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DAILY DIGEST: Central Valley Project remains cautious on water allocation; San Luis Reservoir could fill for first time in 6 years; Cadiz project and the Huntington Beach desal plant among Trump’s infrastructure priorities; and more …

In California water news today, Central Valley Project remains cautious on water allocation; San Luis Reservoir could fill for first time in 6 years; When will soggy California drop water restrictions?; Radio show: Ecological and political fallout from California’s drought; Floodwaters could recharge Central Valley aquifers; Study finds two groups hardest hit by California’s drought; California drying out after deluge; State of resistance: Protecting California’s air and water; California objects to Trump’s freeze of EPA grants; Cadiz project and the Huntington Beach desalination plant among Trump’s infrastructure priorities; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The Delta Conservancy will hold a board meeting today from 9:00am to 1:00pm:  The agenda includes an update on the Proposition 1 Grant Program and a Board work session on the Update to the Conservancy’s Strategic Plan. Click here for the agenda.

In the news today …

Central Valley Project remains cautious on water allocation:  “As each passing storm delivers more snowpack to the mountains and fills many California reservoirs to above-average levels, operators of the federal Central Valley Project remain cautious about projecting agricultural water supplies for the coming year.  In preparation for its initial 2017 water supply announcement, expected next month, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the CVP, released an update of water conditions for its reservoirs. The largest, Shasta Lake, stood at 82 percent of capacity and 124 percent of average as of last week. The reservoir level at Shasta is so high that water officials have been releasing water down the Sacramento River for flood-control purposes, in preparation for subsequent storms. ... ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Central Valley Project remains cautious on water allocation

San Luis Reservoir could fill for first time in 6 years:  “San Luis Reservoir west of Los Banos is on its way to filling for the first time since 2011 as rain and snow bring the state additional relief from a punishing drought.  Statewide, a series of storms over the past two weeks have allowed water managers to fill major reservoirs to above-normal levels for this time of year.  Meanwhile, a healthy snowpack is giving southern San Joaquin Valley farmers hope that irrigation water this summer will be plentiful because the southern Sierra Nevada snowpack is now estimated at 124 percent of the average for April 1 – and winter isn’t over yet. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  San Luis Reservoir could fill for first time in 6 years

When will soggy California drop water restrictions?  “Much of California has gone from withered to water-logged this winter but the state’s top water regulator is not ready to lift emergency conservation measures enacted during the height of the state’s drought.  “It makes the most sense to continue steady as she goes,” State Water Resources Control Board chairwoman Felicia Marcus told The Associated Press after the latest in a series of storms brought more snow to the mountains and record-breaking rainfall to parts of Southern California. … ”  Read more from the AP via the Star Tribune here:  When will soggy California drop water restrictions?

Radio show: Ecological and political fallout from California’s drought:  “California is in its sixth year of drought. Last year’s El Nino rainy season did little to help especially in Southern California, which is far below normal precipitation totals.  But recent storms in the north and heavy rains predicted for the weekend have helped to ease some concerns.  The drought could also play a role in a possible fight between regulation-favoring state officials like Governor Jerry Brown and President-elect Donald Trump who has demonstrated skepticism of climate change.  Jean Moran is a professor in the Earth and Environmental Sciences department at California State University East Bay.”  Listen to the radio show from WNYC by clicking here: Radio show: Ecological and political fallout from California’s drought

Floodwaters could recharge Central Valley aquifers:  “Last October, the Almond Board of California announced new partnerships with Sustainable Conservation, Land IQ and UC Davis researchers to look at ways floodwaters could recharge Central Valley groundwater aquifers. Daniel Mountjoy is the Director of Resource Stewardship for Sustainable Conservation, an organization helping to solve some of the challenges facing our land, air and, most importantly, water.  Mountjoy explained the idea behind the partnership: “The concept is, ‘Can we capture the available peak flows when they’re available from surface supply and recharge the groundwater so that it’s available during dry years when surface flows are under stress from environmental needs and other demands for it?’ ” … ”  Read more from California Ag Today here:  Floodwaters could recharge Central Valley aquifers

Study finds two groups hardest hit by California’s drought:  “Throughout California’s severe drought, small communities suffered the most. Very small rural towns and even smaller neighborhood water systems were more likely to run out of water, and least able to solve those problems on their own.  In a new study the Pacific Institute, an Oakland-based think-tank, explored these problems to understand how such disadvantaged communities ended up with water problems, and to recommend solutions. These are water systems with as few as 15 service connections or 25 year-round customers. In other cases, they were so-called “nonpublic” water systems, meaning they are so small that they are not even required to be regulated by the state, and usually serve a few homes from a central well or stream diversion. ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Study finds two groups hardest hit by California’s drought

California drying out after deluge:  “The sun began peeking out Tuesday across parts of California after a week of stormy weather left a vast swath of the state grappling with mudslides, flooding, closed highways and power outages.  “After five years of drought, it seems funny to say let’s turn it off,” AccuWeather meteorologist Ken Clark said of the rain. “But we need to turn it off.” ... ”  Read more from the USA Today here:  California drying out after deluge

State of resistance: Protecting California’s air and water:  “In December of 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cracked down on Canyon Plastics of Valencia, California, for allegedly polluting local waters with nurdles. Tiny bits of resin used in the manufacture of plastic products, nurdles leach chemicals as they collect on beaches and clog up the digestive tracts of marine creatures. Canyon Plastics, the EPA alleged, had been disposing of them in a tributary of the Santa Clara River, which empties into the ocean. The nurdles posed an immediate threat to the endangered steelhead trout that persist in the river, and after an inspection, the federal agency proposed a fine and a remediation plan that was open to public comment. ... ”  Read more from Capital and Main here:  State of resistance: Protecting California’s air and water

Gag order, freeze put on EPA and other federal agencies: “The Trump administration ordered several federal agencies to cease communication with the public, and in some cases halt new activity, in a move that raised fears about government work being done behind closed doors and about possible disruptions to programs.  The Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Interior are among the agencies reportedly facing at least temporary gag orders, as the new administration takes over and begins what is expected to be a dramatic remaking of policy and an easing of environmental regulations. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Gag order, freeze put on EPA and other federal agencies

California objects to Trump’s freeze of EPA grants:  “A freeze on new grants and contracts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency prompted strong criticism in California on Tuesday as Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom accused President Donald Trump of putting communities at risk by holding up critical funding.  The temporary suspension of grants, which states rely on for a variety of pollution-control and water infrastructure programs, came as the new administration also ordered EPA employees to halt posts on social media and communications with the news media. ... ”  Read more from The Desert Sun here:  California objects to Trump’s freeze of EPA grants

Cadiz project and the Huntington Beach desalination plant among Trump’s infrastructure priorities:  “President Donald Trump’s team has compiled a list of about 50 infrastructure projects nationwide, totaling at least $137.5 billion, as the new White House tries to determine its investment priorities, according to documents obtained by McClatchy’s Kansas City Star and The News Tribune.  The preliminary list, provided to the National Governor’s Association by the Trump transition team, offers a first glimpse at which projects around the country might get funding if Trump follows through on his campaign promise to renew America’s crumbling highways, airports, dams and bridges. … ”  Read more from McClatchy DC here:  Cadiz project and the Huntington Beach desalination plant among Trump’s infrastructure priorities

In commentary today …

Column: Antarctic ice melt and California’s shoreline:  Gary Griggs writes, “An iceberg the size of Delaware got closer to breaking off of the Antarctic Peninsula last week and a group of scientists gathered in England to try and figure out why. Antarctica is one and a half times larger than the entire U.S., and it’s covered with ice, a lot of ice.  It is the largest repository of ice on the planet by virtue of it being centered over the South Pole and being almost permanently frozen. In fact, Antarctica contains about 90 percent of all the fresh water on Earth. Think of the entire U.S. covered with 10,000 feet or nearly two miles of ice and you get an idea of how much of this frozen stuff is sitting on the southern continent. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Column: Antarctic ice melt and California’s shoreline

In regional news and commentary today …

Russian River residents, forced from homes by mudslide, seek to return:  “Rick and Christine Smith are aching for solid ground again.  Forced from their hillside retreat west of Guerneville by a Jan. 9 mudslide, the couple have bounced around for two weeks, taking shelter in one temporary abode after another.  “We just want to go home,” Rick Smith, a 69-year-old retired businessman, said Tuesday.  The Smiths are among a dozen residents who were forced to leave their rural enclave above Highway 116 near Vacation Beach on the Russian River because of the mudslide. ... ” Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Russian River residents, forced from homes by mudslide, seek to return

Landslide threatens EBMUD aqueduct; repairs made:  “Emergency repairs were winding up Monday on a storm-caused landslide that threatened to undermine a major East Bay drinking water aqueduct.  The East Bay Municipal Utility District said it is spending some $500,000 to stabilize and armor with rock an embankment along San Pablo Creek where the Briones Aqueduct is buried.  The 5-foot-diameter pipe carries water from Briones Reservoir to treatment plants in Walnut Creek and Lafayette, from where it is distributed to customers in Central Contra Costa County, the San Ramon Valley and Castro Valley. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Landslide threatens EBMUD aqueduct; repairs made

Yuba County Water Agency storm damage estimated at $3 million:  “Yuba County Water Agency officials said the recent string of storms — what was deemed an atmospheric river — caused an estimated $3 million in damages along the Yuba River.  The agency’s board voted Tuesday to allow General Manager Curt Aikens to declare the situation a state of emergency.  Terri Daly, administrative services manager for the agency, said California law requires any public works project estimated to cost over $45,000 to go to bid, unless an emergency is declared. ... ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  Yuba County Water Agency storm damage estimated at $3 million

Eating endangered species: Non-native bass part of Stanislaus study:  “For years, the Bureau of Reclamation has tried to comply with the Endangered Species Act when it comes to protecting Chinook salmon and steelhead on the Stanislaus River by releasing more and more water.  Legislation signed by President Obama in the waning days of his administration contains specific language requiring federal agencies to work with the South San Joaquin Irrigation District and Oakdale Irrigation District to address the best ways to protect Chinook salmon. Specifically it directs the Secretary of Commerce and the National Marine Fisheries Service to research the impact of non-native predators such as bass on Stanislaus River salmon and to develop a pilot program to address the problem. ... ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  Eating endangered species: Non-native bass part of Stanislaus study

Stanislaus County approves formation of Turlock groundwater sustainability agencies:  “Stanislaus County is the latest public agency to move forward with creation of a groundwater sustainability plan for the Turlock Groundwater Subbasin following the Board of Supervisors’ adoption Tuesday of two agreements to form groundwater sustainability agencies for the East Turlock and West Turlock subbasins.  Under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which was passed in 2014, all high and medium priority groundwater basins are required to form one or multiple GSAs by June 30 and to develop one or more GSPs within three to five years, depending on the condition of their basins. … ”  Read more from the Turlock Journal here:  Stanislaus County approves formation of Turlock groundwater sustainability agencies

Fresno County:  Water experts monitoring the effects of recharged waterways:  “Experts say it has been an abnormal January when you consider all the rain California has received, however they say it’s still within reason. The amount of rainfall has the state on pace to recover after years of drought.  Central California lakes and reservoirs have benefited greatly from a rain-soaked January. All the precipitation has worked its way into waterways like Millerton Lake in Fresno County – pushing water levels at an impressive rate following years of devastating drought.  “January, for this part of the state, has been the second wettest since 1945,” Peter Funkhouser with the Department of Reclamation said. … ”  Read more from KFSN here:  Fresno County:  Water experts monitoring the effects of recharged waterways

Is the drought over?  It depends on where you live, but not in Tulare County: California’s received record levels of snow and rain so far this year. And in Northern California there are signs that the drought may be coming to an end. There are full reservoirs, record snow levels and flooding. But as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports even though there are these indicators, places in the Central Valley remain in extreme drought. … ”  Read more from Valley Public Radio here:  Is the drought over?  It depends on where you live, but not in Tulare County

Gibraltar Reservoir spills, sending higher flows into Lake Cachuma:  “For the first time in six years, water began spilling out of Gibraltar Reservoir on Tuesday, improving the prospects for re-filling Lake Cachuma downstream on the Santa Ynez River.  Gibraltar, which serves the city of Santa Barbara, reached the full mark at about 1 a.m. and began releasing water into the Santa Ynez River, according to the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department. … ”  Read more from Noozhawk here:  Gibraltar Reservoir spills, sending higher flows into Lake Cachuma

Indian Wells Valley pumping water three to four times higher than sustainable:  “Water is being pumped out of the Indian Wells Valley groundwater basin between three and four times faster than it is being recharged, according to a presentation the Desert Research Institute gave to the IWV Groundwater Authority at their board meeting on Thursday, Jan. 19. The DRI study was commissioned by Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division.  According to the presentation, the DRI study sought to update and improve the groundwater model for the IWV basin. They found water is pumped out of the basin at a rate of 28,000 acre-feet per year, while it only receives 7,700 a.f.y. of recharge. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley pumping water three to four times higher than sustainable

Santa Clarita: Groundwater concerns elicit input from 200:  “About 200 people looking for better ways to manage the water underneath Santa Clarita Valley took their first collective step in that direction Tuesday when they met to form a groundwater sustainability agency.  Water officials representing local water retailers, water board members, environmentalists and SCV water wholesaler – the Castaic Lake Water Agency – encountered some new faces at Tuesday’s “stakeholder forum.” ... ”  Read more from the Santa Clarita Signal here:  Groundwater concerns elicit input from 200

Southern California: Massive rainfall only putting a dent in the drought:  “One week and three storms later, you would think the drought would be over.  “At this point, it’s not enough,” hydrologist Jayme Labor with the National Weather Service Oxnard said.  Labor says while the past week’s storms are short-term relief, we would need a lot more rain to say goodbye to the drought. … ”  Read more from CBS LA here:  Southern California: Massive rainfall only putting a dent in the drought

Huntington Beach desalination plant is among Trump’s priorities, leaked document shows:  “A document purportedly leaked from the Trump administration indicates that the proposed desalination plant in Huntington Beach is among 50 infrastructure projects nationwide that the president has designated as a priority.  The Kansas City Star and The News Tribune reported Tuesday that the $1 billion Poseidon Water desalination plant is on a list of dozens of projects across the country that would cost an estimated $137.5 billion in public-private partnerships. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Huntington Beach desalination plant is among Trump’s priorities, leaked document shows

Surfers ignore warning, bacteria, and trash to ride powerful post-rain waves: “Every surfer knows you should stay out of the water for 72 hours after it rains.  Bacteria has washed into the ocean, trash and big tree branches are floating around and, overall, it’s just a mess.  But when the waves show – some surfers just can’t help themselves.  Big surf on Tuesday brought waves up to 10 foot in Seal Beach and Huntington Beach. Surfers ignored warnings and paddled out into frothy, foamy, slamming surf, catching some epic rides but also taking some serious spills. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Surfers ignore warning, bacteria, and trash to ride powerful post-rain waves

Rarely seen spill could be coming from Lake Hodges:  “The unusually wet winter now hitting San Diego County and California could bring a sight that’s been witnessed only twice in the past 13 years – water cascading over the Lake Hodges dam.  “If the weather pattern we have continues through February, in all likelihood Lake Hodges will fill and spill this spring,” said Mike Bardin, general manager of the Santa Fe Irrigation District, which supplies water to Rancho Santa Fe, Solana Beach and Fairbanks Ranch. … ”  Read more from the Rancho Santa Fe Review here:  Rarely seen spill could be coming from Lake Hodges

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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