DAILY DIGEST: Is the drought over? Depends on which one you’re talking about; Drought to drenched California faces water overload balancing act; More storms to pummel California; GOP takes aim at Endangered Species Act; and more …

In California water news today, Is the drought over?  Depends on which one you’re talking about; Drought to drenched California faces water overload balancing act; Storms to pummel California with flooding rain, snowy mountain travel; Uncertainty over how recent storms impacted the salmon population; GOP takes aim at Endangered Species Act; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • Delta Levee Investment Strategy Public Meeting at 5:00pm in Stockton:  Join the Delta Stewardship Council and community leaders to discuss revisions to the Delta Plan that will implement the Delta Levee Investment Strategy.  The draft revisions cover such things as prioritizing the State’s investment in Delta levees, modernizing levee inspections, exploring new ways to fund levee improvements, seeking renewed assurance of federal assistance for post disaster levee reconstruction, and anticipating how rising sea levels will affect levee reliability. For more information, click here.

In the news today …

Is the drought over?  Depends on which one you’re talking about:  “Southern California’s drought emergency is over, but its overall drought may not be.  It depends what you mean by “drought.”  Rain caused flooding across the state and began refilling important water reservoirs last week.  Big snows in the Rocky and Sierra mountains also seem to ensure Southern California’s two largest sources of drinking water – the Colorado River and the rivers of Northern California – will be flush with snowmelt during the year to come.  The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which gathers water for 19 million people in the region, expects it can now begin storing water for future years. In recent years, it had been using up its water reserves. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here:  Is the drought over?  Depends on which one you’re talking about

Drought to drenched California faces water overload balancing act:  “Rain has finally been falling hard in California, where reservoirs are filling up fast.  After six years of punishing drought, that’s obviously a good thing. But it creates a balancing-act challenge for the state’s water managers. Keep too much holed up in storage and the system will overflow if the precipitation keeps coming. Open the hatches too much and, if Mother Nature doesn’t provide any more deluges, California will be parched when the rain stops.  “There is always a trade off — and you never know if you are doing it right,” said Jay Lund, director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California at Davis. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg here:  Drought to drenched California faces water overload balancing act

Storms to pummel California with flooding rain, snowy mountain travel:  “A new round of storms will take aim at California and the southwestern United States later this week and this weekend.  Each storm will bring locally drenching rain and heavy mountain snow, with the potential for flooding and travel disruptions.  “The first storm will spread southward through California on Wednesday and Thursday with a second to follow Friday,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski. … ”  Read more from AccuWeather here:  Storms to pummel California with flooding rain, snowy mountain travel

Uncertainty over how recent storms impacted the salmon population:  “The massive amounts of water that hit California last week could have either beneficial or disastrous effects on salmon populations, depending on who you ask.  John McManus, executive director for the Golden Gate Salmon Association, sees the flood waters as a benefit.  He says he expects to see large salmon runs in the coming two years. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Uncertainty over how recent storms impacted the salmon population

GOP takes aim at Endangered Species Act:  “In control of Congress and soon the White House, Republicans are readying plans to roll back the influence of the Endangered Species Act, one of the government’s most powerful conservation tools, after decades of complaints that it hinders drilling, logging and other activities.  Over the past eight years, GOP lawmakers sponsored dozens of measures aimed at curtailing the landmark law or putting species such as gray wolves and sage grouse out of its reach. Almost all were blocked by Democrats and the White House or lawsuits from environmentalists.
Now, with the ascension of President-elect Donald Trump, Republicans see an opportunity to advance broad changes to a law they contend has been exploited by wildlife advocates to block economic development. ... ”  Read more from the Redding Record Searchlight here:  GOP takes aim at Endangered Species Act

In commentary today …

Why the environment needs water markets:  Jay Lund writes, “Environmental objectives have become a major factor in operating water systems in the U.S.  Since the 1970s, environmental regulations have prevented many environmental impacts, provided minimal environmental flows and prevented construction of large environmentally damaging projects. But environmental regulations have not succeeded in developing reliable programs and operations for restoring the sustainability of native species. Regulation has been an important stop-gap approach to slow environmental degradation, but is insufficient for environmental recovery or management. Water operations for most other purposes are much more successful by providing system operators more assets and flexibility to respond to varying conditions and improve with time. Environmental water regulations often provide insufficient water or water at the wrong place and time. ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Why the environment needs water markets

In regional news and commentary today …

Dozens visit Shasta Dam for holiday: Several people spent their holiday weekend at Shasta Dam, taking in the sights since the spillway was opened late last week.  Outflows since Thursday were round 30,000 cubic feet per second, enough to fill 20 Olympic sized swimming pools in one minute.  Most of the dam’s spillways remained open Monday releasing all the water into the Sacramento River. The increased flows help to make sure there is enough room for more water as rain and snow return in the forecast later this week. … ”  Read more from KRCR here:  Dozens visit Shasta Dam for holiday

Mendocino County:  Can salmon and weed coexist?  The EERP is working to make it so:  “The Eel River Recovery Project (ERRP), which has been a 501c3 non-profit since March, met most of the day Saturday, January 14, for an event that started out with a board meeting, segued into an action plan meeting and an awards ceremony, and ended with beer and a potluck. Among the honorees were a Wailaki tribal elder, an advocate for parks, and two cannabis farmers. Though the organization takes no political position on cannabis, its members worked closely with the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District on a handbook for cannabis growers in the Eel River watersheds. Pat Higgins, the ERRP’s managing director, hopes to create detailed parcel maps for growers who want to cultivate cannabis in watersheds without harming the environment. ... ”  Read more from the Mendocino County Voice here:  Can salmon and weed coexist?  The EERP is working to make it so

South Sacramento dries out and prepares for next round of storms:  “Some homes and property in south Sacramento have not yet dried out from last week’s storms, and more rain is on the way.  Bridget Lasso works on a ranch near Lambert and Franklin and is loading up her trailer with sand bags. She says her boss’s home was an inch away from flooding last week.  “It was really deep in some spots and it was so quick,” says Lasso. “I was there for a couple, three hours maybe, and the water went up like three inches.” … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  South Sacramento dries out and prepares for next round of storms

Levees breach along Mokelumne River, but pose little threat:  “With the Mokelumne River running rapid and high along the banks, the Lodi area is continuing to see some portions of levees spill water from river to land. No homes have been threatened as a result of these breaches and breaks.  One levee breach flooded into a vineyard on Monday morning near Clarksdale Road on the north side of the Mokelumne. Monday’s incident followed at least two other reported levee issues this weekend. … ”  Read more from the Lodi News-Sentinel here:  Levees breach along Mokelumne River, but pose little threat

Lodi: Local students get lesson in Delta life:  “A classroom filled with first-graders at Lockeford Elementary excitedly waited their turns to check out the newest residents of their classroom Friday. They are of the tiny, pink variety, and had just been chauffeured by bucket straight from their “maternity ward.”  The seven salmon eggs that were carefully placed in their new home — a small aquarium kept at a comfortable temperature of 54 degrees — started the day in the Mokelumne Hatchery, just a small fraction of the 7 million eggs produced this year. ... ”  Read more from the Lodi News-Sentinel here:  Lodi: Local students get lesson in Delta life

Santa Cruz geologists and surfers celebrate big sandbars:  “The San Lorenzo River watershed encompasses 135 square miles and when it rains, all that runoff drains to one place — the river mouth.  And as the circus of mudslides and debris flows during last week’s storm suggests, the Santa Cruz Mountains, which make up a majority of the watershed, are prone to erosion.  As a result, Patrick Barnard, a coastal geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, estimates as much as five years’ worth of sediment was flushed into the ocean between Jan. 8 and Jan. 11. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  Santa Cruz geologists and surfers celebrate big sandbars

Pulse flows a bit fishy:  “A scientific study covering 11 years of fish migration on the Stanislaus River underscores how simply sending more water downstream may not be doing endangered Chinook salmon any favors.  Data shows there is a certain threshold for pulse flow volume that if it is exceeded doesn’t improve fish migration. It also points to other solutions such as the placement of the rock barrier at the head of the Old River west of Mossdale Crossing/Interstate 5  in Lathrop that suggests other water management actions that lift the level of dissolved oxygen and such are critical factors in improving fish migration. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  Pulse flows a bit fishy

Fresno County remains in extreme drought despite recent storms:  “After years of drought, we’ve seen a staggering amount of rain. So far, Fresno has seen more than three inches of rain this month.  In 2017, Rain has been a constant sight across the Valley. Many local farmers have been keeping their eyes on their crops, which are soaking up the moisture.  “These are the kind of storms we expect,” Ryan Jacobsen with the Fresno County Farm Bureau said. “These are storms we’ve kind of forgotten about these last five years, but there’s nothing unusual in the fact that we’ve seen some minor flooding.” … ”  Read more from KFSN here:  Fresno County remains in extreme drought despite recent storms

String of storms expected to soak Los Angeles County this week:  “A string of increasingly intense storms are expected to hit Los Angeles County this week, according to the National Weather Service.  Meteorologist Scott Sukup said the region should remain dry for a few days until the first storm rolls in Wednesday night, delivering between a quarter of an inch and three-quarters of an inch of rainfall. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  String of storms expected to soak Los Angeles County this week

Precipitation watch …

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

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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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