precedent that might lead to billions of dollars in unanticipated costs for the state. … ” Read more from The Daily Caller here: Court decision may mean California owes billions in water rights
State titans clash over Delta document, says Aubrey Bettencourt: She writes, “The California State Water Resources Board was taken to the woodshed this week by the California Department of Water Resources, when Mark Holderman, the principal engineer at DWR’s South Delta Branch offered expert testimony that the Bay-Delta water plan was written “without evidence, incomplete scientific information, ill-suited for real-time operations, and unverified assumptions.” On January 3, the state water board held its fourth and final public hearing on the Bay-Delta Plan’s Draft Substitute Environmental Document, in Sacramento. … ” Read more from Redding Record Searchlight here: State titans clash over Delta document, says Aubrey Bettencourt
Storms show need for more storage, says the Porterville Recorder: They write, “If the past 13 days have proven anything it is California needs more water storage. California needs more storage to reduce the incidence of flooding we are witnessing up and down the state. California needs more storage to capture more water for use when we are not in a weather pattern more suited to Noah. Much of California has experienced flooding. Even in Porterville where rainfall has not been quite as heavy as Northern California, a bit more storage in Success Lake would be very beneficial right now. … ” Read more from the Porterville Recorder here: Storms show need for more storage
Lois Henry: Water, water everywhere but can we keep it? “Will we get the water? That’s the question everyone’s been asking. (And by everyone, I mean the other five or six people I know who are as weirdly interested in water as I am.) Storms are dumping, rivers are rising and lakes are filling — finally. Will we be able to squirrel that water away for the next dry spell? Or will California flush it out to sea? Yes and yes. … ” Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here: Lois Henry: Water, water everywhere but can we keep it?
Of California’s drought ends, good water habits must not, says the San Diego Union Tribune: They write, “After weeks of storms in Northern California, the water picture in the Golden State is brighter than it has been in years. Earlier this week, the state Department of Water Resources reported that water levels in 154 of the largest state reservoirs had reached 97 percent of their historical average for the day. That’s better news than it may sound like, because in an average year, California has far more water available for agriculture than it has had in recent years. Then, Thursday, the federal government announced that the drought is officially over in nearly all of Northern California, raising hopes that before long, the current drought could be called off statewide. … ” Read more from the U-T San Diego here: Of California’s drought ends, good water habits must not
In regional news and commentary this weekend …
Siskiyou County Supervisors want ‘forceful’ language in Klamath Dam comments: “The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors will once again make its voice heard regarding the potential removal of four dams on the Klamath River, and the supervisors want the language to be forceful and direct. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is currently considering applications to transfer the license for four dams on the Klamath River and then decommission those dams for removal, and the State Water Resources Control Board must prepare an EIR to evaluate the potential impacts to water quality and other resources if the dams are removed. … ” Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here: Siskiyou County Supervisors want ‘forceful’ language in Klamath Dam comments
North state warned about more storms coming: “Don’t put away those sandbags and snow shovels yet. Even if the north state has had its fill of rain, more is coming. Enjoy the weekend sun and restock supplies because another round of wet and windy storms are due late Tuesday. “Take this time to get prepared. If you had flooding before, get those sandbags ready before you need them,” said Cindi Dunsmoor, director of the Butte County Office of Emergency Management. … ” Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: North state warned about more storms coming
Russian River storm relief to be aided by Redwood Credit Union campaign: “Sitting behind the wheel of a backhoe Saturday, Kear Koch of Monte Rio scooped mud and other debris deposited by last week’s flooding along the Russian River into an industrial-size waste bin. Storm waters had lapped at the second floor of his elevated house while inundating the ramshackle collection of travel trailers and RVs on his property, where about 10 other people live. Strong currents also scattered all manner of possessions that had been accumulating around his Bohemian Highway compound. As he tipped the tractor’s bucket, discarded propane tanks, soggy mattresses and old furniture tumbled into the trash container. ... ” Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Russian River storm relief to be aided by Redwood Credit Union campaign
Tahoe residents celebrate – and dig out from – epic snowfall: “Brian Santos felt conflicting currents of emotion Saturday after historic winter storms dumped a bounty of snow on the northern Sierra Nevada – a region dependent on winter tourism and also vulnerable to the heartache such storms can bring. At the Truckee Donner Lodge, where Santos was working as day manager, the heat was back on. The massive frosty mound that had covered the parking lot was cleared. The place was filled with guests as Interstate 80 jammed with skiers flocking to mountain resorts for the three-day Martin Luther King Day weekend. Yet Santos had just emerged from a few hellish days. His family was snowed in from Tuesday until Friday in their nearby Pla Vada Woodlands home. They went without electricity for four days, and trees throughout the neighborhood had toppled under the snowfall. … ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Tahoe residents celebrate – and dig out from – epic snowfall
Delta islanders repair after floods; look towards next forecast: “Now that the largest tidal event of the year has passed and the rains have let up in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, locals have turned to shoring up the levees while the sun is shining before the rain comes again next week. On Tuesday, the Sacramento levee at Van Sickle island breached and an emergency was declared and nearly 20 to 30 miles of levees throughout the Suisun Marsh were heavily damaged. Crews from the Suisun Resource Conservation District, the Department of Fish and Wildlife as well as the Solano County office of emergency management have been fighting back the flood. … ” Read more from the East Bay Times here: Delta islanders repair after floods; look towards next forecast
Lodi Lake fares well through the storm, but worries remain: “Lodi Lake was able to weather the recent storm pretty well. According to Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Jeff Hood, the Woodbridge Irrigation District lowered the Woodbridge Dam, which helped to keep the Mokelumne River flows from causing any major damage. The main portion of the park seems to be intact, Hood said. However, city officials have not checked the nature area or Pigs Lake because they were hesitant to put a boat on the water due to the erosion issues the park is facing. … ” Read more from the Lodi News-Sentinel here: Lodi Lake fares well through the storm, but worries remain
Fresno rain record broken with deluge; Millerton Lake steadily rising: “A day after record-breaking rainfall, the central San Joaquin Valley began drying out Friday. Mountain roads reopened, and in good news, Millerton Lake north of Fresno steadily kept filling and water releases out of Friant Dam continued with powerful force into the San Joaquin River. In Yosemite, the Highway 140 (El Portal Road) entrance to the park was reopened after being closed because of falling rocks. Snow tires and chains are required. … ” Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Fresno rain record broken with deluge; Millerton Lake steadily rising
Radio show: Recent storms push the dial on Southern California drought, but how much? “We’re not out of the woods yet, but thanks to this series of storms, more than 40 percent of California is seeing an end to the drought. That’s according to a recent article from the Los Angeles Times, which has been following the U.S. Drought Monitor. The rain has considerably quenched much of the state, showing that 35 percent of the California has no unusual dryness. That’s an almost double increase from last week. While Los Angeles is still in the dry category, Northern California and the Sierra Nevada have been experiencing snow and blizzards. Needless to say, mudslides and floods can be an unwelcome companion to more rain and less drought. Larry speaks to a team of water and weather experts today, to talk about the good, bad and ugly conditions that come with storms and what it means for the state. … ” Read more from KPCC here: Recent storms push the dial on Southern California drought, but how much?
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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.