DAILY DIGEST: Despite Trump promise and a wet winter, CA farmers don’t get full water supply; Experts: Oroville spillway continues to pose ‘very significant risk’; Flood control trumps tunnels; West Coast to face more rain, snow until end of March; and more …

In California water news today, Despite Trump promise and a wet winter, California farmers don't get full water supply; San Joaquin growers get 65% of requested CVP water; Oroville Dam: Evacuation warnings lifted for Butte County; Experts: Oroville spillway continues to pose ‘very significant risk'; California faces significant flood risk and funding shortfalls; Flood control trumps tunnels; Higher and higher: New floodplain construction rules for California; From the California sky, measuring all that snow; Under par: How golf courses are fighting for survival; West Coast to face more rounds of rain, mountain snow until the end of March; Advocates push for big federal investment in water infrastructure; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

Despite Trump promise and a wet winter, California farmers don't get full water supply:  “California farmers have a sympathetic president in the White House and have enjoyed one of the wettest winters on record. But those in a giant swath of the San Joaquin Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country, are due to get only two-thirds of their water allotment this year from the federal government.  The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said Wednesday the sprawling agricultural irrigation districts on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley can expect to receive 65 percent of their maximum contracted allotments this year from the network of pumps, dams and canals that make up the Central Valley Project. These districts are responsible for significant portions of the almonds, pistachios, tomatoes and other commodities grown in the U.S. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Despite Trump promise and a wet winter, California farmers don’t get full water supply

San Joaquin growers get 65% of requested CVP water:  “Growers on the San Joaquin Valley’s west side will get 65 percent of their requested Central Valley Project surface water supplies in 2017, federal officials announced March 22.  Agricultural water users north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta will get their full supplies, as will Northern California urban areas and customers of the Contra Costa Water District, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials said.  Municipal and industrial customers south of the Delta will get 90 percent of requested deliveries. More water could be provided south of the Delta this year if conditions allow, officials said. ... ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  San Joaquin growers get 65% of requested CVP water

West side farmers to get 65% allocation from Central Valley Project:  “With ample rainfall and an above-average snowpack, west side San Joaquin Valley growers were hoping the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation would give them a 100 percent allocation of water this year from the Central Valley Project. They were wrong.  Bureau of Reclamation officials announced Wednesday that farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta would received 65 percent from the federal water project.  Farmers were dismayed at the news. They received a 5 percent allocation last year, causing them to fallow at least 200,000 acres in the Westlands Water District. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  West side farmers to get 65% allocation from Central Valley Project

Farmers might not get full water supply:  “Some farms and cities south of the Delta may not receive a full supply of water from the estuary this year, despite a super snowpack, reservoirs that have surged above normal and an ongoing flood threat on some rivers.  But make no mistake: Conditions will be far better for those water users than any of the previous three years.  The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation made the announcement Wednesday for customers of its Central Valley Project, including vast tracts of farmland on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley from the Tracy area to Kettleman City. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Farmers might not get full water supply

Water, water everywhere, but how much will Westlands get? During the punishing surface water drought of the last several years, the huge Westlands Water District in western Kings County was worried about whether it was going to dry up and blow away.  This year, with California’s reservoirs, rivers, canals and marshes overflowing with near-record amounts of rain and snow, officials and farmers are worried that they still aren’t going to get much precious water for irrigation from the federal Central Valley Project that supplies Westlands.  How concerned are they? Concerned enough that Johnny Amaral of Westlands and Ara Azhderian of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority hosted an aerial tour Monday of the state’s vast water delivery infrastructure. ... ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here:  Water, water everywhere, but how much will Westlands get? 

Oroville Dam: Evacuation warnings lifted for Butte County:  “More than a month after a near-catastrophe at Oroville Dam sparked mass evacuations, Butte County’s sheriff Wednesday lifted the evacuation warning that had remained in place for thousands of downstream residents.  Seriff Kory Honea lifted the warning, saying the situation had stabilized at Lake Oroville in the weeks following the evacuation.  “I feel satisfied with the progress made in reinforcing the primary spillway, emergency spillway and returning the Hyatt powerhouse to an operational state, as well as the successful efforts by the California Department of Water Resources to lower the lake level enough to buffer for future storms,” Honea said in a prepared statement. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Oroville Dam: Evacuation warnings lifted for Butte County

Experts: Oroville spillway continues to pose ‘very significant risk':  “California officials are courting a “very significant risk” if a damaged spillway on the nation’s tallest dam is not operational by the next rainy season, and the state’s plan leaves no time for any delays, a team of safety experts has warned in a report obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.  Crews working to repair a crippled spillway on the Lake Oroville dam will be racing the clock to have the structure in good enough shape to be used for flood control by next fall, according to the report prepared by an independent team of consultants and submitted to federal officials last week. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Experts: Oroville spillway continues to pose ‘very significant risk’

California faces significant flood risk and funding shortfalls:  “With its aging dams, collapsing levees and outdated flood control systems, a state report Wednesday said California is ground zero for devastating floods — as San Jose experienced last month — and that billions of dollars in additional funding is needed to fix decaying infrastructure.  The report from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office found that one in five Californians live in a flood plain and an estimated $575 billion worth of structures are at risk of flood damage. But studies have estimated that reducing flood risk across the state will cost tens of billions of dollars above current expenditure levels over the next few decades, the report said. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  California faces significant flood risk and funding shortfalls

Flood control trumps tunnels:  “Californians are more likely to favor beefing up the state's flood control infrastructure than building Gov. Jerry Brown's Delta tunnels, according to the latest poll from the Public Policy Institute of California.  Sixty-one percent of all adults think it is “very important” that the state spend more money on flood control, in the wake of the near disaster at Oroville Dam.  Fifty-one percent consider the tunnels “very important,” with the $15 billion proposal enjoying much higher levels of support in Southern California (64 percent) than in the Central Valley (40 percent) or the Bay Area (49 percent).  Stronger support for flood control than the Delta tunnels shows how the wet winter has elevated the public's concern, said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Flood control trumps tunnels

Higher and higher: New floodplain construction rules for California:  “The Oroville spillway scare, flooding and frequent downpours have underscored the need for flood insurance and flood prevention measures in California. Some of those measures are inconvenient and expensive. But some people will go to great lengths to live near water.  Not long ago, Sutter County produced a documentary about the 1955 flood that killed 38 people. Norma Bartlett describes being in her car as it was inundated with water from the Feather River.  “The wall of water, about four feet high, hit me and drowned the car out,” says Bartlett. “I realized immediately that I had to get out of the car because I had my little boy that was two years old and he was sitting in the seat and the water was almost over his head.” … ”  Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Higher and higher: New floodplain construction rules for California

From the California sky, measuring all that snow:  “The majestic beauty of California’s Sierra Nevada never fails to impress. But the mountain range, which stretches hundreds of miles, is much more than a stunning vista. It’s a linchpin that helps make living in an arid state possible.  That’s because one of California’s most important water supplies is melted snow. Each spring and summer, the Sierra sends runoff down its slopes that recharges rivers and reservoirs, allowing crops to be irrigated and drinking glasses to be filled.  Knowing with precision how much snow has accumulated is crucial for farmers and water managers.  That’s where a mapping project at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory known as the Airborne Snow Observatory comes in. Using measurements gathered by specialized instruments on a plane, scientists have been able to gain an unprecedented understanding of the amount of water present in the Sierra’s snow. … ”  Read more from the NY Times here:  From the California sky, measuring all that snow

Under par: How golf courses are fighting for survival:  “It’s hard times in the golf industry, especially in drought-plagued western states.  Golf participation in the U.S. declined 20 percent from 2003 to 2014, and the number of golfers aged 34 and under declined 30 percent. Add the fact that many courses are suffering water shortages, and it becomes even harder to attract players long accustomed to lush green fairways.  This probably isn’t the end of golf. But it does mean players have to change their expectations, and golf course owners must adapt. This could mean shrinking course size from the traditional 18 holes to 9 holes to accommodate both water shortages and players who have less time.  Historically, that sort of move was unthinkable. Now it’s a survival strategy. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Under par: How golf courses are fighting for survival

West Coast to face more rounds of rain, mountain snow until the end of March:  “Many Californians will only get a brief glimpse of the sun in between multiple storms and travel delays through early next week.  Rounds of wet weather will roll in from the Pacific Ocean every other day into the end of March.  “While the overall magnitude of the storms will pale in comparison to many of the storms this past winter, the combination of moderate rainfall and melting snow at intermediate elevations can lead to some renewed stream flooding,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. ... ”  Read more from Accu-Weather here:  West Coast to face more rounds of rain, mountain snow until the end of March

Advocates push for big federal investment in water infrastructure:  “The U.S. is drastically underfunding water projects, putting communities at risk for a catastrophic failure, according to a new report from the U.S. Water Alliance.  Advocates for better water infrastructure are flooding Washington, so to speak, for Water Week 2017.  The report found that the U.S. is only funding one-third of water infrastructure needs.   And the nation’s drinking and wastewater system recently earned a D grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers.   Radhika Fox, director of the U.S. Water Alliance, says the proper investment would be a boon to the economy.  “If we were to close that investment gap, we would drive economic growth in this country,” she states. “The report found that closing that infrastructure gap would create over 1.3 million jobs.” ... ”  Read more from the Public News Service here:  Advocates push for big federal investment in water infrastructure

In commentary today …

DWR does itself no favors with odd statements, says the Chico Enterprise-Record:  They write, “The confounding statements about the Lake Oroville spillway crisis just keep coming from the state Department of Water Resources.  The disaster has been a public relations nightmare from the beginning, but DWR keeps making it worse with its words and actions.  As the repair bill for the crumbling spillway and the emergency response approached $200 million last week, DWR acting Director Bill Croyle — who has exhibited a troublesome tendency to downplay the incident since it started Feb. 7 — used an inappropriate analogy when asked at a press conference whether the crisis could have been prevented and who was responsible. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  DWR does itself no favors with odd statements

In regional news and commentary today …

Anderson Dam: Residents raise concern over water district's handling of structure:  “Concern over the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s management of Anderson Dam bubbled to the surface at a meeting Wednesday night to update the public on a project to replace the structure, which spilled over in February for the 11th time in its 67-year history, resulting in some of the worst flooding San Jose has seen in decades. Years in the making, the $400 million project is the product of studies that found the 240-foot-tall earthen dam could fail in a major earthquake. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Anderson Dam: Residents raise concern over water district’s handling of structure

Army Corps of Engineers favors $177 million Pajaro River flood protection project:  “Jay Kinberger, South Pacific project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, delivered disappointing news Tuesday to local officials seeking Pajaro River flood protection improvements for residents, businesses and growers whose farmland has been under water.  The Army Corps’ March 9 analysis focused on three improvements the agency considers economically justified. These three improvements are estimated to cost $177 million. The federal government would pay for 65 percent. That means the community would have to come up with $62 million. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  Army Corps of Engineers favors $177 million Pajaro River flood protection project

Merced Irrigation District files hundreds of pages of comments taking issue with State's Bay Delta Substitute Environmental Document:  “Merced Irrigation District has submitted hundreds of pages of comments on the State’s Bay Delta Water Plan SED. That plan, proposed by the State Water Resources Control Board, would take MID water flowing into Lake McClure and send it north to the Bay Delta.  The official deadline to submit comments to the state was March 17, 2017. MID expects the State Water Board will make a final decision on its Bay Delta Plan SED sometime in the coming months.  The Substitute Environmental Document for the Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan (Bay Delta Plan SED) was released late last year. It would impact local drinking water quality and quantity, cost the Merced area nearly 1,000 jobs and decrease local agriculture production, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in local economic loss – among numerous other problems. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Sun here:  Merced Irrigation District files hundreds of pages of comments taking issue with State’s Bay Delta Substitute Environmental Document

Oakdale, SSJID general managers oppose ‘water grab':  “In response to what they have termed the state’s “water grab” and in a coordinated, ongoing effort to “Save the Stan,” Oakdale Irrigation District General Manager Steve Knell and South San Joaquin Irrigation District General Manager Peter Rietkerk have jointly released a report identifying their concerns with the plan.  According to the general managers, “Any reasonable and impartial cost benefit analysis of the state’s proposal to unfairly divert billions of gallons of water a year from the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers would quickly reach the same conclusion as tens of thousands of Californians: the plan fails on virtually every measureable level.” ... ”  Read more from the Oakdale Leader here:  Oakdale, SSJID general managers oppose ‘water grab’

Drought kept steelhead out of Cambria's creeks:  “The drought dried up Santa Rosa Creek, but this winter’s rains have opened its flowing waters to the sea. The creek broke through Dec. 16 and flowed at higher-than-normal levels for more than two months. A sandbar has now enclosed it, creating a lagoon.  “Days of rain brought water into the main stem of Santa Rosa Creek and all the tributaries,” said Stephanie Wald, watershed projects manager for Central Coast Salmon Enhancement, a regional nonprofit dedicated to our watersheds and fisheries. “With that quantity and speed, boom, the creeks broke open. The fish are waiting there.”  Steelhead are anadromous fish, hatched in freshwater but spending part of their lives in the ocean. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Drought kept steelhead out of Cambria’s creeks

Ventura forum: State water costly but reliable:  “It will be costly and the process complicated, but joining state water adds reliability to a system facing numerous pressures.  That was the consensus reached between the heads of five area water agencies, who on Wednesday took part in a forum focused on connecting to the State Water Project. Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett moderated the panel, which addressed issues including construction, environmental impacts and associated costs of the project.  “This is not our end-all, be-all solution,” Ventura Water General Manager Shana Epstein said. But it would put the city in a better position to deal with climate change and changes in environmental regulations and allow the city to pursue a large-scale project to reuse wastewater runoff, she said. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here:  Ventura forum: State water costly but reliable

Western Ventura County looks into connecting with State Water Project:  “Even with all the recent storms and this past wet winter many local areas are still in drought conditions and trying to figure out how to keep water supplies from reaching critical levels.  On Wednesday Ventura County water district leaders came together to discuss the possibility of connecting the entire county to the state water project.  Currently Eastern Ventura County has access to state water but Western Ventura County does not.  To solve this a pipeline would be placed between the two sections of the county so all districts could pull from the state water resource. … ” Read more from KEYT here:  Western Ventura County looks into connecting with State Water Project

The Silver Lake drought is finally over; Reservoir will finally be refilled:  “The drought is over in Silver Lake — at least, at its picturesque reservoir.  Los Angeles Department of Water and Power officials announced Wednesday that the popular Silver Lake Reservoir — which has stood empty for more than a year — will be refilled starting in mid-April.  The 96-acre reservoir is expected to be fully refilled by the middle of June, nearly a year ahead of schedule. Officials previously said refilling would begin in May and take about 12 months. ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  The Silver Lake drought is finally over; Reservoir will finally be refilled

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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