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DAILY DIGEST: Five things to know about CA’s drought after big storms; As drought winds down, CA lawmakers set the stage for future water wars; Governor declares state of emergency after storm series; A key reform of CEQA hasn’t kept its promises; and more …

In California water news today, Five things to know about California’s drought after big storms; California water managers want emergency drought rules to end; 5 questions about drought for storm-drenched state; As drought winds down, CA lawmakers set the stage for future water wars; U.S. Bureau of Reclamation outlines CVP water supply projections; David Murillo named Acting Commissioner for the Bureau of Reclamation; Governor Brown declares state of emergency after storm series; A key reform of California’s landmark environmental law hasn’t kept its promises; Valley farmers disappointed with Trump pulling out of Trans Pacific Partnership; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • Free webinar on interstate groundwater disputes and the Supreme Court at 11am:  As a longstanding groundwater dispute between Mississippi and Tennessee heads for the U.S. Supreme Court, a legal precedent governing the apportionment of interstate groundwater is imminent. This webinar will address the possible outcomes of Mississippi v. Tennessee, implications for interstate groundwater policy and the role of interstate compacts in resolving water disputes between states.  Presented by the Council of State Governments.  Click here to register.
  • California Water Fix Aquatic Science Peer Review (Phase 2B) at 2pm:  An independent science panel will be evaluating draft sections of the NMFS’ and FWS’ Biological Opinions (BiOps) on WaterFix for all federal Endangered Species Act-listed aquatic species and their critical habitat.  This afternoon, the panel discusses their preliminary findings.  Click here for more informationClick here to watch on webcast.
  • Delta Levee Investment Strategy Public Meeting in Walnut Grove at 5pm:  The Delta Stewardship Council staff will 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.  Click here for more information.

In the news today …

Five things to know about California’s drought after big storms:  “California’s water year officially began in October, and it got off to a good start, with above-average precipitation in Northern California. And then in January, things got even wetter as a series of heavily moisture-laden storms known as atmospheric rivers struck the state, delivering heaps of snow and rain.  Mudslides, flooding and raging rivers resulted as California’s reservoirs began to refill and the snowpack accumulated foot by foot in the Sierra Nevada.  After more than five years of drought, what does this mean for California? Is the state finally out of the woods? … ” Read more from Water Deeply here:  Five things to know about California’s drought after big storms

California water managers want emergency drought rules to end:  “The San Diego County Water Authority and other water managers across California are calling for regulators to end emergency drought rules.  “It’s clear here in San Diego County that we are not in a drought emergency. We have adequate supplies to meet demand this year and actually for the next three years if it’s dry,” said Dana Friehauf, the water authority’s water resources manager. … ” Read more from KPBS here:  California water managers want emergency drought rules to end

5 questions about drought for storm-drenched state:  “All these large storms moving quickly through California have brought enough rainwater that a noticeable change has come to many regions in the state: the Sierra snowpack is full of snow, reservoirs are mostly refilled, cities are experiencing record rainfall, and people are surfing on flooded streets. … All kidding aside, the storm has revived the questions about California’s five-year drought and whether the rain has provided enough relief to help the state recover. Drought conditions were so bad that Gov. Jerry Brown declared it a state of emergency in 2014 and imposed water-saving measures throughout the state.  We have begun to see the conversation developing on social media and found five frequently asked questions that deserve some answers. Here’s what we found: ... ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  5 questions about drought for storm-drenched state

As drought winds down, CA lawmakers set the stage for future water wars:  “All signs point to the five-year drought being over for parts of California, at least for the time being. A mid-winter week of punishing rains and flooding has left Northern California, in particular, with full reservoirs and a bright outlook on water supplies in 2017. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 60 percent of the state is back to normal. The positive prognosis can’t be made for Southern California and the San Joaquin basin in the Central Valley, where two-thirds of the land is used for water-thirsty agriculture. So what does the end of the drought in Northern California mean for the ongoing California water wars? Could the answer be found in the $11 billion Water Resources Development Act of 2016 … ”  Read more from the Civil Eats here: As drought winds down, CA lawmakers set the stage for future water wars

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation outlines CVP water supply projections:  “The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on Jan. 20 provided an update on water supply conditions for the federal Central Valley Project, announcing that the CVP’s reservoir carryover storage from Water Year 2016 to Water Year 2017 was 4.9 million acre-feet, which was 41% of capacity and 82% of the 15-year average for that date.  The water supply conditions indicate capacity in six key CVP reservoirs: Shasta, New Melones, Trinity, Folsom, Millerton, and the federal portion of San Luis. ... ” Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  U.S. Bureau of Reclamation outlines CVP water supply projections

David Murillo named Acting Commissioner for the Bureau of Reclamation:  “The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on Jan. 20 announced that David Murillo will serve as the Bureau’s acting commissioner. Murillo will serve in this role until President Donald Trump nominates, and the Senate confirms, a new commissioner. … ” Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  David Murillo named Acting Commissioner for the Bureau of Reclamation

Governor Brown declares state of emergency after storm series:  “A state of emergency was declared across California after winter storms blanketed the state with rain and snow, causing flooding, mudslides, traffic woes and other issues.  The pair of emergency proclamations from Gov. Jerry Brown’s office is an effort to gain funding to “help communities respond to and recover from severe winter storms that have caused flooding, mudslides, erosion, debris flow and damage to roads and highways,” according to a statement. … ”  Read more from KPCC here:  Governor Brown declares state of emergency after storm series

A key reform of California’s landmark environmental law hasn’t kept its promises:  “It took until the morning the Golden State Warriors broke ground on their new professional basketball arena in San Francisco last week for the lawsuits against the project to end.  The arena’s future neighbors had filed suit under the state’s primary environmental law governing development, and the team sweated out the case. Rick Welts, the Warriors’ president and chief operating officer, announced to the crowd at the groundbreaking that the state Supreme Court had just rejected a final appeal: “It’s over,” he said. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  A key reform of California’s landmark environmental law hasn’t kept its promises

Valley farmers disappointed with Trump pulling out of Trans Pacific Partnership:  “Agriculture leaders expressed disappointment over President Donald Trump’s decision Monday to pull out of a 12-country trade deal that would have boosted exports from San Joaquin Valley farmers.  Trump made good on a campaign promise by signing an executive order ending the United States’ participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a wide-reaching agreement that affected numerous industries, including agriculture.  Had Congress approved the pact, the American Farm Bureau estimated, California farmers of fruits and nuts could have reaped $562 million in sales through lower tariffs and the elimination of tariffs. Dairy producers could have potentially pulled in $53 million in added revenue. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Valley farmers disappointed with Trump pulling out of Trans Pacific Partnership

In regional news and commentary today …

Northern California emerges from drought, but wine growers remain cautious:  “After more than five years of unrelenting drought, a series of winter storms has drenched Northern California in recent weeks. That’s welcome news for the wine industry, as heavy rain and snow put a dent in the state’s water deficit. But no one’s cheering too loudly yet. Large parts of the state remain in a drought.  “We are off to an incredible start, basically 15 inches of rain since September and another 3 [inches] expected this week,” said Eric Jensen of Booker in Paso Robles, one of the wine regions hit hardest by the drought. “While it hasn’t taken us off the severe drought list yet, I am giddy like a kid at Christmas that we have obtained these totals. And we’re only halfway through January.” ... ”  Read more from the Wine Spectator here:  Northern California emerges from drought, but wine growers remain cautious

With 10 foot snowpack and dry weather ahead, Lake Tahoe ready for skiers:  “After a big weekend blizzard and dry weather forecast in the coming week, the Tahoe region is preparing for the skiing masses.  Another storm pounded the northern Sierra Nevada over the weekend, dumping three to six feet of snow in many areas.  Piles of snow and slushy roads paralyzed the region. Alpine Meadows closed and Squaw Valley operated with limited lifts due to avalanche risk, poor visibility and extremely high winds. Sugarbowl never opened on Sunday. … ” Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  With 10 foot snowpack and dry weather ahead, Lake Tahoe ready for skiers

Sacramento region cut water use by 25% despite eased state restrictions:  “Water districts in the Sacramento region cut water use by 25 percent in 2016 compared with 2013 – despite the state’s decision to back away from strict mandatory conservation targets.  “The savings that were actually achieved were pretty astounding,” Amy Talbot, the Sacramento Regional Water Authority’s water efficiency program manager, said Monday.  In May, the State Water Resources Control Board retreated from the mandatory statewide urban conservation program it had adopted in 2015 by order of Gov. Jerry Brown. In 2015, more than 400 urban water suppliers were ordered to cut usage by an average of 25 percent compared with the base year of 2013. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Sacramento region cut water use by 25% despite eased state restrictions

Officials closing Sacramento Weir after first-in-a-decade opening this month: “Officials are lowering the gates of the Sacramento Weir, effectively corking a massive gush of water that helped flood the Yolo Bypass west of Sacramento.  After a deluge of heavy rains, crews on Jan. 10 lifted the gates on the flood release structure near downtown Sacramento. It was the first time since 2006 that the river rose high enough to open the structure.  The weir acts as a flood-release valve to flush excess water from the Sacramento River system into the Yolo Bypass floodplain, keeping Sacramento and towns along the river from getting swamped. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Officials closing Sacramento Weir after first-in-a-decade opening this month

Feds kill wildlife refuge; would have been San Joaquin County’s first:  “Facing strong local opposition, the federal government has essentially killed a plan to give San Joaquin County its first national wildlife refuge.  The existing San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge west of Modesto still will expand to the south, as first proposed. But plans to also expand along the river northward into south San Joaquin County have been eliminated.  Only several hundred acres of land within San Joaquin County, along the north bank of the Stanislaus River, still are in line for inclusion in the refuge. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Feds kill wildlife refuge; would have been San Joaquin County’s first

Merced Irrigation District releases stormwater to recharge groundwater sapped by drought:  “January’s storms have filled Lake McClure past its historical average, prompting water releases to help replenish groundwater, the Merced Irrigation District reported.  Lake McClure was about 73 percent of capacity Monday. That contrasts with the reservoir’s record low water level of 6 percent just two years ago.  MID is releasing water per federal requirements to ensure space is available in the reservoir to hold floodwater. MID is releasing about 2,000 cubic feet per second while about 7,500 cfs flows into the reservoir. The last time MID released water for flood control was in 2011, before the drought. … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun Star here:  Merced Irrigation District releases stormwater to recharge groundwater sapped by drought

State money arrives to start new water system in drought-stricken Valley town:  “The State Water Resources Control Board has authorized giving $1.21 million to Tulare County to help build a new water system in Monson, the tiny town where wells went dry during the California drought and the water has high levels of nitrates.  The county now has $2.1 million for its Monson emergency water supply project to drill a new well and start the first phase of a distribution system to about 30 homes.  Two years ago, the county received $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Agiculture’s Emergency Community Water Assistance program and $400,000 from the California Department of Water Resources. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  State money arrives to start new water system in drought-stricken Valley town

Paso Robles fined nearly $500,000 for wastewater plant violations:  “The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board on Friday slapped Paso Robles with about $500,000 in fines for permit violations related to the city’s wastewater treatment plant.  The city is permitted to discharge water from its treatment plant into the Salinas River, but that water can contain only certain amounts of pollutants. Water from the Paso Robles treatment plant exceeded limits established in a 2011 permit 173 times between Oct. 3, 2013, and June 27, 2016, said Thea Tryon, enforcement coordinator for the Central Coast water board. ... ” Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Paso Robles fined nearly $500,000 for wastewater plant violations

Golf architect Andy Staples to work on solution for water-deprived San Luis Obispo County golf course:  “The Dairy Creek course, originally designed by John Harbottle in 1995, is facing up to the loss of 60 per cent of its reclaimed irrigation water. The 90-acre property is set to receive only 35 acres of water because of drought conditions and a shortage of reclaimed water.  “This project should further spotlight just how serious the drought is in California,” said  Staples. “Our intention however is to turn this negative into a positive by looking for innovative approaches in continuing to provide a quality golf product, but with a much smaller overall footprint.” … ”  Read more from Golf Course Architecture here:  Staples to work on solution for water-deprived San Luis Obispo County golf course

Cachuma Lake among the last of reservoirs in exceptional drought:  “A trio of storms that rolled through the Central Coast last weekend brought rain, hail and high winds that led to flooding, downed trees, power outages and numerous vehicle crashes, but the precipitation did little to lift Cachuma Lake from its drought-distressed condition.  In fact, the reservoir appears to lie just inside the last 2.13 percent of California classified in “exceptional drought” by the U.S. Drought Monitor website. … ”  Read more from the Santa Maria Times here:  Cachuma Lake among the last of reservoirs in exceptional drought

Recent rains has limited effect on Santa Maria’s water woes:  “So far, 2017 has been a wet year, but not wet enough to make real improvements to the Central Coast’s water woes.  “Santa Barbara County still is considered to be in extreme drought conditions,” said Shad Springer, City of Santa Maria Utilities Department director.  As of Monday afternoon, county Flood Control Department collection sensors at the city’s Public Works building have recorded 6.58 inches of rain have fallen on Santa Maria this year. … ”  Read more from the Santa Maria Times here:  Recent rains has limited effect on Santa Maria’s water woes

Mammoth Mountain sets new record for snowfall: After a weekend storm that dumped nearly 6 feet of fresh powder at Mammoth Mountain, the resort announced today that this is the snowiest month ever at Mammoth — and that’s with a week remaining in January.  Since New Year’s Day, 241 inches of new snow has fallen at Main Lodge, where the records are kept. That easily surpasses the previous record of 209 inches, which was tallied in December 2010. ... ”  Red more from the Los Angeles Daily News here: Mammoth Mountain sets new record for snowfall

Inyo County approves Lower Owens River Project enhancement:  ““Woody recruitment,” the official term used to describe tree-let volunteers, will get a helping hand along the banks of the Lower Owens River next month.  Inyo County has contracted with The Landscape Center to start planting willow and cottonwood pole cuttings starting in early February.  A tree-lined river was part of the vision of the project. Existing trees would drop their seeds in an inviting, moist soil creating rich riparian habitat along river channel, but nature wasn’t cooperative. The combination of drought and reduced seasonal flows resulted in far less recruitment than had been anticipated. ... ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  Inyo County approves Lower Owens River Project enhancement

In six months, LA went from high and dry to wet and wild; here’s what happened:  “At the end of June, Los Angeles had recorded its driest five-year period since record-keeping began almost 140 years ago.  The announcement seemed like an ominous milestone, especially after an El Niño-fueled weather pattern that was supposed to drench the region had failed to materialize.  But just six months later, L.A. has seen a major turnaround.  Los Angeles is experiencing its wettest winter in years, with 14.33 inches of rain since October — more than 200% of average. That’s nearly as much rain as the city gets in a typical year. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  In six months, LA went from high and dry to wet and wild; here’s what happened

San Bernardino wins first legal skirmish over Sterling recycling plant:  “A San Diego Superior Court judge has rejected efforts by proponents of the 10-million-gallon-per-day Sterling Water Recycling plant to get one of two lawsuits, filed by the city of San Bernardino, dismissed.  In a lawsuit, filed in June, San Bernardino alleged that East Valley Water District circumvented a critical public process in its attempt to advance its proposed sewage plant near Indian Springs High School in Highland.  Regional water wholesaler San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District was named as a party to this lawsuit. ... ”  Read more from the San Bernardino Sun here:  San Bernardino wins first legal skirmish over Sterling recycling plant

And lastly …

NASA’s GOES-16 satellite sends first images of Earth:  “Since the GOES-16 satellite lifted off from Cape Canaveral on November 19, scientists, meteorologists and ordinary weather enthusiasts have anxiously waited for the first photos from NOAA’s newest weather satellite, GOES-16, formerly GOES-R.  The release of the first images today is the latest step in a new age of weather satellites. It will be like high-definition from the heavens. … ”  Read more and view images from NOAA here:  NASA’s GOES-16 satellite sends first images of Earth

Precipitation watch …

From the National Weather Service:  “By this afternoon, lingering showers are expected to end across the region. Except for a chance of light showers mid-week, dry weather is then expected to last across interior NorCal into next week.”

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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