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DAILY DIGEST: California has the snow. It just needs to keep it frozen; Should California drought rules be lifted? State ponders question as storms roll in; State Water Project increases allocation to 60%; and more …

In California water news today, California has the snow.  It just needs to keep it frozen; Drought’s back broken – or not?; Water officials warn to wait before declaring the end of the drought; California drought continues to shrink, federal government says; Should California drought rules be lifted?  State ponders question as storms roll in; State Water Board hears input on water conservation emergency regulation next steps; State Water Project increases allocation to 60%; Why water regulations are spurring action on tackling homelessness; Study casts doubt on state’s strategy; California schools can now ask water supplier to test for lead on campus; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The California Water Commission will meet this morning at 9:30am. Agenda items include consideration of approval of the 2016 State Water Project Review report and an overview of Commission activities for 2017.  Click here for the full agenda.
  • The Delta Protection Commission will meet this evening at 5:30pm in West Sacramento.  Agenda items include consideration of approval of participants in the Delta Leadership Program for 2017, presentation on the 2017 update to the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan, and an update on the Delta recreation inventory and research agenda.  Click here for the full agenda.

In the news today …

California has the snow.  It just needs to keep it frozen:  “With another round of winter storms hitting California this week, the question isn’t just how much rain and snow they will dump, but how cold they will be.  The coldness of storms can make the difference between one that adds to the fast-rising snowpack — an essential source of water for the state — and one that also leaves a wet mess.  Northern California was pulled out of a five-year drought by a series of storms over the last few weeks that deposited huge amounts of snow over hundreds of miles of the state’s greatest mountain range, the Sierra Nevada.  Officials hope the next band of storms will be cold, adding more snow that will slowly make its way into California’s complex water delivery system in the coming months. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  California has the snow.  It just needs to keep it frozen

Drought’s back broken – or not?  “Despite the torrential rains of the last few weeks, experts say it’s too early to tell whether California’s interminable drought is really over. It will be necessary to monitor rainfall through at least March to make an assessment.  California has been in a drought since 2012. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought state of emergency in January 2014 after the state experienced record dry conditions.  Jennifer Bowles, executive director of the Water Education Foundation, said 82 percent of the state is still affected by the drought and half is still in a severe drought. “We still have a while to dig ourselves out,” she said. … ”  Read more from Capitol Weekly here:  Drought’s back broken – or not?

Water officials warn to wait before declaring the end of the drought:  “Despite record-setting rain and snowfall, state regulators say they may continue their drought restrictions.  The generous drenching to start 2017 could put California on track for the wettest year on record, but behind closed doors, the people in charge of the state’s water say the drought and conservation rules are here to stay.  California has faced five years of drought, prompting emergency restrictions on water usage. After two wetter winters, some of the restrictions have been eased. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here:  Water officials warn to wait before declaring the end of the drought

California drought continues to shrink, federal government says:  “With major reservoirs nearly full, the Sierra Nevada snowpack well above average and flood warnings in place for some rivers, federal scientists reported Thursday a continued weakening of California’s drought.  Overall, 44 percent of the state remains in severe drought conditions or worse, down from 49 percent a week ago, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a weekly study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The improved area, roughly 5.1 million acres, is mostly in the central Sierra Nevada, which has been hit with major snowstorms in recent weeks.  A year ago this week, the same report found 86 percent of California was in severe drought. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  California drought continues to shrink, federal government says

Should California drought rules be lifted?  State ponders question as storms roll in:  “With rivers roaring and more rain coming, California’s drought cops are wrestling with a complicated question: Should they keep patrolling the beat?  A chorus of urban water districts Wednesday urged the State Water Resources Control Board, California’s chief drought regulator, to allow the state’s emergency conservation rules to expire.  At a lengthy hearing in Sacramento, representatives of the water districts said the state board is losing credibility by insisting the drought still exists when residents can see how much conditions have eased. ... ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Should California drought rules be lifted?  State ponders question as storms roll in

State Water Board hears input on water conservation emergency regulation next steps:  “Whether the state should extend the current emergency conservation regulation or let it expire was the focus of a workshop before the State Water Resources Control Board on Jan. 18.  Citing dramatically improved conditions, water agency representatives from throughout the state voiced support for letting the regulation expire in February. They emphasized, however, that urban water suppliers remain committed to helping their customers shift to permanent changes to improve water use efficiency on an ongoing basis. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  State Water Board hears input on water conservation emergency regulation next steps

State Water Project increases allocation to 60%:  “Amid what’s shaping up to be one of California’s wettest winters on record, the State Water Project on Jan. 18 upped its anticipated deliveries to at least 60 percent of requested supplies.  The boost from 45 percent is the Department of Water Resources’ second allocation increase in less than a month, and it comes as many of its gauges in the Central Valley have recorded twice the normal rainfall for this time of year.  Still, department spokesman Doug Carlson said it’s too soon to know whether the project’s 29 contracting agencies will get their full allocations for the first time since 2006. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  State Water Project increases allocation to 60%.

Why water regulations are spurring action on tackling homelessness:  “California has nearly one quarter of the nation’s homeless people – the most of any state by far – and thousands of them live in the Bay Area. Many are in outdoor encampments that lack basic services most people take for granted, including clean water, sewer hookups and garbage collection. Human waste and the pathogens in it are untreated, and refuse piles up and escapes.  And, out of all the social and environmental costs of homelessness, the trash that blows from encampments into waterways may help spur a solution to this problem in the Bay Area. Under a new resolution by the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, trash from homeless encampments now falls under the stormwater permit that requires Bay Area cities and counties to get storm drains virtually trash-free by 2022. … ” Read more from Water Deeply here:  Why water regulations are spurring action on tackling homelessness

Study casts doubt on state’s strategy:  “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 and environmental factors that lift the level of dissolved oxygen and temperature are critical in improving fish migration. … ”  Read more from the Oakdale Leader here:  Study casts doubt on state’s strategy

California schools can now ask water supplier to test for lead on campus:  “California schools can now ask their water supplier to test for lead on campus. This affects any school from kindergarten through 12th grade, both public and private.  Flint, Michigan served as a warning to everyone on the dangers of lead in the water system.  Starting this year, California schools can request their water agency to test their water on site at no cost. ... ” Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  California schools can now ask water supplier to test for lead on campus

In commentary today …

There should be no wastewater pumping with review, says the San Francisco Chronicle:  They write, “For decades, oil companies in California were allowed to get rid of their wastewater by pumping it into aquifers, in an exception to federal law. The exemptions were granted by state regulators who granted the permits by mistake — through a combination of bad record-keeping and communication errors. …  After realizing the state’s extraordinary permitting mistake, California officials strengthened regulations for the exemptions process. The state is also shutting down hundreds of the wells that were disposing wastewater illegally.  But the state missed a deadline to shut down more than 1,500 other wastewater wells — and it’s saying that the deadline doesn’t matter. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  There should be no wastewater pumping with review

In regional news and commentary today …

North Yuba Water District finishes repairs to ditch:  “A ditch destroyed last week in the heavy rains in the North Yuba Water District has been repaired, meaning about 900 customers are no longer in danger of losing potable water.  The area of the Forbestown Ditch that needed emergency repairs — about a 160-foot stretch of ditch north of a treatment plant in Yuba County — was completed on Monday, ahead of schedule and below budget, officials with NYWD announced Tuesday. … ”  Read more from the Appeal-Democrat here:  North Yuba Water District finishes repairs to ditch

Rampaging American River casts drought out of mind:  “Torrents of meltwater coursed down the granite crevices below the moonscape here.  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.  Isidro Soberanes was preparing to jump into the maelstrom in a kayak. … ”  Read more from The Daily World here:  Rampaging American River casts drought out of mind

Montara well owners object to water fees:  “For decades, the state imposed a moratorium on water hookups in Montara, which meant builders had to dig their own wells. With those dark years past, the Montara Water and Sanitary District is now offering existing well owners and new homebuilders the opportunity to at last connect to the water system.  That should sound like good news, but for some property owners, the offer comes with a price they think they’ve already paid and questions they want answered. The issue is coming to the fore as district directors consider an installment plan to help residents pay for connections. ... ”  Read more from the Half Moon Bay Review here:  Montara well owners object to water fees

Watsonville’s Pinto Lake to be detoxified with alum in April:  “The city of Watsonville is another step closer to detoxifying Pinto Lake, one of the few natural freshwater lakes of its size on the Central California Coast.  On Tuesday, representatives from HAB Aquatic Solutions, a Nebraska-based company that specializes in improving surface water quality with aluminum-based products such as alum and aluminum sulfate, met with city officials and toured Pinto Lake. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  Watsonville’s Pinto Lake to be detoxified with alum in April

Tulare County sheriff introduces ag theft prevention tool:  “Tulare County ranchers and farmers are getting a little help from the sheriff’s department in the form of water.  But it’s not what you might think.  Sheriff Mike Boudreaux announced Wednesday a new investigative tool being used by the department’s Agricultural Crimes Unit, SmartWater CSI.  Once sprayed on ag equipment, the liquid which is invisible, odorless, stays on a thief for up to five years without them noticing and is picked up using an ultra-violet light. The sheriff’s department is the first agency in the western United States to take advantage of the technology.  “We will use this tool to protect our ag partners,” Boudreaux said. ... ” Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here:  Tulare County sheriff introduces ag theft prevention tool

Paso Robles City Council forms groundwater management agency:  “Paso Robles on Tuesday voted to create a groundwater sustainability agency, a step toward working with other groups to carry out a state mandate to manage the North County basin.  City Council members voted unanimously to form the GSA, which will be accountable for groundwater within the city’s jurisdiction. Now, the city has 30 days to send an application to the state, which must approve the agency’s formation.  The council created the agency in response to the state Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which was passed in 2014. The law requires GSAs to oversee groundwater basins that are in overdraft — including the 790-square-mile Paso Robles sub-basin — and make sure they are being managed sustainably by 2020. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Paso Robles City Council forms groundwater management agency

Cachuma Lake stays shallow as other area reservoirs rise:  “Earlier this week, KCBX reported water reservoirs on the Central Coast have been getting a much-needed recharge from the past month’s rainstorms.  Several reservoirs, like Lopez Lake and Lake Nacimiento, have increased by many acre feet. Lopez has seen a rise of six feet in elevation since the fourth of January. Nacimiento rose 23 feet in that same amount of time and 12 feet in just the past three days.  However, reservoirs on the southern Central Coast haven’t been receiving nearly as much of a refill. Specifically, Lake Cachuma, which serves the Santa Ynez Valley, Montecito, Santa Barbara, and Carpinteria. ... ”  Read more from Valley PBS here: Cachuma Lake stays shallow as other area reservoirs rise

Indian Wells Valley groundwater authority meets Jan. 19 to talk alternative water sources, finances:  “Kicking off its first meeting of the year, the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board of directors faces a number of proposals and decisions Thursday at 10 a.m at Ridgecrest City Hall, 100 W. California Ave.  Alternate sources of water, a report on the IWV groundwater basin’s technical progress, and a report by Desert Research Institute on a breakthrough groundwater model top the start of the meeting.  The IWVGA consisted of five general, voting member agencies: Kern, Inyo, and San Bernardino counties, the city of Ridgecrest and the Indian Wells Valley Water District. The Navy and Bureau of Land Management are non-voting associate members. ... ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley groundwater authority meets Jan. 19 to talk alternative water sources, finances

This day in water history …

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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