DAILY DIGEST: Six water bills to watch so far this spring in California’s legislature; Damaged main spillway of Oroville Dam to reopen next week; Will San Francisco Bay wetlands be a casualty of EPA cuts?; States attack US Endangered Species Act rules; and more …
In California water news today, Six water bills to watch so far this spring in California’s legislature; Damaged main spillway of Oroville Dam to reopen next week; DWR tells assemblyman dam repair cost estimated daily average of $4.7 million; Lake Oroville at highest level in 3 weeks; spillway work continues; Wettest water year so far in 122 years of records; Despite rain, salmon season still left reeling by California’s drought; Documentary takes a critical look at California water; Ninth Circuit affirms tribe’s water rights; ACWA legislative symposium tackles water finance and efficiency; Will San Francisco Bay wetlands be a casualty of EPA cuts?; States attack US Endangered Species Act rules; How water swaps help the West manage a precious resource; and more …
On the calendar today …
Public Workshop for the Delta Plan Amendment for Conveyance, Storage and Operations in Sacramento from 8:30 to 12:30pm: The Delta Stewardship Council will hold a public meeting to gather comments on a draft amendment to better improve the way water moves across the Delta (conveyance), improve the amount of water stored above and below ground (storage); and improve the way the system is operated to maximize water supply and environmental benefit (operations). Click here for more information. Click here for webcast.
Public meeting on Delta Plan amendment for performance measures from 1:30 to 4:30 pm: This workshop will include question and answer sessions on revised Performance Measure targets, metrics and baseline conditions. Click here for more information. Click here for webcast.
Six water bills to watch so far this spring in California’s legislature: “It’s early in the legislative season in California, but already a few bills are emerging that those following water issues in the state will want to watch. Three bills rolled out by Democrats in the California Senate, called Preserve California, are intended to protect public land and fend off the effects of rollbacks to environment and health regulations expected from the GOP-controlled government in Washington. While none of the bills is solely about water, they all would have significant water implications. Other bills focus on desalination, protecting waterfowl and transparency on overdrafted aquifers. ... ” Read more from Water Deeply here: Six water bills to watch so far this spring in California’s legislature
Damaged main spillway of Oroville Dam to reopen next week: “Oroville Dam’s heavily damaged main spillway is expected to resume releasing water a little more than a week from now as levels continue to rise in the reservoir. The state Department of Water Resources announced Wednesday that the battered concrete spillway is likely to begin water releases around March 17. At that point, the level in Lake Oroville is expected to have risen to 865 feet. That’s well below the point at which water would go over the adjacent emergency spillway, but several feet above the comfort level established by DWR acting director Bill Croyle. The lake was at just below 860 feet Wednesday evening. … ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Damaged main spillway of Oroville Dam to reopen next week
DWR tells assemblyman dam repair cost estimated daily average of $4.7 million: “Just how many people are out working at Oroville Dam in response to the spillway emergency and how much is it going to cost? Both reporters and elected representatives have struggled to get an answer to that question. The short answer is this: the Department of Water Resources has 160 employees and anywhere from 300-5,000 contractors* responding to the spillway situation, the DWR told this newspaper Monday. The department has not officially released information about costs of repairs. ... ” Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: DWR tells assemblyman dam repair cost estimated daily average of $4.7 million
Lake Oroville at highest level in 3 weeks; spillway work continues: “The water level at Lake Oroville is rising to its highest level in nearly three weeks. The gates to the reservoir’s main spillway were closed back on February 27th so that crews could work on removing a massive pile of debris at its base. On Wednesday evening, the lake neared 860 feet — a level managers had earlier said they did not expect to reach during the spillway closure. The lake’s capacity tops off at 901 feet. ... ” Read more from Capital Public Radio here: Lake Oroville at highest level in 3 weeks; spillway work continues
Wettest water year so far in 122 years of records: “Fueled by a parade of “Pineapple Express” storms, California is in the midst of its wettest water year in 122 years of record-keeping, according to federal scientists. Between October 2016 and February 2017, California averaged 27.81 inches of precipitation, the highest average since such records began being kept in 1895, according to data released Wednesday by the National Centers for Environmental Information, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This current water season slightly outpaced 1968-69 (27.34 inches average), when a series of powerful storms in January and February of that rainy season resulted in widespread flooding in Central and Southern California, resulting in at least 60 deaths, according to a federal report. ... ” Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Wettest water year so far in 122 years of records
Despite rain, salmon season still left reeling by California’s drought: “Despite the deluge of water from this wet season’s rains, the forecast still looks bleak when it comes to the salmon season. The reason why is the drought from years before. The adult fish we will see returning this year spawned three years ago. At that time, we were still in a deep drought and water conditions were not ideal. We had a lack of water and the water temperature was very warm. In fact, the situation was so bad that the state actually had to transport fish from hatcheries to the Bay Area. These are some of the few fish expected to swim back this season. … ” Read more from CBS Sacramento here: Despite rain, salmon season still left reeling by California’s drought
Documentary takes a critical look at California water: “The National Geographic Channel will air a documentary March 14 on California water and the role of private interests in water management. The film, “Water and Power: A California Heist,” traces decades of policy decisions, including 1994 negotiations to amend State Water Project contracts, and contends that a small number of private landowners have reaped profits from a public resource. Other themes include the expansion of permanent crops such as almonds, increased groundwater pumping and severe drought that left some communities without safe drinking water. ... ” Read more from ACWA’s Water News here: Documentary takes a critical look at California water
Ninth Circuit affirms tribe’s water rights: “The Ninth Circuit affirmed Tuesday that the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has a federally reserved right to groundwater under their reservation, despite state water districts’ claims against it. “In affirming, we recognize that there is no controlling federal appellate authority addressing whether the reserved rights doctrine applies to groundwater,” Ninth Circuit Judge Richard Tallman wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel. “However, because we conclude that it does, we hold that the Tribe has a reserved right to groundwater underlying its reservation as a result of the purpose for which the reservation was established.” ... ” Read more from Courthouse News Service here: Ninth Circuit affirms tribe’s water rights
ACWA legislative symposium tackles water finance and efficiency: “California lawmakers shared center stage with local water managers in Sacramento today at ACWA’s 2017 Legislative Symposium where water leaders delved into water issues ranging from finance to water use efficiency. Sen. Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, spoke during the luncheon program and talked about adopting a more “comprehensive way of thinking through water policy.” … ” Read more from ACWA’s Water News here: ACWA legislative symposium tackles water finance and efficiency
Will San Francisco Bay wetlands be a casualty of EPA cuts? “The Trump administration could eliminate all federal funding for wetlands restoration in San Francisco Bay, according to a budget plan that has shocked local and state officials, but is just one piece of broad changes to federal environmental programs. The directive from the Office of Management and Budget, leaked late Thursday evening, proposes slashing the Environmental Protection Agency budget by nearly a quarter, eliminating 20 percent of its staff to a personnel level last seen four decades ago and eliminating 38 programs entirely. Air pollution grants to big cities, programs to clean trash and pollutants from waters at the Mexican border and efforts to cut diesel emissions would all be discontinued. In addition, climate protection programs would be cut by 70 percent, and dozens of programs to reduce lead in drinking water, clean up marine pollution and fix leaking underground storage tanks, would be slashed. … ” Continue reading from SF Gate here: Will San Francisco Bay wetlands be a casualty of EPA cuts?
States attack US Endangered Species Act rules: “More than a dozen state attorneys general are asking Pres. Donald Trump to throw out recent federal rules regulating the environment for endangered or threatened plants and animals. The states claim the rules, which enlarge the definition of species habitat, give the federal government excessive power over state and private lands. The rules govern implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and were made a year ago by Pres. Barack Obama’s administration. In January the state officials sent a letter to the Trump transition team asking for repeal, arguing the rules will cost states and private land owners billions of dollars by blocking or delaying the use or development of their properties. “It’s such a massive land grab by the federal government,” Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge says. But at least one study shows implementation of the ESA has affected very few development projects during the current decade. ... ” Read more from Scientific American here: States attack US Endangered Species Act rules
How water swaps help the West manage a precious resource: “When a market for trading water rights opened in central Nebraska last year, one of the initial bidders wasn’t a corn farmer, or even a water user at all in the traditional sense. It was the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program, a conservation group investing to replenish the region’s major river, the Platte. By buying some water and then not using it, the group is allowing more to stay in the river. The move bucked tradition, for sure. Typically, water rights aren’t traded at all or they are swapped among farmers. But the West may be at the dawn of a new era in water management. ... ” Read more from the Christian Science Monitor here: How water swaps help the West manage a precious resource
In commentary today …
Overhaul California’s water system with 21st century solutions, say Jacob Katz and Brian Stranko: “The dramatic spillway failure at Oroville Dam sparked a national conversation around the status of dams throughout the West. But dams are just one small part of the “gray” infrastructure designed to control flows, hem in rivers and transport water around the state. California’s flood and water-management system needs an overhaul to address everything from eroding levees to parched Central Valley aquifers and collapsing ecosystems. The head-spinning swing from drought to flood falls right in line with predictions from climate scientists. These shifts between extreme weather events raise an important question: How should California invest in water infrastructure to protect us from floods and droughts? … ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Overhaul California’s water system with 21st century solutions
In regional news and commentary today …
City of Ukiah rejects valley-wide groundwater agency proposal: “The Ukiah City Council officially rejected the proposed makeup of a new agency that will manage the valley’s groundwater, but stopped short of voting to create its own agency. “I can’t support the existing proposal,” said Council member Doug Crane, referring to the suggested members of a new Joint Powers Association tasked with sustaining the Ukiah Valley basin’s groundwater, and how those members would be voting. Creating this new Joint Powers Association is Mendocino County’s response to the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which mandates that the Ukiah Valley have a Groundwater Sustainability Agency in place by June 30, 2017. ... ” Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here: City of Ukiah rejects valley-wide groundwater agency proposal
Legislative landgrab letter postponed by Nevada Irrigation District committee: “NID’s Administrative Practices Committee decided to send back to staff a proposed letter to Congressman LaMalfa requesting legislation for the transfer of several BLM parcels in the Centennial Dam project area into NID ownership. The proposed letter is at Congressman LaMalfa’s request, NID General Manager Rem Scherzinger stated today. NID’s desire to acquire the parcels for the proposed dam raised concerns with several groups, notably because of the ‘fringe benefit’ of removing conditions negotiated during the FERC (licensing) process. The set of conditions listed by BLM are contained in the 4(e) section of the agency’s filing with FERC, as part of the relicensing of the Yuba-Bear project. Sensitive species monitoring, preservation of access, fire safety and recreation planning are some of the listed conditions. ... ” Read more from YubaNet here: Legislative landgrab letter postponed by Nevada Irrigation District committee
Ross Valley: $400,000 study of flood mitigation measures: “County supervisors this week approved spending about $400,000 to study the environmental impact of three options for reducing the risk of flooding in the Ross Valley. An option has to be selected for a San Anselmo flood risk reduction project by this fall and the project completed by December 2020; otherwise, an $8.7 million grant from the state’s Department of Water Resources could be lost. “I’m pleased with the work that was done to move this grant from one project to another,” said Supervisor Katie Rice, whose district includes the Ross Valley. “This project could make a significant difference for downtown San Anselmo.” … ” Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here: Ross Valley: $400,000 study of flood mitigation measures
EPA says Fresno water complies with lead rules: “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has notified the city of Fresno that its water system continues to comply with state and federal rules over lead in the drinking water supply. The finding follows a review of the city’s testing in the wake of more than 2,000 of complaints last year over discolored water, lead levels and pipe corrosion related to a city water-treatment plant. In a Jan. 19 letter, the EPA said that the city “has historically complied with the U.S. EPA and state of California Lead and Copper Rule for providing safe drinking water to its residents,” according to a statement from the city. … ” Read more from the Fresno Bee here: EPA says Fresno water complies with lead rules
Turlock Irrigation District: Plenty of water for area farms this year: “With what officials are calling the wettest year on record for the Tuolumne River watershed, the Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors will consider a 48-inch irrigation cap for the 2017 irrigation season, which could begin as early as the end of this month. “We have more than enough water out there for everyone,” said Assistant General Manager of Water Resources Tou Her during TID’s grower meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 28. “We can’t even get rid of it quickly enough.” … ” Read more from the Ceres Courier here: Turlock Irrigation District: Plenty of water for area farms this year
Ventura County: Endangered steelhead spotted in local creek: “The fish was steel gray, close to 20 inches long and a good sign for an endangered species that still has a long way to go. A team doing a fish survey in late January spotted a Southern steelhead in a creek at Leo Carrillo State Park, near the Ventura-Los Angeles county line. Biologists hadn’t spotted any of the federally-endangered fish in the area over the past five years of drought. Sightings are rare even during wet years. ... ” Read more from the Ventura County Star here: Ventura County: Endangered steelhead spotted in local creek
Court: Federal rule doesn’t stop Desert Water Agency from collecting fees on Indian land: “A federal appeals court has rejected the Desert Water Agency’s challenge to a Department of the Interior regulation, denying the agency’s argument that the rule could prevent it from collecting millions of dollars in revenue from customers in the Palm Springs area. The court believes the water agency will be able to continue charging customers on leased Indian land without interference, and does not need extra support from the judiciary to do so, according to an opinion issued by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday. … ” Read more from the Desert Sun here: Court: Federal rule doesn’t stop Desert Water Agency from collecting fees on Indian land
Sign up for daily email service and you’ll never miss a post …
Sign up for free daily email service and you’ll get all the Notebook’s aggregated and original water news content delivered to your email box by 9AM. And with breaking news alerts, you’ll always be one of the first to know …
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.