DAILY DIGEST: Does California need more water infrastructure?; Farm orgs say snow survey must lead to improved water supplies; State officials hesitate to declare end to the drought; and more …

In California water news today, Does California need more water infrastructure?; Farm organizations share that snow survey must lead to improved water supplies; State officials hesitate to declare end to the drought; How a 20% border tax could set off an international food fight; California’s climate policy depends on federal waivers – what if Trump doesn’t grant them?; and more …

In the news today …

Does California need more water infrastructure?  “As the The Valley is slammed with rain and storms, the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range is coming in under average for snow fall totals, which accounts for nearly 30 percent of drinking water for all Californian.  The under average conditions brings up the question, does California need more water infrastructure?  The state already has a lot of water infrastructure including reservoirs, aquifers, and dams.  More than 1,400 dams play an integral role in helping move water from the northern part of the state to the southern portion. … ”  Read more from ABC 10 here:  Does California need more water infrastructure?

Farm organizations share that snow survey must lead to improved water supplies:  “When state snow surveyors visit the Sierra Nevada, they will find a snowpack well above average for the date-and California agricultural organizations say they hope that translates into improved water supplies for the state’s farmers and ranchers.  “You would think that a snowpack in the range of 175 percent of average would assure plentiful water supplies, but that link has long ago been severed,” said Tom Nassif, president of the Western Growers Association.  … ”  Read more from KERO here:  Farm organizations share that snow survey must lead to improved water supplies

State officials hesitate to declare end to the drought:  “After a month of huge blizzards and “atmospheric river” storms, the Sierra Nevada snowpack — source of a third of California’s drinking water — is 177 percent of the historic average, the biggest in more than two decades.  The last time there was this much snow on Feb. 1 in the Sierra was in 1995. Pete Wilson was California’s governor, “Seinfeld” was the top-rated show on television and Steve Young had just led the 49ers to a blowout win in Super Bowl XXIX. … ”  Read more from the Record Bee here:  State officials hesitate to declare end to the drought

How a 20% border tax could set off an international food fight:  “The first week of the Trump administration may signal a tough road ahead for agriculture.  First, the president withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty, which was expected to boost U.S. agricultural exports by more than $7 billion annually over the coming decades by dropping trade barriers among 12 North American and Asian economies, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Four days later, Trump administration officials said the U.S. could finance a new wall on the Mexican border through receipts from a 20% tax on Mexican imports. That appears to be part of a broader corporate tax overhaul, which would dun goods imported from every country.   The announcement, followed by a flurry of clarifications and caveats, set off worry that the U.S. was embarking on a trajectory that could lead to a trade war. That could hit home especially hard for U.S. farmers, who get about 20% of their annual revenue from trade — much of it from the very countries Trump could target. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  How a 20% border tax could set off an international food fight

California’s climate policy depends on federal waivers – what if Trump doesn’t grant them? California officials have discerned a chilling signal that the Trump administration may be willing to halt the state’s unique authority to impose its own vehicle emission rules — a move that could undercut its pioneering effort to battle climate change.  The threat arose during the confirmation hearing for Scott Pruitt, Trump’s choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt was asked by California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris if he would pledge to continue the EPA’s decades-long policy of granting California waivers from the federal Clean Air Act, giving the state the right to set its own more stringent clean air standards. Pruitt — who as Oklahoma’s attorney general sued the EPA more than a dozen times — refused to commit to continuing California’s authority, instead saying he would have to study the issue. ... ”  Read more from KQED here:  California’s climate policy depends on federal waivers – what if Trump doesn’t grant them? 

In commentary today …

Fixing California water storage is not a zero sum game, says Jill Duerig:  She writes, “In their recent commentary, “More dams won’t do it, time for a fresh approach on water,” the writers are spot-on in referencing the need for multiple solutions to solving California’s water challenges, especially in the face of anticipated climate change. However, they miss several important points about the value of new water storage in California.  Historically, California has used its snow pack as seasonal storage. With climate change, this immense natural water storage system will likely be significantly reduced or lost. Alternative water supply options are critical to maintaining a state that is economically and ecologically healthy. ... ”  Read more from the East Bay Times here:  Fixing California water storage is not a zero sum game

In regional news and commentary today …

Santa Rosa got soaked in January, breaking rainfall records: “Santa Rosa got a soaking in January with 18.96 inches of rain, breaking records that date back more than a century.  “It kind of blew (the record) out of the water,” said Steve Anderson, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Monterey.  January’s soggy onslaught also pushed the season total since Oct. 1 to 37.38 inches, more than one inch above the historical average of 36.28 inches for Santa Rosa. There are still eight months remaining in the rain year, Anderson said, noting that significant precipitation often falls not only during winter but also in March and April. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Santa Rosa got soaked in January, breaking rainfall records

Bay Area: Can we quench both the thirst for housing and housing’s thirst?  “The San Francisco Bay Area is likely to be a lot more crowded in the near future, adding a projected 2 million people to the 7.5 million who already live here over the next quarter century. Planners traditionally focus on meeting housing and transportation needs as the region grows. But more people also means more demand for water — and choices we make today will determine how far our water goes in the future. Now, regional planners have begun to address the disconnect between land use and water supply.  Whether or not we have enough water for growth depends on factors including climate change and the way we grow. “Climate change is a little out of our control, so we should focus on what we can control: the urban form and water efficiency,” said Laura Tam, sustainable development policy director of SPUR, a nonprofit dedicated to urban planning. … ”  Read more from the Bay Area Monitor here:  Bay Area: Can we quench both the thirst for housing and housing’s thirst?

Kings County officials:  Drought isn’t over:  “With the mountains buried in snow, is it time to declare the drought over?  Here’s one thing to consider: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials who operate Pine Flat Dam have begun what they call “flood releases” from Pine Flat Dam.  They started the releases on Friday. As of Tuesday, it reached a flow rate of 3,000 cubic feet per second, according to Steve Haugen, watermaster at the King River Water Association (KRWA). ... ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here:  Kings County officials:  Drought isn’t over

Kings County Column: Study suggests field flooding: John Lindt writes, “Valley farmers are quick to complain about all that water coming down the Sacramento River heading out to sea rather than adopting a plan to store that water for later use, down in Kings County for example.  Now a University of California study published in November suggests Kings River farms store more of their own floodwaters by inundating their fields when surplus river water is available.  The idea has an additional benefit – relatively low cost. Unlike popular political plans to tap big publicly-funded storage projects with price tags in the billions, why not use water from our own watershed, Kings River floodwater flowing by gravity, that can replenish local groundwater for about $36 per acre-foot, says the report. … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here:  Column: Study suggests field flooding

These citizen scientists are hoping what they find in the LA River can help them save it:  “Todd Barneck crouches near a trickle of storm water deep within the bones of the concrete Los Angeles River and gently lays in a thermometer.  “That’s 16 degrees C, or about 60 degrees Fahrenheit,” he announces to the group.  Wearing a knit cap and cargo pants, he moves from task to task, scooping water samples and snapping photos of trash, including a gold, high-heeled shoe found floating amidst a week’s worth of run-off surprises.  Not a scientist, Barneck, 53, of Whittier wants to learn about the 51-mile river’s history, something that is part of his family ancestry. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Breeze here:  These citizen scientists are hoping what they find in the LA River can help them save it

And lastly …

Precipitation watch …

Remarkably wet winter so far in California … and more storms to come:  “After so many blog posts over the past few years on the progress of California’s record-breaking, multi-year drought,  it’s refreshing to finally be able to talk about the widespread drought-relieving rain and snow that has fallen throughout the state in recent weeks. It will probably come as no surprise to anyone living in California–especially in northern and central portions of the state–that December and January 2016-2017 were exceptionally wet months, featuring a very active Pacific storm track and a nearly continuous series of storms. While many of these precipitation events have still been aimed to the north of Los Angeles, Southern California has finally received a couple of very significant rainfall events, including a late January storm which brought widespread urban flooding and even some severe thunderstorms, setting several rainfall records. ... ”  Read more from the California Weather Blog here:  Remarkably wet winter so far in California … and more storms to come

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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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