DAILY DIGEST: California desert towns become haven for a new crop: Marijuana; Trump approves funds for storm relief, including $274M for Oroville Dam; New EPA documents reveal even deeper proposed cuts to staff and programs; and more …

In California water news today, California desert towns become haven for a new crop: Marijuana; Trump approves funds for California relief, including $274 million for Oroville Dam; Trump, Western storms cast uncertainty on Colorado River; New EPA documents reveal even deeper proposed cuts to staff and programs; California’s drought is over.  Now what?; How water gets from the Sierra Nevada mountains to the rest of California; Essay: Where the water goes; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

California desert towns become haven for a new crop: Marijuana:  “In the race to meet California’s demand for newly legalized recreational marijuana, the Coachella Valley is blooming fast as the industry’s new farming hub. Trouble is, the region also suffers severe groundwater depletion, a problem that could be worsened by the popular crop.  California voters approved Proposition 64 in November 2016, allowing the retail sale of marijuana to adults for recreational purposes from January 1, 2018. Since then, several cities in the Coachella Valley have made moves to embrace industrial-scale marijuana growing.  Leading the pack is Desert Hot Springs, a city of 28,000 people that has struggled in the shadow of Palm Springs for decades. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  California desert towns become haven for a new crop: Marijuana

Trump approves funds for California relief, including $274 million for Oroville Dam:  “President Donald Trump announced Sunday more than a half-billion dollars would be coming to California to help cover the damage from the winter storms, including $274 million for repairs to the Oroville Dam spillway.  The fulfillment of the fourth presidential declaration for damage from the winter storms totals an estimated $540 million.  Gov. Jerry Brown appealed for financial assistance last month in Washington. Brown met with Robert Fenton, acting administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as part of the Democratic governor’s outreach to the new administration and congressional Republicans who control federal spending. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Trump approves funds for California relief, including $274 million for Oroville Dam

California’s new environmentalism:  Toxic air, tainted water driving climate change debate:  “Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia’s hometown of Bell Gardens is so notoriously contaminated by toxic waste sites and freeways stacked with diesel trucks that some residents of nearby towns call it “Bell Garbage.”  Garcia channeled her anger into a successful 2012 Assembly campaign, and today she is in the vanguard of a movement that is redefining environmentalism in California. She and her political allies are warriors for “environmental justice” who argue that Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers should pay more attention to the polluted air and cancer-causing toxins plaguing California’s poor and working-class neighborhoods as they pursue the lofty goal of saving the planet from global warming. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  California’s new environmentalism:  Toxic air, tainted water driving climate change debate

Trump, Western storms cast uncertainty on Colorado River:  “The situation last summer was as clear to accept as it was sobering. Prolonged drought had strained an already overallocated Colorado River, and nowhere was this more visible than at the reservoirs along the river. Behind the Hoover Dam, surface levels at Lake Mead, from which Las Vegas draws most of its water, dropped to a low not seen since the lake was filled in 1935. Water managers said states likely would face cuts to their supplies.  As this threat swelled last year, the states that pull municipal and agricultural water from the lake — Arizona, California and Nevada — started negotiating a Drought Contingency Plan. … ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Sun here:  Trump, Western storms cast uncertainty on Colorado River

New EPA documents reveal even deeper proposed cuts to staff and programs:  “The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a new, more detailed plan for laying off 25 percent of its employees and scrapping 56 programs including pesticide safety, water runoff control, and environmental cooperation with Mexico and Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement. … The spending plan, obtained by The Washington Post, offers the most detailed vision to date of how the 31 percent budget cut to the EPA ordered up by President Trump’s Office of Management and Budget would diminish the agency.  The March 21 plan calls for even deeper reductions in staffing than earlier drafts. It maintains funding given to states to administer waste treatment and drinking water. But as a result, the budget for the rest of EPA is slashed 43 percent. ... ”  Read more from the Washington Post here:  New EPA documents reveal even deeper proposed cuts to staff and programs

California’s drought is over.  Now what? At the height of California’s multi-year drought, Rafael Surmay’s well – the only source of water to his house – went dry. For two and a half years, Surmay, his wife, and his four children showered, cleaned, drank and cooked using a water tank and 10 gallons of bottled water per month. They depended on monthly deliveries to refill their water tank.  “To manage the water was practically the main track of each day,” he says.”We disconnected the washer and had to go to the public laundry. For showering, every time I tell my boys, soap, close the shower [faucet], wash, close.”  Over the past several months, rainstorms have brought relief to parts of California, which has been suffering from drought since 2012. Some areas have had record rain, and snowpack across the Sierra Nevada is close to 200% of normal. … ”  Read more from the BBC here:  California’s drought is over.  Now what?

How water gets from the Sierra Nevada mountains to the rest of California:  “Strong storms and cold temperatures this winter have left a behind a deep snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which provides water for about 23 million Californians from the Bay Area to Southern California.  So how does all that water actually travel hundreds of miles through the Bay Area and Central Valley to Southern California?  If temperatures are cold enough, the Sierras act as a giant natural reservoir that stores snow until it melts in spring and runs down the mountains in rivers and streams. That water is collected in the State Water Project, a storage and delivery system of reservoirs, aqueducts and powerplants. Its backbone is the 444-mile long California Aqueduct — canals, tunnels and pipelines that direct water from the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and valleys of Northern and Central California to Southern California. The water is used by residents in Los Angeles and other large cities, but also for irrigation in the San Joaquin Valley and other agricultural regions along the way. … ”  Read more from NBC Los Angeles here:  How water gets from the Sierra Nevada mountains to the rest of California

Essay: Where the water goes:  Dave Owens writes, “In 1976, when I was twenty-one, I spent the summer living in a rented house in Colorado Springs and working on the grounds crew of an apartment complex on what was then the outskirts of the city. During most of day, my co-workers and I moved hoses and sprinklers around the property, to keep the grass green; then we mowed what we had grown. Watering was like a race. The grass began to turn brown almost the moment we moved our sprinklers, partly because we were a mile above sea level in what is essentially a desert, and partly because the apartment complex had been built on porous ground, on the site of an old quarry. One night, I dreamed that one of the Rain Bird rotary sprinklers we used at work was keeping me awake by rhythmically spraying me in bed, and I made a mental note to ask my housemate not to water my room while I was trying to sleep. ... ” Read more from the New Yorker here:  Essay: Where the water goes

In regional news and commentary today …

Weak justification for Centennial Reservoir, says Charley Hooper:  He writes, “The Centennial Reservoir is being proposed based on the assumption that we need more water storage because of the recent drought, the prospect of future droughts, and the risk of water shortages.  Let’s look at the facts.  Have droughts become more frequent? No. Justin Sheffield concluded in a Nature article that droughts have not become more frequent in the past 60 years. This is the period that included half the warming of the last 150 years. If global warming were an important cause of drought, the world should have had more droughts. It hasn’t. … ”  Read more from the Grass Valley Union here:  Weak justification for Centennial Reservoir

Everything Lake Tahoe lovers should know about Stream Environment Zones:  “Balancing environmental preservation and infrastructure development in Lake Tahoe is no simple task — and it’s one that is often misunderstood by those outside of the agencies responsible for maintaining that balance.  With large projects in the works on the South Shore like the redevelopment of the Knights Inn property — which includes the construction of a new shopping center plus the partial restoration of an important watershed — readers are encountering Tahoe-specific jargon that may leave them scratching their heads. For instance, what exactly is a Stream Environment Zone? And, more importantly, why does it matter? … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here:  Everything Lake Tahoe lovers should know about Stream Environment Zones

More delays for Marin coastal regulations update:  “The effort to update the general plan governing Marin’s coastal areas is dragging on.  The California Coastal Commission must sign off on the plan, known as the local coastal program. The commission reviewed the LCP in November. Last minute changes were made up to the day of the hearing and at the final hour county supervisors authorized withdrawal of the section of the plan having to do with environmental hazards — sea-level rise being chief among them.  “We’ve done this before,” Supervisor Kate Sears said at the time. “Are we looking at another decade?” … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  More delays for Marin coastal regulations update

Central Coast: Local water agencies lay out regional water sustainability projects in new report:  ” … According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Santa Barbara County remains at the heart of what’s left of California’s drought, which water authorities say will take continued wetter-than-average weather to properly recover from.  As of Tuesday, the entire county remains in moderate drought.  “The real big point here is we’re not out of the drought, certainly,” said Tom Fayram, deputy director for water resources at the county Public Works Department.  “And we certainly haven’t solved anything in terms of our water-supply issues.” … ”  Read more from Noozhawk here:  Central Coast: Local water agencies lay out regional water sustainability projects in new report

Drought to deluge: Are we saving enough water?  “California was in the midst of a years-long drought, and then the deluge hit.  That extreme weather shift put stress on the state’s water system, raising questions about whether we have been able to capture enough to meet future demands.  Take Two talks with three of the state’s top water experts to tell us what we banked, and how to improve the system for when the next storms roll in. … ”  Guests: Jeffrey Kightlinger (MWD), Felicia Marcus (SWRCB) and Buzz Thompson (Standford).  Read more or listen to story at KPCC here:  Drought to deluge: Are we saving enough water?

Have SoCal’s water supplies recovered? Depends on where you live:  “Here in California, we’ve been on a roller coaster when it comes to water. After five years of crippling drought, the Golden State had one of its wettest winters on record. So what has all the rain and snow meant for our water supply in Southern California? It depends on where you live and where your water comes from.  About thirty percent of Southern California’s water comes from far, far away: Lake Oroville, a giant reservoir in the Sierra Nevada about 80 miles north of Sacramento.  It travels here through the State Water Project, an approximately 700-mile long series of canals, pumps and pipelines that begin at Lake Oroville and end in various reservoirs throughout Southern California.  … ”  Read more from KPCC here:  Have SoCal’s water supplies recovered? Depends on where you live

Eastern Municipal Water District honored as recycled water agency of the year:  “Eastern Municipal Water District was recognized as the Recycled Water Large Agency of the Year by the California Chapter of the WateReuse Association.  The award recognizes EMWD for its comprehensive approach toward investing in its recycled water program to ensure that resources are maximized.  EMWD treats approximately 45 million gallons of wastewater per day at regional water reclamation facilities located in Moreno Valley, Perris, San Jacinto and Temecula. That highly treated wastewater becomes recycled water.  EMWD achieved 100 percent beneficial reuse of its recycled water supplies again in 2016. The recycled water was used for irrigation of agriculture, parks, schools, recreational facilities, golf courses, public landscaping and industrial uses. ... ”  Read more from Valley News here:  Eastern Municipal Water District honored as recycled water agency of the year

Activists: ‘This is everyone in California’s water.  And an international corporation is stealing it’:  “A little after 1 p.m. Sunday, a steady stream of cars began pulling off Highway 18 at Lake Gregory Drive, parking on the south side of the highway and their occupants darting across during breaks in traffic to take up their posts on a dirt lot next to Grotewolds Carpet Station. Others were driven to the spot in groups from a rendezvous point at Rim of the World High School, a little further up the highway.  Dressed in bright colors and holding homemade signs, they would hold those posts for the remainder of the afternoon, hoping to draw drivers’ attention to an ongoing community effort to get Nestle Waters to stop pumping water out of the San Bernardino National Forest. ... ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Activists: ‘This is everyone in California’s water.  And an international corporation is stealing it’

More news and commentary in the weekend edition …

 

Precipitation watch …

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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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