DAILY DIGEST: Oroville dam spillway flows to resume this week; Another Yolo Bypass fish rescue underway – will it be the last?; New strategies to protect fish in the Bay-Delta; Republicans in hot seat over Klamath dam removal; and more …

In California water news today, Oroville dam spillway flows to resume this week; Another Yolo Bypass fish rescue underway – will it be the last?; Water managers explore new strategies to protect fish in the Bay-Delta; Republicans in hot seat over landmark deal for dam removal; Climate change complicates the whole dam debate; The dangers of land subsidence from California’s groundwater overdraft; Study finds sediment-rich streams are more dynamic; Marine life improved in California’s protected areas, study says; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water will meet beginning at 9:30am.  For more information, click here.
  • Creating the Infrastructure for Tomorrow’s Economy at 3:00pm:  A showcase of cleantech start-ups located in the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) at the State Capitol Building in Sacramento.  Click here for more information.

In the news today …

Oroville dam spillway flows to resume this week:  “The Department of Water Resources is planning to resume flows this week through Oroville Dam’s damaged main spillway, and warns that Feather River flows will increase to 40,000-50,000 cubic feet per second.  Flows Monday through the stretch of the Feather River past downtown Oroville were 5,200 cfs, DWR said, with another 8,500 cfs entering the river at the Afterbay outlet downstream from town.  In a press release, DWR said the spillway releases will resume “on or around March 17.” ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Oroville dam spillway flows to resume this week

Another Yolo Bypass fish rescue underway – will it be the last?  “Just about every rainy season, the Sacramento River rises to the point that water spills over the top of the Fremont Weir and into the Yolo Bypass floodplain west of Sacramento.  And like clockwork, as the water recedes, sturgeon, salmon and other fish get stranded in the slim channel that forms at the base of the nearly two-mile-long concrete weir. Inevitably, a few days later, teams of state biologists wearing chest-waders enter the channel with nets to rescue as many fish as possible before they suffocate in the draining water, or are speared by poachers.  On Monday, net-wielding biologists began this springtime ritual anew. But the hope is it may be one of the last times. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Another Yolo Bypass fish rescue underway – will it be the last?

Water managers explore new strategies to protect fish in the Bay-Delta:  “The San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta—known in California as the Bay-Delta—is a 1,600-square-mile estuary and habitat for more than 500 species of wildlife.  The Delta has been heavily modified by humans and the water that flows into, through, and out of the Delta is carefully controlled. … Despite efforts by local, State, and Federal agencies to balance water deliveries and the Delta’s ecological health, the Delta is failing to support sustainable populations of key species like the Chinook salmon and the Delta Smelt. In the face of ongoing drought and declining fish populations, regulators restricted pumping from the Delta. ... ”  Read more from the USGS here:  Water managers explore new strategies to protect fish in the Bay-Delta

Republicans in hot seat over landmark deal for dam removal:  “Hostilities between farmers, Native Americans and fishermen over the wild waters of the Klamath River here nearly turned violent at the turn of the century.  During a 2001 drought, federal regulators cut off water deliveries to most of the 210,000 acres of farmland in southern Oregon and Northern California to safeguard the river for threatened salmon.  The farmers revolted. They stormed the irrigation canals, and one group took a blowtorch to the headgates.  The George W. Bush administration got the message, reversing course the following year and delivering water the farmers demanded. … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Republicans in hot seat over landmark deal for dam removal

Climate change complicates the whole dam debate:  “With California now on track to have the rainiest year in its history—on the heels of its worst drought in 500 years—the state has become a daily reminder that extreme weather events are on the rise. And the recent near-collapse of the spillway at California’s massive Oroville Dam put an exclamation point on the potentially catastrophic risks.  More than 4,000 dams in the U.S. are now rated unsafe because of structural or other deficiencies. Bringing the entire system of 90,000 dams up to current standards would cost about $79 billion, according to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials. Hence, it has become increasingly common to demolish problematic dams, mainly for economic and public safety reasons, and less often to open up old habitats to native fish. ... ”  Read more from the Scientific American here:  Climate change complicates the whole dam debate

The dangers of land subsidence from California’s groundwater overdraft:  “Land subsidence from overpumping groundwater in the San Joaquin Valley has been called the largest human alteration of the Earth’s surface. When the last comprehensive surveys were made in 1970, subsidence in excess of one foot had occurred over more than 5,200 square miles (13,000 sq km) of irrigable land – half the entire valley. Southwest of Mendota, a town that prides itself on being the cantaloupe center of the world, maximum subsidence was estimated at 28 feet (8.5m). By this time, however, massive infusions of surface water were being delivered to the valley, and subsidence was slowing or had been “arrested.” … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  The dangers of land subsidence from California’s groundwater overdraft

Study finds sediment-rich streams are more dynamic:  “Californians seem to live by their own rules. So do California’s rivers.  New research by scientists at UC Santa Cruz suggests the steep slopes of West Coast mountains, which slough off lots of sediment, make the region’s rivers unique. The study, published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” Monday, found that the more sediment is fed into a river, the more dynamic a river is. These dynamic rivers shift their channels more often, and resist forming an “armored” river bottom with unmoving gravels. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  Study finds sediment-rich streams are more dynamic

Marine life improved in California’s protected areas, study says:  “A new report finds early signs that California’s unique network of marine protected areas is successfully protecting and rebuilding marine life. There are 124 marine protected areas, or MPAs, along the California coast. In Southern California, that adds up to about 350 square miles of ocean, rocky intertidal and beaches that have been set aside and protected from commercial fishing. ... ”  Read more from KPCC here:  Marine life improved in California’s protected areas, study says

In commentary today …

Federal protections for the Bay estuary are disappearing, say Jon Rosenfield and Ian Wren:  They write, “The San Francisco Bay Estuary is the jewel of California’s coast. Its waters and wetlands provide economic, recreational, ecological and spiritual benefits for millions of people. But federal protection of the Bay and other estuaries – and the science on which it is based – may soon disappear.  For half a century, Californians have worked hard to protect the Bay estuary from the impacts of polluted runoff, wetland destruction and unsustainable diversion of fresh water. We all recognize that the Bay and the rivers that feed it attract millions of tourists and billions of dollars annually. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Federal protections for the Bay estuary are disappearing

Taxpayers deserve transparency on Oroville efforts, says the San Jose Mercury News: They write, “It is a simple question really: How much is the massive repair project below Lake Oroville costing each day. Simple or not, it has been appallingly difficult to get it answered.  Representatives of our newspaper group have been asking how much the crisis at the dam is costing and, oh yes, who’s picking up the tab? The reporters have asked how many state employees are working, how many contractors are employed and what it costs for all the equipment.  When the state first said it could cost $100 million to $200 million to repair the broken spillway, we thought the figures were way low. But getting concrete (pardon the pun) answers out of the state Department of Water Resources is a challenge. It has been for years. … ” Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Taxpayers deserve transparency on Oroville efforts

In regional news and commentary today …

Fifth grade class works on water solutions:  “Fifth-graders at Murdock School are using what they’ve learned in the classroom to try to change the world.  Water issues can be complex and difficult to understand, but Mike Buckley’s fifth-grade class at Murdock School in Willows is working toward becoming experts.  Buckley and his students have spent the past two months immersing themselves in the details of California’s water situation for the Cal Water H2O Challenge, a competition designed to teach kids about caring for water. … ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury Register here:  Fifth grade class works on water solutions

Proposed Centennial Dam takes center stage at League of Women Voters event:  “Passions ran high while murmurs and mumbles from the crowd abounded, but conversation and banter remained civil during Saturday morning’s League of Women Voters informational meeting regarding the controversial Centennial Dam project.  When the dust settled a deluge of information had been presented, sometimes bringing two heavy-hitters in the world of water together — and at times leaving them distinctly at odds. … ” Read more from The Union here:  Proposed Centennial Dam takes center stage at League of Women Voters event

Santa Rosa: Forestville Academy students learn about watershed stewardship:  “Middle school students at Forestville Academy got a crash course Monday in watershed stewardship directly from some of those making a difference in protecting and restoring Sonoma County waterways.  As part of their research into individual water resource projects they’ll be working on over the next couple of months, the seventh- and eighth-graders interviewed experts from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Sonoma County Water Agency, Pepperwood Preserve and other organizations. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  Forestville Academy students learn about watershed stewardship

Volunteers credited for helping to clean South Bay creeks:  “Persistence and dedication to keeping San Jose’s waterways clean is starting to pay off for volunteers from the South Bay Clean Creeks Coalition.  But preserving the habitats of local creeks as animals like beavers and Chinook salmon return to them is a struggle, according to coalition founder Steve Holmes.  Chinook salmon have been spotted recently in Los Gatos Creek under the West Julian Street tunnel, and beavers have been seen along other areas of the creek and the Guadalupe River, Holmes announced at a North Willow Glen Neighborhood Association meeting on March 7. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Volunteers credited for helping to clean South Bay creeks

Massive Tijuana sewage spill that polluted San Diego beaches part of larger problem:  “Baja California’s governor is preparing to declare a state of emergency in the coming days, hoping to draw financial aid for Tijuana’s strained and underfunded sewage system following a massive spill that sent millions of gallons of untreated wastewater from Tijuana across the border and into San Diego last month.  The incident was triggered by the collapse of a major sewage trunk line in Tijuana, state officials say, and repairs led to the release of a large amount of untreated sewage into the Tijuana River channel, which empties into the ocean at Imperial Beach. The spill generated outrage north of the border, especially because of Mexico’s failure to notify U.S. officials, who found out only after residents reported foul odors over a two-week period. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here:  Massive Tijuana sewage spill that polluted San Diego beaches part of larger problem

Nevada dam in race against Sierra snowmelt:  “The view from Lahontan dam looking west features a shimmering desert lake framed in the distance by the snowy Sierra Nevada.  The warm, late winter sun above and low roar of water surging through the dam below makes the quiet deck of the 102-year-old structure seem like a nice place for a hammock and an afternoon nap.  But there’s no time to rest for Mark Solinsky or anyone else responsible for operating the dam and downstream infrastructure. … ”  Read more from the Reno Gazette Journal here:  Nevada dam in race against Sierra snowmelt

Precipitation watch …

  • From the National Weather Service:  “A weak storm system will move through the region Wednesday into Thursday bringing light amounts of rain to the region. Snow levels will be above pass levels.”

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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