DAILY DIGEST: Mammoth snowstorms take toll on wildlife; Heat wave melting record snowpack; Salmon recovery effort takes root in Redding; Governor keeping Oroville Dam repair costs hidden, state lawmakers say; and more …

In California water news today, California mammoth snowstorms take toll on wildlife; Heat wave melting record snowpack; Salmon recovery effort takes root in Redding; Governor Brown keeping Oroville Dam repair costs hidden, state lawmakers say; Oroville Dam spillway flows to be cut off starting today; ‘Living river’ rejuvenates Napa, brings needed flood control; Dixon to form its own groundwater sustainability agency; and more …

In the news today …

California mammoth snowstorms take toll on wildlife:  “California’s mammoth snow drifts, a welcome sight following five years of harsh drought, have killed off dozens of endangered bighorn sheep, lengthened hibernation for bears and should cause some hikers to think twice before seeking high Sierra adventures, officials say.  Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program, heads out Monday for the final manual measurement of the wet season, which is expected to set a record.  “We’ve gone from flat-out dry conditions to just an overabundance of moisture,” said Doug Carlson, a spokesman for the California Department of Water Resources. “It shows the incredible variation of California’s weather.” ... ”  Read more from SF Gate here:  California mammoth snowstorms take toll on wildlife

Heat wave melting record snowpack:  “Forecasters expect at least one California river to hit flood stage later this week as a heat wave melts record snowpack in the Sierra Nevada.  Forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Sunday they expect the Merced River in Yosemite National Park to go about a foot over its banks on Wednesday. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Heat wave melting record snowpack

Salmon recovery effort takes root in Redding:  “On the Sacramento River, along a quarter-mile stretch in Redding, a big part of a salmon recovery program took root Friday.  Working with other businesses, River Garden Farms has created what it says is a first-of-its-kind habitat to help young salmon.  The first shelter, a walnut tree trunk with its roots bolted to a 6-ton limestone boulder, was carefully lowered into the river near the South Bonnyview Road bridge around noon. The shelter, one of 25 being placed in the river over the next five days, was submerged about 20 feet. The hope is young salmon will use the tree’s root structure to hide from predators and be encouraged to stay in colder waters longer, which will help their survival. … ”  Read more from the Redding Record Searchlight here:  Salmon recovery effort takes root in Redding

Governor Brown keeping Oroville Dam repair costs hidden, state lawmakers say:  “California Gov. Jerry Brown has unsealed previously secret memos related to repair plans and safety issues at the damaged Oroville Dam, but his administration’s alleged refusal to be transparent about the contract bidding process and overall project costs has some state legislators frustrated.  In testimony before the state Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee hearing on Tuesday, the acting director of California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR), Bill Croyle, admitted he knew none of the details of the $275 million contract awarded to repair the Oroville Dam, which was damaged in February. … ”  Read more from Fox News here:  Governor Brown keeping Oroville Dam repair costs hidden, state lawmakers say

Oroville Dam spillway flows to be cut off starting today:  “Flows down the damaged main Oroville Dam spillway are being shut off today through Tuesday, and the flow in the Feather River past Oroville will be reduced.  The Department of Water Resources said in a press release that starting at 9 a.m. today that releases from Lake Oroville would gradually be scaled back from 35,000 cubic feet per second to 8,000 cfs by 3 p.m. Tuesday. All the water will then be flowing through the Hyatt Powerhouse under the dam. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Oroville Dam spillway flows to be cut off starting today

‘Living river’ rejuvenates Napa, brings needed flood control: “The flood control project that has transformed downtown Napa is everything that’s out of favor in today’s spiteful political scene. It is complex and nuanced, forged by people from across the ideological spectrum working together. It combines old-school engineering with a far-sighted focus on environmental needs.  But here’s the crucial detail. It works, improving the local landscape and economy in ways no traditional solution could have achieved.  That success is relevant far beyond Napa’s boundaries, amid the attacks this year on California’s efforts to connect San Francisco to Los Angeles via high-speed rail, or the creed in Washington that environmental considerations are bad for business. For all the inevitable hurdles and sniping along the way, the projects that deliver the most benefits often are the ones that dare to imagine a future different than the past. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  ‘Living river’ rejuvenates Napa, brings needed flood control

Dixon to form its own groundwater sustainability agency:  “Following suit with the cities of Vacaville and Rio Vista, Dixon has chosen to form its own exclusive agency on sustainable groundwater management.  The Dixon City Council voted 5-0 Tuesday to form its own Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) in order to comply with the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act by June 30.  Public Works Director and City Engineer Joe Leach initially recommended that Dixon sign a joint powers agreement (JPA) to join a GSA that had been forming in the Solano Subbasin between Dixon, Vacaville, Rio Vista, Solano County, Solano Irrigation District (SID) and several water and agricultural districts. … ”  Read more from The Recorder here:  Dixon to form its own groundwater sustainability agency

Drought’s over, rules aren’t: How Stockton water providers are responding:  “With the drought officially over, and a modest spring heat wave expected this week, it might seem like a reasonable time to rediscover your sprinkler control box and crank up outdoor irrigation.  But be warned: Government doesn’t always change as fast as the weather.  And some of the conservation lessons we were taught during the drought are here to stay.  Here’s a look at what water providers across the greater Stockton region are telling their customers as spring begins to feel like summer. … ”  Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Drought’s over, rules aren’t: How Stockton water providers are responding

Ecological restoration efforts begin a former Goleta golf course:  “University of California at Santa Barbara and U.S. Fish and Wildlife representatives gathered Wednesday to mark a major step toward restoring a former golf course back to its ecological glory.  Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony at the former Ocean Meadows Golf Course started the process of removing soil used to fill the site 50 years ago.  The 136 acre parcel now has a new name and a new purpose: The North Campus Open Space and will ultimately open to the public with trails and bridges meandering across the coastal habitat and restored wetlands on the upper Devereux Slough. … ”  Read more from KEYT here:  Ecological restoration efforts begin a former Goleta golf course

Refilling Silver Lake Reservoir is inexcusably wasteful; better to live with an empty pit, says Willy Blackmore: He writes, “On April 7, Gov. Jerry Brown officially declared California’s long drought over. On Echo Summit in the high Sierra, where the governor stood on bare ground two years earlier to announce mandatory water restrictions, there is now about 8 feet of snow. Up and down the state, reservoirs are brimming at capacity, and as much as 1 million acre-feet of water — nearly twice the amount Angelenos use annually — may run into the Los Angeles Aqueduct system in the Owens Valley as the snow in the eastern Sierra melts during this spring and summer. The expected surfeit led the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to expedite plans to refill the Silver Lake Reservoir. Last Tuesday, nonpotable water began to rise up the concrete banks of the 776-million-gallon lake. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here:  Refilling Silver Lake Reservoir is inexcusably wasteful; better to live with an empty pit

Why Seven Oaks Dam is releasing 30 million gallons of water a day:  “The heavier rains that pelted the region this past storm season have resulted in higher levels of water behind Seven Oaks Dam, welcome news for local agencies responsible for shoring up local groundwater supplies.  Now that the storm season is over, the dam releases 20 to 30 cubic feet of water per second, or about 30 million gallons per day.  Those releases have helped the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District divert more water to support one of the area’s major sources for water, the Bunker Hill Groundwater Basin. ... ”  Read more from the San Bernardino Sun here:  Why Seven Oaks Dam is releasing 30 million gallons of water a day

Lobbyist who once sued Interior named to be Department’s number 2 official:  “His name is David Longly Bernhardt, and he’s worked as the top lobbyist for California’s Westlands Water District, the largest agricultural entity of its kind in the nation. He’s sued the Interior Department and helped write legislation on behalf of his client. Largely because of his services, Westlands has paid Bernhardt and the law firm where he works $1.27 million since 2011.  On Friday, the Trump administration announced it was nominating Bernhardt to serve as deputy to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. If confirmed by the Senate, Bernhardt will be in a position to influence decisions that could benefit his former client. ... ”  Read more from McClatchy DC here:  Lobbyist who once sued Interior named to be Department’s number 2 official

Seven things learned from studying public opinion on water:  Mitch Tobin writes, “What do Americans think about their water?  Over the past few months, I’ve been poring over a variety of public opinion surveys that try to illuminate our attitudes toward water.  Recent events, such as the lead poisoning in Flint and an epic drought in California, have repeatedly thrust water into the news cycle. Long before those headlines, however, Americans were telling pollsters they were worried about their water. Climate change’s impact on the hydrological cycle has only amplified the concerns.  Every poll I’ve examined has its own focus and limitations (you can take a deeper dive into the data on WaterPolls.org). Looking across a variety of water-related surveys, I’ve distilled seven takeaways from the research ... ”  Read more from Water Deeply here:  Seven things learned from studying public opinion on water

More news and commentary in the weekend edition …

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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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