DAILY DIGEST: Battle looms as Trump ally crusades for dam construction; State water official vows new Oroville Dam spillway by winter; Satellites reveal bird habitat loss in California; Nature’s flood control; and more …

In California water news today, Battle looms as Trump ally crusades for dam construction; State water official vows new Oroville Dam spillway by winter; Oroville Dam spillway shut down again as officials work on long-term plan; Independent team to investigate cause of spillway failures; Satellites reveal bird habitat loss in California; Heavy rain means new challenges for California farmers; Nature provides its own flood control.  Time to use it?; In California, salt taints soil, threatening food security; Thanks to abundant snow, the West can expect a long, rollicking river rafting season; For water users on the Colorado River, a mindset of shared sacrifice; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

Battle looms as Trump ally crusades for dam construction:  “At a large campaign rally last May in California’s agricultural hub, the Central Valley, Donald Trump told farmers he would solve their water supply problems — even during droughts.  “If I win,” Trump said, “believe me, we’re going to start opening up the water.”  His promise hooked Tony Azevedo, a 45-year-old farmer who had seen water deliveries to his 11,000 acres slow to a trickle, forcing him to take 2,000 acres out of production. Trump became his candidate.  “I flipped in a hurry,” he said. “He is a problem solver, and he wants to fix the things that we need.” … ”  Read more from E&E News here:  Battle looms as Trump ally crusades for dam construction

State water official vows new Oroville Dam spillway by winter:  “California’s top water manager said Monday that the problem-plagued Oroville Reservoir will have a new spillway in place to prevent potentially dangerous outflows of water in time for the next rainy season.  The pledge follows concern that the reservoir’s concrete main spillway, which fractured in February, would require more than the dry summer and fall months to fix because of the extent of damage. A panel of dam experts hired by the state said two years might be needed for the work and warned that without substantial repairs by November the situation would pose “very significant risk.” ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  State water official vows new Oroville Dam spillway by winter

Oroville Dam spillway shut down again as officials work on long-term plan:  “The operators of Oroville Dam acknowledged Monday they might not be able to permanently repair the dam’s battered main spillway in time for the next rainy season, but said they’re confident the fractured structure will be usable.  Engineers expect to have this summer’s repair plans largely in place by early next week for the concrete spillway, said Bill Croyle, the acting director of the state Department of Water Resources.  “If I have anything to say about it, we’ll have a spillway to use by Nov. 1,” Croyle said, referring to the expected start of the next rainy season. “Whether that’s a permanent or temporary structure, it hasn’t yet been decided.” ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Oroville Dam spillway shut down again as officials work on long-term plan

Independent team to investigate cause of spillway failures:  “The state Department of Water Resources gave the overseeing federal agency of the Oroville Dam what it asked for last week — a schedule for the independent review team investigating the cause of the spillway failures, but it listed no deadline for a final report from the team.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission told the state Department of Water Resources on March 20 to send the agency a schedule for its independent review team, approved by FERC, within five days. The department responded to FERC’s letter four days later, on Friday. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Independent team to investigate cause of spillway failures

Satellites reveal bird habitat loss in California:  “Drought and reduced seasonal flooding of wetlands and farm fields threaten a globally important stopover site for tens of thousands of migratory shorebirds in California’s Sacramento Valley, a new Duke University-led study shows.  The researchers’ analysis of historical biweekly NASA Landsat satellite images of the valley reveals that flooded near the peak time of spring migration has shrunk by more than twice the size of Washington, D.C. over the last 30 years. … ”  Read more from PhysOrg here:  Satellites reveal bird habitat loss in California

Heavy rain means new challenges for California farmers:  “After five years of drought, Californians are elated by the return to wet weather across the state. But it isn’t all good news for the state’s farmers.  Rains have been so heavy that many farm fields are deeply saturated, if not flooded entirely. This creates a variety of problems. Mud may be so thick that tractors built for mud might get stuck. Even if they can move, they might damage the ground or the roots of permanent crops underneath. This spirals into planting delays, which can have economic repercussions later.  Persistent wet conditions also create fungus problems and may prove inviting for insect pests. … ” Read more from Water Deeply here:  Heavy rain means new challenges for California farmers

Farmers urge tech companies to find water solutions for more than just irrigation: To use west side farmer Don Cameron’s words: farming is sexy right now to Silicon Valley tech companies. But the attraction won’t end up in a relationship if the start-ups don’t understand what farmers really need, Cameron told an audience gathered in Fresno Monday for the “Deeper Dive” forum on Water Ag Tech Innovation.  Hosted by Western Growers, the forum held at the Fresno Convention Center’s Exhibit Hall tackled the issue of water for agriculture and how technology can help. The audience of farmers and water technology companies also talked about the challenges in developing water technology that farmers will use. ... ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Farmers urge tech companies to find water solutions for more than just irrigation

Nature provides its own flood control.  Time to use it? After millions of dollars of flood damage and mass evacuations this year, California is grappling with how to update its aging flood infrastructure.  That has some calling for a new approach to flood control – one that mimics nature instead of trying to contain it.  It’s being tried in a handful of places in California, including here just below Oroville Dam, where massive flows on the Feather River put levees to the test this winter.  “It looks like a bomb’s gone off,” says John Carlon of River Partners, a non-profit that does river restoration. “That’s what it looks like.” … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Nature provides its own flood control.  Time to use it?  

In California, salt taints soil, threatening food security:  “In much of California’s flat, sunny San Joaquin Valley, canals deliver the irrigation water that has made the state an agricultural powerhouse, supplying one-third of vegetables and two-thirds of fruit and nuts eaten in the United States. But along the west side of the valley, some fields are sprouting not crops, but solar panels.  The water that made this agricultural land productive also spelled its doom. Because most water contains salt, irrigating adds salt to soil over time, especially in arid and semi-arid places with little rainfall and poor drainage.  “Anytime you use water, you leave salt behind,” said Jeanne Chilcott, environmental program manager for the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. “The salt moves where the water goes.” … ”  Read more from Environmental Health News here:  In California, salt taints soil, threatening food security

Thanks to abundant snow, the West can expect a long, rollicking river rafting season: Chris Moore watched in awe this winter as the snow piled up on his multiple trips to Bear Valley Mountain Resort in the central Sierra.  “I’ve never seen a winter quite like this,” said Moore, California regional manager for O.A.R.S. rafting company.  “What all this snow means is it’s going to be a long and exciting whitewater season, so I’m stoked.  “We’re going to have big flows in the late spring and early summer and a more drawn-out whitewater season on rivers here in California.” ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Thanks to abundant snow, the West can expect a long, rollicking river rafting season

For water users on the Colorado River, a mindset of shared sacrifice:  “Jason Tucker’s job title is facility manager at the Glen Canyon Dam. But you could also say he’s also a kind of banker.  Colorado River water flows into his bank – the reservoir behind the dam. He can then loan it out to create electricity. Some even call the dam here a kind of “savings account,” tapped as needed to replenish Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam, which lie past the Grand Canyon to the west.  But the currency here is, of course, water – a lifeblood of any community and particularly precious here in the arid American West. Mr. Tucker marvels when ponders the role that this one river plays. … ”  Read more from the Christian Science Monitor here:  For water users on the Colorado River, a mindset of shared sacrifice

In commentary today …

Delta groups want more water to help salmon populations, says Tim Stroshane:  He writes, “Re “State’s plan for river flows spells disaster” (Page 7A, March 20): Restore the Delta agrees that Gov. Jerry Brown’s Delta tunnels proposal and the San Joaquin water plan by the State Water Resources Control Board will be a disaster economically and ecologically for the Delta, and that the State Water Board ignores the Delta’s area of origin rights (Water Code Sections 12200-12205).  But we disagree with San Joaquin County Supervisors Chuck Winn and Katherine Miller’s treatment of fish issues. ... ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Delta groups want more water to help salmon populations

Water allotments still disrespect farmers, says Beatris Espericueta Sanders:  She writes, “In California, we have two water projects that the Central Valley and Southern California depend on for their surface water deliveries: the Central Valley Project (a federal project) and the State Water Project. Dating back to the 1900s, the flooding Northern California experienced had devastating consequences, hence farmers and taxpayers helped fund the sprawling network of canals and reservoirs which allow for quick and easy movement of water around the state for storage purposes.  Three months into 2017, any Californian would agree this year has been a particularly wet year. Pictures of the Oroville Dam in Northern California overflowing into communities due to the abundance of rainwater will be fresh on our minds throughout the year.  Despite recent higher-than-average precipitation, California still hasn’t fully recovered from drought. As measured by a network of monitoring wells, the state’s groundwater basins remain largely depleted from five years ago, when the drought began. ... ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  Water allotments still disrespect farmers

Another man-made drought? asks the Porterville Recorder:  They write, “A lot of people chuckled when then candidate President Donald Trump said there was no drought in California, but after the announcement this week from the federal Bureau of Reclamation on water allocations for farmers, maybe the now president was not too far off.  This week, the Bureau announced most farmers in the Central Valley will get 65 percent of their allotment of water this summer. ... ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here:  Another man-made drought?

Many California farms need an upgraded water delivery system, says Ben Chou:  He writes, “California is home to many of the world’s most advanced and innovative technology companies. Yet, while Silicon Valley and up-and-coming Silicon Beach are cutting-edge, another critical component of California’s economy – agriculture – is hobbled by outdated systems, particularly when it comes to how water is delivered and used.  Nearly a century ago, California’s engineers achieved an astonishing accomplishment: They irrigated the arid Central Valley. This feat required capturing, storing and moving water from the Sierra Nevada snowpack hundreds of miles through a system of ditches and canals. As a result, California now grows half of the fruits and vegetables we eat in this country. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Many California farms need an upgraded water delivery system

In regional news and commentary today …

Big rains mean big clean up along Sacramento River:  “The Sacramento River is always changing, and right now some popular areas along the river have changed to a muddy mess.  Much of February and early March included water flow near or beyond 100,000 cubic-feet per second. With that amount of water, stones the size of a fist piled up along the river’s edge. Entire trees washed away and headed south. When trees land, they act as a bridge, stopping more junk that happens to be floating downstream. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Big rains mean big clean up along Sacramento River

Nevada Irrigation District: Reservoir infrastructure storm damage minimal:  “This year’s powerful winter storms with record precipitation, intense high flows, and flooding have triggered heightened awareness across California.  According to a news release from Nevada Irrigation District, current minimal infrastructure damage poses no risk to community safety, and extensive efforts are underway to avoid any impact to water supply.  “NID is actively working with regulatory agencies to ensure public safety by combining the district’s expertise with specialists from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Division of Dam Safety and Inspection, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the California Department of Water Resources’ Division of Safety of Dams, and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services,” the release states. ... ”  Read more from the Grass Valley Union here:  Nevada Irrigation District: Reservoir infrastructure storm damage minimal

Pajaro Valley water agency combats seawater intrusion with two planned projects:  “The Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency, which supplies Watsonville and the surrounding areas, has committed $6.3 million toward two new projects — a pipeline and a basin — to combat its problem of seawater intrusion.  Seawater intrusion happens when water is pumped out of coastal groundwater basins (the water-bearing rock and soil from which wells draw) faster than rain can refill them. The pressure gradient drives seawater into the groundwater basins, slowly contaminating the wells until they’re unusable.  The Pajaro Valley’s groundwater basins are like a bank account, which customers have been overdrafting for decades, said Brian Lockwood, the agency’s interim general manager and hydrogeologist.  “Eventually you’re going to go into the red, and that’s what’s happened,” Lockwood said. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here:  Pajaro Valley water agency combats seawater intrusion with two planned projects

Owens Valley: Record snow brings danger as weather warms and ice begins melting — very quickly:As snow continued to fall on the eastern Sierra Nevada on this week, platoons of earth movers, cranes and utility trucks fanned out across the Owens Valley, scrambling to empty reservoirs and clean out a lattice-work of ditches and pipelines in a frantic effort to protect the key source of Los Angeles’ water.  With snowpack levels at 241% of normal, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti a week ago issued an emergency declaration allowing the Department of Water and Power to take immediate steps to shore up the aqueduct and its $1-billion dust-control project on dry Owens Lake, which L.A. drained to slake its thirst in the last century. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Owens Valley: Record snow brings danger as weather warms and ice begins melting — very quickly

Santa Clarita: Water heads expand basin salt plan: Local water officials working to better manage groundwater in the Santa Clarita Valley’s water basin, are also working to better manage the salt in that basin.  Members of the Castaic Lake Water Agency board approved a recommendation Wednesday to pay their salt-studying consultants more money for extra work in light of new salt demands handed down recently by regional water regulators. … ”  Read more from the Santa Clarita Valley Signal here:  Water heads expand basin salt plan

Rare, endangered shrimp found in Costa Mesa, thanks to recent rains:  “Costa Mesa city officials announced Friday that they have identified two species of endangered shrimp living in pools at Fairview Park that have not previously been seen there.  Officials said Riverside fairy shrimp, invigorated by recent rainy weather, have been documented in one of the park’s vernal pools, which are essentially seasonal wetlands. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Rare, endangered shrimp found in Costa Mesa, thanks to recent rains

Study predicts significant Southern California beach erosion:  “A new study predicts that with limited human intervention, 31 percent to 67 percent of Southern California beaches could completely erode back to coastal infrastructure or sea cliffs by the year 2100 with sea level rises of 3.3 feet (1 meter) to 6.5 feet (2 meters).  The study released on Monday used a new computer model called CoSMoS-COAST (Coastal Storm Modeling System – Coastal One-line Assimilated Simulation Tool) to predict shoreline effects caused by sea level rise and changes in storm patterns due to climate change. ... ”  Read more from KQED here:  Study predicts significant Southern California beach erosion

Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

Sign up for daily email service and you’ll never miss a post …

Daily emailsSign 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.

 

(Visited 628 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply