DAILY DIGEST: Pesticide impact on Bay-Delta fish could be greater than realized; Serious design, construction, and maintenance defects doomed Oroville Dam; Central Valley sank 3 feet during historic drought; and more …

In California water news today, Pesticide impact on Bay-Delta fish could be greater than realized; Serious design, construction, and maintenance defects doomed Oroville Dam; State awards $275 million contract for Oroville Dam repairs; California’s Central Valley sank 3 feet during historic drought; What a difference! How a drought-buster winter has changed Northern California; As global groundwater disappears, rice, wheat, and other international crops may start to vanish; and more …

In the news today …

Pesticide impact on Bay-Delta fish could be greater than realized:  “At a recent University of California Davis symposium on multiple stressors in the San Francisco Estuary, toxicologist Tracy Collier called for more monitoring in the Delta. “We don’t know what’s in the water,” he explains. And, as if in answer, hydrologist James Orlando presented early results from a new U.S. Geological Survey effort to help find out.  The mix of toxicants in the Delta likely differs from that in the Bay because much of the land is farmed. “I’ve been surprised to hear how little monitoring there is of agricultural water that is pumped back into the Delta from the islands,” says Collier, a member of the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Independent Science Board. ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Pesticide impact on Bay-Delta fish could be greater than realized

Serious design, construction, and maintenance defects doomed Oroville Dam:  “Design flaws, construction shortcomings and maintenance errors caused the Oroville Dam spillway to break apart in February, according to an independent analysis by Robert Bea for the Center for Catastrophic Risk Analysis at UC Berkeley.  Bea, a co-founder of the center and retired civil engineering professor, found that in the 1960s, when the dam was being planned, designers did not call for a thick enough concrete spillway floor. Nor did they require the continuous steel reinforcement needed to keep its slabs intact during decades of service. ... ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here:  Serious design, construction, and maintenance defects doomed Oroville Dam

State awards $275 million contract for Oroville Dam repairs:  “Kiewit Corp., a construction giant with extensive experience in dam projects, was awarded the massive repair job at troubled Oroville Dam on Monday.  The California Department of Water Resources announced that Kiewit, based in Omaha, Neb., beat two competitors for the job with a $275.4 million bid.  Kiewit had the low bid, although its offer was still higher than DWR’s internal estimate that the project would cost $231 million. (DWR said on Saturday that it estimated the project would cost $220 million, but released a corrected estimate Monday.) ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  State awards $275 million contract for Oroville Dam repairs

California’s Central Valley sank 3 feet during historic drought:  “While this past winter busted California’s 5-year drought, a new Stanford University study shows how the dry years did permanent damage to Central Valley aquifers.  A satellite remote-sensing study performed by Stanford researchers shows a portion of the Central Valley sank by as much as three feet due to overpumping of groundwater during the drought, permanently reducing the region’s capacity for water storage.  “California is getting all of this rain, but in the Central Valley, there has been a loss of space to store it,” said study co-author Rosemary Knight, a professor at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News here:  California’s Central Valley sank 3 feet during historic drought

What a difference! How a drought-buster winter has changed Northern California:  “The Great California Drought is over, Gov. Jerry Brown declared earlier this month, but it’s too early to parade in our rain, scientists say.  A new study by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists found that while October 2011 to September 2015 marked the driest four-year period for California in the instrumental record (from 1895-on), paleoclimate records suggest the southern Central Valley and South Coast parts of the state saw their worst drought in nearly 450 years.  The thing about record droughts is that they take a long time to recover from. ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  What a difference! How a drought-buster winter has changed Northern California

As global groundwater disappears, rice, wheat, and other international crops may start to vanish:  “We already know that humans are depleting vital groundwater resources across the globe. But a new study shows one of the biggest causes of disappearing groundwater is the international food trade.  About 70 percent of freshwater around the globe goes toward irrigation. Researchers from the University College London and NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies now say that a third of that freshwater is drawn from the world’s aquifers — nonrenewable underground pockets of groundwater — and 11 percent of that nonrenewable groundwater is used to irrigate internationally-traded crops. ... ”  Read more from PBS News Hour here:  As global groundwater disappears, rice, wheat, and other international crops may start to vanish

In commentary today …

Enviros say dams are bad – until they need cold water, says Mike Dunbar:  He writes, “Gov. Jerry Brown decreed it, so it must be true: Our five-year drought is over.  “About time!” say most people. We’ve had near-record rainfall; there’s 30 feet of snow melting in the Sierra; our reservoirs are full (for April); even our mud puddles are overflowing. And west side farmers are getting all the water they’ve been promised for the second time this century. Yes, the drought’s over. For now.  So everyone’s relieved, right?  Not quite. Some are insisting that just because you can’t see the drought only means you’re not looking in the right place. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Enviros say dams are bad – until they need cold water

Underground overwatering no assurance of security, says Don Curlee:  He writes, “Recharging underground water supplies through old and new channels and methods may only lead to overconsumption, especially if drought conditions return in a few years.  Several water management experts in the central and southern San Joaquin Valley, where painful drought conditions have prevailed for the past five years, are discussing additional channels and choices for putting some of this year’s excess water into underground storage for future use. And they’re considering continuing programs to bolster those pools every year.  But an associate professor at UC Davis and two students there have issued a caution. They have written an article about their concerns in the January-February issue of ARE Update, published by the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department of the University of California. … ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here:  Underground overwatering no assurance of security

In regional news and commentary today …

Ukiah City Council to vote on groundwater agency for Ukiah Valley basin:  “The Ukiah City Council will likely vote Wednesday on whether the city should join a new agency designed to manage the Ukiah Valley’s water resources.  Called the Ukiah Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency, it will be a Joint Powers Authority made up of several local water districts, and its creation will satisfy the mandate in the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act that the Ukiah area water basin have an agency in place by the end of June. ... ”  Read more from the Ukiah Daily Journal here:  Ukiah City Council to vote on groundwater agency for Ukiah Valley basin

Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District mulls options to retain local water rights“The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District has held senior water rights on Humboldt County’s main water supply at Ruth Lake reservoir since the 1950s, but come 2029 there may be a few new straws in cup.  The district’s water rights are up for review by the State Water Resources Control Board in 2029, but the district’s water use has reduced by 80 percent because of the closure of the two Samoa peninsula pulp mills it used to supply.  “The concern is the water board looks at our rights and says ‘You’re not using all those water rights and we’re going to make some of those available and reduce yours,’” district General Manager John Friedenbach. ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here:  Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District mulls options to retain local water rights

State puts Modesto on notice over wastewater discharge:  “A state agency has issued a notice of violation to Modesto for discharging roughly 755 million gallons of partially treated waste water in to the San Joaquin River in March because the city’s sewer system had been overwhelmed by storms and rising river water.  The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board’s April 13 notice of violation asks Modesto to provide the board with documents, including sewer system inspection and maintenance records for the past two years and paperwork on the steps the city has taken and will take to fix the problem that lead to the discharge. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  State puts Modesto on notice over wastewater discharge

Water board prepares cease and desist order over Cambria plant:  “State water regulators staffers are preparing a cease-and-desist order for a troublesome brine-holding pond that’s part of Cambria’s Sustainable Water Facility. The plant isn’t in operation now, because municipal wells are full after heavy rainfall this winter.  At the July meeting of the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, the agency could consider taking that action against the Cambria Community Services District, according to an April 13 notification letter sent to the CSD and others by Michael Thomas, water board assistant executive director. However, the water board’s action might be delayed to a later meeting. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here:  Water board prepares cease and desist order over Cambria plant

Castaic water supply in danger of takeover, says Jeremiah Dockray:  “A friend recently used an excellent comparison to describe why the Castaic/Val Verde area’s Water Works District 36 customers should be concerned about a possible takeover by Castaic Lake Water Agency.  It’s like having an independent gas station. We all know that the independents are cheaper. Why? Because they are not owned by and operated by the refineries. They can buy their gas anywhere.  They are not a “vertical” monopoly. We all know where those independents are in our community and I, for one, search them out to save money. … ”  Read more from the Santa Clarita Signal here:  Castaic water supply in danger of takeover

Southwestern US reservoir to release above-average amount:  “The federal government said Monday it plans to release an above-average amount of water from a major reservoir in the Southwestern U.S. this year, but it’s less than many hoped after a healthy snow season across much of the West.  The Bureau of Reclamation, which manages dams and reservoirs on the Colorado River, said it will release 9 million acre-feet (11 billion cubic meters) from Lake Powell, sending it down the Colorado to Lake Mead, where it will be tapped by Arizona, California and Nevada. ... ”  Read more from the Washington Post here:  Southwestern US reservoir to release above-average amount

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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