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DAILY DIGEST: Water will keep flowing at Oroville dam spillway despite gaping hole, erosion; California extends drought regulations; Areas of the San Joaquin Valley sink further in 2016; and more …

In California water news today, Water will keep flowing at Oroville dam spillway despite gaping hole, erosion; Crater in Oroville dam spillway will continue to grow, officials warn, as reservoir levels climb; Water to flow at Oroville Dam despite damage; Despite floods, California extends drought regulations; California’s water-savings regulation extended; Drought and floods taxing California’s water system; Areas of the San Joaquin Valley sink further in 2016; officials blame groundwater pumping; How San Diego went from booster to skeptic on the Delta tunnels; Byron Bethany Irrigation District supports water rights bill; and more …

In the news today …

Water will keep flowing at Oroville dam spillway despite gaping hole, erosion:  “As a test run at the Oroville Dam spillway commenced Wednesday afternoon, the director of the Department of Water Resources said at a press conference in Sacramento he expected the bottom of the spillway to be eroded away by spring, with a replacement completed by fall.  This came after a gaping hole in the spillway at the Oroville Dam, the tallest dam in the U.S., appeared Tuesday morning. The hole in the spillway is 180 feet wide and 30 feet deep, DWR public information officer Eric See said. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Water will keep flowing at Oroville dam spillway despite gaping hole, erosion

Crater in Oroville dam spillway will continue to grow, officials warn, as reservoir levels climb:  “State engineers gingerly began releasing water again through the damaged Oroville Dam spillway Wednesday in a controlled test to see how much water the scarred facility could handle, as reservoir levels continued to climb behind the critical flood-control structure.  With dozens of engineers monitoring from strategic locations around the dam’s exterior, a sheet of white water began cascading down the 3,000-foot-long spillway a little after 3 p.m. Within seconds of hitting the damaged area, a crater about 250 feet long, a portion of the water turned into a long ribbon of mud as sediment that had been trapped inside the hole ran down the concrete spillway. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Crater in Oroville dam spillway will continue to grow, officials warn, as reservoir levels climb

Water to flow at Oroville Dam despite damage:  “As a test run at the Oroville Dam spillway commenced Wednesday afternoon, the director of the Department of Water Resources said at a press conference in Sacramento he expected the bottom of the spillway to be eroded away by spring, with a replacement completed by fall.  This came after a gaping hole in the spillway at the Oroville Dam, the tallest dam in the U.S., appeared Tuesday morning. The hole in the spillway is 180 feet wide and 30 feet deep, DWR public information officer Eric See said.  The department then halted the water flow until resuming with what representatives called a light test run Wednesday afternoon. … ”  Read more from the Record Searchlight here:  Water to flow at Oroville Dam despite damage

Despite floods, California extends drought regulations:  “As many Californians pile sandbags around their properties and keep canoes and kayaks ready for the next flood, the mountains continue to accumulate snow and reservoirs are filling quickly. Certainly California has not been so wet in years. Late in January, in fact, the state declared widespread flood emergencies.  But only two weeks later, the State Water Resources Control Board officially decided at a meeting in Sacramento to extend existing conservation regulations. Water agencies are irritated by the decision, which was approved by the board through a vote on Wednesday afternoon. The ruling doesn’t impose any limits on how much water these agencies may sell. In fact, it doesn’t do much, other than continue to prohibit egregious wastes of water, such as irrigating a lawn immediately after rain. It also requires that water agencies submit monthly reports of their customers’ water consumption ­– a rule that has been in place since May 2015. ... ” Read more from Water Deeply here:  Despite floods, California extends drought regulations

California’s water-savings regulation extended:  “State water officials extended drought-triggered water savings measures Wednesday, with mixed reactions from Southern California water suppliers even as statewide conservation appears to remain relatively high.  While many agencies including the Municipal Water District of Orange County and Eastern Municipal Water District urged state officials to drop or shorten an extension, others including the city of Los Angeles and the Laguna Beach County Water District supported an extension.  State Water Resources Control Board members indicated plans to revisit the matter in May after the normal end of the rainy season. … ”  Read more from the LA Daily News here:  California’s water-savings regulation extended

Drought and floods taxing California’s water system:  “Both drought and floodwaters are testing California’s aging water infrastructure.  A new NASA analysis shows too much groundwater pumping during the drought has caused the California Aqueduct to sink more than two feet near Avenal in Kings County.  It’s reducing the amount of water that can be sent to Southern California. The Aqueduct is part of the State Water Project and supplies 25 million Californians and irrigates 1 million acres of farmland. … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Drought and floods taxing California’s water system

Areas of the San Joaquin Valley sink further in 2016; officials blame groundwater pumping:  “Radar satellite maps created by NASA show land continues to sink rapidly in certain areas of the San Joaquin Valley, putting state and federal aqueducts and flood control structures at risk of damage.  An August 2015 NASA report documented record rates of subsidence or sinking in the San Joaquin Valley, particularly near Chowchilla and Corcoran, as farmers pumped groundwater in the midst of the historic drought. … ”  Read more from CBS News here:  Areas of the San Joaquin Valley sink further in 2016; officials blame groundwater pumping

How San Diego went from booster to skeptic on the Delta tunnels:  “For over 50 years, the San Diego County Water Authority championed projects that bring water to Southern California from Northern California. But no more.  Leaders of the Water Authority look at Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to ensure water keeps flowing to Southern California with skepticism and dismissal.  The Water Authority now says it may turn its back on that whole endeavor and is, by some accounts, working to undermine the governor’s most important piece of unfinished business. ... ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here:  How San Diego went from booster to skeptic on the Delta tunnels

Byron Bethany Irrigation District supports water rights bill:  “Legislation introduced earlier this week in Sacramento by Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) to revamp the state’s water rights system has received support from one local water agency.  Rick Gilmore, general manager of the Byron Bethany Irrigation District, said Gray’s legislation is right on target to fix what water districts up and down the state feel is wrong with the present system of dealing with water rights issues.  “The current system allows the State Water Board to conduct water-rights hearings in which board staff acts as prosecutors presenting a case to board members, who act as the judge, in a court the board itself runs,” he said. … ”  Read more from the Tracy Press here:  Byron Bethany Irrigation District supports water rights bill

In commentary today …

Advanced data would improve how California manages water, says Michael Kiparsky:  He writes, “Few people realize how outdated our systems for water information are. Because of data limitations, real-time, transparent decisions about drought management, flood response and groundwater protection have eluded the state for the past century. Without basic numbers on where, when and how much water is available and being used, we can’t improve how we manage our most precious water and natural resources.  A new law, the Open and Transparent Water Data Act – Assembly Bill 1755 – could coordinate and integrate existing data. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Advanced data would improve how California manages water

In regional news and commentary today …

Judge orders more releases from Klamath River dams:  “In a ruling Wednesday, U.S. District Judge William Orrick ordered more water releases from dams on the Klamath River to flush out parasites causing deadly disease outbreaks in salmon.  In recent drought years, scientists have found extremely high rates of a disease caused by an intestinal parasite known as Ceratanova shasta in salmon populations protected under the Endangered Species Act. … ”  Read more from KLCC here:  Judge orders more releases from Klamath River dams

Russian River: Future river flow plans still far from resolved:  “With the Russian River rolling along at levels higher than seen in years it may seem like a funny time to worry about the river level dwindling to a trickle every summer.  But the consequences of lower summer flows remain at the center of a clash over the Sonoma County Water Agency’s Russian River Fish Flow and Water Rights Project now undergoing public review.  Last week the water agency extended a deadline into next month (March 10) for public comment on its low-flow project because of misinformation in the project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR). … ”  Read more from Sonoma West here:  Russian River: Future river flow plans still far from resolved

Russian River rises again, flooding Guerneville:  “The Russian River in Guerneville swelled early Wednesday morning amid a torrent of rain.  The river rose above its flood stage level of 32 feet and reached a peak of 34.4 feet at about 6 a.m.. The waterway is now beginning to drop.  The Russian River has a long history of spilling over its banks in Guerneville and most recently caused widespread flooding and damage when it rose about 37 feet in January. This time the situation isn’t nearly as severe, yet still at 34 feet the river is causing moderate flooding in the lowest sections of Guerneville and Monte Rio. … ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  Russian River rises again, flooding Guerneville

Folsom Lake is filling fast so flows on swollen American River have been ratcheted up:  “With heavy rain forecast for Thursday, room is being made in Folsom Lake by increasing flows into the American River.  In about two days, the lake level has climbed 230,000 acre feet. Folsom Lake, with a capacity of 977,000 acre feet, is around 696,000 acre feet Thursday morning.  A strong storm on Thursday is expected to drop an inch or two of rain in Sacramento and perhaps four inches in the foothills. That has prompted Folsom Dam operators to increase flows. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Folsom Lake is filling fast so flows on swollen American River have been ratcheted up

Drastic water plan could worsen Bay Area housing crisis, says Adrian Covert: He writes, “The Bay Area is gripped by an historic housing shortage and affordability crisis. A plan being circulated now by state water officials will only make it worse. The State Water Resources Control Board wants to cut water supplies to 2.6 million Bay Area residents in San Francisco, Silicon Valley and the East Bay by up to 50 percent at the first sign of any future drought.  The proposed cuts will dramatically reduce our ability to build the new housing we so badly need, even as we struggle to close a massive housing deficit that has been decades in the making. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Drastic water plan could worsen Bay Area housing crisis

Wet weather causing some complications for Valley growers:  “Kings County Supervisor and walnut grower Doug Verboon said this is what a normal winter looks like. Water flowing in canals, plenty of rainfall in the Valley, and lots of snow in the sierra– things that should never be taken for granted, and were sorely missed by Valley growers over several recent dry years.  “Very critical we get rain here, because what hurts is no rain.”  But the barrage of precipitation has not come without some minor setbacks that really all have to do with accessing the crop. … ”  Read more from ABC 30 here:  Wet weather causing some complications for Valley growers

Storms bring relief to drought-stricken California, but Santa Barbara misses out:  “Tom Fayram admits to a fair amount of water envy.  “When you see flooding rivers in Northern California, you wish you could see some of that here,” said Mr. Fayram, deputy director of Santa Barbara County’s water resources division.  Yet Santa Barbara, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles along the state’s Central Coast, has been left high and dry compared with almost every other part of California this wet winter, showing the geographic and logistic vagaries of water distribution in this drought-plagued state. … ”  Read more from the Wall Street Journal here:  Storms bring relief to drought-stricken California, but Santa Barbara misses out

Deal reached to move some stored water supplies for Santa Barbara County agencies:  “Faced with the threat of losing carryover and purchased water stored in San Luis Reservoir, Santa Barbara County agencies have signed onto a deal with the Metropolitan Water District to move some of that supply.  If the Merced County reservoir spills, a scenario predicted to happen this winter, any carryover water in San Luis Reservoir will be wiped from the records and labeled part of the state aqueduct supply for 2017.  Local agencies have millions of gallons stored in San Luis Reservoir, and have been scrambling to find a way to save as much of that water as possible. … ” Read more from Noozhawk here:  Deal reached to move some stored water supplies for Santa Barbara County agencies

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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