DAILY DIGEST: Many areas struggling to set up groundwater agencies as deadline looms; Environmental groups demand transparency on Oroville Dam spillway; Wet year spurs proponents of Sites reservoir; CA Democrats prepare to battle over Endangered Species Act; and more …

In California water news today, Many areas struggling to set up groundwater agencies as deadline looms; Environmental groups demand transparency on Oroville Dam spillway; Disaster expert says spillway emergency ‘developed and propagated’ by DWR; State Senator Jim Nielsen vexed by bad communication at dam crisis; Wet year spurs proponents of new California reservoir; The West Coast salad shortage could last until May; California Democrats prepare to battle over Endangered Species Act; Looking beyond drought: 17 states invest in water reuse as a long-term supply strategy; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

Many areas struggling to set up groundwater agencies as deadline looms:  “With their deadline less than three months away, local governments in many critical California groundwater basins still haven’t settled on a local entity to implement the state’s new pumping regulations, a key water official says.  Counties, cities and water districts in many areas have submitted “a hodgepodge of overlapping claims” to be their region’s groundwater sustainability agency, said Pat Minturn, who is on the Northern California Water Association’s groundwater committee that’s working with state officials on solutions.  Other areas have thrown together joint-powers agreements that don’t identify such basic things as their voting structure for member governments or how costs would be shared, he told the Capital Press. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press here: Many areas struggling to set up groundwater agencies as deadline looms

Environmental groups demand transparency on Oroville Dam spillway:  “A coalition of environmental groups that had warned Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway was fatally flawed long before it nearly washed away this winter is demanding that federal regulators open up dam repair plans for public vetting.  In a filing Wednesday with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a coalition of environmental groups led by Sacramento-based Friends of the River also said it was concerned that the state Department of Water Resources is only going part way in repairing the emergency spillway. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Environmental groups demand transparency on Oroville Dam spillway

Disaster expert says spillway emergency ‘developed and propagated’ by DWR:  “A disaster expert’s review of the Oroville Dam spillway emergency says the Department of Water Resources could have prevented everything with better design, better construction and better maintenance.  Robert Bea prepared the report published Monday.  Bea is a former engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and UC Berkeley professor who helped found the university’s Center for Catastrophic Risk Management. He has worked on numerous disasters and was recognized by the U.S. Senate for his review of what went wrong during Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Coast BP oil spill. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Disaster expert says spillway emergency ‘developed and propagated’ by DWR

State Senator Jim Nielsen vexed by bad communication at dam crisis:  “State Sen. Jim Nielsen is troubled that residents below a damaged California dam knew little about potential risk until ordered to evacuate when a spillway began breaking up.  The republican senator says communication from state managers during the February crisis at Oroville Dam was confusing to the public. Sen. Nielsen’s district includes the Oroville Dam and its damaged spillway.  On Feb. 7, a massive crack opened in the main spillway at the dam. For days, managers assured the public there was no imminent danger as they slowed releases of water to assess the damage. … ”  Read more from the ABC 10 here:  State Senator Jim Nielsen vexed by bad communication at dam crisis

Wet year spurs proponents of new California reservoir:  “As one of the wettest California winters in memory nears its end, the state’s major reservoirs are all essentially full or well above their historical average levels. It’s good news for everyone and everything that depends on water, especially after several years of reduced allocations for farmers and huge losses for salmon, which were frequently unable to spawn successfully for lack of cold water.  In spite of their replenished supplies, the glass is still half empty for many farmers and urban water districts. They feel the state should have had more, or higher, dams in place to bank away more of the precipitation that ran into the sea during the past few months. … ” Read more from Water Deeply here:  Wet year spurs proponents of new California reservoir

The West Coast salad shortage could last until May:  “California’s farmers have been plagued by drought in recent years but the problem in 2017 is too much rain. That has squeezed U.S. salad supplies and it may be a several more weeks before supermarket shelves are fully stocked again.  Warmer-than-usual weather meant the winter growing season ended early in southern California and western Arizona. That was followed by heavy rain, pushing back planting in coastal regions of California, which is the largest U.S. fruit and vegetable producer. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg here:  The West Coast salad shortage could last until May

California Democrats prepare to battle over Endangered Species Act:  “Last spring, well before a deluge of winter rain in California, then presidential candidate Donald Trump famously declared to an audience of Central Valley farmers that the state hadn’t really suffered from years of drought. … With Trump now in the White House and Congressional Republicans taking aim at the act’s costs and restrictions, an effort to roll back the landmark environmental law seems imminent. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  California Democrats prepare to battle over Endangered Species Act

Looking beyond drought: 17 states invest in water reuse as a long-term supply strategy: Traditional water supplies are no longer a certainty for many municipal water utilities across the U.S., sparking a wave of investment in water reuse and desalination projects exceeding $18B. A critical driver to their adoption are demonstrated cost declines and competitiveness with more traditional water supplies, according to new analysis from Bluefield Research.  “Without a doubt, California’s five-year drought has been a catalyst for recent project development. Utilities as far away as Georgia are seeking ways to mitigate water risk,” according to Bluefield Research Director, Erin Bonney Casey. “Utility customers are already facing higher water rates – up 25% since 2012 – and the prospect of stabilized water rates is unlikely without more efficient water supply management.” … ”  Read more from Water Online here:  Looking beyond drought: 17 states invest in water reuse as a long-term supply strategy

In commentary today …

Drought’s over, but lessons weren’t learned, says the Chico Enterprise-Record:  They write, “Well now it’s official: The drought is over. Except for parts of four San Joaquin Valley counties, the drought emergency proclaimed by Gov. Jerry Brown has been rescinded.  But the thing is, the drought isn’t over. The main case in point are those four San Joaquin Valley counties — Tuolomne, Fresno, Tulare and Kings — where the state needs that emergency designation to be able to provide drinking water to a number of impoverished communities where the wells have failed.  The aquifers there have been sucked dry and collapsed. Ground level has dropped several feet in parts of the San Joaquin as the earth has compacted into the strata that could once store water. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Drought’s over, but lessons weren’t learned

Metropolitan’s help could bring political support for Sites Reservoir, says the Appeal-Democrat:  They write, “The immediate reaction by many locals to news that Southern California is interested in Sites Reservoir might be the suspicion that there is a grab being made for Northern California water.  We’re always worried about that … rightly or wrongly.  The truth is, in this case, if you’re a supporter of the proposed Sites off-stream reservoir, you should probably welcome interest by the Metropolitan Water district of Southern California. They have some money they can throw at the project, as well as some experience that might come in handy as supporters go about putting the project together and seeking funding. ... ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat here:  Metropolitan’s help could bring political support for Sites Reservoir

In regional news and commentary today …

Beaver dams creating flood risk for Rancho Cordova neighborhood:  “Beavers are being blamed for causing some significant damage in Rancho Cordova.  The beavers are toppling dozens of trees, creating a flood risk in the area.  On the surface, it looks like a peaceful pond, with trees, wildlife and a popular jogging path along Mather Boulevard, but a family of beavers has been busy making themselves at home. … ”  Read more from CBS 13 here:  Read more from CBS 13 here:  Beaver dams creating flood risk for Rancho Cordova neighborhood

Damas gives overview of Ceres water issues:  “Public Works Department Director Jeremy Damas gave councilmembers an overview last week of several issues affecting water service in the city of Ceres.  He started with an update of the city’s efforts to build a surface water treatment plant and delivery system with the city of Turlock. Together the cities have formed a Joint Powers Authority to form the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority and paying water from Turlock Irrigation District, which has water rights in the Tuolumne River. … ”  Read more from the Ceres Courier here:  Damas gives overview of Ceres water issues

Porterville: Drought assistance may end:  “More than two years of assisting families whose private water wells went dry during the drought may be coming to an end.  Gov. Jerry Brown declared April 7 the drought was over in California, except in four counties, including Tulare. However, the state has said it will not fund drought assistance programs past June 30.  Tulare County has been ground zero for the drought, especially East Porterville where the state is spending $50 million to connect those rural residents to the City of Porterville’s water system. That program immediately helped more than 150 families whose wells went dry and could connect up to 1,000 homes to the city’s system. … ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here:  Drought assistance may end

Fledgling Shandon water district under FPPC investigation:  “The dust just refuses to settle in North County water politics.  Less than a week after 68 landowners around Shandon held an election to form the Shandon-San Juan Water District, the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) announced on April 17 that it was opening an investigation into whether the proponents of that water district violated campaign laws by not reporting financial receipts and expenditures leading up to the election. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here:  Fledgling Shandon water district under FPPC investigation

Santa Barbara: High copper levels detected in drinking water:  “Dangerously high levels of copper have been detected in the plumbing systems of three upscale condominium complexes in downtown Santa Barbara, prompting city officials to caution some residents against drinking and cooking with their tap water, and triggering a dizzying blame game over who is responsible for causing and solving the health hazard. … ” Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here:  Santa Barbara: High copper levels detected in drinking water

Barbara Boxer to lobby for desalination plant in Huntington Beach:  “Two prominent former California Democratic lawmakers who oversaw environmental legislation, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and state Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, have signed on to lobby for a controversial desalination plant in Huntington Beach.  For nearly two decades, the plant proposed for a Pacific Coast Highway site next to an existing Huntington Beach power generating facility has faced strong opposition from community and environmental groups. It is one of eight desalination plants currently proposed in the state, including at coastal properties at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point and near the El Porto area adjacent to El Segundo. … ”  Read more from the OC Register here:  Barbara Boxer to lobby for desalination plant in Huntington Beach

Lahontan water board to allow PG&E to abandon 49 Hinkley wells:  “The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Board has approved Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s request to abandon 49 single aquifer, inactive domestic wells in Hinkley, the board announced in a news release.  All of the wells are located on PG&E property in the Mulberry Road area and downtown area north of Hinkley School, the board said.  According to Lisa Dernbach, senior engineering geologist for the Lahontan water board, PG&E made its request in a letter dated March 21 and titled “Continued Management of Inactive Supply Wells on Property Owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Company in Hinkley.” … ”  Read more from the Desert Dispatch here:  Lahontan water board to allow PG&E to abandon 49 Hinkley wells

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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