DAILY DIGEST, weekend edition: NASA: Storms filled 37% of California’s snow-water deficit; What all those dead trees mean for the Sierra Nevada; Siskiyou citizens speak out at Klamath Dam meeting; Yolo Bypass is a unique ‘inland sea’; and more …

In California water news this weekend, NASA: Storms filled 37% of California's snow-water deficit; What all those dead trees mean for the Sierra Nevada; Siskiyou citizens speak out at Klamath Dam meeting; With rain clouds looming, Sacramento residents rushed to buy flood insurance; Yolo Bypass is a unique ‘inland sea'; Mercury contamination prompts new warning about eating fish from Lode reservoir; Seville: Worrying and still waiting for safe drinking water after cancer claims her daughter; San Luis Obispo County is having its rainiest month in 20 years.  Here's what that means for the drought; Paso Robles City Council creates Groundwater Sustainability Agency; Orange County got a year's water supply in 4 days and reservoirs are full again; and more …

In the news this weekend …

NASA: Storms filled 37% of California's snow-water deficit:  “The “atmospheric river” weather patterns that pummeled California with storms from late December to late January may have recouped 37 percent of the state’s five-year snow-water deficit, according to new University of Colorado Boulder-led research using NASA satellite data.  Researchers at the university's Center for Water Earth Science and Technology (CWEST) estimate that two powerful recent storms deposited roughly 17.5-million acre feet (21.6 cubic kilometers) of water on California’s Sierra Nevada range in January. Compared to averages from the pre-drought satellite record, that amount represents more than 120 percent of the typical annual snow accumulation for this range. Snowmelt from the range is a critical water source for the state's agriculture, hydropower generation and municipal water supplies. ... ”  Read more from NASA here:  Storms filled 37% of California’s snow-water deficit

What all those dead trees mean for the Sierra Nevada:  “The ponderosa pine had taken root decades before the Revolutionary War, making a stately stand on this western Sierra Nevada slope for some 300 years, Nate Stephenson figures.   Then came the beetle blitzkrieg. Now the tree is a dab in the gray and rusty death stain smeared across the mountain range.  At the base of its massive trunk, a piece of bark has been cut off, revealing an etched swirl of insect trails. Higher up, naked branches reach out, as if from a many-armed scarecrow.  “This was alive until the drought killed it,” Stephenson says mournfully. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  What all those dead trees mean for the Sierra Nevada

In commentary this weekend …

After drought, California urgently needs to focus on big picture of water management, says Jay Lund:  He writes, “California has largely emerged from five years of drought. This good news becomes better news if we move forward with better water management, which will prepare the state for the next drought, as well as floods.  Today, California has 112 percent of long-term average reservoir storage, 189 percent of average snowpack and more than 200 percent of average precipitation. That’s above 100 percent in all these categories for the first time in six years.  Reservoir storage is now 2 million acre feet – equivalent to about two full Folsom reservoirs – above the long-term average statewide. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  After drought, California urgently needs to focus on big picture of water management

New dams simply won't save California, says Eric Wesselman and Antonio Inserni:  They write, “The headline of the East Bay Times Jan. 16 commentary:” End of drought is a wasted opportunity for California,” was dead on. Attempting to solve the problem with dams, however, is expensive and ineffective.  As stated, one wet year won’t solve all of the problems brought on by the five-year drought. California’s agricultural sector achieved record levels of both employment and revenue by supplementing surface water with ground water. While invisible, this groundwater is a reservoir, and it will take years to recharge. Additionally, many surface reservoirs are still below capacity. … ”  Read more from the East Bay Times here:  New dams simply won’t save California

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Siskiyou citizens speak out at Klamath Dam meeting:  “On Thursday night, citizens of Siskiyou County and the surrounding area were given a chance to voice their concern regarding potential removal of four dams along the Klamath River; over 100 people came to the scoping meeting for the Lower Klamath Project License Surrender that was held at the Miner's Inn Convention Center in Yreka.  The meeting was facilitated by State Water Resources Control Board staff – not board members – and sought input as part of an ongoing public comment period on the LKPLS that will end on Feb. 1 at 5 p.m.  Parker Thaler, Senior Specialist for the SWRCB's Water Quality Certification Program, provided the meetings attendees with a succinct overview of the history of the Klamath dams and the legal processes surrounding them over the past years. ... ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here:  Siskiyou citizens speak out at Klamath Dam meeting

With rain clouds looming, Sacramento residents rushed to buy flood insurance:  “Much of the Sacramento region lies in a deep flood plain, bordered by the Sacramento and American rivers and protected by levees. But as the drought dragged on for years, and the risk of flooding receded, thousands of people in the region let their insurance policies lapse.  At least some of those people raced to get coverage back in place when it became apparent that this winter would be a wet one.  Insurance agents said forecasts of an “atmospheric river” heading toward Northern California shortly after New Year’s Day prompted a blizzard of calls and office visits from consumers interested in getting flood insurance – fast. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  With rain clouds looming, Sacramento residents rushed to buy flood insurance

Yolo Bypass is a unique ‘inland sea':  “The drive along Interstate 80 between Davis and Sacramento comes with a view unseen in recent years. An interstate surrounded by water, thanks to a healthy winter season.  The Yolo Bypass was designed to take on overwhelming flood flows from the Sierra to the Sacramento Valley — it just hasn’t happened to this degree recently due to five years of drought.  “I was able to walk all through that area, and obviously this year we can’t do that,” resident Mark Nunez said. “I was kind of wishing I had a kayak, because then I would be able to paddle through there and check it out.” … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here:  Yolo Bypass is a unique ‘inland sea’

Mercury contamination prompts new warning about eating fish from Lode reservoir:  “State officials have extended fish consumption warnings to all three of the Mother Lode reservoirs that are closest to Stockton.  Most significantly, the new report shows that children and women of child-bearing age should never eat black bass caught from New Hogan Lake because of mercury contamination. The same warning has already been issued for Camanche and New Melones reservoirs. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here: Mercury contamination prompts new warning about eating fish from Lode reservoir

Seville: Worrying and still waiting for safe drinking water after cancer claims her daughter:  “For years, Rebecca Quintana had been a highly visible activist in the fight for safe drinking water, speaking regularly with reporters, rallying residents and helping to spark an unprecedented United Nations inspection in northern Tulare County.  But, strolling past the town’s old contaminated well now, she talks about her more personal battle. Her 34-year-old daughter, Regina Lujan, died in 2015 from cancer. Pregnant with her second son, Lujan had asked a haunting question about her stage 4 breast cancer.  Did the contamination nightmare in Seville cause it? … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Worrying and still waiting for safe drinking water after cancer claims her daughter

Santa Cruz: The drought is over – until it isn't, says the Santa Cruz Sentinel:  They write, “When fixing potholes becomes a major issue, you know we’ve returned to normal, or even more-than-normal, rainfall. After six years of drought, California is in the midst of one of the wettest winters on record — and definitely the wettest January since 1998.  Santa Cruz has received nearly 16 inches of rain in January alone, and more than 31 inches in this rainy season, nearly twice the normal amount at this time of year. The city’s lone reservoir, Loch Lomond, is full. The Santa Cruz Mountains are receiving startling amounts of rainfall — Boulder Creek so far has tabulated almost 66 inches, nearly two and a half times what had fallen last year at this time — and last winter was marked by El Niño rains. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  The drought is over – until it isn’t

San Luis Obispo County is having its rainiest month in 20 years.  Here's what that means for the drought:  “An epic month of rain has brought rising reservoir levels, floods and hope to the drought-stricken Central Coast.  After five years of dry conditions, this January was the rainiest month in two decades — 11.5 inches of precipitation has fallen in San Luis Obispo at Cal Poly, compared with 13.31 inches in 1995, PG&E meteorologist John Lindsey said. That total also crushes the January average of 4.96 inches, according to National Weather Service data. ... ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  San Luis Obispo County is having its rainiest month in 20 years.  Here’s what that means for the drought

Paso Robles City Council creates Groundwater Sustainability Agency:  “Paso Robles, like most other cities in the state, has spent the past few years suffering from an extremely detrimental drought. Several local businesses and operations have had to adjust accordingly to drought regulations, often resulting in a loss of profit. While the aforementioned regulations aim to ensure and bare in mind the best interests of local groundwater resources, they often return an unattainable yield, causing undesirable results. As a result, members of the Paso Robles community continue to strive toward more fittingly re-evaluated and often times even re-established regulations. … ”  Read more from the Paso Robles Press here:  Paso Robles City Council creates Groundwater Sustainability Agency

Richardson, Commode, White: Ventura's water mess:  They write, “The 2016 city of Ventura’s “Drinking Water Consumer Confidence Report” is not titled “Half-truths and Outright Misrepresentations,” but it should be.  Without major, immediate changes, Ventura’s water shortages will be at a scary level within five years. It will force all growth to stop, and current residents won’t have adequate water to live normal lives.  The report identifies Ventura as the county’s largest city relying 100 percent on local water resources. It fails to add that this is due to the City Council’s and the water department’s poor planning for many years. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here:  Richardson, Commode, White: Ventura’s water mess

L. A. City Council approves purchase of final remnant of Taylor yard:  “The Los Angeles City Council approved the purchase of 41 acres of land along the Los Angeles River in Cypress Park on Friday.  The decision secures long-awaited plans to develop the land into a park along the river with views into Downtown Los Angeles, the Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood Sign by creating more than one mile of riverfront access, and restore wetland and river habitats. The council unanimously voted to allocate about $60 million in state and city funds toward the land's purchase and development, according to a press release.  … ”  Read more from KPCC here:  L. A. City Council approves purchase of final remnant of Taylor yard

Drought no more?  Orange County got a year's water supply in 4 days and reservoirs are full again:  “Ding-dong the wicked drought isn’t quite dead, but after the latest series of storms it’s buried for the time being.  Reservoirs in Orange County and throughout Southern California have finally gotten the injection needed to get through a year without the millions of gallons of water that was being bought over the last half-decade.  Irvine Lake off Santiago Canyon Road, for example, in the past seven days rose 6 feet.  Barbara’s Lake, Orange County’s only natural lake – dry for the past year – is suddenly full. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Drought no more?  Orange County got a year’s water supply in 4 days and reservoirs are full again

Orange County: Don't let the rain dampen our conservation efforts, says Joone Lopez:  She writes, “The arrival of rains with the new year have tempered one of California’s most severe ongoing drought periods on record, which officially entered its sixth year in October 2016. The question remains whether California, and Orange County specifically, can see light at the end of the dry tunnel. The historic drought has caused local, regional and state agencies to take unprecedented action to address extraordinary conditions. However, drought or no drought, Californians must reevaluate their relationship with water. The conditions over the last several years have taught us that we need to rethink the way we use current supplies while managing the demand and needs of our growing communities, as we work toward enhancing water reliability for the future. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Don’t let the rain dampen our conservation efforts

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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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