DAILY DIGEST: Will the twin tunnels become a reality?; DWR releases formerly secret Oroville findings by independent board; Water under Oroville spillway probably caused February collapse, state consultants say; Engineers rebuild behemoth Calaveras Dam in face of earthquake risks; and more …

In California water news today, Will the twin tunnels become a reality?; DWR releases formerly secret findings by independent board looking at Oroville Dam redesign; State kept these Oroville dam documents secret at first.  Now they’ve partially released two of them; Fixing Oroville Dam will cost millions.  Who should pay the bill?; Water under Oroville spillway probably caused February collapse, state consultants say; Engineers rebuild behemoth in face of earthquake risks; For years, Californians have been drinking water contaminated with carcinogen; Is California’s toxic waste regulator letting oversight slide?; Extreme weather linked to greenhouse gases, global warming; and more …

On the calendar today …

In the news today …

Will the twin tunnels become a reality?  “Gov. Jerry Brown’s $17.1 billion plan to build two massive tunnels through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta relies on key changes to the water rights permit held by the Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which are seeking to add new water diversion points.  Brown’s administration has said construction of the twin Delta tunnels could begin as soon as 2018, clearing the way for a massive alteration in the way water is diverted from the Delta to the Central Valley and Southern California. The State Water Resources Control Board, which oversees water rights and water quality in the Delta, is expected to hear testimony on whether to approve the petition. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Will the twin tunnels become a reality?

DWR releases formerly secret findings by independent board looking at Oroville Dam redesign:  “The state Department of Water Resources on Monday released previously secret findings from an independent board looking into proposed design plans for the Oroville Dam spillways.  The board of consultants members were selected by DWR and approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  DWR acknowledged it has faced criticism from legislators, members of the public and newspapers on its lack of transparency surrounding the Oroville Dam crisis. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  DWR releases formerly secret findings by independent board looking at Oroville Dam redesign

State kept these Oroville dam documents secret at first.  Now they’ve partially released two of them:  “Responding to criticism about secrecy around the Oroville Dam repair effort, California officials released two redacted reports Monday from outside engineers consulting on plans to fix the dam’s battered spillways.  The California Department of Water Resources disclosed a pair of memos from its board of consultants – four engineers advising the department on the massive repair project. DWR officials defended their decision to redact portions of the documents, saying it’s a matter of national security, as well as their continued decision to keep other documents and reports completely under wraps. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  State kept these Oroville dam documents secret at first.  Now they’ve partially released two of them

Fixing Oroville Dam will cost millions.  Who should pay the bill? The damage has been done and the repair contract awarded. Yet more than two months after damaged spillways at the Oroville Dam prompted authorities to order the evacuation of 188,000 people, the question of who will ultimately pay the bill remains murky.  How much will be the responsibility of homeowners, businesses, farmers and other customers of the more than two dozen local and regional agencies that contract with the State Water Project? The 700-mile network of canals, pipelines and lakes, including Lake Oroville, brings water mostly from Northern California to parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, Central Valley and Southern California. ... ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Fixing Oroville Dam will cost millions.  Who should pay the bill?

Water under Oroville spillway probably caused February collapse, state consultants say:  “Official reports released Monday say the catastrophic damage to Oroville Dam’s main spillway probably stemmed from swift water flows under the concrete chute, which was cracked and of uneven thickness.  The observations, contained in consultants’ reports prepared for the state Department of Water Resources, echo much of an independent assessment made for UC Berkeley’s Center for Catastrophic Risk Management.  An official verdict on the cause is not due until the fall, when a separate forensics team investigating the February spillway break will submit its report.  But a Board of Consultants reviewing the state’s repair plans noted several problems with the spillway’s original design and construction.  ... ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Water under Oroville spillway probably caused February collapse, state consultants say

Engineers rebuild behemoth Calaveras Dam in face of earthquake risks: If you think the era of big dam building is over in America, check out the Calaveras project.  Since 2001, construction crews have been excavating a gap in a ridge as tall as a city skyline near San Jose. They’ve sliced off part of a hillside and laid a concrete spillway longer than four football fields with 50,000 cubic yards of cement — enough to pave a sidewalk between Washington, D.C., and New York.  A custom conveyor belt this spring will carry 3.5 million cubic yards of earth — the same amount used in Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza — to build a 220-foot dam.  Calaveras is the country’s largest new dam project. And it’s only 1,200 feet downstream from another dam. ... ”  Read more from E&E News here: Engineers rebuild behemoth in face of earthquake risks

For years, Californians have been drinking water contaminated with carcinogen:  “For some time, California has been struggling to control a probable human carcinogen called 1,2,3-trichloropropane (TCP) in its drinking water.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a report earlier this month, “that found 94 water systems serving eight million Californians are contaminated with 1,2,3-trichloropropane (TCP).” TCP is a heavy liquid with a chloroform like odor. It is mostly used as paint and varnish remover. It is a byproduct of two pesticides that were widely used in agriculture in the 1980s, according to The Huffington Post. Earlier this month, the state was set to employ “a strict state-level maximum contaminant level” for TCP. … ”  Read more from Water Online here:  For years, Californians have been drinking water contaminated with carcinogen

Is California’s toxic waste regulator letting oversight slide?  “California generates an average of 1.7 million tons of hazardous waste each year. That ranges from industrial pollution to discarded household products. It includes liquids, solid, or gases that science has determined pose a threat to human or other life.  The state agency charged with protecting California’s people and environment by making sure these substances are handled safely is the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). The DTSC regulates thousands of businesses and institutions and completes some 125 cleanups a year. … ”  Read more from KQED here:  Is California’s toxic waste regulator letting oversight slide?

Extreme weather linked to greenhouse gases, global warming:  “Weird weather and climate warming are two separate things, but a Stanford team is linking them.  Using math, powerful computers and historical records, research led by Noah Diffenbaugh found that climate change has boosted the odds of extreme heat, drought, punishing rainstorms and retreating sea ice.  “The odds of hitting record-setting level of extremes have been made greater by climate warming,” caused by human emission of greenhouse gases, said Diffenbaugh, a professor of Earth system science at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences. ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Extreme weather linked to greenhouse gases, global warming

In commentary today …

Oroville is a model for how NOT to deal with a flood emergency, says the San Jose Mercury News:  They write, “The rebuilding of the Oroville Dam’s main and emergency spillways will begin in May and will be pursued aggressively in June, according to the Department of Water Resources (DWR).  Officials hope that a functioning, if not completed, spillway will be ready for use by November.  The DWR said it’s working at a “rapid pace” with two independent commissions, including the California Division of Safety of Dams and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to be certain that the new plans and specifications meet their standards. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here:  Oroville is a model for how NOT to deal with a flood emergency

Time running out for drought relief, says the Porterville Recorder:  “It appears right now the state will cut off all funding it has been providing for months now to assist families who have been hurt by the prolonged drought, which obviously has ended, but the suffering for many has not ended.  Tulare County officials said last week the state has indicated it is cutting off its Disaster Assistance on June 30, just two months from now.  What that means is the county and non-profits will no longer be reimbursed for their efforts to deliver both bottled water and install and fill large water tanks at homes where the well went dry. According to county officials, more than 400 residents of the county still rely on that large tank to supply their home with running water and most of those also rely on bottled water for drinking. … ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here:  Time running out for drought relief

In regional news and commentary today …

DWR to hold community meetings on Oroville Dam project:  “State officials are set to answer questions from the public about the Oroville Dam spillway repair project during a series of community meetings.  Leaders from the California Department of Water Resources and other experts will also take comments about the recovery process during the meetings, the first of which was to be April 27 at the Butte County Fairgrounds in Gridley.  The meetings are part of an outreach effort that has also included communications with local leaders and interest groups, said Bill Croyle, the DWR’s acting director. ... ”  Read more from the Capital Press here:  DWR to hold community meetings on Oroville Dam project

Napa County says groundwater picture continues to be good:  “Napa Valley’s annual groundwater checkup yielded the verdict that the water table in the world-famous grapegrowing region is “generally very shallow” and that the basin is “full.”  There are problem spots, such as the Petra Drive area northeast of the city of Napa that the county is studying. The Coombsville area still faces groundwater challenges, though the county sees the situation as having stabilized. … ”  Read more from the Napa County Register here:  Napa County says groundwater picture continues to be good

How the Russian River got its name:  “The Russian River watershed extends from Sonoma Mountain a hundred miles north into Mendocino County. The Southern Pomo Indians, who have lived along the river for millennia, gave it a name meaning “water on the east.” Two centuries ago, the Russians dubbed the river Slavyanka, or “little Slavic maiden.” Its name in Spanish was San Ygnacio and then the Rio Russo, or “Russian River,” as we know it today.  The Russian Empire began exploring the Alaskan coast in the 1740s. The valuable sea otter pelts brought back by early expeditions drew the Russians to enlist Alaskan natives to hunt otter, seal and beaver for them. Trading posts, settlements, and a territorial capital at Sitka sprang up along the coast. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here:  How the Russian River got its name

Mono County ready for a Merry Fishmas:  “The official start to the fishing season in Mono County has been dubbed “Fishmas” because it’s the most wonderful time of the year for anglers. Another reason to celebrate: Mono County in partnership with Mammoth Lakes Tourism, Bishop Chamber of Commerce and Inyo County, has just released a new Fishing Map outlining top fishing destinations in the front country of both Inyo and Mono counties.  Mono County is well known as an exceptional trout-fishing destination, and the 2017 season, starting onApril 29, is following a historical winter that will fill lakes and streams to levels that haven’t been seen in years. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  Mono County ready for a Merry Fishmas

Kern County:  Declining agricultural land values tied to water: It’s all about the water.  As far as agricultural land values, that is.  A new report on the outlook for Kern County ag land values shows water emerging as a major deciding factor in what land is worth, according to Michael Ming, a broker for Alliance Ag Services LLC.  His report shows that, depending on a piece of land’s water source, the value could decline this year by up to 20 percent — or more.  The issue is SGMA, or the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, passed in 2014 that mandates overdrafted basins such as Kern’s, come into balance by 2040. … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  Declining agricultural land values tied to water

Santa Clarita: Amended water bill good for some, bad for others:  “With the future of Valencia Water Company outlined clearly in amendments made by Senator Scott Wilk to his water agency bill, including a deadline for it to go public in just over a year, some love it, others hate it.  Valencia Water Company General Manager Ken Petersen calls it step in the right direction.  “Personally, Senate Bill 634 is a positive step for water resource management and governance in Santa Clarita Valley,” the water retailer’s top boss said. … ”  Read more from The Signal here:  Amended water bill good for some, bad for others

Why LADWP customers won’t see a big snowmelt dividend on their bills:  “Although Los Angeles city water customers paid extra for costly imported water during the five-year drought, their water bills will drop very little now that the Department of Water and Power has a plentiful supply of its own, officials said.  The DWP surplus does not translate into big savings for individual bill payers because water rates were restructured last year.  The new rates are intended to raise more money for water system improvements.  “The money that would have gone to purchased water is now going to infrastructure investment,” said DWP spokeswoman Amanda Parsons. … ”  Read more from KPCC here:  Why LADWP customers won’t see a big snowmelt dividend on their bills

Coastal Commission investigates Brightwater developer’s incomplete habitat restoration effort:  “State authorities are investigating whether a developer that built a 349-home community near the Bolsa Chica wetlands overlooked its mandate to fully restore some area habitat.  According to Andrew Willis, an enforcement supervisor for the California Coastal Commission, the agency is probing whether the Mission Viejo-based Woodbridge Pacific Group failed to adequately improve the 37-acre habitat as part of a 2005 approval to build the Brightwater community at 17371 Bristol Lane. ... ”  Read more from the Daily Pilot here:  Coastal Commission investigates Brightwater developer’s incomplete habitat restoration effort

‘Where the Water Goes’: New book tackles Colorado River challenges:  “Coverage of the Colorado River’s problems is often boiled down to water levels in Lake Mead, but a new book from veteran author David Owen traces the complexities of the river’s many competing demands from its headwaters to its terminus in Mexico.  In “Where the Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado River,” Owen takes readers on a backroads journey through the many issues that emanate from the river and its tributaries – including energy production, agriculture and growing cities. … ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  ‘Where the Water Goes’: New book tackles Colorado River challenges

The Colorado River’s history is wet with fighting:  “”There it is. Take it.”  Those are the famous – or to some, infamous – words of William Mullholland when the Los Angeles Aqueduct opened over 100 years ago.  That water rushed from the Owens Valley into the San Fernando Reservoir and gave the city the life blood it needed to thrive and grow.  This same scenario, more or less, has played out in many other parts of the West like the Colorado River.  But the history of that waterway is riddled with fighting. … ”  Read more from KPCC here:  The Colorado River’s history is wet with fighting

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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