DAILY DIGEST: Drought restrictions likely to continue despite epic rain and snow; CA hasn’t been this drought free in six years; Can winegrowers refill underground aquifers?; Before and after: The rain’s impact on three reservoirs; and more …

In California water news today, California drought restrictions likely to continue despite epic rain and snow; From drought to flood: California staggers from one state of emergency to the next; New report: California drought over in roughly half the state, feds say; California hasn't been this drought free in six years; Can California winegrowers refill underground aquifers?; Before and after: The rain's impact on three reservoirs; Drought over?  Before and after photos show California reservoir's 110-foot rise; Climate change symposium highlights difference between state and federal policy; New technologies bolster water management in orchards; Radio show:  Calling environmental regulations out of control, President Trump begins sharp policy change; Scientists are planning the next big Washington march; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The Delta Stewardship Council meets today beginning at 9am.  Agenda items include a review of Delta Plan implementation during 2016 and an update on the Delta Levee Investment Strategy.  Click here for the meeting noticeClick here to watch on webcast.
  • Webinar: Suspended Sediment and Sediment Associated Contaminants in the Aquatic Environment from 12:00-12:30pm:  This seminar will focus on the methods currently used to characterize suspended sediment and sediment associated contaminants, and assess their impacts on fluvial systems.  Click here for more information.

In the news today …

California drought restrictions likely to continue despite epic rain and snow:  “California’s top water regulator has strongly suggested the state will keep drought conservation rules in place despite winter storms that have waterlogged many communities.  State Water Resources Control Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus says no decisions are final until the board votes Feb. 7.  Marcus told the Associated Press in an interview she supports continued conservation rules but is keeping an open mind.  She fears heavy rains could disappear, something that’s happened before in California. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  California drought restrictions likely to continue despite epic rain and snow

From drought to flood: California staggers from one state of emergency to the next:  “When it rains, it pours. In drought- and wildfire-scarred California, it also snows, hails, and gusts.  California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Monday in 50 out of California’s 58 counties, after a trio of winter storms brought a barrage of snow and rain that caused property damage, power outages, and four weather-related fatalities. Despite record-breaking precipitation, state officials fear the rains may not be enough to bring the years-long drought to a permanent close.  Some of the heaviest rains fell along the coast, where 3 to 4 inches fell in just six hours, shutting down roads and causing as many as 9,000 power outages in parts of Los Angeles and San Diego. … ”  Read more from the Christian Science Monitor here:  From drought to flood: California staggers from one state of emergency to the next

New report: California drought over in roughly half the state, feds say:  “Hammered with record rainstorms and blizzards, nearly half of California is no longer in a drought, and the rest saw dramatic improvement over the past week, federal scientists reported Thursday.  Overall, 49 percent of the state is now drought free, the highest level since April 2013, 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. … ” Read more from the Mercury News here:  New report: California drought over in roughly half the state, feds say

California hasn't been this drought free in six years:  “California hasn't been this “drought-free” in 6 years! Up to 39 percent of the Golden State is considered out of the historic drought, according to a Thursday update to the federal drought monitor.  For the first time since January 2014, no portion of the state is in the top-level drought status — not even in Central or Southern California.  … ”  Read more from ABC 10 here:  California hasn’t been this drought free in six years

Can California winegrowers refill underground aquifersWith the recent announcement that the drought in Northern California is officially over, and reservoirs, ponds and streams in many parts of the state filled to capacity and overflowing, many farmers and officials are asking, what do we do now?  What they mean is how can they take advantage of these flush times? California has always been subject to swings between droughts and floods. Much of the current flooding is going into rivers and out to sea. As California Farm Bureau Federation president Paul Wenger noted, “All the water we've prayed for is just going down the drain, so to speak. What if we could harness the water and store it for future use?” … ” Read more from the Wine Spectator here:  Can California winegrowers refill underground aquifers? 

Before and after: The rain's impact on three reservoirs:  “Amazing the difference a little rain makes. Wait — a little? No — a lot.  Virtually all of California is enjoying its wettest winter in five years. In fact, current statistical reports on rainfall and the water content of the Sierra Nevada snowpack show that so far, we’re in the midst of one of the wettest California rainy seasons on record.  All the precipitation has transformed a state that suffered through five years of severe drought. One of the most visible effects: high levels of the state’s major reservoirs. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Before and after: The rain’s impact on three reservoirs

Drought over?  Before and after photos show California reservoir's 110-foot rise:  “San Luis Reservoir, the vast artificial lake outside Los Banos that Bay Area residents pass on road-trips to Los Angeles, is on the verge of filling up for the first time in six years.  It's almost impossible to exaggerate the prevalence of this milestone in California where every drop of water has mattered over the past six years of drought.  Many of the state's water-starved reservoirs filled up during last year's El Niño–fueled rainy season. Even though the rain and snowfall totals weren't as high as predicted, Folsom Reservoir became so full that water was released to prevent flooding and Shasta nearly reached capacity. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Drought over?  Before and after photos show California reservoir’s 110-foot rise

Climate change symposium highlights difference between state and federal policy:  “The day after President Donald Trump signed executive orders advancing the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, state agencies will host the California Climate Change Symposium 2017 to share the latest research on the impacts of climate change on the state.  The symposium, held at the Sheraton Grand in Sacramento, is intended to inform state policies. It’s hosted by the the California Natural Resources Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and demonstrates the difference between California’s aggressive environmental policies and what we know so far about the Trump administration. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Climate change symposium highlights difference between state and federal policy

New technologies bolster water management in orchards:  “For the last few years, University of California researchers have been promoting new devices called pressure bombs for determining an orchard’s water needs.  But rapid advances in technology have made the pressure bombs — which are also called pressure chambers — almost obsolete, a UC Cooperative Extension adviser said.  Tree monitors and weather gauges connected to online data systems and new advances in aerial imagery are alternatives that may gain popularity, said Allan Fulton, an irrigation and water resources adviser in the UCCE’s Red Bluff office. ... ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  New technologies bolster water management in orchards

Radio show:  Calling environmental regulations out of control, President Trump begins sharp policy change:  “Drawing harsh rebukes from environmentalists, President Trump issued executive orders Tuesday to push through construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines. He also directed the EPA to suspend grants and contracts, instituted a media blackout at the agency and promised to undo the Clean Power Plan, which would reduce emissions from power plants. Meanwhile, Congress moved to reverse other Obama-era environmental rules. We discuss the impacts of the Trump presidency on the environment so far.”  Listen to the radio show from KQED Radio here:  Radio show:  Calling environmental regulations out of control, President Trump begins sharp policy change

Scientists are planning the next big Washington march:  “Last weekend, a massive milieu of women in pink hats descended on Washington, D.C. for the Women’s March. The next big protest being planned for the nation’s capital could involve a sea of lab coats (and likely a few pink hats as well).  A group of researchers have proposed a March for Science. What started as a discussion on Reddit has quickly blossomed into a movement.  Organizers started a private Facebook group and Twitter account on Monday. By Wednesday afternoon, the former boasted more than 300,000 members and the latter had nearly 55,000 followers. A public Facebook page had more than 11,000 likes just five hours after going online. The explosion of support caught organizers off guard, but they’re meeting this weekend to discuss details about the date and full mission statement. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Scientists are planning the next big Washington march

In commentary today …

California's blue resistance: Enforcing water laws in the Trump era Sara Aminzadeh writes, “Our new president said he was “committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies” such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the United States rule. He is already making good on that promise by removing all mentions of climate change from his new White House website. And Scott Pruitt, his pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, has repeatedly protected industry from environmental policies.  California’s leaders have pledged to defend California values by holding our ground on climate change, clean energy and air-quality programs fundamental to our health and economy. But there has been considerably less focus on water, despite the enormous threats coming from Washington, D.C., and even within the state. Just as we lead the nation on climate action and renewable energy, we must lead on water. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  California’s blue resistance: Enforcing water laws in the Trump era

In regional news and commentary today …

Miners angry about proposed regulations:  “There was plenty of anger to go around Wednesday at Redding City Hall as some 80 miners turned out to lambaste a new state law to regulate suction dredge mining.  Under the law passed in 2015, the California Water Board is required to issue permits to miners who want to use the motorized dredges to get gold out of streams.  Water Board staff members held a workshop in Redding on Wednesday to take comment on whether the state should issue the permits, under what conditions and what miners would be required to do to offset potential environmental harm done by the mining. ... ”  Read more from the Redding Record Searchlight here:  Miners angry about proposed regulations

City of Ukiah gives report on response to flooding:  “The flooding in Ukiah earlier this month could have been much worse if the Russian River got as high as expected, City of Ukiah staff reported recently to the Ukiah City Council.  “That break in the rain for two hours is probably what really helped us,” said Tami Bartolomie, Community Services supervisor, explaining that while the Russian River was predicted to hit 26 feet, it fortunately only reached a little more than 22 feet on Jan. 10.  “That four feet really made a difference for us,” said Bartolomie, adding that when the Russian River has reached 26 feet in the past, “it closed Highway 101 in Hopland.” … ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here:  City of Ukiah gives report on response to flooding

Folsom Lake less than half full after recent rains; residents ask, why so dry?  “Northern California is on track to break rainfall records. Water has gushed through a weir into the Yolo Bypass floodplain at levels not seen in more than a decade. The Sierra Nevada snowpack is nearly double historical averages.  But you wouldn’t know the region has experienced an exceptionally wet winter looking at the steep, dry shores ringing the Sacramento region’s largest reservoir, Folsom Lake. On Wednesday, the lake was filled to just 41 percent capacity – 80 percent of its historical average.  … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Folsom Lake less than half full after recent rains; residents ask, why so dry? 

Some water lead levels elevated at Sacramento State:  “Sacramento State University has shut off nearly 20 percent of its drinking fountains and sinks after recent tests showed elevated levels of lead.   Sac State's Director of Environmental Health and Safety Steve Leland says the lead comes from soldering used on pipes and plumbing fixtures.  “It is a concern,” says Leland. “It's not just older pipes; it's in some of the newer fixtures.”  The samples were collected over the winter break when classes were not in session and many of the fixtures hadn't been activated in a number of weeks. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Some water lead levels elevated at Sacramento State

Modesto pays more so outlying water customers can pay less:  “If you live or do business almost anywhere in Modesto, your water bill is higher than if City Hall hadn’t bought several outlying water systems 21 years ago.  If you’re in Del Rio or Grayson, your water bill is far lower than it should be, because Modesto water customers are subsidizing you. The same is true for a few neighborhoods in Ceres and Turlock.  Modesto, long proud of its water heritage, more than two decades ago fought hard for the right to buy Del Este Water Co., a private outfit providing tap water in neighborhoods sprinkled throughout the city and some nearby communities. The 1995 purchase made water service uniform throughout Modesto, and 12,100 families and businesses – former Del Este customers – no longer paid higher water bills than others just across the street. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Modesto pays more so outlying water customers can pay less

State funding to give drought-laden Tulare County community clean water:  “The tiny community of Monson in Tulare County received some good news this week. The State Water Resources Control board awarded $1.2 million to help solve the area’s long term water problems. The area's dealt with high levels of nitrates for decades and the drought dried up lots of wells that people depend on for drinking water.  Tulare County Supervisor Steve Worthley represents the area. He says funding due to the drought is answering the communities longtime water problems. ... ”  Read more from Valley Public Radio here:  State funding to give drought-laden Tulare County community clean water

How much storm water is LA catching?  “Los Angeles County storm water capture systems have shunted enough water from rain-swollen rivers into percolation ponds this rain season to serve the annual water needs of about a half-million people, an official said Monday.  More than 22 billion gallons of storm water has been collected since mid-October  along the San Gabriel and Los Angeles rivers, said Steven Frasher, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Public Works Department.  However, most of the water that falls on the region is still lost to the Pacific, partly because the kinds of investments made over the years in spreading grounds along the San Gabriel River have been lagging along the Los Angeles River, said Mark Gold of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. ... ”  Read more from KPCC here:  How much storm water is LA catching?

San Diego County: Centuries old tribal water dispute to be settled soon:  “A lawsuit that has gone on so long that most of those who initiated it are dead, will be settled very, very soon, possibly this week. For Bo Mazzetti, chairman of the Rincon Band of Mission Indians, that is a bittersweet thing. “My biggest regret is that not one of the original people who started this is alive to see it finished,” he told The Roadrunner this week. “They have all passed away. It has been fifty years we have been trying to settle this.”  One of those was his father, the legendary Rincon leader Max Mazzetti, who fought for Indian causes all his long life.  The lawsuit involved water that the federal government gave away—first to the five Indian bands whose reservations ring the Valley Center area—and then later gave the very same water to two water agencies that came to serve Escondido and Vista. … ”  Read more from the Valley Roadrunner here:  Centuries old tribal water dispute to be settled soon

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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