DAILY DIGEST: ‘Astounding’ snowpack bodes well for summer water supply; Water everywhere and not enough reservoir space to store it; State Water Board staff proposes extension of emergency conservation regs; Work grows to restore mountain meadows as water banks; and more …

In California water news today, California snowpack reaches 173% of average, replenishing a third of the state’s ‘snow-deficit’; California snowpack heaviest since 1995 as drought eases further; ‘Astounding’ snowpack bodes well for summer water supply; Water, water everywhere in California – and not enough reservoir space to store it; State Water Board staff proposes extension of emergency conservation regulation; Work grows to restore mountain meadows as water banks; West Coast Pacific storms are back with more rain and snow; and more …

In the news today …

California snowpack reaches 173% of average, replenishing a third of the state’s ‘snow-deficit’:  “Snowfall from a series of blizzard-like storms that blanketed the Sierra Nevada last month deposited the equivalent of more than 5.7 trillion gallons of water along the rugged mountain range — enough water to fill California’s largest reservoir more than four times, according to recent analysis.  In a study by the University of Colorado Boulder and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in La Cañada Flintridge, scientists concluded this month that recent snowfall had replenished more than a third of the state’s lingering “snow-water deficit.”  … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  California snowpack reaches 173% of average, replenishing a third of the state’s ‘snow-deficit’

California snowpack heaviest since 1995 as drought eases further:  “Clambering through a snowy meadow with drifts up to the tree branches, California’s water managers measured the state’s vital Sierra Nevada snowpack Thursday at a drought-busting and welcome 173 percent of average.  Runoff from the overall Sierra snowpack, which provides arid California with a third of its water in a good year, stood at the highest level since 1995 for this point in the year, California’s Department of Water Resources said.  State officials say Gov. Jerry Brown will wait until closer to the end of California’s rain and snow season this spring to decide whether to lift an emergency declaration addressing the devastating five-year drought. ... ”  Read more from Fox News here:  California snowpack heaviest since 1995 as drought eases further

‘Astounding’ snowpack bodes well for summer water supply:  “Two years ago, as the Sierra snowpack would normally be peaking, Gov. Jerry Brown stood on a barren mountain slope near Lake Tahoe and announced statewide emergency drought measures.  Standing in the same spot today, he’d be buried under more than seven feet of snow.  “It’s a transformed landscape,” observed Tom Painter, a snow hydrologist and  principal investigator at the NASA Airborne Snow Observatory. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  ‘Astounding’ snowpack bodes well for summer water supply

Water, water everywhere in California – and not enough reservoir space to store it:  “After five years of drought, could California really have so much rain and snow there’s no room to store all the water?  The answer – as the state’s water picture careens from bust to boom – is yes.  One month into an exceptionally stormy 2017, river flows though the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta have been so powerful that the massive pumps that ship north-state water to Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley have roared at full throttle for weeks. The federal and state pumping stations near Tracy delivered more water in January than in any month in the last 12 years, according to a Sacramento Bee review of data supplied by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Water, water everywhere in California – and not enough reservoir space to store it

State Water Board staff proposes extension of emergency conservation regulation:  “The State Water Resources Control Board staff is formally proposing that the state’s emergency conservation regulation be extended another 270 days. A draft resolution to amend and readopt the emergency regulation will be taken up after 1 p.m. on Feb. 8. Comments on the proposed resolution will be accepted through noon Monday, Feb. 6. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here:  State Water Board staff proposes extension of emergency conservation regulation

Work grows to restore mountain meadows as water banks:  “As California ponders its long-term water supply challenges, one solution getting increased attention is Sierra Nevada meadow restoration.  Those high-mountain meadows historically acted as sponges, capturing spring snowmelt to recharge groundwater and provide vital wildlife habitat, then discharging it slowly in late summer and fall to keep streams flowing until winter storms returned.  But, starting in the late 1800s, that function has been degraded by rural development, road building and livestock grazing. Many mountain meadows have been cut by deep channels that allow snowmelt and storm flows to run off too quickly, and the opportunity to recharge soils and groundwater have been lost. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Work grows to restore mountain meadows as water banks

West Coast Pacific storms are back with more rain and snow:  “After a short break, Pacific Storms are back to bring more rain, snow and wind to the west coast. The first of these lows is already spreading some decent rain and snow anywhere from Washington and Oregon all the way to Central and Southern California. Wind is also something to keep in mind with this large system, as gusts in excess of 40 mph are expected along many coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest. High surf, especially along portions of the southern coast of Oregon and northern California, will also accompany the strong winds. … ”  Read more from The Weather Network here: West Coast Pacific storms are back with more rain and snow

In commentary today …

How we can better plan our cities to utilize stormwaterRinaldo Veseliza writes, “Our urban areas have lost their ability to naturally recycle stormwater due to the impervious nature of infrastructure engineering over the past 100 years. We have been building roadways and streets to capture the runoff and send it somewhere else, usually to the river or ocean. For decades in California, controlling stormwater was the main goal but today, with more water scarcity, we are beginning to see this same water more as an asset and less as a liability.  One way of better using stormwater is by refilling underground aquifers that have been depleted by overpumping. Recycling of all captured waters would then reduce pollution of our creeks, rivers, bays and oceans. Therefore we need to revisit current policies and practices and change the popular mindset to manage water effectively and redirect water into the proper channels, starting with a simple solution to retrofit our streets with permeable surfaces to change the dynamics of water management. ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  How we can better plan our cities to utilize stormwater

Time for the people to take back power over California water, says Bruce Colbert:  He writes, “The California State Water Resources Control Board is now the greatest threat facing water users in the state, a threat that can best be overcome by returning power to the People of California.  The Board claims that double the current environmental flows from the San Joaquin River and tributaries must be taken for fish. The Board, with complete indifference, calls the resultant community and economic devastation an “unavoidable impact.”  For the Board, the environment comes first; people and agriculture come last. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Time for the people to take back power over California water

In regional news and commentary today …

Weed water meeting draws crowd, camera crews:  “”Now water is not a commodity; it’s a human right. We cannot live without clean water,” said Monica Zinda, Weed City Planning Commissioner and co-moderator for the town hall meeting held last week to discuss water issues facing the city of Weed. “We need our water. We need to stand up for it,” she said.  Nearly 100 people filled the College of the Siskiyous classroom, including camera crews from Siskiyou Media MCTV; KTVL 10 Medford; Siskiyou Progressives; Berkeley Graduate Department of Journalism, which is producing a documentary on Weed’s water issues; and Lightbox media, which is working on an independent documentary. … ”  Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here:  Weed water meeting draws crowd, camera crews

Oroville dam relicensing saga grows more bizarre, says the Chico Enterprise-Record:  They write, “The Oroville Dam relicensing process has been a confusing quagmire for more than a decade. It should come as no shock to anybody that the saga has taken another odd turn.  Relicensing dates back to 1999, when Butte County Supervisor Bob Beeler started researching the history of the state’s Lake Oroville project and what most longtime Oroville residents view as a string of broken promises by the state.  Beeler, the supervisor for the Oroville area at the time, was hoping to get more concessions from the state Department of Water Resources, which operates the project, because the DWR had to get it relicensed by the federal government. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Oroville dam relicensing saga grows more bizarre

Threatened salmon a concern as PG&E plans to pull plug on Butte Creek hydroelectric project:  “Operating the hydroelectric plants on Butte Creek just isn’t worth it to PG&E anymore, and that’s a potential threat to a rare strain of salmon.  The electric company is going to withdraw its application for a license with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission later this month, said PG&E corporate relations representative Paul Moreno.  “We looked at this project very carefully. The energy landscape in California is changing,” he said. “There is more renewable power available in the market at lower prices. The costs to operate the facility are increasing with new regulations, and demand for our power is changing as more customers are going solar.” … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Threatened salmon a concern as PG&E plans to pull plug on Butte Creek hydroelectric project

Salt River project gets final landowner approval:  “On Monday the final landowner within the proposed $34 million Salt River Restoration Project signed off on the scope of the project after months of negotiating.  The final permission didn’t come a moment too soon as the Humboldt County Resource Conservation District board set a deadline of Feb. 1 to establish a project footprint with support from landowners so construction could take place this year.  “We have been working with all of the landowners in the project footprint for decades,” HCRCD executive director Jill Demers said. … ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Herald here:  Salt River project gets final landowner approval

Beavers be damned, water district cares for Napa watershed:  “California’s Napa Valley is home to about 400 premium wineries but Richard Thomasser, operations manager of the Napa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, is more concerned with beavers.  “Wildlife management — monitoring beaver activity and protecting against excess tree harvesting by beavers for dams — is an important part of our work,” Thomasser said.  Beavers are just one of the things the district deals with. He wouldn’t say they are a “big” problem because many actually create beneficial habitat in riparian areas.  Thomasser said he doesn’t want them to chew down all the riparian trees, so the district protects some of them to prevent that from happening. ... ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  Beavers be damned, water district cares for Napa watershed

In three weeks, Tahoe area saw nearly a winter’s worth of snow:  “Lake Tahoe-area residents who shoveled their own walks in January have something to boast about.  They’re the most prolific Tahoe snow-shovelers in generations.  Nearly an entire winter’s worth of snow fell on the region during the first three weeks of January, burying buildings and ensuring full reservoirs and steady stream flows in coming months. … ”  Read more from the Redding Record Searchlight here:  In three weeks, Tahoe area saw nearly a winter’s worth of snow

There are alternatives to Centennial Dam, says Peter van Zant:  He writes, “I attended the Alternatives to the Centennial Dam Workshop at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival.  Centennial is the dam on the Bear River proposed by Nevada Irrigation District (NID). The speakers were Jonas Minton, senior water policy advisor at the Planning and Conservation League; Dr. Sarah Yarnell, associate project scientist at the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences; and Jeffrey Odefey, director of Clean Water Supplies Program at American Rivers.  The Centennial Dam proposed by NID would be a 110,000-acre-foot reservoir with a 275-foot tall dam on the Bear River. It would inundate the last six miles of publicly accessible, free-flowing river on the Bear, covering the Bear River Campground, more than 25 homes and 120 parcels, 140 Native American sacred cultural sites, and Dog Bar Bridge. The stated purpose of the dam is to address changes in climate and the probable reduction in snowpack storage in the upper Yuba River watershed. … ” Read more from the Grass Valley Union here:  Peter van Zant: There are alternatives to Centennial Dam

San Joaquin County set to declare simultaneous flood, drought emergencies:  “Despite heavy rains that caused flooding and levee damage last month, San Joaquin County leaders are expected to declare a drought emergency on Tuesday.  While also declaring a flood emergency.  The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors will consider extending two seemingly opposing local emergencies at their regularly scheduled meeting.  Mike Cockrell, director of the county’s Office of Emergency Services, said this probably is the first time in history the county has declared simultaneous emergencies for both a drought and flood conditions. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  San Joaquin County set to declare simultaneous flood, drought emergencies

State sued over sand mining in San Francisco Bay:  “Environmentalists are suing the state in an effort to reduce sand mining inside San Francisco Bay that they contend is shrinking a popular beach and habitat for a little bird.  The San Francisco Baykeeper contends the State Lands Commission didn’t adequately protect Ocean Beach last June when it renewed leases allowing a company to scoop up sand off the Bay bottom near Alcatraz Island.  The beach relies on replenishment of sand that moves from the Bay into the ocean and than washes up on Ocean Beach, Baykeeper said. It also is home to the snowy plover, which can be found across North and South America, Eurasia, and Africa. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  State sued over sand mining in San Francisco Bay

Marina residents unite against Cal Am desal project:  “While the Marina Coast Water District has had little success in the courts over the past several years, an informal group of Marina residents have banded together to try to win in a different forum: the court of public opinion.  The group formed late last year, well before the draft environmental impact report for California American Water’s proposed Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project was released for public comment Jan. 13.  At issue is the future water supply for Marina and the former Fort Ord, and the fear among some Marina residents that if Cal Am’s proposed project – which includes 10 slant wells on Marina’s coast to serve a desalination plant – is allowed to go forward, it will further induce seawater intrusion and forever decimate the 180 – and 400-foot aquifers, which remain a key water source for some Marina Coast wells. … ”  Read more from Monterey County Weekly here:  Marina residents unite against Cal Am desal project

Precipitation watch …

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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