DAILY DIGEST, Easter Sunday edition: How the drought changed California forever; Explainer: The 8 stations in the Northern Sierra 8-station index; California tribes fear abysmal salmon run could trigger public health crisis; and more …

Superbloom by Beau Rogers

In California water news this weekend, How the drought changed California forever; State will increase water deliveries to Southern California; Explainer: The 8 stations in the Northern Sierra 8-station index; For some Californians, effects of the punishing drought not over; California tribes fear abysmal salmon run could trigger public health crisis; Now that the governor declared the drought was over, what’s a conservationist to do?; Bids for Oroville Dam repair top state estimates; $275.4 million the lowest; Governor defends State’s handling of Oroville Dam Spillway emergency; ‘Broken promises’:  County officials, public sound off on current and historical problems at Oroville Dam; USGS finds vast reserves of salty groundwater underneath California; Report: We can’t stop sea level rise, only slow it down; How legalized marijuana applies to boaters; and more …

In the news this weekend …

How the drought changed California forever:  “California’s historic five-year drought is officially over, washed away with the relentlessly drenching rains, floods and snowstorms of this winter.  But just as tougher building codes and better emergency planning follow major earthquakes, the brutally dry years from 2012 to 2016 are already leaving a legacy, experts say, changing the way Californians use water for generations to come.  “There’s no question that we’ll be better prepared for the next drought because of the lessons learned in this one,” said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board in Sacramento. “This was the wake-up call of the century.” ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  How the drought changed California forever

State will increase water deliveries to Southern California:  “State officials said Friday Southern California water agencies will soon get close to a full of allotment of water — 85 percent — following several winter storms that broke rain and snow records across the state.  That’s the highest percentage meted out from the State Water Project since 2006, said Ted Thomas, a spokesman for the state Department of Water Resources said in a statement.  The announcement came one week after Gov. Jerry Brown declared the drought over in California, with the exception of four counties in the central part of the state. Officials said there’s now strong evidence that the state’s urban water supply increased by large margins this winter. … ” Read more from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune here:  State will increase water deliveries to Southern California

Explainer: The 8 stations in the Northern Sierra 8-station index:  “If you’re an inveterate rain watcher, or almost any other kind, you’ve probably read somewhere that an important index of Northern California precipitation has set a new record.  The name of that somewhat arcane statistical measurement, a product of the California Department of Water Resources, is the Northern Sierra Eight-Station Index.  On Thursday, the index hit an all-time high — 89.7 — exceeding the mark of 88.5 set in the rainy season of 1982-83. On Friday, the index stood at 90.2, and, with more wet weather certain to visit the North State, that number will continue to rise. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Explainer: The 8 stations in the Northern Sierra 8-station index

For some Californians, effects of the punishing drought not over:  “Knee-high tufts of grass dot the streets of Hardwick, a rural neighborhood with a few dozen homes hemmed in by vineyards and walnut and almond orchards in California’s agriculture-rich San Joaquin Valley.  Nearby, the Kings River — swollen with rainwater and Sierra Nevada snowmelt — meanders through fields. Water is abundant in the river but it may not last.  Despite winter storms that have turned much of California’s parched landscape to vibrant green, the drought has yet to loosen its grip on thousands of residents in the valley. Many people must still use water stored in large tanks in their yard to wash dishes and bathe. … ”  Read more from US News and World Report here:  For some Californians, the effects of the punishing drought not over

California tribes fear abysmal salmon run could trigger public health crisis:  “Native American communities are bracing for a public health crisis this year in California’s misty, rugged northwestern corner.  In the Pacific Ocean off the mouth of the Klamath River, record-low numbers of fall-run adult Chinook salmon are ready to make their annual migration up the river and its primary tributary, the Trinity River, to spawn.  The run this year is so miniscule that for the first time there will be practically no tribal fishing on the rivers. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  California tribes fear abysmal salmon run could trigger public health crisis

Now that the governor declared the drought was over, what’s a conservationist to do?  “Seems like California is not the only land mass to benefit from a surplus of water these days.  The moon of Saturn, Enceladus, is swimming in warm liquid water, enough to create plumes of hydrogen gas erupting from the subsurface of the ocean floor, NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists reported Thursday.  In both California and Enceladus, water means life. On Saturn’s moon, the possibility of a food source dissolved in waters is just that, a possibility, as is the outside chance of finding life on the cold, icy moon. In California, a five-year drought scared us into thinking water and locally grown food could be a thing of the past, a back-of-the-mind nightmare that unsettled farmers and urban dwellers alike. ... ”  Read more from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune here:  Now that the governor declared the drought was over, what’s a conservationist to do?

Bids for Oroville Dam repair top state estimates; $275.4 million the lowest:  “Blowing past state officials’ financial projections, three construction contractors submitted bids for the Oroville Dam repairs that begin at $275 million, the Department of Water Resources said Saturday.  DWR, in a brief announcement, said its engineers had estimated the repairs to the two damaged spillways would come in at $220 million.  The low bid was $275.4 million from a subsidiary of Kiewit Corp. of Omaha, Neb.; followed by an affiliate of Barnard Construction Co. of Bozeman, Mont., at $277 million. The high bid was made by Oroville Dam Constructors, a joint venture between Sacramento’s Teichert Construction and Granite Construction of Watsonville, at $344.1 million. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Bids for Oroville Dam repair top state estimates; $275.4 million the lowest

Governor defends State’s handling of Oroville Dam Spillway emergency:  “California Gov. Jerry Brown held his first news conference in February on the Oroville Dam emergency after the threat of lake Oroville sent nearly 200,000 people from their homes.  The governor defended the state’s handling of the crisis, while asking for federal assistance for the emergency. Now, about two months after declaring a state of emergency in Oroville, Brown’s administration is blocking a public review of records relating to what happened when the spillway began eroding, how it was maintained, and the crisis aftermath.  “It’s unacceptable we need to release as much info as possible so the public knows what’s going on and how we’re addressing the issue,” said Assemblyman James Gallagher. … ”  Read more from CBS News here:  Governor defends State’s handling of Oroville Dam Spillway emergency

‘Broken promises’:  County officials, public sound off on current and historical problems at Oroville Dam:  “A deluge of grievances regarding long-stalled relicensing, management and repairs at the Oroville Dam prompted by the recent crisis at the reservoir were aired at the Butte County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday (April 11).  Discussion of the dam, which lasted more than two hours, was agendized as an informational update regarding the facility’s relicensing process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). That process takes place every 50 years and was scheduled for completion in 2007, but has been in limbo due to ongoing disagreements between the county and the state’s Department of Water Resources, which oversees operations at the facility. The dam has been operating on a year-to-year basis for a decade. … ”  Read more from the Chico News & Enterprise here:  ‘Broken promises’:  County officials, public sound off on current and historical problems at Oroville Dam

USGS finds vast reserves of salty groundwater underneath California:  “A new nationwide study has unearthed the huge hidden potential of tapping into salty aquifers as a way to relieve the growing pressure on freshwater supplies across the United States.  Digging into data from the country’s 60 major aquifers, the U.S. Geological Survey reports that the amount of brackish — or slightly salty — groundwater is more than 35 times the amount of fresh groundwater used in the United States each year.  Supplies exist in every state except New Hampshire and Rhode Island, with the largest reserves in the central U.S. In the Golden State, the California Coastal Basin and Central Valley aquifers together contain close to 7 billion acre-feet of brackish water, which if desalinated could provide enough water for the state’s needs for the next 160 years. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  USGS finds vast reserves of salty groundwater underneath California

Report: We can’t stop sea level rise, only slow it down:  “The sea is rising twice as fast as it did in 1990, and there’s no turning back — humans can only try to slow it down.  That’s according to a new report from a team of scientists working for the California Ocean Science Trust on behalf of Gov. Jerry Brown. They found the quickening of sea level rise is driven primarily by melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, caused by rising global temperatures fueled by emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. ... ”  Read more from KQED here:  Report: We can’t stop sea level rise, only slow it down

How legalized marijuana applies to boaters:  “With possession of small amounts of marijuana now legal in eight states, boaters are asking whether the U.S. Coast Guard, a federal agency, will abide by those state laws.  The answer is a resounding no. In six coastal states where marijuana possession is legal, “It remains a violation of federal law. If we encounter it in the course of our operations, we will enforce those laws,” says Lt. Cmdr. Devon Brennan, who oversees the U.S. Coast Guard’s counter-narcotics enforcement programs and policies. Understanding that position is critical for boaters concerned about guests bringing it aboard, thinking it is OK. … ”  Read more from Boating News here:  How legalized marijuana applies to boaters

In commentary this weekend …

Dear California water officials: After Oroville Dam scare, why should we trust you? says Joyce Terhaar:  She writes, “We in Northern California know many things about Oroville Dam we likely didn’t know before a near failure of its emergency spillway Feb. 12 grabbed our attention.  It’s the tallest dam in the country. It is California’s second-largest reservoir. It holds way more water than anyone wants to think about rushing at their home – in technical terms, 3.5 million acre-feet, or enough to cover 3.5 million acres one foot deep. In nontechnical terms, enough to kill anyone in its path.  Most important: In its current shape, it’s just not safe enough, and Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is using a law intended to stop terrorism to keep details of its repair plans secret. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Dear California water officials: After Oroville Dam scare, why should we trust you?

In regional news and commentary this weekend …

Upcoming documentary focuses on Eel River salmon, dams, pot, and more:  “As California’s third largest river basin, the Eel River has many stories — stories of destruction, death, and overconsumption, but also of life, rejuvenation and natural bounty. For documentary filmmaker, fisherman and former Humboldt County resident Shane Anderson, the river’s tale had yet to receive its proper telling.  “It’s such an incredible story of resilience,” Anderson said Friday. “There is no river like the Eel. I always felt like it was this forgotten river that gave its whole life — kind of like ‘The Giving Tree’ — that gave everything for progress and fortune after the arrival of settlers. It has been this pattern of boom and bust throughout the region, but it doesn’t appear like we’ve learned how to live symbiotically with our natural resources that sustain our economies.” ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Upcoming documentary focuses on Eel River salmon, dams, pot, and more

Water flowing to long-deprived community at Wildomar-Menifee border:  “For years, several hundred residents of a rural enclave straddling the Wildomar-Menifee border had to rely on bottled water to drink, water their animals and even to wash their salad greens.  Those days soon will be a distant memory after workers in two water districts flipped on the switches this week to start delivering clean potable water from newly constructed pumps and pipes to the community.  “This is a landmark moment for these residents and one in which we are proud to have taken an active role in,” said Eastern Municipal Water District board member Ron Sullivan in a news release. … ”  Read more from the Riverside Press-Enterprise here:  Water flowing to long-deprived community at Wildomar-Menifee border

San Diego’s $3 billion water recycling plan takes a step forward:  “The city’s $3 billion plan to recycle wastewater into drinking water took another step forward Wednesday when the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board approved a modified permit for the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant.  City officials contend their “Pure Water” program will provide a sustainable source of potable water for a growing city with a dry climate. Backers estimate that recycling — purifying wastewater and mixing it in reservoirs with water from traditional sources — will account for one-third of the area’s supply by 2035. … ”  Read more from the Times of San Diego here:  San Diego’s $3 billion water recycling plan takes a step forward

Precipitation watch …

Rain, snow showers to resume early this week:  “A stream of Pacific moisture will lead to widespread rain and snow showers from Northern California to Washington early this week.  The wet weather will not be nearly as significant when compared to the largest storms this past winter. Still, enough rain and snow could fall to cause delays on the road and disruptions to air travel.  The weak nature of the storms will limit the threat for flooding and damaging winds. … ”  Read more from Accu-Weather here:  Rain, snow showers to resume early this week

Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

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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.

Maven’s Notebook
where California water news never goes home for the weekend

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