DAILY DIGEST: River running high as DWR opens space in Lake Oroville; How hydroelectric power has roared back to life; CA kids would all be screened for lead if plan passes; and more …

In California water news today, River running high as DWR opens space in Lake Oroville; Oroville Dam: DWR says cost of crisis tops $100M; spillway gates reopened; How hydroelectric power has roared back to life in California; With $569 million in winter storm damage, Governor Jerry Brown asks Trump for more federal disaster help; California kids would all be screened for lead if plan passes; Water, off the grid: A home in Bend, Oregon proves it’s possible; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • Brown Bag Seminar: Understanding Mud and Carbon in the Francisco Bay Wetlands, Insights for Incorporating Science into Management from 12pm to 1pm:  Presentation by John Callaway, Ph.D., Professor and Graduate Program Director, University of San Francisco, and one of three candidates for Delta Lead Scientist.  Click here for more information and webex link.

In the news today …

River running high as DWR opens space in Lake Oroville:  “Lake Oroville is dropping about 4 feet a day and the Feather River is running high, as the Department of Water Resources empties space in the lake to absorb storm runoff and snowmelt.  DWR is releasing 40,000 cubic-feet per second through the damaged main Oroville Dam spillway, and another 6,750 cfs through the Hyatt Powerhouse underneath the dam. As inflow to the lake is ranging from 16,000-25,000 cfs, the lake level has declined since the spillway gates were opened Friday for the first time since Feb. 27.  As of Sunday afternoon, the lake level was 856 feet, according to DWR, which is 45 feet below the emergency spillway lip. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  River running high as DWR opens space in Lake Oroville

Oroville Dam: DWR says cost of crisis tops $100M; spillway gates reopened:  “The state Department of Water Resources Friday said the cost associated with the ongoing crisis at Oroville Dam totaled about $100 million through the end of February.  Estimates for March weren’t immediately available, but Bill Croyle, acting director of the Department of Water Resources, said the daily average cost at the dam in February was about $4.7 million, a number previously reported by this newspaper. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Oroville Dam: DWR says cost of crisis tops $100M; spillway gates reopened

How hydroelectric power has roared back to life in California:  “After slowing to a trickle during the past five years of punishing drought, hydroelectric power in California is poised to make a major comeback this spring and summer, thanks to the wet winter.  Across Northern California, hydroelectricity producers say their reservoirs are brimming at levels not seen in decades. Together, their dams should produce as much as 21 percent of the state’s total electricity output this year, according to projections from the California Energy Commission.  That would be the highest percentage for hydropower since 2011, according to the commission’s Energy Almanac. That was the last wet winter before the drought. … ”  Read more from the SF Chronicle here:  How hydroelectric power has roared back to life in California

With $569 million in winter storm damage, Governor Jerry Brown asks Trump for more federal disaster help:  “Putting the price tag of California’s brutal winter storms at $569 million, Gov. Jerry Brown asked President Trump on Sunday for a fourth federal disaster declaration to help speed up recovery and repairs across the state.  “California has experienced one of the heaviest precipitation years in its recent history, and the impacts of storms that occurred in January and February have been extremely destructive to the state,” Brown wrote in the letter to Trump. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  With $569 million in winter storm damage, Governor Jerry Brown asks Trump for more federal disaster help

California kids would all be screened for lead if plan passes:  “Growing national concern about lead poisoning in children has prompted a California lawmaker to introduce legislation to ensure that all of the state’s kids are tested for the toxic metal.  The bill, introduced by Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), would change the state’s Health and Safety Code to require testing for all children ages 6 months to 6 years.  Current regulations require lead testing only for children in government assistance programs, such as Medi-Cal and WIC, a supplemental nutrition program, as well as for kids who spend a significant amount of time in buildings built before 1978. That leaves many children untested who nevertheless may be exposed, said Quirk, who also chairs the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials. ... ”  Read more from the Daily News here:  California kids would all be screened for lead if plan passes

Water, off the grid: A home in Bend, Oregon proves it’s possible:  “A lot of houses are off-the-grid where electricity is concerned, thanks to solar panels, wind turbines and battery banks. Far fewer can say the same about water.  Now there is one in Bend, Oregon, dubbed the Desert Rain House, that boasts a completely closed-loop water system. It draws no water from the municipal water system in Bend, and it delivers no sewage to the area sewage treatment plant. The house gathers all the water its occupants need from rain and snow falling on the roof, treats it to drinking-water standards on site, and discharges the drain water to a complex on-site treatment system. … ” Read more from Water Deeply here:  Water, off the grid: A home in Bend, Oregon proves it’s possible

In commentary today …

California’s biggest drought lesson: Build more water storage, says the San Diego Union Tribune:  They write, “The winter’s welcome wet spell has brought at least an unofficial end to California’s drought. But has the rain washed away the most obvious lesson of the Golden State’s dry weather? Quite possibly.  The Democrats who control state government say the right things about continuing to push water conservation and to move away from unmetered water systems. But when it comes to perhaps the drought’s most obvious lesson — the need to sharply increase water storage capacity — their silence is deafening. With large new dams and reservoirs, California could easily collect vastly more water every year. ... ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here:  California’s biggest drought lesson: Build more water storage

State’s current plan for river spells disaster for our region, say Chuck Winn and Katherine Miller: They write, “The mission of the State Water Resources Control Board is to balance water allocation and water quality protection for California.  With its latest flows proposal for the San Joaquin River tributaries, the SWRCB does neither and is clearly promoting the governor’s Twin Tunnels project.  Even though the SWRCB cites the need for increased river flows to “improve aquatic ecosystems,” their actions reveal the true intention – which is to move additional water through the damaged Delta to facilitate the export of billions of gallons of water south. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  State’s current plan for river spells disaster for our region

In regional news and commentary today …

New state rules put Chico sewer plant oxidation ponds off limits to the public:  “For decades, the oxidation ponds at Chico’s sewage treatment plant west of town have been a hot spot for bird watching. Birds make the place home year-round and migrating waterfowls arrive in March and April. The ponds provide several different depths of water, and different birds like puddles, shallow water or six-inch pools.  However, the public access gate to the ponds on Chico River Road has been locked due to rules from the State Water Resources Control Board. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  New state rules put Chico sewer plant oxidation ponds off limits to the public

Yuba salmon numbers drop again:  The South Yuba River Citizens League writes, “Less than 4,000 salmon spawned in the Yuba River in 2016 according to a Monitoring Update from the Yuba Accord River Management Team. Such low numbers have not been seen since the California Salmon Stock Collapse of 2007 and 2008 when the estimated total for the Yuba River was 2,604 and 3,508 salmon, respectively. Over the last 30 years, the average annual estimate exceeds 15,000 salmon, with occasional runs above 30,000.  … ”  Continue reading from YubaNet here:  Yuba salmon numbers drop again

Oakland toxic site to begin $10 million cleanup: “A $10 million clean up of contaminated soil and groundwater at a former chemical distribution center near homes will begin Saturday following years of debate on how to make the property safe for neighbors.  The federal Environmental Protection Agency and community leaders will hold public tours of the Third Street property from 11 to a.m. to 2 p.m Saturday, and conduct a 1 p.m. ribbon cutting to celebrate the milestone.  The treatment system uses electrodes placed deep under ground to generate a current that heats up the water underground to vaporize the toxic contaminants. Then they are collected and shipped to a waste disposal site. … ”  Read more from the East Bay Times here:  Oakland toxic site to begin $10 million cleanup

‘Big dream’ for San Joaquin County’s water future: It would add just a trickle of water, for now, but a potentially historic vote by April could change how San Joaquin County addresses droughts and floods for decades to come.  County supervisors may agree to conduct an experiment of sorts with a longtime nemesis on water issues, the East Bay Municipal Utility District, which exports much of the Mokelumne River to 1.3 million people in the Bay Area.  The county and East Bay MUD have been in a tug-of-water over the Mokelumne for generations. Suddenly, for a moment at least, they’re on the same team. ... ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  ‘Big dream’ for San Joaquin County’s water future

San Joaquin County: Water battle now going underground, says Dennis Wyatt:  He writes, “There are over 500 wells pumping water from the same source — the Eastern San Joaquin Groundwater Sub-Basin.  That includes municipal wells in Manteca, Ripon, Lathrop, Stockton, and Lodi as well as agricultural wells and domestic wells serving rural homes.   You may consider that irrelevant information given water comes out of your tap when you turn the faucet on.  But what local agencies are doing in the next few years to create a framework to manage the water basin to meet a pending state mandate requiring groundwater basin sustainability will impact how freely water flows and determine who gets how much water. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here:  Water battle nowgoing underground

Assemblyman Adam Gray persists in Bay-Delta Plan criticism – to the last day:  “On the last day to submit public comment, Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, submitted one last letter in opposition of the Bay-Delta plan and recommended the State Water Resources Control Board to start over on the study process.  The plan calls for putting more water down the Merced, Stanislaus and Tuolumne rivers so it will flow to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and boost salmon populations. Gray has been a vocal and relentless opponent of the plan through his “Stop the Regulatory Drought” campaign.  “This plan is a failure,” Gray said in a statement on Friday. “It was written in a vacuum and can only undermine efforts to reach agreements between stakeholders.” ... ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here:  Assemblyman Adam Gray persists in Bay-Delta Plan criticism – to the last day

South San Luis Obispo County ponders new groundwater management agencies for fringe areas of the basin:  “Faced with a June 30 deadline from the state, South County cities and community services districts are beginning to consider whether to form groundwater sustainability agencies to manage portions of the Santa Maria groundwater basin, or if they want to leave that management to San Luis Obispo County.  The Arroyo Grande City Council this past week decided to schedule a public hearing on the issue at its next meeting, while the Nipomo Community Services District Board of Directors will consider the topic Wednesday, and the Pismo Beach City Council on April 4.  Basin management isn’t a new concept in the South County: Much of the Santa Maria groundwater basin is already managed by court-formed groups set up in 2005 and 2008, following a lengthy legal dispute over water rights in the area. ... ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  South San Luis Obispo County ponders new groundwater management agencies for fringe areas of the basin

Ridgecrest: For city council, groundwater bylaws a contentious topic:  “The Ridgecrest City Council, after a long and contentious discussion, approved three resolutions relating to the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority bylaws. The council at its meeting Wednesday voted to essentially approve the bylaws with a few changes and the addition that Mojave Pistachios, Meadowbrook and Searles Valley Minerals be named as members of the Policy Advisory Committee.  Much of council’s decision-making became moot when the IWVGA approved the bylaws Thursday morning, minus the controversial Article 5, which defined the PAC and other committees. The topic nonetheless stirred a heated debate with council and the public Wednesday night. ... ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  For city council, groundwater bylaws a contentious topic

Why environmentalists aren’t ready to support artificial reef off Palos Verdes Peninsula:  “A plan to create an artificial reef off the coast of Rancho Palos Verdes would be a boon to underwater plants and animals, but environmental groups and some residents are concerned that building the reef could do more harm than good.  Proposed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, the project would place 70,300 tons of rock from quarries on Catalina Island at various points along a 69-acre area of coastline to re-create a rocky reef that was partially buried years ago by landslides.  Officials at environmental nonprofit Heal the Bay, however, say the process of building that reef could stir up chemicals that have leached into the underwater soil. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Breeze here:  Why environmentalists aren’t ready to support artificial reef off Palos Verdes Peninsula

More news and commentary in the weekend edition of the Daily Digest …

Precipitation watch …

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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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